There are a lot of unknowns for the New York Mets heading into the 2014 season. They have a lot of players they hope will be productive even though they’re uncertain if those players will perform up to their potential, but the biggest x-factor for the Mets this season will be rookie catcher Travis d’Arnaud.
Unlike players such as Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada, who are both coming off disastrous seasons in 2013, d’Arnaud doesn’t have the pressure of trying to bounce back from a poor season, outside of a sluggish September in the big leagues last year. Instead, d’Arnaud will be looking to establish himself in his first full season in the big leagues. Also, unlike Davis and Tejada, d’Arnaud doesn’t have to worry about fighting just to keep his job; he knows he’ll be the Mets’ regular catcher even if he gets off to a slow start, so he’ll continue to be in the lineup and continue to get opportunities to contribute.
If d’Arnaud can get off to a fast start for the Mets this year, he’ll be a difference maker in the lineup. The Mets will hit d’Arnaud down in the order, so there won’t be a lot of pressure on him to be a run producer. But if he proves to be productive offensively, it’ll give the Mets’ lineup some much needed length, giving them more opportunities to score runs with the second half of their order — a rare occurrence for them in recent seasons.
The Mets feel good about d’Arnaud’s abilities in the field and handling a pitching staff, giving them one less thing to worry about. And because he plays a position that provides meaningful offense for very few teams, if d’Arnaud can live up to his promise offensively, he’ll give the Mets an advantage that few teams have. With uncertainty at first base and shortstop, the Mets need some offensive production at catcher. That’s why d’Arnaud will be an x-factor for them if he can hit and drive in runs.
d’Arnaud hasn’t had a strong spring and he has a long history of injuries, so he’s not a sure thing for the Mets, despite being one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball. But he has the talent and potential to be a major contributor, which is something the Mets are banking on for the future. Without a history of failure like some of the Mets’ other x-factors, there is hope that d’Arnaud will have a good rookie season. That hope, combined with his talent, makes d’Arnaud the Mets’ ultimate x-factor in 2014.