As a Mets fan, I’m glad I got to do this write up. This is the first year in a long time that it’s actually a fun team to root for and it even has some fantasy contributors. The defending National League Champions obviously have some great arms on their staff. But unlike last season, it’s not just their pitchers who are worthy of fantasy rosters.
Catcher: Travis d’Arnaud is clearly the primary catcher and the only one worth mentioning. The optimist can look at his 12 HRs in 268 plate appearances with a sustainable 15% HR/FB ration in 2015. While the pessimist can point out that he only had 268 plate appearances. d’Arnaud perfectly exemplifies why I put such a low value on catchers in fantasy baseball. The potential for a 20 HR season with a .270 AVG exists, but he’s missed time with injury dating back to his ascension through the minors and catching isn’t going to get any less physically demanding.
Corner Infield: Lucas Duda has firmly planted himself as Corner Infield option in almost all league formats, but especially OBP leagues and daily formats where you can take advantage of games against righty starters. He’s not a guy I want as my top 1B option, but he should be one of the first you consider a bit later when looking to fill a Corner or Utility spot. Duda drastically improved against lefties last season hitting .285 against them, compared them his career .229 AVG. I really wanted it to be legit, but after digging into the numbers, it’s just a mirage, fueled by a .378 BABIP. For more proof his 5% BB rate and 31% K rate against lefties are in line with his career norms. This leaves the option for potential platooning, but more to come on that. Moving across the diamond to 3B, David Wright has a ceiling of 15/15 with a .300 BA. That line however, is reminiscent of his 2013 numbers, which is not only 3 years ago, but also before the diagnosed Spinal Stenosis. So, while the potential for a draft day bargain exists, the risk of having to dip into the 3B free agent pool (not a deep one) due to injury isn’t one I recommend.
Middle Infield: Neil Walker and as Asdrubal Cabrera are as steady as they come offensively for middle infielders. They both profile as solid options that you can grab late/cheap, if you choose to pass on the top end talent at their positions. I want to be clear, I think Neil Walker is getting the majority of playing time at 2B by a long shot, but there is some platoon potential (again more to come on that). 93% of his career HRs have come against right handed pitching and while the career split isn’t massive, last season he hit .276 against righties and .237 against lefties. Neil Walker and Lucas Duda’s struggles with left handed pitching, plus the plan for David Wright to rest for 20-30 games even he’s healthy, opens the door for Wilmer Flores. If any injury occurs to the infield group, that door opens wider and makes Flores a super utility player that could potentially qualify at all four infield positions, with numbers similar to Walker/Cabrera. The more I think about the grind of a full season, the more likely it seems that Flores becomes a meaningful option in deeper leagues.
Outfield: Resigning Yoenis Cespedes was a huge move for the Mets this offseason, both for appeasing the fan base and to continue having a true middle of the order threat. He doesn’t fit their patient profile, but he doesn’t have to. He’s been a free swinger his whole career and does damage when he connects. I thought his 22 second half HRs would inflate his value, but he seems to be going in the right spot based on ADP so far. With a respectable floor of .260/25 HR/80 RBI and the potential for more as shown last year, there isn’t much not to like. Plus, he’ll qualify at both LF & CF if your league uses individual OF positions. For most of the offseason, I thought the Mets were going to sign a leadoff hitter and move Curtis Granderson to the middle of the lineup. Instead he’ll be back in the leadoff spot, where he had 682 plate appearances last year. He is a tremendous value in OBP and his .259 AVG certainly didn’t hurt anyone with standard scoring. I’d buy into all of last years numbers with potential slight drop in AVG being a trade off for more Runs & RBIs in what should be a deeper Mets lineup. It’s easy to forget Michael Conforto’s call up last year, given the pitchers that made their debuts/returns and the eventful trade deadline. His emergence shouldn’t be overlooked though. With less than 600 minor league plate appearances, once he got the call, Conforto demonstrated a patient approach at the plate and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. The fact that he’s sitting just outside the top 200 in ADP, makes no sense to me. Unless Juan Lagares suddenly learned how to hit or Cespedes struggles with CF defensively (Except for the first pitch of the World Series he actually played a fine CF), I think concerns about Conforto sitting against lefties are overblown. Yes, he may still be pulled late in the game to get Lagares’ glove in the field, but Granderson could easily be pulled for a defensive replacement too.
Starting Pitching: If you’re reading about fantasy baseball, I assume you’re aware of the Mets’ top three pitchers. Jacob DeGrom, Matt Harvey, & Noah Syndergaard are all excellent. I’m not a doctor and I don’t have a crystal ball, so I won’t attempt to predict future injuries DeGrom and Harvey are both being drafted as top 10 SPs, as they should be, and despite their different personalities, differentiating between their potential 2016 stats is splitting hairs. Syndergaard on the other hand, has the potential to be drafted around the 20th SP off the board, while having the potential to land in the top 10. While Steven Matz may the Mets 4th starter, based on his K/BB ratio and groundball rate, I’d happily take him as #3 for fantasy. Let’s not forget about Bartolo Colon, I wouldn’t roster him regularly, but he could be good for spot starts against weak NL competition. Colon will lose his rotation spot once Zack Wheeler returns. As much as I like Wheeler’s long term potential, coming off TJ surgery I wouldn’t invest this season. He never had the same level of control as the other four guys and while he may be very good, I think reputation of the entire staff inflates his perceived value.
Relief Pitching: Outside of closer Jeurys Familia, who is just a notch behind the elite closers, there isn’t a must have guy in the bullpen. As the primary lefty, Antonio Bastardo, should have the opportunity for plenty of holds and strikeouts. Addison Reed pitched much better as a Met then he did as a Diamondback, and overall increased ground balls last season. He’ll begin the year as the top righty set-up man and will be a pivotal part of the pen. Hansel Robles is the reason other relievers weren’t pursued harder during free agency and his 10 K/9 could lead to some good strikeout totals and potential holds before the year is done.
Prospects to Watch: Dilson Herrera is a guy that I think would go at least 15/15 in a full MLB season right now, but unless Neil Walker is out for an extended period of time, I think we’ll have to wait until next season to see it. Rafael Montero is only 25 and despite mysteriously disappearing, still has the potential to provide innings with a good strikeout rate. He’s worth keeping an eye on if Bartolo Colon struggles or if any of the other SPs see time on the DL before Wheeler returns. Otherwise, there is also a chance that he’s used as a trade chip and inserted into a rotation elsewhere.
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Kyle Amore live on Thursday March 17th, 2016 from 8-10pm EST for episode #4 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Weekly. We will discuss player positions and help prepare you for the coming draft season. This will run every Thursday as a live broadcast that will take live callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss everything fantasy and MLB related in the N.L. East.
Come join a lively debate!
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Show: Join Corey D Roberts on Sunday March 20th, 2016 from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. We are a live call in radio show so we encourage callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will break down everything fantasy and MLB relevant for the N.L. Central division.
Our guests this week are Andy Macuga and Phil Weiss. Andy is the head baseball coach at Borrego Springs H.S. in Southern California, and a veteran owner in MLFS leagues. Phil Weiss’s resume includes working as a CPA with a large public accounting firm as well as private industry (Fortune 500), specializing in international corporate tax planning. Also earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Chief Financial Analyst for Independent RIA, responsible for individual securities held in client accounts.
Frequent guest on CNBC and Bloomberg television. Multiple appearances on Bloomberg radio, local and national radio.
Regularly quoted in Wall Street Journal, Reuters, New York Times, AP, thestreet.com, local news, Financial Times
Fantasy Baseball Experience:
Seasoned fantasy player since college and also a Major League Fantasy Baseball team owner for 3 years.