I’m still trying to understand exactly what it was that led to the New York Mets missing the playoffs. It can’t be as simple as a lack of hitting with runners in scoring position. The blame doesn’t all fall on Luis Rojas’ decision-making. There must be something else.
Looking at all of the numbers, I keep coming back to the same thought. The Mets were just an average team.
Worse than that, a lack of mastery in any one area took away any chance of sneaking into the postseason. Some teams can slide into the postseason on the backs of their pitchers while others rely on their offense. In the case of the 2021 Mets, up and down the team they lacked dominance in any one particular area.
The Mets were right in the middle and that’s not a good place to be
Nothing about the final offensive numbers stands out as memorable. Pete Alonso’s 37 home runs and 94 RBI are great as an individual. The trouble is that you have to go down to Francisco Lindor’s 20 home runs and 63 RBI to find the second-place finisher.
It’s a huge gap. Combined, it’s only four more home runs than Alonso hit on his own in 2019. The RBI total is only 37 more.
Things like this can drag a team down. The team had only two players with 300+ plate appearances and a batting average over .250. So many trips to the plate went wasted.
It wasn’t only the offense that put the Mets in a losing season. The starting rotation had one guy with a winning percentage over .500—Jacob deGrom at .778 with his 7-2 record.
I know winning percentages don’t matter much at all. But when we look at other numbers, like ERA+, we see just how average or even below it so many of the starting pitchers were. deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Rich Hill were the only three starters with an ERA+ over the standard 100 average. deGrom and Hill combined for less than a full season. You get where I’m going with this, right?
Even when taking a look at one of the areas I think of as a positive, the bullpen, averageness appears. The team had five relievers finish with ERAs between 3.45-3.94 and 45+ innings pitched. We can even add in a few guys who pitched fewer innings who fall into this range.
I know an ERA in the 3.00s is still good but other than Aaron Loup, no one was consistent enough. Drew Smith had an underrated 41.1 innings out of the bullpen. But it was the bigger players in the bullpen the Mets could have used more from. I can’t critique the bullpen too much because I think they did do a good job as a team. However, even with their above-average year, it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for where the team was lacking.
The best teams are always elite in one area or more. The 1969 Mets had their pitching. The 1986 club had both the pitching and the hitting.
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Although a team could conceivably find success in the standings with an average lineup and an average pitching staff, it doesn’t usually work this way. Too many balls can bounce the wrong way. A championship ball club needs the ability to stomp all over their opponents for a stretch. The Mets, at no point in 2021, had this kind of mastery in any single area.