The season ended and the Mets still haven’t produced a winning record. Still there was improvement.
I am as disappointed as any other Mets fan, I guess. Still I really like this team. The characters, the way they play the game. Because if there’s one thing you cannot accuse these Mets of is that they don’t hustle. This team plays hard every time it takes the field and I credit that to Terry Collins. All the more frustrating it is that they don’t reward themselves. Yes, their offense is very limited. But then again, so are other teams’ offenses. They had some tough luck, just as they’ve been lucky a few times. It’s supposed to even out over the course of the season. It hasn’t for the Mets.
But I like the direction and I really feel they could produce a winner next ear. Whether it will take them to the postseason remains to be seen. But there have been positive signs.
Take Lucas Duda. Who would have thought he’ll really turn into a 30 HR 90+ RBI guy? Let’s be honest here, we all had our doubts, haven’t we? But he delievered a fine campaign and even if the regresses to 20+ HR 80+ RBI I’d happily take that. He also isn’t quite Keith Hernandez at first base, but he makes the plays he’s supposed to make and that helps. He knows he had to improve against left handed pitching and I think he will. He “only” had 125 PA versus LHP (.180/.264/.252), so maybe more experience will produce better numbers.
I’m also happy for Travis d’Arnaud and his turnaround after his demotion (June 25th). I’ll take his numbers anytime from the catcher’s position (post demontion .272/.319/.486, 10 HR, 32 RBI, 32 XBH). He could walk a tad bit more in my mind (only 16 BB post demontion), but he also only had 39 K. Oh, yes, he should improve on his defensive skills, especially on past balls. That’s crucial if you don’t have an offense firing on all cylinders.
I like what I’ve seen from Matt den Dekker after his call up (.290/.392/.374 since August 10th). Yes, he doesn’t seem to hit ffor power, but I really like his OBP and I think he can be pretty valuable in the leadoff spot. And don’t forget how the outfield would look like with him and Juan Lagares in there. Remembering Sand Alderson’s joke about “what outfield?” a few years back this doesn’t look too shbby now, does it?
And of course I haven’t forgotten about Jacob deGrom (and with this I’ve mentioned all lower case d players), who really should win Rookie of the Year in the National League. He was outstanding and what made this even more fun was that he virtually came out of nowhere. Yes, everybody knows the organization is stacked with young pitching, but I felt as if Raphael Montero’s stock was rated a little bit higher. DeGrom really found his groove and after he won his first game against Miami (June 21st) he was spectacular. 9-2, 1.99 ERA, 99.1 IP, 110 K, 25 BB, .211 BA. Heck, his season FIP (2.67) would rank 7th in the majors had he qualified (according to Fangraphs).
So those are the positives which should translate to next year. The worrying parts are the veterans. Curtis Granderson and David Wright need to step it up a notch. And, honestly, I believe both will. Granderson had his first year in a new league, so I am willing to give him the benefit of a doubt. And Wright should be back to his normal self with his shoulder getting much needed rest over the offseason. They both won’t be the players of their prime years, we should all recognize that. But a healthy Wright and a more consistent Granderson should help the team a lot.
Speaking of worrying parts it was great to watch how the bullpen came together. The unit that started the season was a mess and in some ways it can be held responsible for the record the Mets have at the end of the year. But the pitchers who are there now offer a much brighter outlook into the future. Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia were a revelation. And Josh Edgin, Vic Black, Buddy Carlyle and Carlos Torres helped as well. Especially Torres is a bit underrated, at least in my mind. His value cannot be measured by numbers. He does everything, long man, spot starter, closer, set up guy. You really need those guys.
The one thing that didn’t scare anyone was the starting rotation. Those guys were just brilliant. Again, the numbers don’t really show it (3 starters, Colon, Wheeler and Gee have a below 100 ERA+), but I really liked what I saw. And that’s with Matt Harvey coming back, Noah Syndergaard waiting in AAA and a few other prospects in the minors. I don’t think anyone would see pitching as a weakness for the Mets.
So, yes, they need to upgrade in the outfield offensively and they need a reliable shortstop. Could they do it without adressing those needs? I’d like to hope so, as I’ve really grown to like the bunch who’s with the Mets right now and it would break my heart to watch some of the leave. But overall I have a much better feeling this team will be better next year. At least they should produce a winning record. If they end up winning 90 games, I won’t complain either.