Why the Mets offense can be one of the best in the National League
By Staff Writer
The New York Mets offense often sat quietly in 2018. In 2019, the improved offense could end up as one of the best group of position players in the National League.
Every year we as fans get excited when seeing our teams outproduce or go above and beyond in their performance in certain aspects of the game. This spring I have seen many improvements in all aspects of the game from the New York Mets that give me hope that 2019 will be a year filled without squander. But nothing gets me more excited than watching this team come up to the plate swinging.
I’ll admit that I had my apprehensions about how well the Mets would be able to play offensively when they arrived in Port St. Lucie this February. After all, Cano was coming off a PED suspension and is now 36 years old, Wilson Ramos had a major ACL tear he is just fully recovered from and will be squatting behind the plate for over 100 games this season.
Plus, we still aren’t sure what many of these back up minor league signings and call ups will be able to do come the start of the real regular season.
But after watching a month of Spring Training games, I can’t help but feel optimistic and hopeful that this offense can be one of the most prolific run-producing line ups in the National League in 2019. Why?
Let’s start off with the balance in their lineup. When healthy, the Mets have guys who fit their respective roles in every part of their line up top to bottom. You have the leadoff guy with the high contact rate and high OBP in Brandon Nimmo to get things going. You then have a guy in Jed Lowrie, with an even higher OBP over the last two years than Nimmo, who also averages over 40 doubles a year and over 75 walks a year over the last two seasons. That is some impressive table setting.
Then the heart of their line up consists of Robinson Cano, who was either on pace to get to 100 RBI or who reached 100 RBI over the past three seasons. This spring, Cano is hitting .460 after 23 games in Spring Training with two doubles and two home runs. The ball is exploding off his bat as it does normally and he is making solid contact like he usually does.
Basically, all the signs that we can expect monster numbers to be put up by the future Hall of Fame candidate come 2019.
As far as clean up hitters go, the Mets have a few options here. Initially, they can expect their newly acquired catcher Wilson Ramos to more than likely fill this role and provide the lefty-righty balance that the Mets management craves to have in their order. By all accounts, Ramos looks as strong and as healthy as I have ever seen him in any spring training camp. The ball is jumping off his bat on contact as he is hitting .321 with one home run and 5 RBI this spring.
Reports are that Yoenis Cespedes is also anxious to rejoin his teammates in 2019 and to contribute to this new look line up at the plate. If he is as committed as reported and suffers no setbacks, a late August or an early September return wouldn’t be out of the question. That would be some explosive pop in the cleanup role.
But more than likely, rookie first baseman Pete Alonso will eventually get called up and either bat fourth or sixth in this line up in mid- April. After putting up stellar power numbers in double and Triple-A this past season, the 6’3″, 250 lb. Alonso is showing no let up in the amount of much damage he can do to pitchers at the major league level.
This spring he is batting .354 with four doubles, three home runs, eight RBI, and an OPS of 1.040 in just under 50 at-bats. His power on contact with the baseball is comparable to the likes of sluggers named Nelson Cruz or Rhys Hoskins. Having that type of bat up at the plate with RISP all season will work wonders for the Mets offense and make them infinitely more potent than in 2018.
Backing up any of those clean-up hitters will be Michael Conforto in the fifth spot. Conforto is expected to put it all together in 2019 as he is finally fully healthy and getting his timing and rhythm back from his shoulder injury last August.
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As of the start of Tuesday, Conforto has hit a home run in three straight Spring Training games and is tied for the team lead with Pete Alonso with four total preseason home runs. Conforto has also increased his home run, walks, doubles and RBI totals in three consecutive full seasons from 2016 to 2018. He looks poised to break out with a 30 home run and 100 RBI campaign if he can put it all together this year.
The back end of the line up consists of two hitters that can hit for doubles and triples gap power and make solid contact whenever up in sophomore shortstop Amed Rosario and utility man Jeff McNeil.
McNeil batted .330 with a .381 OBP and an impressive OPS+ of 140 in his limited time up last year and is continually showing his terrific bat/ eye coordination this spring. McNeil is batting .324 with two doubles and two home runs in about 13 games played at Port St. Lucie.
Rosario has improved his contact rate this Spring as well, as he has refined his leg kick to help better generate power and help improve his contact with the baseball when he is at the plate. Amed is batting .357 this Spring with the same amount of doubles and home runs as Jeff McNeil in two fewer games.
What this starting line up in showing us is that it has the potential to have no easy outs from their one through eight positions in the batting order. A team that can work pitch counts deep, get on base frequently with so many players and make contact at a way higher rate than the MLB average is certainly not what us fans are accustomed to seeing from the Mets. It has been a long time since the Amazins could claim this type of length and strength in their line up. I would have to go all the way back to 2007 before I could find such a formidable group of bats all starting at once.
We see that the Mets have the potential to also fill in the holes effectively should injuries beset their starting eight. Players like Keon Broxton or Juan Lagares can come in and give good stretches of offense output in need be and can play tremendous defense in the outfield.
Travis D’Arnaud also seems eager to prove himself as he is showing signs of power in his bat in his limited Spring Training appearances. Luis Guillorme and J.D. Davis are also hitting for high averages and for doubles power this Spring Training as they look to solidify the infield positions on the Mets 2019 roster.
I do not think 2019 will be a year where we see the Mets offense go through long stretches ( and I mean months) of not putting up more than two or three runs a game. More than likely it will be up to the starting pitching (outside of Jacob deGrom) and the bullpen to show us that they can pitch effectively on a consistent basis if the Mets are to have a chance of winning 90 or more games this year.
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Depth-wise, lengthwise, and role-wise, Brodie Van Wagenen is showing us that 2019 should be the year that the Mets offense will be a major reason that fans in Flushing will be flocking to Citi Field to see their team to do some major potential damage come October.