At the 2012 all-star break, the New York Mets were in the thick of the playoff race, sitting at 46-40. Aside from a mediocre bullpen, everything was falling into place. David Wright was hitting .351 and Johan Santana had thrown the first no-hitter in franchise history. From there, everything that had once looked so optimistic fell apart as the Mets finished out the season with a 28-48 second half. The 2013 season will be a platform for New York to assess the talent within their organization as they prepare to transition into an era of competitive baseball. New York has a modest combination of familiar hitters and underrated pitchers that are worth targeting in fantasy baseball drafts.
New York and David Wright agreed to an eight-year contract extension that will keep their franchise player in a Mets uniform for the distant future. Popular Mets, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and R.A. Dickey were all expended in the recent rebuilding process. However, the front office felt that Wright was indispensible due to the leadership that he brings to a young ball club.
Long-term, lucrative have had poor results for the Mets but Wright’s value to the franchise and the fans base provides an intangible insurance policy. Already regarded among the top players in the team’s history, Wright now has the chance to set himself apart from his peers.
Wright is still trying to find his comfort zone at Citi Field. In 2006 and 2007, Wright’s last two seasons at Shea Stadium, he combined to average .335, 19 HRs and 59 RBIs at home. Meanwhile, in the first two seasons after the club’s relocation, Wright has averaged just .279, 9 HRs and 39 RBIs.
To ensure that Wright doesn’t get pitched around, New York needs a breakout season from first baseman, Ike Davis. Davis followed a different path than the rest of his ball club in 2012. After an appalling start in which he found himself hitting below .200 for the majority of the first half, Davis went on to lead the National League in homers over the remainder of the season.
Despite all of his struggles, Davis finished tied for fifth in the NL with 32 home runs. Davis still has his best years ahead of him and could become a top five first baseman once he develops a more consistent approach.
Beyond the two big bats in the middle of the lineup, the Mets lack another well-rounded hitter. Daniel Murphy finally has stability in his second season as the team’s starting second baseman. This should allow Murphy to focus on hitting rather than learning a new position in yet another Spring Training. Murphy should hit .300 but lacks the power to make him a relevant fantasy asset.
The New York outfield lacks any stability and is a cause for great concern. Lucas Duda has struggled at the plate and was such a liability in the outfield that New York was forced to demote him to triple-A for a portion of last season. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is a young, scrappy centerfielder but is a poor candidate to lead-off due to his high strikeout rate.
New York is eagerly anticipating the arrivals of their top prospects, catcher Travis D’Arnaud and pitcher Zack Wheeler. D’Arnard was acquired this off-season in return for R.A. Dickey and should be behind the plate in Queens within the first two months of action.
Johan Santana has already been experiencing arm trouble in camp, which bring urgency to the Wheeler situation. If the Mets are even moderately serious about being competitive in 2013, then Wheeler is the only viable option to enter the rotation. He is certain to start the season in triple-A after suffering a minor oblique strain. If the Mets aren’t buried by the time that Wheeler is ready to be promoted then he should be on the first plane from Las Vegas.
The present and the future of the New York rotation also rests on the shoulders of Jonathon Niese and Matt Harvey. Both are under contract long term and project to be front-end starters for a dominant Mets staff in the near future.
In 2013, Niese and Harvey are both mid-tier fantasy options at starting pitcher but will have their win totals capped around 12.
New York’s top five fantasy hitters: 1. David Wright, 2. Ike Davis, 3. Daniel Murphy, 4. Ruben Tejada, 5. Lucas Duda.
New York’s top three fantasy pitchers: 1. Matt Harvey, 2. Jonathon Niese, 3. Shaun Marcum.
New York projected record: 74-88
Stay tuned over the next month while I preview one team each day in preparation for the 2013 baseball season.