Ever since the 2015 MLB season, it seems as if the New York Mets biggest issue is health. Now, it isn’t odd for players to get hurt, as injuries are part of the sport. However, to have as many key injuries as the Mets have had of late is bizarre.
That being said, it leaves one to wonder, “what if the team stayed healthy?”. This season, the injury bug swept through the Mets entire offense, as well as starting rotation. Leaving many to wonder – what could have the 2021 Mets accomplished if healthy?
Jacob deGrom wins NL Cy Young
In 2021, Jacob deGrom was pitching one of the greatest seasons ever by a starting pitcher. He owned a 1.08 earned run average with 146 strikeouts in just 92 innings pitched. Yet, due to various injuries, deGrom finished the year after only 15 starts. Numbers that over the course of a full season would have run away with the Cy Young.
This past season, whenever deGrom was on the mound, it meant the Mets had their best chance at winning. Given the offense’s inability to get in sync, the team needed deGrom to go pitch as many innings as he could. Ultimately, the Mets took advantage, going 11-4 in games he started.
At the same time, one cannot help but wonder what would have come of deGrom’s season had he stayed healthy.
With a healthy Jacob deGrom on the mound for a full season, it would have put less stress on Taijuan Walker, and highlighted Marcus Stroman’s value as a number two starter. A healthy Mets rotation would have also given them a full year of Carlos Carrasco and their choice of Joey Lucchesi or David Peterson.
Mets offense finds its groove
Meanwhile, on offense, the reality is there was always one player hurt. Former All-Stars like Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto dealt with injuries that kept them off the field at various points this season. All went on to have arguably the worst years of their careers at a time where they should be in their prime.
More importantly, the Mets offensive sparkplugs Brandon Nimmo and J.D. Davis missed significant time. The two combined for 165 games played, as their .285+ batting averages were dearly missed. For a team whose offense was its biggest weakness all season, missing two on-base machines played a big role in why things never clicked.
Who knows what would have come of the Mets offense in 2021 had everyone stayed healthy? But one thing for sure is a lineup of a healthy Lindor, McNeil, Conforto, Nimmo, Davis joining Pete Alonso and company could have been something special.
Mets do not acquire Javier Baez
Should the Mets have had a team at full strength, there may not have been room to trade for Javier Baez. Francisco Lindor wouldn't have hit the injured list leading to their need at shortstop. Plus, McNeil would have held down second with Davis and Jonathan Villar platooning at third base.
Had New York not acquired the Chicago Cubs infielder, the Mets would also still have outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong. Traded away in the deal, the hope was that the former 2020 first-round pick would become a mainstay in the team's outfield for years to come. Nevertheless, thanks to the Baez trade, there will come a day where the Mets will have to face Crow-Armstrong as a Cub.
How far do the healthy Mets go?
Or maybe the truth is that the 2021 Mets were never meant to take that next step. After all, it was year one under Steve Cohen and the final with Luis Rojas as the team’s manager. Then again, the Atlanta Braves won the World Series.
Imagine Jacob deGrom headlining a healthy rotation of Stroman, Walker, Carrasco, and Lucchesi/Peterson. The bullpen still holds it together more often than not, and the offense fires on all cylinders. Might New York have had what it takes to make a real run if they were all on the field?
One can only wonder…