New York Mets' Biggest Winners, Losers of the First Half of the Season
The New York Mets have had an uninspiring start to the 2013 season, and the team is sitting in fourth place as a result.
As Zack Wheeler’s call-up portrays, the rebuilding process is still going on. But there is plenty of work to be done. The team has a number of glaring holes, and many changes should come to fruition within the next year.
However, the team has also had a handful of bright spots. Despite a poor record, there are a number of positives and negatives fans can take from the first half of the season.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from the first half of the season.
Stats updated as of the morning of June 28, 2013
Winner: Matt Harvey
Harvey has already become one of the best all-around pitchers in all of baseball.
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No surprise here.
Matt Harvey has been a sensation this season. The 24-year-old has shown unbelievable poise and command, and it’s hard to believe he has only started 26 games in his career.
Harvey currently boasts a 7-1 record with an incredible 2.05 ERA, an MLB-best 0.88 WHIP and a 121/24 K/BB ratio in just 110.0 innings. If Harvey is not already the best pitcher in baseball, the youngster is bound to reach that point very soon.
There is even a very good chance Harvey is named the All-Star Game starter this year at the Mets’ own Citi Field.
Harvey and Wheeler should form a fearsome 1-2 punch at the top of the Mets rotation for years to come.
The pitching future of the Mets certainly looks bright, and Harvey is getting off to a dominant start to 2013.
Loser: Frank Francisco
Francisco has been riddled with setbacks to his nagging elbow injury, and his Mets career has been a massive disappointment.
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Frank Francisco, whose last appearance was in mid-September of last season, has been one of the biggest losers of the season for the Mets.
Francisco, the biggest signing of GM Sandy Alderson’s tenure with a two-year, $12 million contract, may not ever return to a field at this point. He has been recovering all season from an elbow injury.
Every time he seems to take a step forward with his rehab, Francisco follows that up shortly after with discomfort or further injuries. The most recent news comes from late May, when the Mets moved Francisco to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for Omar Quintanilla.
Also, earlier this month, Francisco threw a bullpen session in front of a number of Mets staff. The bullpen went terribly, and one of the staffers called it "disgusting".
Francisco’s Mets career has been a colossal disappointment. Last season, when he was healthy enough to take the field, Francisco had an embarrassing 5.53 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 48 appearances.
The Mets will surely be happy when Francisco’s contract comes off the books after this season, and he is one of the biggest losers of 2013.
Winner: Bobby Parnell
Parnell has been one of the few bright spots in a very poor bullpen, and he has solidified his role as the Mets closer.
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Bobby Parnell, Francisco’s replacement at closer, has been superb this season.
Parnell already has 14 saves in 17 opportunities, and two of those blown saves were due to poor defense.
Furthermore, despite the shaky defense behind him at times, Parnell has an excellent 2.38 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 34 games. Parnell has 30 strikeouts and just eight walks in 34.0 innings, and has yet to allow a home run so far.
The 28-year-old has developed into a very reliable reliever for an otherwise horrendous bullpen.
It will be interesting to see if the Mets plan to use Parnell as mid-season trade bait or as a long-term solution for the team’s current rebuilding plan.
Regardless, Parnell has had a fine year, and he is a big winner this season.
Loser: Ruben Tejada
Tejada is currently recovering from a quad injury. When he returns, he will have to earn back his starting role.
After a pleasantly surprising 2012 season in which Ruben Tejada hit .289 as Jose Reyes’ replacement, Tejada has been abysmal in 2013.
This season, Tejada is hitting just .209 in 50 games, and is currently recovering from a quad injury. In fact, Terry Collins has already made it clear that when Tejada returns, he will have to earn his job back as starting shortstop. Quintanilla is currently playing very well defensively, and Tejada must step up right away.
In fairness to Tejada, all is not lost for him.
Tejada is just 23, and he has plenty of good years left. Moreover, Tejada is still hitting .283 against lefties and .275 with runners in scoring position. Considering Tejada’s massive struggles so far, those numbers are very respectable.
By comparison, in 2012, Tejada hit .273 against righties compared to just .173 this season. Once his numbers even out when he is healthy and given more opportunities, Tejada should improve in the second half.
For now, though, Tejada’s 2013 season has been a grave disappointment.
Winner: David Wright
After signing a massive extension this offseason, Wright has lived up to the increased expectations in every way.
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David Wright, the newly anointed captain and undisputed face of the franchise, has lived up to the immense expectations placed on his shoulders.
Despite playing with almost no protection around him in the lineup, Wright has been incredible this season. So far, Wright has a .305/.387/.523 slash line with 15 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs, 41 RBI, 41 runs and a surprising 14 stolen bases. Despite committing seven errors, Wright is still playing Gold Glove-caliber defense, too.
More impressively, Wright has normally crushed lefties throughout his career. While Wright boasts a stellar .984 OPS against lefties this season, he is also hitting just .280 against them.
So perhaps there is even more to come from Wright in the second half of the season.
As the World Baseball Classic showed, Wright can be a nightmare when he is surrounded by other talented hitters in the lineup. In this year’s WBC, Wright had a ridiculous .438/.526/.750 line in just four games with two doubles, one home run, 10 RBI, four runs and zero strikeouts.
Only two other USA players had more than two RBI.
Wright is a shoo-in to the All-Star Game this season and stands a good chance to start, too.
There is no doubt that Wright has been a big winner for the Mets this year.
Loser: Shaun Marcum
Marcum has been abysmal with runners on base, and took until this Wednesday to earn his first win of the season.
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Shaun Marcum, signed to a one-year, $4 million contract this offseason, has pitched well below expectations so far.
Marcum did not even earn a win until this Wednesday, and his overall stats are a 1-9 record, 5.09 ERA and 1.26 WHIP.
Were it not for Marcum’s surprisingly dominant eight shutout innings this Wednesday, he stood a good chance of losing his rotation spot to the newly promoted phenom, Wheeler.
Nonetheless, the 31-year-old has an uphill battle before his spot is secure. In 67.1 innings, he has already given up 68 hits and 17 walks. Lefties are hitting an embarrassing .305 against him.
Most of Marcum’s troubles come with runners on base.
With no one on, opponents have just a .209 average against Marcum.
But with runners on base, opponents are hitting .378 with a .999 OPS. With runners in scoring position, opposing hitters are batting an outrageous .438 with a 1.242 OPS against Marcum.
If Marcum is able to get himself out of more jams, he should be able to bounce back for a decent season. At pitcher-friendly Citi Field, Marcum does have a stellar 35/4 K/BB ratio in 35.1 innings, so there are some positive signs.
However, Marcum’s season has been very subpar. He was signed to bring some stability and veteran savvy to a young rotation, and he has not accomplished either of these goals.
Marcum has underachieved immensely this season, and his time in the Mets rotation could end very soon.
Winner: Marlon Byrd
Byrd has been a pleasant surprise this season, and he has thrived this month as the full-time cleanup hitter.
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Of all the cheap signings this offseason to fill an incredibly weak outfield position, Marlon Byrd has been by far the best.
Byrd has rightfully earned the role of cleanup this month, and he has completely changed the dynamic of the lineup. In June, Byrd is hitting .293 and already has four doubles, six home runs and 14 RBI.
It is no coincidence that David Wright is hitting .346 this month now that he has Byrd to protect him in the cleanup spot.
On the year, Byrd is hitting .260 with 11 doubles, one triple, 12 home runs and 38 RBI.
Byrd has been a valuable role player for this young Mets team. He provides power and defense, and he quietly hustles on every play.
A contender in need of a quality right-handed bat in the second half would be wise to consider making a move for the 35-year-old Byrd. Outside of the pitcher-friendly Citi Field, Byrd is hitting .297 with a whopping .595 slugging percentage.
The Mets certainly struck gold with such a cheap contract for a player like Byrd. Although he is clearly not a long-term solution for this rebuilding franchise, he has been a big winner for the first half.
Loser: Ike Davis
For the second season in a row, Davis has gotten off to an embarrassing start to the season and he is undoubtedly one of the biggest losers of the season for the Mets.
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No list of Mets losers this season is complete without Ike Davis.
Davis has been horrible this season. Before being demoted to Triple-A for the first time in three years, Davis was hitting just .161 with three doubles, five home runs, 16 RBI and a terrible 66 strikeouts in 55 games.
Davis got off to a similarly nightmarish start to 2012, but a great second-half push boosted his end-of-season stats to a solid 32 home runs and 90 RBI.
No one expected Davis to get off to this kind of start, especially since he finally recovered from a nagging ankle injury during the offseason.
But Davis may just have a case of the yips.
Being booed relentlessly by your hometown fans can deplete anyone’s confidence. Yet Davis has been phenomenal since his first day in Triple-A, perhaps because of his break from the stress and limelight of the New York media and fanbase.
In 15 games, Davis already has a superb .283/.433/.660 line with five doubles, five home runs, 10 RBI, 14 walks and 16 runs.
Due to the recent run of left-handed starters the Mets are facing, the team has chosen to keep Davis in Triple-A to earn more at-bats and continue to build his confidence again.
However, Davis should be back on the Mets soon, where he will look to reverse his fortunes for the second season in a row.
But Davis’ 2013 season has been laughable. His name has become a punchline to any baseball joke, and rightfully so.
Of all the Mets players this season, Davis has arguably been the biggest loser of them all.
Stats and/or info via ESPN.com, mlb.com, baseball-reference.com