Cuddyer Will Be an Important Player in 2016

Last year, Michael Cuddyer was signed by the Mets to be that missing offensive piece. The Mets were so confident he would help them they were willing to forfeit their first round pick. It turns out they were wrong. 

Cuddyer had the worst year of his career. He’s a career .277/.344/.461 hitter mostly playing in hitter’s parks like the Metrodome and Coors Field. Last year, he only hit .259/.309/.391. What was the reason for the decline?  It could’ve  been the switch to Citi Field. It could’ve been free agents the Mets sign always have a poor first year (see Beltran, Carlos and Granderson, Curtis). It could’ve been his turning 36. It could’ve been the injuries. 

Cuddyer had a knee injury that compromised him for much of the year. He required surgery on his core. Either one of these injuries could reasonably explain the down year. At the very least, we can expect a healthier Cuddyer in 2016. With him being a bench player now, we can also expect a fresher Cuddyer too. 

Mostly, you can expect Cuddyer to take some at bats against tough lefties with Granderson, Lucas Duda, and Michael Conforto. For his career, Cuddyer has hit .290/.377/.494. Even in a down year last year, he hit .273/.357/.343. These are good numbers against lefties. He’s important because the Mets best hitters are all lefties. This will help curb the effects of the Mets facing a tough lefty during the regular season. 

Cuddyer’s other duties will include pinch hitting. For his career, Cuddyer has hit .355/.431/.548 in 72 pinch hitting attempts. Considering Cuddyer will be the team’s presumed top pinch hitter, these numbers are encouraging. Even more encouraging was his numbers as a pinch hitter last year. In 22 plate appearances, Cuddyer hit .316/.364/.316. Even in a down year, Cuddyer had good at bats as a pinch hitter. 

Lastly, the Mets have a David Wright problem. Wright showed last year, he can still be an effective player. However, he can still only play only four days in a row. With Daniel MurphyJuan Uribe, and Kelly Johnson being free agents, the Mets don’t have a definitive answer for Wright’s days off. Cuddyer has played some third in his career, but not with any regularity since 2005. 

However, Cuddyer is now a bench player. He has to be ready to pinch hit and play multiple positions. If Cuddyer is even a hint of the player he once was, the Mets will have a strong bench in 2016. They will have an insurance policy for first, third, left, and right. Signing Cuddyer may have been a mistake, but it doesn’t mean he won’t be a useful player. 

He’s going to have to play a big role in 2016, even if it’s a role neither he nor the Mets thought he would play.