Each year I pick a player whom I think will be the key to the Mets success that season. Lucas Duda was my choice last season; he flopped and so did the team. In 2012 I picked Johan Santana, and indeed the Mets season rose and fell with his fortunes; they were surprise contenders early when he was strong, then the Mets faltered when he went down. Coincidence? Maybe, but my success means I get to make another choice for 2014, and this year it is Travis d’Arnaud.
The Mets offense could be terrible in 2014. Right now there are only three sure things in the lineup — David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Curtis Granderson. Yes, I am putting Granderson into this category despite a new ballpark and a new league for him.
The rest of the lineup is questionable at best. Not much should be expected from Ruben Tejada and Juan Lagares (who will likely start over Eric Young). Chris Young and Ike Davis/Duda are huge question marks. They can either combine for 60 home runs or 20; both are reasonable outcomes.
That is why it is so important for Travis d’Arnaud to hit like the guy who has been traded for two Cy Young Award winners. He needs to become a sure thing in the Mets lineup. He certainly did not show much promise at the plate last season, when he hit .202 in 99 at bats. Of course, he can be forgiven for that, since he missed most of the minor league season with injury and was busy concentrating on his catching.
But there will be little margin for error for d’Arnaud in 2014. Being a good receiver (which he apparently is) will not be enough. He will be called upon to finally reach his enormous potential and help stabilize the lineup. Can he do it? That is still not known, but the entire Mets season could be riding on it.
That is a lot of pressure to put on a rookie — that you are the one who will decide whether the team wins or loses. Fortunately, I am not aware that Travis d’Arnaud reads this website!