NY Mets have an identity problem that must be corrected

By Allen Settle
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Francisco Lindor #12 of the New York Mets in action during the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on April 24, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Francisco Lindor #12 of the New York Mets in action during the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on April 24, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

The New York Mets have been one of the most interesting baseball clubs to follow. They started the offseason with a monumental ownership change. Then, followed up with a

splash after acquiring superstar Francisco Lindor in a blockbuster trade with Cleveland.

Fans and analysts alike expect big things from the Mets this season. In fact, the team had one of the best preseason odds (10-1) of emerging from a stacked National League en route to their first World Series berth since 2015.

Fast several weeks into the season, and the Mets have had a mixed start. The team, currently 9-9, sits atop the NL East. However, it has been far from the dominant start many fans envisioned. It would seem that, despite their efforts to overhaul the roster, that New York still finds itself in a bit of an identity crisis. Which begs the question, who are the 2021 New York Mets?

The New York Mets Pitching

As has been the case for many of the recent rosters, the foundation of the 2021 Mets’ team seems built atop a dominant starting pitching staff. New York currently ranks fifth in baseball with a 3.17 team ERA, is tied for second in shutouts with five (despite playing noticeably few games than nearly every MLB team), is tied for sixth in batting average allowed (.214), and rank fourth in WHIP (1.10).

Incredibly, the Mets have accomplished these feats without the services of Noah Syndergaard or Carlos Carrasco, who have both been out with injuries.

Unsurprisingly, ace Jacob deGrom continues the lead this charge. The two-time Cy Young winner has somehow found a way to take his game to another level. His velocity and strikeouts are up. And he has allowed a meager 0.31 ERA over 29 innings pitched. Additionally, deGrom has racked up a staggering 50 strikeouts in just four games.

He has almost singlehandedly carved out a clear identity for the Mets. Not only are they built on their pitching, but the franchise is home to the most valuable asset in the sport.

However, despite the early dominance by the starting rotation, there is also another side to New York’s 2021 identity.

The Team’s Subpar Hitting

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Mets boast a dominant staff, but a sub-par offense to support their pitchers.

We hoped that a breakout performance by the offense in 2019 would redefine this longtime Achilles heel. Pete Alonso emerged as one of the most dangerous power hitters in the league. Jeff McNeil was a threat to win a batting title each season. JD Davis was an offensive diamond in the rough. Michael Conforto was an emerging star on for cusp of superstardom. Brandon Nimmo was an on-base machine. And Dom Smith had a breakout 2020. Throw in an MVP candidate in Lindor and a two-way catcher in James McCann, and the Mets’ offense profiled as one of the best in the league.

To be fair, this may very well still be the case. However, through the month of April, the Mets’ hitting has been atrocious. The team’s established bats have gone cold. Lindor has brought elite energy, but not elite numbers. Yet…

Do you know which team ranks dead last in home runs, RBI, and stolen bases in 2021? Not the rebuilding Pirates or Tigers. Nor the Orioles or Nationals. Sadly, it is the Mets…

Some of their presence in the basement of the major batting stats can be explained by their missed games early in the season. However, it is clear that the offense is currently ice-cold.

The Identity

Thus far into the season, the Mets are exactly what they have been over the past several years. They appear to have one of the most skilled and dangerous rotations in baseball. They also boast the best overall pitcher (and in my book, player).

However, they are also home to one of the most inept offenses. Throw in a shaky defense and bullpen, and the franchise clearly has room for improvement.

New York must find a way to correct this trend. If they can maintain a league-average pace, they should earn a postseason spot. If they emerge as an upper-tier offense (as was expected in the preseason), they may very well make a considerable run.

Whether through lineup changes, hitting adjustments by the coaches, or through a mid-season trade, it is imperative that New York earns a more well-rounded identity. The team’s newly acquired leader going on a hot streak would be an infectious starting point.

Next. The best Opening Day moments in Mets history

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It will take much more than one player or one unit to help the Mets achieve their goals this season. Here’s hoping improvements come sooner rather than later.