So far this offseason, a lot of people have been pretty down looking at the GM situation that never seems to escape discussion when the Mets organization comes up along with the overall dysfunction that has plagued this organization at times over the last decade.
That being said, there were some very noticeable bright spots that came out of this past season despite the fact that the team finished in fourth place in the NL East.
On both the offensive and pitching sides, the Mets have developed some very noticeable building blocks to add to their core for the next several years. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Michael Conforto will all be back next season while the team saw some rising stars emerge over the course of 2018 season.
Today’s list will encompass just a few position players of my choosing, but on Wednesday I will add to the list of budding stars on the pitching side.
The first of these stars was Brandon Nimmo, who received his shot at the beginning of Spring Training when the team decided to allow him to split the center field job with Juan Lagares out of Spring Training.
However, it became clear very early on, and especially after Lagares broke his big toe which cost him his season, that Nimmo was not simply going to be a part-time player as he ended up hitting leadoff for the team for the most of the first half of the season while slashing .253/.373/.490 with 13 home runs, 30 RBI, six triples, and 11 doubles to give himself a .863 OPS.
While he had a troublesome month of July that saw him strike out 35 times in 83 at-bats, Nimmo and came out of his slump in a big way in the month of August as he hit .349/.423/.635 to give himself a 1.507 OPS during that 31-day stretch.
In total, Nimmo hit .263/.404/.483 with 17 home runs and 47 RBI to give himself a superb .886 OPS, 149 wRC+, and 4.5 WAR.
Nimmo’s on-base percentage was the highest by a Mets player since David Wright in 2007, when he had a .416 OBP, just to exhibit how special that number really is.
Those numbers make the former first-round pick a clear-cut option to leadoff next year, as he did for a large part of this past season. His infectious positivity is also always a plus for a team as well.
The other guy who occupied the leadoff spot in the Mets order for much of the season is up next in Rosario. His season was a little less fluent, as his defense was quite disappointing for much of the season -15 DRS and a -5.2 UZR at shortstop in 2018.
However, Rosario really came into his own offensively after a rough first half, outside of a few weeks in the month of April.
In the final two months of the season, Rosario hit .284 with five home runs and 24 RBI while stealing 15 bases in that span as well, mostly leading off for the team. That was a more-than-welcome change of fortunes for him and the team, as he even scored 37 runs in that span.
While Rosario is not exactly a finished product yet, with defensive issues and a mere .295 OBP on the year, the shortstop showed a lot of flashes in the second half of the reasons that he was once the number one prospect in all of baseball.
Where he hits in the lineup remains to be determined, but he hit his best in the leadoff spot (.268) and the nine-hole (.262).
Next up on the list is my personal favorite as Jeff McNeil really stepped up for the team instantly, and as a 26-year-old rookie certainly took an untraditional route to the majors plagued by injuries the last few seasons.
McNeil appeared in only 63 games for the Mets, but impressed right-from-the-get-go. Residing much of the second half of the season in the two-hole, McNeil hit .329/.381/.471 with three home runs, 19 RBI, six triples, and 11 doubles to give himself a .852 OPS, 137 wRC+, and 2.7 WAR.
In order to understand just how good he was in his two-plus months with the team, Ronald Acuna Jr. who is the consensus NL Rookie of the Year, had a 3.7 WAR in 111 games, which is almost double the amount of time that McNeil had to accumulate his WAR.
That’s not to take anything away from Acuna Jr., who is a super-star in the making. That point is only used to show just how good McNeil was in his time with the Mets.
A surprise of sorts was added to the picture too, as McNeil’s seven stolen bases and six triples exhibited speed that not many were expecting to get from the second baseman as he only had six stolen bases in the minors before being called up. However, his 33 steals from 2014-2015 suggest that maybe this is more of what to expect from him in the future.
Another uber impressive stat for McNeil was his mere 9.7% strikeout rate which meant a comparison of 24 strikeouts to 14 walks.
Furthermore, for all of the criticism of his defensive ability in the minors, McNeil was not too shabby at the position at the major league level as he registered -2 DRS at the keystone and one DRS at third base in 476 2/3 innings in the field this year. McNeil also made a few tremendous plays in the field that did not go unrecognized by the fans.
The team likely has found a trio in the three of them, along with Conforto, that can serve as the building blocks of the team’s offense of the present and future.