It’s no secret the Mets have struggled offensively over the last few seasons. In 2013, ace pitcher Matt Harvey lost multiple games by scores of 2-1 or 3-0. Fortunately, spring training has given Mets fans hope as the Mets currently have the highest team batting average in the Grapefruit League (.299).
After a dreadful 2014 season, Curtis Granderson appears to be on the rebound. In 14 at bats, he has five hits, giving him a .357 batting average. On top of that, his OPS is an outstanding 1.117. Last year Granderson batted only .227, which is substantially less than his .257 career average. The Mets are paying him $15 million a year. Thus, in order for the Mets to make strides this season, he has to hit like the $15 million man.
Juan Lagares, arguably one of the best young talents on the roster, is proving his value. Through seven games, he has a .429 batting average along with a 1.145 OPS. The last couple of years have shown that Lagares has a solid bat, but also one of the best gloves in baseball. In fact, he was awarded the National League Golden Glove Award in his second pro season. His batting average also jumped nearly 40 points from .242 to .281 that season.
Along with Lagares, youngster Kirk Nieuwenhuis, is making an argument to get substantial playing time this season. In seven games, he’s batting .440 with a .517 OBP. Nieuwenhuis has a lot of natural talent, but has struggled in the past with left-handed pitchers. His strikeout rate against lefties is a dreadful 34.8 percent. If he doesn’t learn how to hit against lefties, he will never become a full-time starter. He also takes too many swings at the plate. In other words, he’s an extremely aggressive batter to a fault. However, these are all facets of his game that can be improved upon.
The real key to the Mets potential success rests in the hands of team captain, David Wright. After a disappointing 2014 season, he looks fairly adequate in spring training as he’s hitting .294 with a .863 OPS. The Mets need more. Wright has to hit over .300 this season as the Mets’ “franchise player” can’t have another season batting .269 with under 10 homeruns and barely 60 RBIs.
Spring training of course doesn’t truly correlate to regular season performance, but it is a good predictor of what is to come. There has definitely been offensive improvement, but the team is still lacking one or two major bats in the lineup to make them a force to be reckoned with. All of this bodes well for the future, but if the Mets want to be one of the more competitive teams in the National League, they need more star power.
The puzzle is almost complete. It’s just missing a couple of key pieces in the middle of the order. Time will tell whether New York’s lineup can rise to the top of the NL rankings, but so far the returns have been promising throughout Spring Training.