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2018 MLB Preview: New York Mets

A look at the New York Mets with fantasy baseball in mind

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Basic Stats

Final Record: 70-92

Runs: 19th

Home Runs: T-7th

Stolen Bases: 27th

ERA: 28th

Saves: 23rd

Strikeouts: 9th

Picked to challenge the Nationals for an NL East title in 2017, the end result for the New York Mets could not have been further from the hopes the fans held. The team became a laughing stock almost immediately, with a complete PR disaster involving Noah Syndergaard’s injury that knocked him out almost all season. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz pitched a combined 245.2 innings. The pitchers who pitched the 2nd-6th most innings all had an ERA above 4.71.

Yoenis Cespedes had a disappointing season marred by injury, Travis d’Arnaud is still a bust and Michael Conforto, one of the true few bright spots, might have his career in jeopardy with shoulder surgery which could knock him out to start 2017 in a best-case scenario.

The Superstar: Noah Syndergaard

Thor’s injury debacle was well covered in the fantasy world this year. His owners got shafted by the Mets team doctors and Syndergaard’s tough-guy mentality. He only pitched three innings after returning from a torn lat muscle but the good news is his fastball velocity seemed fine, clocking in at 98.8 mph, about his career norm. The trouble arises from seeking other instances of pitchers returning from torn lat muscles. The only other comp? Teammate Steven Matz. Not exactly encouraging.

For 2018, I don’t think you can expect more than 25 starts and realistically something between 20-23. Whether it’s re-injury or simply the Mets staff being more cautious, they’re not going to be reckless with their prized possession (anymore). Assuming health, we can expect something like a 3.15 ERA/1.10 WHIP and 200 Ks in 170 IP. Still a great pitcher, but be ready to have some extra SP depth to offset an injury.

The Sleeper: Dom Smith

Smith should get the bulk of the starts at first base and despite a putrid .658 OPS in 49 games, he’s a bit of a sleeper in deeper leagues and a flier for standard leagues. Thanks to his poor play, the prospect shine is off Smith. As such, it’s easy to forget that the former first-round pick is a career .302 hitter in the minors with a .366 OBP in just over 2,000 at bats. His power has always been in question, but in his stint with the Mets, he had a .198 ISO, better than any stop in the minors. This is roughly about a 25 HR pace on the season. As we’re all aware by now, power is in abundance thanks to a new baseball. With an upside of 80/25/85 with a .270/.330/.450 line, we’re looking at Justin Bour with an ADP well into the 400s.

The Guys To Avoid: Mets Pitchers not named Thor or deGrom.

It may seem like I’m being tongue in cheek here but I’m not. I don’t want a single share of Matz, Wheeler, Harvey, Gsellman, Montero or Lugo. A couple of weeks ago, news came out that the Mets may limit the innings per start of starters outside of Thor and deGrom. After those two, only Matz is going inside the first 23 rounds of standard 12-team league. That is to say, you have to go out of your way to want to roster Harvey, Wheeler and the rest of the group. But even in 15-team leagues I’d avoid at all costs. Not even the argument of depth can win me over. The injury history and general ineffectiveness of this group has been startling and I’d need to see one really strong month to jump back on board with any of them.

The Prospect To Watch: Pete Alonso

After the graduations of Amed Rosario, Dom Smith, and Brandon Nimmo, the Mets system is pretty barren up top with much of the exciting players residing in the low minors. As such, it’s difficult to highlight someone who can have an impact in 2018. I considered SP Chris Flexen because the team will need starts, but his poor showing in his brief MLB stint (6.95 FIP in 48 IP) along with their funky 2018 SP plan prevents me from doing so.

Pete Alonso has been slowly working his way up the ladder since being drafted in the 2nd round of 2016. The power-hitting first baseman from Florida has 30 home run power and hasn’t had a K% above 19 in any stop thus far which is a great sign from a slugger. He finished the year in Double-A (albeit with only 47 PA) and I expect him to open up 2018 in the same spot. If he can continue performing as well as he has, there’s a chance he could be jumped to AAA by the summer with a cup of coffee in September. He’s not the most exciting guy, but he’s shaping up to have a nice floor and could be a slight boost for your teams late next season.