At the beginning of April, the staff here at Amazin’ Avenue collaborated to arrive at 10 bold predictions for the Mets’ 2016 season. Now that the season has ended, let’s go back and see how we did.
1: Noah Syndergaard will be a top-five pitcher in baseball (Lukas Vlahos)
Boom, off to a fast start. Syndergaard posted a 2.26 ERA and a 2.29 FIP in 183.2 innings, striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings and walking only slightly more than two. Those numbers are all the more impressive when considering the small bone spur Syndergaard pitched with for the majority of the season. The only pitcher to match Syndergaard’s fWAR total of 6.5 was Clayton Kershaw, who did it in 34 fewer innings. Aside from Jose Fernandez (6.2 fWAR), no other pitcher had more than 6.0 fWAR, despite all eight starters in the 4.8 to 5.6 fWAR range pitching at least 20 more innings than Syndergaard.
Syndergaard doesn’t fare quite as well by RA9-WAR, dropping to a total of 5.2, good for 17th best in baseball. However, I can comfortably say this is a win given that Syndergaard is legitimately an NL Cy Young candidate.
2: Jeurys Familia will be the top closer in baseball and the first Met to save at least 50 games (Owen Condon)
Familia had a fantastic year, tossing 77.2 innings of 2.55 ERA ball, backed up by a 2.39 FIP and almost 10 strikeouts per nine innings. He managed to break the 50-save barrier, notching 51 to lead the league. Unfortunately for this prediction, there are a lot of excellent relievers in baseball, and Familia arguably wasn’t even the best option on his own team (Addison Reed). Sticking to only closers, Kenley Jansen, Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, Seung Hwan Oh, and Zach Britton all put up equal or better seasons. That ranking comes not just from fWAR, but also FIP, ERA, and WPA.
Still, this seems like at least half of a correct prediction, because 50 saves is pretty bold and Familia managed to top it.
3: The Mets’ starting rotation will double their home run output from 2015 (Linda Surovich)
Noah Syndergaard nearly did this all by himself, launching two home runs in one game off Kenta Maeda and another off Braden Shipley in Arizona. However, Mets starters launched two home runs last season (Syndergaard and Harvey), meaning that this prediction would not have come to fruition without this glorious moment:
Even as someone who has never been quite as enthusiastic about Bartolo Colon as many other Mets fans, I can comfortably say this was my favorite moment of this season. Nothing else this season comes close to being as ridiculous or glorious as Colon in a home run trot. That it fulfills this bold prediction is just icing on the cake.
4: David Wright will hit 20 home runs this season (Steve Schreiber)
Pretty sure the following GIF sums this prediction up nicely:
5: Travis d'Arnaud will be the second most valuable catcher in baseball when accounting for framing (Lukas Vlahos)
Not even close. d’Arnaud managed to stay relatively healthy, going on the disabled list only once this season with a shoulder issue. It was his on-field production that sunk this prediction, as d’Arnaud mustered only a 74 wRC+ and gradually lost playing time to Rene Rivera down the stretch. d’Arnaud saw his ground ball percentage skyrocket and his use of the opposite field plummet, a bad combination for his batting average. He also put the ball in the air less, which didn’t allow him to take advantage of his greater pull tendencies. His hard-hit percentage actually increased, but he seemed to have the Eric Campbell problem of beating the ball into the ground.
On the defensive end, d’Arnaud was still one of the better pitch-framers in baseball, ranking 42nd in framing runs according to Baseball Prospectus despite appearing in only 75 games. The offensive potential is still there as well if he stops tinkering with his swing for five minutes. I may make a similar prediction next season, but the 2016 version was a dud.
6: Come September, the Mets' strongest competition for the NL East will come from the Marlins (Eric Goodman)
In a sense, this prediction was correct in that the Marlins were more important competition for the Mets, just not for the division crown. The Nationals seemed hell bent on showing that last year was an aberration, and they ran away with the NL East this year. The Mets and Marlins fought briefly for a Wild Card spot, but Miami faded quickly in September and finished below .500. Going forward, the NL East still profiles as a fight between the Mets and Nationals, hopefully one that isn’t so one-sided in 2017.
7: Neil Walker will finish second among all 2B in wRC+… to only his predecessor, Daniel Murphy (Austin Yamada)
Like prediction two, this prediction was half right. Daniel Murphy did indeed make a giant leap forward at age 32 after leaving the Mets and led all second baseman with a 156 wRC+. Neil Walker reduced the sting a little bit by posting a 120 wRC+ over 458 at-bats before having season-ending back surgery, but he was nowhere close to second best on the leader boards. Big performances from the AL’s best second baseman as well as strong rookie debuts from Trea Turner and Ryan Schimpf pushed Walker all the way down to 12th.
Given that the non-Mets-related portion of this prediction came true, I won’t give it half credit. So we remain stuck at 2.5.
8: Wuilmer Becerra will be the best prospect in the Mets system in 2017 (Jeffrey Paternostro)
Becerra was hampered by a torn labrum this season, spending most of his time at High-A as a DH and eventually undergoing season-ending surgery in June. When he was on the field, Becerra was a slappy singles hitter with a reduced walk rate as his injury sapped his power. Becerra will be 22 in 2017 and is probably a level below where you’d ideally like a top prospect to be at that age. Coupled with Amed Rosario’s breakout performance and Robert Gsellman’s strong major league showing, it’s safe to say that Becerra is not the best prospect in the system going into next season.
9: Michael Conforto will be the most valuable left fielder in the National League (Lukas Vlahos)
Conforto got off to such a fantastic start that I was sure two of my three bold predictions were in the bag. In March and April, Conforto mashed his way to a 196 wRC+, the second best mark in baseball behind only Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz. Alas, Conforto then fell into a prolonged slump, got sent back to Triple-A twice, and never regained his starting job. Despite finishing the season with a strong 131 wRC+ in September and October (albeit in very limited playing time), Conforto tallied only 1.2 fWAR on the season. That mark barely gets him into the top 10, nestled in between Brandon Moss and Jayson Werth.
10: Wilmer Flores will be caught crying on live television no less than three times in 2016 (Rich Resch)
There was no tears-of-joy moment for Wilmer and the Mets this season. In fact, the only time he was in tears was probably after Terry Collins forgot to pinch run for him in Atlanta, costing the Mets the game and ending Flores’s season as he was injured in a home plate collision. Thankfully for Flores, his time on the field this season established him as an extraordinary lefty masher, making him valuable infield depth for a 2017 team with David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Lucas Duda lined up at the corners.