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2020 MLB Team Preview: New York Mets

Zach Thompson provides his thoughts on what the 60-game MLB season could look like for the Mets.

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July Update: The Mets are gearing up for the 60-game season and what will be a sprint compared to the marathon of a typical regular season. They suffered a big setback when Noah Syndergaard (elbow) had Tommy John surgery back in March, but thankfully, a Jacob deGrom (back) injury was minor and shouldn’t set him back beyond a lower pitch limit his first start or two. In other positive injury news, Yoenis Cespedes (ankle, heels) has stated he’ll be ready to contribute starting Opening Day, and the added DH spot gives the Mets a nice place to put him while reducing wear-and-tear. The remaining questions for the Mets are mostly about the depth of their rotation since the loss of Syndergaard does leave them stretched thin and counting on bounce-back years for Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.

The Mets finished 10 games over .500 in 2019 but missed the playoffs for a third straight season. To add an additional insult to their loss, their division rivals, the Nationals, who finished just ahead of them, not only made the playoffs but went on a magical run to a World Series championship. Their 86-76 record was a nine-game improvement on the previous season and shows the team was trending the right way.

Then came the offseason — the Mets were going to be sold, but then they weren’t. They were going to have Carlos Beltran as their manager, but then they weren’t. Now they’re set to start the season, whenever that is, with a different new manager Luis Rojas, the same owner (probably), and a somewhat mismatched cast of characters. The Mets a solid five-man rotation but very little depth beyond that, and their lineup features a few big bats but also some inconsistent holes that remain unaddressed.

After a topsy-turvy offseason, leaving Mets’ fans with lots of questions, can the team get back to the postseason even in a division stacked with the Braves, Nationals and Phillies? Can the Polar Bear get enough help in the lineup to back a solid pitching staff to a division win? Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Mets and their fantasy contributors in the upcoming 2020 season.

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DraftKings Sportsbook odds

— Division Winner: +300

— League Winner: +1000

— World Series: +2200

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Key Departures:

Zack Wheeler, SP; Todd Frazier, 3B; Juan Lagares, OF; Joe Panik, 2B; Rene Rivera, C

Key Acquisitions:

Dellin Betances, RP; Rick Porcello, SP; Michael Wacha, SP; Jake Marisnick, OF; Matt Adams, 1B; Eduardo Núñez, 2B/3B; Melky Cabrara, OF

2020 Fantasy MVP

Jeff McNeil, 2B/3B/OF

Aside from deGrom as an elite arm, the injury to Noah Syndergaard leaves the Mets a little thin on fantasy options that are poised to live up to their draft potential. One option who presents very nice value, though, is McNeil, who is currently being drafted after over 100 players have gone off the board. He had a very consistent and strong first full year in the Majors last year, hitting .318 with 38 doubles, 23 home runs and a solid .916 OPS. While he was outshone by his fellow-breakout performer Pete Alonso, McNeil could actually be the better value this year since he’s going so late. He’s known for his batting average more than his power, but his 23 long balls last season would rank 11th for 2B and 15th for 3B. You’re not drafting him for power, but he brings more than many people realize.

His main strength is his batting average. He hit .329 in 63 games in 2018 and continued that success with his .318 in 133 games last year. Despite his drop in average, his OPS went up, while his RBI and Runs scored rates also spiked. He is locked into one of the top two spots in what should be a pretty good lineup, so run production should continue to come his way. His positional versatility can definitely help combat injuries and keep you able to grab other sleepers you like at multiple positions later in your draft.

2020 Fantasy LVP

Pete Alonso, 1B

I’m sorry. I really hate to list the Polar Bear here. Alonso had an amazing season last year when he got hot in Spring Training and never cooled off on his way to leading the Major Leagues with 53 home runs. As someone you could grab in the final round of your draft or off waiver wires last season, he was an addition that won plenty of fantasy baseball championships. However, Alonso’s ADP has sky-rocketed to the point that only Cody Bellinger and Freddie Freeman are going ahead of him at 1B, a position with plenty of depth, power and versatile options.

Alonso was a power hitter in the minor leagues, but never quite to the extent that he was last year. His best season before last year was 36 home runs in Double-A and Triple-A in 132 games in 2018. He hadn’t homered yet in 37 Spring Training at-bats and was hitting just .243. Even last year, his batting average was a lukewarm .260. After such an outstanding rookie year, I think he’s in for a little bit of regression. He still definitely has a high ceiling but I think you’re over-paying for him if you take him in the first three rounds of 10-team drafts.

2020 Breakout Player

J.D. Davis, 3B/OF

Davis had a minor shoulder issue that should be behind him by the time the season starts as he looks to build on his strong second half. After the All-Star break, Davis hit .335 with 13 home runs, 13 doubles and a .979 OPS. He appears ready to deliver on the promise that had him as one of the top prospects in the Astros’ system after he hit .342 with a .988 OPS in 2018 at Triple-A. The Mets acquired him in a trade last offseason, and he should offer them a great bat from the corner OF spot while also bringing 3B eligibility and roster flexibility. Davis is a great bat to grab late who can bolster your batting stats across the board.

Final Thoughts:

The Mets have a solid rotation, but their depth will be sorely tested with the loss of Syndergaard to Tommy John surgery. Wacha and Porcello are solid veteran depth additions, who will now have to step up and fill in the end of the rotation. However, if they struggle, there aren’t many other options to turn to. The loss of Wheeler, even to a division rival, is mitigated by the addition of Marcus Stroman at last year’s trade deadline. The Mets offense should be decent as well as long as the Michael Conforto (side) injury isn’t an issue and Alonso’s potential sophomore regression is manageable.

New Manager Luis Rojas has gotten ringing endorsements so far, and I think he can turn things around and get the Mets back to the playoffs. With a full slate of games, they would likely be right around 90 wins, which puts them right in the mix with the Braves, Nats and Phillies in what should be a great division to watch. On paper, the Syndergaard injury drops them just behind the Nats and Braves and ahead of the Phillies, which I think puts them right in the thick of the race for the Wild Card.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.