Image by afagen via FlickrWhile basically every player on the 25-man roster will have to play well for the Mets to be competitive, five players in particular will hold major keys to the team's success in 2011.
In no particular order, Jose Reyes, Jon Niese, Jason Bay, Ike Davis and Frankie Rodriguez will need to bring their A-game to the ballpark every night.
Of course, players like David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Mike Pelfrey, Bobby Parnell, R.A. Dickey, Angel Pagan and Josh Thole will also have to contribute for the team to be successful. However, I feel that the five I mentioned will either make or break the Mets' season.
I will lead off the discussion with none other than the Mets leadoff hitter, Jose Reyes. Looking at Reyes' numbers from last year (133 games, .282 BA, 30 SB), you would think that Reyes had a decent year. But looking at some of the important numbers for a leadoff man, Reyes actually had a sub-par year.
He had a .321 OBP, which is way too low for a leadoff man. Good leadoff hitters are usually in the .350-.375 range. Reyes also only drew 31 walks in over 600 plate appearances, which needs to improve.
As Terry Collins has said, Reyes is the most dynamic leadoff man in the game. He has the ability to turn doubles into triples and even has some pop.
If Reyes can come out of the gate hot in 2011, it will set up his teammates with plenty of scoring chances. With many of the question marks of this season focused on the starting pitching, scoring runs early and often could be a perfect cure for that problem.
I'm expecting big things out of Reyes in his contract year. I hope he plays so well that the Mets can't let him sign elsewhere, and they lock him up long-term.
Heading into his second full season, Jon Niese appears ready to take the next step. He started 30 games last year and even threw a complete-game one-hit shutout.