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:
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:
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:
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.