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|TOP 10 PROSPECTS|
|1. Steven Matz, lhp|
|2. Amed Rosario, ss|
|3. Dominic Smith, 1b|
|4. Gavin Cecchini, ss|
|5. Brandon Nimmo, of|
|6. Marcos Molina, rhp|
|7. Luis Carpio, ss/2b|
|8. Desmond Lindsay, of|
|9. Matt Reynolds, ss/2b|
|10. Wuilmer Becerra, of|
The Mets' six-year run of seemingly endless rebuilding and poor results ended in dramatic fashion in 2015. New York won 90 games, captured the National League East division title--they outplayed the favored Nationals by nine games in August and September--and defeated the Dodgers and Cubs in the playoffs to capture the NL pennant.
However, the Mets team that advanced to the World Series only faintly resembled the team that closed play at the July 31 trade deadline with a 53-50 record and minus-six run differential. A series of trades, callups and returns to health remade the Mets' offense down the stretch, while the pitching staff, despite its comparative youth, recorded a 3.43 ERA that ranked fourth lowest in baseball.
Despite losing righthander Zack Wheeler to Tommy John surgery, the Mets rotation ranked as one of the hardest-throwing units of the Pitch f/x era, which dates back to 2008. Only the starting pitchers for the 2015 Pirates (94.1 mph) and 2012 Nationals (93.8) recorded a higher average fastball velocity than the 2015 Mets (93.8).
Righthanders Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom all averaged at least 95 mph, while lefthander Steven Matz checked in at 92, and those four power pitchers made up the Mets' playoff rotation. During the NL playoffs, that quartet went 6-2, 2.60 with 71 strikeouts in 55 innings and a 1.14 WHIP, while homegrown closer Jeurys Familia struck out six in 9 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing four baserunners and saving five games in eight appearances.
Syndergaard and Matz ranked as the organization's top two prospects heading into the year, and the Mets unleashed the rookie duo in 2015 after graduating Harvey in 2012, Wheeler in 2013 and deGrom in 2014.
Matz retains his prospect eligibility for 2016 thanks to a lat injury that sidelined him for nearly all of July and August. Syndergaard, who made his big league debut on May 12, merely went 9-7, 3.24 in 24 starts and led all rookie starters with 10.0 strikeouts per nine innings. In fact, no team received more value from first-year pitchers in 2015 than did the Mets, who also received 181 relief innings from seven rookies, most notably righties Hansel Robles, Erik Goeddel and Logan Verrett and Rule 5 lefty Sean Gilmartin.
Fastball velocity was a constant attribute for the 2015 Mets, but the quality of the lineup varied. In the first half, New York hit just .233 and scored fewer runs than all but two other big league teams, but a chain of events reversed the club's fortune in the second half, when the Mets hit .257 and scored more runs than any team except the Blue Jays and Rangers.
The lineup makeover began on July 24, when the Mets called up 22-year-old left fielder Michael Conforto from Double-A Binghamton. The 2014 first-rounder went on to hit .270/.339/.506 and hit more home runs in the majors (nine) than he did as an Oregon State junior the previous spring (seven).
The Mets traded for veteran infielders Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson on July 25 before making their big strike on July 31, when they acquired Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The makeover was complete with the returns of catcher Travis d'Arnaud (July 31) and third baseman David Wright (Aug. 24) from the disabled list.
Trades for Cespedes, Johnson and Uribe stripped the system of pitching depth, as did separate transactions for relievers Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed. When the dust settled, the Mets had parted with Michael Fulmer, the 2011 supplemental first-round pick and top righthander in the system at midseason, as well as depth arms such as Luis Cessa, John Gant, Matt Koch, Casey Meisner and Rob Whalen.
Despite the system turnover, the Mets' domestic affiliates recorded a cumulative .532 winning percentage that ranked seventh in baseball, and New York hasn't had a losing record on the farm since 2009. High Class A St. Lucie first baseman Dominic Smith (Florida State) and low Class A Savannah shortstop Luis Guillorme (South Atlantic) captured league MVP awards.