Think back to the beginning of last season: the Mets CF position was a race between several untested rookies. Everyone had their chosen favorite: commenters on Amazin Avenue generally seemed most appreciative of the defense and power potential of Matt den Dekker, Matt Cerrone at Metsblog and various sports columnists were comparing Colin Cowgill to Lenny Dykstra and I was personally in the one-man Kirk Niuewenhuis fan club.
The one name nobody mentioned was Juan Lagares. That's hard to imagine now, but in a year with a position wide open where the only competition was other AAA players, Lagares was not even in the conversation.
Making the whole thing even weirder, what we did know about Lagares could not have possibly prepared us for what he did. Look back to this profile in March of 2013 of Lagares on metsminorleagueblog.com. Toby Hyde describes Lagares as a "little below average defensively in center."
The rise of Juan Lagares was the strangest thing that happened in 2013, but it wasn't the only thing. There was also the inexplicable offensive tear that was Marlon Byrd's season and even Matt Harvey's full-season debut as one of the top 3 pitchers in the league.
It may seem like a paradox but we should expect highly improbable things to happen. They will happen infrequently, but when you look at the possible outcomes for every player on the Mets 40-man roster, that's enough players that there should be 1-3 highly unexpected outcomes. Last year it was Lagares, Byrd and arguably Harvey. What might it be this year? Here are some guesses. Remember these are highly unexpected outcomes, meaning I really don't expect them to happen. But they might.
1) Bobby Parnell struggles throughout April and goes on the DL. Jeurys Familia steps in and dominates. Finally finding his control, Familia seizes the job and never gives it back, ending the year as one of the top closers in the National League.
2) Danny Muno ends the year as the Mets starting 2B and their leadoff hitter after impressing the front office with his unnaturally high walk rate. What happens to Daniel Murphy? Trade, injury or the Mets decide he does not walk enough and benches him.
3) The first AAA pitcher up to get a spot in the rotation is Jacob de Grom. De Grom exceeds all expectations and holds the rotation spot all season, finishing with a 3.42 ERA that is backed up by solid peripherals.
4) Zack Wheeler struggles with control in April and May and gets sent down to the minors with a walk rate of 5 batters per 9 innings. He does not make it back to the majors the rest of the season.
5) Zack Wheeler figures out how to cut his walk rate by a batter per inning and wins the Cy Young.
6) The Terry Collins special: Eric Young Jr. gets the bulk of the Mets playing time at CF and Wilmer Flores gets the bulk of the Mets playing time at SS.
What strange things do you guys think probably won't happen this season?