When the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer a little over a year ago, surrendering a first-round pick in the process, they signed a player who had hit .307/.362/.525 over his previous three seasons. He spent all of those years playing for the Rockies, but that line was still good for a 126 OPS+. There were question marks at the time of the signing, of course.
Cuddyer had dealt with injuries and had averaged 93 games played per season in his time with the Rockies. His last full seasons came when he was still playing with the Twins. He was entering his age-36 season, and his defense in the outfield wasn't going to be an asset.
But in his first year with the Mets, health wasn't nearly as much of a problem as his bat was. Cuddyer played in 117 games, partly because he dealt with a knee problem and spent some time on the disabled list, partly because Michael Conforto supplanted him in left field—at least against right-handed pitching—when the Mets called him up from Double-A Binghamton in late July. In total, Cuddyer hit .259/.309/.391 with a 95 OPS+ in the regular season, which was his worst line compared to league average since 2008.
Things weren't always bad for Cuddyer, but when they weren't going right, they really weren't going right. Through June 6, Cuddyer had hit .273/.332/.418 with 6 home runs—hardly a revelation, perhaps not enough to justify the outfield defense, but a decent line for a major league hitter in 2015. Then he slumped about as much as a baseball player can slump. In his next 80 plate appearances, Cuddyer hit .143/.175/.195. He had a .749 OPS for the season after the Mets' June 6 game. After their July 5 game, he had a .643 OPS for the season.
It was around that time that Cuddyer's knee injury, or at least the extent of it, became public knowledge. Despite the state of his knee, his bat finally came alive in limited playing time in July, as he went 9-for-21 with a couple of home runs and a couple of walks before finally hitting the disabled list. That's when the Mets called up Conforto.
Cuddyer wasn't gone for that long, though, and returned to the Mets' re-shaped roster on August 11. Like the rest of the team, he went on a tear as the Mets scored runs in bunches through the rest of the month. In 17 games, Cuddyer hit .375/.423/.583 with a couple more home runs.
But that was the last of the good hitting for Cuddyer for 2015. The rest of the regular season looked a lot like the slump in June. He hit .179/.214/.231 in 42 plate appearances in 18 games during that time. In the playoffs, Cuddyer made twelve plate appearances, hit one single, drew one walk, stuck out seven times, and grounded into one double play.
For the season, Cuddyer was worth 0.5 bWAR and 0.0 fWAR. he will turn 37 in late March and is set to make $12.5 million in 2016. He was far from baseball's worst hitter in 2015, but he's going to have to hit a lot better next year to make that contract look decent.
With Michael Conforto manning left field on a regular basis—and hopefully playing against at least some left-handed starting pitchers, too—Cuddyer should get plenty of rest. Ideally, he'll platoon a bit with Conforto, Curtis Granderson, and Lucas Duda when the Mets face left-handed pitching. Perhaps the combination of rest and favorable platoon matchups could result in a better year at the plate.