Opening Day Predictions for 2014 New York Mets

Evan Smith@@emoneyball22Contributor IIIMarch 31, 2014

Opening Day Predictions for 2014 New York Mets

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    David Goldman

    With the start of each new MLB season, there is optimism in the air. Although the New York Mets have not made the playoffs in eight years, they feel confident they can make a push for a playoff spot. Sandy Alderson has spoken openly about how the Mets will win 90 games this year.

    According to ESPN's Adam Rubin, Sandy Alderson said the team would set their goal to win 90 games this season.

    "The 90 wins is about challenge. It's about changing the conversation. It's about framing questions for ourselves as to how we get there. So I stand by the notion that we need to get better, and in doing so we need to set concrete goals for ourselves so that we have sort of specific conversations among ourselves about how we're going to get there."

    Here are five predictions how they can get there.

Zack Wheeler Will Win 16 Games and Have an ERA Under 3.00

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    Matt York

    Wheeler’s first year in the league was one that showed great promise. He put up a record of 7-5 and posted a 3.42 ERA. If we look at Matt Harvey’s first year in the league, he had an ERA of 2.73 and a record of 3-5. Harvey did lack the run support he deserved, as he got stuck with four loses. 

    But he then proceeded to put up remarkable numbers that earned him a start in last year’s All-Star Game. But Wheeler had a very similar situation to Harvey's.

    Like Harvey, he was a highly touted prospect with high expectations. And much like Harvey, he has impressed scouts with his fastball which he can dial up to the high 90s. Additionally, he has a sharp breaking ball and a very solid changeup. The 23-year-old has the potential to easily put up at least 16 wins with an ERA of below 3.00.

    Many have speculated that this could be the next Tom Seaver-Jerry Koosman combination. For now, however, there will be no combination. Wheeler will have to take the helm himself and give it his all every fifth day.

Travis D'Arnaud Will Emerge as a Top 5 Catcher

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    David Goldman

    A .232 batting average with one home run and seven RBI: Whose stats are these? They are none other than Mets legendary catcher Mike Piazza's in his first half-season in the league. Now, it is way too early to determine if d'Arnaud will become a star of that caliber down the road. But at the same time we can’t be so quick to judge a player by a half-season. If we take a look at Mike Trout’s first half-season in the majors, he batted .220 with five home runs and 16 RBI.

    D'Arnaud did put up sub-par numbers his first half-season in the bigs, but don’t let that fool you. He has the potential to drive in 15 to 20 home runs, and hit around .280. If we look at some of his best years in the minors, he was able to hit .311 with 21 home runs and 78 RBI in 2011, with a .333 clip with 16 home runs and 52 RBI in 2012.

    He put up impressive statistics in the minors, which lead to the Mets dealing R.A. Dickey away for the young right-handed catcher. Most of today’s best catchers are hitting between .250 and .300 with 15 to 20 home runs, with the exception of a few (Buster Posey, Yadier Molina).

    If d'Arnaud could polish some of his still raw hitting skills, he could put up some big power numbers. He is a certified upgrade compared to John Buck, who had a dramatic decline in the second half of last season, and the lackluster Josh Thole, of years past.

Noah Syndergaard Will Pitch in a Decisive Game 162

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    Kathy Willens

    The Mets seem to have acquired a slew of highly talented pitching prospects over these past couple of years and Noah Syndergaard is certainly one them. Last year, the Mets called up hard-throwing right-hander Zack Wheeler, and the year before that it was pitching phenomenon Matt Harvey.

    This year, the Mets will look to call up the 21-year-old Syndergaard later in the season, just like they have done each of the past two seasons.

    He has showed great promise in the minors, where he has displayed an impressive arsenal of pitches. In Double-A Binghamton, he had a 6-1 record with a 3.00 ERA. If the Mets are in contention in September, he will be one of the fresh arms available. If the Mets call him up in June, he can prove if he is reliable with some quality starts under his belt. He could easily emerge as one of the Mets' best starters and could be assigned to take the hill in the last game.

    We all saw what happened in 2007 with Tom Glavine against the Marlins and the major collapse in game 162. Syndergaard would be a hungry young pitcher vying for his first playoff spot, which might lead Terry Collins to put him on the bump in that last game.

David Wright Wins the NL MVP

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    Bill Kostroun

    David Wright has been a seven-time All-Star, is a member of the 30-30 club, won three Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers and was recently voted to be the "Face of the MLB." But what’s the one accolade he doesn't have (well, besides a World Series ring)? An MVP trophy.

    Wright has clearly shown he is capable of putting up monster numbers, but he has been hindered from achieving more due to injuries. But a fully recovered David Wright seeks to break out for a year where he bounces back by hitting over .300 with 28 to 33 home runs. With the addition of Curtis Granderson to finally provide the Mets captain with some much-needed protection, an MVP for Wright may not be too far from reality. 

    Let’s take a look at his numbers from 2006-2008 when he had the likes of Carlos Delgado, Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran and Moises Alou to protect him.

    • In 2006, he hit .311, with 26 home runs, 116 RBI and finished ninth in the MVP voting.
    • In 2007, he hit .325, with 30 home runs and 107 RBI and finished fourth in the MVP voting.
    • And in 2008, he finished with a .302 average, 33 home runs, 124 RBI and was seventh in the MVP voting.

    Additionally, we saw the potential that Wright possessed at the World Baseball Classic with All-Stars batting behind him, as he hit .438 with a monstrous grand slam and 10 RBI. Yes, there is some stiff competition out there with the likes of Andrew McCutchen, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Buster Posey and Yadier Molina, among others. But if the Mets do make a playoff push, and Wright puts up the numbers he is capable of, then he may just be hoisting the MVP trophy at the end of the season.

The Mets Make the Playoffs

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    For most Mets fans this does seem far-fetched, since it has been eight years since the team has played in the postseason. For many, Carlos Beltran looking at a called third strike in the NLCS is etched in the back of our memories. But this year there may be some hope for fans. The team has made some key additions in Bartolo Colon, Curtis Granderson, Jose Valverde and Chris Young.

    Since the Mets cleared a hefty sum of money off the books, Sandy Alderson felt obliged to prove that the team wouldn’t just roll over a die for another year. These key additions should help put the Mets in the thick of things above the declining Phillies and less-than-stellar Marlins.

    The team will sorely miss Matt Harvey, but it still has some pitching depth nonetheless. Dillon Gee has been named the Opening Day starter, as he performed brilliantly in spring training. And Jon Niese has all the right tools to be a solid major league pitcher, but just hasn’t put it all together for a full season. Could this be the year for him?

    If the Mets are able to win 90 games, then that should set them up for the playoffs. The team seems more optimistic than in the past, which is bright sign for the fans. Additionally, the new playoff format should help aid the Mets in their push for a playoff spot. The key will be to keep it all together until September—if they could make it that far.

    In 2007 and 2008, the team was in contention all the way up until the last game, where it experienced two epic collapses. If the playoff format were the same as it is today, they would have made the one-game playoff, and history may have been different for those teams.

    Albeit, that postseason spot will likely have to come through the wild card, since the Nationals and Braves both have strong hitting and pitching. However, a healthy David Wright, combined with the young talent and roster additions, should help bolster the team’s chances at a playoff push.