The New York Mets are like a roller coaster. Sometimes they’re up, and sometimes they’re down. Sometimes they make you puke, and most of the time you’re screaming but no one really cares.
The New York Mets were supposed to be contenders in 2020. They made some decent offseason moves, but they seemed poised to take advantage of their momentum from 2019. Pete Alonso, the newly crowned Rookie of the Year, was back and ready to rumble. Jacob deGrom, the back-to-back Cy Young winner of the last two years, was still their ace. They had everything going for them.
And then the wheels fell off just 15% of the way through the season.
The New York Mets
2020: Record: 26 – 34
2020 Finish: 4th in the NL East, 11th in the National League
Surprises in 2020
In a Mets rotation that entered 2020 without the services of Noah Syndergaard, there was room for one pitcher to step up and toss their name in the ring. As veterans like Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello failed to meet expectations, rookie starter David Peterson stepped up and met the moment.
In his 9 starts, filling the rotation spot left by Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman, Peterson was stellar. Posting a 6-2, 3.44 ERA, a 1.208 WHIP and a 128 ERA+, Peterson outperformed his more recent numbers from the Fall League, Single-A, and Double-A stints. Peterson took the opportunity given to him and threw his hat in the ring for the 2021 rotation. You love to see it, folks.
Michael Conforto needs to get a contract extension ahead of the 2021 season.
It is earned, he’s worth it, the Mets have counted on him, and he’s come through every time. 2020 was no different.
Conforto’s career-best slash of .322/.412/.515, with a .927 OPS, was the best on the Mets, in every category if you remove players who used PEDs. The most valuable piece of his game that Conforto brought to the Mets was consistency, something that’s been missing in Queens for a while.
Speaking of consistency, Dom Smith got playing time and he made the most of it. In fewer games than he played in last year, Dom went off, leading the Mets in doubles and RBI. On top of that, he finished in the top 3 on the team for hits, home runs, and even triples.
On a personal level, Dominic Smith made this Mets fan believe in the Universal DH. With Pete Alonso as the DH, Smith took reps at first base, keeping him in the lineup. When J.D. Davis or Robinson Cano needed a day off from the field, Dom could hop into left field.
But most importantly Dom Smith showed us his heart this season, both on the field and off.
This year has been an eye-opening experience for a lot of the world. For baseball fans, coming to terms with the racism of the game’s past came to the forefront of this season. For Mets fans, their way in to the struggle of Black Americans was Dom Smith.
Dom’s strength and leadership during a time of civil unrest over police brutality against people of color was truly incredible. To be so candid and exposed like Dom was is something you rarely see in today’s game. And Dom carried the mantle brilliantly.
I have been critical of Dom in the past, and I will be the first to admit that I often forget that there’s a person behind the stats, a heart underneath the jersey. Dom Smith reminded all of us that players are humans, and some humans are not getting a fair shake of things in this world.
Disappointments in 2020
Low point in the season: Yoenis Céspedes opted out via his agent in the middle of a game that he did not show up for, citing Covid-19 concerns, and did not inform the Mets. The Mets then sent hotel staff to his room where they found that all of his stuff was gone.
Also a low point is that Robinson Cano has been suspended for the entirety of the 2021 season after testing positive for PEDs this season.
Marcus Stroman opted out after a calf inury and Covid-19 concerns, leaving the Mets wondering if it was worth trading two prospects for a handful of starts.
While we had all hoped that the Brodie van Wagenen Era in Queens would build upon the successes from the Sandy Alderson years, it didn’t. In fact, I think you could argue that the 2020 season was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The Mets were relatively unwatchable at times last season, be it thanks to their abysmal fielding or lack of offense.
The teams we’ve endured for the last few seasons, the ones who all but refused to give Jacob deGrom any form of run support, have been a product of a lack of leadership and direction.
Perhaps the biggest “disappointment” in 2020 was Pete Alonso. Now, before you bite my head off, hear me out. Pete Alonso is the heart and soul of this Mets team. Not since David Wright has there been a player who feels so unapologetically Queens, or has taken up the Orange and Blue mantle like he was a fan, than Pete Alonso. Along with Dom Smith, Pete is the heart of the Mets and the fanbase. Full stop. He earned that title in 2019.
But in 2020, as the Mets sputtered and stopped, Alonso pushed hard and hard to make things happen on the diamond. Simply put, Pete Alonso was trying so hard to pull the Mets out of their nose dive that his production dropped significantly.
Call it a sophomore slump. Call it a predicted decline. What I saw was Pete Alonso trying to jump start the Mets every single night. Alonso might not have shown off on the diamond, but he showed heart.
Looking Ahead to 2021
So, there are the highlights of the Mets lineup at the time of publishing:
- James McCann
- Dominic Smith
- Pete Alonso
- Jeff McNeil
- Francisco Lindor
- J.D. Davis
- Michael Conforto
The Mets rotation looks something like this:
- Jacob deGrom
- Noah Syndergaard
- Marcus Stroman
- Carlos Carrasco
- David Peterson/Seth Lugo/Robert Gsellman/Steven Matz
That’s a playoff team right there. And the Mets are still in the hunt to put former Red Sox defensive whiz Jackie Bradley Jr. in centerfield. That’s nuts. New owner Steve Cohen has shown that his “Win a World Series” in the next three years mentality is not just lip service. That’s for real. The man is wasting no time.
Their biggest challenge within the division will come from the Atlanta Braves, who have a young pitching staff, and a solid core of stars that are only getting better. Can the Mets best the Braves? It’ll be close, but the tides are shifting in the NL East, and Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson are manning the oars in Queens.
That should give Mets fans something to feel good about.
Projected 2021 Finish: 92-60, 2nd in the NL East
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