Thursday, January 27, 2011

Finding Keepers: New York Mets

Not a ton seemed to go well for the New York Mets on the field in 2010 but they did manage to have some fantasy-relevant players and some of those performances translate into keeper selections.

A lot has been made of 3B David Wright's increasing strikeout numbers and decreasing walk numbers but he still managed to finish the season as the 20th-ranked fantasy player overall and the 2nd-ranked third baseman (on ESPN). Why's that? Because most leagues don't care about strikeouts and walks. Fans will continue to focus on the negative because they expect big(ger) things from Wright but fantasy managers shouldn't get caught up in all that and simply focus on the statistics that matter most in your leagues: .283/87/29/103/19.

OF Angel Pagan earned his first full season's worth of at bats and responded with a very nice fantasy line of .290/80/11/69/37. Pagan is slated to be the Mets right fielder in 2011 but what type of numbers should be expected? If this is the ceiling on his production, then one must assume his numbers will be down this season. RotoChamp has him producing a line of .278/79/11/64/30 in 561 at bats while CAIRO sees him at .278/54/8/42/17 in just 383 at bats. That's quite a disparity. I had him as a fringe keeper in my mind before doing the research (because of the steals) and would not be willing to gamble on him at this point with such a limited body of work.

From 2005 through 2008, SS Jose Reyes was a fantasy baseball god. He averaged 195 hits, 32 doubles, 16 triples, 14 home runs, 66 RBI, 113 runs and 64 stolen bases per season. He only managed 36 games in 2009 and 133 in 2010 but still managed to stay on pace with his career numbers. If you look at the 169 game totals for the last two season, this is what you get: 200 hits, 36 doubles, 12 triples, 13 home runs, 69 RBI, 101 runs and 41 stolen bases. Look familiar? This may be the year to buy into him as turning it all around and putting up the numbers that made him a top 5 pick in years gone by. PS, Reyes is still just 27 years old.

OF Jason Bay's first season with the Mets was a disaster, to say the least and leaves a lot of unknowns heading into draft day. Bay had averaged 33 HR and 108 RBI (per 162 games) prior to joining the Mets and was on pace for a mere 10 HR with 80 RBI before suffering a season-ending concussion in late July. Add in Citi Field's ability to suck the life out of a power-hitter's bat and things aren't looking so great for Bay as a keeper for 2011. Way too many "ifs".

Best of the rest but not keepers:
  • SP Mike Pelfrey will be called upon to be the number one starter and has the potential to win 15 games but for his career he's not a strikeout pitcher (5.1 K/9), has a historically high WHIP (1.46) and a low K/BB ratio of 1.56. Not keeper numbers.
  • 1B Ike Davis should provide 20 HR and 75 RBI with a .260s batting average. You need to get more production out of a fantasy keeper at first base.
  • OF Carlos Beltran is another Met finding it hard to stay healthy and on the field. He nearly averages a career 30/30 (28/29)! Are there more years left in those knees? Too much risky involved to find out.
  • C Josh Thole has shown the ability to offensively-productive catcher and the starting job is his to lose. Definitely a late-round pick in deep leagues using two catchers but not a keeper.
Unfortunately for the Mets, they are stuck with a lot of bad contract and a lot of bad players on their roster for 2011. The good news is that 2012 offers some promise. Their 2011 payroll commitments currently total around $125M but will drop to just around $60M in 2012. That should translate into them being players in next winter's free agent market and increase the amount of keeper options.

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