MLB Futures

Tue, Apr 5, 2022

New York Mets
I'm not going to be on the Mets to win the division with deGrom out for the first couple of months, though I do think they still stand a good shot at winning it. When deGrom returns, the Mets have what I believe to be the best 1-2 punch in baseball with Scherzer/deGrom. I'm not too concerned with the injuries to both pitchers in the long run. Max might not start the opening series, but when asked about the hamstring injury he didn't seem too concerned.  "I've had these little hamstring injuries before. They go away in days. Fortunately enough I've been pretty good to not have serious hamstring injuries. I've had just little hiccups." Max may not start opening day, but the comments lead me to believe he shouldn't miss more than the opening week. (I actually just read some articles that just came out saying Scherzer expects to pitch this Friday). deGrom on his injury "Once this gets behind me, I should be good to go. Body-wise, I felt great, and then this popped up. Once we get this behind us, I'll be good to go, I felt like I put myself in a good position strength-wise this offseason." In his shortened season last year, deGrom had a 1.08 ERA with a 0.55 WHIP, and 146 strikeouts with just 11 walks in his 92 innings. He held opposing batters to a .129/.160/.242 line. Prior to the injury this year, deGrom made two spring starts and was electrifying, striking out 10 in five innings, while showing his usual velocity. The two-time Cy Young winner mentioned he still plans to opt out of the final year of his $30.5 million contract after the season, even after the injury. He will need to perform when he returns from injury to make this happen, and I expect him to do just that.

deGrom is the MLB leader in ERA among starting pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings since the beginning of the 2019 season, with a 2.08 ERA. Max Scherzer ranks eighth with a 2.86 ERA. Both pitchers were especially dominant last season, limiting walks and racking up strikeouts, while looking as good as ever.  Max had a 1.98 ERA in his 11 starts with the Dodgers and led the majors, among qualifiers, with a 0.86 WHIP. Scherzer finished third in the NL Cy Young voting, and could have easily won. DeGrom had a 1.08 ERA with nearly twice as many strikeouts (146) as total bases allowed (75) in his 15 starts last year. Scherzer is getting older, but he’s been on a different level over this last part of his career. From 2017-21, he has an ERA+ of 161 compared to his very good career 134. For anyone that doesn't know ERA+, higher numbers are better. Anything over 100 is above average. Scherzer's ERA+ trails only one other active pitcher, Jacob deGrom. The top 2 pitchers from the past five years (300+ innings pitched) are in the same rotation, giving the Mets the best one-two punch in the league. DeGrom has the 4th best ERA+ in the history of baseball over his entire career, and Scherzer's current 164 over the past 5 years would rank in at 2nd best ever behind Mariano Rivera. This rotation will be dominant when deGrom returns.

The Mets third starter is Chris Bassitt. Bassitt has been very good over the same time span, holding a 3.31 ERA that ranks 27th in baseball out of the 203 pitchers who meet the criteria mentioned above. If looking at just the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Bassitt starts looking dominant, ranking 11th with a 2.90 ERA, with deGrom and Scherzer still ranking first and eighth. Chris Bassitt was a great pickup, and could be the #1 or #2 starter in a lot of rotations. It is possible that DeGrom/Scherzer/Bassitt all three finish top 10 in CY Young votes. deGrom will come back to pitch with dominance after he misses the first two months of the year. That should be enough to get him some Cy Young votes, the way he did last year even after missing the second half of the season. Scherzer finished first, second or third in Cy Young voting five of the last six seasons, missing only in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Chris Bassitt has finished eighth and 10th in AL Cy Young voting the last two seasons with the Athletics.

Fourth starter is Taijuan Walker who was a beast in the first half of the 2021 season, before fading down the stretch. It makes sense though considering he had only throw a total of 67.1 innings from 2018 through 2020 before giving the Mets 159.0 innings last year. Walker won't have to match his 2.6 ERA that he put up in the first half of last year being the 4th starter though, just do better than the second half. In the fifth slot, the Mets have Carlos Carrasco, who looked every bit as appealing over a year ago as Bassitt does now. However, injuries delayed his season significantly, and when Carrasco was able to return to the mound, he wasn't himself, racking up a 6.04 ERA in twelve starts. Carlos has been a very good pitcher throughout his career, and if he can regain any of his form he will make a great 5th starter. He doesn't need to be as good as he once was, just better than last year.

The additions of Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, and Mark Canha should help solidify the Mets offense. Marte is one of the top center fielders in the game and had one of the best seasons of his career last year (.310/.383/.458, 47 steals). He adds a contact-and-speed dimension they need. Canha should help fix New York's on-base problem as his OBP is the ninth-highest in MLB since 2019. Escobar gives the Mets an additional run producer in their lineup alongside Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor. Alonso has so much raw power, and I'm ready to see a big bounce-back season from Francisco Lindor after a career worst last year. If he can just come out and do the normal things that he was able to do with Cleveland, the Mets are going to be instantly better than they were a season ago. I'm not sure what New York will get out of Robinson Cano, but the addition of DH should help his production. The last time he was on the field Cano hit well, .316/.352/.544 in 2020. If he struggles, the Mets have Smith and Davis ready to step in at DH. Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and James McCann should round out the lineup. 

The final things that will help the Mets is new management, and the willingness to buy help where it's needed. Steve Cohen is willing to spend, so the Mets are likely to add pieces at the trade deadline if they need to. "I'm willing, for the right deals and right free agents, to go get the players we need," Cohen told ESPN's Jeff Passan in November. "We want to be competitive. We want to win our division and be in the playoffs and get deep into the playoffs. I've let (GM Billy Eppler) and (team president Sandy Alderson) know: It's whatever they need." To help stop Cohen's spending, a fourth competitive balance tax penalty tier was created in the new collective bargaining agreement. "I'm OK with it and I'm willing to live with it," Cohen said after the lockout. Another factor is Buck Showalter replacing Rojas will help the team. Players have been raving about Showalter's attention to detail, one of his many good qualities. The Mets certainly have enough talent to win a World Series. Whenever a team can run out DeGrom and Scherzer as its top-two pitchers, they should find success in October. Mets over the Jays in the World Series.

New York Mets win World Series +1100

2022 New York Mets season - Wikipedia

Kansas City Royals
This Royals team is starting to remind me of the 2013 team as they are entering into another interesting period where their talented farm system is starting to arrive at the MLB level. Top prospect Bobby Witt Jr. should make an immediate impact, and has 25/25 (HR/SB) potential in his rookie season. He's a true five tool talent and is as good as any prospect in the game. If Adalberto Mondesi can stay healthy all year, he could swipe 60+ bases and add 20 homers. Merrifield is still a base stealing threat as well, swiping 40 last year to go along with 42 doubles, and he has great baseball IQ. Whit was first in the AL in stolen bases by a wide margin, and third in total hits. The Royals will constantly have speed and pressure on the base path. 

Kansas City will be hoping for a repeat performance form Nicky Lopez, who hit .300 and posted a team high 4.4 WAR. Salvador Perez tied for the lead in homers in 2021 with 48, and lead the AL in RBI with 121. I expect the Royals to call up catcher MJ Melendez later in the season to back up Salvy. Melendez is loaded with potential and power just like Perez, as he homered 41 times in the minors last year. Another big potential call up is Nick Pratto. Pratto was drafted 14th overall in 2017, and took a big step forward with the bat last year hitting 36 homers, and 98 RBIs with a .602 slugging percentage. Like the 2013 Royals, I see them going from a 70 win team to mid 80s this season. I don't think KC will compete for the World Series, but I do think they can compete for a playoff spot, and I love them to get over 74.5 wins on the season. I'm also on Witt for ROY, and all over Mondesi for the stolen bases categories.

American League Rookie of the Year - Bobby Witt Jr. (Royals) +300
Most Stolen Bases 2022 - Adalberto Mondesi (Royals) +200
Adalberto Mondesi Total Stolen Bases - Over 44.5
Kansas City Royals Regular Season Win Total - Over 74.5 Wins

Why Adalberto Mondesi, Bobby Witt Jr. are pivotal to Royals | The Kansas  City Star

My Projected Finishing Positions

AL East
1) Toronto Blue Jays
2) Tampa Bay Rays
3) New York Yankees
4) Boston Red Sox
5) Baltimore Orioles

AL Central
1) Chicago White Sox
2) Kansas City Royals
3) Minnesota Twins
4) Detroit Tigers
5) Cleveland

AL West
1) Houston Astros
2) Los Angeles Angels
3) Seattle Mariners
4) Texas Rangers
5) Oakland Athletics

NL East
1) New York Mets
2) Atlanta Braves
3) Philadelphia Phillies
4) Miami Marlins
5) Washington Nationals

NL Central
1) Milwaukee Brewers
2) St. Louis Cardinals
3) Cincinnati Reds
4) Chicago Cubs
5) Pittsburgh Pirates

NL West
1) Los Angeles Dodgers
2) San Francisco Giants
3) San Diego Padres
4) Colorado Rockies
5) Arizona Diamondbacks