The 2014 Mets Power Rankings

So this post presents an idea for an on-going feature during the 2012 season: The 2014 Mets’ power rankings, a list of the most important players to the 2014 Mets. Not that we’re giving up on 2012 already, but . . . well, you know. The Mets certainly appear to be rebuilding biding their time this season. So let’s concentrate on the future by keeping track of the present. Thus, the 2014 power rankings, a weekly or every-other-weekly feature where we track the rising and falling stock of the 2014 Mets in the 2012 season.

For a player to be eligible for the 2014 Mets power rankings, he must be:

  • In the Mets’ organization
  • Under team control through at least 2014
  • . . . and that’s it

These rules mean that both major and minor league players are eligible for the rankings. For example: Ike Davis and Ruben Tejada are eligible, as are Jeurys Familia and Matt Harvey; David Wright is not eligible, as his contract expires after 2013.

Which actually brings up the next point: These rankings are the 2014 power rankings, and not the 2012 or 2013 power rankings, because 2014 is when the Mets should solely be a team of Sandy Alderson’s design. As of today, they have no players under contract for 2014, and the team’s only payroll commitments are $8.5 million dollars in buyouts for Johan Santana and Jason Bay. That makes 2014 the target date in which we’re interested. If a player is on the 2014 Mets, it’s because Alderson wants him there.

Now, I have an idea for how the preliminary rankings should look, but I’m going to throw the vote out to the crowd first. There’s a poll at the bottom of this post, with the names of the 28 players. I’ve put the names in alphabetical order in an attempt to avoid swaying anyone’s votes, then added my own comments about the players in an attempt to sway your votes. But let’s see what y’all think: Read through, or don’t read through, and then vote for the five players you think will the most important for the 2014 Mets at the bottom. And please remember that pitchers get hurt:

Ike Davis, 1B – Since Davis fought out of a rookie slump near the end of 2010, he’s done nothing but destroy baseballs and have his ankle circulation restricted by a walking boot. He finished his rookie season strong, hitting .330/.427/.524 in September 2010, and followed it by hitting .302/.383/.543 in April and May last year. Then Davis suffered an injury when he bumped into his third basemen – who had a broken back and shouldn’t have playing – as they both went for an infield pop up. Davis suffered several false starts in his recovery and missed the rest of the year. It’s a testament to how numb Mets fans have become that no one seems to think that this story – budding first baseman is injured during what looked like an aggressive hug, and misses the season when his recovery is (possibly) botched by team doctors — is particularly weird.

If Davis is healthy and comes anywhere close to replicating his performance since September 2010, he’ll be the best first baseman in the division and, with Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder in the American League now, he’s actually a good bet make the NL All Star team.

The Mets control Davis through 2016.

Lucas Duda, 1B/OF – He can hit, but Duda’s defense is going to be a problem in 2012. Duda has played 556 innings in the outfield during his major league career – three-fifths of those innings in right, the rest in left — and has so far cost the Mets:

- 15 runs according to Ultimate Zone Rating
- 6 runs according to Defensive Runs Saved
- 11 runs by Total Zone.

Average those numbers together, and Duda could end up costing the Mets 25 runs in right field over a full season. Defensive statistics are iffy, but if Duda is actually that bad, he can’t stay in right field defending like Adam Dunn unless he’s also hitting like Reds-era Adam Dunn.

On the other hand, once Jason Bay is gone, the Mets can shift Duda to left, where his glove might play a bit better.

The Mets control Duda through 2017.

Phillip Evans, SS/2B – The Mets drafted Evans, a 19-year-old shortstop, in the 15th round of June’s amateur draft, but paid him like a first-rounder. He hit .294/.351/.412 in nine games in the lowest minors after signing; John Sickels rated Evans as a C+ prospect in December, and his stock could rise quick.

Jeurys Familia, SP – Familia struck out 132 batters in 124 innings between High-A and Double-A last season, posting a 2.90 ERA along the way. Baseball America lists Familia as the Mets’ #4 prospect, John Sickels and Baseball Prospectus rank him as #3, and MLB.com #90 in all baseball; with almost 90 innings above the A-ball level, Familia could hit the majors this season. Turned 22 in October.

Wilmer Flores, SS/3B – Flores batted .269 as a 19-year-old shortstop in Advanced-A ball, and he was one of just two 19-year-old regulars in the league. This performance would be an incredibly exciting for a 19-year-old shortstop – imagine if Phillip Evans started next season in Advanced-A and hit .270 — except that no one seems to think that the 6’3” Flores can stay at shortstop. And if Flores is destined to move from shortstop, he needs to start hitting for more power. Still, he only turned 20 in August, and Baseball America ranks Flores as the Mets #10 prospect, while Sickels has him at #9.

Michael Fulmer, SP – The Mets’ other first round pick in 2011, Fulmer is an 18-year-old, 6’3” righthanded pitcher from Oklahoma. He pitched 5.1 innings for the departed Gulf Coast Mets last season in his professional debut and struck out 10 batters. Baseball America has Fulmer ranked as the Mets’ #9 prospect, and Sickels has him at #11.

Dillon Gee, SP – We’re optimistic about Gee around these parts. He was, at times, alarming wild last season – Gee quietly finished second in the National League in hit batsmen, tenth in walks, and threw six wild pitches – but the showing was out of character for someone who thrived as a soft-tosser in the minors. Gee’s walk rate doubled from two walks per nine innings in the minors to four walks per nine innings in the majors, and I think it’s reasonable to expect him to regain some control as he adjusts to the majors. Or at least it’s reasonable to hope that might happen, right?

The Mets control Gee through 2016.

Darrin Gorski, SP – Gorski, a 6’4” lefty, had a blah year in Low-A in 2009, a blah year in Single-A in 2010, and then randomly struck out 140 batters in 138.2 innings and posted a 2.08 ERA in High-A last season. Doesn’t quite pass the smell test yet, but if he repeats his success in the upper levels, Gorski will jump into the Familia-Mejia-Harvey-Wheeler mix.

Matt Harvey, SP – The Mets’ top prospect according to John Sickels and Baseball Prospectus, their second best prospect according to Baseball America, and the #38 prospect in baseball according to MLB’s Jonathan Mayo. Harvey posted 156 strikeouts in 135.2 innings across High-A and Double-A last season and gave up just nine home runs along the way. Like Jeurys Familia, Harvey has a shot at hitting the majors sometime this year.

Reese Havens, 2B – Havens, who spent last season in Double-A, has hit (.829 OPS) when healthy, but he was limited to 32 games in 2010 and 61 games last season because of various maladies. A high batting average on balls in play hides the fact he strikes out a ton, but he might have already become the Mets’ starting second baseman if not for the injuries.

Juan Lagares, OF – Outfielder, 22-years-old, hit .349 between High-A and Double-A last season after flirting with .260 for four seasons in the low minors. He has to keep hitting to prove last season was a breakout year and not a fluke, though Baseball Prospectus has Lagares as the Mets’ #5 prospect.

Cory Mazzoni, SP – The Mets’ second round pick in 2011, taken out of North Carolina State. He’s a 6’1” righty, struck out 18 guys in 13 innings in the low minors last season, and, according to NC State’s athletic department website, Mazzoni majored in parks, recreation and tourism management. John Sickels has Mazzoni as the Mets’ #10 prospect heading into this year.

Colin McHugh, SP – McHugh has posted impressive minor league statistics for his career – 3.48 ERA, 3.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and just 18 home runs allowed in 377 innings. In prospect land, impressive statistics without hype usually means that scouts don’t love him. McHugh is 24 and finished last season in Double-A, so if he’s indeed destined for the majors, I suppose he’s as close as Familia and Harvey.

Jennry Mejia, SP –

Daniel Murphy, IF – If Murphy keeps to his career norms in 2012, he should hit .292/.343/.441 with 10 home runs, 39 doubles, and suffer eight season-ending knee injuries.

The Mets control Murphy through 2015.

Jon Niese, SP – This season is big for Niese. Either everything clicks, the hits stop falling, and Niese is better than Gio Gonzalez. Or that doesn’t happen and he stays on his present Glendon Rusch track:

Rk Player BAbip IP BB SO ERA ERA+ HR
1 Felipe Paulino .347 347.2 145 320 5.28 77 42
2 Manny Parra .342 454.1 227 418 5.13 81 56
3 Andrew Miller .340 359.1 215 288 5.79 75 36
4 Jonathon Niese .337 370.2 123 315 4.39 88 37
5 Glendon Rusch .331 1477.1 460 1088 5.04 88 191
6 Zach Duke .329 1041.0 282 537 4.56 93 107
7 Ariel Prieto .329 352.1 176 231 4.85 97 34
8 Sean Bergman .328 750.1 272 455 5.28 83 99
9 Charlie Morton .325 423.0 184 279 5.11 79 37
10 Ryan Drese .325 565.2 213 301 5.31 88 49
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/30/2012.

Those pitchers are the ten with the highest BABIP-against over the last 50 years, with a minimum of 300 major league innings. At some point, it’s not just bad luck anymore. I don’t know if Niese is at that point yet, but he’s getting close.

The Mets control Niese through 2015.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF – Nieuwenhuis, 24, hit .298/.403/.505 as a center fielder in a half-season at Triple-A before injuring his shoulder last season. If it’s going to happen, his time is now. Save us from Jason Bay, Captain Kirk.

Brandon Nimmo, OF – The Mets’ top pick in the 2011 draft, Nimmo won’t even turn 19 until March . . . STICK HIM IN BUFFALO TO START NEXT YEAR, SEE HOW HE HANDLES ABJECT FAILURE . . . whoa, sorry. Internal Tony Bernazard came out for a second. Really, though, Nimmo is just 18 — 18! Let’s all forget about him and then check in again in two or three years.

Bobby Parnell, RP – Only reliever among the 25 listed here, but at least two or three of the starting pitching prospects are doomed to join him in relief work, along with a handful of unlisted fringe prospects who move to the bullpen and thrive. Even with too many hits and walks, Parnell should stumble into a few dominant seasons, a la Kyle Farnsworth.

The Mets control Parnell through 2015.

Cesar Puello, OF – I haven’t seen him play, but I assume Puello either stands right over the plate or is a unlikable dude, because he gets hit by an absurd number of pitches: He’s been drilled 62 times in his minor league career already. If Puello had been hit by those pitches in the majors, he would trail only Chase Utley and Carlos Quentin for the most HBP in major league baseball since 2008 — and Puello has about 150-200 fewer games played over that span than those two.

Other than his proficiency at stopping pitched baseballs with his body, Puello has posted uninspiring statistics so far, a career .282/.349/.384 minor league hitter. Still, he’s ranked as the Mets’ #5 prospect by both Baseball America and John Sickels, so it’s safe to assume Puello is impressing scouts.

Josh Satin, IF – He keeps hitting and make improvements. But he’s also 27 already and looks like a long-shot to make the Mets’ Opening Day roster this season, nonetheless the 2014 roster.

Chris Schwinden, SP – He’s really only on this list as a potential spot starter/long reliever riding the Buffalo express. He’s made it to the majors though, and half the other pitchers on this list will probably stall out long before then.

Ruben Tejada, SS – Since 1961, middle infielders to have career .330 or better on-base percentages as 21-year-olds:

Delino DeShields, Joe Morgan, Alex Rodriguez, Jerry Browne, Lou Whitaker, Starlin Castro, Willie Randolph, Edgar Renteria, Rod Carew, Ruben Tejada, Roberto Alomar, Elvis Andrus, Sonny Jackson, Mike Caruso, Alan Trammell, Garry Templeton, Jim Fregosi.

The minimum is 500 plate appearances; that’s not bad company for Tejada. Don’t bet against players who can handle the majors as a 21-year-old.

The Mets control Tejada through 2016.

Josh Thole, C – He gets on base, hits left-handed, and can sit behind the plate well enough. Even if Thole is a final product, he’s got enough to carve out a career as one side of a catching platoon, and with a few more improvements, he can be an average full-time catcher.  Thole should be a big part of the Mets for a while, if only because there aren’t any other catchers on this list.

The Mets control Thole through 2016.

Justin Turner, IF – Another possible second baseman, but more likely a bench piece for a year or two.

The Mets control Turner through 2016.

Jordany Valdespin, 2B/SS – The upside is that Valdespin just hit .294 with 17 home runs and 32 doubles in Binghamton and Buffalo last season. The downside is that Valdespin is 24, doesn’t walk, probably makes too many errors to be a major league shortstop, and is noted for attitude issues. He’ll be in Buffalo this season and has an outside shot at playing some second base for the big league club, because everyone has an outside shot at playing second base for the Mets.

Cory Vaughn, OF – Vaughn impressed in short-season ball last summer before running into struggles in St. Lucie this season, hitting .219/.308/.395 after a mid-season promotion to High-A. Some of his slump looks to be injury-related, and some batting-average-on-balls-in-play related. He’s flashed power and a solid outfield arm, recording 11 outfield assists last season. He’s also the son of Greg Vaughn, and I like to bet on the sons of former players.

Zack Wheeler, SP – Baseball America ranks Wheeler as the Mets’ top prospect, Baseball-Prospectus and John Sickels rank him second, and MLB.com ranked him as the 28th best prospect in baseball. Wheeler was dominant in six starts with St. Lucie after being acquired by the Mets, striking out 31, walking five and allowing no home runs. Probably starts this season in Double-A Binghamton, hopefully ends it in Buffalo. Well, actually, that’s not true. I guess hopefully, Wheeler starts the season in Queens, wins Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young, restarts the space shuttle program, cures some diseases, plays point guard for the Knicks on his rest days, and ends the year recording the final out of the World Series in a Mets victory. But being hopeful and realistic, 80 solid innings in Double-A followed by 60 in Buffalo would be cool.

That’s everyone. Vote away, pick up to five:

[poll id="6"]

16 Comments

Filed under Columns, Mets, Words

16 responses to “The 2014 Mets Power Rankings

  1. Hmm. I voted for the top four guys… and Thole. I wonder what that means.

    By the way, I think your photo of Jennry is gangsta.

  2. I think Ike is going to come back and rake this year. He’s gotta be itching to get back out on the field in Queens. If Howard isn’t playing to start the season, who has a better 1B in our division?

  3. I’ve started looking forward to 2014 since we discovered how dire the team’s finances are, so I love the idea of this “power ranking”. I think Ike Davis is the team’s cornerstone and in 2014 could be the best 1B in the NL. The rest of my votes were all based on what I hope happens.

    I hope Lucas Duda finds a home in LF. His bat is his calling card, but better defense in LF could mean another young All-Star. I hope Wheeler, Harvey, and Familia continue to grow as pitchers, continue to perform in the upper minors, and are in the rotation by 2014.

  4. When I saw you tweet this link, I instantly knew who would make up my ballot — having not yet read the article. (And when I read the article, I thought *you* had ranked them — it wasn’t until much later that I realized they were in alphabetical order.)

    My five:

    1) Ike Davis. The Mets organization is light on non pitching prospects, and Davis is the only guy who is somewhat established, under team control, and has no outstanding question marks to whether he’ll stick (absent the injury last year).

    2) Daniel Murphy. I’m cheating a bit here for two reasons. (a) I discounted Jon Niese because I think he’s a possible trade target as an Arb 2 player in 2014 whose value may equal his contract. The same can be said for Murphy. (b) Murphy could be our 3B is Wright leaves. Which is cheating, as you’ll see in a minute or two.

    I put him here because if he can hit enough to play either 3B or 2B *and* field well enough to stick there, he’s potentially our hardest to replace player in 2014. (Man, that’s sad.) Big “If,” yes.

    Ike doesn’t fit that mold because of Duda and, to a degree, Murphy himself; and also because in theory at least, the Mets should have some money and filling 1B is, again in theory, easier to fill than most positions.

    3) Matt Harvey. We don’t know who is going to be in the 2014 Mets rotation, but we do know that if the team is going to be good, Harvey is going to have to be a significant part of it. Unlike Wheeler, he’ll be ready; unlike Mejia, he hasn’t had TJ surgery (yet); unlike Niese and Gorski, he has a huge upside; and unlike Familia (and Mejia), no one is using the dreaded “reliever” with him yet.

    4) Jeurys Familia. We don’t know who is going to be in the 2014 Mets rotation, but we do know that if the team is going to be good, Harvey is going to have to be a significant part of it, and if the team is going to have potential to be great, so will one of Familia, Mejia, or Wheeler. Familia has potential to be a difference maker if he can nail down another pitch.

    5) Jordany Valdespin. Here’s the question that I can’t shake: What if Valdespin can handle shortstop? It’s a longshot, but he has power and speed to be an above average offensive 2B (too bad he rarely walks), which in and of itself may warrant his placement here. It gives the team such immense flexibility if he’s a reasonable SS candidate — doubly so if Reese Havens manages to remain healthy.

  5. Za

    I wanted to vote for JC Gamboa but he wasn’t an option.

  6. Went with Ike Davis, Jon Niese, plus Harvey – Wheeler – Familia.
    Ultimately, the latter three and what happens with them (also including Mejia and maybe even Mazzoni & Gorski) will determine whether the Mets have the makings of a playoff caliber pitching staff.
    One of them needs to emerge as a legit frontline SP and one of them as a legit shutdown reliever. Plus Niese or Gorski will have to be a capable mid rotation SP type as well.

    That said, the list probably goes beyond 5. Ike Davis certainly will be a big key going forward. But so will Ruben Tejada and either Daniel Murphy or Reese Havens.

    All in all, if the Mets just let all contracts expire when free agency hits over the next two years, the 2014 Opening Day payroll – with a roster largely made up of these players – would stand at about 40 million $ including arbitration raises. So, assuming / hoping the financial issues are solved by then – one way or the other – the Mets should have a lot of flexibility to add payroll.

    By the way, Nimmo, Fulmer and Evans in all likelihood won´t be in the majors by 2014. Even if all goes well for them, they´d probably open 2014 in Binghamton (if that´s still the Mets´ Double A team by then). Of course, they could also be very important trade bait to add more proven major league talent if the rest of the team already seems in place to legitimately contend.

    In any case, should be fun watching the farm system this year. Every full-season team figures to feature several promising players to start 2012. That hasn´t been the case in a while.

  7. Jon Niese is the most likely to be an important part of the team because he’s produced the most and his peripherals say he’s by far the closest to being an above average MLB player.

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