What could have made the biggest difference in the New York Mets season? Having Javier Baez all year long would have helped. A healthy Jacob deGrom to take the mound every fifth day, inspire confidence, and end any losing streaks would have provided them with much more confidence—plus a few more wins.
Far simpler than this, the Mets were one average performance away from having a not-so-average ball club.
The Mets season has a much different ending if Michael Conforto or Francisco Lindor are average in 2021
Two of the biggest disappointments on the 2021 Mets have been right fielder Michael Conforto and shortstop Francisco Lindor. Aside from discussing which was more important to extend in the preseason, the only other link they seem to have is how bad each has performed.
Conforto entered this season with a 162 game average of 30 home runs, 87 RBI, and a slash line of .259/.358/.484. He’ll fall well short of each of these. Even while factoring in the fact that he won’t reach 162 games (who does that anymore?) we saw how far from expectations he is. Across the board, the only thing he is even close to matching is his OBP. Without the run production, it’s a little hollower.
Lindor has been even further below his career numbers. His 162 game average prior to 2021 included 29 home runs, 85 RBI, and a .285/.346/.488 batting line. Again, he’s not going to reach any of these numbers in 2021. It has little to do with injuries either.
To steal a line from John Lennon, imagine!
Imagine a Mets team in 2021 where Conforto is his average self. Or maybe it’s Lindor being nothing more or less than what he has been up until this point of his career.
Give one of them just 5 more RBI each month. Spread them out evenly. Suddenly, many of those one-run losses become wins.
The hard truth to swallow: the Mets were close to capturing a playoff spot
The Mets overachieved when they should have performed poorly and underachieved when they should have been able to string together far more wins. It has been a strange year. Statistically, their record reflects far more truth than any perspective we may have about them.
A constant issue with the club was its inability to take advantage of men in scoring position. Even beyond Conforto and Lindor, the team was plagued with stranding runners in scoring position all season long. These two were actually effective in those chances. Perhaps the bigger issue is each didn’t do much more than knock a single whenever they did get a hit with men 180 feet or less away from home plate.
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We’ll have all winter to analyze and digest what went wrong with the Mets. A spin, maybe we’ll look back and see how few things needed to go right.