New York Mets: Predicting the 2013 Starting Lineup
There's one trait that separates Mets fans from almost all other fans in the country: eternal optimism.
Year in and year out, the Mets break our hearts. Whether it's late season collapses, full season struggles or terrible signings, the Mets constantly test the loyalty of their fans.
Yet we remain loyal, and we sometimes have no idea why.
The answer is optimism. No matter how bad the Mets treat us, we believe that every year things will get better and that the next season is going to be ours.
Well 2012, is dead. Let's look to 2013 when it will be our year! (Right? Maybe?)
Catcher: Mike Napoli
Jeff Golden/Getty Images
I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Mets are only as good as their catcher. With Josh Thole, the Mets are simply a below average team.
2013's catchers are a far cry from Mike Piazza or Gary Carter, but Mike Napoli is one of the best offensive backstops in the game. He's already belted 17 home runs and undoubtedly has the power to hit it out of Citi Field. He also has the experience necessary to handle the pitching staff.
If the Mets want to prove they're serious this offseason, they'll go after a big catcher. If not Napoli, expect New York to re-sign Kelly Shoppach.
First Base: Ike Davis
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Ike began 2012 unimaginably cold, but he's made huge strides in his game since June.
He leads the entire National League in home runs on the road (17), and leads the Mets in long balls with 22. He has the potential to hit 30 homers and drive in 100 runs on a yearly basis, and if he does, he would be a rare commodity in the MLB.
Hopefully, if he can maintain a higher batting average, Ike will be a mainstay in the heart of the Mets' order for years to come.
Second Base: Daniel Murphy
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
'Murph' is no Brandon Phillips or Robinson Cano, but he's too reliable of a second baseman to let slip away. He's hitting .289 this year with four home runs and 51 runs batted in, but he's flirted with .300 all year.
His defense could use some help, but he's made great strides since switching to the position just a year and a half ago. If he can reach double digit home runs and play solid defense, he will be a top second baseman in the National League.
Third Base: David Wright
Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images
If there was any guarantee on this list, it would have to be David Wright.
Wright, who already holds numerous franchise records, could be the real-life Mr. Met if he signs a long-term extension with the team. He's hitting .320 with 16 home runs and 75 runs batted in through three-quarters of 2012, leaving him one shy of 200 bombs for his career.
More than his on-field play, Wright is the team leader and the face of the franchise. If the Mets lost him, they could lose a wave of fans with him.
Shortstop: Ruben Tejada
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Jose Reyes who?
Tejada may not have the speed or flash that Jose Reyes brings to the table, but he still is incredibly effective at a much more reasonable price.
He's hitting .311 in 2012, but his strongest asset is his defense. He has incredible range and superb arm strength which lets him make Derek Jeter's famous jump-throw look like a Tejada original. Hopefully the power will come, but if not, he still hits for average and plays great defense.
Left Field: Jordany Valdespin
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The days of Jason Bay being the Mets' starting left fielder are officially over.
Valdespin, New York's do-it-all utility player, has provided the team with a much needed spark since his most recent call-up. In his small sample size, he's crushed eight home runs and driven in 26, making him one of the Mets' most effective hitters.
Center Field: Shane Victorino
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
One of the biggest problems the Mets have had this year is finding a legitimate leadoff hitter that can get on base and steal bags. While Tejada seems like a likely candidate, he has no speed. Valdespin has some of the speed, but strikes out too often.
The available market for 2013 offers a great deal of speed. Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn both hit the market, but there's no way the Braves would ever let Bourn slip away. Victorino has been a Met-killer for too many years. Now it's time to join the good guys.
Right Field: Lucas Duda
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
After a decent first half where he showed tremendous power at times, Lucas Duda all but fell off the face of the Earth after the All-Star break. In his limited time before being sent down, Duda was hitting a lowly .111 with no home runs or runs batted in.
But he will be back.
And for those doubting Duda, I am guaranteeing that if the Mets give him a chance to be the everyday right fielder, he will hit 25 or more home runs. He's still a young guy with great power and strength. Don't write him off yet.
The Starting Rotation
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
1. R.A. Dickey
2. Jon Niese
3. Matt Harvey
4. Johan Santana
5. Dillon Gee
Waiting in the wings: Zack Wheeler
Harvey has proved he belongs in the Mets rotation. The next young phenom, Zack Wheeler, will likely start the season in Triple-A due to his recent struggles, but he will definitely find his way to the majors before the year is over.
Santana and Gee are both question marks due to their injuries and struggles, so opportunity may come knocking very early for Wheeler in 2013.