Our Rising Apple Roundtable Discussion nears its completion this week; we’ve gone through each part of the roster to tell you who we think will be the most valuable starting pitcher, relief pitcher, hitter, and bench player in 2013. Now, we’ll move on and talk about those who are expected to meet high expectations this season. First, we’ve each picked a player we feel is the most likely to disappoint.
Matt Musico, Senior Editor: Lucas Duda
I’m not choosing Duda to disappoint this year because I don’t think he’ll bounce back and have a solid season at the plate. I’m picking him becuase I feel some people are holding unrealistic numbers next to The Dude that he probably won’t reach this year. We’ve heard plenty of times how strong Duda is and how he’s capable of being a 30 or 35 home run kind of player, which would be tremendous in the Mets lineup behind another 30-HR guy in Ike Davis. However, it’s unfair to say that Duda will reach that level while also hitting .270 this season. The 27-year-old hit .239/.329/.389 with 15 homers and 57 RBI last season, and had a problem with consistency that led to him getting demoted to Triple-A for some time. It’s going to be a process to see Duda get to that level, and I think he’ll take a step forward in his development toward a viable everyday player, but while I think it’s more important to raise his batting average back toward that .290 mark he put together in 2011 instead of hitting 30 homers, that won’t be enough to satisfy critics in 2013, especially with the fact that he’ll likely be a defensive liability, putting more pressure on him to perform at the plate.
Michael Lecolant, Senior Staff Writer: Lucas Duda
You can’t be disappointed with that which you do not expect. So, in deciphering who will be the Mets most disappointing player in 2013, we have to pick someone the Mets have an appreciable dependency on. This has to be a player the club is relying on to provide a respectable contribution. But unfortunately, this is also someone who is predicted to ultimately fall short. Lucas Duda has a 50/50 chance of becoming that player, or not. I arrived at that percentage based purely on his last two seasons. There is no rocket science here. Following a dynamite 2010 season split between Binghamton and Buffalo, his 2011 combined season between Buffalo and the Mets was very good. But his combined 2012 regular season, was not.
In 2011, with thirty eight games at Buffalo, and one hundred games in Queens, Lucas combined to bat .295 in 430 at-bats. He hit twenty nine doubles, twenty home runs, drove in seventy four, and posted a .516 combined slugging average. Duda walked fifty six times, and limited his strikeouts to eighty four.
In 2012, with twenty five games at Buffalo, and one hundred-twenty one games in Queens, The Duda made 497 plate appearances, and batted .243 for the season – .260 at Buffalo; .239 for the Mets. He struggled to hit nineteen doubles, eighteen home runs, and drive in sixty five runs, while posting an inconsequential .391 combined slugging average. Duda walked sixty one times, but his strikeouts skyrocketed to one hundred-forty one.
Lucas Duda served, and the league volleyed. It is now up to Lucas to return. Will he make the necessary second adjustment to the big leagues? Or, will opposing pitchers continue to expose his flaws? I followed him since he played in Brooklyn. I want him to succeed and become The Dude of Flushing. However, there is that fifty percent chance he becomes nothing more than the Willets Point Whiff.
Danny Abriano, Staff Writer: LaTroy Hawkins
Hawkins, who was brought in on a minor league deal, recently turned 40. He’s known as a great guy and tremendous clubhouse presence, and it seems that those attributes have cemented his spot in the bullpen as long as he’s healthy. His numbers last year weren’t bad: a 3.64 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, to go with 45 hits allowed in 42 innings pitched. If I felt Hawkins was going to be used in low leverage spots, he wouldn’t have been my choice to disappoint. However, I get the feeling that Terry Collins will become far too reliant on him in important situations.
Hawkins has never been a strikeout guy (averaging 6 K’s per 9 for his career and 4.9 K’s per 9 last year), but his strikeout to walk ratio has gone from 3.00 to 2.80 to 1.77 over the last three seasons. I feel the combination of age and incorrect usage will expose Hawkins this year, which is why he’s my pick to disappoint.
Will DeBoer, Staff Writer: Matt Harvey
Let’s flash back to when the first Star Wars prequel came out in 1999: the expectations were so astronomically high that there was nothing George Lucas could have done to meet them. As a result, you get a movie that as a standalone would have been considered pretty good but got reviled because of the name it failed to live up to. So it will be with Matt Harvey in 2013 (but don’t expect any Jar Jar Binks cameos).
After a breakout 2012 in which he finished with a 2.73 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59.1 innings, the bar has been set unbelievably high for Harvey, who is expected to be a cornerstone of the Mets’ pitching staff for the next decade. The man turns just 24 in March and has started only 10 games in his major league career, and while he is likely to live up to the the vision we all have for him in the future, this year he will take a step backwards. Instead of an extraordinary ERA in the 2.00-3.00 range, he will have merely an ordinary one in the 3.00-4.00 range. His strikeouts will drop and his walks will rise as the National League starts to figure him out. The pressure of being the future face of the franchise, not to mention keeping pace with Zack Wheeler once he makes his ascension to the big club, will get to Harvey at his young age. The potentially weak offensive turnout behind him won’t be any help either.
He won’t be one of the worst players on the team, but a seemingly down season coupled with sky-high expectations will make Matt Harvey the most likely to disappoint for the Mets in 2013.
Dan Haefeli, Staff Writer: Matt Harvey
As fellow writer Will DeBoer points out, Matt Harvey’s 10-start audition last summer created quite a high set of expectations in 2013. Harvey, to his credit, seems determined to not only meet those expectations, but to blow them out the way he did last summer. That said, it’s more than reasonable for a second-year player, even one with the demeanor and ability a guy like Harvey has to have a down season. Justin Verlander, for example, compiled a 3.88 ERA in his first four full seasons in Detroit while striking out only 8 batters per 9 innings (alongside a 2.67 K/BB ratio). With the way Harvey’s been discussed going into 2013, such numbers would be considered somewhat of a let down for many Mets fans. What fans must keep in mind is that, with young players, the numbers may not always be an accurate portrayal of the player who possesses them (Jonathon Niese is an excellent example). Over 30 starts, it might be more likely that Harvey’s ERA is north of 3.50 than south of 3.00, but it would be false to consider it a step back, or to assume that Harvey’s 2012 was a mirage. Matt’s 2013 may be a disappointment relative to the lofty expectations placed upon his shoulders, which could be quite deflating to a fan base in need of a young superstar, but it shouldn’t discourage us from believing in his ability and his even loftier potential. All considered, were Harvey to read this he’d probably spend the next 8 months working to make me eat my words. And for what it’s worth, it’s a meal I would look forward to.
Rich Sparago, Staff Writer: Lucas Duda
The Mets will be heavily relying on Lucas Duda is 2013. Duda projects to be the starting left fielder and fifth or sixth hitter in the Mets order. In those spots, Duda will be expected to drive in runs, and offer protection for Ike Davis. Duda is in the lineup because he can hit the long ball. Some hitters, such as David Wright, are good hitters who can hit the ball out of the park. Duda has not shown that he is that type of a hitter. Duda is more of a traditional power hitter, with a long, looping swing that can be exploited. The numbers confirm this. In 2011, in 301 ABs, Duda struck out 57 times. In 2012, in 401 ABs, Duda struck out 120 times. My belief is that in 2011, Duda took the league by surprise, and in 2012, pitchers found and expolited his weaknesses. Duda’s batting average also dropped from .292 to .239 from 2011 to 2012.
The opportunity for Duda will be to work with Dave Hudgens to “quiet” his swing (which is underway), and learn to slap singles the other way when that’s what the AB calls for, and that’s what the pitcher gives him. Then there’s the issue of Duda’s defense. Dan Haefeli did a nice job of showing how Duda’s UZR has been, and should be, better in left field than in right field. This is very true. However, even in left field, Duda’s UZR is expected to cost the Mets around 12 runs. When you add in that Duda has no speed, the pressure on him to produce at the plate goes up even higher. Then there’s the final piece, confidence. Duda is known to have confidence issues, and with the limitations in the various aspects of his game, one has to wonder if Lucas may find himself as an unfavorable vortex in 2013. While I hope to be wrong, I would not be surprised if Duda spends time in Las Vegas this year.
Kevin Baez, Staff Writer: Lucas Duda
First off, let me start off by making it clear that I hope I’m wrong about this selection. I root for every member on the Mets’ roster. However, if I had to select one player who, in my eyes, would be most likely disappoint, it would be Lucas Duda. Yes, we all saw flashes of the player Duda is capable of being after Carlos Beltran was dealt to the San Francisco Giants in 2011, but Duda took a huge step backwards last season. We all know Duda has the ability to show some serious power. Given his performance last year and some of things manager Terry Collins has said in the past about getting Lucas Duda to believe he belongs in the Major Leagues, I question whether Duda has the confidence in himself to get through the rigors of a 162-game season. Sure, every player goes through ups-and-downs during the long season, but confidence in believing in one’s own ability is essential in being a successful Major League ball player. Duda is most certainly going to need to trust in himself when he struggles, either at the plate or defensively in the outfield, to become an established everyday outfielder for the New York Mets. I really do hope Duda has a strong 2013 season, but I am not as confident in him as I once was.
Sam Maxwell, Staff Writer: Frank Francisco
This may be wishful thinking on my part when looking at the 40-man, but he’s the only name that jumps out at me when thinking who is most likely to disappoint. Even though most of us are not expecting much from the reliever, that doesn’t mean he won’t be the most disappointing thing on the roster. I have enough faith in players like Ike, Niese and Harvey, who could be candidates for this category, to confidently lean on Frank Frank for this one. At 2 years and 12 mil, and one of the few Major League contracts Alderson has handed out, his time here could be beyond a massive disappointment. Maybe my emotions are getting the best of me here, convincing me there’s no way the others are going to disappoint, but I have enough confidence in this 2013 squad already to say that the biggest disappointment will be Frank Francisco. If I am correct, then things won’t be as horrendous for the 2013 New York Mets as others are predicting.