2nd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: New York Mets

Up next in our preview of all 30 MLB teams, which lead up to the start of the 2016 season, are the New York Metswho won the NL East last season, and ended up losing the World Series to the Kansas City Royals.

The Mets surprised many in 2015 by not only winning the NL East, but making it all the way to the World Series for the first time since 2000. Despite losing to the Royals in the Series, the Mets seemed to cement themselves as the top team in the division. They didn’t make many notable transactions in the offseason, but the biggest was re-singing free agent OF Yoenis Cespedes, who was instrumental in their success in the second half of the season and the postseason, after they traded for him at the trade deadline. He signed a three-year deal with the team last month, but could opt-out after this season, giving him motivation to play up to his potential. Other moves seemed to focus on improving at middle infield. They traded SP Jon Niese — taking advantage of their depth at the position — to the Pirates in exchange for 2B Neil Walker and signed veteran SS Asdrubal Cabrera.

The Mets finished the season at 90-72, their first 90-win season since 2006. Cespedes was a big factor in that record, hitting .287 with 17 home runs in 57 regular-season games after joining the team at the end of July. Other than him, the team didn’t have much offense to speak of, finishing the season with a .244 average, the second worst in the National League, They did better in home runs, finishing tied for the third most in the league, with 177. Pitching is where the team really shined, centered around a young rotation that included SPs Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, who finished the years with ERAs of 2.54 and 2.71, respectively. They had a surprisingly good year from RP Jeurys Familia, who was thrown into the closer’s role unexpectedly following the suspension of RP Jenrry Mejia, who recently earned a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball for a third PED offense. He saved 43 games while putting up a 1.85 ERA and striking out 86 batters in 78 innings.

The core of the team returns, minus 2B Daniel Murphy, who signed with the Nationals in free agency. Walker will be replacing him. Although Walker’s career average is a little lower than Murphy’s, he has more power and is a better fielder. Cabrera has basically similar offensive numbers compared to SS Wilmer Flores, who was the Mets main starter at the position last season. With a full season of Cespedes’ offense, the Mets should see improved stats at the plate. Although it might be hard for the likes of DeGrom and Harvey to repeat their numbers from last season, even a slight regression would still result in good seasons from them. Add in SP Noah Syndergaard, who had a 3.24 ERA in 150 innings, and you have a strong top three. SP Steven Matz, who only started six games in his rookie season in 2015, is also considered a top pitching prospect and expected to start the year in the rotation.

The Mets should win the NL East again this season, and the big question with them is can they repeat their postseason performance from last year play in the World Series for a second straight season? With guys like Cespedes, deGrom and Harvey returning, they shouldn’t see much of a decline in performance so they certainly have a shot. It’ll be tough if they meet a team like the Cubs in the playoffs, but the Mets are certainly among the best teams in the NL.

Be sure to check back every day at 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Sources: http://www.mets.com, http://www.baseball-reference.com

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