Fantasy Breakdown: New York Mets for 2021

A preview of the New York Mets' lineup, rotation, and bullpen for 2021

Throughout the winter months of the offseason, the Pitcher List staff will be creating profiles for every fantasy-relevant player for 2020. Players will be broken up by team and role through starting pitchers, bullpen, lineup, and prospects. You can access every article as it comes out in our Player Profiles 2021 hub.

These profiles will also be featured as an eBook exclusively for those signed up for PL+.

Hitters 

Starting Pitchers 

Relief Pitchers 

 

At A Glance

 

The 2020 season was another disappointment for the New York Mets. Their starting pitching took several significant hits, as they lost Noah Syndergaard to Tommy John surgery and Marcus Stroman to an opt-out. Despite Jacob deGrom‘s best efforts to carry the load, and a surprising season from rookie David Peterson, the Mets finished the year with the fifth-worst team ERA among starters. The bright side? Their offense was one of the best in baseball, tied with the Dodgers for the top spot in wRC+ with a 122 mark, and they just added Francisco Lindor. With Syndergaard’s return on the horizon, the addition of Carlos Carrasco, and potentially more moves coming down the pipeline, the Mets are primed to be legitimate contenders heading into this season–at least on paper.

 

Hitters

Projected Lineup

 

Infielders

 

Pete Alonso (1B)

2020: 31 R, 16 HR, 35 RBI, 1 SB,  .231 AVG/.326 OBP/.490 SLG | 1B #9

2021 ADP: 59.62

 

After a standout 2019 season that saw Alonso take home Rookie of the Year honors, a home run title, and claim the record for most home runs hit by a rookie (53), 2020 was a bit of a letdown. In August, the first full month of the shortened season, Alonso posted just a 97 wRC+ while hitting .217 with a 28% strikeout rate. At that point, rumblings of his rookie campaign being a fluke began to take hold. However, Alonso finished the year strong, posting a 151 wRC+ over his final 28 games with 10 home runs during that span. That finish pulled many of his overall numbers back in line with what he posted in 2019, as his strikeout rate, walk rate, Hard Hit%, and exit velocity were all nearly identical to his rookie campaign by the end of the year. The poor batting average seemed to stem from some bad luck on batted balls, compounded by less pulled fly balls and, consequently, less of his fly balls leaving the ballpark. But all-in-all, Alonso’s power and approach seemed unchanged in 2020, meaning there’s a high likelihood he’ll be able to produce at least 40 homers with about a .250 average over the course of a full season.

 

Jeff McNeil (2B/3B/OF)

2020: 19 R, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB, .311 AVG/.383 OBP/.454 SLG | 2B #24

2021 ADP: 98.47

 

Jeff McNeil was one of several Mets hitters who experienced a bit of a 2020 hangover after an incredibly impressive 2019 season. The .311 batting average was all you could have hoped for, but the pop that helped McNeil hit 23 homers the previous year completely dissipated in 2020. You may be able to blame some of that on his health–he was quite snakebitten in the injury department last season, dealing with some core muscle issues, then hurting his knee making a sliding catch in the outfield. However, it’s hard to simply ignore his 3.2% career barrel rate and expect there to be another 20+ home run season in the offing. The batting average floor is about as high as they come with McNeil, but if you roster him you may have to roll the dice on the rest of his offensive output.

 

Francisco Lindor (SS)

2020: 30 R, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 6 SB,  .258 AVG/.335 OBP/.415 SLG | SS #13

2021 ADP: 16.65

 

After a blockbuster trade with Cleveland this offseason, Lindor becomes the Mets’ primary shortstop and likely the new face of the team. In fantasy terms, Lindor remains an elite player despite a relatively mediocre (by his lofty standards) 2020 season which can likely be chalked up as a short season aberration, especially given that his strikeout and Hard Hit rates remained fairly steady last year, and his line drive rate actually improved. Lindor posted back-to-back 100+ run, 30+ HR, 20+ steal seasons in 2018 and 2019, and offers reliability and consistency as an early-round pick, as he played in every game in the shortened 60-game season. He also gets a big offensive boost from joining a much more talented New York lineup and should benefit from the new ballpark as well, as Citi Field ranked much more favorably than Progressive Field when it comes to barrels to both left field and right field. Currently, the #4 shortstop coming off the board around pick 16, Lindor remains a prime target in the second round of fantasy drafts, especially if his pedestrian 2020 campaign causes him to slide down draft boards a bit.

 

Jonathan Villar (SS/2B)

2020: 13 R, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 16 SB,  .232 AVG/.301 OBP/.292 SLG | SS #29

2021 ADP: 149

 

Jonathan Villar has the fourth-most stolen bases in baseball since 2017, and was drafted highly in 2020 as the elite speedster with pop that he’s customarily been throughout his career. Though he did continue to contribute in the steals category in 2020, his production everywhere else was a big letdown, and after a trade from Miami to Toronto, he found himself getting sporadic time as a utility player. Signed to a one-year contract by the Mets, it seems he could continue to fill that utility role going forward, making it extremely difficult for him to return enough value to justify his current ADP of 149. That said, Villar’s versatility and ability to play shortstop, second base, third base, and the outfield mean he’ll always be one injury away from steady at-bats with the Mets. And it was only a year ago that he managed to hit 24 home runs, swipe 40 bases, and score 111 runs while putting up a solid .274 batting average. He’ll be a classic high-ceiling, low-floor pick in drafts this year who could either return top-50 value or underperform in a part-time role.

 

J.D. Davis (3B/OF)

2020: 26 R, 6 HR, 19 RBI, 0 SB,  .247 AVG/.371 OBP/.389 SLG | 3B #43

2021 ADP: 210.82

 

There were a lot of reasons to be bullish on Davis’ 2019 breakout season. He hit the ball harder than most MLB hitters while making a respectable amount of contact and dominating against offspeed and breaking pitches. Unfortunately, that performance against non-fastballs didn’t manifest itself again in 2020. Furthermore, while his quality of contact remained incredibly high, he could no longer tap into it for power production due to a ground ball rate that ballooned to 56.3%. Though Davis has historically had some issues getting the ball in the air, there’s a pretty good likelihood he’ll be able to get his ground ball rate under 50% in 2021. If he does, the main hurdle he’ll have to overcome is recapturing the magic that helped him hold his own against non-fastballs in 2019. There’s definitely risk here, and a bounceback is far from a slam dunk. But there is a possibility for a .285 hitter who can swat 35 home runs if things break right.

 

James McCann (C)

2020: 20 R, 7 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB, .289 AVG/.360 OBP/.536 SLG | C #9

2021 ADP: 215.44

McCann inked a lengthy deal with the Mets in large part due to his improvements on both sides of the ball over the past two years. Never known as a particularly gifted defensive or offensive catcher, McCann took some notable steps forward in both departments after joining the White Sox a few years back. The question is, how much do you trust those improvements? On the one hand, McCann’s Hard Hit% skyrocketed last year, reaching an elite 47.8%. And that, paired with solid line drive rates and a good all-fields hitting approach, should help him continue to post inflated BABIPs and a decent batting average. However, his performance last season took place as a backup catcher over just 31 games, so it’s hard to weigh that performance as heavily as his mediocre track record prior to that. There’s potential here for a top-10 catcher, but it comes with a lot of question marks.

 

Outfielders

 

Brandon Nimmo (OF)

2020: 33 R, 8 HR, 18 RBI, 1 SB, .280 AVG/.404 OBP/.484 SLG | OF #52

2021 ADP: 255.51

 

It was hard to know what to expect from Nimmo coming into the 2020 season. He was not only coming off a disappointing, injury-plagued 2019, but he seemed destined to ride the bench most of the year with Yoenis Céspedes, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto, and Jake Marisnick all vying for outfield at-bats as well. Things panned out though, and Nimmo entrenched himself as the team’s everyday center fielder. His elite plate discipline ensured he was a fixture at the top of the Mets’ lineup, and for the first time in his career he managed to curtail his customarily high strikeout rate and post a good batting average. Unfortunately those gains in his contact ability came at the cost of his quality of contact. If that change sticks, it’s hard to see how he can surpass 20 home runs in a season given his all-fields approach and propensity for hitting ground balls. But he should find himself at the top of a strong lineup once again, which makes him a good bet to scores lots of runs. And his value gets a big boost in OBP formats.

 

Michael Conforto (OF)

2020: 40 R, 9 HR, 31 RBI, 3 SB, .322 AVG/.412 OBP/.515 SLG | OF #11

2021 ADP: 76.78

In 2020, Conforto went back to the all-fields, line drive-hitting approach that made him such an exciting prospect in the minors. And the results were excellent, as he managed a remarkable .322 batting average despite never having hit above .279 in the five seasons prior. Conforto also handled himself well against lefties in 2020, posting a 142 wRC+ against them, albeit over just 74 at-bats. The peripherals certainly point to a distinct change in approach for Conforto. However, it’s likely too small a sample size to definitively declare him a brand new hitter. It’s also probably worth noting that, while a move away from pulled fly balls is probably a good development for Conforto’s future batting average, it will likely come at the cost of his home run output–especially given that his Hard Hit% has never been elite. However, if the 2020 version of Conforto sticks around, expect a high average with upwards of 25 home runs and plenty of counting stats.

 

Dominic Smith (1B/OF)

2020:  27 R, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 0 SB, .316 AVG/.377 OBP/.616 SLG | OF #21

2021 ADP: 90.6

 

All hail the addition of the DH to the National League, as it treated us to an amazing offensive season from Dominic Smith. Smith’s 165 wRC+ was the sixth-best in baseball last year, edging out big names like Mike Trout, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Mookie Betts. This was thanks in large part to the fact that Smith was an extra-base-hit machine, tallying 21 doubles during the course of the season–the second-most doubles in baseball behind Freddie Freeman. All this from a guy who was a bench player to start the season. Perhaps this shouldn’t have been too surprising–Smith did have a productive season in 2019, producing a .368 wOBA while hitting .282. But there were some notable changes that took place in 2020, particularly in terms of his Hard Hit%, which shot up from 34.8% to 46.7%. Inexplicably, that gigantic jump in contact quality didn’t come at the cost of Smith’s ability to make contact. In fact, his strikeout rate remained stable at 22%, and his contact rate actually jumped up nearly a point to 76.1%. Is the power uptick real, or a short season mirage? And if the National League removes the DH, is he a strong enough defender in left field to secure full-time at-bats there? These are the questions you’ll have to tackle if you draft Smith. But he comes with the upside of a potential top-30 hitter.

 

Watch List Considerations

There likely won’t be any position battles entering the season, though there’s a chance Kevin Pillar and Jonathan Villar push themselves into at least a platoon role once the season starts. What could make things interesting is the reinstatement of the DH in the National League. This could create an opening for either Pillar or Villar, or clear room some of their intriguing non-roster invites, which include José Peraza and 2019 stolen base champion Mallex Smith. Smith, in particular, is someone to keep an eye on, given his elite speed and the fact that he’ll likely go undrafted in most leagues.

 

Starting Pitchers

 

Jacob deGrom (Locked In Starter)

2020: 4-2, 68 IP, 104 K, 2.38 ERA, 0.96 WHIP | SP #

2021 ADP: 8.21 (P# 2) NFBC (1/20)

Repertoire: 44.9% 4-Seam Fastball, 35.5% Slider, 16.9% Changeup, 2.6% Curveball

 

I’m not Nick, but I still feel comfortable saying… ACES GONNA ACE. The rich just kept getting richer in 2020, as deGrom managed to raise his swinging strike rate in all four of his pitches, reaching career highs in 3 of the 4. On top of that, deGrom managed to raise his fastball velocity to a career-high 98.6 MPH, tops in all of baseball among those with at least 225 pitches. All of this resulted in a massive 38.8% K-rate that finished 2nd among all starters (Shane Bieber). Look, I could go on and on with superlatives about how good deGOAT is. All you gotta know is he’s the surest thing in the sport to reward a first-round SP investment. If there’s anything he could do better, I suppose it would benefit him to add a third pitch vs righties: in 2020, 95.1% of his pitches vs right-handers were either 4-seamer or slider, while his changeup was dealt to lefties 88.6% of the time. When you’ve got two pitches as good as his 4-seamer and slider though, you can make it work.

 

Carlos Carrasco (Locked In Starter)
2020: 3-4, 68 IP, 82 K, 2.91 ERA, 1.21 WHIP | SP #33

2021 ADP: 72.16 (P #26) NFBC (1/20)

Repertoire: 34% 4-seam fastball, 28.3% Slider, 28% Changeup, 5.2% Curveball, 4.5% Sinker

 

The Mets’ newest addition to the rotation was perhaps the feel-good story of all of baseball in 2020. The player affectionately known as “Cookie” was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in 2019, but after successful treatment was cleared to return to the mound in 2020. And in heroic fashion, not only did he just return to the mound, the 33-year-old right-hander was one of the better pitchers in baseball during the abbreviated 2020 season with his traditional fastball-slider-changeup pitch-mix. The right-hander’s days as a potential fantasy ace (18 wins in 2018, 17 wins in 2018) are likely behind him, but he proved this past season that he is still a very effective pitcher and should make for a reliable and underrated pick, albeit a tad boring, in the middle rounds (SP 25-30 range) in fantasy drafts next spring.

 

Marcus Stroman (Locked In Starter)

2019: 10-13, 184.1 IP, 159 K, 3.22 ERA, 1.31 WHIP | SP #

2021 ADP: 229.49 (P#83) NFBC (1/20)

Repertoire: 37.4% 4-Seam Fastball, 30.9% Slider, 24.1% Cutter, 5.3% Changeup, 2.4% 4-Seam Fastball, 1% Curveball.

 

Gotta love a pitcher with a six-pitch mix, especially when you hear they’re adding a new pitch and upgrading an additional one. If you’re interested in the potential impact of those additions, check out this incredible article from Michael Ajeto. When you combine that with a pitcher with 3 180+ IP seasons over his last 4 and a sub 3.25 ERA in two of those seasons, it is initially confusing as to why Stroman goes so late in drafts. Much of the answer lies in (1) his strikeout figures and (2) his concerning peripherals. To the first point, Stroman actually registered his best K% since his rookie season in 2019 at 20.5%, a number that was actually in the top 20 lowest K% among qualified starters. There’s reason for optimism though. For one, Stroman’s tweet above about introducing a 4-seamer suggests he might finally ditch his sinker. Just how ineffective is the pitch? It has allowed a .300 AVG and a .435 SLG in each of his past four seasons. Granted, his four-seamer generally hasn’t been much better over the years; but a new one is intriguing. (2) Stroman’s peripherals don’t really love him. His xFIP and SIERA have risen every year of his career (3.99 and 4.41). Stroman generally manages to out-pitch his peripherals though, and even if you do buy-in, his FIP and xFIP have both been under 4 his whole career; as long as Stroman doesn’t strand just 60.5% of baserunners, he should have no problem putting up a strong ERA with perhaps a career-high in Ks. Oh, and Marcus Stroman started working with Codify. He makes for an intriguing sleeper target.

 

David Peterson (Locked In Starter)

2020: 6-2, 49.2 IP, 40 K, 3.44 ERA, 1.21 WHIP | SP #

2021 ADP: 363.74 (P# 139) NFBC (1/20)

Repertoire: 37.4% 4-Seam Fastball, 25.9% Slider, 18.7 % Changeup, 15.8% Sinker, 2.2% Curveball

 

The Mets’ first-round pick in the 2017 draft burst onto the scene in 2020, registering a 3.44 ERA over 49.2 IP. That’s about where the excitement about his debut ends. Much like the pitcher above him, Peterson struggled to retire hitters via the punchout, notching just a 19.5% K-rate. Peterson has never been a high-strikeout guy, but he has also never been the guy to walk 11.7% of batters; rather, he’s sat between 6 and 7.5% for most of his minor league career, suggesting that he’ll gain some command back in 2021. However, that should be counterbalanced by a resulting rise in AVG when considering his .233 BABIP and xBA sat nearly 30 points higher than his actual AVG allowed. While his 4-seamer finished with a stellar -6 Run Value per Baseball Savant, the pitch was all over the map, making it more difficult to tunnel with his slider. As a result, his changeup and sinker struggled mightily. If he can command the fastball up in the zone with more consistency, it should raise the effectiveness of those off-speed pitches, even at 92 MPH.

 

Seth Lugo (Likely Starter)

2020: 3-4, 36.2 IP, 47 K, 5.15 ERA, 1.36 WHIP | SP #

2021 ADP: 348.01 (P# 131) NFBC (1/20)

Repertoire: 32.3% 4-Seam Fastball, 22.6% Sinker, 19.3% Curveball, 15.1% Slider, 10.7% Changeup

 

Outside of 2 late-season blowups at the Phillies and the Nationals, Seth Lugo had an absolutely stellar season. Lugo pitched to a 2.38 ERA for 34 of his 36 innings and a 40.45 ERA for the other 2.2 innings. Despite those outings, he still registered a 29.4% K-rate, 3.29 SIERA, and 3.03 xFIP centered around his un-Lugo-like 29.6% HR/FB rate. As we know, the Mets shifted Lugo from the bullpen to the rotation this past season, but interestingly enough, his pitch mix didn’t really change all that much from one role to the other. To achieve continued success though, he’ll have to improve his fastball performance. The pitch ended up all over the strike zone in 2020, while his sinker rarely found the lower portion of the zone, as he needed it to. Both pitches found high levels of success in prior years, giving hope that Lugo can reclaim the two pitches. On the plus side, he also reached swing and miss career-highs in all pitches this past year as well. It’s not far-fetched that he puts it all together and develops into a very solid mid-rotation starter.

 

Joey Lucchesi (Fringe Starter)

2020: 0-1, 5.2 IP, 5 K, 7.94 ERA, 2.647 WHIP | SP #243

2021 ADP: Undrafted (N/A)

Repertoire: 49.6% Sinker, 34.1% Curveball, 15.4% Cutter, 0.8% Changeup

 

Lucchesi used to be the Padres go-to guy from 2018-2019, leading them in innings pitched with 293 2/3 in that span. However, he got a quick hook in 2020 after just two poor outings in which he gave up five ER’s in 5.1 innings. He was recalled mid-September and in his lone outing out of the bullpen, he gave up two hits while only getting one out.

With three Cy Young caliber pitchers and so much young talent on the roster, it’s hard to see Lucchesi fitting into the Padres’ plans in 2021. Even if he manages to uphold his career 4.21 ERA, it’s hard to see him remaining in this rotation throughout the whole season as the Padres will likely tryout Weathers or Gore at some point this year. He’s undraftable.

 

Watch List Considerations

 

With Steven Matz now in Toronto as a victim of the Gamestop incident, the next man up is likely Robert Gsellman. Gsellman has been at least passable for stretches before a disastrous 2020. It’s possible he gets spot starts for the Mets in the event of an injury to two or more of the names above, and could be startable depending on the matchup.

After 15 starts at roughly league-average production (107 ERA-) in 2019, 2020 was a mess for Jordan Yamamoto. The 24-year-old got off to a rough start, having 3 consecutive starts of 3 or 4 earned that totaled only 8.2 IP. He then capped it off with a monumentally horrendous outing in which he gave up 12(!) earned runs in 2.2 laborious innings against the Braves. At some point it’s just Miami’s fault for leaving him to the wolves, but yeesh. Yamamoto expects to have his name thrown around in the 5th starter competition after a February 1st deal to the Mets, but I think he’s on the outside looking in. He’s a decent streamer when he’s on, but the haze is far too thick right now to get anywhere close to this one.

Former Phillie Jerad Eickhoff is also with the club as a non-roster invite and he flashed his strong curveball as recently as 2019. But there’s another name that intrigues me more: earlier this off-season, the Mets added former Rays starter Sam McWilliams. McWilliams told Sports Illustrated that during his work at the alternate site, he made the all-important switch from sinkers to 4-seamers and that the new 4-seamer reached 98 MPH in addition to a slider that flashes plus potential. McWilliams got a major league deal from the Mets, so it’s very possible he gets some run in the rotation, but I expect he’ll be long relief, at least to start.

 

Relief Pitchers

 

Bullpen Roles

 

Edwin Diaz (Closer)

2020: 6 SV, 2 HLD, 25.2 IP, 50 K, 1.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP | RP #

2021 ADP: 81.33 (P#30) NFBC (1/20)

Player B is the overwhelming favorite, Edwin Diaz. Who does he beat out? Only some guy named Aroldis Chapman. Now that’s the guy the Mets traded Jarred Kelenic for. The soon-to-be 27-year-old slashed his home run rate from 2.33/9IP back to a much more reasonable 0.7. On top of that, his 21.5% SwStr, a career-high, ranked 3rd in the league. But, and unfortunately, there is a but, his walk rate shot to an insane 12.7%. While his zone% did drop 3 points and his swing% by 4 points, I’m not seeing the rationale for such a massive jump in walk%. The simplest answer appears to be trading walks to get more Ks, a notion supported by the fact that his 19 pitches per outing were the 3rd highest of any closer (5+ saves) in 2020 and the highest mark of his career. A healthy balance would perhaps push his WHIP back towards pre-Mets days when he was baseball’s most dominant reliever. It’s important to remember though, that the Mets have removed Diaz from the closer role before so he is not locked in by any means. There have been rumors of the team adding another back-end bullpen arm that could threaten Diaz’s job, so draft with some level of caution.

 

Trevor May (Possible Closer/Setup)

2020: 2 SV, 8 HLD, 23.1 IP, 38 K, 3.86 ERA, 1.16 WHIP | RP #

2021 ADP: 500.16 (P# 194) NFBC (1/20)

 

The Mets started off a stellar off-season by landing former Twins setup man Trevor May. The righty reached new heights in 2020, notching a 39.6% K rate, 2.38 SIERA, and a 2.74 xFIP despite a whopping 21.7% HR/FB that would help explain his 3.86 ERA. The tools are all there for a dominant 1-2 punch at the back end of what is quickly becoming one of baseball’s best rosters.

 

Dellin Betances

2020: 0 SV, 4 HLD, 11.2 IP, 11 K, 7.71 ERA, 2.06 WHIP | RP #

2021 ADP: Undrafted

 

Honestly, I could use this spot to write about any number of relievers. But, as Betances has the highest ceiling of any of them, let’s talk about him for a second. 2019 and 2020 have been lost years. Not only did he deal with injuries to his Achilles, as well as his right shoulder and lat, he was also very ineffective when active. One of Betances’ trademarks was the power fastball, which sat between 96.6 and 98.3 MPH between 2014 and 2018, and a dominant curveball that generated whiffs at a rate no less than 41.8% over the same span. That fastball has abandoned him in 12.1 IP over the last two years, sitting at just 93.6 MPH over 118 thrown in 2020. Similarly, the curveball generated just 30.3% whiffs, granted over a very limited 99 offerings. If Betances can take advantage of the delay to get fully healthy, he could once again anchor a strong bullpen on a deep playoff run.

 

Watch List Considerations

 

There are several intriguing players in the Mets’ pen: Miguel Castro, Jeurys Familia, Jacob Barnes, and even Brad Brach; all pitchers who have been strong relievers within the last three years. None are fresh off particularly stellar seasons, and therefore, I’d expect the Mets to go out and add someone before relying too heavily on any of them. None should be on your fantasy radar, even in SV+HLD leagues.

 

ADP data taken from FantasyPros composite ADPs.

2019 Positional Rankings from Razzball’s 12-team Player Rater (ESPN).

Photos by Rich von Biberstein, Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire, Tom Hagerty, Noah Syndergaard by slgckgc, | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer, content manager, and podcaster with Pitcher List. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

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