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Mets Final Season Grades – Outfielders

Throughout the season, I attempted to grade the different Mets players performances for each month of the season. In determining the year end grades, the aggregate of the monthly grades given was considered, but it wasn’t conclusive.  For example, one player’s awful month could be more than offset by having an incredible month.  Also, those decisions were made in the heat of the moment.  There has been a cooling off period in giving these finals grades, and with that, there is time for reflection.  It should also be noted the Wild Card Game did have some impact on these grades as that game was part of the story of the 2016 Mets.  Overall, the final grades assessed considered the monthly grades, but also took into account that player(s) overall impact on the Mets season (good or bad).    For the fifth set of grades, here are the Mets outfielders:

Yoenis Cespedes B+

Is it possible for a player to have a great season, but you wanted just a little more from him?  Overall, Cespedes had one of the great statistical seasons from a Mets outfielder with him hitting .280/.354/.530 with 25 doubles, one triple, 31 homers, and 86 RBI.  For most of the season, Cespedes was everything you could have expected from him.

Still, there were other points where he wasn’t and much of that was due to the injured quad he tried to play through much of the season.  The quad injury was a major reason his numbers were slightly below where you expected they would be.  It was also a reason for his subpar defense this season.  Even when healthy, he was a disaster in center as evidenced by his -10.6 UZR and his -7 DRS.  Eventually, his quad left Cespedes telling the Mets he could no longer play center (but not golf), and that he needed to go back to left field.  In left, Cespedes was a good defender, but he wasn’t at the Gold Glove level he usually is.

However, despite all the negatives you could point out, Cespedes was still a great player for the Mets in 2016, and he was a major contributor for a team that returned to the postseason.  He proved his 2015 stretch with the Mets was no fluke.  He showed everyone why the Mets need to bring him back next year.

Michael Conforto D

This was supposed to be the year Conforto took off and became a star.  It seemed like it was happening in April when he hit .365/.442/.676 with 11 doubles, four homers, and 18 RBI while leading the major leagues in hard hit ball rate.  It was all coming together until it didn’t.

The rest of Conforto’s season was marred by slumps, injury, and multiple demotions.  After April, Conforto would only hit .174/.267/.330 with 10 doubles, one triple, eight homers, and 24 RBI.  There are a million different reasons we can use to explain these numbers away including his injuries and the very poor way both the Mets and Terry Collins handled him.  Looking at his AAA numbers, the injuries and mishandling of him look more like good reasons than they do excuses.

However, no matter the reason, Conforto still only hit .220/.310/.414 with 21 doubles, one triple, 12 homers, and 42 RBI.  Those are disappointing numbers for a young player that should be a star in this league.  Conforto did work hard all year, made no excuses, and he seems better off for it.  As a result, we should see more of the April Conforto in 2017.

Curtis Granderson C

It is really hard to say a player who became the oldest Met to ever hit 30 homers in a season had a disappointing year, but Granderson did have a disappointing year.  He went from the Mets MVP to a guy hitting .237/.335/.464.  Despite the 30 homers, he only had 59 RBI.  Although, it should be noted he spent most of the year as the leadoff hitter.  He also regressed in the field going from a Gold Glove caliber player to a subpar defensive player.

On the positive side, he did hit 30 homers, and he had a great September helping the Mets drive to claim the top Wild Card spot.  He was willing to do anything to help the team including playing center field when Cespedes was no longer able to do so.  He was a leader on the team, and he deservedly won the Roberto Clemente Award.  The organization is better for having a person like Granderson.  The real question is whether the team will be better for having a player like Granderson around next year.

Jay Bruce D+

Up until the last week and a half of the season it looked like the Bruce acquisition was going to be an unmitigated disaster.  In Bruce’s first 42 games with the Mets, he hit .174/.252/.285 with four doubles, four homers, and 11 RBI.  He went from the major league leader in RBI to finding himself outside the Top 10.  He went from a career year to a guy completely lost at the plate.  To boot, he wasn’t that good in the field either.

During the stretch drive, he seemed to adapt to playing in New York, and he started to hit much better.  In his final eight games, he hit .480/.536/1.000 with a double, four homers, and eight RBI.  That stretch made his overall Mets numbers seem a little better with him hitting .219/.294/.391 with five doubles, eight homers, and 19 RBI.  Certainly, both Bruce and the Mets were hoping for better production than that.  Hopefully, he provides it in 2017.

Juan Lagares B-

Lagares’ value has been and will always be with his glove, and that is why his 2016 season was mostly a success.  Despite Lagares being limited to 68 games in center field due to his being a platoon player and his ligament injury, he was still Top Five in the National League in DRS.  If Lagares had played more games, it is safe to assume he would’ve won his second Gold Glove.

However, Lagares is not going to get that type of opportunity because of his offense.  In 79 games, Lagares hit .239/.301/.380 with seven doubles, two triples, three homers, and nine RBI.  It is hard justifying keeping that bat in the lineup no matter how good your defense is.  It is even harder when you consider the struggles the Mets had scoring runs last season.  It should be noted that Lagares’ role was as a platoon player and a late defensive replacement.  While he didn’t hit well in 2016, he was great defensively.  We should expect more of the same next year.

Alejandro De Aza C-

In a short period of time, De Aza went from the probable Opening Day center fielder to the fifth outfielder without an inning of baseball even being played.  The Mets brought him here to platoon with Lagares, and with the unexpected Cespedes signing, De Aza really found himself without a role.

As a a result, he really struggled to start the year.  Not only was he struggling at the plate, but Collins was questioning his effort level.  Eventually, De Aza had a great July, and he turned his season around.  From there, he became an effective bench player, and he capably played all three outfield positions.  Overall, he hit .205/.297/.321 with nine doubles, six homers, and 25 RBI.  Those numbers were so low because that is how bad he was in the beginning of the year.  Ultimately, it was a rough year for what should prove to be De Aza’s only year as a Met.

Brandon Nimmo B+

The biggest beneficiary of Conforto’s struggles was Nimmo.  With Conforto being sent down, Nimmo got his chance to play in the major leauges, and he made the most of it.  In 32 games, Nimmo hit .274/.338/.329 with one double, a long home run, and six RBI.  Mostly, the 23 year old former first round draft pick showed the Mets he could very well be a part of the future of this organization.

Justin Ruggiano Inc

With his removal from the 40 man roster, Ruggiano’s Mets career lasted all of 22 plate appearances.  In those 22 plate appearances he did hit .350/.409/.650 with two homers and six RBI.  In that mix was a grand slam he hit off of Madison Bumgarner, which only serves to highlight how much the Mets missed a guy who only had 22 plate appearances for them in the 2016 season.

Editor’s Note: the grades for April, May, June, July, August, and September/October can be found by clicking the links.

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