- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news, mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!
NEW YORK METS
2021 Record: 77-85
Third place, NL East
Team ERA: 3.90 (9th in MLB)
Team OPS: .705 (tied for 23rd in MLB)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The starting rotation was a major strength for the Mets until it wasn’t. Jacob deGrom was off to a historic start prior to his injury issues. Taijuan Walker earned his first All-Star selection for his outstanding first half. Marcus Stroman was the unsung hero for the Mets this season, posting a 3.02 ERA over 179 innings while leading the majors with 33 starts. Quite an accomplishment after opting out of the 2020 season. Pete Alonso rebounded from an uneven sophomore season and won another Home Run Derby crown. Brandon Nimmo was excellent when healthy (132 OPS+) while making strides defensively in center field. Aaron Loup was one of MLB’s most valuable relievers, posting an incredible 0.95 ERA over 56 2/3 innings. Javier Báez and Rich Hill were valuable late-season additions, even if it didn’t result in a playoff spot. Tylor Megill showed some flashes after his unexpected promotion. Originally signed as a bench/utility player, Jonathan Villar was productive in a larger-than-expected role.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Strap in because this could be a while. Thanks to a dominant rotation, the Mets were sitting pretty for a good portion of the season. However, that all fell apart after Jacob deGrom got hurt and the rotation wore down. The Mets spent 103 days in first place, the most by a losing team in the divisional era. The offense was underwhelming for the bulk of the year, with Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto, Dominic Smith, and Jeff McNeil among the disappointments. J.D. Davis only played in 73 games due to a lingering hand injury. Hitting coach Chili Davis was fired during the first half. Taijuan Walker had a great first half, but he struggled with a 7.13 ERA over 13 starts after the All-Star break. Carlos Carrasco didn’t make his Mets debut until July 30 due to a hamstring injury and ended up with a brutal 6.04 ERA over 12 starts. Noah Syndergaard was originally expected to return from Tommy John surgery around midseason, but setbacks and a bout with COVID-19 limited him to a couple of relief appearances during the final week of the season. Off the field, the Mets’ original choice for general manager, Jared Porter, was fired for sending explicit texts to a reporter before his replacement, Zack Scott, was arrested on DWI charges in September. The Mets also failed to sign their top draft pick, Kumar Rocker, reportedly due to concerns raised in his physical. The team declined to pick up their option on manager Luis Rojas following the disappointing season.
**What could have been. That’s probably the best way to summarize Jacob deGrom’s season and the Mets, for that matter. The two-time Cy Young Award winner was well on the way to his third during the first half, putting together one of the best all-time seasons for a starting pitcher. He struck out 45.1 percent of the batters he faced while posting an incredible 1.08 ERA and 0.55 WHIP across 15 starts. Per MLB Stats, no other pitcher has posted an ERA and WHIP that low over a span of 15 starts since earned runs became an official stat in 1913. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see if deGrom could finish what he started. The 33-year-old dealt with a string of injuries, ultimately leading to a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. It’s apparently healed now and he even tried to make it back before the end of the season, though the Mets ultimately decided against it after they were eliminated from postseason consideration. There’s no doubt that deGrom has the goods to be the top fantasy starter in 2022, but questions will follow him. Will he cut back on velocity in hopes of protecting his arm? Should he? Fortunately, we should know more about the status of his arm come draft season.
**Mets fans were largely thrilled when Francisco Lindor inked his 10-year, $341 million extension on the eve of Opening Day, but the good vibes didn’t last long. Lindor got off to a horrible start with his new team, hitting just .178 with three home runs and a .549 OPS through his first 43 games. There was also a controversy about a “Ratcoon” with teammate Jeff McNeil. However, Lindor looked much more like himself from about Memorial Day Weekend onward, slashing .258/.341/.492 (.833 OPS) over his final 82 games. The 27-year-old missed crucial time in August due to an oblique injury and briefly turned off some fans with a “thumbs down” controversy, but he returned with a bang in September, putting up nine of his 20 homers and 25 of his 63 RBI. While it might have been too little, too late for the Mets, fantasy managers certainly appreciated it. The recent uptick in strikeouts for Lindor probably pushes him down a peg among fantasy shortstops, but he shouldn’t slip too far with his sort of counting stat ability. Lindor also hit the ball just as hard as ever before. The first year struggles are somewhat explainable given the pressures of the contract as he adjusts to a new league while playing in New York City. He’s not the first player to go through something like that. There could be value here in fantasy leagues.
**Pete Alonso was a stabilizing force in a frustrating lineup for most of the season, amassing 37 home runs and 94 RBI to along with a .262/.344/.519 batting line. While he struggled in May, he had at least five homers and an .802 OPS in every other month. Alonso was prone to swinging at the high fastball, but he actually lowered his strikeout rate to 19.9 percent, down from 25.5 percent in 2020 and 26.4 percent during his rookie campaign. He’s unlikely to be a batting average liability and his raw power is still there with the best in the game. Alonso ranked in the 89th percentile in barrel percentage, 81st percentile in hard-hit percentage, and 80th percentile in average exit velocity. It would be nice to see him have some more success at Citi Field, but he’s a top-five fantasy first baseman regardless.
**Javier Báez was up and down with the Cubs this year, but he was the best version of himself after being traded to the Mets at the deadline. The 28-year-old hit .299/.371/.515 with nine homers, 22 RBI, and five steals over 47 games. While Báez led the league in strikeouts this year, he wasn’t as whiff-prone during his time with the Mets and he also greatly improved his walk rate. In some ways, he looked close to the player who finished second in the NL MVP balloting in 2018. As exciting as Báez can be, there are simply safer options at the shortstop position, likely leaving him on the fringe of the top-10. That’s hardly an insult, though. The multi-position eligibility is nice and his outlook could still change depending on where he signs this winter.
**Michael Conforto had a great couple of months in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but his walk year was nothing short of a disaster. In addition to missing extended time with a hamstring injury, the 28-year-old batted just .232/.344/.384 with 14 homers over 125 games. Conforto needed a strong September to even finish the year as a league-average (101 OPS+) hitter. He had major issues against lefties (.582 OPS) after making progress in that area last year and also struggled miserably against breaking pitches. Conforto put the ball on the ground more often and also saw more in the way of shifts as he went back to using his pull side more often. It was a perfect storm of awful, but his fortunes could change in a hurry if he ends up in a hitter-friendly home stadium. A return to New York seems unlikely.
**A quick word of appreciation for Marcus Stroman, who was quietly a top-30 starting pitcher in mixed leagues this season. There was some question about how he’d fare after opting out of the pandemic-shortened season, but he went to the post more than anyone and was remarkably consistent in doing so, posting a 3.02 ERA and 158/44 K/BB ratio over 179 innings. With the addition of a split-change, he posted the highest strikeout percentage of his career while having his lowest walk percentage in a full season. He also posted the highest chase rate of his career. His ground ball rate wasn’t as high as in years’ past, but it was still right around 50 percent and the Mets’ improved defense helped out in that area. Stroman isn’t going to jump into the upper-tier of fantasy starters without an elite strikeout rate, but he’s certainly capable of a comparable season in the right situation. Watch where he winds up.
**Edwin Diaz is always going to be a target of criticism because he’s a closer for a baseball team in New York. That’s part of the job, but his performance is always going to be contrasted with Jarred Kelenic's long-term potential, which is unfair. Diaz certainly had his low moments this season, most notably around the All-Star break and early September, but he was respectable for the most part in compiling a 3.45 ERA with 32 saves across 63 appearances. He’s now allowed just five home runs in 88 1/3 innings over the past two seasons after giving up 15 of them in his first season with the Mets. It was interesting to see his strikeout percentage fall to its lowest level since 2017, but it was still very good and he was incredibly difficult to hit and square up. He’s a top-10 fantasy closer with the upside for much more.
Team Needs: Well, a new front office and manager, for starters. From there, they’ll need some clarity about their rotation with Stroman and Syndergaard on the verge of free agency and deGrom’s health a question. It’s also time to change the mix after the offense has underperformed in recent years. Báez is a possibility to return, but the club also figures to target third base and outfield help to boost their offense.