Are We Better In 2014 Than 2013: Position Players

travis d'arnaud single

I thought it might be fun to take a look at where we are right now, in comparison to last year at this time.  To make things a little more comparable, lets assume that today’s roster is what we open the season with.

Behind the plate Travis d’Arnaud is replacing John Buck, and while TDA had a less than stellar debut, he is the #1 prospect at the position in all of baseball.  While I don’t expect d’Arnaud to put up Mike Piazza like offensive numbers, I do think he will have at least a decent season.  

.260/.330/.400 – 20 2B – 15 HR – 60 RBI – 130 G – 525 PA

I think it would be fair to say that would be a pretty reasonable expectation for a rookie catcher.  From some projections on Travis thus far, it could be a little conservative.  Defensively, he has been praised for his framing ability, which is a highly undervalued trait behind the dish, especially for a young pitching staff.  He will make his share of mistakes, but I really wasn’t impressed at all by Buck’s intangibles last year.  He wasn’t very good at framing, blocking, game calling, or throwing out runners.  He did, for the most part, manage the staff well.  Although, Harvey most likely would’ve been successful with Fred Wilpon catching him, but I have to give him some credit.  The Mariners were so impressed with Buck’s 2013 that they signed him to a 1yr/$1mil deal, if that tells you anything.  Here’s Buck’s 2013 line:

.215/.285/.367 – 11 2B – 15 HR – 60 RBI – 101 G – 400 PA

Even if d’Arnaud doesn’t produce at the level that we have him projected, he is most likely going to have a better season than Buck did offensively and defensively.  Fangraphs had Buck at 1.3 with the Mets, while Baseball Reference at 0.2.  Let’s take the average and call Buck a 0.8 WAR player last year. TDA will most likely come in right around 2.3.  If he has a better than expected season, he could be at 3.0 or better, and conversely, he could come in around 1.5.  I think its not unrealistic at all to say that we are most likely +1.5 wins.

Anthony Recker will handle the backup catching duties, and I was actually really impressed with Reck last season.  He’s not going to be an All-Star, and most likely a reserve throughout his career, but he certainly has some pop in the bat, and was excellent defensively last season.  We had a full run lower ERA as a team when Recker was behind the plate as opposed to Buck, so take that for what its worth, but keep in mind that Buck caught all of Harveys games.  Recker was worth 0.4 rWAR & 0.6 fWAR in 2013.  If he doesn’t improve at all, he is worth 1/2 a win.  Even

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

In the infield, I think Daniel Murphy will actually take a small step forward offensively and defensively at 2B, entering his age 29 season, which some would suggest is THE prime year of a baseball players career. David Wright & Curtis Granderson behind him in the lineup for a full season certainly won’t hurt his numbers, but we can’t guarantee that. 2013 fWAR 3.0 rWAR 1.8.  We’ll call it 2.5, although he could easily put up 3.5 just by using a late defensive replacement at 2B and giving him a day off per month against LHP.   Even

Wright is at or near the top of WAR lists annually.  He was 6.0 & 5.8 last year in 112 games, roughly 2/3 of the season.  We can’t guarantee he will play more than that this season, although chances are he will. Conservatively,  Even

Shortstop was the worst position last season for the Mets, as Ruben Tejada & Omar Quintanilla were an absolutely dreadful duo. Tejada -0.3 & -0.9  Quintanilla  -0.8 & -0.3.  I find it impossible to believe that we will open the season with those two as our options at SS, but I also find it impossible to believe that Tejada can be that bad two years in a row, unless he’s doing it on purpose.  A below average year from Stephen Drew would put us at +4.0  If we get 1.0 from the position in 2014 we will be +2.5.

The most disappointing thing about the 2013 season was the play of Ike Davis.  You just knew he was gonna come out mashing the ball after his horrid start to the 2012 season and approach 40 HR on the year.  There was no way he was gonna allow a slow start to happen again.  Embarrassingly, he put up a -0.1 & 0.2 .  I don’t see any way that Ike starts the season with the Mets.  It’s like a girlfriend that’s cheated on you for the second time, and you’re thinking about giving her another chance, but you know she’s gonna do it again.  You just have to move on because its your own fault when it inevitably happens the third time.

I know Mets fans are divided on Lucas Duda, and I know he’s certainly not a fan favorite, but one thing we all can agree on is that Duda is as bad as you can possibly be in the outfield.  Even if he doesn’t hit, he is way better at 1B than in LF.  That is a fact.  In roughly 700 innings at 1B Duda has a -0 Total Zone Rating/Year, +1 Defensive Runs Saved/Year, 9.12 Range Factor/9, and .995 Fldg%.  In fact, he didn’t make a single error at 1B in 255 chances last season, not one. That’s pretty impressive.  If he had one additional chance and made an error on the next play, it would still be .996.  For comparison, Ike .989, League Average is .993.  If he puts up the exact same offensive numbers that he did last season the move to 1B will make him at a 2.0 WAR player. +2.0

Satin will regress, but he is good defensively and he can hit LHP, you have to assume even, just like we did with Wright & Murphy. Even

Juan Lagares was dynamite to watch in center field last season.  If he improves offensively at all, we could be looking at an All-Star CF.  He was worth 3.7 & 2.9 last season in 124 G. A 4.0 is easily obtainable just by being on the team for the whole season, but to keep it consistent, we’ll call it Even

Marlon Byrd had one of the most unexpected seasons in baseball history last year.  He was 4.0 & 3.5 in 117 G.  I would like to think that Granderson would equal that over a full season, as compared to what Byrd did in 2/3 of a season.  He should be excellent defensively playing a corner, but just to be safe. -0.5

Eric Young Jr. is an interesting case because I’m not sure exactly how the playing time is gonna work in the OF.  He was terrible with Colorado to start the season but was 0.9 & 1.7 with the Mets in just over half the season (91 G), and he crushed the ball on the road after joining the Mets.(.293/.361/.385) I think he will play at least 91 games.  Even

Chris Young is a wild card if nothing else.  It could be a great signing.  It could be a total waste of $8.0 a little too early in the offseason for my taste.  Its just a one year deal though, and if he returns to his All-Star form at age 30, we can put a Qualifying Offer on him at the end of the season.  He doesn’t have to be great to replace the at-bats of Cowgill, Valdespin, Baxter & Ankiel, and replace the defense of Duda.  Those guys put up a -2.0.  As good as Young is defensively, especially playing a corner, he will put up very close to 2.0, and IF he comes anywhere close to what he was in Arizona from 2010-12, then he is a 4.0 WAR player. I’m being extremely conservative at +3.0

Brown, Nieuwenhuis, den Dekker, Lutz, Centeno, Tovar will get roughly the same amount of AB as they did last season, and prospects like Cesar Puello, Daniel Muno, Cory Vaughn may get a few as well. Even

That leaves Wilmer Flores. The Mets’ hitting prospect is basically taking the ABs of Justin Turner, and his own, from last season.  If anyone on the infield gets injured Flores will get the playing time.  I really think Flores is gonna become a big time hitter someday, but his defense is shaky and it might not be this year. Even

There will definitely be some injuries in 2014, and there will be some regression and some disappointments, but there will also be some surprises.  As disappointing as Ike & Tejada were last season, Byrd & Lagares were complete surprises.  Either way, I don’t think there is any question that we are better off from a position player standpoint than we were last year at this time. +8 wins would put us at 82 for the 2014 season.  If we get a couple of lucky breaks or acquire another player before the season starts, and possibly the trade deadline, anything can happen.  We are the Miracle Mets ya know.

I’ll take a stab at the pitching next.

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