Breaking Down The New York Mets Outfield: Is There Hidden Fantasy Appeal?

At this point it is no secret, the New York Mets outfield is a complete and utter joke. It is hard to imagine that there is any hidden value to be had, but you may actually be surprised. Let’s take a look at the potential candidates:

Jordany Valdespin
At this point he deserves to be in the Mets Opening Day outfield. He hit 8 HR in 191 AB last season, with most of his thrilling moments coming off the bench. While his attitude has caused issues, he is the exact type of spark that the Mets sorely need.

In 2011 between Double & Triple-A he hit 17 HR to go along with 37 SB. Last season between Triple-A and the Majors he had 13 HR and 20 SB. There is no question that he can produce potential 20/20 numbers.

He did post a 21.4% strikeout rate last season, which is something that does need to be monitored. While it led to a .241 average, he also sported just a 15.2% line drive rate and .273 BABIP. If he can improve those numbers and hit .270, to go along with his power/speed, he is going to be a fantasy asset in all formats.

Collin Cowgill
Acquired from the A’s this offseason, he offers a similar skill set to Valdespin. In 2010 he had 16 HR and 25 SB at Double-A. In 2011 it was 13 HR and 30 SB at Triple-A, before getting his first taste of Major League action.

The numbers were down last season, but he also wasn’t given an opportunity to play, instead operating as a depth outfielder in Oakland. The Mets would do well to see what the 26-year old can do if given a chance. He and Valdespin could potentially form a dynamic one-two punch atop the lineup, offering the type of spark this offense clearly needs (considering their lack of real weapons).

That said, his upside is probably a tick below that of Valdespin so if I had my choice at this point I would go with Valdespin.

Lucas Duda
The Mets are giving him one last chance to figure things out. The question is, can he? After struggling early in spring training he has come alive recently and there is no questioning that he has some pop in his bat. The biggest issue is if he can avoid striking out a ton. Last season his strikeout rate jumped to 26.1%, as he became more of an all or nothing hitter.

In a lineup like the Mets’, that’s not going to cut it. If he can get that back in order, he as the potential to be a 20-25 HR threat with regular AB. As an end game flier for a team in need of power, he’s worth the gamble (though he is probably behind someone like the Astros’ Chris Carter)

Marlin Byrd
The Mets need to develop young talent, not go with someone like Byrd, who hasn’t been a productive fantasy producer since 2009. He’s hit more than 12 HR once and is not a source of SB. In other words, even if he wins the job fantasy owners should move on.

Mike Baxter
Baxter is a solid role player for a Major League franchise, but for fantasy owners there is little power and little speed. Are we excited? There’s little chance he starts anyways, but if he does he’s not wort it.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis
There’s potential, but he needs to learn to make significantly better contact. In the Majors last season he posted a 31.2% strikeout rate. In hs time at Triple-A the past three years it has been at 29.3%, 26.7% and 30.8%. Sure, there’s some pop and some speed, but not enough to offset those types of rates.

Matt den Dekker
His defense has garnered a lot of attention, and rightfully so. From a fantasy perspective, that doesn’t mean anything. Last season at Triple-A he posted a 28.4% strikeout rate so while he went 17/21 across two levels there is a good chance he’s going to do it with a terrible average. Until he learns to make better contact he is going to be a borderline option.

Conclusion
If I were selecting Mets outfielders right now I would go Valdespin, Cowgill and Duda, in that order (and that’s the way I would hope the Mets will open the season). While Nieuwenhuis and den Dekker offer potential, unless they limt their strikeouts they are going to be completely exposed at the Major League level.

What are your thoughts of the Mets outfield?  Who would you like to see win a job?  Would you target any of them at this point?

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One comment

  1. Pumper says:

    Love Valdespin this year, one of my biggest sleepers

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