The outfield has been a sore spot for the Mets for years. Following the 2013 season they addressed it by signing free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson to a four-year deal. Early returns have been less than overwhelming. This offseason, they inked free agent Michael Cuddyer to a two-year deal. Juan Lagares will more than earn his keep by covering extra ground from the two guys on the wrong side of 30 flanking him in the corners.

But the Mets didn’t sign Cuddyer because of his defense. Instead it was the promise of a big righthanded bat that made him so attractive to the club. Two years ago, Cuddyer won the batting title and he arrives at Citi Field with a lifetime .352 wOBA. He’s clubbed 112 HR the past six years and brings the promise of a big stick to the lineup.

The worrying parts are that he’s had trouble staying on the field recently and he’ll turn 36 before Opening Day. Cuddyer offers the possibility of being an ideal fifth-place hitter. He also offers the shot of multiple DL stays. His advancing age is a worry, as is his defense. So, how do we see him doing in 2015? Here are our individual forecasts:

Albanesius 550 .275 .340 .445 15 70 (-9.8)
Ferguson 540 .270 .335 .420 15 70 (-5.0)
Hangley 412 .291 .362 .486 12 73 (-8.5)
Joura 316 .250 .324 .397 7 43 (-16.0)
Koehler 585 .285 .346 .470 15 75 (-8.6)
McCarthy 425 .268 .331 .468 11 55 (-8.0)
Netter 138 .274 .335 .434 6 32 (-6.0)
Parker 425 .255 .290 .460 9 45 (-7.0)
Rogan 520 .270 .355 .490 16 64 (-12.0)
Vasile 400 .285 .350 .420 16 58 (-8.5)
Walendin 420 .301 .361 .476 15 59 (-14.0)

Our playing time forecasts are anything but tightly packed. However, outside of me, most everyone sees him being a solid or better hitter when he gets to the plate. Charlie Hangley is the most optimistic, predicting an .848 OPS, but he has company, with Mike Koehler, Rob Rogan and Chris Walendin all seeing an OPS north of .800 from Cuddyer this season. Nobody sees him quite as bad as Duda defensively, and eight of our 11 panelists think he’ll give away less than a win on defense on a full-season basis.

Here’s our group projection for Cuddyer:

Michael Cuddyer

Cuddyer has beaten our forecast of an .800 OPS in five of the past six seasons, although it should be pointed out that the last three years he called Coors Field home. While it feels like a very optimistic forecast to me, how does it compare to what’s currently available on FanGraphs? Here’s what the major projection forecasts think:

Mets360 430 .274 .340 .460 12 59
Steamer 597 .254 .313 .414 18 69
ZiPS 372 .271 .325 .450 12 44

There are some interesting nuggets here. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the playing time forecast from Steamer, which seemingly has no injury or age concerns. Also interesting is the ZiPS forecast for OBP. The isolated OBP from ZiPS is much lower than either ours or the one from Steamer. Cuddyer has had a steady 8-10 BB% throughout his MLB career but last year that number fell to 6.8%. We’ll see if that was a one-year blip or the start of a decline.

Check back Saturday for our next entry in the projection series.

19 comments on “Mets360 2015 projections: Michael Cuddyer

  • Wilponzi

    The projection number for Cuddyer are very disappointing. Not worth a No#1 draft pick. Especially for a player who will only be here for two seasons. They are not numbers that will put this team in the play offs. The numbers are very average. Hopefully he will do much better than these projections, although I agree with these projections.

    • norme

      Wilponzi, you make a very interesting point.
      Is it worth giving a #1 draft pick for two years of probably diminishing returns from a mid-30s outfielder coming off an almost season-long injury? Maybe keeping the draft pick and using the money(!) elsewhere would have been a better way to go. Mr. Cuddyer is going to have to be productive to convince me that this was the way to go.

      • Chris F

        Havent y’all heard we’re going to “Take the Damn Thing”. So Cuddyer is needed ASAP. Ive drunken the Kool-aid!!!

  • Eraff

    An 750-800 OPS in the 4th-7th slot would mean 75-85 ribs with 140 or so games played.

    I’m not a gigantoc fan of the whole deal, but I can root for him!

    • Tyler Slape

      It would mean more RBIs, but odds are that Cuddyer is not going to start 140 games this year. Even if he is healthy all year, he will still probably be rested a decent amount with Mayberry or whoever wins the lefty outfielder battle getting a decent amount of starts. Also, he will probably be taken out for a defensive replacement late in games taking away some at-bats too.

      Remember Jeremy Reed? In 2009 for the Mets he played in 126 games for them, but only started 24 games. I would not be surprised if Mayberry and Nieuwenhuis/MdD having similar stats, not to that extreme though. It was brought up Granderson could sit against lefties, even though he had reversed splits last year and Long may fix that. That would give the bench guys some where starts in the outfield too. It all really depends on how Collins decides to use the outfield and it looks to be some kind of merry go round around Juan Lagares.

      • Charlie Hangley

        My projection figured that Cuddyer would be a Moises Alou-type player: when he plays, he’ll pretty much rake, but can’t be counted on as a full-timer.

  • James Preller

    As a general theory, I’ve always believed that if you are going to lose a pick, you’d prefer to sign a star to a longer contract.

    For Cuddyer, I’ll fall back on that cliche: He’s a professional bat.

    It all comes down to his health.

    • Joe F

      I think this is exactly right, he is not the “big” bat, but more a reliably professional bat that should meet his baseball card. I agree with his recent characterization of his injuries being more one off than chronic. He injured his shoulder on a freak play and strained the hammy upon return. It is not like he has a bum knee or even a DW shoulder, so I think predicting a half season of play is expecting another freak injury. I think he hits more in the .280-.290 range and bangs 15-20 HR, but more importantly is when those hits come and that is where the “professional” part of the bat comes in. I think the signing was in hopes of timely hits rather than a big bopper or batting champion

      • James Preller

        That’s an encouraging take, Joe, and hopefully accurate. I don’t know about the homers, but he should be a tough out. Another Murphy in the lineup?

  • Metsense

    The best comprehensive article I read regarding the Cuddyer signing was:
    I was very interested in the research on 36 year old players. Cuddyer and his sub 2 WAR is not enough of an impact signing to get the Mets to the playoffs. I would consider him a “piece” and an improvement but not a solution. Unfortunately Sandy did not sign a “solution” player this past winter.
    PA 540, Avg .260, OBP .317, SLG .489, HR 20, RBI 74, UZR/150 -8.4

  • Name

    Off topic, but still boggles my mind how Sandy is willing to overpay and give up a top draft pick for an aging player (and one that blocks prospects) but refuses to pay market price for a SS.

    • James Preller

      One dark theory is that, he’s not trying to build a great team. The new strategy is to build a reasonable team, take a flyer or two each year, and hope it works. Roll the dice, year by year. Last season, he signed Chris Young at 1 yr/$7.5 million. I believe that Sandy had real hopes for this one, but it failed spectacularly. Lesson learned: This year he found Cuddyer at 2 yr/$22 million. He tried a little harder. But not a lot harder.

      In many ways, it’s already worked. The Metsblogosphere is giddy with optimism; many folks think they can be this year’s KC Royals. Just got to find a way to win 86 games and hope that’s enough. Win or lose, it’s reasonable to think they should experience meaningful games in September. Isn’t that all Fred has ever wanted? A chance to maybe sort of possibly win something?

      If it doesn’t work out, maybe in 2016 he gets a shortstop.

      • Name

        The reality is that he’s just not good at major league valuation. The only 2 players who he signed to a guaranteed major league contract or traded for as a major leaguer and gotten good bang for the buck has been Scott Hairston and Jon Rauch (and a debatable third in Chris Capuano).

        2 players in 4 years! One was brought in as a part-timer and the other a reliever. That’s not good at all.

        All he knows how to do is trade for minor leaguers and take chances on lottery picks. Anyone can do that.

        He’s simply not good at his job

        • Patrick Albanesius

          Don’t Marlon Byrd and John Buck fit into those catergories?

          Cuddyer and Granderson aren’t blocking Nimmo and Conforto. Both young men are likely one full year away from even smelling the majors. The better of the two prospects will compete for time with either of Cuddyer or Granderson who might struggle in 2016, and then they will likely take over for Cuddyer at the end of the year.

          The other prospect can come up as a fourth outfielder as soon as they are ready, or if injury occurs, or if he outperforms the other going into 2017. Granderson could likely be moved to an AL team if absolutely necessary. Point is, this blockage is more like a necessary channel to keep the waters flowing over time.

          • Tyler Slape

            Unless Nimmo performs badly this year then he will likely be a September call-up or Super-Two next year and Cuddyer would be blocking him. Conforto is supposed to start the year in St. Lucie and will likely be in Binghamton by the end of the season maybe Vegas if he does really well. That puts him at Vegas at the start of 2016 or part way into it and be ready at the beginning of 2017. Granderson is signed through 2017 and the Mets could hope to trade him and his $15 million contract. Probably would be difficult for Sandy or if another GM comes in by then to trade him for a value he wants.

          • Name

            Marlon Byrd was minor league flier so he falls into the lottery category.
            John Buck – an interesting case. Really just a throw-in in the megadeal to lessen the payroll of Toronto so it’s hard to assign a “value” paid for Buck. I consider him another lottery pick.

            “Both young men are likely one full year away from even smelling the majors. The better of the two prospects will compete for time with either of Cuddyer or Granderson who might struggle in 2016, and then they will likely take over for Cuddyer at the end of the year.”

            Isn’t that a block?… The most likely scenario for Nimmo is a september call up, and then a competition in spring traning, ultimately getting called up after the super 2 deadline. The second year of Cuddyer is blocking him.

            And Granderson is unmovable, unless you want to eat 50-80% of that contract.

  • TexasGusCC

    Cuddyer: 412 pa, .277/.345/.445, 70 R (remember, I said Flores and TDA will rock during Granderson’s projection), 75 RBI, -4 UZR.

    Further: I predict both Granderson and Cuddyer to get hurt – along with occasional rests for Lagares – giving MDD over 300 PA at a tune of .300/.385/.435. So, now what do you do next year?

  • Eraff

    We’ve finally arrived at a point where most of the Lineup Guys are genuine, proven Major Leaguers….with bench guys who are mlb level….and upper level minor leaguers who are pretty much game ready—I’m supposed to worry about guys being Blocked?????!!!!

    Does your ideal Roster have 8 Position players and 5 Starting Pitchers?

    • James Preller

      I don’t see Cuddyer blocking anybody. He’ll be on the DL anyway. Ho-ho. Seriously, he’s a professional RH bat who can play 1B and OF. Even if Nimmo comes up and produces, there will be plenty of opportunities for Cuddyer in 2016 in a modified role.

      It will be a concern that Nimmo might not be able to hit LHP. Hopefully he makes progress in that area this year. Not a terrible thing to have Cuddyer around in 2016. The last year of Granderson should likely be an albatross, however. And honestly, that’s if we’re lucky.

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