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New York Mets: Finding an identity for the organization in 2019

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Peter Alonso #20 of the New York Mets celebrates with J.D. Davis #28 after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves during the Grapefruit League spring training game at First Data Field on February 23, 2019 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Peter Alonso #20 of the New York Mets celebrates with J.D. Davis #28 after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves during the Grapefruit League spring training game at First Data Field on February 23, 2019 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Throughout MLB history, many teams have had a clear identity. Who are the 2019 New York Mets?

It can be difficult for New York Mets fans to properly assess their favorite team. While the fan base is certainly passionate, it can be challenging to imagine how the rest of the country views Mets baseball.

Are the Mets really thought of as serious playoff contenders? Does the rest of MLB consider the team to be a tough opponent?

The answers to these questions and many more can be found by considering the Mets’ identity. What are the traits that make up the DNA of the Mets?

The Numbers

The Mets’ 2018 statistics help shed some light on their identity. Upon further review, their team is certainly not led by their offense. Last season, Mets hitter ranked near the bottom of the league in most major categories. They finished 23rd in runs, 29th in hits, 21st in home runs, 22nd in RBI, and 29th in team batting average.

While the additions of Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, and Jed Lowrie will help bolster their run production, the team is expected to have an average offense at best.

Their defense was also unspectacular. The team ranked 15th in total errors (87) and 17th in fielding percentage (.984). They also finished 22nd in defensive assists and 28th in putouts. The team also leads Spring Training in errors.

Unsurprisingly, the Mets pitching staff led the club in 2018. While their win totals and overall ERA were hampered by struggles on offense and in the bullpen, the team’s starters ranked 4th in shutouts, 8th in strikeouts, and 4th in complete games.

In addition to a returning starting rotation, the team has also made several top-tier additions to their bullpen. New closer Edwin Diaz’s 57 saves led the league by a wide margin (Wade Davis was second with 43). They also reacquired 2016 save leader Jeurys Familia as well as lefty reliever Justin Wilson.

Their 2019 identity will be led completely by their pitching.

The Impact

Their pitching staff, led by Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, was dominant when healthy. Their starters make the team respectable and give the fans hope for 2019. Regardless of what else happens, a rotation of deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz, will give the team a fighting chance. Each of these players is young enough to show continued development and improvement.

The source of the Mets’ identity has been most evident when there has been potential for one of these pitchers to leave the team. Imagine if deGrom left the team because of his contract situation. It would immediately make the Mets feel closer to the worst record in baseball than to winning a championship.

The same thing happened when Syndergaard’s name was mention in trade talks surrounding Miami Marlins’ catcher J.T. Realmuto. Realmuto is one of the most valuable catchers in baseball. But the notion of losing Syndergaard would rob the team of its greatest strength. They are the unit that gives the team a reason to dream.

The Future

General manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s goal to “win now” is a welcome mindset for the 2019 Mets. Their window to succeed with their staff is closing. deGrom, Syndergaard, and Matz all enter arbitration at the end of the 2019 season. During that time, Wheeler will become a free agent.

There is a real possibility one or more of their pitchers will end their tenure with the Mets at the next few years. This is especially true if the team does not meet its expectations. It is vital the team spares no expense as they strive for postseason contention with their identity intact.

Next. Building an NBA roster using current and past Mets players

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