Before the season started, Amazin’ Avenue readers made predictions on a number of Mets-related topics. While few if any readers—or baseball fans in general—envisioned the dumpster fire of a season the Mets had, a few positive storylines did develop over the course of the year. Let’s look back and see how those storylines matched up with our preseason predictions.
AA readers overwhelmingly predicted Yoenis Cespedes to be the Mets’ best hitter, as measured by wRC+. Despite only playing about half the year, Cespedes was quite good when he was on the field—a fact that seems to have gotten lost amid the chaos and disappointment surrounding the 2017 Mets. Cespedes finished second in wRC+ to Michael Conforto, from whom a good chunk of AA readers also correctly predicted big things. The third spot on the list went to Lucas Duda, who, in typical Lucas Duda fashion, was quietly excellent for the Mets when healthy.
Originally, only hitters who qualified for the batting title were eligible to be included here. However, since Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes turned out to be the Mets’ only two qualified hitters, we lowered the threshold to 250 plate appearances. That covers all of the Mets’ original starters, except for David Wright, who ended up missing the entire year.
|1||Yoenis Cespedes||70%||Michael Conforto||146|
|2||Michael Conforto||10%||Yoenis Cespedes||131|
|3||Neil Walker||5%||Lucas Duda||129|
The Mets didn’t just lose their best projected position player to injury, but also their best projected pitcher. That’s obviously a big reason why the team only won 70 games. After Noah Syndergaard went down early in the year, however, Jacob deGrom stepped up as the team’s ace and best pitcher, by an average of fWAR and bWAR. Like Conforto, deGrom was AA readers’ second choice after the obvious frontrunner.
Addison Reed and Seth Lugo rounded out the top three in pitching WAR, an indication of how far off the rails this season went. Neither Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, nor Robert Gsellman was able to muster even a single win above replacement. That’s a pretty stunning development given the hype and expectations surrounding this rotation before the season started.
|1||Noah Syndergaard||53%||Jacob deGrom||4.4|
|2||Jacob deGrom||38%||Addison Reed||1.4|
|3||Robert Gsellman||2%||Seth Lugo||1.3|
Despite playing just 94 games, Juan Lagares was by far the Mets’ best defensive player. By an average of DRS and UZR, Lagares provided more than twice the value as second-place finisher Jay Bruce, who himself finished well ahead of third-ranked Amed Rosario. The Mets were not a strong defensive team in 2017, and that shows here.
|Rank||Player||Vote percent||Player||Avg. DRS, UZR|
|1||Juan Lagares||35%||Juan Lagares||12.7|
|2||Yoenis Cespedes||23%||Jay Bruce||5.3|
|3||Asdrubal Cabrera||11%||Amed Rosario||1.3|
This actually turned out to be one of the more disappointing categories. Despite getting a decent chunk of playing, none of the Mets’ high-profile rookies cracked the top three in WAR. Instead, Brandon Nimmo and T.J. Rivera finished first and second, respectively, among Mets rookies in an average of fWAR and bWAR. Both players looked good with the bat while providing some much-needed defensive versatility. Paul Sewald rounded out the top three on the strength of a solid year as a basically league-average innings eater out of the pen.
The bigger story is who isn’t listed here. After pitching extremely well in 44.2 innings of work in 2016, Gsellman failed to replicate that success in 2017, pitching to a bloated 5.19 ERA (126 ERA-) and 4.89 FIP (114 FIP-). Meanwhile, neither Amed Rosario (.248/.271/.394, 74 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR) nor Dominic Smith (.198/.262/.395, 73 wRC+, -0.6 fWAR) exactly set the world on fire in their first big league stints, despite showing signs of promise. When Sandy Alderson said he was “disappointed with the performance of some of these players and their preparation for playing at the major league level,” he surely had these latter two players in mind.
|1||Robert Gsellman||73%||Brandon Nimmo||1.0|
|2||T.J. Rivera||10%||T.J. Rivera||0.6|
|3||Amed Rosario||6%||Paul Sewald||0.4|
Best position player
The Mets’ outfield was a bright spot for them in 2017. As a group, Mets outfielders ranked fourth in the majors in both fWAR and wRC+, and the team’s three best position players all played the outfield. Ironically, none of those three was Cespedes, whom most predicted to lead the group.
Conforto was comfortably number one as a result of his terrific performance in a breakout season. Bruce’s big year with the bat landed him at number two, while Curtis Granderson finished third after rebounding nicely from a dreadful start.
|1||Yoenis Cespedes||65%||Michael Conforto||4.0|
|2||Michael Conforto||7%||Jay Bruce||2.3|
|3||Neil Walker||7%||Curtis Granderson||2.0|
Best overall player
deGrom was the Mets’ best player in 2017, followed closely by Conforto. On a team that vastly underperformed expectations, both players stepped up after down years in 2016 and helped carry the Mets through this slog of a season. Bruce, in another bounceback campaign with the Mets, was the team’s third-best player despite playing the last two months in Cleveland.
|1||Noah Syndergaard||37%||Jacob deGrom||4.4|
|2||Yoenis Cespedes||34%||Michael Conforto||4.0|
|3||Jacob deGrom||12%||Jay Bruce||2.3|
It goes without saying that this category presented the biggest disparity between predicted and actual results. Just 1% of AA readers predicted the Mets to win fewer than 81 games, and 82% predicted 90 wins or more. Obviously, the team’s 70 wins fell far short of either total.
AA readers weren’t alone in predicting big things from the 2017 Mets. PECOTA projected the Mets to be baseball’s fifth-best team, and only the Giants turned out to be a bigger disappointment relative to PECOTA’s original projections.
The most surprising aspect of the Mets’ 2017 season isn’t how many games they lost, but how they lost those games. By wRC+, which accounts for park effects, the Mets were the fifth-best offensive team in the National League, even after trading their veteran bats. Meanwhile, by ERA-, which also includes park adjustments, Mets pitchers were the worst in the league. That would have been virtually unthinkable in March.
Given the expectations for this team prior to the season, it’s safe to put 2017 among the most disappointing years in Mets history. That said, the team did get strong play from a few players while they were on the field and got its biggest prospects some valuable major league experience. The Mets will need to build on that progress, while seeing their rotation return to form both health- and performance-wise, if they plan to compete in 2018.
|Rank||Predicted wins||Vote percent||Wins|