Biggest Surprises of the first Quarter
Now that the Mets are one quarter of the way through their 2016 schedule, what have we learned? Who has been better than expected? Who has disappointed? Here are my top 15 surprises so far. Chime in to the comments and let us know what’s surprised you!
The Mets lead the National League with 60 HRs!
Asdrubal Cabrera‘s defense
I didn’t figure a shortstop with limited range could be that much of an asset. Cabrera’s been stellar on every slow-developing play, though, and his reliability (up until Thursday night) is a truly stark contrast to the Mets’ previous options at the position.
Michael Conforto seizing the #3 spot
Conforto allowed us to dream of an MVP candidate before proving himself to be as vulnerable to slumps as the next guy. Even with some inconsistency, he looks prepared for a spectacular sophomore season, hitting third for a contender. It’s still to be determined whether he can hit MLB lefties, however.
Yoenis Cespedes‘s patience
Ever since the Mets’ first homestand, Cespedes has been chasing fewer really bad pitches than in the past. With plenty of respectable hitters behind him, even a fair walk rate will help score the team some extra runs.
Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz
Thor’s stayed healthy and added weapons, while Matz has been tough for batters to square up despite inconsistent secondary stuff. It’s not a surprise that both youngsters continue to improve, but their rate of improvement has to be seen as great news.
After looking awful in March, and despite diminished velocity, Bastardo has been fantastic in most of his outings, getting back to his bread and butter: a fastball with the most vertical rise in MLB.
94 mph and a decent-to-good slider is nothing special in today’s relief pitching. Yet Reed has racked up a ton of whiffs and gotten a bunch of late-inning leads to Familia.
Stellar relief pitching in general
Out of a group like Reed, Bastardo, Robles, Blevins, Henderson and Verrett, you expect some ups and downs. At any given moment, some will be hot, and some will be cold. Well, not so to begin 2016! In addition to Familia’s expected effectiveness, every single member of his supporting cast has been good, giving the Mets the deepest ‘pen in the league.
Not hitting except for homeruns
The Mets are hitting .235, tied for second-worst in the NL. Their hitting with runners in scoring position is dead last at .208, and their Clutch WPA stat is 35% worse than any other team in baseball outside of Houston. We’ve seen a high number of HRs, an average number of walks, and a whole lot of choking.
Except for 6 innings against the Padres and his first 2 innings against the Reds, the guy wearing the Matt Harvey jersey has shown nothing in common with the guy who wore it in 2013 and 2015. Velocity down, command erratic, and no idea where the ball is going in the strike zone. We didn’t know it was even possible for him to be this bad with his right arm still attached.
He’s gone from elite at 95 to merely effective at 92. This team might need him to be elite.
I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that a young player playing sporadically would struggle, but .180 with 2 RBI and bad defense is bad enough to make me wonder if he’s better off developing in the minors.
Alejandro De Aza
With that little playing time, I guess even veteran bench guys can struggle.
His body can’t even survive a routine thing like throwing? It’s looking more and more like he’s too fragile for this sport. It doesn’t help his stock that the Mets’ pitch-calling and basestealer-catching improved dramatically once Travis went down.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Bartolo Colon steps to the plate…
Sandy has proven adept at trading prospects for MLB talent. I think he will need to trade players from the 25 man roster to procure a decent 3rd baseman in the next 4 weeks. The sooner the better.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but ARod always wanted to be a Met. And I hate how he cheated, but he is a changed man and I wouldn’t mind seeing him as a utility guy playing some 3rd, 1st and PH late in games – with the Steinbrenners picking up his salary needless to say. You heard it here first.
If we want to dream, I wonder what it would take to get Joey Gallo from Texas?
Cabrera’s muffed some big plays, Conforto’s out of the #3 spot and showing bust potential, Cespedes has slumped and started chasing, Bastardo’s gotten away from his high fastball, the bullpen has imploded, and although Matz is still pitching pretty well, the league seems to have caught up to him a bit.
About the only remaining pleasant surprises are Syndergaard and Reed.
Matt Harvey’s fastball command is improving, and Flores has had a few decent games in a row, so at least those disappointments show hopes of turning of around. We have to add Duda to the disappointment list, though, landing on the DL for multiple months and taking a .297 OBP with him.