NY Mets offensive woes are not just a fantasy but real, too

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 16: Michael Conforto #30 of the New York Mets looks on at the plate during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 16, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - MAY 16: Michael Conforto #30 of the New York Mets looks on at the plate during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on May 16, 2021 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

Like every other New York Mets fan, well, other than Jerry Seinfeld, it is my fantasy to own the Mets. But in lieu of being an irrational billionaire, I joined a fantasy baseball league. And as any fantasy league owner will tell you, there are player rankings. Those rankings are projected prior to the start of the season, and then evolve as the season progresses along with the players’ statistical performances.

Although the league may be a fantasy, the rankings can be somewhat accurate with regard to how the players are performing and can give some insight into how or why a player, or a team, is floundering.

The New York Mets are not the only team hampered by the performances of star players.

Take the Los Angeles Dodgers, for example. The Dodgers have who are believed to be, who have proven to be, two of the most talented, most dynamic players in the game of Major League Baseball – Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger. Who wouldn’t want either of those two on their team, let alone both.

I was lucky enough to select Betts in the first round of my fantasy league’s draft. Betts was projected at the No. 2 player in Major League Baseball and, sadly, at least for Dodgers fans, and me, has slipped to No. 64 in the player rankings. Although he recently moved up 30 spots with a bit of a surge when he raised his batting average 17 points, but, for the most part, he has disappointed. Betts is hitting .270 with 14 home runs and 40 RBI, while swiping seven bases. Not bad but not Mookie Betts numbers, certainly not what was expected.

Bellinger, Betts’ talented teammate, has been a special player over the years, although he is not a part of my fantasy team this season. He was projected to be No. 18 in the pre-season rankings. Bellinger has had a disastrous season which has seen him fall from grace, at least in the fantasy league rankings, down to No. 583. Bellinger is hitting an abominable .156 with 4 HR and 19 RBI. Clearly not what anyone would associate with Cody Bellinger.

Perhaps not fulfilling the expectation has contributed greatly to the Dodgers not being at the top of the NL Western Division standings? They were expected to dominate and run away with the division, yet, they are chasing, of all teams, the San Francisco Giants, which currently has a 3 ½ game lead.

What about the other LA team? The Angels have superstar Mike Trout and recently signed free agent Anthony Rendon.

I was thrilled to be able to select Rendon and have him on my roster. Who wouldn’t be? He was projected to be ranked No. 25 and, yet, he is actually now at No. 366. Rendon has struggled to stay healthy this season, with multiple stints on the IL, and is currently hitting .240 with 6 HR and 34 RBI. Obviously well below his career numbers and, of course, disappointing to fantasy league owners like me.

Then there is Trout, the guy that any owner, real or fantasy, would love to have on his team. I don’t have him on my team, and I guess that is lucky for me. Because although Trout was projected at No. 4 preseason, he is out indefinitely and sporting a very unTrout-like .222 batting average with 6 HR, 18 RBI, 2 SB and a ranking of 225 and dropping.

And by they way, the Angels, like their cross-town rivals, are back of the pack trying to catch up in the AL Western Division.

In the Eastern Division of the NL, the Philadelphia Phillies two stars – Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto are also failing to live up to their preseason rankings.

While I was dismayed that the Mets did not sign Realmuto for real, I was ecstatic to get Realmuto in the fantasy league draft. Everyone’s No. 1 catcher was slated to be ranked No. 49. However, he is currently ranked at No. 177. In fact, because of his lagging performance this season, I actually have Yadier Molina as my starting catcher, who has outperformed his expected ranking.

As for Harper, projected to be at No. 16, he is also underperforming and ranked No. 76. The Phillies are struggling in the division race and the sub-par performances by Harper and Realmuto could be a reason.

New York Mets Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto have slipped mightily in fantasy league rankings.

And there are the Mets. The offense was atrocious for most of the first half of the year. At best, the offense has been unreliable and inconsistent. While everyone in the lineup has been below grade this season, maybe with the exception of Brandon Nimmo, the two that were counted on to provide punch were Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto.

A lot was expected of them. McNeil was ranked at No. 95 and Conforto at No. 79. But McNeil is now at No. 428 and Conforto? He is at No. 504.

McNeil has fought to get his average to climb to .258 with 4 HR and 17 RBI. He was on the IL for a while but even before he got injured, he was struggling mightily, seemingly trying to jack everything out of the park and going away from what he does naturally – spraying the ball to all fields.

Conforto is the major disappointment for the Mets offense. He is the lone position player remaining from the 2015 World Series team. He is now a veteran who has experienced adversity and emerged from before. He has talent and has a sweet swing. But he, too, suffered an injury and spent time on the IL, but he struggled regardless of that injury and was teetering at the Mendoza Line before the break. A recent “surge” has seen him raise his average to .206 with 6 HR and 24 RBI.

I know, it’s just fantasy. But there is some reality built into it. The rankings are based on the players’ performances in a number of specific categories. And when a team is counting on a specific player, or specific players, to perform on a certain level for the team to succeed, it can be daunting, and even devastating when those expectations are not met.

Next. Re-ranking the Mets upcoming free agents

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The Dodgers and the Angels, and even the Phillies, know all too well how those unmet expectations can derail a season. The Mets are holding tight onto their slim lead in the NL Eastern Division, but how long the Mets fall off that perch unless players like McNeil and Conforto climb back up?