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.

1972   1992   2012  
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
Total 6.2   7.2   11.7

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.

Player Best Middle Worst 2020/162
James McCann 2.3 0.7 -0.7 4.1
Pete Alonso 4.8 0 0 1.1
Jeff McNeil 4.6 2.7 0 3.2
J.D. Davis 2.4 0.1 -0.6 1.4
Francisco Lindor 7.6 5.7 4.4 4.6
Dominic Smith 0.8 -0.5 -0.6 4.9
Brandon Nimmo 4.5 1.3 1.2 4.1
Michael Conforto 4.4 3.7 3 5.4
Total 31.4 13.7 6.7 28.8

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.

11 comments on “What the Mets’ 2021 offense might do compared to previous years

  • Wobbit

    Mets look good 1-8 in the lineup. Get Springer. Consider platooning JDDavis and Luis Guillorme at 3B. Each will hit in the .280 range, Guillorme will solidify the defense. Weakest link defensively was Ramos… McCann fixes that. Because he does not enjoy DH and his plate performance suffered, start Alonso at first 120 games… we need his prodigious bat. He will prove his rookie season not a fluke. Getting Dom enough at bats is a problem that ain’t going away. Some team really wants him… get something back that we really need. Retire Cano.

    Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

  • Remember1969

    I, too, am excited to see what the 2021 offense brings. I can only hope that it approaches 2020, and there is nothing to suggest it won’t. Lindor will certainly outperform the 2020 version of Rosario/Gimenez, Alonso will probably be a little bit better over a full year, and Davis can rebound a bit. Conforto’s .412 BABIP may regress and McNeil is a known solid bat. McCann should outplay Ramos.

    A bit of a different topic, but to address Wobbit’s comment above about Alonso not enjoying the DH with that being the cause of his slump, I don’t believe there is enough data there to call that a definitive cause and effect. If they have the DH and if Smith is by far the best defensive option at first base, Alonso should be the DH. As Brian has pointed out very well at least a couple times Alonso’s early August 2020 pretty much matched his July 2019 stats, when he was playing 1st base full time. The man was in a 3 to 4 week slump both times. To think his stats would have been far better had he been playing first rather than DH during his slump is foolish. I fully expect him to have more slumps of this nature where he produces a .650 or so OPS over the course of 3 weeks.

  • Metsense

    If there isn’t a DH then the Mets are set with their lineup and suffer defensively in center field, left field and third base.
    If there is a DH then the rumor is that Guillorme will play second base and McNeil will go to left field and Smith/Alonso will be the DH. I would rather use Guillorme as the defensive replacement for Davis. I can wish for Springer but I realize that’s far-fetched. With this projected offense the Mets could start a defensive center fielder like Bradley but if he is to expensive for their budget they can sign Marisnick or DeShields.

    • Brian Joura

      I think one thing that gets lost is that the Mets tendered a contract to Guillermo Heredia, who essentially fills the role that Marisnick played in 2020. FanGraphs lists him with an option remaining, so I guess they could sign someone else to be the 4th/5th OF and send Heredia to the minors. But it’s just hard to see the point of re-signing Marisnick and hoping he can repeat his .429 BABIP of a year ago.

      • TJ

        Speaking about overlooked, don’t forget your guy Mallex…

        • Brian Joura

          So it makes even less sense to sign Marisnick and force Heredia to the minors, since the Mets already have their AAA CF in Herpes.

          • Metsense

            If there is a DH who would be the starting CF? Heredia ??? Mallex Smith ???
            Are they better off with Guillorme at 2B, McNeil LF and Nimmo in CF ?
            Right now there is no DH so they don’t have to do anything.

            • Brian Joura

              At some point, MLB has to make a decision on the DH in the NL in 2021. It was one thing last year when everyone was scrambling just to try to have a season and they instituted it last minute during a 60-game season. But Manfred just told clubs to prepare for 162-game season. Now he needs to tell NL clubs how to prepare, either with or without a DH.

              You can say that if the DH is around, it pressures the Mets to get another bat. Or you can say that it gives them an opportunity to put a better glove out there. Maybe the answer is not to sign Springer but to make Davis the DH and play Guillorme in the field. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

          • TJ

            For the record…was just busting on the Mallex reference

  • Name

    Cracking 30 fWAR will be impressive but hard as only 10 NL teams have done so in the last decade.

    High water mark is 37.1 by the 2016 Cubbies.
    Not surprising 4 of those 10 teams are the Dodgers, the Brewers are the other team that have done it more than once with 2.

    Only one of those 10 teams one did not make the playoffs (2010 Brewers) and one did not finish first in its division (2014 Pirates)

    • Brian Joura

      Good stuff.

      What’s interesting about the 2016 Cubs is they amassed such a high fWAR thanks in part to defense. Offensively, they weren’t that much different from the 2014 Pirates but they finished with 5.7 more fWAR because of their defense

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