Heading into 2015, it is clear that the New York Mets will not be satisfied with another losing season. The stress is on for veteran players such as David Wright and Curtis Granderson to have bounce-back years and lead the team. However, there are three specific players who did very well last year, but need to step it up once again in order to make this team a true contender.
Juan Lagares (CF)
Last year, the Mets had some difficulty deciding just who would be in the outfield. In the end, it was clearly decided that Juan Lagares had to be the starting center fielder. As proven by his gold glove last year, Lagares is one of the best defensive players in the National League. It seems as though fly balls naturally fall into his glove, and he has a canon of an arm that is not only powerful, but accurate too.
Where Lagares needs to truly prove his worth is with his offense. Lagares had a good year in 2014 with slash numbers .281/.321/.382. Even though these numbers are good, they need to be better if Lagares is to be a consistent lead-off hitter. While he can be content with hitting in the .280’s, he needs to bring his walks (and thus his OBP) up and his strike-outs down. He also needs to steal more bases, as somebody with his speed should be getting a lot more than 13 stolen bases.
If Lagares can step-up at the plate, he will be one the team’s most valuable players.
Travis d’Arnaud (C)
Travis d’Arnaud had an awful beginning to the 2014 season, but after a quick trip to the minors he started to perform at a major-league level. In total, d’Arnaud hit .242/.302/.416 with 13 homers and 41 RBIs last year. For his rookie year, there is not much to complain about.
However, 2015 has to be different. d’Arnaud’s bat needs to be a major asset for the Mets next year. Reasonable goals for him would be 20 HRs with 75 RBIs. If d’Arnaud can have a successful year while at the plate, the Mets offense can become explosive.
More important than d’Arnaud’s work at the plate will be his work behind it. He did not have a very good defensive year in 2014, allowing 12 passed balls and only having a 19% caught stealing percentage, 9% below the National League average. If d’Arnaud is to truly help the Mets next year, he will need to step-up his defensive game and become a presence on the field.
Jenrry Mejia (RHP)
Beginning 2014 in the starting rotation, Mejia was soon moved to the bullpen in order to make room for others. Although he was initially disappointed, he did not complain when the Mets announced him as the closer. Acquiring 28 saves while bringing his dynamic personality to the mound was a blessing for Mets fans.
What Mejia needs to work on doing is making his saves cleaner. Mejia can sometimes bring too much excitement into the 9th inning and that needs to be replaced with complete domination. Being that the bullpen is predicted to be one the best aspects of the Mets this season, the closer needs to be somebody who shuts down the game as soon as he steps onto the field. Mejia cannot be expected to be perfect, but he needs to work on being one of the best closers in the league – which he has the potential to be.