First-Quarter Grades for New York Mets
The first quarter of the season has passed, meaning the New York Mets have played enough games to fairly judge players based on their performance.
These grades do not reflect my opinion of each player, but instead represent my judgment of their performance thus far this season.
The grades also vary based on the expectations for each individual player, meaning that while someone like David Wright may be having a more productive season than Eric Young Jr., Wright’s grade will be lower because of his higher expectations.
This list only includes players who have spent a significant amount of time with the major league team and who are currently on the roster. This means that new additions like Rafael Montero and Wilmer Flores are not included, as well as a pitcher like Gonzalez Germen, although I did include Travis d’Arnaud.
On the following slides are the first-quarter grades for every Met, organized by outfielders, infielders, catchers, the starting rotation and the bullpen.
Chris Young: C+
The Mets took an educated risk when they signed Chris Young this offseason, hoping that his power would bolster the Mets lineup. So far, he has performed about exactly as well as the Mets could have hoped for, if not slightly worse.
His three home runs don’t stand out, but that number still makes him one of the team’s primary power threats. His .212 batting average is only slightly better than his .200 total last season, and relative to his career batting average, the Mets should have expected something similar.
The Mets hope Young begins to tap into his power more and hones down his approach at the plate, but overall, it is hard to complain too much about his performance while on a low-risk contract.
Curtis Granderson’s improved play over the past few weeks prevents him from getting a failing grade, but he has still been disappointing overall.
The Mets signed Granderson because of the light-tower power he displayed in Yankee Stadium, but that power has yet to translate into home runs at Citi Field. He has turned this around recently, hitting six home runs this season, but he still has hit a bunch of long fly balls that arguably would have been out of Yankee Stadium.
Granderson has plenty of time to salvage his season, evidenced by his performance Tuesday night—he entered the night hitting just .192, but after going three-for-five he is hitting .205.
Even with the recent power surge, he has still performed below expectations enough to earn a mediocre C for his first-quarter performance.
Juan Lagares: A
Juan Lagares earns an A, as he has been one of the best players on the entire Mets roster through the first quarter of the season.
While he is one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, the biggest concern with him as a player has always been this bat. So far in 2014 he has silenced those concerns, hitting .302/.345/.462 in the early going.
Lagares’ defense along with his newfound offensive consistency gives him a well-deserved A for the first quarter of the season. After returning to the lineup on Saturday with a bang by both hitting and robbing a home run, fans should be hopeful that Terry Collins will play him on a consistent basis.
Eric Young Jr.: B
Eric Young Jr. should not be in the Mets starting lineup as long as the three above players are healthy, but he does provide value to the Mets roster as a bench piece.
His 16 stolen bases and defensive versatility give him value, but his weak hitting makes him a liability when in the starting lineup on a regular basis.
Young Jr. earns a B for is ability to get on base and change the game with his speed, but he should not be in the starting lineup as long as everyone is healthy.
Bobby Abreu: B-
Bobby Abreu hasn’t been asked to do much as a bench player. His patience at the plate has made him a solid pinch-hitting option, but his lack of defense hurts his value coming off the bench.
As long as Abreu maintains his .259/.344/.444 batting line, the Mets should be happy with him as a cheap yet valuable pinch hitter.
David Wright: C+
David Wright earns a C+ because he has put up respectable numbers, but as the face of the franchise, he needs to perform better for the Mets to contend for a playoff spot.
While Wright hit .307/.390/.514 in 2013, he is currently hitting .285/.328/.371 in the middle of a struggling Mets offense.
The Mets' chances of remaining relevant depend on whether or not their offense can start producing, and that begins with Wright. His lack of power production is a concern, but as the Mets’ most consistent player of the last decade, he should be fine by the end of the season.
Daniel Murphy: A-
Daniel Murphy has been the Mets’ most consistent hitter through the first quarter of the season.
While Murphy has just three home runs, he’s already hit 12 doubles, providing the Mets with some much-needed extra-base power.
He has also exhibited a patient approach to go along with his hitting prowess, posting a .359 OBP while hitting .309.
Murphy’s occasional mental lapses on defense knock his grade down to an A-, but overall, he has been a bright spot in a lackluster Mets lineup.
Lucas Duda: B-
Now that he has secured the first base job, Lucas Duda has been unexceptional yet consistent, earning him a B- for the first quarter.
Duda has hit .250/.326/.411 with five home runs thus far. He has been one of the few power threats in the Mets lineup with five home runs, but the Mets still hope his power production improves as the season moves forward.
His .326 OBP is atypical of his historical performance, and is what makes his grade a B- instead of a B. Despite the less patient approach, he has still been a solid contributor in an inconsistent lineup.
Ruben Tejada: D
Even with low expectations, Ruben Tejada still earns a D for his first-quarter performance.
The only value that he brings to the Mets is his ability to play shortstop, something he does moderately but not exceptionally well. As long as his .183/.299/.220 batting line is on the Mets roster, he lowers their talent level, and he should not be considered a long-term member of the organization.
Travis d’Arnaud: C
Travis d’Arnaud has clearly struggled in the first quarter of the season, but he did exhibit some glimpses of his potential that made him a top prospect.
D’Arnaud’s .196 batting average needs to improve, but considering that one of his flaws as a prospect was drawing walks, his .274 OBP relative to his batting average is promising.
Still, d’Arnaud needs to improve both offensively and defensively. He can shine at times in both areas, but still hits too many weak grounders and allows too many passed balls.
A C is a fair grade for d’Arnaud considering his promise despite his struggles, as he is far from a lost cause as an everyday major league catcher.
Anthony Recker: B+
It would be hard for the Mets to ask for anything more from Anthony Recker than they’ve received during the first quarter of the season.
As a backup catcher, he has improved defensively while being far from an automatic out when plugged into the lineup, earning him a B+ for the quarter.
Jonathon Niese: A
Jonathon Niese earns an A because he has pitched like one of the best starters in all of baseball this season.
Prior to his last start, Niese had a 2.17 ERA and 1.073 WHIP in 45.2 innings pitched. The Mets have exciting high-potential arms like Zack Wheeler and crafty veterans like Bartolo Colon, but it has been Niese who has been masterful as the Mets’ ace so far in 2014.
Niese’s last start against the Washington Nationals in which he gave up three runs in four innings brings his grade down from an A+. Still, Niese has been fantastic for the Mets this season, and fans should be thrilled with his performance.
Dillon Gee: A
While Niese has been the Mets’ ace, Dillon Gee has also made a fair case for the title.
In 52.2 innings, Gee has a 2.73 ERA and 1.063 WHIP. He has been hurt by the long ball in some starts, but has yet to give up more than four runs and has three starts in which he has given up none.
Gee earns an A because he has evolved from a solid back-end starter into one of the Mets’ most reliable starters.
Zack Wheeler: C+
Zack Wheeler clearly has the stuff to succeed in the majors, but he hasn’t translated it into consistency so far in his career.
In some starts like his April 25th outing against the Miami Marlins, Wheeler looks like he can be one of the best pitchers in the majors. However, in other starts he can lose his command and leave the ball over the plate, looking like an average big leaguer at best.
Wheeler still has the potential to be at the front of the Mets rotation for a long time, but his inconsistency and struggles in the middle innings lower his grade to a C+.
Bartolo Colon: C
Bartolo Colon has had some very good starts this season, but he has been significantly roughed up too many times to earn anything better than a C.
Colon has a high 5.34 ERA mostly because of three starts in which he gave up nine, seven, and six earned runs. Because Colon is so reliant on his fastball command, whenever he loses it, he gives up a magnitude of hard-hit balls.
If Colon can regain his fastball command on a consistent basis, he should be fine the rest of the season. Still, his rough outings have been blemishes to a generally solid Mets rotation early in the season.
Jenrry Mejia: B+
While Jenrry Mejia has been a part of the starting rotation so far this season, he was recently moved to the bullpen. Still, while his stats aren’t exceptional, he has been very impressive in the early going.
Mejia has dominant stuff and ran through lineups as a starter, with his only tangible struggles occurring his third time against the opposition’s lineup.
So far it seems as if the transition to the bullpen has been good for Mejia. If he can stay healthy, he may have found a home at the back end of the Mets bullpen for a long time.
Scott Rice: C
As the lone lefty in the Mets bullpen prior to Josh Edgin getting called up last week, Scott Rice has been mediocre so far in his limited role for the Mets.
In just 10 innings he has a 5.40 ERA while not dominating lefties as he should, earning him a C for the first quarter of the season.
Jose Valverde: B-
Jose Valverde has a solid 4.26 ERA through the first quarter of the season, but the inconsistency and volatility of his outings lower his grade to a B- for the first quarter.
Jeurys Familia: B+
Jeurys Familia has electric stuff to go along with his 3.10 ERA, but his 11 walks in just 20.1 innings prevent his first-quarter grade from being anything higher than a B+.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: B
While Daisuke Matsuzaka has a shiny 2.25 ERA, he has 17 walks in 20 innings out of the bullpen. His ERA is nice, but it’s hard to see him maintaining his success while walking so many hitters.
Carlos Torres: A-
Carlos Torres has been a godsend for the Mets during the first quarter of the season. As their most oft-used reliever, he has a 3.20 ERA in 25.1 innings.
While his performance has regressed as the season has progressed, it could be due to him being overused. Either way, he has been the Mets’ most consistent reliever, earning him an A- for the first quarter.
All statistics courtesy Baseball-Reference.
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