3) Starling Marte
In 2022, Starling Marte was in many ways an X-Factor for the Mets. He was the perfect number two hitter behind Brandon Nimmo and in front of Francisco Lindor. He kept the line moving, hit for power, and even played better than expected in the field. His injury led to the team taking a bit of a step back in September. The Mets desperately need Marte to return back to his 2022 all-star form.
This past season was a disaster for him. Marte had just a .625 OPS, was clearly playing hurt for most, if not the entire season, and never looked close to the same player. For the Mets to be good, they need him to be a lot closer to the 2022 version.
The Mets click when Marte is swinging a good bat out of the two-hole. He's a right-handed bat they can put behind Nimmo, and has the speed to score from first base on an extra-base hit from the team's big boppers in Lindor and Alonso. He can distract a pitcher by being an elite threat to steal while their best players are hitting.
If Marte struggles, the Mets would be forced to rely on the bottom of the order which is incredibly weak. We hope they add a left fielder and a DH, but that hasn't happened yet. The Mets would have to rely a lot more on guys like Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez if Marte struggled, which would not be ideal.
Expecting Marte to play 140+ games at an all-star level at age 35 is probably unrealistic, but the Mets need him to be on the field more than he was in 2023, and be the player they saw him be in 2022. The Mets simply cannot rely on players like Tyrone Taylor and DJ Stewart for a large portion of the year.