New York Mets: 5 Things They Must Do to Keep Strong Start Rolling

Ryan Gerbosi@@RyanGerbosiCorrespondent IIMay 30, 2012

New York Mets: 5 Things They Must Do to Keep Strong Start Rolling

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    The New York Mets are only 1.5 games back from Washington as the 2012 season turns two months old. A few things have clicked for the Mets, keeping them in contention for the time being.

    The Mets have stayed near the top through solid starting pitching as well as some great individual efforts at the plate. While these will help keep New York near the top, they won't bring them all the way to the top.

    The Mets will need to continue their success as well as improve on their shortcomings to keep their strong start going. Here are are few ways they can do just that and have a shot at their first NL East title since 2006.

Continue Reaching Base

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    The Mets are third in the National League in reaching base thus far with a .333 on-base percentage. Wright has taken control of this category for the Mets this season, leading the majors at .470. But outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis has been incredibly productive.

    Nieuwenhuis' .358 OBP is good for fifth best among NL rookies, helping keep the young outfielder with the Mets as he continues to thrive. By reaching base often, Nieuwenhuis has been able to score the second most runs on the team with 24.

    Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda have also been successful by drawing walks. Duda is second on the team with 20 and Murphy has recorded 16 himself. 

Be More Active on the Basepaths

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    The departure of the all-time franchise stolen bases leader was a major blow to the Mets base running. With Jose Reyes playing in Miami, there is a void on the Mets roster for a speedster.

    Ruben Tejada began the year as the leadoff hitter but has been on the DL since May 6. Even in his time active, Tejada was underwhelming on the basepaths. 

    Like every other major offensive category, David Wright is the team's stolen base leader in 2012 with five. The team only has 21, good for second-to-last in the NL. 

    If the Mets want to improve their standing, they need to improve their efforts between the bases. Manager Terry Collins may need to take a few risks in sending his runners if he wants to take the Mets to the next level.

Keep Starting Pitchers Healthy

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    The Mets starting pitching has been one of the bright points for the team. R.A. Dickey has spun his knuckleball on his way to a 7-1 record.

    Johan Santana has pitched well recently in his first season back from surgery. In his last start, Santana threw a complete game shutout, giving up only four hits. If Santana plays in a similar fashion for the rest of the season, we could be getting the Santana Mets fans have been waiting to see since 2010.

    Jon Niese and Dillon Gee are also winning games, but have ERAs above four.

    If the top four starters for New York can stay healthy, Mets fans can be more confident in their team's potential success. All four have shown their promise and their ability to perform. We will have to wait and see if their arms can hold the team together.

Hit for Power

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    Since the Mets moved to Citi Field in 2009, much has been made of the lack of power from Mets bats. Management moved the walls in for 2012, but the lack of home run power for New York is still noticeable.

    This season, the Mets are No. 28 in the majors in homers with only 34. Wright again leads the team with six, but the team has struggled to get the ball over the fence as a whole.

    Ike Davis has been incredibly disappointing this season at the plate. Davis had five homers in the first month of 2011. This season, he again sits at five, only a month later.

    New York needs a big home run threat to emerge for the team to be taken seriously as the season progresses.

Add a Middle Infielder

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    The injury bug has hit the middle infield harder than anywhere. Ronny Cedeno is day-to-day and Ruben Tejada is still on the DL with a quad injury.

    Tuesday meant more disappointment for the middle infield when Justin Turner went down with an ankle injury and had to be placed on the 15-day DL. 

    The Mets need to add a healthy, consistent middle infielder if they are serious about contending. Daniel Murphy may play well for the rest of the season at second base, but the void left by Jose Reyes at shortstop has become even more apparent as Mets continue to go down.

    If the injury bug strikes again, New York will need to add someone else to insure the success they have seen early this year continues.