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!
Christian Romo: Pete Alonso will hit his 200th major league home run this season
This is an alternate way of me saying I think Pete Alonso will hit 54 home runs this season, because that’s how many home runs he needs to hit the 200 mark. It seems crazy, until you realize it’s only one more than his current season-high.
You know how many players in MLB history hit 200 home runs in their first five seasons? Two: Ralph Kiner and Albert Pujols. Odds are that Alonso won’t be the third, as he’s only reached the 40 mark once since his historic rookie season. But as a healthy, every-day first basemen, he’ll certainly get enough plate appearances to make history once again.
Linda Surovich: Despite the pedigree of his rotation-mates, Kodai Senga will lead the team in strikeouts
Senga’s ghost fork paired with his blazing fastball will be a devastating combination for opposing batters. He is a rookie heading into this season, but hitters have not really seen his ghost fork which could potentially generate a ton of swings and misses. Certainly both Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are capable of taking the strikeout crown, but they are also both up there in age for a pitcher and should they miss any time Senga could surpass them. Senga’s potential is sky high and opposing batters should beware of the ghost.
Allison McCague: Francisco Lindor will be the first Met to have a 30-30 season since David Wright
We already know Lindor is capable of hitting 30 home runs in a season; he has done so three times in his career. He has never stolen 30 bases. However, given the new rules, I expect stolen base totals will increase league-wide and help Lindor become a member of the 30-30 club. If he accomplishes this feat, he will probably get MVP votes and if my prediction comes true, I think whether the Mets or the Braves win the NL East will determine a tight MVP race between Lindor and Ronald Acuña.
Michael Drago: The Mets’ bullpen is going to be fine
The Mets suffered a devastating blow when Edwin Díaz ruptured his patellar tendon earlier this month, and it’d be easy to predict that this injury will portend disaster for a bullpen that was arguably the weakest component of last year’s roster. But while Díaz’s vibes are utterly irreplaceable (we’ll miss you, “Narco”), the team’s relief corps will wind up being just fine. In fact, thanks to the depth added during the offseason, improved performances from some of the holdovers, and perhaps a key midseason acquisition or two, the bullpen - while not necessarily being particularly flashy - will strongly improve from last season and wind up being one of the great strengths of the 2023 squad - and one of the better overall bullpens in the majors this year.
Lukas Vlahos: David Peterson will break out this season
Overly maligned for largely aesthetic reasons, David Peterson has quietly demonstrated some exciting pitch metrics in 2022. His slider, even with an underwhelming movement profile, induced a swinging strike rate of 47.9%. Not quite a top-tier pitch (such as Edwin Diaz’s, at 53.9%), but not far behind either, particularly impressive as a starting pitcher. He leaned it into a bit more last year, upping the usage to 28.5% per Brooks Baseball, but there’s more juice to squeeze here. Bumping that number up a bit further and improving his pedestrian fastball even a little bit could give Peterson all the ingredients needed to turn into a legitimately good starter. Note I’m not talking about a top of the rotation arm - that sort of upside probably isn’t in the cards - but an above average season is within reach. I’m betting he’ll toss 120 innings with an ERA under 3.50, a mark that would’ve made him a top-50 SP in 2022.
Chris McShane: Justin Verlander will win another Cy Young
Does this even qualify as a bold prediction? I’m going to say yes, as it’s exceedingly rare for pitchers who have hit the age of 40 to win the award, even if that pitcher won the award literally last year. With his win in the American League last year, Verlander already stands as the fourth-oldest pitcher to have won it in the history of the award. If he were to do it again this year, he’d be the second-oldest, trailing only the 2004 version of then-42-year-old Roger Clemens. Whether or not he actually wins the award and validates this semi-bold prediction, it is worth noting that what Verlander did last year was essentially what a full season of Jacob deGrom might have looked like in either of the past two seasons: a 1.75 ERA in 175.0 innings.
Brian Salvatore: Tylor Megill will emerge has a high-leverage relief pitcher and close some games for the Mets
In spring of 2022, Tylor Megill started opening eyes when he began throwing the ball harder. Like, much harder. All of his pitches improved with the added velocity, and he put up a sub-2.00 ERA in April. This ended predictably, with Megill’s arm in tatters and him hitting the IL. But that was Megill trying to throw full-tilt across multiple innings at a clip. What if he just threw that hard for one inning at a time? We saw early last season that his slider got more break, his changeup both gained movement and velocity, and his fastball induced more whiffs when thrown harder. If he could throw 20 pitches a game with that approach instead of 80, could he last a whole season? If so, he would position himself as a very important piece of the Mets’ bullpen in 2023 and beyond.
Vasilis Drimalitis: Pete Alonso will hit 50 home runs
As far as bold predictions go, ‘Pete Alonso will hit a lot of home runs’ doesn’t really qualify as one. However, 50 home runs is still a rarity, and one Alonso already achieved in 2019 when he set the rookie home run record with 53 dingers. How rare is 50 home runs? Well, Barry Bonds, the most prolific home run hitter the game has ever known, only did it once, and Hank Aaron never reached the 50-home run plateau. But Aaron Judge has done it twice, and Alonso will join him this year. I don’t think he’ll surpass his rookie total, but he will end with a nice, even 50. In fact, he’ll reach it in his first at-bat in the season’s final game, and will then be removed, as the Mets will have already clinched a playoff spot by then. The 50 homers will also catapult him into fourth on the team’s all-time home run list, behind Darryl Strawberry, David Wright, and Mike Piazza.
Rich Resch: Daniel Vogelbach Hits A Dozen Home Runs At Home And A Dozen More On The Road
The well-traveled slugger has only surpassed 20 four-baggers once in his career, and that was back in 2019, when he was a full-time player. Since then, he’s occupied the strong side of platoons, a role that best suits his skillset but also limits his opportunities to accumulate counting stats. Now on his fifth team since 2020, he’s finally in a spot where he can not only succeed, but also gain the attention and respect his patient and powerful bat deserves. For some reason, people tend to treat Vogelbach as just a fun novelty, but he’s going to remind people this season that he can be one of the best righty-mashing designated hitters in baseball.