New York Mets 2015 Predictions: Lineups, Pitching, Record

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Feb 23, 2015; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets third baseman David Wright (5) during spring training at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Catcher: Travis d’Arnaud

First Base: Lucas Duda

Second Base: Daniel Murphy

Shortstop: Wilmer Flores

Third Base: David Wright

The Mets had better hope their pitchers keep the ball in the air or strike out a ton of opposing batters because the infield isn’t going to give them much help defensively. Wright has two gold gloves from 2007 and 2008, but the rest of the infield leaves much to be desired. Murphy has come a long way as a defender at second base, but won’t make many, if any, spectacular plays in the field, just doing what is asked of him. He has become a solid double play turner at second base though.

Flores is probably the weakest of the bunch, as he will get the ground balls hit at him, but won’t stray outside of his defensive zone very often. He will be the player to keep an on eye defensively, as the Mets have yet to guarantee him a starting job, keeping alive the hope that Ruben Tejada could once again become their everyday shortstop. Duda is average at first base and will make the plays needed, but leaves some to be desired.

Behind the plate, d’Arnaud is a mixed bag. He is almost an elite pitch framer, but struggles at blocking balls and throwing out base runners. For an in-depth analysis of this, check out this article from fangraphs. It goes in depth about the defense of d’Arnaud and how he sometimes receives the short end of the stick. He fails some eye tests, but his pitch framing seems to more than make up for it,

Offensively though this group can more than make up for their defensive shortcomings. Duda is coming off of a breakout 30 home run, 92 RBI season, both easily career-highs. There is nothing keeping him from reaching those plateaus again, as the job is now his solely; in 2014 he began the season competing for playing time with Ike Davis, who is now on his third team in less than a year.

Murphy is one of the best offensive second baseman in baseball, and offers a lot of versatility at the plate, enabling manager Terry Collins to deploy him in multiple places in the lineup. He can bat second and be a table setter because of his ability to get on base, and offers sneaky speed, swiping 36 bases the last two seasons compared to only eight caught stealing. But, he handles the bat well enough the Mets could move him down in the order and be more of a run producer if they so desire. A deeper Mets lineup gives Collins some options on where to use a player as talented at the plate as Murphy.

In Flores the Mets will see a huge upgrade hitting wise from the shortstop position. Last season the light hitting Tejada didn’t scare any pitchers, but Flores could. He already owns multiple 6-RBI games in his career, and provides power not many teams will get from their shortstop position.

Flores had 20 extra base hits in only 259 at-bats last season, including six home runs. That was enough to place him 18th among shortstops in the majors, so with a starting role it won’t be out of the realm of possibility that he places in the top-8 of the position in homers and slugging percentage. The combination of Murphy and Flores gives the Mets one of the better offensive double play tandems in the majors. Flores will also have a chip on his shoulder, as it seems everyone has dismissed him as a starting option for the Mets at shortstop and wanted to see them acquire one via free agency or trade this offseason.

Sep 2, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores (4) connects for a base hit during the second inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The other youngster along with Flores also gives the Mets an offensive edge at a position. Most teams, especially in the NL, have specialists in the field that only get playing time because of their glove. That is the exact opposite of how the Mets function, as d’Arnaud is another player that will more than make up for his shortcomings in the field with his bat.

Last season d’Arnaud struggled with injuries once again, something that has followed him throughout his career. In 2014 it was a concussion that sidelined him in May and led to a slump bad enough he was sent back to Triple-A. There d’Arnaud began to smash the ball once again, as it seemed he told himself I will play better to make sure I am never back here.

d’Arnaud would finish the second half with a .787 OPS that was aided by a decrease in strikeouts. He saw his strikeout rate fall to 12.3 in the second half of the season from 18.1 in the first half. He also brought the power back with him from his stint in Triple-A, as d’Arnaud .474 after the All-Star break. Continued growth by d’Arnaud would make an already improving Mets lineup that much deeper.

Wright is the player the Mets desperately need to bounce back in 2015. Wright has been the face of the franchise for many years now, evidence by his contract that will pay him $20 million this season. Wright needs to live up to that number, as he is the highest paid Met and entrenched at third base.

Last season Wright battled a shoulder injury that sapped him of his power, as he didn’t have a home run over his last 46 games. Injuries have become a major concern over the past couple of seasons for Wright, as he has averaged only 126 games played over the last four seasons. If he is past the shoulder injury, it will be a huge boon to his and the Mets success. This lineup is still revolved around him, and they will go only as far as he takes and leads them.

Next: Starting Outfield