When you’re 24.5 games out of first place with not enough games left to comeback, it’s only natural to look to next season. This is the status quo for the Mets right now. As somber as that may seem, there are still some exciting aspects to the last month of the season for a losing team. The last month is a time for younger players to prove to the organization why they deserve a spot on the Major League roster. Below is a list of four Mets players who are making convincing cases for their inclusion on the 2012 New York Mets.
Lucas Duda: One of the finer points to 2011 has been the emergence of 25 year-old Lucas Duda. Duda has posted a .281/.350/.471 line with 9 homeruns, 46 RBI, and 33 runs in 312 plate appearances. And if you subtract his first 23 plate appearances when he wasn’t used in a full-time role, Duda’s already stellar line improves to a sensational .295/.361/.496 clip. The biggest obstacle for the left-handed slugger is his fielding. While Duda has played a passable first base (-0.9 UZR/150), he has been horrendous in the outfield (combined -38.0 UZR/150 between left and right field). Given that fact that Ike Davis will return to first base next season, Duda’s outfield defense must remarkably improve if he wants to start in 2012. Regardless, Duda has more than secured a roster spot next season.
Nick Evans: In his first 35 plate appearances this season, Nick Evans was known more for his golden mane than his hitting abilities. The 25 year-old outfielder/infielder posted just a .148/.343/.333 line in those 35 plate appearances, justifying his constant DFA-status. However, since August 6, Evans’ offensive output has far out-shined his beautiful hair. The right-handed hitter has owned a .310/.340/.506 line with 3 homeruns, 17 RBI, and 14 runs over his last 94 plate appearances. But like Duda, Evans is not known for his defense either. Even though Evans is marketed as an outfielder, his -120.9 UZR/150 there shows that his future is as far from the outfield as possible. He’s actually done a great job playing first base in Ike Davis’ absence (11.7 UZR/150), but it would be beyond a longshot for Evans to steal any significant time from Davis. If Evans can improve his outfield defense before 2012, both he and Duda would make a great platoon in right field.
Josh Stinson: Before his meltdown against the Cubs on 9/11/11 (4 ER, 2 Hits, 2 BB in 0.0 IP), Stinson had been sporting a 0.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and 3.0 K/BB through his first 6.3 innings in the Mets bullpen. The 23 year-old righty certainly showed some vulnerability against the Cubs, but it’s also hard to ignore a reliever with three good pitches, and a fastball that averages 93.1 MPH. Assuming the right-hander pitches somewhere in-between his first 6.3 innings and his last outing, Stinson could be a cheap relief option for the Mets in 2012.
Danny Herrera: A lot of Mets fans were less-than-pleased when Danny Herrera was announced as one the players-to-be-named-later in the Francisco Rodriguez trade. However, Herrera has been a God-send in his limited tour so far. The lefty hurler has posted a 0.00 ERA, 0.17 WHIP, 0.0 BB/9, and 7.9 K/9 in 5.6 innings. At age 26, Herrera is no longer much of a prospect, but that hardly means he can’t be an asset for the Mets. The southpaw has historically owned superior stats against lefties (.205/.269/.295) than he has against righties (.362/.414/.535), so it’s possible his future in orange and blue will be as a specialist. Given that Tim Byrdak will be a free agent as season’s end, Herrera could very well step into the lefty specialist role as soon as 2012.
Topics: 2012 Bullpen, 2012 Mets Bullpen, 2012 Mets Outfield, Ben Berkon, Danny Herrera, Francisco Rodriguez, Ike Davis, Josh Stinson, Lucas Duda, Mets, New York, New York Mets, Nick Evans, Players Forcing Their Way Into Mets 2012 Plans, Rising Apple