4 Reasons the New York Mets Could Actually Surprise People in 2014
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report Saturday at New York Mets training camp in Port St. Lucie, Fla. In order to compete for a National League playoff berth in 2014, certain things must go right for manager Terry Collins' club.
If they do, New York should be in the thick of the playoff hunt.
Optimism always reigns supreme in spring training. Let's take a look at four reasons the New York Mets could actually surprise people in 2014.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
Curtis Granderson's Power Infusion
The Mets made a big splash in December when they inked Curtis Granderson, the charismatic free-agent outfielder, to a four-year, $60 million pact. His signing signified to Mets fans that the club was serious about contending again.
The left-handed hitting Granderson adds much-needed power to a Mets lineup that was pretty anemic last season. New York ranked 11th in the National League in home runs last season (130), well below the league average of 144.
That's where Granderson comes in.
The Grandy Man belted a combined 84 home runs from 2011-12 for the New York Yankees. Not only that, but he also led the junior circuit with 119 RBI in 2011.
The 2013 campaign was a lost one for Granderson—he played in just 61 games for the Bronx Bombers due to a broken forearm and finger—but he is healthy now as spring training approaches.
The 10-year veteran will be 33 when the season begins and is expected to bat cleanup behind David Wright. He'll help protect Wright in the order, but there will also be a lot of pressure on him to add that infusion of power New York desperately needs.
Expect Granderson to be up to the task. The three-time All-Star owns a career slugging percentage of .488 with 217 career home runs.
He's precisely what the Mets needed.
The Pitching Prowess of Bartolo Colon
He's 40 years old and looks like the guy you play with in the high-arc softball league.
And you know what? The Mets are thrilled to have him.
Sure, Bartolo Colon can stand to lose a few pounds, but why fiddle with success? The portly righty should fit in very nicely in New York's starting rotation, thank you.
With Matt Harvey recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Mets will turn to Colon to give them innings and quality starts this season.
Despite his "advanced" age, Colon enjoyed a remarkable 2013 campaign. The 16-year veteran authored a brilliant 18-6 ledger with a 2.65 ERA (second in the American League) and a league-leading three shutouts.
Colon is not expected to match Harvey's lofty standards, but he does give the Mets a veteran, savvy presence on the mound. In 30 starts last season for Oakland, the three-time All-Star had 23 quality starts.
The Mets could have done a lot worse.
"I want to do this as long as I can," Colon told Jorge Castillo of The Star-Ledger. "As long as I can stay healthy."
A Healthy David Wright
In two of the last three seasons, the Mets captain has played in 112 games or less.
That is not a recipe for success.
In order for New York to seriously compete for a National League playoff berth, David Wright, a seven-time All-Star, has to remain healthy in the heart of New York's lineup. A lifetime .301 hitter, Wright is in the prime of his career and knocked in 93 runs the last time he played a full season (2012).
A 2-3-4 batting order of Daniel Murphy, Wright and Granderson should be pretty potent if they play up to their potential.
The Mets need Wright also for his defense at third base. Despite an erratic throwing arm, the two-time Gold Glove winner committed just nine errors last season and ranked fifth in the NL in fielding percentage (.973).
Not only that, but Wright finished second in the senior circuit in Range Factor/Game as a 3B (2.89).
Wright is still the face of the Mets franchise.
He needs to play a full season again.
A Rejuvenated Chris Young
This will be a huge season for Chris Young.
The Mets signed the free-agent outfielder to a one-year, $7.25 million deal last November. That might seem like a lot of money for a player that hit just .200 last season for the Oakland A's in a part-time role.
It won't be though if Young can rejuvenate his career. He has the time and the opportunity to do so.
A National League All-Star with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, the eight-year veteran is still just 30 years old so he is still in his prime.
As recently as 2011, Young smacked 20 home runs, and he has 144 career home runs on his resume. He drove in a career-high 91 runs for Arizona in 2010.
However, that was then.
Now, he has to take advantage of the opportunity the Mets have given him.
Expect Young to do so. Look for him to provide the Mets with some much-needed pop in their lineup.
This may be his last chance.