The 2016 season ended in bitter disappointment for the Mets, as they were eliminated in a winner-take-all wild card showdown with the Giants. However, the 2015 NL champs showed plenty of resolve despite losing half their Opening Day roster to the DL and look locked and loaded in 2017.
Yoenis Cespedes will be getting paid handsomely for the next three seasons, but has singlehandedly carried the Mets offense at times since mid-2015. The Cuban slugger says he’s gunning for the MVP Award this year, and it would be foolish to bet against him after the terrific season he had at the plate in 2016 (.280/.354/.530, 31 homers, 86 RBIs) despite a nagging quad injury.
Jose Reyes leads off, and his 2016 reunion with the team that signed him back in 1999 went better than many expected. Accompanying Reyes on the left side of diamond is Asdrubal Cabrera, who posted his best big-league average since 2009 (.280) and clubbed 23 homers last season, two short of his all-time high.
Lucas Duda’s back kept him out of action for over half of last season, but his results at the plate throughout spring training have been encouraging. The power-hitting first baseman will have plenty of motivation in a contract year.
Neil Walker did his best Daniel Murphy impression until the injury bug bit. Fresh off accepting a one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer, Walker will also be in pursuit of big bucks after this season.
Travis d’Arnaud could be playing for his job as starting backstop; the oft-injured catcher that’s showed flashes of promise in four seasons was nearly replaced by Jonathan Lucroy last July.
Curtis Granderson is the oldest member of a crowded outfield for the New York Mets. He’ll be trying to play a full season in center after filling in part-time in 2016. Though his batting average dipped, which forced Terry Collins to move him down from the leadoff spot, Granderson still smacked 30 homers last year.
Jay Bruce was a streaky but mostly bad addition at the trade deadline last season. After failing to swap him over the winter, the Mets hope Bruce can return to the form he showed in Cincinnati.
Talent runs deep on the bench in the form of Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and Wilmer Flores, but the envy of the league isn’t the Mets’ lineup, but rather their rotation.
Noah Syndergaard (14-9, 2.60 ERA in 2016) starts in the Mets’ Opening Day clash with Atlanta on Monday. Despite an alarming base-stealing rate allowed and bone spurs which bothered him throughout the season, Syndergaard still managed to produce All-Star results on the mound in 2016.
Backing up “Thor” will be Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, who could be No. 1 starters for half the teams in baseball. Both will be coming off injuries that ended their 2016 campaigns prematurely, but each has turned in encouraging results down in Florida this March.
Electrifying lefty Steven Matz won’t make Opening Day, which opens the door for both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. Each turned in surprisingly good campaigns as injury call-ups last season.
Finally, the Mets have an embarrassment of riches in the bullpen. Setup man extraordinaire Addison Reed will be filling Jeurys Familia’s shoes until the latter returns from suspension. Reliable options like Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins and Hansel Robles also return, and they’ll be joined by young, hard-throwing lefty Josh Smoker. Zack Wheeler, once among the Mets’ most promising prospects, could pitch in relief first in order to stay below his innings limit as he tries to come back off Tommy John surgery. But like David Wright, Wheeler is not expected to be on the Opening Day roster.
Jose Reyes – 3B
Asdrubal Cabrera – SS
Yoenis Cespedes – LF
Jay Bruce – RF
Neil Walker – 2B
Curtis Granderson – CF
Lucas Duda – 1B
Travis d’Arnaud – C