Everyone is excited for the offense that the Mets will feature in 2021. They already had a strong core and added two pieces that certainly look like upgrades here in the offseason. But what might we expect from the offense this coming year? We can use projections but let’s save that for another time and instead look at it in a different way.
First, it seems we need to have some historical perspective. They say a generation is 20 years long. Since the Mets started in 1962 – and there’s not a lot to be gained by looking at the offense of an expansion team – let’s take a generational view of how the starting eight did for the Mets in 1972, 1992 and 2012. The starters are taken from Baseball-Reference. These might not necessarily be the leaders in games played at each position but it’ll be close enough for our purposes. The number is their fWAR for the season.
|Duffy Dyer||1.9||Todd Hundley||-0.2||Josh Thole||0.9|
|Ed Kranepool||1||Eddie Murray||2||Ike Davis||1|
|Ken Boswell||-0.1||Willie Randolph||0.7||Daniel Murphy||1.6|
|Jim Fregosi||0.1||Dave Magadan||1.7||David Wright||6.6|
|Bud Harrelson||0.2||Dick Schofield||2||Ruben Tejada||1.7|
|John Milner||1.6||Daryl Boston||0.8||Jason Bay||-0.9|
|Tommie Agee||0.7||Howard Johnson||-1.2||Andres Torres||1.5|
|Rusty Staub||0.8||Bobby Bonilla||1.4||Lucas Duda||-0.7|
Want to win a bet with your friend? Ask him which starter on the 1972 Mets led the team in fWAR. Take a hike, Jerry Grote! That team looks pretty bad – and it was without Staub in the lineup – but it’s not like it was a whole lot better 20 years later. Flash forward to 2012 and we finally see a good year from one player – Wright – but there’s still not a lot of offense going on. And, of course, fWAR takes more into account than just offense. Certainly 2012 Duda isn’t helping himself with either baserunning or defense. But we’re all familiar with what’s a good fWAR and it’s easier to add together than, say, wRC+.
Now let’s look at the lineup right now for the 2021 Mets. But let’s look at it from what they’ve done in the recent past. First, we’ll take the numbers for what they did in the 2017-2019 period and arrange them going from best to worst in those three years. Then, we’ll multiply their final 2020 fWAR by 2.7 to show what they would have produced had they kept up their actual production over 162 games.
The middle and the worst are being brought down by the number of young players on the Mets. Only McCann, Lindor and Conforto were even nominal starters for all three seasons and Alonso wasn’t even in the majors for two of those.
What jumps out to me is how the extrapolated 2020 numbers almost equal the best of what these starting eight amassed in the previous three seasons. Big seasons from McCann, Smith and Conforto carry the heavy load in this comparison. And those three might have the biggest say in how the 2021 offense shakes out, too. If everyone stays healthy, that trio might combine for 7.0 fWAR. Or, if 2020 is to be believed, they might amass 15.0 fWAR.
The 2019 Mets, a team that won 86 games, amassed 23.5 fWAR from their hitters. No hitter on that team reached a 5.0 fWAR, it had three starters fail to reach a 2.0 mark and its bench was nothing special. Now we’re looking at a starting eight where it’s not unfathomable that they’ll combine for 30 fWAR. Add in a handful more wins from the bench and we might be looking at a 10-win upgrade just from the hitters. And that’s not even considering that there might be a designated hitter – or another piece added to the team before the season starts. Just imagine if George Springer is added to the mix.
Mets fans are right to be excited about this offense. And hopefully it won’t repeat the less-than-good results of last year’s squad with RISP. If nothing else, Amed Rosario (45 PA, .608 OPS,) Andres Gimenez (34, .508,) and Wilson Ramos (38, .325) won’t be around to risk duplicating their numbers in the category from a season ago.