I was talking with a Mets fan recently, and he gave me a piece of advice a lot of fantasy owners will probably take when they sit down to draft their teams in the next few days.
"Just skip the Mets," he said.
Outside of David Wright, Ike Davis and the solid-on-paper rotation, there isn't a whole lot in Flushing for the fantasy owner. Surprisingly, the Mets got off to a good start last year, and took a 46-40 record into the All-Star break. They floundered after the break, however, going 28-48 the rest of the season. Gone is Cy Young and fan favorite R.A. Dickey, dealt to the Blue Jays in a cost-cutting move that shows just how financially strapped the Mets will be in the coming years, thanks in part to Jeff Wilpon's losses in Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme. That means they'll need to hit on their prospects, particularly Matt Harvey, Zach Wheeler and Travis D'Arnaud.
1. Ruben Tejada, SS 2. Daniel Murphy, 2B 3. David Wright, 3B 4. Ike Davis, 1B 5. Lucas Duda, LF 6. John Buck, C 7. Mike Baxter, RF 8. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF
1. Johan Santana 2. Jon Niese 3. Shaun Marcum 4. Matt Harvey 5. Dillon Gee
Davis hit .264/.351/.440 as a rookie in 2010, and .302/.383/.543 in an injury-shortened 2011 season. In those years, he carried BABIPs of .321 and .344, respectively. Last year, when his batting average and OBP fell off a cliff, his BABIP was .246, despite posting a career high in line-drive rate (21.1 percent) and career low in ground-ball rate (38.9 percent). He did pop out more often than he ever had, but not enough to offset his line-drive and ground-ball rates, or explain a .246 BABIP. Davis has never posted a walk rate of less than 10 percent as a professional. As his BABIP returns to a normal level this season, look for him to push his batting average into the .260s and OBP into the .340s. That makes him a desirable, endgame target at first base.
Niese made one major change to his pitch repertoire last year that paid huge dividends: he threw his cut fastball 27.8 percent of the time last year -- up from 17.2 percent in 2011 -- and with good reason. According to Fangraphs' pitch values, Niese had the best cutter in the majors in 2012 by a wide margin -- the pitch registered a score of 10.8 on Fangraphs' scale (Yu Darvish had the second best cutter, with a 7.3 score). As you might guess, having the league's best cutter helps Niese induce a ton of ground balls. His ground ball rate was near 50 percent, and he got more than 1.5 ground balls for every fly ball. His strikeout rate remained steady and he decreased his walk rate from 2011, which had already been an improvement on 2010, his first year getting significant time in the majors. These are all signs of a pitcher who keeps on getting better.
Harvey features a power repertoire, with a fastball that averaged 94.7 MPH last year, a power slider and a curveball, which does have a noticeably different break and velocity from his slider. He relies on that fastball, throwing it 65.4 percent of the time, and he has a nice gulf between his changeup and fastball. Wins are basically impossible to project, but if he stays healthy and makes 30 starts, he should get to 190 strikeouts to go along with solid rates. No matter the depth of your league, you want Harvey on your radar.
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