Mets: Projections for Starting Lineup on the Verge of Spring Training
With spring training almost about to start, the Mets will begin to really prepare for what will hopefully be a more successful 2014 season. The regular season of course will not get under way until April, but from now until then, the Mets will be able to see which players could be a fit on the 25-man roster and where those players should be playing.
One thing manager Terry Collins will have to figure out is the best possible starting lineup for Opening Day. The lineup he ends up putting together will almost certainly not be the same exact lineup he uses every game this season, but should give a good general idea of what it should look like on most days.
Here is what the Mets' ideal starting lineup will probably look like on Opening Day.
1. RF Chris Young
One of the Mets' notable offensive moves of the offseason was the signing of outfielder Chris Young to a one-year, $7.25 million contract.
Young hit just .200 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI last season in 335 at-bats. It's not known right now if Young will be the everyday starting right fielder or just a platoon hitter. It's quite possible that he could be in a platoon in right field with the younger, left-handed Matt den Dekker.
Den Dekker is a very good defensive outfielder, but his bat is not as far developed. It will be interesting to see if the Mets have den Dekker on the Opening Day roster or starting the season in the minor leagues. This will likely have a big effect on how much playing time Young will end up getting.
Based on his speed (more than 20 steals in three different seasons) and leadoff experience from the past, Chris Young would probably be one of, if not the best candidate to lead off for the Mets.
2. 2B Daniel Murphy
Daniel Murphy will very likely reprise his role as the Mets' second baseman and second hitter in the lineup.
Murphy hit .286 with 13 home runs and 78 RBI last season, the latter two of which were career highs. He also led the Mets with 188 hits, 92 runs scored and 38 doubles.
He should be able to provide similar or better numbers for the Mets going forward, while his defense at second base continues to improve.
3. 3B David Wright
At his usual spot, third in the order would be David Wright at third base. This should not come as a surprise to anyone.
Wright had an injury-plagued season in 2013, with a .307 average, 18 home runs and 58 RBI. Hopefully, he will be able to stay healthy in 2014 and put together another great season.
4. LF Curtis Granderson
Since the Mets signed Granderson to a four-year, $60 million contract, he will most likely be the Mets' new cleanup hitter.
In fact, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Terry Collins has already decided to put Granderson fourth in the lineup in order to provide better protection for David Wright.
Granderson hit 41 home runs in 2011 and 43 in 2012, which makes him by far one of the Mets' biggest power threats, but he also has speed that the Mets do not have much of, aside from Eric Young Jr., who may begin the 2014 season on the bench.
The Mets have been in need of a slugger to protect David Wright in the lineup for years and, hopefully, they have finally found what they are looking for in Granderson.
5. C Travis D'Arnaud
The Mets should give their young rookie catcher Travis d'Arnaud every opportunity and at least try him as the fifth hitter in the lineup, despite struggling in his brief call-up last season.
D'Arnaud batted just .202 with one home run, five RBI, a .286 OBP and a .263 slugging percentage. He accumulated only 99 at-bats though, which will make him eligible to be a rookie in 2014.
The 25-year-old should hopefully be able to put together a very good rookie season and tap into the power he has. With the starting catching position his to lose, d'Arnaud should be able to put together 20-plus home runs and 80-plus RBI this season to start out what could be a long and productive career.
If he can put together those kinds of numbers, he could certainly be in the running for NL Rookie of the Year.
6. 1B Ike Davis/Lucas Duda
Whether it is Ike Davis or Lucas Duda, the Mets will have a left-handed hitting slugger at first base in 2014. It would make more sense to bat either of them sixth just to give the Mets a left-handed hitter in between a few right-handed hitters.
Davis batted just .205 this past season, with nine home runs and 33 RBI in 317 at-bats. Davis raised his 2012 .308 OBP to .326, thanks to a higher walk rate, but his slugging percentage fell from .462 to .334.
Davis got off to a very slow start and eventually was demoted in June for nearly a month. He hit slightly better after coming back, but in late August, he suffered a season-ending oblique injury. Davis hit 32 home runs and drove in 90 RBI in 2012, which were both career highs for him.
Duda meanwhile batted .223 with 15 home runs and 33 RBI in 318 at-bats. He was the starting left fielder until he got injured in June and was replaced by Eric Young Jr. in left field for the rest of the season. When Duda eventually returned in late August, it was as a first baseman. Originally, he was on the bench, but, after Davis got hurt, Duda took over at first base for the rest of the season.
While Davis may be the more accomplished player of the two, his 2014 salary probably will be higher than that of Duda. Trading Davis would then give the Mets more payroll flexibility for future trades and signings. Nothing is for certain yet, but if Davis and Duda are both with the Mets by the time spring training begins, it would be a big surprise.
Josh Satin could possibly platoon at first base against left-handed pitching. He hit .279 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 190 at-bats in 2013.
7. CF Juan Lagares
Center fielder Juan Lagares most likely will be the Mets' seventh hitter in the lineup.
In 2013, Lagares batted .242, with just a .281 OBP, but he hit better as the season went on. Defensively though, Lagares played very well and showed Gold Glove potential.
Lagares had a .983 fielding percentage with 15 assists and just five errors all season in 116 games. This is why he will almost certainly remain in center field over Granderson and Young.
If Lagares can continue to provide reliable defense in center field and becomes a better and more patient hitter at the plate, he would definitely help make the Mets into a better team.
8. SS Ruben Tejada
As arguably the weakest hitter in the lineup, it only makes sense for Ruben Tejada to bat eighth.
Tejada batted .202 with 10 RBI in 208 at-bats in 2013. He missed a good chunk of the season with a quadriceps injury.
All in all, it was a completely lost season for Tejada and he probably will have to earn his starting job back. This of course depends on whether the Mets end up signing a free agent like Stephen Drew or trade for a better shortstop.
If the Mets happen to do any of this, it would almost certainly send Tejada to the bench and would possibly alter the Mets' lineup depending on who would be added.