I know. I should find a new headline, but the idea that a 6-0 start to the roadtrip has become a reality following the Mets 6-4 decision over the woeful Cleveland Indians last night has scrambled my brain. In fact, the whole idea of the Mets winning seven in a row and 11 of 12 and being 10 games over .500 and 1/2 a game out of first place in he middle of June has left me (and the rest of the Mets fan base I presume) in a tizzy. I feel as confident as ever in re-stating this fact:
The Mets are in this thing for the long haul.
Say it with me again:
The Mets are in this thing for the long haul.
That’s right folks. It’s time to start believing that this team is for real. Want some reason’s why? Here’s a short list which I will expand on in a bit.
- Johan Santana/Mike Pelfrey/Jon Niese/R.A. “Frickin” Dickey for crying out loud!
- Jose Reyes, Jose Reyes, Jose Reyes
- Serious Defensive Proficiency
- The Emergence of Angel Pagan
- The Ike Davis Effect
Let’s start with item #1 on this golden list. Pure and simple, good starting pitching wins. Since John Maine and Oliver Perez disappeared from the Mets rotation, the results of the starting five haven’t just been good, they’ve been off the hook! Check out this stat. In their last 29 games, the quintet of Santana/Pelfrey/Niese/Dickey/Hisanori Takahashi (not counting an emergency Fernando Nieve start thrown in there) have complied a remarkable 18-3 record with an ERA in the mid-2’s. To top it off, during that stretch, Mets starters have gone 6 innings or more a whopping 22 times. That is how 7-game win streaks and 11 out of 12 stretches are built.
Now on to item #2. How many times has it been said? As goes Jose Reyes, so go the Mets. Jose Reyes is humming like a Ferrari on the Autobahn right about now so it is not by accident the team is playing it’s best baseball of season. The only stat you need to know is that the Mets are 25-6 this season when Reyes scores a run. Jose is getting on base, swiping bags and tormenting pitchers plenty right now and it is translating to a lot of crooked number on the scoreboard.
And how about the Mets defense. Coming off a season in which their defensive efforts could only be described as atrocious, the team has completely turned that aspect of their game around. Despite being without arguably their best defensive player all season, Carlos Beltran, the Mets glovework has been magnificent. Currently, the team has the fourth lowest error total in the N.L. with only 35 miscues. Ike Davis’s smooth style and and skills at first base have been an enormous upgrade from Daniel Murphy and Carlos Delgado. Reyes is playing a gold glove caliber SS. Despite his eight errors (in the lower third for MLB 3B), David Wright has been very solid at the hot corner as of late, turning some great double plays.The outfield defense has been stellar all season. Jeff Francoeur isn’t pretty out in right field but he seems to make all the routine plays and then some and his cannon of an arm is a real deterrent for opposing baserunners. Jason Bay’s defense has been better than advertised. He isn’t flashy but he doesn’t hurt you one bit out in left and has a very strong arm.
Am I missing someone? Oh yeah, that guy in centerfield. The one who has probably been the Mets best player this season not named Mike Pelfrey. His name would be Angel Pagan and he is making everyone forget about Beltran’s absence. Plagued by mental errors in the field and on the basepaths last year, Pagan has been nothing short of brilliant for the Mets.
Of course, his common stat line is not too shabby (.291 BA, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 14 SB …and remember he shared CF duties with Gary Matthews, Jr. until the middle of April), but there are two other numbers that impress me the most. Pagan has six OF assists, which is good for second in the NL behind Michael Bourn of the Astros. Not only that, his glovework out in CF has been fun to watch, his speed and abilty to run down balls in the gaps being Pagan’s best asset.The stat on the offensive side that jumps off the page is his .364 BA with runners in scoring position this season. It is by far the best on the squad. Batting in the 2 hole behind Reyes has been a boon for Pagan and the Mets and it would be foolish to even consider taking this guy out of the lineup when/if Beltran is ready to return. Not to toot my own horn, but check out this piece I wrote on Pagan last August.
The last item has less to do with stats and numbers and more with the infusion of a mature, young man who really went a long way in changing the losing culture and mentality surrounding this squad. The turnaround to the Mets season really started when team cut Mike Jacobs loose and called up Ike Davis from Triple-A on April 19th.
The “Ike Davis Effect” was evident right away as he singled in his first at bat that night against the Chicago Cubs. I was fortunate enough to cover postgame after his third game of the season. Listening to his comments and observing him interact with reporters and teammates, it was apparent immediately that this kid is a special individual and future team leader. I envision him more of a Chase Utley type who leads quietly by his hard-nosed play and efficiency rather than by being a vocal firebrand in the clubhouse. They say things happen for a reason, and the Daniel Murphy injury in spring training that opened the door for Ike to make a splash is case and point.
So it’s on to Yankee Stadium to take on the big, bad Evil Empire. Let’s get the second installment Subway Series on!