Who are 2016’s Ten Most Important Mets?

To satisfy my cravings for updates to the ongoing saga of the New York Mets, I’ve spent some of the offseason reading projections. While not really news, these projections help me develop an initial framing for the upcoming season. Do the pundits and the computer models agree on what’s likely, or possible, for the 2016 Mets? If not, which positions do I find most credible? As a Mets fan who’s watched nearly every inning over the last few years, are their some players who I feel I can judge more accurately than ESPN writers and FanGraphs charts can?

In the past, this kind of thinking has led me down two paths. Path Number One is where I start thinking through what I expect from one player, and then move on to the next player, and eventually finish the starting lineup and move on to the rotation, and finally feel like I’ve come far enough that I really ought to finish projecting every player on the roster. That’s Path Number One. Path Number Two consists of thinking, “Ack, no, I’m not getting sucked into doing Path Number One again!” and instead doing nothing at all.

Well, with 2016 baseball about to begin, now’s a good time for new year’s resolutions, right? This year, I plan to pursue a middle ground. I will project the ten most important Mets only.

So, MetsToday readers, can you help me out with that? Who are 2016’s ten most important Mets?

My List

Here’s my provisional list. For each guy, I’ve written a note about why he’s ranked where he is.

1. Noah Syndergaard With elite velocity, excellent control, and improving command of a nasty arsenal, we could be looking at one of the best starters in MLB… or another torn UCL victim.

2. Yoenis Cespedes Based on his track record, he should be a very good hitter and a below-average center fielder, but there’s plenty of evidence for much better… or much worse.

3. Travis d’Arnaud Has he eliminated his defensive holes? Is his bat elite when healthy? And how often will he be healthy?

4. Lucas Duda Duda can carry a lineup, or create a big hole in the middle of one. Which will he do more often in 2016? And is he still improving, or starting to show signs of age?

5. Matt Harvey 2016 will demand a lot of Harvey, both mentally and physically. Can he be the guy who vied for the title of Best Pitcher in Baseball in early 2013? Everyone – fans, haters, opponents, media – will be watching to find out.

6. Jacob deGrom The 2016 Mets’ strength is their three aces. All three are vital to the team’s postseason hopes.

7. Jeurys Familia With a lot of unknowns in the bullpen, the Mets need Familia to continue to be a rock. It would be nice if he could continue to be a workhorse too.

8. Michael Conforto Without a bunch of superstar bats, the Mets lineup instead hopes to be deep and dangerous. How quickly Conforto comes into his own will go a long way toward determining how deep and dangerous it really is.

9. Addison Reed Who will be the 2016 Mets’ second most important reliever? If Robles plateaus and Bastardo isn’t what he once was, will Reed pick up the slack like he did in 2015, or throw gas on the fire like he did in 2014?

10. Curtis Granderson The 2015 Mets’ best asset might have been Granderson in the leadoff spot every day. Can he provide that again at age 35?

Once I hear what you all think, I’ll revise my list, and, if there’s interest, offer a projection for each top ten guy here on MetsToday. So, who’s in your top ten?

David Berg has been following the Mets since 1990, and counts himself as a "die hard fan" -- the agonies have been numerous and arduous, but he's still watching every game he can, determined to "earn" the satisfaction when the Mets eventually win it all. In his non-spare time, David is a designer of graphics, web sites, and games. See his work at Shrike Design
  1. Dan Capwell March 28, 2016 at 11:27 am
    Welcome aboard Dave. Interesting concept

    My list
    1. Sandy Alderson-as he was last year, he will be called on again to finish the job
    2. Matt Harvey (#2 thru 8 are all pitchers)
    3. Jacob deGrom
    4. Noah Syndergaard
    5. Jeurys Familia
    6. Steven Matz
    7. Addison Reed
    8. Antonio Bastardo
    9. Yoenis Cespedes (do we get his first 6 weeks or his last six weeks)
    10. Someone who isn’t a Met yet (because holes will develop)

  2. Gregg from Hoboken March 28, 2016 at 10:30 pm
    My list comes with the caveat that by “important” that a great deal hinges on their ability to succeed/fail — meaning that certain players who are somewhat of a known quantity (Neil Walker on the plus side, Eric Campbell on the “devil we know” side) I have bypassed.

    The most critical Mets from this perspective for me are:

    1. David Wright: 2016’s largest open question — and going forward.
    2. Steven Matz Who do we really have here? Was he as good as he looked in that small sample size….or has our past good fortune blinded us?
    3. Juan Lagares: Juan was 2014’s most unexpected treasure and (aside from Mejia) 2015’s largest disappointment.
    4. Jeurys Familia: He certainly looked to have the goods last year, having broken through. Can he sustain it….or is he due for a return back to earth
    5. Curtis Granderson — I’m expecting some regression to the mean
    6. Yoenis: See above.

    • David Berg March 29, 2016 at 12:45 pm
      I completely agree that Lagares has a wide range of possible performances. I’m not sure how much that’s going to matter to the team, though, with so much of his value coming from CF defense, and a durable, highly-paid guy blocking him there.

      As for Matz and Wright, if we survey the punditsphere, yeah, we’ll find a lot of variety. Maybe they deserve to be on the “most important players” list for exactly that reason! Personally, though, from watching both guys, I think I know what to expect:

      Matz will be a major leaguer, thanks to his stuff, but no elite performer, thanks to his command.

      Wright will be unable to stay healthy. His swing actually looks good to me, but on every play he makes in the field, I see signs of the back problem, and I can’t possibly imagine getting through a full season with that condition.

      • Gregg from Hoboken March 29, 2016 at 7:33 pm
        I expect you’re right about Matz. As for Wright, I’m thinking 110 games from him, which I think is realistic. In ’14 we got that level from him — and a 6 WAR level season to boot. I’d be thrilled if that were so (though it’s north of my own expectations). I’ve not seen enough of DW in the field this spring. Is he lollypopping his throws?

        I’m still holding out hope for Juan (so perhaps my optimism is less for ’15 than beyond). I am imagining Yoenis to be elsewhere next year….so if Juan can revert back to ’14 form, we’ll be well-served.

  3. DaveSchneck March 29, 2016 at 8:09 pm
    Being a little late to the dance, I get to cherry pick a little from each contribution above.
    1 – 4. The Fab 4 in no particular order. The team is elite based on their expected performance
    5. Familia – if he falters or gets hurt, who will close?
    6. Wheeler – at least one of the starting 5 will underperform or get hurt; how Wheeler can pick up the slack will be very important
    7. Granderson – similar to Familia, Mets will be scrambling for a leadoff hitter should Grandy fall way short of his 2015 season
    8 – 10. Wright, TDA, Duda – if these three can rake, the Mets will have a strong offense to take some pressure off the pitching (and defense)

    I did leave Cespedes off the list, but he is obviously very important. However, even when he is slumping his presence poses a threat and takes some heat off the rest of the line up. Perhaps he deserves an asterisk, or I slot him right behind Familia and expand to 11 (sorry).

    • David Berg March 30, 2016 at 2:25 am
      Good point on Wheeler; I’d been figuring a guy who doesn’t return until July can’t be top-10 relevant, but the plan is for him to be a rotation regular thereafter, and you’re right, odds are the team will probably need that.

      I haven’t been much of a Wheeler fan, but it’s definitely possible that he’ll be completely horrible from rust, or better than ever due to lack of pain, so I do see a big potential swing there!

  4. David Berg March 30, 2016 at 3:23 am
    I am a little surprised that no one has included Asdrubal Cabrera yet! He just missed my list. Cabrera doesn’t need to be great, but he needs to play a solid shortstop and not be an automatic out. Neither of these were sure things in 2013-2014.

    I’m also very curious to see what Neil Walker will do in his free agent year… and his first year out of Pittsburgh… after getting traded for a mediocre player by a smart team… while turning 30…

  5. Vilos March 30, 2016 at 5:50 am
    Well then, go ahead and do all 25!!
    • David Berg March 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm
      I’m sure the beginning of the season will give us more interesting things to talk about than my assessment of Alejandro De Aza. 🙂

      Who’s your top 10, Vilos?

  6. Vilos March 30, 2016 at 9:18 pm
    Since you ask, I guess I must answer.
    Following Dan’s lead, I’ll start with a non-player: Joe Janish himself. Mets blog-phere isn’t the same without him.
    Then I’ll go with mostly pitchers and Flores and Cespedes.
    So that leaves me with Familia, Bastardo, Robles, and the starting five. If you want incluye Wheeler.
    Have fun and thanks