Predicting Mets' Starting Lineup Halfway Through Spring Training
The Mets are now more than a week through spring training. Spring training, of course, is designed for teams like the Mets to evaluate their young talent and see which players would be best for the Opening Day 25-man roster.
More often than not, those that play particularly well in spring training will end up getting more playing time early on in the season, so it will be interesting to see what happens in certain areas such as the lineup and bullpen in particular.
Here is what the Mets' Opening Day lineup should now look like at this point in the spring training schedule.
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. Based on his speed (more than 20 steals in three different seasons) and leadoff experience from the past, Young would probably be one of, if not the best candidate to lead off for the Mets.
So far during spring training, Young is hitting .211 with a double, an RBI and a walk. He has four hits in 19 at-bats. The main outfielder competing with Young for playing time is another player with the same surname in Eric Young Jr. Young Jr. is hitting .273 with three hits in 11 at-bats. Young Jr.'s average may look nicer, but Young has more hits, although in eight more at-bats.
This competition could be very close to the end, but Young's more veteran experience and power should give him an advantage over Young Jr.
2. 2B Daniel Murphy
Daniel Murphy will almost certainly 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.
Murphy's current spring training numbers include one double and one walk in two at-bats.
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.
Wright is currently hitless in six spring training at-bats.
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.
The Mets have been in need of a slugger to protect Wright in the lineup for years, and hopefully, they have finally found what they are looking for in Granderson.
Granderson is having a great spring training so far, with a .357 average, one double, two home runs, three RBI and two walks. He has five hits altogether in 14 at-bats.
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.
In spring training, d'Arnaud is hitting .308 with two doubles and a walk. He has four hits in 13 at-bats.
6. 1B Lucas Duda
The competition between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda to be the Mets' starting first baseman this season could end up being very close. In fact, thus far in spring training, Davis has one hit in six at-bats, which happened to be a home run, while Duda has two hits, including a home run, in seven at-bats.
If spring training were to end today, one could assume that Duda would have an advantage just because his spring training numbers have been slightly better than that of Davis. But this competition is far from being over. Will Terry Collins even use the spring training numbers heavily to make his decision? That remains to be seen, but it will be very fascinating to see how this ends up and whether Davis or Duda ends up getting traded at some point.
Davis batted just .205 this past season, with nine home runs and 33 RBI in 317 at-bats, while Duda batted .223 with 15 home runs and 33 RBI in 318 at-bats.
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.
In spring training, Lagares is batting .353 with a double, a walk and a stolen base. Altogether, he has six hits in 17 at-bats as he tries to keep his post as the Mets' center fielder.
8. SS Ruben Tejada
Ruben Tejada may not be the most ideal major league shortstop out there, but it's quite possible he could be the Mets' starting shortstop by default.
The Mets did not end up signing any major free-agent shortstops this offseason that could have displaced Tejada. This means that shortstop at this point could be Tejada's job to lose.
Tejada's main competition in spring training could end up coming from one of the Mets' top offensive prospects in Wilmer Flores. Flores would probably not be the steadiest defensive shortstop, but he has a good amount of offensive potential and more power than Tejada has ever had.
Flores right now is hitting .105 in spring training with two hits in 19 at-bats. He also has two RBI and three walks. Tejada, meanwhile, is hitless in seven at-bats.
If the Mets decide to play things safe, Tejada should become the starting shortstop. However, if the Mets decide to take a risk and put Flores at shortstop full time, he would most likely start over Tejada. At this point though, it's unknown if the Mets really plan on turning Flores into a full-time shortstop, so Tejada right now is probably the better bet to be the Mets' starting shortstop on Opening Day.