Most Important Mets of 2016: No. 10-7
After reading the replies to a recent article here on MetsToday (Who are 2016’s Ten Most Important Mets?), I’ve come up with final rankings for this exercise, which I’ll proceed through in countdown fashion. For each player, I’ll list my subjective predictions, based on watching nearly every inning and every plate appearance over the last few years. I’ll do my best to identify something that I think the national experts and pundits have missed.
The table data below is pulled from FanGraphs. Steamer and ZiPS are two player projection systems with as good a track record as any. The “Off” and “Def” columns are included to illustrate how the projections arrive at their WAR numbers. Note: “Def” includes a positional adjustment, where d’Arnaud’s numbers get a boost simply from playing catcher while Granderson’s numbers take a hit simply from playing right field.
#10. Sandy Alderson
We all know how crucial 2015’s deadline deals were to reshaping the team. Alderson acted to address multiple needs, and all his moves paid big dividends in the short term. With the 2016 National League boasting a number of teams that look great on paper, it’s unlikely that the Mets will simply run away with a playoff spot, meaning that adjustment on the fly should be important once again. If the Mets are neck and neck with another playoff hopeful in late July, Mets fans should certainly hope the trade deadline will unfold more like 2015 than 2007 or 2008. Standing pat in 2008 allowed that team’s holes — primarily a weak bullpen — to ultimately destroy their season.
While some may focus on the Wilpons’ purse strings and how those set the parameters for any deals, I suspect there’s plenty of room for things to go well or poorly within any given budget for trade acquisitions. Uribe, Johnson, Clippard, Reed and Cespedes were all the right players at the right times, but we shouldn’t forget the cost or the luck involved. When the time came to trade Scott Hairston and Bobby Parnell, rough analogs to Uribe-Johnson and Tyler Clippard, Alderson claimed he couldn’t find any worthwhile return, and thus stood pat. Then, on the other side of that equation, he parted with John Gant and Casey Meisner, two pitchers who many now view as having futures as MLB starters. That might be more a reflection on the lack of a coherent plan in 2011-2012 than on what Alderson will do going forward, but in the context of Alderson’s Mets tenure, it’s one more note of caution. Angel Pagan for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez is a bigger red flag, and the attempt to trade Zack Wheeler for Jay Bruce is bigger still.
No longer having a surplus of arms to deal from, and with few minor league Mets position players who other teams would want, Alderson mostly stays passive at the deadline. Maybe an athletic A-ball shortstop gets shipped out for a roll-of-the-dice bullpen arm.
#9. Travis d’Arnaud
I think d’Arnaud and his fragile body could easily play fewer than 100 games, but I agree with the projections that 100 games played is as likely a scenario as any. I also agree with the rough offensive forecast, though I imagine a few hot streaks will raise those extra-base hit totals. Sadly, I’m pessimistic on defense. Travis has a slow arm action, with an extra little wiggle at the end of his takeback, and he’s had elbow problems. He also isn’t very quick in moving to catch pitches that miss on the wrong side of the plate.
Granderson has had some serious injuries in his career, but apart from that has been extremely durable. He hasn’t shown physical signs of aging, so unless the Mets decide to bench him against lefties, I expect him to again rank among the team leaders in games played. While his high K totals and lost hits to the shift will keep his batting average down, I think Granderson can sustain his patient, battling approach from 2015 and draw a ton of walks. The risk is that, if his power declines, pitchers will simply challenge him. I’m betting that that won’t happen in 2016.
As for his defense, I think he got a little lucky in 2015, with a lot of plays just within his range. I expect him to cost the Mets a few more runs out there in 2016.
#7. David Wright
This is where I become the bringer of doom and gloom. The computers are splitting the difference between Wright’s recent performances, averaging healthy years with injured years, good-fielding years with bad, etc. If we look just at Stenosis Era Wright, however, Fangraphs gives us a -3.5 defensive value in 38 games, which is off-the-charts bad. Sadly, I think this is the new David Wright. I already see his back impacting his ability to reach grounders and make throws, and I doubt it will take more than a month or two of regular play to worsen his condition enough to put him on the shelf. I expect a repeat of 2015, where he works back from a mid-season DL stint just in time to join the playoff push.
On the plus side, I think Flores and Campbell will fill in much more capably than they did last year.
Agree? Disagree? What have you seen that the experts and their computers haven’t? Let us know in the comments!