In a fantasy world, our fantasy squads would comprise of mostly Mets, complemented by some extras from the league’s most distant, AL West rosters.
But in reality, despite our loyal allegiances, fantasy is a game where the participant derives pride not from “Sticking with Justin Turner ’till the end”, but rather, in rubbing victory in the faces of our friends or whatever anonymous users populate our daily Yahoo standings.
So despite that itchy trigger finger syndrome, taking Pelfrey as your second starter can be classified as something other than the wisest tactic (of course unless you’re patiently waiting for him to take the reins as Mets closer of the future).
But all this does not mean we can’t draft teams with at least a few Flushing representatives. Instead, through a little bit of forecasting, and a little bit of luck, we can start a Met-laden line-up without reaching or sacrificing stats and/or wins.
The following are brief blurbs on some of the Mets starters, whether you can/should draft them, and if so, where you might take them without earning Yahoo’s most-prominent “Homer Badge”.
1B: Ike Davis
Last Year: Ike finished 58th among first basemen. Of course, that low statistical value was entirely due to a lack of at bats.
This Year: If we extrapolate Ike’s performance over the course of a nearly full season, projecting 28 homers, 100 rbi’s and a consistent .300 batting average is far from un realistic. Plus, despite the early bout with Valley Fever, it looks like his one, prior detractor (health) should be a non-issue this year. Those are great numbers, however…
Where to draft: 1B is a position of power. Last year, 19 of the top 100 fantasy players were first basemen. Outside of that list were stars like Pablo Sandoval and Freddie Freeman, who after great off-season conditioning and the added experience of a year under his belt, respectively, are likely to project higher. Plus, with Jose Reyes leading off, Gaby Sanchez is likely to see more RBI chances and we can expect Kevin Youkilis to have at least something of a come back campaign.
All this info, however, opens the door to grabbing Ike in the later rounds. While 1B is a position of power, the variance between 1st and 20th is not worth the sacrafice of taking one early. So we say sit on 1B until later rounds, and Grab Ike in the 14th-15th round for some late-draft, line-up bolstering pop.
Comparables: Man the Mets get no love. Obviously it was Ike’s first real march towards stardom but if he can keep it up, he’ll be among some pretty darn elite company. The other guys with numbers like IKE? Joey Votto, Lance Berkman and Paul Konerko: and that’s exactly why I wouldn’t jump on a first baseman early, as there’s a tremendous likelihood that someone of Ike’s potency will be free in the later rounds.
X-Factor: Figure Ike is hitting somewhere in the middle of the order. While Ike’s power is evident, his RBI total will be a product of who’s on base before him. If Tejada has a break-out year and Murphy mimics last year on-base prowess, Ike’s RBI totals could get way up there.
2B: Daniel Murphy
Last Year: Murph finished about 2/3rds of the Mets total Games. While his power numbers weren’t tremendous, he did manage 49 RBI’s. Murphy also hit .320, placing him second among qualifying second basemen.
This Year: Stretch the RBI’s, and his home-run numbers out over a year and you get around 75 RBI’s and 10 HR’s. Expect a few steals here and there. Also, with the walls in, if Bay and Wright can produce a bit more, hitting a top the line-up should mean a solid increase in runs, for the Mets’ new Second Baseman. But where Murphy’s true value originates in his ability to hit for average. The position is dominated by high power, low average. With all stats being equal, Murphy’s ability to get on base leaves his value oft-understated.
Where to Draft: I’m a big proponent of taking a second baseman early. Its a weak position where the difference between the first and even tenth best in the category can be remarkable. In fact, many of the starting, fantasy baseman are fillers rather than impact starters. Where to draft Murphy is a question of strategy. If you go for one of the big guys early on (Cano, Pedroia, Kinsler, Phillips), then Picking Murphy at all would be inefficient. But if you go a different direction in the beginning, once the Ryan Roberts, Neil Walkers and Kelly Johnson’s start coming off the board, (we project them to go around the 18th or 19th), grabbing Murphy would be a great value.
Comparables: Assuming he stays healths and, more so, that the Mets are comfortable leaving him at Second Base and not, instead, as an outfield platoon or trade bait, then from the bottom to the top of his projected range, we could be looking at anything from Neil Walker to Brandon Phillips.
X-Factor: This one’s obvious but nonetheless important. Can Murphy play second base, and if not, what do they do with him. He lacks the arm or power for left Field; he’s not quick enough for center and unless someone will eat his remaining millions, Bay is essentially entrenched in left. We’ve heard it in Spring training already, and thus far there’s been signs of both progress and stagnancy, but Murphy’s value as a starting second baseman in fantasy land may depend on his ability to team with Tejada in the Mets 2012 DP combo.
SS: Ruben Tejada
Last Year: In about a half season’s worth of at bats, Ruben put up decent numbers. Over a full season, we could have seen Ruben finish among the top 12 Short Stops meaning that this year, he could well be worthy of a starting position, and thus a great, late-round, value pick.
This Year: I like Ruben to improve. He stole only 5 bases last year which I think was a product of Terry playing him safely rather than his speed (or lack thereof). If he works his way to the lead-off spot, based on a continued improvement in plate approach, I’d expect Terry to take more chances running him, especially if Murphy is hitting behind him. Suddenly, 25 stolen bases isn’t impossible; runs should increase (again, minding the Bay/Wright factors); and, it’s fair to assume his average will stay consistent at the least.
Where to Draft: Similarly to the Murphy situation, it depends on your strategy. If you choose to go for the early home-run with a Reyes, Andrus, Tulo or Cabrera (who i don’t love for a repeat performance), then Tejada is of no value for you. But, if you’re willing to wait past the first few, through the rest of the clutter, there’s some upside in Tejada that could give you 7th-8th round value as late as the 19th-20th rounds.
Comparables: Alcides Escobar, Ian Desmond, Starlin Castro and…. Derek Jeter. This is some of the cream of the shortstop crop and Tejada, if given the permanent position in both the field and the line-up should be just as valuable.
X-Factor: When the Mets lost Jose Reyes they lost not only the personality and the batting champion, but a veritable run factory. If Jose got on to start the game, there was a great chance he’d take second and a solid chance, if on 2nd with no outs, that he’d wind up at home. Ruben’s ability to stretch singles into doubles, hit the gaps and steal some bases will wind up directly proportional to his runs scored. As with any (potential) lead-off hitter, runs are what you’re looking for, especially when forecasting fantasy value.
3B: David Wright
Last Year: No need to rehash what is still far too fresh in all of our memories. Wright was not quite right.
This Year: Ohhh the undying Mets optimism. I like Wright this year. I think its a contract year for one which should be cause for production, especially if David’s being true when he says he wants to stay in Queens. I think the fences help a little. I think Ike and Lucas take some heat off of his bat and perhaps get him some better pitches. I think with Johan back some of the leadership responsibilities get passed around and David can fly under the radar a bit more than in the past few years. Plus, there are no expectations this year. I like David for 25/100/.300
Where to Draft: There aren’t a lot of 3B’s. In fact, there are so few of quality that Mark Reynolds and his Adam Dunn-ish OBP were nonetheless 8th positionally. If Wright has a mediocre season he’s 7th or 8th best. If he recovers a bit of his previous gusto, he’s 5th with the chance for more if Beltre’s age, Pitcher’s grasp for Bautista’s swing and Aramis Ramirez’s lack of line-up support have strong, lingering effects. For a position so devoid of production, catching a D.Wright in the 5th or 6th, before resorting to Reynolds, could have a 1st or 2nd round pick type impact. Of course, Wright’s fantasy name is high-risk, high-reward.
Comparables: If David is hitting, and lets assume he will, he’s every bit as valuable as Evan Longoria. David can steal 20 bases to, which as a bonus from a position not typically synonymous with speed, a few extra bags and subsequent runs can quickly catapult a great 3B season into a superb one. If David under performs these projections, he’s still, if healthy, a better value than Aramis Ramirez, and Michael Young.
X-Factor: Can David drive in runs? If past performance is any indicator, expecting 100 RBI’s is far from unconscionable. But, those 100 RBI days were in the old house. While renovations were made to Citi to enhance his and Bay’s “pop”, we won’t really know until we hear Gary, Ron and Keith say for the 3rd or 4th time “that would have been caught with the old dimensions.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Mets Fantasy projections when we take a look at the outfield. We’ll include Thole in the Pitching segment since his success is largely tied to theirs, and vice versa.