The New York Mets find themselves in a bit of a rebuilding year, after finishing 4th in the NL East in 2011. However, with low expectations comes lower perceived value, which means more opportunities for Finding Keepers.
Here is a look at some Mets players who could be undervalued in 2012 and end up keeper worthy.
After a strong rookie year, in which he hit .264/.351/.440 with 19 homers, 1B Ike Davis missed most of the 2011 campaign with an ankle injury. Add to that the speculation that he may have Valley Fever and many fantasy owners will steer clear of him. However, in 36 games last year, he did hit .302/.383/.543 and looked like he was well on his way to a breakout year before the injury. If he proves healthy this spring, snatch him up before someone else does.
2B Daniel Murphy is not a flashy guy, he will not get you a bunch of homeruns or stolen bases, but he did manage to hit a quiet .320/.362/.448 last year, while qualifying at 2B, 3B and 1B. His multi-positional eligibility might make him a bit more valuable to some, but moderate numbers in the counting stats might just keep his value low enough to be considered keeper material.
SS Ruben Tejada is another player who will not carry a team and will barely raise a blip on most owners radars. He offers no power and little speed, but his .284/.360/.335 line last year and multi-positional eligibility (2B/SS) make him valuable in deeper, NL only leagues. A couple bucks or a late round pick could net you a quality UT player.
OF Lucas Duda got some regular playing time last year and played well, earning the starting right field job for 2012. He has some power and with a .292/.370/.482 slash line in 2011, he showed that he can handle big league pitching. This might be the last chance to get him cheap, because I expect bigger and better things from him this year and into the future.
C Josh Thole is another under-the-radar kind of guy. He is not going to provide a lot of homeruns, but he will hit for a good average and will likely be undervalued in most leagues. He is your typical won’t hurt you second catcher and could be a good keeper in deeper leagues.
2B Reese Havens has been the second baseman of the future for the Mets ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft. Problem is, he has not been able to stay healthy for a full season. He owns a career .269/.366/.463 line in 4 minor league seasons, but has hit .301/.379/.505 in AA. For those of you with reserve or minor league spots, you might want to consider taking a flier on Havens.
SP Johan Santana is coming off shoulder surgery, an injury that has felled many a quality pitcher, such as Brandon Webb. That alone will scare many owners off. However, he pitched well in his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday, topping out around 92 mph. If his changeup is still working, he could start back up where he left off in 2010. He should come cheap and, at age 32, he should still have a few good years left in him.
I am not sold on the rest of the Mets starting pitchers. Mike Pelfrey, Jonathan Niese and Dillon Gee have shown some flashes, but have not been consistent enough to be considered keepers. R.A. Dickey had a strong 2011 season, posting a 3.28 ERA, but at age 37 his better days are probably behind him.
Finally, OF David Wright is one guy who will likely be overvalued based on his name alone. His 2011 season was marred by back issues, which may keep his value down, but should also make you reconsider drafting him.