The pundits have pegged the Mets as a third-place team in the NL East at best. Definitely not a playoff contender. However, as every baseball fan knows, anything can happen. And as every Mets fan knows: Ya Gota Believe! Here are five reasons the Mets will make you believe, and excite you, in 2014.
Reason #1: David Wright!!!
Yeah, I know, an easy and obvious one. But c'mon, someone's got to pay the guy the respect he deserves. Since 2005, his first full season in the big leagues, do you know where he ranks in the league in fWAR? Fourth. Yeah. Even if Fred Wilpon doesn't want to admit it, the guy is a superstar. He's a rock. Our rock. The wind beneath our wings. Yet lots of people don't treat him like it. I guess he's just been doing it too consistently for too long, and he'll do it again this year, because he's a superstar and that's what superstars do.
Reason #2: LINEUP PROTECTION!!!
Whether you believe its a myth or not, it will be nice to see a guy batting behind David Wright who isn't a a fluky 36-year-old or a guy who was demoted to Triple-A last year. Yes, all of the Fangraphs projections are down on him, as are most people with his move to Citi Field. Not me. Maybe it's a completely blind bias now that he's wearing the orange and blue, but I like his swing, and if he stays healthy, I think 35 home runs and an .800 OPS is absolutely possible, maybe even likely.
Reason #3: We will have a sneaky-good rotation
Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, Jonathan Niese, Dillon Gee, and hopefully Jenrry Mejia. Looks pretty good to me. Every pitcher on this list is capable of pitching to a high-three ERA. The first three could do even better. The key, as it always is, will be health. However, the Mets have finally prepared themselves for this. No more Aaron Laffeys or Jeremy Hefners. Instead, when a pitcher goes down, expect Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, or, if it's past early June, Noah Syndergaard. The Mets' rotation looks good not only for the upcoming season, but for future seasons to come. And here's a little extra coddling from Buster Olney just to warm your heart and get you daydreaming about the future.
Reason #4: Noah Syndergaard (and Rafael Montero?)
Probably the most obvious reason. The latest tier of top pitching prospects expected to take the Mets back to the playoffs will be arriving this year, headlined by the man nicknamed "Thor." And Mets fans know how exciting the hype of a top pitching prospect is. Matt Harvey dazzled in his debut with 11 strikeouts and Wheeler appeared on "Super Tuesday." Syndergaard's promotion, which should come some time in the beginning of June, should receive just as much hype, as many scouts expect him to be better than Wheeler. Oh, and Rafael Montero is apparently pretty good, too.
Reason #5: Juan Lagares
Yeah, really. The last and arguably most exciting reason is the guy who will probably hit .250 if he's lucky. And it's not anything that he does with the bat that is exciting. It's what he does with his glove. His arm. His legs. It's basically anything he does when he's not holding a bat. And if you watched a single Mets game during the second half of last season, you know exactly what I mean.
And if you've been living under a rock for the past six months and don't believe me, then just watch this.
Or most importantly and most enjoyably, this.
There really are many reasons to be excited about the Mets this season, and not just these five. The lineup is better, the rotation is better, and the bullpen is... well, no comment. But the first two are nice. While the Mets most likely won't be in playoff contention in September, they could be in August, which is something that hasn't happened in a while. Additionally, good health and production from Travis d'Arnaud and whoever mans first base (hopefully Lucas Duda) on top of the expected production from Wright and Granderson could give the Amazins' the first fun offense to watch in a couple of seasons.
On top of all of that, if Lagares gets regular playing time in center and Ruben Tejada stops getting scared by ground balls that come his way, the Mets could field a very solid defense with holes only at second and possibly first, which according to Greg Karam, is no accident. Really, the Mets are finally a team ready to compete, which should be enough to excite Mets fans for the upcoming season.