Predicting the New York Mets' Breakout Players of 2013
What exactly is a breakout player? Well, according to MLB.com's GIBBY Awards (a set of honors and accolades handed out after the season to the best of a number of categories), a breakout player involves such a player having a season like he's never had before. After a breakout season, the player is considered a "heavyweight" and to be in the "top echelon" of his peers.
In 2012, we saw some incredible breakout campaigns across the MLB. Chase Headley in San Diego finally put it all together and had himself an MVP-caliber season, leading the league in RBI. The Nationals' shortstop Ian Desmond smacked 25 home runs and stole 21 bases, all while hitting .292. Even the New York Mets' very own R.A. Dickey was considered a breakout pitcher in 2012, at the ripe age of 38, as he went on to claim the league's Cy Young Award.
Heading into the 2013 season, there are some questions surrounding the overall talent on the Mets' squad. But there are a certainly a handful of players that are flying under the radar, or have yet to put together the type of season that can truly make in impact on a team. Here's a look at some potential breakout players for the 2013 Mets.
Ike Davis was drafted by the Mets in the first round (18th overall) in 2008. Just two years later, he made his mark on CitiField. Davis came up with the Mets in April 2010 as a 23-year-old, and immediately gave Mets fans a glimpse of what could be in-store over the next decade or so. There were even some early comparisons to Keith Hernandez—certainly a high praise for the young left-handed first baseman, a la "Mex".
And while Davis enjoyed success in his rookie season, mashing 19 homers along the way (he also finished seventh in the league's Rookie of the Year voting), it wasn't a complete breakout season. He managed a mediocre .264 batting average and a decent .351 OBP. 2011 was not as kind to the youngster. In May, a freak collision with teammate David Wright resulted in a high ankle injury, that would cost Davis the rest of the season—he played just 36 games that season.
Davis had a rough start in 2012, coming off of that injury. While also trying to shake a case of Valley Fever, Davis was hitting just over .200 by the end of June, with an ugly .278 on-base percentage. But he turned things around in the second half, blasting 12 of his 20 long balls after the All-Star break. His overall numbers in 2012 were decent, but not great. But if he can carry the momentum from the second half into 2013, we could finally be looking at Davis' breakout season.
Matt Harvey is just one of a number of youngsters making their way through the Mets' farm system. And, in 2012, Harvey made his Major League debut and was certainly impressive.
The 23-year-old was drafted seventh overall in 2010 by the Mets, and stormed through the minor leagues, striking out 268 batters in just 46 appearances (all starts).
After showing he had nothing left to prove in the minors, the Mets promoted the right-hander in July, and all he did was strike out 11 Diamondbacks in his debut. He finished the 2012 season with 70 strikeouts and a 2.73 ERA in 10 starts—very respectable numbers for the rookie.
He won't be eligible for the Rookie of the Year award in 2013, having pitched more than 50 innings last season. But he is almost guaranteed a spot in the starting rotation coming out of Spring Training, and with the Major League experience he gathered in 2012, he should be able to put all of the pieces together rather quickly in 2013, allowing him to have what could be a superb season.
Ever since Daniel Murphy debuted with the Mets in 2008, hitting .313 in just over 130 at-bats, Mets fans have been anxiously waiting for the Jacksonville-native to have a true breakout season. But, four seasons later, that has yet to happen. Injuries and a shortage of defensive positions have hindered Murphy's career.
After his eye-opening debut season, Murphy impressed even more in 2009 when he smashed 12 home runs in his first full season. But he missed the entire 2010 season due to two separate injuries to his right MCL. He returned in 2011, but did not show the same power he had demonstrated in '09, hitting just six home runs in 391 at-bats. He did manage a .320 batting average, however. His offensive production was similar in 2012.
The trouble the Mets were having was finding a place to put him in the field. In '08, he was the team's primary left fielder. But at times, he looked absolutely lost out there. So halfway through the '09 season, they placed him at first base, but that was hardly a solution. Finally, they plugged him in at second base, where he was a regular in 2012.
Now that he is completely healthy, and has a regular position, the hope is that Murphy will turn around and have a breakout season in 2013. A 20-home run season is not beyond the realm of possibilities with the 28-year-old, and as he projects to hit second in the batting order, he should be well-protected with David Wright and Ike Davis batting behind him.