The Mets knew they needed a big bat to compete in 2017. After all, stellar pitching can only go so far. Fortunately for the Amazin’s, left fielder Yoenis Cespedes can finally call Queens his long-term home after signing a four-year deal over the winter.
Cespedes has hit 48 homers in 189 regular season games since becoming a Met, at times providing the lone offensive spark on a team that averaged just over four runs in 2016. He looked sensational this spring, appearing stronger and more relaxed. If that’s any indication, fans can expect plenty of fireworks.
Around Cespedes is a lineup that’s healed and ready to chase a postseason berth for the third year in a row. Neil Walker only played in 113 games last year, but he hit .282 with 23 homers and 55 RBIs in that span. First baseman Lucas Duda was sidelined last May due to a stress fracture in his lower back. Although a streaky hitter, the big guy has dangerous power. For now, both are healthy.
Asdrubal Cabrera was a consistent source of power in his first year with the Mets, notching 54 extra-base hits. A rejuvenated Jose Reyes did a formidable job at third base in last season’s return to Flushing, and Travis d’Arnaud’s new swing appears to be paying off. When healthy, not only does the infield have considerable pop but fantastic gloves, too.
Question marks remain. Can Jay Bruce recover after hitting a dismal .219 in 50 games with the Mets last year? Meanwhile, Curtis Granderson is 36 and entering the twilight of his career with free agency looming.
Then there’s 34-year-old captain David Wright, from whom any production would be welcome. But with a nagging shoulder injury and his ongoing issues with spinal stenosis, his career surely is winding down.
Thankfully, depth on the bench is not a problem. Waiting in the wings are young outfielder Michael Conforto, Gold Glove winner Juan Lagares and versatile infielder Wilmer Flores, who’ve all made an impact in the past. Conforto has been the hottest of the three this spring, successfully avoiding Triple-A Las Vegas to start the year.