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|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Noah Syndergaard, rhp|
|2. Steve Matz, lhp|
|3. Brandon Nimmo, of|
|4. Dilson Herrera, 2b/ss|
|5. Kevin Plawecki, c|
|6. Amed Rosario, ss|
|7. Michael Conforto, of|
|8. Rafael Montero, rhp|
|9. Marcos Molina, rhp|
|10. Gavin Cecchini, ss|
For the first time in a four-year tenure, general manager Sandy Alderson, his front office and field staff can glimpse light at the end of the tunnel.
While the Mets failed to crack .500 for the sixth straight season in 2014, they did manage to tie the Braves for second place in the National League East with a 79-83 record. In fact, New York finished with a positive run differential (+11) for the first time under Alderson and manager Terry Collins.
Pitching and defense have brought the Mets to the cusp of contention. While seven NL clubs allowed fewer runs than New York in 2014, Mets pitchers allowed 3.81 runs per game, the franchise's lowest rate since 1990. They didn't rely on soft stuff and chicanery either, not with a strikeout rate of 8.0 per nine innings that ranked third in the league.
Young ace Matt Harvey spent the entire season on the shelf as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery, so veteran import Bartolo Colon anchored a staff that featured at various points six starters who graduated from the Mets system. The list includes Zack Wheeler (32 starts), Jon Niese (30), Jake deGrom (22), Dillon Gee (22), Rafael Montero (eight) and Jenrry Mejia (seven). Righthander Noah Syndergaard and lefty Steve Matz, the system's top two prospects, figure to join the parade in 2015.
Summoned from Triple-A Las Vegas in mid-May, the 26-year-old deGrom went on to win the NL Rookie of the Year award, showcasing a strong three-pitch mix and leading all rookie starters (min. 100 innings) with a 2.69 ERA. The Mets placed a second player on the BA All-Rookie Team, though in the case of 25-year-old catcher Travis d'Arnaud, he flourished only after a midseason demotion to Las Vegas. He returned to the big leagues on June 24 to hit .272/.319/.486 with 10 home runs in his final 69 games.
While the club's offensive attack once again checked in below the NL average, they inched closer to average in 2014, thanks in part to a league-leading walk rate of 8.4 percent of plate appearances. Importing free agent right fielder Curtis Granderson added power and patience to the lineup, but the emergence of first baseman Lucas Duda, who slammed 30 home runs, provided the largest jolt.
The Mets struck early in the offseason to add more offense, signing 37-year-old corner outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year deal, thus sacrificing the 15th overall pick in the 2015 draft.
All seven of the Mets' domestic affiliates finished at .500 or better in 2014—and Double-A Binghamton won the Eastern League title—giving New York a cumulative .568 winning percentage that led all organizations. Best of all, the system has begun to shuttle position players up the ladder to pair with the quality young pitchers.
Second baseman Dilson Herrera made his big league debut in September after tearing up two minor league levels, while catcher Kevin Plawecki, shortstop Matt Reynolds and first-round outfielders Brandon Nimmo (2011) and Michael Conforto (2014) might not require much more minor league seasoning.
After all, the Mets have been rebuilding for four seasons. The signing of Cuddyer indicates that Alderson believes the rebuilding phase has ended, and that the fruits of the rebuild will end a six-year run of losing seasons.