Marlon Byrd and Eric Young have been great additions to the Mets' outfield.
Heading in to the 2013 season, the New York Mets 25-man roster was thin on established talent to say the least. Outside of David Wright, the club was relying on unproven players at almost every position on the team.
First baseman Ike Davis had a subpar 2012 campaign. Despite putting up good overall power numbers, his low batting average and lack of clutch hitting were on display for all to see.
Shortstop Ruben Tejada had been touted to the Mets faithful as the heir apparent to Jose Reyes. Unfortunately, fans are still waiting to see what they had been promised and most wish Reyes was still at the top of the Mets lineup.
Meanwhile, the team's projected Opening Day outfield consisted of Collin Cowgill, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter, Lucas Duda and spring training invitee Marlon Byrd. This group certainly had many question marks.
The Mets' opening day lineup looked like this:
Duda, Tejada and Niese are currently on the disabled list, Cowgill was traded to the Angels and Davis was demoted for a month to AAA Las Vegas.
As it turns out, something changed for the Mets once the struggling Duda, Davis and Tejada were out of the lineup. With minor leaguers and journeyman pickups, the New York Mets suddenly became a decent baseball team. While they are a far cry from playoff caliber, these new faces have injected some life and excitement in to the Mets lineup. Coincidence or not, since Duda joined Davis and Tejada on the sidelines the team has put up a respectable 14-10 record.
What makes this even more impressive is eight of these players were not on the Mets opening day roster. The ninth won his spot as a Spring invitee. Here's a look at nine unexpected contributors for the 2013 Mets.
Marlon Byrd has been clutch for the Mets
Outside of David Wright and Matt Harvey, Marlon Byrd has been the Mets' most productive player. What's amazing is that Byrd was not even in the club's plans at the start of spring training.
Byrd was designated for assignment by the Red Sox in June 2012 and soon after was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for PEDs. His career looked to be near the end.
As an invitee to Port St. Lucie, Byrd showed enough to win a spot on the Mets' Opening Day roster. Now he's an integral part of the team's lineup and is putting up strong numbers.
He is currently batting a respectable .276 and leads the team with 17 home runs and 56 RBI. He is presently among the league's top 10 home run hitters.
Byrd has had such an impact that he's being considered as potential trade bait as the MLB trade deadline approaches.
Eric Young has been a spark in the Mets lineup
Young had been a part-time player in Colorado, but he has immediately become a vital part of the Mets' lineup. The speedy Young has slotted right in to the leadoff spot and has been covering a lot of ground in center field.
In just 28 games with the Mets, Young has 12 stolen bases, 15 walks, a .281 batting average and a healthy .362 on-base percentage.
Young seems to be relishing his role with the Mets and his hustle is on show on every play.
Juan Lagares has impressed so far
Most Mets fans had never even heard of Juan Lagares when the season began. This past week, he was named National League Player of the Week.
The 24-year-old is hitting a respectable .261 in his first 56 Major League games and has displayed great speed and range in center field.
His numbers have seen a significant jump in recent weeks and have afforded him more playing time. For the month of July Lagares is batting .389 with a .405 on-base percentage and a robust .583 slugging average.
Josh Satin has been a welcome addition
Josh Satin has been in the Mets organization since 2008 and has hit well at every level. In six minor league seasons, he has accumulated an overall average of .303 with 60 home runs and 322 RBI.
When Ike Davis was finally sent to Las Vegas, Satin joined the Mets and has made fans wish Davis had stayed in Vegas.
Since joining the club in mid-June, Satin is batting .348 with a .471 on-base percentage.
The Mets have a lot invested in Davis, so he will be given every chance to retain his position with the team. Despite that, Satin remains with the Mets and has earned the right to be given further opportunities.
Andrew Brown gave the Mets a walkoff win over the Diamondbacks
When he was called up to the Mets, outfielder Andrew Brown was hitting .346 with seven homers and 41 RBI in 41 games with AAA Las Vegas.
While his playing time with the big club has been limited, he has gradually seen his offensive numbers improve. He hit .200 in May, .214 in June and is now batting .316 for July.
Brown's biggest moment so far came earlier this month when he delivered the winning hit in the Mets' 5-4 13-inning victory over the Diamondbacks at Citi Field.
Quintanilla has been spectacular in the field
Ruben Tejada began the season as the Mets' starting shortstop. In addition to not hitting, his play in the field was troubling. Known for having a good glove, Tejada made eight errors in the first 48 games of the season.
While no one wants to see any player hurt, Tejada's trip to the disabled list allowed journeyman Omar Quintanilla to take over the shortstop position. Tejada is now healthy, but it is Quintanilla that remains the Mets' everyday shortstop.
Quintanilla has solidified the team's infield and has at times looked like a Gold Glove shortstop. He recently went 36 straight games without making an error.
Despite sporting a .227 average, Quintanilla's hits seem to come when needed. He has been a part of many Mets rallies while his glove has saved the club on a number of occasions.
Carlos Torres has been a great addition to the bullpen
Pitcher Carlos Torres spent some unremarkable time with the White Sox and Rockies before beginning this season with the Mets' AAA club.
Torres joined the bullpen in mid-June. He pitched so well out of the pen that the Mets have moved him into the starting rotation with Jon Niese's continued absence and Shaun Marcum's merciful trip to the DL. (Marcum has since been placed on waivers).
In 22.2 innings of work, Torres sports an impressive 0.79 ERA with 20 strikeouts. He picked up his first win as a Met this week vs. the Braves giving up just one run in six innings.
David Aardsma has looked good in relief
The Mets are reliever David Aardsma's seventh club in eight years.
His career numbers are nothing to get excited about. He has a 14-15 record and an ERA of 4.09 in 273 appearances.
However, with the Mets this season, Aardsma has been impressive. He has made 18 appearances out of the bullpen with 20 strikeouts in 19.1 innings of work. His current ERA is 2.33.
Zack Wheeler has been put right in to the rotation
Rookie Zack Wheeler was the crown jewel in the Mets' trade of Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants in 2011. Wheeler was the sixth overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft and the expectations for his future are high.
The pitching-starved Mets promoted Wheeler in mid-June. He made his Major League debut on June 18th vs. the first-place Braves at Turner Field. Wheeler lived up to the hype by pitching six scoreless innings and allowing just four hits.
He currently sports a 3-1 record and a 3.58 ERA.
Wheeler has not been perfect, but he just turned 23 and is getting his first Major League experience. With Wheeler and Matt Harvey projected to be a part of the Mets rotation of the future, fans finally have a reason for optimism.