2020 Fantasy Baseball: New York Mets Team Preview

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New York Mets

The Mets improved their win total in each of the last two seasons (70 in 2017, 77 in 2018, and 86 in 2019), but they missed the playoffs for the third straight year. Over the previous 21 seasons, New York has two trips to the World Series and three other postseason appearances. In the team’s 58-year history, the Mets have two championships (1968 and 1986) and nine total seasons in the playoffs.

Their growth in 2019 came from their offense, which was highlighted by the great year by Peter Alonso (.260 with 53 HRs and 120 RBI). The Mets finished 13th in runs (791), 11th in home runs (242), and 12 in RBI (767). They ranked 11th in ERA (4.24) with 38 saves and 12 saves. New York would have made the playoffs if Edwin Diaz didn’t lose his way as their closer. He blew seven of his 33 save chances with a massive regression in his ERA (5.59 – 1.96 in 2018 with 57 saves).

New York didn’t add any new bats to their starting lineup, but they will have OF Yoenis Cespedes back on the field after missing all of 2019. The center field job looks to be in flux with an overflow of options in left field and third base. Eduardo Nunez was added in a minor league deal to compete for a bench role.

The Mets signed SP Rick Porcello, SP Michael Wacha, and RP Dellin Betances to strengthen the back of their starting rotation and bullpen.

Based on pieces to win a World Series, the Mets have a pair of aces if Noah Syndergaard rebounds. They need Edwin Diaz to become the lockdown ninth-inning arm they expected when they traded for him last season. The final part is a bat that rises in the big moments of the game. Cespedes has the fire to pull this off if he plays well in 2020. The other player with star power is Robinson Cano, who lost his way over the last two seasons (only 23 HRs and 89 RBI over 700 at-bats). The obvious choice would be Alonzo.

New York has an over/under of 86.5 wins by oddsmaker in Las Vegas. I expect them to push higher, but they don’t have the offense to match the Braves or the Nationals. The Mets will be in the hunt to make a World Series run as a wild card team.

Starting Lineup

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1. OF Jeff McNeil

In his first season with starting regular at-bats, McNeil flashed power (23 HRs) with a high batting average (.318) skill set. His CTBA (.372) fell in line with his success in 2018 between the minors (.391) and the majors (.368). He had a shorter walk rate (6.2) than expected with being tough to strikeout (13.2 percent). 

Even with a productive year, McNeil did miss time in late May and mid-August with hamstring issues while having his season end in late September with a broken right wrist. He hit well in April (.370), but his power (one home run over 100 at-bats) didn’t emerge until his success over the final four months (.301 with 63 runs, 21 HRs, and 60 RBI). His swing played well against both righties (.320) and lefties (.312), but he had 20 of his 23 home runs off right-handed pitching. McNeil doesn't have an edge in his hard-hit rate (36.6 – 236th) with some regression in his fly-ball rate (15.4). His HR/FB rate (15.4) came in near his career highs. 

With an ADP of 93, McNeil will need to get 550 at-bats with 175 combined runs and over 25 home runs to pay off. His batting average should be a given while also owning some underlying speed. More of a steady option than a player. In 2019, he ranked 61st in SIscore (1.45) for hitters.

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2. 2B Robinson Cano

Two years ago, Cano looked like a lock to get 3,000 hits. After picking up 194 combined hits in 2018 and 2019, he needs 430 more hits to reach a Hall of Fame milestone. Last year he turned into a weak batter with runners on base (RBI rate – 11, 18 in 2018, and 16 in his career). Cano had a career-high strikeout rate (16.3 – 12.6 in his career) and his lowest walk rate (5.9) since 2009. 

His AVH (1.670) rebounded and supported 20-plus home runs based on his resume. He had a sharp decline in his CTBA (.321), but his hard-hit rate (46.0) ranked highly in 2018 (12th) and 2019 (44th). Cano lost his way against lefties (.215 with two HRs and seven RBI over 107 at-bats) while failing to secure a full month of at-bats after April (.270 with three HRs and 11 RBI over 100 at-bats).

Coming into last year, Cano had right knee surgery in December of 2018. His demise in 2019 started on April 21st after getting hit with a pitch on his right hand. A week later, he took another pitch to his left hand. Cano landed on the injured list in late May with a quad issue and again in early August with a torn hamstring. In September, he took another pitch off his left foot (toe injury) and another one again to his right hand. 

Fantasy owners have him priced as roadkill based on his ADP (428). Cano is a proven major league bat that battled injuries in back-to-back seasons. Given his free price point, I’m willing to give him a ride with the idea of a floor of a .280/80/20/80 season.

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3. OF Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes missed three-fourths of the 2018 season with a heel injury that required two surgeries. Seven weeks into 2019, he broke his right ankle, officially ending any chance of playing. Over the last two seasons with playing time, he hit .282 with 66 runs, 26 home runs, 71 RBI, and three steals over 432 at-bats. 

In 2018, his strikeout rate (31.9) was way out of line from his previous resume (21.0). His walk rate (8.3) has been over the league average over the last three years. Cespedes continues to have a massive fly ball swing (52.7 in 2018 and 49.6 in 2017) with strength in his HR/FB rate (18.4). 

Both his average hit rate (1.892) and CTBA (.407) have been strong over the last four seasons. He’s pacing to be ready for spring training. His ADP (494) doesn’t put much faith in him returning to his previous form. 

Cespedes can only play in left field, so his playing time does look cloudy heading into the season. Middle of the order bat with plenty of power and a neutral batting average if/when he locks down a starting job.

Fantasy Baseball Pete Alonso, New York Mets
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4. 1B Pete Alonso

In 2018, Alonso hit .260 over 258 at-bats at AAA with 21 home runs, which translated to 49 home runs and 155 RBI if he matched his 2019 playing time (597 at-bats) with the Mets. In essence, his bat had almost the same value except for fewer RBI chances and a step back in approach. His strikeout rate (26.4) was much stronger in the minors (19.4) with a similar walk rate (10.4). 

Alonso had the same power against right-handed (.266 with 39 HRs and 85 RBI over 447 at-bats) and left-handed (.240 with 14 HRs and 35 RBI over 150 at-bats) pitching. He played better before the All-Star break (.280 with 30 HRs and 68 RBI over 325 at-bats) while losing his swing in July (.177 with six HRs and 13 RBI over 79 at-bats). 

Alonso had six home runs and 11 RBI over his final 48 at-bats in his quest to win the home run title in the National League. His hard-hit rate (42.3) ranked 106th in baseball with a career-high HR/FB rate (30.6). His swing path looked balanced (18.0/40.5/41.5) in 2019 while offering more fly balls at times in the minors. 

This season he can be had with the 31st pick in drafts. His batting average should improve going forward as his strikeout rate walks toward his minor league career. Pencil him in for .270 with a floor of 40 home runs.

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5. OF Michael Conforto

With progression in each year in the majors, Conforto still hasn’t hit his ceiling. Both his batting average (.257) and RBI rate (.15) have room for growth while his AVH (1.992) puts him on a path to smash 40 home runs. He has a top of the order walk rate (13.0) in each of the previous three years, while his strikeout rate (23.0) is inching closer to the league average. 

Conforto isn’t quite ready to make an impact against lefties (.241 with six HRs and 26 RBI over 174 at-bats). His best success in 2019 came in August (.279 with seven HRs and 23 RBI over 104 at-bats) while having a floor of four home runs in each month. He has a high HR/FB rate in each of the past three seasons (27.3, 19.7, and 20.5). 

This year Conforto could hit anywhere from 2nd to 5th, which dictates his value in runs and RBI. On the verge of a 100/40/100 season with an ADP of 119.

To view the full starting lineup, which also includes player analysis for J.D. Davis, Wilson Ramos, Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Nimmo, Rene Rivera, Luis Guillorme and Jake Marisnick, subscribe now to FullTime Fantasy.

Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 New York Mets Team Outlook

Pitching Staff

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SP1 Jacob deGrom

Over the last two seasons, deGrom has been one of the best pitchers in the game (2.05 ERA and 524 Ks over 421 innings), but he only has 21 wins in 64 starts. His walk rate (1.9) and strikeout rate (11.3) have been almost identical in 2018 and 2019. He extended his 200-inning streak to three years while setting a high floor in strikeouts (239) over this span. His season started with two electric games (no runs over 13 innings with 24 Ks), but deGrom had three disaster starts over his next seven games (5.31 ERA). 

Over his final 23 starts, he allowed two runs or fewer in 21 games, leading to a 1.89 ERA and 188 strikeouts over 152 innings. His season ended with 21 shutout innings with 24 strikeouts. deGrom dominated both right-handed (.202 BAA) and left-handed (.213) batters. His AFB (97.2) was a career-high with improvement in each of the previous three years. He has three elite pitches (four-seam – .219 BAA, slider – .185 BAA, and changeup – .185 BAA). Last year he went 2-2 with a 2.50 ERA and 70 strikeouts over 50.1 innings against Washington and Atlanta. 

His ADP (8) puts in the first round in just about every draft in 2020. Possible career-high in wins with a sub 2.25 ERA and a run at 300 strikeouts.

Fantasy Baseball Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
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SP2 Noah Syndergaard

Despite the strength and repeated value in his walk rate (2.3) and strikeout rate (9.2), Syndergaard allowed the most runs (94) in the National League while being easier to hit (.256 - .244 in his career). His season started with a poor April (6.35 ERA). Over his next 19 starts, he had a 3.00 ERA and 117 Ks over 126 innings while delivering one disaster game (six runs and 11 base runners over 5.1 innings).

A blow-up game on August 28th (nine runs, ten base runners, and three home runs over three innings), followed by struggles over his final five starts (6.18 ERA, 1.554 WHIP, and six home runs over 27.2 innings) ruined any midseason gains. Syndergaard had a weakness against lefties (.265 with 13 HRs over 351 at-bats). His AFB (98.1) remains elite, while all three of his secondary pitches created an edge (changeup – .215 BAA, .207 BAA, and curveball – .188 BAA). He continues to get a high number of ground balls (48.0 percent – 49.1 in his career). 

On the verge of greatness based on his command and his off-speed pitches. It all comes down to the location of his fastball while building off his improved first-pitch strike rate (66) in 2020. More of a front runner arm (6.34 ERA in his eight losses) while needing to visit Oz to get more heart in his game.

Go big or go home arm with an ADP of 71 in late January. Look for a significant rebound in his ERA with a run at 225 strikeouts.  

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SP3 Marcus Stroman

Stroman finished with help in ERA (3.22), but his ride in 2019 wasn't that easy. After success in April (1.43 ERA, .197 BAA, and 36 Ks over 37.2 innings). He looked on the verge of disaster over his next eight starts (4.91 ERA, 1.523 WHIP, .299 BAA, and seven HRs over 44 innings). 

Stroman posted a 3.16 ERA over his final 18 starts covering 102.2 innings with 96 strikeouts. His risk came against left-handed batters (.291 BAA). He had a spike in his strikeout rate (9.1) with the Mets while finishing with a career-high (7.8). His AFB (93.4) is about league average, but batters hit .315 against his sinker (.315 BAA). He also struggled with his cutter (.295 BAA) while his slider (.168 BAA) and low-volume changeup (.167 BAA) kept him in the game. Stroman came into 2019 with one of the higher ground ball rates (over 60 percent), but that number slid to 53.7 percent. 

Tweener arm with an ADP of 214. The move to the NL East should be positive, but he needs his fastball to gain value. I'll let you make take this dance.  

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CL/RP Edwin Diaz

The theme for Diaz in 2019 was death by disaster. He came into last year with exceptional success in 2018 (1.96 ERA, 124 Ks, and 57 SVs over 73.1 innings), pushing his career stats to even lower levels (2.64 ERA, 301 Ks, and 109 SVs over 191 innings). Diaz was a top tier closer drafted last year. There was no sign of trouble over his first 24 games (1.64 ERA, 35 Ks, and 13 SVs over 22 innings). 

After his second blown save on May 29th (four runs, six baserunners, and two home runs over one-third of an inning), he had three more disaster games (12 runs and 14 baserunners over 2.2 innings) in his next 11 appearances. From July 28th to the end of the season, Diaz had the most issues with home runs (eight over 18.2 innings), which led to a 7.23 ERA. His strikeout rate (15.4) was a career-high while having regression in his walk rate (3.4 – 2-1 in 2018). Most of his downside came against right-handed batters (.299 with ten HRs over 137 at-bats). 

Base runners also had 11 successful steal attempts on the year (21-for-25 before 2019). His AFB (97.8) fell in a range with his success in the majors. Diaz had an untouchable slider in 2018 (.121 BAA), but that pitch killed him in 2019 (.297 with six home runs over 74 at-bats). His four-seam fastball (.237 BAA and nine HRs) was also weaker than 2018 (.188 with two HRs). With an ADP of 120, Diaz will be a target for the wise guy fantasy owners in 2020 who are willing to give him a pass for his unforeseen train wreck. 

Possible 40 saves with an edge in ERA and strikeouts. Just a thought here, sometimes a rise in walks and more home runs off sliders can be a sign of an elbow issue. There wasn't a change in velocity with his slider from 2018 to 2019, so Diaz hopefully doesn't have an underlying problem.

To view the full pitching staff, which also includes player analysis for Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha, David Peterson, Seth Lugo and Dellin Betances, subscribe now to FullTime Fantasy.

Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 New York Mets Team Outlook