As the 2013 regular season approaches, so too does the fantasy baseball season.
The New York Mets may not possess top-level talent worthy of a first-round fantasy pick this year, but they have a number of players who can put up big numbers. In fact, the only player that the team lost with a high fantasy value from last year is the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, R.A. Dickey.
Still, there are players on the current roster that are more than capable of producing for your fantasy squad this year, and here are my predictions for the top-10 fantasy options on the 2013 New York Mets.
The hard-throwing Parnell is the lead candidate to replace Frank Francisco as closer.
Despite a complete overhaul of a shoddy bullpen from 2012, Parnell emerged as an excellent option down the stretch last season.
Parnell’s splits are very consistent, and he should be one of the better fantasy relievers in 2013.
In 2012, Parnell finished with a 2.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, as well as 61 strikeouts and only four home runs allowed in 68.2 innings. Parnell had a 1.54 ERA in Citi Field, and should continue that home dominance this season. He also posted an incredible 2.14 ERA in the second half of the season, including a 0.75 ERA in September.
That form should only continue for the 28-year-old, as he is just entering his prime.
Even more, Frank Francisco’s health issues means that the closer role is up for grabs this season. Parnell struggled as the closer in 2012, but if he wins that role permanently this year, then his fantasy value becomes even higher.
Cowgill is scrappy and thrives when he is not bouncing around between teams.
The Mets acquired Cowgill in a trade with the Oakland Athletics earlier this offseason, and he should easily secure a starting spot in a poor Mets outfield.
The 26-year-old is a scrappy, athletic player who will always give maximum effort. That trait may be good for a general manager looking to build a team, but it does not always translate to solid fantasy results.
But Cowgill has shown flashes of incredible production, and now that he has a chance as a full-time outfielder, he should have a breakout season.
This is even more plausible when you consider that Cowgill has been at his best when he is permanently on a single team. Last season, Cowgill bounced back and forth between Triple-A and the majors. As a result, Cowgill hit a pedestrian .250 in the minors and .269 in the majors.
On the other hand, 2011 was a completely different story.
Cowgill played the first 98 games in Triple-A, finishing with an astonishing .354/.430/.554 slash line, 24 doubles, eight triples, 13 home runs, 70 RBI, 30 stolen bases and only 63 strikeouts. He finished with a total of 140 hits in those 98 games.
He will have a tough time matching those numbers in the majors, but Cowgill should still produce, especially with his foot firmly planted in the majors. He does not strike out, draws walks, hits for average, steals bases and provides occasional power.
All signs point toward a quality fantasy season from Cowgill.
Fully healthy again, Gee is set to continue his breakout form of 2011.
Before a blood clot in his throwing shoulder ended Gee’s 2012 season, he was primed for a breakout year.
Although his 4.10 ERA and 6-7 record suggest otherwise, that does not tell the whole story of his fantasy value.
Gee’s walks were down and his strikeouts were up. In his 109.2 innings, he finished with a very respectable 97 strikeouts and 29 walks. He also finished with a .232 BAA with runners in scoring position and a .217 BAA to the fourth batter last season. While this does not merit any fantasy points, it does mean that Gee showed that he can battle and hang with the best hitters in the league.
This is even more valuable with the talented group of mid-lineup power hitters in the rest of this division, including Giancarlo Stanton, Adam LaRoche and both Upton brothers.
In addition, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, Gee has received a clean bill of health after a recent examination.
Gee could be a late-round steal in some leagues, and if he stays healthy, he could conceivably throw 150-175 innings with 10-15 wins.
Marcum is a consistent innings-eater, and should be a quality fantasy producer.
Marcum was signed this offseason on a one-year, $4 million contract with incentives. When healthy, Marcum is an underrated asset to any fantasy team.
In both 2010 and 2011, Marcum has thrown roughly 200 innings with an average of only 50 walks, earning 13 wins in both seasons. He also posted a 3.64 and a 3.54 ERA, respectively. In 2012, Marcum missed some time with an elbow strain, but he still finished with 109 strikeouts in 124.0 innings, along with a 3.70 ERA.
But before hitting the disabled list, Marcum was a completely different pitcher last season.
Before the injury, Marcum had a 3.39 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 8.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. But after his return, Marcum’s numbers ballooned to a 4.31 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9.
With a full offseason to recover, the 31-year-old should have no trouble reaching his superb numbers before last season’s injury, and he should eat up a big chunk of innings for any fantasy team.
Murphy is a formidable hitter, and provides many hits and doubles for fantasy owners.
Murphy is the prototypical fantasy asset.
He does not play the flashiest defense, nor is he the most graceful athlete, but the man can simply hit well.
In 2012, Murphy was one of the top offensive second baseman in baseball.
For the position, Murphy ranked sixth in hits with 166, fourth in doubles with a career-high 40 and fourth in batting average at .291. Murphy also hit .322 at Citi Field, which adds huge fantasy value for him when the Mets are at home.
Murphy can be maddeningly inconsistent, though. His batting averages per month throughout the 2012 season were as follows: .298, .303, .240, .360, .225, .337. If he develops consistency, Murphy has the potential to eventually lead his position in that category.
But his current state of inconsistency can be tough to watch for a fantasy owner.
Nevertheless, Murphy is one of the top fantasy second baseman in baseball. He does not strike out, and with an improved Mets lineup, he should also improve on the mediocre 62 runs and 65 RBI from last season. Murphy even doubled his previous career-high in stolen bases in 2012, finishing with 10 steals in 12 attempts.
Murphy may not impress anyone with his power, but he provides a viable fantasy option for any team.
Santana (right) threw the first no-hitter in Mets history, but struggled immensely following that outing.
Any Met fan knows Santana’s 2012 season well. He miraculously returned to his elite form after major shoulder surgery, threw a marathon, 134-pitch no-hitter and then saw his form dip drastically before being shut down for the season at the end of August.
While there is currently a minor scare about Santana’s health, it appears that this is merely precautionary and he should be healthy for the regular season. With this in mind, Santana, who will turn 34 in a month, should recover something close to the pre-no-hitter form that he displayed last season.
Santana’s stats for the first three months of the 2012 season were excellent. Through the end of June, he was 6-4 with a 2.76 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 93 strikeouts in 98 innings. But in July and August, his ERA skyrocketed to 13.50 and 19.89, respectively.
Assuming Santana is fully healthy, he will limit walks, strike batters out, and keep his ERA down in 2013.
Nothing is certain, especially with his advancing age and surgically repaired throwing shoulder, but Santana is still capable of being a top fantasy pitcher this season.
Niese is a superb fantasy pitcher who will constantly give you good outings and upwards of 200 innings per year.
Niese is arguably one of the best left-handed pitchers in baseball, and at 26, he should only improve upon a splendid 2012 season.
Niese finished last season 13-9 with a 3.40 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 155 strikeouts in 190.1 innings. The biggest knock on Niese is the 22 home runs that he allowed last year, but he will surely improve that number as he enters his prime. And with a 3.73 ERA in the first half of 2012 and 3.01 ERA in the second half of the season, he has the durability to throw 200 innings with consistent fantasy output.
Furthermore, Niese’s BAA against the No. 3 and No. 4 hitters are .235 and .188, respectively. He can clearly get anyone out, and no fantasy owner should be afraid to play him against any team.
The 2012 season was no fluke, and Niese will become one of the most consistent fantasy options in terms of starting pitching this season.
With the Valley Fever behind him, Davis will look to build upon last year's second-half performance, where he hit 20 home runs, the most of any first baseman in baseball.
Considering that Davis admitted this month that his bout of Valley Fever before the 2012 season fatigued him throughout the year, his power numbers are all the more impressive.
Davis got off to a nightmare start last season, with a .160 batting average through May and a .201 average by the All-Star break. But then Davis had one of the best offensive second halves of any first baseman in baseball, finishing the season with a .227 average, 32 home runs and 90 RBI.
After the All-Star break, Davis hit .255 with a monstrous 20 home runs and 41 RBI. First base is always a deep position in any fantasy draft, but Davis was as good as any in the second half.
In the second half of last season, Davis had the most home runs of any first baseman, and he tied for the fifth-most overall in majors during this time. His totals were even higher than some big-name power hitters including Giancarlo Stanton, Edwin Encarnacion and Ryan Braun. Davis also had a .888 second-half OPS, ahead of other top offensive first baseman such as Adrian Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche and Joey Votto. His 36 second-half runs were also five away from cracking the top five for first baseman.
In the end, Davis, who turns 26 next month, is healthy this season. He is ready to increase that power production and batting average, a statistic that he admits is an obsession.
Considering his desire to improve his terrible 2012 batting average, as well as the improved Mets lineup, Davis could approach 35 home runs and 100 RBI. Also, due to his young age, there is no reason to believe that his numbers will dip any time soon.
There are plenty of elite fantasy first baseman in baseball, but his second-half numbers from last year should put Davis close to the top of the first base fantasy leaders this season.
Aside from being the undisputed leader of the Mets' clubhouse, Wright is one of the best fantasy third baseman in baseball.
There is no question that Wright is the face of the Mets franchise and the best offensive fantasy weapon on the team.
Despite a mediocre second-half, Wright still finished with strong final numbers due to a huge first half. Overall, Wright hit .306 with 41 doubles, 21 home runs, 93 RBI, a .391 on-base percentage and 15 stolen bases.
But Wright’s first half is what truly stands out.
The numbers include an absurd .351/.441/.563 slash line, 106 hits, 27 doubles, 11 home runs, 59 RBI, 56 runs, nine stolen bases and a 1.004 OPS. Wright led all third baseman in batting average, runs, doubles, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks and OPS during this time. The reigning AL Triple Crown-winner and AL MVP Miguel Cabrera had only five more hits and 12 more RBI than Wright despite over 40 extra at-bats.
Wright also ranked in the top five in the majors in the first half for a number of those categories.
Although Wright strikes out plenty, his 112 strikeouts in 2012 were actually a career-low for him over a full season. He may never again approach the 30-30 potential that he had when he was younger, but Wright just turned 30 years old and still has plenty of high-level baseball to play.
Wright hits for average and power, draws walks, and missed only six games last season. He is one of the best fantasy third baseman in baseball, as well as the best fantasy hitter on the Mets.
With an entire season to show off his talent and high strikeout rate, Harvey will become one of the best fantasy pitchers in the league.
Harvey, who will turn 24 at the end of March, will have a magnificent first full season with the Mets.
In his brief call-up last year, Harvey showed off why he is one of the top pitching prospects in the Mets’ farm system.
With minimal run support, Harvey went 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 70 strikeouts and only 26 walks in 59.1 innings. Opposing batters hit an abysmal .200 against him. Even more impressive, the top four batters in opposing lineups hit a combined .206 against Harvey, despite the fact that the third hitter hit .346 against him. Nevertheless, this still means that he can dominate the best hitters in any lineup.
Harvey was just as dominant in the minors. In 245.2 career minor-league innings, Harvey posted 268 strikeouts and only 95 walks.
The walk numbers in the minors and majors are a bit too high for him to be an ace just yet, but his fantasy value is through the roof. Harvey keeps his team in every game, records strikeouts and limits hits and home runs
Harvey’s eye-opening 1.88 ERA and .141 BAA in the pitcher-friendly Citi Field only serve to add to his fantasy value.
Considering Harvey also has a goal of a 20-win season, that makes his fantasy value even higher. If you are in a keeper league, Harvey would be a phenomenal late-round pick since he is not quite a household name yet. And if he does come anywhere close to that 20-win goal, then giving up a late-round pick the next season is very much worth it.
Although the safer choice for the top Mets’ fantasy player is Wright, Harvey has the potential for an unbelievable first full season, and he is a must-have for any fantasy owner.
D'Arnaud (above) and Wheeler will be very efficient fantasy producers when they do get their first call-up, but they will both likely not be in the majors over the entire season.
Wheeler and d’Arnaud are both top prospects for the Mets this season, and they should eventually become top players for years to come.
In 2013, however, that will not be the story.
Wheeler is electric and is a bona fide ace in the making, but he will likely begin the season in Triple-A until the middle of the season. D’Arnaud is the top catching prospect in baseball, according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com. Yet like Wheeler, d’Arnaud may begin the season in Triple-A so that he is assured of full-time reps.
Both players will produce when finally given the opportunity, but if they begin the season in Triple-A, then neither player will have the season-long numbers to crack the top-10.
All rankings via MLB.com
All splits via ESPN.com