The 2013 Mets weren’t supposed to be contenders. In fact, they entered the season with some serious question marks at many positions. Remember all of the talk about them having one of the worst outfields ever? That proclamation was just a bit overblown, of course, but it spoke to the uncertainty surrounding a team that was supposedly working towards contention in 2014 or 2015.
With just a handful of games left in yet another losing year, we can start to sort through the wreckage that was the Mets’ 2013 season. There are certainly things to be excited about moving forward (their young pitching, for one), but this season made the prospect of the Mets putting together enough offense to support their young pitching pretty murky. This off-season is obviously a very important one with regard to addressing this issue, but with so many weak spots in the lineup the question changes from “where do we need to upgrade?” to “where do we need to upgrade the most?”
The 2013 Mets were a bad team. The team is currently “competing” for one of 2014’s protected draft picks, so that’s not exactly earth-shattering news. What parts of the team were the worst, though? One way we can gauge this is by analyzing the team’s WAR on a position by position basis. In this case, we’ll take a look at the Mets’ fWAR per position as compared to the rest of the teams in the MLB.*
First, and for the sake of completeness, we’ll look at the team as a whole. Offensively, the Mets are in the bottom half of the league at 18th with 17.7 fWAR. Pretty bad, and even worse when you consider that a full 6 of that fWAR belongs to David Wright alone. They’re even lower on the list on the pitching side, coming in at 21st with 10.6 fWAR. Matt Harvey produced 6.1 of that 10.6 fWAR.
The table below breaks down the Mets’ total fWAR per position and separates starting pitching from relief pitching. The fWAR in this table represents offensive fWAR for all players and pitching fWAR for pitchers.
The numbers above, while ugly, are not particularly surprising. Wright was having a pretty special year before going down with an injury, and Daniel Murphy has quietly had a very solid year (2.9 fWAR). At this point it’s probably safe to say the Mets can comfortably move forward with Murphy at the keystone.
Travis d’Arnaud didn’t have a particularly good debut, but he’s had a rough go of it with an injury and a rehab that was quickly followed by a jump to the majors. He’s still the catcher of the future and there’s no reason to be down on him yet. The team could also produce some good value out of first base next season with the current collection of players depending on how they utilize them.
Beyond those players, and the expected improvement of the starting rotation, things are looking pretty bleak for the Mets going into the off-season. Omar Quintanilla has proven that he’s nothing more than a backup shortstop, and Ruben Tejada has amazingly played himself out of a position with zero depth. Shortstop remains a problem, but a problem that can be lived with if the outfield is sufficiently upgraded. Additionally, the bullpen has produced zero value this season. At least it isn’t in the negative, right?
The outfield is still a massive problem. The Mets could absolutely live with a combination of Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker in center field if they can upgrade at the corners. Their right field fWAR is misleading because it includes Marlon Byrd’s 3.5 fWAR. Remove his production and the outfield corners have each produced less than 1 fWAR this year. That’s not going to play if this team wants to be a contender in the next couple of years.
The team’s performance seemed pretty bad just using the eye test, but it seems they were worse than most fans probably realize. There were points during the season where there seemed to be a good amount of inexplicable optimism about this team. It was playing well, and there should be excitement about the young pitching core, but there really was no reason to believe this team is equipped to win anytime soon. It’s been said many times before, but Sandy Alderson has a lot of work to do this off-season. So much so that it seems impossible for him to address all of the problems on this roster. His focus should be on making significant upgrades at the corner outfield spots. He’s going to need to get creative, and Mets fans can only hope it works out for the best.
*Note that all stats are for games through 9/21/2013.