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How Much Better is This Year’s Mets Team?

Noah+Syndergaard+and+the+Mets+are+off+to+a+16-8+start+through+May+2.+%28Courtesy+of+Wikimedia%29
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How Much Better is This Year’s Mets Team?

Noah Syndergaard and the Mets are off to a 16-8 start through May 2. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Noah Syndergaard and the Mets are off to a 16-8 start through May 2. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Noah Syndergaard and the Mets are off to a 16-8 start through May 2. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Noah Syndergaard and the Mets are off to a 16-8 start through May 2. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)


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By Peter Valentino 

Noah Syndergaard and the Mets are off to a 16-8 start through May 2. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Noah Syndergaard and the Mets are off to a 16-8 start through May 2. (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

On April 12, the Mets sat in fourth place with a 2­-5 record. It concerned Mets fans everywhere that they were losing to the Phillies and the Marlins, but it was nothing to raise commotion about.

Two and a half weeks later, the small scare had dissipated and the Mets were right back where they left off in September, fighting for the division with the Nationals. It’s hard to say which team has the upper hand at the moment, but the division is pretty much panning out as expected — the only real surprise teams in the league so far are the White Sox and the Orioles. The Mets are hitting a stride that puts them in great position going into a more difficult month on their schedule. Given their success this season, how much better are they than last year?

The biggest hole that was addressed this offseason was in the middle infield. Both Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker have been immediate defensive upgrades for the team, making any double play possible. With the departure of Daniel Murphy, people thought the hitting proficiency from the second base position would decrease. However, with nine home runs in the month of April, Walker has found a home in Citi Field and, with continued production, will be called upon to re-sign this offseason.

Asdrubal Cabrera’s fielding has been the most impressive part of his game. Thought to be over­ the ­hill, he continues to wow audiences with his “Jeter-­like” fielding. He has also managed to hit .300.

The Mets rotation has been stellar as expected, with Noah Syndergaard getting the conversation started early for his Cy Young candidacy. After a slow and concerning start, Matt Harvey has managed two wins in his last two starts. DeGrom is 3-­0, Bartolo does Bartolo and Matz has been spectacular since his disastrous first start of the season. The bullpen, for its part, has played surprisingly well. Jim Henderson, at 33 years old, has performed well so far . Antonio Bastardo, Addison Reed, Logan Verrett, Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins have all contributed as well. Jeurys Familia has accounted for seven saves in the first month, slowly proving himself as a legitimate closer in the league.

The most impressive aspect of this team is how well the lineup can be set up. Curtis Granderson leads off, with David Wright in the number two spot and Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Lucas Duda, Walker, Cabrera, either Kevin Plawecki or Travis d’Arnaud following. The lineup has become one of the league’s most powerful. The transformation from the beginning of the year to now has been nothing short of remarkable.

All of that being said, there are two concerns about this team. First, if the power isn’t there, I don’t know if they can play small ball. The lineup can be shut down by great pitching, as seen against Madison Bumgarner and Edinson Volquez. When there is a power outage, these hitters have a tendency to swing for the fences rather than get on base. The second concern is that while the bullpen has pitched well, it can be better. It’s early on, but there have been times when they have blown a win for the pitchers or at least come close to doing so. Also, Terry Collins’ management of the bullpen has come into question, especially regarding the overuse of Henderson’s arm.

At times, it’s hard for Mets fans to remember that the season is a marathon, not a sprint. When the Mets sat at 2-­5, the team didn’t panic and got back to the baseball that we saw from them during the second half of the year. 2016 appears to have another great summer in store for this team.

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How Much Better is This Year’s Mets Team?