New York Mets: An Oscars-style end of season award show
By Allen Settle
It’s not awards season yet, but we’re going to hand some out to the New York Mets anyway.
Now that the 2020 New York Mets season has officially concluded, now is the perfect time to recap on a wild campaign. While the Mets failed in their ultimate goal of reaching the postseason (a feat that is particularly discouraging considering the expended field), there are many reasons to be optimistic about the roster and direction for the future.
In the world of film and entertainment, each year includes an awards show called the Oscars, in which the top actors, films, music, and directors receive special recognition for their excellent accomplishments.
This year, Rising Apple is concluding the baseball season with a special New York Mets themed Oscars with similar categories and awards.
Best Actor: Michael Conforto
Everyone expected Michael Conforto to have a great season in 2020. Over the past several seasons, he has been a virtual lock for 25+ home runs and a batting average around .250. However, very few saw Conforto using the shortened season to make a major leap toward superstardom.
The former first-round pick went from borderline All-Star to potential MVP candidate over the course of 2020. He finished the hear with an incredible .332 average, 9 homers, 31 RBI, and a .412 OBP. The batting average blew away his previous career-high of .279.
In addition to his offensive outburst, Conforto also played stellar defense in right field. His arm strength and glove work were on full display when he made several game-saving plays against the Baltimore Orioles on September 9th. One play in particular, an incredible over the shoulder catch with two out and the based loaded, may be the best individual defensive play of the 2020 season.
For the past several seasons, it has felt as though Conforto has been a supporting talent to stars such as Pete Alonso or Yoenis Cespedes. However, 2020 proved that he is fully capable of being the star on a good team.
Best Supporting Actor: Dominic Smith
Speaking of breakout performances, we present Dominic Smith. Smith was long thought of as a good player with a valuable skillset. The Rookie of the Year campaign in 2019 caused him to take over as the everyday first basemen. This left Smith without a consistent opportunity to display and develop his skills. However, the surprise emergence of the universal DH served as an immediate fix.
Smith exploded onto the scene. He led the team with 42 RBI and also contributed a tidy .316 average. While his defensive skills are subpar at any position, Smith would thrive as an everyday DH. At just 25 years old, the slugger seems to have rehabilitated his career.
Breakout Star: Andres Gimenez
Rookies being called up to the major league level can often lead to a mixed bag of results. Sometimes players, even the most highly-rated prospects, struggle to adjust to MLB. Other times, rookies seem to adapt immediately.
Thankfully, Andres Gimenez was an example of the latter. In a season where starting shortstop Amed Rosario posted one of the worst seasons of his young career, Gimenez was there to pick up the slack.
He finished his rookie campaign by appearing in 49 of the 60 games and posting a .263 average, 12 RBI, and three homers. Most impressively, his raw speed translated to a team-leading eight stolen bases. His defense in the middle infield was also spectacular.
While it will be important to monitor Gimenez’s productivity during his first full season, it appears as though he is on track to potentially take over as the team’s shortstop of the future. He could also be the franchise’s best base-stealing threat since Jose Reyes.
Best Director: Steven Cohen
This is an easy answer. Every film awards show has a special prize to honor the best director. Out Mets awards will be no different. Who better to receive the award for Best Director than new-owner-in-waiting Steve Cohen?
While Cohen has done little more than agree to purchase the Mets, he has singlehandedly given fans reasons for optimism following a poor 2020 campaign. Assuming he is approved by an ownership vote this November, the billionaire will singlehandedly bring the miserable Wilpon era to a close and restore the Mets to the rank of a major market franchise.
The excitement and potential alone make him the team’s best director!
Best Dramatic Picture: 1-0 Win vs Atlanta on Opening Day
The Best Dramatic Picture award goes to the more dramatic win of the shortened season. While there are a number to choose from, the Mets’ victory over the rival Braves on Opening Day edges out the competition.
For one day, everything seemed right in the world of the New York Mets. Jacob deGrom was dominant over five scoreless innings. Seth Lugo picked up the win in two scoreless innings of relief. For the first time in recent memory, Cespedes crushed a home run to give his team the lead. Edwin Diaz also struck out two of the three batters he faced on the way to his first perfect save of the season.
If the season continued on this path, the outcome would have been much different. However, as fans are fully aware, most of these positive signs did not continue over the long haul.
Best Original Song: Jeff McNeil – Rock of Ages (by Def Leppard)
Let’s finish with a fun category. Film awards typically include a recognition of the best-featured song. Thankfully for baseball fans, our game also allows players to display their favorite music in the form of a walk-up song.
While the Mets have a plethora of interesting music to choose from (including a hilarious choice of the Circle of Life from The Lion King movie by Yoenis Cespedes), the award goes to utility man extraordinaire Jeff McNeil for his song Rock of Ages by Def Leppard. This selection of the perfect combination of fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping music with a classic feel.
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What other awards would you present from this season?