Jun 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Mets manager Terry Collins (10) looks on during batting practice before playing the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Mets Independence Day report card

There’s an old saying in baseball that the team in first place on the 4th of July will win the pennant. Clearly that saying goes way back, before divisional play, and well before the wild card concept was introduced into the sport. However the point is that by the 4th of July, the season has taken shape, and there’s enough of a sample size to perform some assessments of teams and players. To that end, let’s take a look at the Mets by position, and grade them through 85 games.

Starting Pitching: The Mets’ starters’ ERA has been hovering around 3.80 for a while. The starting pitching has been keeping them in games, with Jonathon Niese leading the way (5-4, 2.88), followed by Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.88). Zack Wheeler has shown flashes of brilliance (CG shutout against Miami on 6/19), but has been inconsistent. Jacob deGrom has been up and down, as a young starter is expected to be, and Daisuke Matsuzaka has provided a workman-like effort (3-3, 3.72). Rafael Montero struggled in 4 starts, and was sent back to Triple-A.

Grade: B+

Relief Pitching: The bullpen ERA has shrunk to 3.20. The Mets have found a late-game solution, with Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia, Both right-handers throw hard, and have been effective in save situations. Carlos Torres is a steady and effective long-reliever. Josh Edgin and Dana Eveland give the Mets two left-handed options, a much-improved situation than the overuse of Scott Rice. Gonzalez Germen provides a swing-type option, as he can go multiple innings, or come in to get a key out.

Grade: A- (held down by the early-season performances of Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Valverde).

Catching: Mets catchers have hit .202, with 7 home runs and 24 RBI. Their OBP is .268. Travis d’Arnaud has looked better since returning from Triple-A. However, the Mets will need significantly better production from their catchers if they are to turn things around.

Grade: D

First Base: After starting the season with 3 first basemen, the Mets traded Ike Davis to Pittsburgh in mid-April. Lucas Duda has a triple slash of .248/.339/.460 with 12 home runs and 30 RBI. Eric Campbell spells Duda against some left-handed pitching, and has done well (.319/.347/.429). Defense has been serviceable by both Duda and Campbell.

Grade: B-

Second Base: Daniel Murphy has been, well, Daniel Murphy. He’s a born hitter, and is hitting .300 with a .351 OBP and a .451 slugging percentage. Murphy also has 7 home runs. However, his defense remains suspect, and he is prone to mental lapses on the bases, negating some of his offensive contributions.

Grade: B+

Shortstop: Ruben Tejada has received the lion’s share of the playing time, and is triple slashing at .238/.351/.299. He has been relatively hot of late, and had an OBP over .400 in June. His defense, while not spectacular, has improved to the point of consistency with an occasional exceptional play. While many point to Tejada’s improvement over 2013, the fact remains that even with this improvement, he is at best average for the position. His numbers are modest, and he provides neither power nor speed to the lineup. Wilmer Flores hit .225 with 1 home run in limited playing time for a stretch in May and June.

Grade: C-

Third Base: David Wright has been streaky. Before his injury on June 27th, Wright was hitting .277 with 6 home runs and 41 RBI. His defense has been very good, and Wright continues to be the face of the franchise during tough times. If Wright’s value to the Mets is ever questioned, witness the games the team plays when he is not in the lineup.

Grade: B+

Outfield: First, the positives. Curtis Granderson, after a rough April, has righted his ship, and is hitting .232 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI. Granderson also plays solid defense in all 3 outfield positions. Eric Young, Jr., while hitting only .242 with a .327 OBP, has stolen 22 bases, and provides a needed spark when he’s in the lineup. Juan Lagares continues to sparkle defensively, and is becoming a productive hitter. Bobby Abreu is hitting .274 with a .355 OBP, and has played more outfield than he should. Now, here’s the other side of the coin. Chris Young is triple slashing .199/.276/.343. He has 7 home runs and 23 RBI. Young’s defense has been sub-par, and his playing time has recently diminished. Kirk Nieuwenhuis provides a solid option against right-handed pitching, as well as a left-handed power bat off the bench.

Grade: B

Manager: Terry Collins has limited talent on his roster. While this provides some rationale for the team’s 37-48 record, Collins has made some strange in-game moves, especially with his bullpen. I stick by the point I’ve made for years regarding Collins; it’s hard to truly assess him with the roster he has. However, it’s also fair to wonder if he’s the manager to lead the Mets into contention.

Grade: C

How would you grade the Mets now that we’ve reached Independence Day?

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Tags: Bartolo Colon Jonathon Niese Lucas Duda Ruben Tejada Terry Collins

  • jrd8278

    Really, the Outfield a “B”? Are they watching the same team I am? Grandy, yes, improved from April but still playing well below his contact. Eric Young is under-used and I think would be more consistent if he played more and Chris Young is horrible and would’ve been cut last week if he didn’t have 3 HR’s in 2 games. I give the OF a C-. SS is a “D” at best. First base, I think was generous as well. Probably a B- or a C+.

  • NCmetsfan

    All of the grades combined average about B- to C+, for a team with a F record.

  • JS1056

    Although Duda has actually been pretty good the last month or so, the season began in April and those games counted. So I would give him a C with the arrow pointing up.
    Murphy can sure hit. Unfortunately he doesn’t really know how to play baseball. He has no base running sense, plays a short right field rather than second base, and generally doesn’t have a sense of how to play the game. When I think about this season so far I keep thinking about a knuckle head play that Murphy made that resulted in another one run loss.
    At best Tejada is a C-. At least he has figured out the right way to hit 8th. Just don’t swing.
    As for the outfield a B? Grandeson’s April cost the Mets at least two wins. Not bad since though.
    I just don’t get the fascination with EY. He is hitting .230 He is a lifetime .240 hitter!! That kind of production equates to a fifth outfielder with a great glove which he doesn’t have. Give him a pass for his base running and maybe he could be a fifth outfielder. He is a D.
    Lagares has played well. They have stopped running on him and he makes it look so easy out there. I don’t think he will ever be a great hitter but I think he could be average. With his glove that equates to a B+. I am concerned about his durability but we will have to see.
    Chris Young…. you just can’t get anything less than an F or he would get it. He really doesn’t belong in the majors and hasn’t in quite a few years.
    I would give D’Arnaud a C-. Anyone who expected a catcher to come up and tear it up in his rookie year didn’t really consider the complexity of the position. He had been lost at the plate his defense ranged from good to average. Not bad for a rookie catcher. As long as he continues to progress it will be a positive season. Don’t forget Yadier Molina hit .250 and .216 his first two seasons.
    Pitching has been good once they jettisoned the flotsum

  • Eric Ohlson

    Are you just trying to provoke discussion with your grades? The only one’s I agree with are catcher, 3B and possibly 1B. If the defense was better at 1B. I would agree with B-. Murphy is not fundamentally sound enough for such a high grade and Tejada the same. If you’re not getting defense at short you better be getting offense, Ruben gives you neither. The OF just doesn’t have enough pop to be ratted a B. I guess I might be quibling a bit about the pitching but I would give both a B right now. As for Terry, a D at best.