Analyzing New York Mets Hitters For 2020 – 60-Game Season Update

Jim Chatterton goes through each hitter in the New York Mets lineup and lays out what to expect from them in the 2020 season.

The New York Mets are not a team known for their abundance of fantasy talent on the offensive side. However, 2019 changed their outlook significantly. Their top fantasy hitter played his first game in 2019. Their next-best had played only 63 games in his career before 2019. Three impactful players were not on the team until last year. The remaining few have been steadily improving over their young careers. Top to bottom, the Mets lineup is rosterable in a standard 12-team league, with some of their bench players making for intriguing pickups if they get playing time. A full offense can lift up and improve the counting stats of the whole team, making the Mets no longer a team to shy away from.

(Last Updated: July 3, 2020)

 

60-Game Season Update

 

Baseball is back! To celebrate, we are updating our team-by-team Hitter Profiles by adding a summary of the players who saw their stocks go up or down based on the time off, new rules, and other major changes we’ll see in 2020 and updated projected lineups. 

Trending Up

Is this it? Do the Mets finally give Dominic Smith consistent playing time? He’s set up the be the team’s DH after only managing to appear in 69 games outside of pinch hitting in 2019 but he showed a lot of improvement at the plate, hitting .282/.355/.525. The team won’t have to worry about squeezing him into the outfield or trying to meter Pete Alonso‘s playing time. (It’s always a good time to remember the Smith is actually younger than Alonso.) With regular ABs and a consistent spot in the order, Smith may well become a viable option who’s been easy to forget in the past. 

With a year of injury and re-adjusting to New York behind him, Robinson Cano could become a late-career set-it-and-forget-it option at second base, which is sneaky shallow. The veteran hit .284 with nine homers, 22 runs, and 21 RBI in 42 games after the all-star break last year. While the Mets have enough versatility on their roster to move Cano off the keystone he could still see time at first base and DH to keep him fresh and present. He’s penciled into the heart of the order in what should be a formidable offense, and the 60 games could serve to reduce the risk associated with drafting someone his age.

Yoenis Cespedes was hurt all of last year and played on 38 games the year before that. He’s reportedly healthy for the first time in a while and will definitely see time in a stocked outfield rotation. ATC still believes — the projection system has him hitting seven homers in just 35 games in 2020, which is more than a lot of guys are projected for 10 or more games played.

 

Trending Down:

The Mets lineup is really, really good. They have viable options at every position, all around the diamond. The thing that might cost almost anyone on the team the most in a shortened season is platoons. I’m looking at Brandon Nimmo. He only got into 69 games last year because of a bulging disk. Like Cespedes, he’s reportedly fully healthy, but this is a team that has a knack for making good players the odd man out, and now they have enough talent to make it even easier. I could easily see Nimmo losing playing time, despite being penciled in as the leadoff man, being a fan favorite, and having the skills to stick in the lineup. None of those things have stopped the Mets from benching a guy before.

Projected Lineups

vs. LHP

Original March Edition

 

Roster Changes

 

 

Hitter Previews

 

Catchers

 

Wilson Ramos (C | Batting 7th)

2019: 52 R, 14 HR, 73 RBI, 1 SB, .288/.351/.416 | C #6

2020 ADP: 223.2 (C #7)

 

Wilson Ramos hits so many ground balls that his average launch angle was 0 degrees in 2019. This was the lowest it had been in his career, with a 62.4% ground-ball rate. That number of ground balls with an average BABIP kept his average high. If he continues to keep a 50%-plus ground-ball rate, he’ll keep that average around .300. This is especially notable, as he made much more contact reducing his K rate by six percentage points from 2018. Plus, Ramos spent most of his season batting fourth, fifth, or sixth in the Mets lineup in 2019, lending to many RBI opportunities. However, he most likely will not be in the middle of the lineup in 2020, and if he won’t be slugging the ball as some might expect, his RBI will probably come down.

Additionally, Ramos had a record amount of plate appearances in 2019. With the difficulties some pitchers displayed with Ramos behind the plate, I would not be surprised if the Mets shopped for an improved defensive-minded option as a backup to spell Ramos more frequently. He will have to maintain his record-high plate appearances and his record-low K rate to keep close to the numbers he displayed in 2019. I also expect more balls in the air, so possibly more home runs but a lower batting average.

 

Strengths: BA, RBI, PA/AB

Weaknesses: SB

 

Best-Case Scenario

 

Coming off his longest season, Ramos may have finally proved he can stay on the field. He’s improved his contact and the next step is improving type of contact. If he can get the ball in the air more, he’ll hit more home runs and drive in some more runs as well. A .270 hitter with over 20 home runs for catcher playing in 130-plus games should be close to a top-five backstop.

 

Worst-Case Scenario

 

Durability has never been his strong suit. If he gets hurt early and another catcher steps in that the Mets’ pitching staff meshes with, Ramos will not see as much playing time on return. He could also continue his decent into hitting more and more ground balls. These hits in the back of the lineup will not produce as much as they did in 2019. Low home run total plus a low RBI total will lower his value to potentially outside top 12.

 

2020 Projection: 45 R, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 1 SB, .275/.340/.440

 

Infielders

 

Pete Alonso (1B | Batting 3rd)

2019: 103 R, 53 HR, 120 RBI, 1 SB, .260/.358/.583 | 1B #5

2020 ADP: 44.3 (1B #3)

 

2019 NL home run leader Pete Alonso made quite a name for himself during his rookie campaign. We all knew the power he had coming into the season, but we did not know it could translate to 53 home runs in the first year. He kept his fly-ball rate about the same as it always had been through his minor league career, but his HR/FB spiked significantly. He hit the ball hard, but what kept his HR/FB rate up was his 15.8% barrel rate. Hitting second and third led to many run and RBI opportunities.

His 2020 will not be as stellar as his rookie year, at least in the home run department. His HR/FB should drop a bit and his K rate in the second half increased from the first. Pitches may have started to figure out some of his weak spots, and if that K rate near 30% continues into 2020, he’ll have more difficulty. But he does have some of the hardest hit balls in the league and that is worthwhile. Even though, he still had a strong walk rate, making him a solid value in OBP leagues more so than leagues with average.

 

Strengths: PA/AB, HR, RBI, R

Weaknesses: BA, SB

 

Best-Case Scenario

 

He continues to build off of his rookie season making contact improvements resulting in more plate discipline. If he can attack fastballs at the right time, the home runs will come. Hitting 3rd in the lineup all season for the Mets will always be a boost to the counting stats.

 

Worst-Case Scenario

 

Pitchers keep learning how to pitch to Alonso and he cannot keep up. The high strike out rate stays around and he does not find the right pitches to take over the fence. He’ll still hit plenty of home runs and play every day, but a 35 home run hitter with a .240 batting average sounds much less appealing.

 

2020 Projection: 90 R, 44 HR, 100 RBI, 1 SB, .250/.350/.545

 

Robinson Canó (2B | Batting 4th)

2019: 46 R, 13 HR, 39 RBI, 0 SB, .256/.307/.428 | 2B #56

2020 ADP: 293.5 (2B #29)

 

2019 was another lost season for Robinson Canó. After a shortened 2018 due to suspension and a high-profile trade brining him back to New York, many eyes were on him last year. However, early struggles and injuries resulted in a rough year. He hit the ball nearly just as hard as previous seasons with essentially the same batted ball profile, but he also had a career high strikeout rate (four points higher than career average) and a career low BABIP (nearly 40 points below career average).

The brighter side of his 2019 was his second half, even if he missed most of August. In those 42 games, he brought his K rate back down to career average levels and hit a 126 wRC+ and an .880 OPS. He also brought his hard-hit rate closer to 50% during that half.

 

Strengths: BA

Weaknesses: SB

 

Best-Case Scenario

 

He finally settles back in to New York and continues his success from the second half of last season. Hitting in the middle of the Mets lineup, Cano can deliver 25 home runs and close to 100 RBI again hitting in the .280s again.

 

Worst-Case Scenario

 

His age has caught up to him and injuries continue to plague his 2020. The strikeouts still remain higher than they are usually, and the power outage he displayed in the first half of last year continues. Other Mets backups are able to step in while he recovers and he plays only four or five games a week.

 

2020 Projection: 75 R, 21 HR, 80 RBI, 0 SB, .280/.330/.450

 

Jeff McNeil (2B/3B | Batting 2nd)

2019: 83 R, 23 HR, 75 RBI, 5 SB, .318/.384/.531 | 2B/3B #11

2020 ADP: 115.5 (2B #13)

 

Jeff McNeil came up in 2018 for a 63-game stint. He hit .329 with a 137 wRC+, but the Mets were not sure if he could replicate his success in 2019. They went out and added a few infielders in the offseason, yet McNeil stayed hot and forced his way into the lineup everyday. In 2019, he had 567 plate appearances, hit .318 and started to show unexpected power. He ended the season swatting 23 home runs with a 143 wRC+, a .916 OPS, and kept his strikeout rate at a stellar 13.2%.

His 2019 season was a tale of two distinct halves. First half Jeff was the scrappy base hitter he debuted in 2018, slashing .349/.409/.509 with seven home runs. He hit more line drives and fewer fly balls than in the second half while striking out a bit less as well. The second half, he turned up the power, swatting 16 home runs in 57 games. He slashed .276/.353/.561 with a BABIP of .266 (much lower than the first half’s .385).

How do those numbers translate to next season? What type of McNeil will we get? The easy way out is to say a mix of both, but I believe it will be a bit different. I believe this power is real but that BABIP really brought down the average. He’s much more of a line drive and ground-ball hitter and will stay hitting at least .300 with that impressive K rate.

 

Strengths: BA, OBP

Weaknesses: SB

 

Best-Case Scenario

 

He keeps that extra power he found in the second half while also keeping the contact around. His low second half BABIP reverts to a range in the .300s as well. This should result in an average in the low .300s plus a solid 25 home runs batting at the top of the Mets lineup.

 

Worst-Case Scenario

 

McNeil has not shown much of what could be a worst case scenario. His floor looks solid due to that low strikeout rate and solid line drive rate. The power he showed could dwindle, but the higher K rate from the second half could remain along with a lower BABIP. Hitting .280 with 17 or so home runs would be a disappointment, but it isn’t awful.

 

2020 Projection: 88 R, 25 HR, 82 RBI, 5 SB, .315/.380/.540

 

Amed Rosario (SS | Batting 8th)

2019: 75 R, 15 HR, 72 RBI, 19 SB, .287/.323/.432 | SS #15

2020 ADP: 140 (SS# 20)

 

Amed Rosario took a major step forward with his second full season only at age 23. He kept up a similar batted ball profile to 2018, but started hitting the ball much harder, increasing his hard-hit rate seven percentage points. He also improved slightly across on plate discipline across the board; lower O-swing, higher Z-swing, more contact, and a lower swinging-strike rate. This all led to him slashing .287/.323/.432. Not much for an OBP league but solid in a BA league.

A lot of this success started June onward, as he had about a 25% K rate through the end of May. In the second half, his K rate was only 15.1% with an OPS above .800 and a wRC+ of 114. This can be attributed partially to a much higher BABIP but his approach did change at the plate resulting in much more contact. It still feels like he has a lot of raw talent he’s fighting to show and 2019’s improvements give more hope. However, the ground balls and mediocre hard-hit rate do not scream for more improvements to come.

 

Strengths: PA/AB, SB

Weaknesses: HR

 

Best-Case Scenario

 

He continues to build off of his fantastic second half, keeping his K rate around 15% all season. He keeps hitting the ball hard, but also starts to lift the ball off the ground and show more power than in the past. This can easily translate to at least a 20/20 season hitting around .280.

 

Worst-Case Scenario

 

His on base percentage keeps him far from the leadoff spot and will most likely bat either eighth or ninth. He falls back into old habits striking out more and keeps hitting the ball into the ground. His BABIP is not as friendly to him and ends the season with a line much closer to 2018 than 2019.

 

2020 Projection: 75 R, 17 HR, 75 RBI, 20 SB, .275/.315/.430

 

Outfielders

 

J.D. Davis (OF | Batting 6th)

2019: 65 R, 22 HR, 57 RBI, 3 SB, .307/.369/.527 | OF #42

2020 ADP: 205.8 (OF #62)

 

J.D. Davis was one of the biggest surprises of the 2019 season. As the season progressed, many fans were shouting for Davis to play everyday. His 136 wRC+, 47.7 hard-hit rate, .383 xwOBA, were all great reasons for him to play more often than just the 453 plate appearances he got. He should see that playing time as long as Cespedes takes so long to return or if he gets dealt and finds a DH assignment somewhere else. All signs point to at least a repeat season to his 2019.

He really turned things on in the second half when he started to lift the ball. The hard-hit balls don’t go as far if they stay near the ground. His first half fly-ball rate was 24.2% while the second half was 36.1%. This increase translated into a .335/.395/.584 line with a 156 wRC+. He kept hitting the ball hard through out the year but the key was hitting more fly balls. Once that started his season took off.

If he keeps his spot in the lineup, Davis may be one of the steals of the draft.

 

Strengths: BA

Weaknesses: PA/AB, SB

 

Best-Case Scenario

 

Davis showed he can be an incredible hitter, a Statcast darling. He can continue to deliver on the second half and produce .900-plus OPS type numbers with the way he can hit the ball. Because of that talent, the Mets know to play him everyday getting him over 600 plate appearances, 35 home runs, 90 runs and RBI, with a .300 average.

 

Worst-Case Scenario

 

The Mets still don’t know how to handle his playing time especially if everyone is healthy. He is a detriment on the field and is taken out of games late as a defensive substitution too often. His bat continues to be great, but not second-half-of-2019 great, resulting in a full season like his 2019.

 

2020 Projection: 75 R, 27 HR, 80 RBI, 4 SB, .285/.360/.540

 

Michael Conforto (OF | Batting 5th)

2019: 90 R, 33 HR, 92 RBI, 7 SB, .257/.363/.494 | OF #29

2020 ADP: 93.2 (OF #28)

 

Michael Conforto finally had a full healthy year in 2019, as in 2018, he may have come back a little early from his shoulder injury, which led to a rough start to that season. With a full 2019, he delivered a wonderful offensive season, hitting 33 home runs while scoring and knocking in at least 90 runs each. He took a major step forward from 2018 by reducing his ground-ball rate about eight percentage points, lifting his line drive and fly-ball rates by about four points each. This led to more home runs and doubles setting season highs in both those stats. He also cut down his strikeout rate slightly despite a higher swinging-strike rate in 2019 than before. This is mostly due to his 63.4% O-contact which is up nearly five points from last year.

Despite his reputation as a pure hitter, Conforto does not have the hard-hit rate many may expect. His average exit velocity is below 90 and his hard-hit rate is less than 40%. Unless something changes in that realm, there is not much of an unlocked potential you will get from Conforto moving forward. Last year was a solid year from him and that is what should be expected moving forward. He did pick it up a bit more in the second half (like most of this team it seems) but it was the difference between a first half 120 wRC+ and second half 133 wRC+. Yes, there was improvement, but he’ll remain a top-tier third outfielder on fantasy teams, especially in OBP leagues. He has not wavered from his 13% BB rate since his arrival in the bigs.

 

Strengths: HR, RBI, R

Weaknesses: BA, SB

 

Best-Case Scenario

 

He’s healthy again and playing everyday, so he’ll keep hitting in the middle of the Mets lineup. He keeps the groove he found at the end of the year and carries it throughout the 2020 season, delivering on the incredible 2017 season that was shortened by the shoulder injury. That could mean a 40 home run, 100 run, 100 RBI, .280 batting average year.

 

Worst-Case Scenario

 

The only worst case scenario we’ve seen so far in Conforto’s career is injury. That can happen to anyone, so let’s focus on if he plays. He strikes out still too much, but can revert to his days of missing more at the pitches out of the zone and hitting more ground balls. That can be a solid floor of 25 homers, 80 runs, 80 RBI, and a .250 average.

 

2020 Projection: 90 R, 34 HR, 90 RBI, 6 SB, .260/.360/.500

 

Brandon Nimmo (OF | Batting 1st)

2019: 34 R, 8 HR, 29 RBI, 3 SB, .221/.375/.407 | OF #157

2020 ADP: 277.2 (OF #75)

 

Brandon Nimmo‘s 2019 was wrecked by a bulging disc in his neck that was the result of a collision in mid-April, yet kept playing for another month through that pain. He was eventually placed on the IL, only to return again in September. It is difficult to look at what he did in 2019 and look ahead at what that could mean for 2020, when the playing time wasn’t there and a lot of the time he did play, he was playing through pain. A full offseason will hopefully heal him where he’s ready to step back into the leadoff role. This is where Nimmo shines. Despite a 26.8% career strike out rate, Nimmo sports a career 15.2% walk rate, which was at 18.1% in 2019. That is what gets him in the lead off spot.

Nimmo’s 2018 put him in the spot light with his 148 wRC+ and nearly .900 OPS. If that could be close to replicated in 2020 from a full season leading off, he’ll have a successful season.

 

Strengths: OBP

Weaknesses: BA, SB, RBI

 

Best-Case Scenario

 

Nimmo is healthy and hitting first in front of McNeil and Alonso. He gets on base at a rate over 40% allowing him to get knocked around the bases with ease, scoring over 100 runs. An elite run scorer in an OBP league going after pick 250 would be a wonderful draft pick.

 

Worst-Case Scenario

 

This is a case to bring up injury as something like his could return with one bad move. He strikes out too much and has been making less contact on pitches out of the zone while swinging and missing more. He could get moved back in the lineup if McNeil or Rosario steps in to leadoff and could possibly take a back seat if Cespedes returns or Marisnick shines.

 

2020 Projection: 90 R, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 7 SB, .250/.390/.450

 

Playing Time Battles

 

The offseason will make things more clear but there aren’t many battles at this time. The Mets did bring on Jed Lowrie last year, but he barely had a chance to play. They added him to play and add depth. He’s a versatile player, so it is possible he could get time at second, third, or outfield, depending on how Davis, McNeil, and Cano all handle themselves at their positions. Additionally, Dom Smith took a major step forward offensively in 2019. However, a certain Rookie of the Year kept him from any playing time at first. Smith could get some time in the outfield as he did in 2019. Another big question in the Mets outfield is the health of Yoenis Cespedes. If Cespedes is healthy, it will be hard to not play him, but as it stands it sounds like he still needs plenty of time.

Recently, the Mets added Jake Marisnick for defensive help in the outfield with Juan Lagares gone. Lagares played in 133 games last year with only 285 plate appearances. I can see similar playing time for Marisnick as a defensive replacement just like his time in Houston.

 

Projected Lineup

 

 

Conclusion

 

The Mets feature eight hitters who all have the opportunity to start in standard 12 team leagues. There are a few players with high floors like Alonso, McNeil, and Conforto. There are a couple of players that featured excellent development in the second half of the year in Davis and Rosario. Nimmo is a question, with missing so much time due to a difficult injury in 2019, and Cano has to prove he’s still a force in the box. But importantly, Cano showed much better skills during the second half as well. Last is Ramos, who may have the lowest floor on the team, but he’s proven valuable as a catcher in fantasy each year as long as he is healthy. Another interesting question for them is the health of Cespedes. If Cespedes comes back, that will shake up the playing time for a few players whose value will be much lower if not playing everyday like Nimmo and Davis.

Overall, this team was an offensive force in the second half of the season last year. If they continue to show that high level of performance, each player on this team should have solid fantasy value in 2020.

McNeil Photo by Justin Berl/Icon Sportswire | Alonso Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Jim Chatterton

Jim has written for Razzball and now is a part of the Pitcher List staff. He is a Villanova alum and an eternally optimistic Mets fan. He once struck out Rick Porcello in Little League.

  • Avatar lotus says:

    Jim, didn’t have to read the author bio to know you were a mets fan. Each of these projections is right up at the “best case”! Come on dude!

  • Avatar I will not bow says:

    I do not think there is a chance Conforto hits 7th even against LHP. He is one of the Let’s Go’s most consistent hitters. I think Beltran will have him somewhere between 2 and 5 where he can get on base and drive in runs.

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