New York Mets 2015 Predictions: Lineups, Pitching, Record

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Sep 26, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson (3) hits a solo home run against the Houston Astros during the fourth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Left Field: Curtis Granderson

Center Field: Juan Lagares

Right Field: Michael Cuddyer

The Mets’ defense in the outfield will be improved this season. With former centerfielder Granderson patrolling leftfield, his weaker arm will not be as exposed playing left field. Cuddyer will have a lot of ground attempting to cover a cavernous right and right center, but will receive plenty of help from Lagares, who is arguably the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball.

Since stepping into the major leagues in 2013, Lagares has shown that he has an elite glove in centerfield. Since 2013, Lagares leads MLB in UZR with a 40.1. What makes that number even more impressive is the fact it is playing time based, such as home runs or RBI; the more you play the higher the number could be. For a player such as Lagares, who has played in only 228 games, starting 202 of them over that time, it is remarkable he is that high up on the list.

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Couple that with a deadly arm, something probably held over from his days of playing shortstop, and you have a complete centerfielder. In 2013 Lagares had 15 outfield assists, third best in the majors. In 2014 that number dropped drastically, as base runners stopped testing Lagares and he finished the season with only six. With Eric Young Jr. no longer a thorn in Lagares’ side and someone Collins will get starts to no matter how inept, Lagares will have a full slate of games to showcase his defensive abilities in. Everyone in the outfield will benefit from a guy with the range and talent in centerfield like Lagares possesses.

At the plate, this trio is sort of a mixed bag. It has the two most likely options to lead off the Mets lineup in Granderson and Lagares, but neither are prototypical leadoff hitters. With .326 and .321 OBP for Granderson and Lagares respectively last season, the Mets lineup as a whole could struggle if they aren’t getting on base at a better clip.

For Lagares, he possess great speed in the field but on the basepaths he leaves much to be desired. He had only 13 stolen bases last season, and was caught stealing four times. Part of that could be the hamstring injury that hampered him throughout the season, other parts being he just doesn’t know how to run the bases yet. But once he gained confidence in the health of the hamstring, and the coaches began pushing him to run a little more, he did it and successfully. His final 18 games of the season, Lagares swiped nine bases compared to one caught stealing.

Lagares doesn’t project as a great hitter, but if he continues to show improvement in 2015 from 2014 as he did in 2014 from 2013, the Mets will be extremely happy. Lagares saw his numbers increase across the board from .242/.281/.352 in 2013 to .281/.321/.382 in 2014. If he came close to those numbers again, the Mets would be ecstatic. He still has some learning to do, especially against right-handed pitchers, but with no real competition for playing time, he should be able to work through whatever problems he may have.

Sep 7, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (12) can

If the Mets use Granderson to lead off their lineup, they are wasting one of their true power hitters. Granderson, along with Duda, provide much of the punch in the Mets lineup. It would help the team as a whole for him to be lower in the lineup in a run producing spot. Possibly five or six, depending on where the Mets place Cuddyer in the lineup.

Of the three, Cuddyer provides the best production in terms of consistency in batting average and on-base percentage. The only problem is how little it is provided, as you can almost pen Cuddyer in for at least one, if not two, stays on the DL in a season. The Mets will be relying on Cuddyer to be a run producer for them though, as he will more than likely be hitting five or six in the lineup. The Mets are banking on Cuddyer remaining relatively healthy, as his steady bat in the middle of the lineup will do wonders solving their corner outfield problems they have had recently.

Next: Bench Players