I forgot to do a “key Mets player” post last year (I think I was busy planning a wedding or something), so we can’t see if my prediction was correct. So let’s just go to this season and the key player — Michael Conforto.
It is safe to assume the pitching will carry the team in 2016, so the offense will not have to supply an abundance of runs. It will still need to score a few, however, and Yoenis Cespedes cannot do it alone; he will need a wingman in greatness. It is likely the rest of the lineup will provide its usual brand of offense — good, but not great. Conforto needs to be great.
And he has shown he can be. He hit .270 in his debut (partial) season. That is not bad considering he made the jump from Double-A and had to learn big league pitching on the fly. He was a .300 hitter in the minors, and there is no reason he can’t duplicate that this season.
The big surprise was the power. He hit 12 home runs in 357 minor league at bats before his call-up; he then went on to hit nine homers in 194 at bats in the majors (that does not even include the three he hit in the post-season). That projects to close to 30 in a full season.
If he can pull that off, the Mets will have another power hitter to complement Cespedes. Yes, they already have Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson. But Duda is streaky and inconsistent, and Granderson is a year older; their production is not a given.
The Mets need Michael Conforto to step up and be the next big bat in the lineup. That is a lot to ask of a 23-year-old who has less than half a season in the major leagues. But he showed he is up to the task. Let’s hope so, because the season could rest on his shoulders. Yeah, that’s not too much pressure.