If this spring hasn’t left you optimistic of what’s to come, then you might need to rethink a few things. There is something drastically different about this year’s Mets compared to last, and while it is clear that there are still some wrinkles to be smoothed out, there should be no argument that 2015 will be better than 2014.
The Mets finished as unofficial Grapefruit League champs, respectably ending their spring training at 19-12-2. From Matt Harvey picking up where he left off to Cuddyer flashing signs of potential beyond expectations, this spring has showcased far more good than bad. Of course, before the season officially begins tomorrow, I couldn’t resist the urge to evaluate the final verdict. For the first time in over half a year, I present to you: the best players of spring training!
Top Pitcher: Matt Harvey
Boy, does this feel good to finally say again. Not only did Harvey completely shatter all expectations placed on him by clocking in at 99 in his first start back, but let it be noted that in the 22.2 innings he pitched, his BB/K ratio was 1:21. If that isn’t just absurd to you, then I don’t know what else to say. It’s also worth noting that Harvey has seemed to have spent a good chunk of his rehab refining his curveball (arguably his weakest pitch pre-TJ surgery), which is a monstrous improvement and advantage he has added to his seemingly endless pitching arsenal. If he can carry this into the regular season, he’s going to find himself in some very good company. Cool, calm, collected and confident– Matt Harvey is still Matt Harvey. What surgery?
Top Hitter: Curtis Granderson
Woah, wait, what? Curtis Granderson? The same guy who would have been lucky to even make contact with the ball last April? Not only did Curtis lead the entire Grapefruit League with a .442 average over 52 at bats, but he drew 10 walks and had an OBP of .531 (!!!) and an OPS of 1.243 (!!!!!), while only striking out five times (!!!!!!!!!!). Where was this Curtis last season? We could have used a guy who didn’t arbitrarily swing at everything remotely near the plate! Luckily, Grandy has seemed to fix his mistakes; and even if it is Spring Training and all, if he could stay consistent like this over the course of 22 games, there is no reason to believe that he can’t do it for another 130. Stay with me, folks: we’re being optimistic!
Top Defender: Juan Lagares
Honestly, this doesn’t even need an explanation at this point. Where extra base hits go to die. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Anthony Recker is probably the clutchest person on planet earth. Per Adam Rubin, 10 of Recker’s 14 career homers have either tied the game or gave the Mets the lead. With a team that has questionable strength off the bench (and questionable power in the everyday lineup to begin with), Recker could end up being key in a late season, need to win situation; aka, the Wild Card game. Just watch.
You absolutely can’t forget how amazing Jacob deGrom is. He’s looking as sharp as ever, fanning 25 in exactly 26 IP, averaging about 4 innings per start (which is very respectable in ST). There shouldn’t be any thoughts about him fizzling out this season- if anything, he’ll be even stronger. If he keeps this up, he can easily lead the team in wins and possibly ERA; and be the frontrunner for the Golden Hair award.
The heartwarming buddy-buddy duo of David Wright and Michael Cuddyer have been a pleasant surprise. Wright is finally getting extra base hits again, and Cuddyer is launching some impressive moonshots. These two are a key factor in the Mets’ potential success this season, and if they can both stay healthy, expect to see them doing some great things, to the tune of many RBI doubles and towering home runs.
My final verdict? Stay optimistic. I feel something 1985-esque in this team. Realistically, Washington is too developed and too big a mountain to climb over for the NL East crown, but for a first time in a long time, the wild card is not a dizzying fantasy. If the Mets can finish in second place, finally be over .500 and even sneak into one of the WC spots, then I think we’re all in for a fun filled and thrilling year. Opening Day is almost upon us!
Let’s Go Mets!