Pitchers, catchers, and position players have all reported, and baseball is on the way back. Let’s project the starting lineup for the 2016 New York Mets.
By Gregg Cambareri
Spring is (almost) in the air. After an exhilarating 2015, it’s time to get ready for a new season. The New York Mets play their first spring training game in under two weeks, so let’s take a look at what the lineup will look like on opening day.
GM Sandy Alderson made many changes this offseason (we know, Yoenis Cespedes is back), as the lineup should feature several new faces compared to last year’s. The 2016 oder should not have many holes, feature players who can man multiple positions, and bat in several different spots in the order.
1.) Curtis Granderson, RF
No surprise here, as the Grandy-man should resume leadoff duties. At this time one year ago, many were anticipating Juan Lagares to get the leadoff job. Granderson got the nod on opening day and never looked back, posting an impressive .364 OBP.
There has been some speculation of Granderson dropping to the middle of the order to utilize his power, but his impressive walk rate will keep him at the top of the lineup.
When the Mets face a tough lefty, you could see Lagares get the occasional start, given his solid performances (.273 BA) against southpaws. Even though Granderson is entering his age 35 season, he’ll get the lion’s share of leadoff at bats. In the 2 hole…
2.) David Wright, 3B
Like it or not, Wright is not the player he once was. If, and that’s a big if, he can play 120+ games this year, we should see David batting second most of the time.
FanGraphs projects him to bat .287 with 14 homers and 68 RBI’s in 115 games. Spinal stenosis considered, that’s not bad production, considering the Met lineup features to be one without many holes. Wright is still a very useful player who should contribute greatly next season; his leadership and locker room presence will be just as important.
When Wright needs a day off, manager Terry Collins could use one of Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, or Neil Walker to man third base. Any of those three could also bat second if necessary. Batting third…
3.) Lucas Duda, 1B
There will be a day in which Michael Conforto becomes the everyday third place hitter; that day might not come until later this summer, or even until next year. The youngster will have to earn Terry Collin’s trust, as the skipper loves to rely on his veterans.
For now, batting Duda third isn’t a bad play, especially against right handers. He no longer has to be relied upon as the main run producer which should take the pressure off.
You could see David Wright slide down to third, or Travis D’Arnaud, against a tough lefty. That’s the beauty of this lineup: versatility.
4.) Yoenis Cespedes, CF
I know, total shocker here, right? The Mets most potent bat and second half savior cements the middle of the order and gives the lineup the extra power dimension it needs to strike fear in opponents.
Cespedes won’t have many days off, and will be relied upon to do the heavy lifting on a nightly basis. Next up…
5.) Travis D’Arnaud, C
We know D’Arnaud can flat out hit. The health concerns are obvious, but he’s come to spring training ready to go, and features in the 5 spot this season.
Again, we could see Conforto get a bump in the lineup if he swings the bat like many expect him to (especially against righties), but it’ll be D’Arnaud getting the AB’s in the middle of the lineup because he’s a more proven bat. Batting sixth…
6.) Michael Conforto, LF
We’ve mentioned his name multiple times for a reason. The first round draft pick has all star potential, but he’ll have to prove it for Terry Collins to bat him higher in the lineup.
On a weaker team, Conforto probably does get more reps batting in the middle, but he’ll have to earn his way up on a team with no true weak spots in the order. Towards the bottom third…
7.) Neil Walker, 2B
Walker could bat in multiple places in the lineup. His switch-hitting ability give Collins more options, though his strength is from the left side (.276 vs RHP/.237 vs LHP). Walker could hit as high as second, or slide in the fifth, sixth, or seventh spots depending on the pitcher, who needs a day off, injuries etc. Look for Wilmer Flores to get starts at second base against lefties.
On most nights, Walker is likely to bat seventh, leaving the eighth place hitter to be…
8.) Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Cabrera is likely going to be the starting shortstop in 2016, and bat eighth. Whether it is he, Flores, or Ruben Tejada, the shortstop features as the number eight hitter.
Finding playing time for the 3 is a good problem to have in one of the deepest lineups that the National League has to offer.
As the pitcher rounds out the order, there are some things to consider when reviewing this lineup: remember, this is the most likely order on a given night. Changes will be made based on the handedness of a pitcher, whose hot or cold, injured, etc.
Think you can put together a better 1-9? Give us your take in the comments section below.