Perusing The Hardball Times, I noticed there was an article about the teams that had never had a player win either the MVP or Cy Young Awards. I knew the Mets would have a place in the article, since the franchise has never had an MVP winner. The article by Cameron Martin proved to be very dismissive of the Mets.
Particularly galling was the following paragraph from the article, “Best candidate to win the Mets’ first MVP in 2018: Mike Trout. I mean, they could always trade for him, right? Needless to say, the 2018 National League MVP is not currently on their roster.”
That evaluation is overly harsh. There are several players on the Mets’ roster who have at least a reasonable chance to win the MVP Award, if they are hitting on all cylinders this year. At the head of the pack would be Yoenis Cespedes, who has been a five tool player. In just about a half of a season in 2017 he put up a slash line of .292/.352/.540 with 17 homers. He was limited last year by his hamstring problem, but with an offseason of rest and a new workout program featuring more stretching, he should be good to go for 140 games or more, barring another injury.
His fielding may have fallen off a bit, but he was a Gold Glove winner as recently as 2015, and he still has a rifle arm. With his torrid production after coming to the Mets in 2015, there was even talk of him contending for the NL MVP that year, despite the fact he only joined the team in the beginning of August. If things align well for him this year, it is certainly no stretch to envision the 32 year old Cespedes being up there as an MVP candidate. Cespedes has been quoted this year as saying “That is my main goal, to become an MVP.”
It is harder for a pitcher to win the MVP than a position player, but it has happened, as recently as 2014 Clayton Kershaw claimed the NL MVP, and in 2011 Justin Verlander of the Tigers won the AL award. There are two pitchers on the Mets staff who certainly have the potential to be in the MVP discussion.
Overpowering right-hander Noah Syndergaard has the stuff to totally dominate hitters. He can fire his fastball with upper 90s to over 100 MPH velocity, and can throw a changeup in the low 90s. In his most recent full season (2016, because of his 2017 lat injury) he pitched 183 innings with a 2.60 ERA and 218 K’s with only 43 BB.
Jacob deGrom is another pitcher who certainly has the potential to contend for the MVP crown. He pitched 201 innings in 2017, with 239 strikeouts to 59 BB. His ERA was a little on the high side at 3.53, mostly attributed to a couple of bad outings. But he not only has the velocity and the command of his pitches, he also has that bulldog mentality on the mound.
I’m sure there are some teams (Marlins, perhaps?) that do not have a realistic shot at having the MVP this year. The Mets are not one of those teams.