Listen, the New York Mets are not the best team in baseball. Let alone in the National League. After all, they play in a league with the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs, and Milwaukee Brewers.
However, the Amazins’ certainly deserve more respect on a national level.
Despite the chaos that has taken place in the first third of their season, they sit in first place in the National League East. New York also owns the best home record at 20-7, with the fewest losses at home in the MLB.
Somehow, the Mets, who own a 36-29 record through June 20th, are not being recognized with the previously mentioned teams. ESPN and MLB.com only ranked the Mets 10th in their latest power rankings, seemingly kicking off the second-tier powerhouse clubs in the league.
Nonetheless, the Mets deserve more recognition for what they have achieved this season. Especially when considering the circumstances, New York should be viewed among the top clubs in 2021.
Battling through postponements
Right out of the gate, the Mets were met with more adversity than most teams. Their Opening Day game and series wound up being scratched, as the Washington Nationals dealt with COVID-19 issues. Little did they know that was only the beginning.
Over the first two weeks of the season, the Mets had six games postponed, due to either the pandemic or weather. Before the first two months of the season concluded, they already had ten games rescheduled. Simply put, this was not ideal.
With so many postponements, players face a challenge in terms of hitting stride. Such sporadic change in their routine prevents the team from gaining true momentum.
Yet, the Mets have done exactly that. They have even taken advantage of the postponements, racking up a 7-3 during doubleheaders. Clearly, the Mets are a team that opponents should not want to play twice in one afternoon.
It is one thing to have to adapt to an ever-changing schedule. It is another thing to do so while adapting to an ever-changing roster.
Entering the season, New York knew they would be without pitchers Seth Lugo, Carlos Carrasco, and Noah Syndergaard for an extended period of time. What they did not know is that they would be without half their roster for quite a while.
Until recently, players such as Pete Alonso, Luis Guillorme, Kevin Pillar, and Albert Almora Jr. have been hurt. Opening Day starters such as J.D. Davis, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo have all been out for more than a month. And that’s just on offense.
Their starting pitching has not been healthy, with potential All-Stars Jacob deGrom and Taijuan Walker each having 10-day IL stints. Even starter Joey Lucchesi, who finally just started pitching well, has now hit the Injured List. In the bullpen, Dellin Betances, Drew Smith, and Tommy Hunter have joined Lugo as relievers on the list at some point.
With all of these injuries, the Mets have had to adjust their lineup day in and day out in order to compete. Even so, the team has managed to win under the chaos.
Next man up mentality
Injury issues are nothing new to the Mets, who have been held back from health since 2016. What is different this time though is the makeup of their 40-man roster.
With the richest owner in the sport in charge, the Mets made sure to have more depth than ever. Without a doubt, a decision that has paid off big time.
The additions of veterans like Jonathan Villar, Jose Peraza, Kevin Pillar, and the mid-season pickup of Billy McKinney have kept the Mets churning out victories. These four, amongst many others, have stepped up in the absence of New York’s everyday starter, and have made the most of it.
All four combine for over 470 at-bats this season. Together, they have hit 21 home runs, while bringing home 59 runs. For a team that has struggled offensively this season, their production has been as important as any other player on the roster.
As the offense has struggled, the Mets pitching has stepped up. More than ever.
Jacob deGrom is having a historic season. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker are having career numbers, with the latter looking like the steal of the off-season. David Peterson and Lucchesi have had their ups and downs, but of late have been pitching their best baseball so far this season.
In the bullpen, everyone has been dealing. Edwin Diaz is back to his elite self and having Lugo back is a massive boost to an already dominant unit. Miguel Castro and Aaron Loup have been fantastic, while Jeurys Familia and Robert Gsellman have surprisingly bounced back.
The Mets starting rotation has the lowest earned run average in baseball. As a team, the Mets rank in the top five in team ERA. Pitching has been the Mets strength for a few years now, and 2021 may be the best it has been yet.
So, why are they not being recognized?
For the Mets, this comes down to one thing – health.
Take a look around at the top teams in the league, they have their top players out there every night. Something that the Mets have not had this season.
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That being said, New York is expecting to have McNeil, Conforto, and Nimmo back over the next week or so. Soon enough, the Mets will be healthy and look to field a sustainable winning team. When that happens, expect the Amazins’ to finally get the recognition they deserve from the national media.