There is no day in the entirety of the baseball season that is more full of optimism than Opening Day. We’ve polled our staff to see just why they are feeling positive going into the season. Leave your reasons for optimism in the comments!
Christian Romo: Did you see that the humorless Wilpons sold a majority stake of the franchise to an impossibly wealthy Twitter-goofing quarter-zip sweater model? I mean did you see that the Mets had significant holes at catcher, shortstop, and in the pitching rotation and filled them with top-tier players? Did you try looking for a hole in the lineup? Be honest, have you found one yet? Have you SEEN all the massive dingers Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso are hitting this Spring?? To say this team will win the World Series is a bit foolish considering the near-impossibility of predicting the playoffs, but if this isn’t the best regular-season Mets team since 2006, then many things will have gone terribly wrong.
Michael Drago: When’s the last time the Mets had an offense this fun? Not just this GOOD, mind you, but this FUN? I would argue that we haven’t seen a group of position players this endearing in my lifetime. Between the homegrown talent and the lovable personalities, it will be an absolute pleasure to watch this team hit in 2021. It’s a good enough offensive unit to overcome a lot of other issues that might arise with the team.
Brian Salvatore: This rotation is deep, and that is before both Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco return. From the ever-increasing speed of Jacob deGrom’s fastball to the churve of Joey Lucchesi to Marcus Stroman’s ‘shit [that] moves,’ each of the five starters bring something different to the table. And, knowing that later this season, we will be getting the returns of the aforementioned Snydergaard and Carrasco, it will allow some of those current starters to either fortify the bullpen, or provide some much needed depth.
Allison McCague: There are a ton of reasons to be optimistic about this team. The easiest one is that the best pitcher in baseball is on the New York Mets. At this point, “Jacob deGrom will win a third Cy Young” doesn’t even qualify as a bold prediction, which is why I did not discuss him in my answer to that question. Every year, he somehow finds a new gear and gets even better. Having that much of a sure thing at the top of your rotation does wonders. And once Carlos Carrasco returns, followed by Noah Syndergaard? If the Mets are in the hunt in the second half (and there is every reason to believe they will be), look out because that is one of the most fearsome rotations in baseball. We also know based on 2020 that this team can hit. Boy, can they hit. Even with Pete Alonso having a “down year,” the 2020 Mets had one of the best offenses in baseball and they have only improved that this year by upgrading at shortstop. On days James McCann is catching, you look up and down the Mets lineup and there is not a single weak spot to be found offensively. Gone are the days of John Mayberry Jr. hitting cleanup and that is a beautiful thing.
Kory Powell: The biggest reason to be optimistic about this years team is the collection of talent on the roster, both at the plate and on the mound. Led by the best pitcher in baseball in Jacob deGrom, the pitching staff has the potential to be very good, with Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Carlos Carrasco all to follow in the rotation at one point this season (though we may have to wait a while for it to come). And at the plate, I think any lineup that features Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, and Jeff McNeil has the chance to be the best in baseball. It takes good players to have good teams, and there’s no shortage of that when looking at the 2021 Mets.
Rob Wolff: The offense has the potential to be dynamic; approximately every fifth day we get to witness historic greatness.
Vas Drimalitis: You have to go back to the 2006 season to find a Mets lineup that was this stacked from top-to-bottom on Opening Day. Here is the wRC+ for each player who will start on Opening Day for the Mets: Brandon Nimmo (133), Francisco Lindor (118), Michael Conforto (127), Pete Alonso (136), Dominic Smith (116), Jeff McNeil (139), J.D. Davis (115), James McCann (85). The weakest link offensively is McCann, but even his wRC+ over the past two seasons is 115 following his offensive improvements. There isn’t an easy out among the bunch, and the bench includes legitimate depth for the first time in years with Jonathan Villar, Kevin Pillar, Albert Almora Jr., and Luis Guillorme. The Mets have one of the best lineups in the National League. If nothing else, they’ll be a lot of fun.
Lukas Vlahos: Despite the poor record, the Mets’ offense was elite last season. Overall, their 121 wRC+ ranked second in the majors, trailing only the Dodgers. They’ve now replaced the 89 wRC+ they got from shortstop with Francisco Lindor, a hitter that can safely be penciled in for a batting line that’s at least 20% better than league average, and the 87 wRC+ they got from catcher with James McCann’s potential offensive breakout. Pete Alonso should be better, balancing out the regression we should expect from Dom Smith and the loss of Robinson Cano. Throw in a vastly improved bench and you’re looking at an offense that has a very real chance to be the best in baseball.
Linda Surovich: Aside from the offense and Jacob deGrom somehow leveling up yet again, Edwin Diaz looks absolutely incredible. The bullpen could still implode at any given moment but Diaz being a lights out closer would be a huge win for the team and my anxiety.
Rich Resch: This offense has a chance to be the best in franchise history. The Mets will be returning four players who put up a wOBA of at least .360 last season, in Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, and Jeff McNeil. Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis had disappointing seasons but have shown the potential to be explosive hitters, and at worst, should contribute with above average production. Add Francisco Lindor and James McCann to an already loaded lineup, and we have the makings of some must-watch television, not to mention the fact that this is a delightful group of fun, goofy dudes.
Grace Carbone: The Mets currently have a team comprised of some of the best players in baseball, including Best Pitcher in the League Jacob deGrom, 2020 NL MVP vote-getter Dominic Smith, and of course Francisco Lindor whose accolades could be a paragraph unto themselves. Noah Syndergaard is looking good in his rehab and should be back by summer, which, along with Carlos Carrasco coming back at some point around then, would give the Mets one of the nastiest rotations in baseball. The team has really seemed to click and looks to be a force in the NL East this season. After last years failure and 2019’s disappointing end, they look to be back in playoff contention for the first time since 2016, and this is probably their strongest all-around team since 2006. Every Mets fan should be smiling going into this season.
Dave Capobianco: The roster depth. The Mets have put out talented teams the last several seasons that have floundered or under-performed due to the lack of depth beyond the top 15 or so on the roster. That’s not the case this year. The Mets have set themselves up to run out major-league caliber players even in the case of multiple injuries, which is something they never used to do.
Chris McShane: Getting to watch Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor on a regular basis seems like a pretty good reason to be optimistic about this season.