3. Francisco Alvarez is going to go off after scraping the tip of the iceberg last year
Baty and McNeil are two obvious candidates to improve this year. Baty was a highly-touted prospect who struggled in his rookie year, and McNeil is a proven player who had an uncharacteristically poor showing. We've seen these archetypes before. What we don't often see in discussions of players who will improve are guys who were already pretty great in the first place.
Francisco Alvarez is that guy. The young power-hitting catcher was one of the few bright spots for the Mets last year, taking the starting catcher's job after Omar Narvaez's early-season injury and never relinquishing it. The organization had planned to bring Alvarez along slowly by giving him more time in AAA to start the year, but the loss of Narvaez and backup Tomas Nido necessitated his call-up.
Even on an accelerated timeline, Alvarez was everything the Mets could have hoped for. He bashed 25 home runs, and his defense and pitch framing were light years beyond what Mets fans had been led to believe. With spring training imminent, Alvarez is entrenched as the Mets' starting catcher of the present and future.
Alvarez quickly became a fan favorite with his tape-measure dingers and winning smile, but there's still plenty of room for improvement for the young Venezuelan. He struck out on 26% of his plate appearances and walked only 8% of the time, but he only turned 22 this winter. Few players enter the league with this kind of power at this young of an age. His plate discipline will come.
Alvarez was dynamite against fastballs, but had a tough time adjusting to major league-quality off-speed stuff. This isn't at all unusual for young players, and his .209 batting average will undoubtedly improve with time as he gets used to big-league breaking balls.
Having a full spring training as "the man" should do wonders for Alvarez. He was thrown into the fire last year, and given the circumstances, performed admirably. Now we get to see what he can really do.