The New York Mets will enter 2021 with three players who have established themselves as building blocks for future seasons to come.
While the 2020 campaign has not gone exactly the way many New York Mets fans would’ve expected, considering the expectations they had after a strong finish to last season, not all hope has been lost. Due to Covid-19, this abbreviated season was a season like none other.
While the season was disappointing in some aspects with the Mets play on the field, three players on the roster have provided the ballclub with some positive signs for the future heading into a hopefully normal and full 162 game 2021 season.
The Mets, for the most part, this season have had the best offense in baseball which can be taken as nothing but a positive sign going into next season. Their league-best offense has been led by star outfielder Michael Conforto who has broken out in a big way with an MVP caliber season at the plate and it’s hard to imagine where they might have been without him.
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Many around the league have been awaiting this type of breakout season from Conforto, and this season he has consistently displayed that he can hit left-handed pitching while also cutting down on his strikeout percentage.
When looking deeper at Conforto’s 2020 season, he has been hitting the ball to center field more this season than he had the previous two seasons at around a 40% clip. Conforto has also cut down on pulling the ball which he had done well over 40% of his plate appearances the previous two seasons.
The last time Conforto had gone more to center field with his swing and pulled the ball less was his 2017 All-Star season that was shortened by injury.
The 27-year old outfielder will be heading into his contract year next season and will be looking to cash in big with another strong season. With billionaire Steve Cohen taking over as the Mets’ new primary owner as soon as November, it’s a matter of when not if the Mets open their wallets for Conforto to be their cornerstone outfielder for future seasons to come.
Sticking with the offense but moving to the infield, I don’t believe we expected the type of impact infielder Andres Gimenez has provided the Mets with this season. It can even be argued that if Jed Lowrie was healthy enough to play he would’ve taken the roster spot as well as the playing time that Gimenez currently possesses.
With Lowrie missing yet another season for the Mets, we now were able to witness the 22-year old infielder display not only his Major League ready defense but the bat that had many scouts raving in the Arizona Fall League.
Gimenez has proven he belongs on a Major League roster next season with his play and has created an interesting situation at the shortstop position for the Mets with fellow shortstop Amed Rosario. While Gimenez has certainly outplayed Rosario this season, having two young shortstops who are Major League caliber players is certainly a good problem to have. I envision the Mets sticking with Gimenez next season as their starting shortstop due to his play this season, and will be part of the future core moving forward.
Lastly, we can’t forget the turnaround that Edwin Diaz has made on the mound. Diaz’s stuff has looked electric coming out of his hand for the better part of the season and the number of blown saves isn’t entirely reflective of how he has performed, as he was put in some pretty tough spots to bail the Mets out of games this year.
Looking at saves aside, Diaz is striking out batters at an elite rate with 19.3 strikeouts-per-nine innings which is the best in baseball, and cut down on his home runs-per-nine innings with a shiny number of 0.86, compared to an ugly 2.33 number last season.
In past seasons with the Mariners, Diaz had a great balance of using his fastball and slider combo to get hitters out. Last season the 26-year old Diaz threw his fastball more than his slider, as it seemed he could never get a great feel for the pitch and he was hit hard. This season he has been able to harness better command of his slider and has mixed it effectively with his fastball leading to more success for him on the mound similar to his days in Seattle.
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With Diaz’s performance, it certainly has inspired a sense of optimism heading into 2021 that he can take full control of the closer position. It’s no secret the Mets will have a few holes to fill this offseason, but Conforto, Gimenez, and Diaz have each provided a building block for the Mets moving forward in shaping the roster for not only next season but future seasons as well.