Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions: New York Mets

by Tim Heaney on February 6, 2013 @ 13:10:17 PDT

 

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KFFL answers important fantasy baseball questions about each Major League Baseball team as spring training approaches. What must fantasy baseball players know about the New York Mets?

Who's the real Ike Davis?

His 2012 followed a script that many fantasy prognosticators penned, but it was taken to an extreme in the beginning: Overcoming Valley Fever contributed to his .170 clip and a .524 OPS when the calendar flipped to June.

New York Mets SP Matt Harvey
Harvey may be Mets' next ace

Then, things clicked after the organization reassured him he wouldn't be demoted. Plus, he worked on things. From a June 21 Hot off the Wire post:

New York Mets 1B Ike Davis made some mechanical adjustments after going through a horrendous early season slump that left him hitting below .160 by late May. He now stands with his feet farther apart, his head is moving less and his body is carrying more forward momentum during his swing. Some changes are temporary until he feels comfortable going back to an older stance, though.

From June on, the 27 times he left the yard say he felt something better, even if he didn't keep all these modifications. For him to hit .253 in that time was a relative plus, even if he was much better away from Citi Field. A pull tendency may still haunt him, but he looked more comfortable overall.

He was still fooled by left-handers, but the 50.4 percent grounders he hit against them say he could eventually improve his BA. Plus, he still takes plenty of walks and, to a degree, he cut down on his whiffs as summer ended. In the second half, 24.3 percent of his connections produced ropes, and though these fluctuate frequently for sometimes long-swing hitters like Davis, it's clear he figured out what he was doing and has a legit shot at continuing it.

Late-season reports surfaced that the Metropolitans believed Davis was enjoying the metropolis a bit too much, often staying out late between games. Whispers also said he wasn't receptive to changes in his procedures. This seems like it could make things salty, but it didn't appear to hinder his game or the Mets' commitment to him occupying the cleanup slot.

If these turn out to be mere rumblings (likely) and he's over his health trials (likely), Davis, with a few tweaks and breaks, should return to yielding a competent, not season-killing, BA. His thump will survive even with his bland home digs. In rooms with superficial drafters, his 2012 numbers should set up his top-shelf ceiling as one of the biggest profit opportunities within a deep first base class.

What did we learn about the Mets' rotation?

Even when not including new Toronto Blue Jays ace R.A. Dickey, the rest of the Queens quintet was a pleasant surprise.

Matt Harvey's debut went swimmingly as he drowned opponents with strikeouts. Control will continue to jeopardize his effectiveness as he navigates MLB hitters' adjustments. But as is the case with these makeups, you'll be more permissive of potential stumbles there for the most important counting stat for pitches, especially if he becomes a value selection.

Jonathon Niese rebounded with health, beneficial in-play fortune and stalwart performance with runners on base. Issues with all three held back his promising indicators in 2011. The control artist won't take a huge step in strikeouts, but even if he endures a smidge of drop-off, he's already established a sturdy foundation that many will continue to overlook, much to your depth-building benefit.

For a few months, Johan Santana belonged in the "good" column sans question. Before his June 1 no-hitter, he was getting hitters to chase frequently with hints of his formerly elite deception. It's nice to enter the record books, but, as such efforts are wont to do, that 135-pitch highlight ground his promising season to a halt before a sprained right ankle sent him to the DL, and back inflammation shut him down for good.

When active, he labored and surrendered his highest seasonal liner rate since 2003. Most hurtful, however, was the augmentation of the damage frequently caused by his already vulnerable fly-ball splits. Of course, a sparkling, career-best 19.3 percent of the lofts he gave up didn't leave the infield, so at least part of that was exaggerated.

Maybe his expected World Baseball Classic participation will have a positive rehab role. With better management of his in-season exertion, he should show more of his early-season renaissance and serve up middle- to late-rounds mixed value. Be careful, though; Santana, who turns 34 in March, doesn't overpower much anymore, even when healthy. Concordantly, he holds a slim margin for error, so his final line may not reflect his rebound as optimally as many will hope.

Dillon Gee had his run, too. A blood shot in an artery near his pitching shoulder cut things short. He's another intriguing profile that could be a difference-maker, especially as an NL-only supplement.

Replacing Dickey, by the way, is Shaun Marcum, a highly stable if not outstanding arm whose base skills closely resemble what the Mets have. His innings-eating experience would be a coup if affixed to the back end of a mixed staff.

Jenrry Mejia and Zack Wheeler await rotation openings, as well, and despite likely growth hurdles have much to offer for streamers and speculators alike.

Wins may be hard to come by, but you shouldn't draft for those anyway. Just make sure you meet the Mets' SPs by the time your draft rolls around.

How will the saves picture play out?

It's, luckily, a situation you won't have to address at a prime cost, regardless of format. This will probably land as one of the final saves pictures to fall off your draft board.

New York Mets RP Bobby Parnell
Parnell will state his case to close

General manager Sandy Alderson has hesitated in giving the role to health and performance risk Frank Francisco. A balky elbow that cut short his 2012, and eventually required knife work, was thrown on the already towering injury pile. In fairness, Francisco's indicators say he wasn't "5.53 ERA" bad, but the numerous blowups that create that obviously hurt his owners' bottom line.

Frank Squared usually has bouts with job security but often does just enough to bide himself some time. His strikeout ability champions his ninth-inning ability, and he's muted his fly-ball problems with several years of high pop-up rates. But he's often still hit quite hard, even when without injury, and he's actually been nibbling more over the past two seasons. Even if his control improves, his reluctance to challenge hitters puts his K/9 at risk.

Bobby Parnell hit his stride as a reliever last year, garnering seven closures and doing the deed with Francisco sidelined. He boasts an attractive grounder-K duo that has blossomed thanks to his vast arsenal, bred from his past starter's experience. The two-seamer and curveball have been particularly successful for him.

New York is also close to signing Brandon Lyon, who fanned 9.30 per nine last year ... wait, what? He hadn't struck out 7.00-plus per nine since 2003. Well, he was finally recovered from a 2011 rotator cuff tear and had his surprisingly widespread offerings working in middle relief and some setup work. He's still primarily control-based, and his tepid velocity says there's risk to buying that dominance again. But he may surprise and net at least a few wrap-ups, regardless of where he signs.

Josh Edgin carries similar low-cost intrigue, but his left-handedness likely limits his upward mobility. Jeurys Familia will work from the bullpen and may make some noise here later in the year, but mixed leaguers can simply tuck his name away.

Parnell holds the most complete package to back, but if all these RPs are healthy, will they prefer to keep Parnell's situations flexible so he can put out pre-ninth fires? Francisco's contract, unfortunately, may speak volumes for his candidacy if his spring performance is at least a step forward. Trusting a full season of that, of course ... you should never be ready for that.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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