Grading the Individual Seasons of Each Mets Position Player

Shale BriskinContributor IIIOctober 26, 2012

Grading the Individual Seasons of Each Mets Position Player

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    Overall, the Mets' 74-88 season in 2012 was a mixed bag full of both good and bad moments. The first half was enjoyable as the Mets played much better than anyone expected and were contending for the Wild Card with a 46-40 record at the All-Star break. However, the team fell apart immediately after the All-Star break and the great early season moments ultimately went to waste.

    While the Mets having a losing record for the fourth consecutive season is not good by all means, there were still some bright spots among the team. On the other hand, there were plenty of players whose poor performance did not help the Mets become any better.

    In this first of a two-part series of individual reflections, here are the individual grades for each Mets position player that played in at least one game in 2012.

Josh Thole

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    Overall Grade: C-

    Expected to keep improving as a player, Josh Thole took a huge step backward this year. To his credit, he got off to great start in April with a .317 average for the month. He also hit his only home run for the year in Colorado. However, Thole suffered a concussion in early May at Philadelphia and missed the rest of the month before returning on June 1 to catch Johan Santana's no-hitter.

    Offensively though, Thole was not the same. He looked lost at the plate and had just 16 total extra base hits for the year. He did not look like the same hitter that batted .277 in 2010 and .268 in 2011. The hits just simply did not come around for someone that was brought up through the system with a reputation of being a hitter that would put the ball in play and get a lot of hits.

    Despite his offensive shortcomings, Thole could have redeemed himself defensively to make up for it. While he did help R.A. Dickey have a career season on the mound, catch Santana's no-hitter and help other pitchers like Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey grow, Thole was not particularly good this year defensively as well. He gave up a career high 18 passed balls and only threw out 23.4 percent of attempted base stealers. He made six errors as well.

    Defensively, Thole's low point came in July when he failed to block a wild pitch from Pedro Beato that led to a walk-off win for the Nationals. Beato criticized him publicly and got traded away later in the season. Most likely, it was because of how he treated Thole. However, while Beato was certainly wrong to publicly blame Thole, some of the Mets' other pitchers may have felt frustrated with all the wild pitches and passed balls he allowed.

    The one area that gave Thole a higher grade than a "D" or "F" was simply because he indeed had an impact on the career seasons of R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese in particular. Thole has been able to work well for the most part with the Mets' pitching staff and calls great games. The numbers of the Mets' starting pitchers in the last few seasons would show that he was good at keeping them under control and pitching well.

    Even though the Mets' pitching staff has worked well with Thole, the Mets could certainly use an upgrade behind the plate. Thole is more suited as a backup catcher than an everyday catcher due to his lack of offense and power in particular. The Mets will be trying to find a better starting catcher this offseason, but don't be surprised if Thole is behind the plate once again in 2013. Hopefully, he will have an improved season next year if he remains a Met.

Ike Davis

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    Overall Grade: B

    Despite missing the vast majority of the 2011 season with an ankle injury and battling valley fever during spring training, the expectations for Ike Davis this year were still very high at the start of the season. However, after the first two months, the Mets and their fans wondered if Davis was the same player.

    Davis was hitless to start the season until his sixth game and it did not get much better throughout April and May. He started getting benched in favor of Justin Turner against left-handed pitchers and was just lost at the plate for a while. On June 1, his average was just at .167. Nonetheless, Terry Collins and the Mets front office did not give up on the young first baseman. That patience certainly paid off.

    After having just six home runs and 10 RBI in April and May combined, Davis hit six home runs and drove in 13 RBI in June alone. Davis finally started to come around in the middle of June against the Rays and then homered in consecutive games the following week against the Orioles. The real turning point though was during a road trip against the Cubs and Dodgers. It was in those two series that Davis really showed everyone that his hitting was back.

    By July, Davis' season long slump was gone. Despite a .221 average for the month, he hit nine home runs, including three in one game against the Diamondbacks. He then batted .287 with six home runs in August and .242 with seven home runs in September and October.

    During his resurgent second half, Davis returned to being the slugging cleanup hitter he was in 2010, but at a whole new level. He started driving the ball out of the park with authority and was arguably one of the best hitters in the league during the second half.

    Davis had more success away from Citi Field with 21 home runs and 51 RBI in all other stadiums. Furthermore, he only batted .188 at Citi Field. Nonetheless, he once again became the Mets' feared cleanup hitter and by far the team's best source of power.

    Defensively, Davis did not make any more catches over the dugout rail, but still played well in the field. In fact, Davis most likely did not get sent down to the minor leagues in June because he provided reliable defense at first base. Davis finished this year with a .994 fielding percentage and eight errors.

    While he may be a candidate for the NL Gold Glove Award this year, there is no question that Davis is due to earn at least a few Gold Glove Awards during his career. His defense has made the defense of his fellow infielders better as well.

    Most importantly though, Davis remained healthy for the entire season this year and that is always a good sign for someone that only played in 36 games a year ago.

    With the 2012 season complete, Davis should now be viewed as a potential cornerstone player. That is unless the Mets decide to trade him this offseason. It would be a risky move and would only be done for at least one proven power hitting first baseman or outfielder in return. Regardless, Davis' value is much greater to the Mets than on the open market.

    All in all, Davis' first two months of the season were awful to say the least, but his offensive resurgence in the second half, plus his steady defense in the field are what ultimately gave him a "B" for the season. Thirty-two home runs and 90 RBI is something Davis should not only be very proud of, but look to build upon going forward as well.

Daniel Murphy

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    Overall Grade: B+

    Finding a spot in the lineup for Daniel Murphy was never an issue. Finding a position for him to play, though, was another story.

    Murphy originally came up late in 2008 as an outfielder, but following some disastrous moments in the outfield during the 2009 season, Murphy was moved back to the infield for good. He played first base for the remainder of that season.

    However, with Ike Davis waiting in the wings during the 2010 Spring Training and David Wright already entrenched at third base, Murphy was basically forced to learn second base. He was going to spend the year in the minor leagues learning the new position until he unfortunately suffered a season-ending knee injury in June while trying to turn a double play.

    Murphy returned in the 2011 Spring Training ready to compete for an everyday job at second base. Although he was not the Opening Day second baseman, he quickly found himself in the field thanks to the struggles of Brad Emaus and the injuries suffered by both Davis and Wright. As a result, Murphy found more time at third base and first base than second base that year. But it was at second base in August of that year when he suffered another season ending knee injury while turning a double play.

    This year though, Murphy received additional coaching from Tim Teufel during Spring Training and his play at second base this year improved tremendously. He played 138 games there with a .974 fielding percentage and 15 errors. While 15 errors in a season is never good, Murphy performed much better in double play situations. Look no further than the fact that he stayed healthy for the entire 2012 season.

    Murphy may not remain a second baseman for the rest of his career, but this year, he made big strides and showed that he can hold his own there for the near future.

    Offensively, after batting .320 in 2011, Murphy had another solid season at the plate. He got rather streaky in every other month, but still hit .291 with six home runs and 65 RBI, which is rather good for the second hitter in the lineup. Murphy also set a new career high with 40 doubles and even added 10 stolen bases as well.

    Murphy is not yet among the elite second baseman in the National League, and he might not ever be among the cream of the crop unless he starts hitting more home runs. Nonetheless, he showed this year that he is an above average second baseman and a reliable hitter that they can depend on to get on base and move runners over. Unless he gets traded this offseason, look for Murphy to continue his offensive success and improve even more defensively.

Ruben Tejada

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    Overall Grade: B+

    Last offseason, former Met Jose Reyes signed a six-year deal with the Marlins, which left a huge hole for the Mets to fill. Rather than sign or trade for another shortstop, the Mets decided to let Ruben Tejada have an everyday job at shortstop. Despite many doubts of whether he could be the same player Reyes was, Tejada exceeded all expectations and even had a season just as good as, if not better than Reyes this year.

    Tejada surprised everyone by batting well over .300 for much of the season. He ended the year with a .289 average, 26 doubles, one home run and 25 RBI. He also had a solid .333 OBP and was the Mets' leadoff hitter for most of the season despite not possessing much speed in particular. It's possible though that the 22-year-old Tejada's speed could develop in the years to come.

    Tejada missed almost two months with a quadricep injury from early May until late June. When he was healthy, though, he was hitting almost as well as anyone on the team despite not having any power. He got on base, moved runners over and contributed to the Mets more than anyone could have expected.

    Tejada's defense has always been above average, despite having a .974 fielding percentage and 12 errors this year. Those numbers though do not illustrate the many spectacular plays he had in the field and the strong throwing arm he possesses.

    At the beginning of the season, shortstop was a concern for the Mets. Now, it is one of the team's strengths as Tejada is now the shortstop of the future. Had it not been for the great season Starlin Castro of the Cubs had, Tejada could have definitely been considered for the 2012 Silver Slugger Award for National League shortstops. If he continues to hit well, this could definitely happen.

    Hopefully, Tejada will continue to improve as a player and have a better season in 2013. The potential is there, and in a few years, Tejada could definitely become an elite shortstop.

David Wright

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    Overall Grade: A-

    Coming off arguably the worst season of his career, David Wright was on a mission to redeem himself as one of, if not the best third baseman in baseball. For the entire first half, he did just that.

    After flirting with an average close to .400 through early May, Wright continued to hit and drive in runs for the first half of the season. He was surprisingly not voted in as the National League's starting third baseman for the All-Star Game, which caused quite an uproar among fans and experts across the country. With the Mets in contention at that point, Wright was even viewed as a possible front-runner for the NL MVP Award. Once the All-Star Game ended, though, the Mets' season and Wright's as well both took a turn for the worse.

    While Wright was indeed hitting exceptionally well in the first half, he did not sustain the same success in the second half. He hit more home runs, but only batted .263 from July-October, compared to .359 from April-June. August was a poor month for Wright in particular because he only homered once and drove in just seven runs. Not surprisingly though, the rest of the Mets' offense was not hitting any better.

    Wright still finished with very solid numbers across the board. They include a .306 average, 91 runs scored, 178 hits, 41 doubles, 21 home runs, 93 RBI, 15 stolen bases and an .883 OPS. All those numbers led the team, except for home runs. The power was rather disappointing, especially with the fences at Citi Field moved in, but hopefully, Wright can get back to hitting over 30 home runs in 2013. Nonetheless, Wright will need to maintain a more consistent season to improve his numbers.

    The fact that Wright led the Mets with 15 stolen bases is not good at all, but it's still good to see that Wright uses his underrated speed to his advantage at times.

    Defensively, Wright had one of his best seasons in the field and is a strong favorite for this third Gold Glove Award. He may have just a .974 fielding percentage and 10 errors, but his throwing mechanics overall improved a lot and his glove has always been well above average.

    The big story this offseason will be whether the Mets can find a way to re-sign Wright for the next seven or so years. It is imperative that Wright remains a Met for the long term because he is the face of the franchise and already one of the team's greatest hitters. This year, Wright became the franchise's all time leader in RBI, runs scored and hits. Thus, Wright has already redefined the Mets' historical offensive standards and become an icon for the team to build around.

    Hopefully, the Mets do every single thing they can to keep Wright for the remainder of his career. He has been one of the best hitters in baseball for his career so far and is a probable Hall of Famer at the rate he has been at. It's more important than anything within the entire franchise that Wright never plays for another team.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis

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    Overall Grade: B-

    On Opening Day, Andres Torres was forced to leave the game early with a strained calf. With Torres hurt, the Mets did not have a particular player that could play center field on an everyday basis right away. As a result, they went to the minor leagues earlier than expected and called up Kirk Nieuwenhuis to play center field.

    Nieuwenhuis got his first major league hit in his first game and got off to a great start in his rookie season. He played center field very well and batted .325 during the month of April. He hit well again in May, even after getting moved to left field once Torres returned. By June, though, Nieuwenhuis' offense started to slip and he got platooned more often than not. Despite batting .238 in June, Nieuwenhuis did hit five home runs for the month and drive in 10 RBI.

    In July though, Nieuwenhuis started to lose playing and hit poorly with a .105 average and just four hits in 38 at-bats for the month. In late July, Nieuwenhuis got sent down to the minor leagues along with Lucas Duda. He would have most likely gotten recalled in September, but unfortunately, he injured his foot in the minor leagues and was forced to miss the rest of the season.

    Nieuwenhuis finished his major league season with a .252 average, seven home runs and 28 RBI. Despite the average, he did have a .315 OBP. The biggest concern though for Nieuwenhuis was his 98 strikeouts in just 282 at-bats, which comes out to about one strikeout per three at-bats. That alarming rate will have to decrease significantly in order for him to be an everyday outfielder next year. In the field, Nieuwenhuis played very well in all three outfield positions, showed a lot of speed and range and had an above average throwing arm.

    Going into Spring Training in 2013, Nieuwenhuis will compete for a starting job in the outfield. Depending on what offseason moves the Mets, there's a very good chance he will be on the Opening Day roster.

Andres Torres

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    Overall Grade: D

    Last offseason, the Mets made an attempt to improve their bullpen by sending Angel Pagan to the Giants for Ramon Ramirez and Andres Torres. This move ultimately backfired on the Mets because Pagan played well and helped the Giants get to the World Series, while Ramirez and Torres both struggled this past season.

    Torres was expected to be the Mets' short-term leadoff center fielder and was expected to steal bases and score a lot of runs. However, Torres failed miserably with his expectations, spent some time on the disabled list and never really got going offensively.

    Torres batted just .230 overall with three home runs, 35 RBI, seven triples and 13 stolen bases. He improved his OBP (.312 in 2011) to .327, but that does not reflect how bad his season really was.

    Against right-handed pitching, Torres batted just .195, in comparison to .286 against left-handed pitching. It got so bad that Torres even batted from the right side against a right-handed pitcher in one at-bat. Not surprisingly, it resulted in a strikeout.

    Torres did not lead the Mets in stolen bases, which was surprising when considering the lack of speed the team had overall. Defensively, Torres played well in center field and gave the Mets defensive stability. If anything, Torres played a lot more than he should have simply because he was the Mets' only veteran outfielder that was a natural center fielder.

    Torres is eligible for arbitration this offseason, but it's highly unlikely that the Mets will offer him a contract. Thus, he is destined to become a free agent.

Lucas Duda

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    Overall Grade: C

    Lucas Duda was expected to potentially have a breakout season this past year. For a while, that looked to be the case, but when the right fielder an offensive slump, as well as defensive issues became too much, he got sent to the minor leagues for a month. In September, he came back up and played left field in a platoon role.

    Duda finished the year batting .239 with 15 home runs and 57 RBI. Those numbers were quite below the 25-30 home runs and 80-100 RBI expected of him. He was one of the Mets' most notable power threats early in the season, but once Ike Davis really heated up in June, Duda became an afterthought.

    A .140 month in July resulted in Duda being sent to the minor leagues for a month. The bigger reason, though, was for him to learn left field after the right field experiment became a failure. Once he returned a month later, he played left field against right-handed pitchers and first base occasionally against left-handed pitchers.

    Duda of course is a natural first baseman, but the Mets already have Davis at first base. As a result, the Mets could look to trade Duda this offseason at the right price. If that doesn't happen though, look for Duda to be the Mets' Opening Day left fielder in 2013.

Mike Nickeas

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    Overall Grade: D

    Mike Nickeas was the Mets' backup catcher for the majority of the 2012 season. For the second consecutive season, Nickeas provided reliable defense, but poor offense that ultimately resulted in him being demoted later in the season after Kelly Shoppach was acquired.

    Nickeas batted just .174 with one home run and 13 RBI. His .242 OBP and .229 slugging percentage show even further how bad he was this season. In May, he became the starter for about a month after Josh Thole suffered a concussion. Once Thole returned, though, Nickeas was the backup once again.

    It became clear midway through the season that the Mets needed to upgrade their catching depth, which was why they traded for Shoppach. Nickeas' status for the 2013 season is unknown and completely depends upon the other catching moves the Mets end up making this offseason. The Mets could certainly use more offense than Nickeas could ever provide.

Rob Johnson

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    Overall Grade: C

    Journeyman catcher Rob Johnson was originally signed to a minor league deal last offseason. He got promoted to the major league squad in May to back up Mike Nickeas after Josh Thole suffered a concussion. He got occasional playing time for the next month before getting sent down once Thole got healthy.

    Johnson then kept playing in the minor leagues and played a big role in the development of top prospect Matt Harvey. In fact, once Harvey was called up in late July, the Mets recalled Johnson as well to continue to mentor Harvey. Furthermore, Nickeas' hitting was not improving, so that move worked well for the Mets.

    However, after the Mets acquired Kelly Shoppach, Johnson became expendable, but he ended up on the disabled list for the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He is now a free agent and is very unlikely to return to the Mets' organization.

Kelly Shoppach

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    Overall Grade: B

    The Mets acquired veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach in August in exchange for a player to be named later, which ended up being Pedro Beato.

    The Mets brought him in because there was a need for more catching depth and Shoppach provided that immediately upon his arrival. His .203 average, three home runs and 10 RBI as a Met may not tell the full story, but at times, Shoppach was clutch and worked very well with the pitching staff. He hit more home runs as a Met than the Mets' other three catchers combined.

    For the most part, Shoppach ended up platooning with Thole and started against left-handed pitching. During Thole's slump in August though, Shoppach got the majority of playing time overall.

    Shoppach's veteran presence worked well with the Mets' young pitchers, such as Jon Niese and Matt Harvey. More importantly, it brought another veteran clubhouse presence for a young Mets team that needed veteran leadership.

    Shoppach is now a free agent, but it's quite possible that the Mets could re-sign him, either as a starter or a backup. With the free agent market thin for catchers, it would be wise for the Mets to make a two-year investment on Shoppach.

Justin Turner

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    Overall Grade: B

    Just as former backup Todd Pratt did for the Mets in the late 1990s and early 2000s, utility infielder Justin Turner was arguably the most energetic player on the Mets' bench this year. He would always cheer profoundly for his teammates and was even designated as the one that would throw pies in teammates' faces during postgame interviews.

    On the field though, Turner handled his new role very well. After playing second base for the majority of the 2011 season, he became a utility infielder this year and found time at all four infield positions. He even played first base a decent amount early in the season against left-handed pitchers while Ike Davis was mired in a slump.

    But most of Turner's appearances were off the bench as a pinch-hitter. Overall, Turner batted .269 with two home runs and 19 RBI. As a pinch-hitter though, Turner batted .250 (12/48) with six RBI. Furthermore, he batted .293 with runners in scoring position, which shows that he was clutch at times.

    In 2013, Turner's role will be almost the same, except that it's possible he might learn the outfield as well in order to increase his utility value even further. If anyone on the Mets is up to such a task, it would be the energetic and youthful Turner. Of course, in the event that any Mets' infielder were to get injured, the Mets could always plug in Turner to fill the void.

Ronny Cedeno

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    Overall Grade: B-

    Veteran backup infielder Ronny Cedeno provided a steady presence on the bench. His role was mostly to play solid defense, and he played second base quite a bit as a late defensive replacement for Daniel Murphy early in the season.

    Cedeno though spent about a month on the disabled list in May, which resulted in the Mets having to call up Omar Quintanilla to play shortstop. When Cedeno returned, he remained a backup, but still filled in at second base, shortstop and even third base on occasion.

    Offensively, Cedeno was a bit of a surprise. Never known for his bat, Cedeno batted .259 with four home runs, 22 RBI and a .332 OBP. He contributed at times and made the most of his opportunities to play. All in all, he played his role well and was a solid backup. He also was a good mentor for Ruben Tejada.

    Cedeno is now a free agent and it is unknown whether the Mets plan to re-sign him or not.

Omar Quintanilla

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    Overall Grade: B

    Journeyman infielder Omar Quintanilla was originally signed to a minor league deal by the Mets, but after a series of injuries to Ruben Tejada, Ronny Cedeno and Justin Turner occurred in May, the Mets had no choice but to promote Quintanilla in late May.

    In his brief stint with the Mets, Quintanilla sure made the most of it. He only batted .257 with one home run and four RBI, but he showed patience at the plate with a .350 OBP. He scored 13 runs in his brief time as a Met and played shortstop very well during that time.

    Quintanilla will likely be remembered mostly for being the Mets' shortstop during Johan Santana's no-hitter on June 1. Unfortunately for him though, once Tejada and Cedeno were both healthy in early July, Quintanilla became expendable.

    Later in the month, he was traded to the Orioles for cash considerations. He finished the season with them as the Orioles made the postseason this year for the first time since 1997.

Zach Lutz

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    Overall Grade: D

    Zach Lutz's grade is not as much of a reflection on his actual performance, but more because he did poorly in the very few opportunities he had.

    Lutz only appeared in seven games this year. He had just one hit in 11 at-bats. He was a pinch-hitter in all but one game he appeared in. He started at first base on April 27 against the Rockies and collected his first major league hit that day. As a September call-up, Lutz had three more at-bats as a pinch-hitter.

    The everyday presence of David Wright at third base and Ike Davis at first base basically assured Lutz that he would not have an opportunity to start much, if at all. Lutz's future is uncertain as well because of this, but he will likely return to the Mets' minor league system in 2013.

Josh Satin

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    Overall Grade: Incomplete

    Infielder Josh Satin's season this year was rather incomplete because he was briefly called up in early June to replace Mike Baxter after Baxter landed on the disabled list. Satin got just one at-bat and struck out before being sent back to the minor leagues for the rest of the year.

    Satin's future with the Mets is unknown, but he will likely return to the Mets' minor league system once again.

Vinny Rotino

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    Overall Grade: C

    Minor league journeyman Vinny Rottino signed a minor league contract with the Mets last offseason, but got promoted to the major league roster in early May when Chris Schwinden got demoted. Rottino played some first base against left-handed pitching while Ike Davis struggled in his slump. He also found time at third base and left field.

    As a Met, Rottino batted just .182 with two home runs and five RBI in 18 games. He remained on the Mets' roster for the rest of May and most of June before being designated for assignment on June 25 to make room for left-handed pitcher Justin Hampson.

    Two days later, the Indians claimed Rottino off waivers, which ended his time as a Met. Ironically, Chris Schwinden was also in the Indians' organization by then and got demoted in favor of Rottino once again.

Jordany Valdespin

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    Overall Grade: C+

    Rookie Jordany Valdespin provided as much energy and excitement to the Mets this past year as anyone with clutch home runs off the bench and timely hits to keep the Mets in the game.

    Valdespin was originally called up in late April and was rotated back and forth between the Mets and the minor leagues. He first made a name for himself for hitting a pinch-hit home run in Philadelphia against their closer Jonathan Papelbon in early May.

    This became a familiar trend for Valdespin to hit home runs against opposing closers. He set a Mets' single season record with five pinch-hit home runs this year. As a result, he became a top pinch-hitter, and eventually a starting outfielder.

    Despite Valdespin's late inning heroics as a pinch-hitter, he was not the same as an everyday player. A natural second baseman, Valdespin found little time there and a lot more time in all three outfield positions. Valdespin though did not play well in the outfield, even though he is very fast. At times, he misjudged fly balls and had his share of outfield adventures.

    At the plate, Valdespin was rather overmatched as a starter. He swung at nearly everything, and drew just 10 walks in comparison to 44 strikeouts. Sure, he had eight home runs and drove in 26 RBI, but a .286 OBP is not good enough at the major league level.

    Thus, Valdespin is better off spending more time in the minor leagues in 2013. If the Mets want him as a top pinch-hitter off the bench, that could work. However, an everyday major league role is not something Valdespin is ready for just yet.

    Valdespin will need play better in the outfield, with Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada already entrenched at second base and shortstop, respectively. At the plate, he will need to develop much better plate discipline and increase his OBP significantly. Until these things happen, Valdespin will need more time to develop.

Mike Baxter

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    Overall Grade: B

    Mike Baxter was a pleasant surprise for the Mets in 2012. He was a very solid pinch-hitter all season and even made a spectacular catch in one of the greatest games in Mets history.

    After a brief stint in 2011, Baxter became one of the Mets' top pinch-hitters and batted .458 as a pinch-hitter. Most of his success at the plate was in April and May, when he batted .333 and .341 in those months, respectively. At the time, he occasionally started games in the outfield, but was mostly a pinch-hitter. His hitting though was a big reason why he got more of a starting role later on.

    In a very unlikely role, Baxter made a breathtaking catch off the wall in left field to preserve Johan Santana's no-hitter on June 1. It came at a big price though because Baxter fractured his collarbone on that play and missed the following two months. Santana though finished the game with a no-hitter and Baxter's catch is credited as the game-saving play.

    After returning in August, Baxter found himself playing right field on more of an every day basis. He did not hit as well after the injury, but did provide all three of his home runs late in the season. While Baxter was quite a successful pinch-hitter, the latter part of the season showed that he is not ready to be an everyday outfielder.

    Baxter finished the season with a .263 average, three home runs and 17 RBI. He also had a .365 OBP and was one of the Mets' more patient hitters. Defensively, Baxter played very well in the outfield and only had one error all season. Most of his time in the outfield was in right field, but he made some appearances in left field as well.

    Going forward, Baxter will likely go back to being a reliable pinch-hitter and fourth outfielder for the Mets. It's possible though that he could even start next year, which will be interesting to see in Spring Training.

Scott Hairston

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    Overall Grade: A-

    Despite being considered a platoon outfielder, Scott Hairston meant as much to the Mets this year as any hitter did. He had a career season and provided a lot of great moments all season long.

    Hairston batted a respectable .263 with a career high 20 home runs and 57 RBI in just 377 at-bats. He also added 25 doubles, eight stolen bases and led the team with a .504 slugging percentage.

    At first, Hairston mostly played against left-handed pitching, whom he hit very well against. He batted .286 with 11 of his home runs and 30 of his RBI against southpaws. However, as Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis both began to struggle in July, Hairston became an everyday outfielder and provided the Mets with another right-handed power bat alongside David Wright.

    Defensively, Hairston mostly played left field and right field, but occasionally filled in at center field as well. He does not have the greatest throwing arm or range, but he played well overall in the outfield with just one error. And even if Hairston did not get to a fly ball quick enough, he would make up for it at the plate.

    Hairston is now a free agent and it's possible the Mets could bring him back if another team does not offer more money and a guaranteed everyday job. It's important for the Mets to have right-handed hitters that hit well against left-handed pitchers and Hairston certainly did just that this year for the Mets.

    It would be nice for Hairston to return, but if not, he will be remembered as one of the bright spots in the Mets' 2012 season.

Jason Bay

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    Overall Grade: F

    As if life on the field could not have possibly gotten even worse for Jason Bay this year, it actually did.

    The disappointing and underachieving outfielder sunk to an even lower level with an even more forgettable season this year. Bay batted just .165 with eight home runs and 20 RBI. If that does not sound very bad, then his .237 OBP and .299 slugging percentage really puts his season into perspective.

    To Bay's credit, though, he did keep playing to the best of his abilities and played well in the outfield. At times though, he even tried to do too much in the outfield, which led to a rib injury in April. He missed over a month with that before returning in June and getting a concussion a week later after another wall collision.

    After returning from the concussion shortly after the All-Star break, Bay became a platoon outfielder and started almost exclusively against left-handed pitching. Despite hitting some unexpected home runs, Bay did not improve at all and got even less playing time in September. The boos from the fans kept increasing, and Bay has already become one of the most disappointing free-agent signings in Mets history.

    Bay has one year left on his four-year $66 million contract. It's possible that he could get released in the upcoming Spring Training, but more than likely, Bay will be part of the Mets' bench in 2013 as a right-handed pinch-hitter. He could even be a defensive replacement, depending on what the 2013 Mets' outfield looks like.

    All in all, Bay's first two seasons as a Met were bad enough, but 2012 was the exclamation point on how much worse he has become since his better years with the Pirates and Red Sox.

Fred Lewis

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    Overall Grade: D

    Last but not least, journeyman outfielder Fred Lewis signed a minor league deal with the Mets last offseason and played in the minor leagues for the entire minor league season and was rewarded with a September call-up.

    As a Met, Lewis batted only .150 and had just three hits in 20 at-bats. He appeared in 18 games and made six starts in the outfield. Despite those numbers, Lewis also drew five walks, which certain affected his .320 OBP during his brief stint.

    Lewis is now a free agent and almost certain to not re-sign with the Mets.