The New York Mets have pleasantly surprised a lot of people this year.
R.A Dickey and David Wright have led the way for the Mets, a team everyone expected to struggle mightily in 2012. Dickey is 12-1 with a 2.40 ERA, and his team is 46-40 and currently just 4.5 games behind the Nationals for first place in the NL East.
Wright has a .351 batting average this year, and he has anchored a surprisingly good offense. Ike Davis has been hitting well recently, and Jason Bay will return from injury soon. New York may want to make a move at the trade deadline, but they do have a good team.
As we learned in the first half, the Mets are very hard to predict. The same will go for the second half, but I'll give it a shot anyways.
Here are four bold predictions for the Mets in the second half of the season.
As I mentioned in the introductory slide, David Wright has been dominating this year.
The slugger is hitting .351 with 11 homers and 59 RBI this year. Wright probably won't have a batting average above .350, an on-base percentage above .440 and more walks than strikeouts at the end of the year, but Mets fans can certainly appreciate that he has those numbers now.
Without Wright, just imagine where the Mets would be. The veteran is having a great bounce-back season, and it seems like he will continue his hot start. He is seeing the ball very well, and his patience at the plate and ability to not strike out often has helped the team.
Unless Wright gets hurt, I think he will continue his hot start.
The third baseman is the reason New York is in the playoff race, and I doubt he will slow down once his teammates start to hit better. Wright's patience has been invaluable to the Mets, and without him, they would probably be below .500. You don't see guys with a .441 on-base percentage often.
David Wright has carried the Mets offense, and Johan Santana and R.A Dickey have carried the pitching staff.
Dickey was expected to start the All-Star game, but NL manager Tony La Russa awarded the start to Matt Cain of the Giants instead. However, Dickey pitched a scoreless inning in relief—just another great thing he has done this year.
The knuckleballer leads the league in wins with 12, and he has a 2.40 ERA. Opponents have a .203 batting average against him, and he has a phenomenal WHIP of 0.93. Since it's very hard to hit a knuckleball, Dickey is very hard to hit.
Johan Santana has bounced back from past injuries very nicely. He is 6-5 with a 3.24 ERA, and he threw the first no-hitter in Mets history earlier this year. However, in his last start, the Cubs scored seven runs off of him in less than five innings, and Santana looked very hittable.
Santana has a 1.17 WHIP, which is nowhere near Dickey's. Dickey has been a lot better than Santana, and you should expect more of the same in the second half. Santana has been inconsistent, and he can be erratic at times.
Since the knuckleball and R.A Dickey are both very hard to hit, I expect Dickey to have a good second half and finish with an ERA just under three. As for Santana, I don't think he can continue his success. His inconsistency will hurt the Mets in the second half, and Jonathon Niese and Chris Young will have to pick up the slack in the rotation.
Even though the Mets are doing well, they definitely need to improve at the trade deadline.
The Mets are very thin in the outfield—they need another starting pitcher and they need a shutdown closer. Frank Francisco has not been good this year, and New York does not have a dominant reliever on their team.
Huston Street, Zack Greinke, Ryan Dempster, Brandon McCarthy, Justin Upton, Josh Willingham and many other big-name players will be on the trade block. The Mets will have to trade some prospects to land a big bat or arm, but they have an above-average farm system.
Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler are probably untouchable, but there are a lot of other prospects the Mets can trade.
According to mets.com, the Mets are looking for a right-handed hitter and a relief pitcher. Street is 13-for-13 on save opportunities this year, and he has 32 strikeouts. He has absolutely dominated this year, and as I mentioned in my article about trade targets for the Mets, the Mets should go after him.
Josh Willingham and Justin Upton could also be traded, and New York could try to go after both. Willingham is hitting about .260 (but with 19 home runs and 60 RBI), and he is playing for the last-place Twins, so he will probably come at a low price. Upton is struggling, but he is very young and full of potential, so the Mets will have to give up a lot to get him.
If any of these players or a starting pitcher come at the right price, expect the Mets to make a move. GM Sandy Alderson knows this team probably isn't good enough to compete for a championship, and that even just one move could make a huge difference.
Thanks to these two guys, the Mets are in the hunt for a playoff berth.
There are now two Wild Card spots available in the playoffs, and the Mets will be among many teams competing for one.
Even though the Mets are just 4.5 games behind the Nationals for first place in the NL East, the Nats seem to be the better team. They have a good player at every position, the best pitching in baseball, and a lot of young talent.
Since the Mets probably won't win the NL East, they will be fighting for a Wild Card spot. There will be a lot of good teams in the hunt, but if David Wright and R.A Dickey continue to dominate and the Mets trade for a good player, New York can certainly secure one of the two spots.
Jason Bay and Frank Francisco will return from the DL soon, and Bay could possibly provide a spark to the Mets offense. If not, they will still have Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda, Scott Hairston, Andres Torres and Jordany Valdespin in the outfield.
And the infield? Ruben Tejada (who has a .325 batting average in 163 at-bats), Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and David Wright play there, and Jordany Valdespin can play there if needed.
As long as the Mets can patch up their rotation, they should be ready for a playoff run. Johan Santana, R.A Dickey, Chris Young and Jonathon Niese have all done a nice job, and Harvey or Wheeler could be called up to replace the injured Dillon Gee. The Mets don't want to rush Harvey or Wheeler, but if the Mets need pitching help, they could call one of the two up.
New York has a decent team. As long as Dickey and Wright keep up their hot starts and the Mets make a move, they should contend for a playoff spot.