Today is Opening Day, a day of hope and unrealistic expectations; “all future, no past,” as the saying goes. In honor of this blessed day, we have asked our staff to take a swing for the fences and make a bold prediction about the Mets. Go a hot take of your own? Share it in the comments!
Grace Carbone: I’m going to stay #OnBrand here, after completely whiffing on my prediction last year, and say that Dominic Smith is going to return to the breakout player last seen during the 2020 season.
Now, even I don’t think he’s going to be as overwhelmingly amazing as he was in 2020, as I think the fact that it was only 60 games helped keep him from ever slumping. But I think that, after the multiple injuries last year and the trade that eventually died last week, Smith is going to have a chip on his shoulder and something to prove this season and will go back to being the player he was in 2019 pre-stress fracture. Think the Wilmer Flores post-trade revenge tour in 2015 but over a full-length season. Dom Bombs and Dombles galore in 2022, let’s go!
Jack McLoone: The “easy” “bold” prediction would be something like Francisco Lindor wins NL MVP or Jacob deGrom wins NL Cy Young or James McCann bats higher than 7th in the lineup on a regular basis.
Instead, let’s go out of the box in a way that’s semi-negative: deGrom and Max Scherzer are both so good that they actually split the Cy Young votes, and a third-party candidate… hm, let’s say Sandy Alcantara, wins instead. (This was written before deGrom’s injury, but I’m standing firm. The bolder the better.)
Linda Surovich: Few things get Citi Field as electric as when the first notes of “Narco” start blasting from the speakers, heralding Edwin Diaz’s entrance to close out the game. Returning to “Narco” brought about a return to form for some of the season for Diaz, but there were still far too many hiccups for the closer throughout the season.
With the trumpets blaring, Diaz will once again be the elite closer the Mets were expecting and will lead the league in saves. Alexa, play “Narco.”
Kory Powell: It’s no secret that Jeff McNeil did not have a very good 2021. After being a hitting machine his first 3 seasons in the big leagues, McNeil struggled immensely last year, leading to lots of thrown bats and helmets in frustration.
This year, I expect McNeil to return to form and believe that just like in 2019, he will represent the Mets at the All-Star game. A hot hitting McNeil in the Mets’ lineup will help power the team to their first division title since 2015.
Allison McCague: Buck Showalter will win NL Manager of the Year in 2022.
Obviously this is highly dependent on how the Mets perform as a team, but if they manage to make a deep playoff run, in the spirit of these predictions being truly bold, I’ll go with Buck’s inaugural season earning him Manager of the Year honors.
Lukas Vlahos: Prior to joining the Mets, Carlos Carrasco was one of the most consistently excellent starters in baseball, even in the season where he literally got diagnosed with and recovered from cancer. A hamstring injury and some loose bodies in his elbow led to an abbreviated, very bad 2021 debut in New York, but his peripherals were pretty decent in spring despite an ugly ERA.
So I’m going to bet on a big bounceback. Carrasco will pitch 140+ innings with an ERA south of 3.7, firmly establishing himself as an extremely valuable mid-rotation cog behind Scherzer, Bassitt, and (health permitting) deGrom.
Ken Lavin: While questions remain about Mark Vientos’ ability to hit for average and limit strikeouts at the highest levels of affiliated baseball, there’s no denying that he has tremendous raw power. Vientos will be starting the season in Syracuse this year, where he will be a mere phone call and commuter flight away from the big league team in Flushing to cover for injury. Once in Flushing, I would expect Vientos to hit for significant power, at least before the book on him gets out, and even if it does come with a unsustainably high K rate and a very low batting average. His prodigious raw power makes him a good candidate to potentially have a crazy month to start his big league career, so I think there’s at least a decent chance Vientos ends the season north of ten home runs in a limited season with the big league club, even if his season line leaves something to be desired when all is said and done.
Brian Salvatore: I know it is has been quite scary to watch Jacob deGrom rack up injury after injury over the past ten months or so. His latest - a stress reaction in his right shoulder - sounds pretty serious, despite what Brandon McCarthy tweets. But here’s my bold prediction: deGrom will be fine.
Sure, he will still miss eight weeks of action, but there will be no lingering effects of this injury on the rest of deGrom’s season, and we will be enjoying deGOAT at Citi Field before school is out.
Allison McCague: In 2022, I predict that Starling Marte will lead the league in stolen bases again…AND he will win a batting title. The second part is what really makes this prediction bold because if Marte is healthy, leading the league in steals should be well within reach for him since he is one of only a handful of players capable of swiping more than 30 bags in a season these days. Having that lethal speed at the top of the Mets’ batting order will be absolutely invaluable to the team’s success.
Winning a batting title, though? That’ll be a much tougher feat. But, Marte has historically put up high batting averages in his career and he hit .310 last season, so it’s not entirely out of the question that he could improve upon that even more–especially with the protection he’ll have in the Mets batting order. Most days, Brandon Nimmo the on-base machine will likely be batting ahead of Marte, meaning that Marte will often be looking to drive Nimmo home. And Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso will be lurking behind Marte in the order, meaning that pitchers can’t exactly afford to pitch around Marte. Historically, position players the Mets have signed to long-term deals have struggled in their first season (see Granderson, Beltrán, Lindor, and others), but I predict Starling Marte will not suffer the same fate and will hit the ground running (literally) in Flushing.
Michael Drago: Jacob deGrom will be dominant when healthy, but will continue to suffer through periodic injuries. Max Scherzer will be a solid addition to the rotation, but will start to show at least a little bit of his age and not be quite the dominant force he’s been for so long. So who, then, will be the best/most consistent presence in the Mets’ 2022 rotation? None other than Chris Bassitt, who has been sorely underrated over the past few years despite sterling numbers with the Athletics. He will be surrounded by two Hall of Fame-caliber talents, and he will combine their shared knowledge with his already considerable talents and the motivation of his contract year to propel him to a career-best season which will put him in contention for his first Cy Young award.
Lukas Vlahos: The discourse around J.D. Davis has reached extreme levels. One side over rates him as a starting caliber third baseman, something he is certainly not given his horrific defense. The other regards him as a throwaway piece, an eminently replaceable player the Mets should’ve dumped for literally anything this offseason in order to free up a roster spot. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle - Davis’ glove is prohibitively bad wherever you play him, but his offensive stats, while probably inflated due to his part time role, are impressive. The only thing blocking him from consistent playing time now is 57-year-old Robinson Cano and the inconsistent Dominic Smith.
Liberated from the responsibility of fielding the ball, J.D. Davis will force his way into the lion’s share of playing time at DH and post a wRC+ of 125 or better, good enough to declare him a top-50 hitter in baseball and a valuable part of the Mets’ lineup. Just don’t let him touch a glove please.
Brian Salvatore: As of press time, former Met Michael Conforto is still a free agent. His agent, Scott Boras, claims that a January injury has slowed down his market, but it also appears that, perhaps, the demand for Conforto isn’t what Boras thought it would be. And so I think that the Mets will re-sign Michael Conforto for a one-year ‘pillow’ contract come May.
I know that the Mets have a full outfield right now, but injuries happen (what’s up, Brandon Nimmo getting a cortisone shot in his neck before the season even started?) and many, including many on our staff, felt the Mets are still a bat shy of an ideal lineup. And so, when/if players break or underperform, the Mets will make the call and Conforto, desperate to not sit out a whole season, will answer, reuniting Scooter and the Big Man for another season in Queens.
Ken Lavin: As a long time supporter and admirer of the big beefy Pete Alonso, I strongly believe that last season was merely what the average Pete Alonso season will look like in terms of power. If you take the average between his breakout rookie campaign and his very solid 2021 campaign (let’s just pretend 2020 didn’t happen) you get 45 homers. I think that’s more or less what his average season total, health permitting, has the potential to look like. If he hits that number, and maybe gets a little lucky in the home run to flyball ratio department, Pete Alonso should at the very least be in the running to lead the National League in homers, and could very easily take the NL homer king crown for 2022, much as he has taken the home run derby crown in each of the last two contests that have taken place.
Christian Romo: Francisco Lindor will hit at least 15 home runs this season…from each side of the plate. That’s, of course, very difficult to do, not only because hitting at least 30 home runs in a season is difficult, but also because Lindor sees a disproportionate number of plate appearances from the left side. The closest Lindor has ever come to accomplishing this was in 2017 in Cleveland, where he hit 22 home runs from the left side and 11 from his right. Mark Teixeira only accomplished this feat once. Carlos Beltrán and Lance Berkman never accomplished this. But Lindor has always fared better on his right side, and a return to form this season might see him present some unusual balance.
Thomas Henderson: This is more of a spicy take than a bold prediction, but Robinson Canó will end the season with better numbers than Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis. Half of it has to do with Canó (while his age and steroid history raise some questions), a lot of this has to do with the other two players I think Canó’s bat to ball skills will stick, and he just needs some power to be above average. Plus the last time we saw him he absolutely raked.
On the other hand, I’m not the highest in the world on either Davis or Dom. While both had some injury issues last year, Dom was outright bad last year, and Davis was buoyed by a high BABIP, as he saw his power fall significantly. That combination opens the door to: Robinson Canó, DH extraordinaire