Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Line-Up: A Review

The Mets positional players have performed extremely well this year, especially in the "hitting department." From Jose Reyes flirting with a .300 average and 20+ home runs to “Mr. Clutch” Endy Chavez, and everyone else in-between. With the kind of experience and power mixed with youth and a dash of career years (Beltran, Wright, Reyes, Valentin and Chavez) the Mets look to be a formidable opponent in this year's post season.Unlike the great Mets teams of the past that were fueled by pitching, this team seems to have a lot more power in the lineup to go with some good arms on the mound (particularly in the bullpen).

Taking a brief look at the batting order:

Leadoff (Jose Reyes) – What more could be said about his performance this year? The kid has absolutely stunned everybody with his .300 average, 17 home runs, 71 RBI’s, his plate discipline and his .354 on base percentage. He has quickly become one of the most exiting players in the majors and one of the best leadoff hitters. His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is the true ignitor of this lineup.

Second (Paul Lo Duca) – What hasn’t Lo Duca done this year to help this team in every situation imaginable? He’s on his way to a very productive year with a .314 batting average. He knows when to bunt and when to swing. I wouldn’t have any other person on the team bat behind Reyes. He gives confidence not only to the pitchers that throw to him, but to Reyes batting in front of him, knowing that whatever he tries, Lo Duca will be right there with him. Reyes' success is in no small part having the patient Lo Duca batting behind him.

Third (Carlos Beltran) – With 39 home runs and 112 RBI’s, he leads the team. It’s just that simple. The team hits better and with more confidence when he is in the lineup. Having an MVP kind of year and being the one batter that pitchers hate making a mistake to, even if it's just a small one, which takes a lot of pressure off of the rest of the team. Having Wright and Delgado batting behind him means that he has better pitches to face, and he is having his finest offensive season to go with a gold glove fielding campaign. We are finally getting exactly what we paid for, and it was worth the wait!

Fourth (Carlos Delgado) - With probably the worst slump in his career behind him, he is now producing at a monstrous rate. In the past 10 games he is batting .364 with 4 home runs and 12 RBI’s. He provides a lot of protection for Beltran and Wright and lets not forget about those 36 home runs and 100 RBI’s. He's newbie Shawn Green's best friend, and his influence has helped Green with his swing to the tune of 2 homers in yesterday's double-header. Delgado, when hot, is cabable of carrying a team all the way to the promised land. Let's hope he stays hot like this right until the end of October!

Fifth (David Wright) – The new "golden boy" of the franchise seems to be well on the way out of his first real slump in the majors. Granted, he was hitting somewhere in the range of .339, and he has just returned to the "over .300 mark" at .302, but he still has a chance to top last year’s 27 home runs, and his RBI's have piled up all year. He is the Mets best 2 out, 2 strike hitter and did I mention that he can steal a base or two?

Sixth (Cliff Floyd) – Coming off of a career year last year, he came into this year with high expectations. Injuries have plagued him for most of the season, but he still seems to produce when he’s healthy. He had one of the worst starts to a season I have ever seen but never got down on himself and kept hacking away. He has come back with a vengeance.

Seventh (Shawn Green) – Coming to New York and immediately falling into a slump has to put a damper on your introduction. Not Shawn Green, though. Working with his former Dodger's hitting coach, Rick Down, defacto hitting coach Julio Franco and best friend, Carlos Delgado, he has broken out in a big way the last 2 games. If Green can keep it up, there should be really no holes in this lineup to exploit.

Eighth (Jose Valentin) – Amazingly, this is the same player who, in the beginning of the season, I would have done anything to be able to fire (a la Trump). But he rebounded tremendously to take over the second base job and hold it like he was born to play there. He is known for swinging for the fences and accumulating a lot of strike outs, but that changed this year. Sporting a .285 average and 14 home runs, his play solidifies second base as well as his place in the Mets line up.

* Endy Chavez – he will probably split time with Cliff Floyd from here on out, as long as Floyd remains healthy. And why not? Sporting a .311 average and being known as “Mr. Clutch” sure puts up quite an argument for playing him regularly. Besides, he’s a bullet once the ball is hit, and he's sure hit it a ton this year.

Overall Grade: A

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