Opening week for the New York Mets certainly did not go as planned: bullpen woes, absent offense, game-changing injuries, silly defensive blunders and questionable managerial decisions all contributed to a rather frustrating 2-4 start. As most of the team becomes acclimated to their new teammates, however, some players are taking it upon themselves to rise above expectations early on in the season. To some fans, these early signs of life do not mean much to them, but here at MetsMerized we see differently; we like to call these three players our Players of the Week!
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: JUAN LAGARES
For a guy who was questionable to even make the major league roster, Juan Lagares is certainly the most surprising (and delightful!) person to see take this title in the first week. During the offseason, it was clear that the biggest question mark surrounding the Mets was Lagares’ ability to be a productive offensive force, but with his extraordinary work ethic and determination, he has made major improvements to his game at the plate. So far this season, he has drawn three walks while only striking out four times. While this is only a small sample size, anybody who has been watching the games can see the huge progress Juan has made with his plate discipline; he has been chasing far less pitches and is consistently working the count each at bat; not to mention he has shown early signs of power as well. If he can keep this up in addition to his established astonishing defense, it is not too far fetched to consider Juan a serious contender for the All-Star Team.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK: ERIC YOUNG JR
With all the drama surrounding whether this guy would be an everyday outfielder, the sudden injury to Chris Young thrust Eric Young Jr. into the leadoff and left field spot. He clearly did not do anything at the plate, but he did make some nice grabs in the field. Considering that there were little overwhelming defensive plays this week, EYJ gets the title due to his leaping grab to rob Brandon Phillips of a home run on April 4th, which was undeniably fantastic. EYJ was a pleasant product in the field last season, but his pitiful start and underwhelming arm really highlights his true nature as nothing more than a fourth outfielder. With Chris Young sitting on the DL, though, it is critical that EY keeps the great defense consistent for a few more weeks.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK: JENRRY MEJIA
There is no question now that Jenrry Mejia belongs in this rotation! I had the pleasure of experiencing Mejia’s start in person Friday night and I can sincerely say that a great amount of his off-speed stuff made the Reds hitters look absolutely silly. His slider was a fierce killer and his rising fastball in the misty rain was a harsh combination for any man at the plate. He went six innings strong, letting up a mere 4 hits and 1 run in a lineup featuring a 2-3-4 of Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Although his 5 walks were a blemish that he will continue to hone, his 8 strikeouts were the most he has ever recorded in his young career. With pitchers like Wheeler, who has had exposure to the major league atmosphere, and Syndergaard and Montero not too far from Flushing, Mejia will have some fantastic company in a starting rotation that displays much promise for the Mets’ future.
Anthony Recker is a great guy to have as a backup to d’Arnaud, but nothing says this more than throwing out guys who are really, really fast. Recker is deserving for an honorable mention solely for his on-the-money throw to nail the overhyped rookie Billy Hamilton at second base during Friday’s game. This proved to be a huge moment in the game, as Hamilton being safe would have put the fastest runner in the league in scoring position with only one out.
Dillon Gee also gets a very worthy mention in this category for his very positive starts on Opening Day and Saturday’s come from behind win. Gee seems to be susceptible to the long ball early on, but his pitch count has stayed relatively low in conjunction to the innings he has pitched (averaging more than six so far). The interesting trend of Gee’s ERA climbing as the game goes on has been prominent in enough of his starts to render it logical to remove him after six innings and still considering his day a success. I do not doubt that Gee can work to close out his starts strong, but for now it may be safe to pull him if the strings start to fray late in the game. Otherwise, we can all enjoy watching him pitch gems for the first half of the game– if only the bullpen could hold down the lead for him!