What are the resolutions that Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Conforto can implement in 2018 to improve their game for the New York Mets?
When ringing in a new year, there will always be the obligatory resolutions that come along with the holiday. Someone’s typical resolution will usually center around adding healthy habits to their lifestyle or refining their personality, but when it comes to the New York Mets‘ core, resolutions we are interested in how they can make improvements to their respective games.
The Mets core players are already top players in the league, all have been selected to an All-Star game, but honing in on the little things that can be improved could send them to even greater heights:
Resolution: Allow fewer home runs
This might be easier said than done, but deGrom allowed a staggering amount of home runs in 2017, 28 to be exact. That number was a career-high for deGrom and subsequently landed him tied for 22nd in baseball for home runs allowed.
In each year since his 2014 debut, deGrom’s HR9 rate has increased steadily from 0.4 to 1.3. Although the league has geared itself towards hitting more home runs, great pitchers should be able to limit batters from doing so.
Moving forward deGrom may want to use his fastball and slider more, and his curveball less considering how well his fastball (14.1) and slider (7.8) were graded by FanGraphs in 2017.
Resolution: Pitch more, throw less
We all know the capabilities of the Norse God when he’s throwing on a Major League mound. He can easily touch 100 mph, which is impressive but not necessarily the best way to be effective.
Noah Syndergaard spent the winter eating bowls of venison and wants to throw harder this season. I have nothing to add to that. #mets
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) February 12, 2017
Heading into 2017, Syndergaard famously added muscle through weightlifting in the offseason in an attempt to throw harder. As we all now know, that famously failed as he was injured in April losing most of the season to injury.
It’s easy to forget that pitching is an art form, a strategic game of cat and mouse that does not require 100 mph heat to be successful, just ask Greg Maddux. Of course, Syndergaard’s ability to throw hard is an asset, but he needs to embrace pitching more than just throwing.
In 2017, during his limited time on the mound, Syndergaard threw harder than ever (98.3 average fastball velocity). In 2018, it may be more beneficial to dial back the heat and focus more on diversifying his offerings and pitch sequences.
Resolution: Make less soft contact
Yoenis Cespedes’ health limited him to just 81 games in 2017, but he was still able to produce when he was on the field. Cespedes hit 17 home runs and put together a .892 OPS, a career high, in basically just half a season.
In 2017 Cespedes actually hit the ball hard on average more than ever before, 42.2 percent hard-hit rate, but the problem was he hit the ball softer than ever before too. His soft hit rate of 20.7 percent was also a career high, which is something he can improve on in 2018.
Cespedes’ resolution should revolve around him being more selective at the plate. If he can wait out pitchers for his pitch, he will be able to square up more balls and lower his soft contact rate.
This would subsequently help his BABIP number and lead to more hits, home runs, and RBI.
Resolution: Hit left-handed pitching more effectively
Michael “Kid” Conforto defied all expectations last year in an amazing breakout campaign. So, how could he possibly improve off such an impressive season? Simple, he must hit lefties more effectively in 2018.
In 2017, it wasn’t pretty for Conforto against left-handed pitchers as he hit .212 with a .729 OPS and struck out at a 37.6 percent clip. His BB rate of 7.3 percent against right-handers was less than half of his 14.8 percent against righties.
This is something that Conforto has struggled with for his entire career.
Bartolo Colon had a higher OPS vs lefties than Michael Conforto did last year. Ouch.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayerMMO) February 3, 2017
Overall, it sums up to a pretty ugly picture for Conforto when it comes to his splits against left-handers. If Conforto could become just respectable when facing lefties, he’d launch himself to even greater heights.