It’s the San Diego Padres that have moved on to the next round. Yeah, it could have been the New York Mets. Heck, it should have been the New York Mets. But, then, we all would have been forced to listen to announcers who weren’t Gary, Keith, and Ron. So fans would all be complaining anyway, right?
But the fact is that we are now left to listen to nobody. Well, not exactly. We are left to listen to talk show hosts, bloggers, and all of the other self-proclaimed experts on social media. The season is officially over and, now that there has been time to process it all, 2022 has a lot to look back on – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The New York Mets had some really good moments in 2022.
The New York Mets won 101 games – the second most victories in team history, and made the post-season for the first time since 2016.
Francisco Lindor, after suffering through a rough first season in a Mets uniform, rebounded to become the most productive shortstop in Mets history, batting .270 with 26 homers, a career high 107 RBI, 98 runs scored and 16 stolen bases. Lindor played an outstanding shortstop and was an ironman, playing in all but one game in 2022.
Pete Alonso may not have hit 50 homers, but he did whallop 40 dingers and drove in a league-leading 131 runs while scoring another 95. With virtually no protection behind him, he was the one major and reliable threat in the lineup.
Jeff McNeil rebounded from an awful year in 2021 when got away from his normal swing and tried to jerk balls out of the park, only to fail miserably by hitting .251 with a mere 7 home runs, to become the Major League’s batting champion with a .326 average. McNeil hit all year long while playing multiple positions well.
Edwin Diaz went from being this generation’s Armando Benitez to God-like status. Diaz was so dominant and, ironically, the only reliable reliever coming out of the Mets bullpen. His 118 strikeouts in 62 innings and WHIP of .839 doesn’t even tell the tale of how good he actually was. You really had to see it to believe it. Trumpets and all.
The New York Mets also had some really bad moments in 2022.
The catching tandem of Tomas Nido and James McCann was a glaring weak spot. Nido continues to improve as a hitter, and is a superior backstop whom the pitchers love to throw to. But he didn’t produce enough to warrant time as the first string catcher in a lineup that lacked punch. McCann was brought in as a cheaper alternative to J.T. Realmuto. He was cheaper, but he is more comparable to Mario Mendoza (of the Mendoza Line notoriety) than Realmuto. McCann is a real good guy – evidenced by the fact that he was a nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award…but he, too, just didn’t produce enough for first string status. Platooning Nido and McCann made little sense…and produced little offense.
The inconsistency of the bullpen is a theme throughout Major League Baseball these days. But with the exception of Edwin Diaz, the pen was truly an Achilles heel this season. There was not one reliever who could be trusted. Even when a member of the pen would show signs of dominance, like Drew Smith, he would either go down with an injury or smitten by the long ball. No member of the pen was exempt from the plague of ineffectiveness. Even trying David Peterson and Tylor McGill coming out of the pen would prove fruitless down the stretch drive.
Speaking of David Peterson, his regression is concerning. Peterson has great stuff, is a hard worker with a great work ethic, and is left handed. He had some great starts filling in for injured members of the rotation. Jockeying back and forth on the Flushing to Syracuse shuttle probably didn’t help, but he would be ineffective coming out of the pen when the Mets were in dire need of a southpaw reliever.
The injury of Tylor McGill was more damaging than people realized. McGill was filling in admirably for Jacob deGrom…much like Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo enjoyed success back in 2016. But McGill also went down with an injury and just wasn’t the same when he returned…and was placed in the bullpen. The dominance he displayed as a starter early in the season just didn’t translate into success as a reliever when he returned late in the season. He failed miserably.
The one, or two, sure things that management, scouts, the fans, the media could count on were Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer – potentially the best one-two punch in baseball since Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, maybe even Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. But deGrom was absent for a good part of the season and wasn’t really himself, with the exception of a few innings here and there. Not that he was bad, but he wasn’t Jake…and that is what the Mets needed. They also needed the Max Scherzer that everyone has come to expect. But he, too, went down with an injury…twice. And he was also less than full-strength when he returned. So when you have the tandem of Jake and Max getting beat back to back during a three-game sweep against the Braves which ultimately cost them the division title…that ain’t good.
And, of course, the New York Mets had some really ugly moments in 2022.
The preseason acquisitions of Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar were all really good. But when you are vying for a pennant, and a run at a championship, it is often the trade deadline acquisitions that seal the deal. Think Donn Clendenon and Yoenis Cespedes. But whereas the preseason haul was a success, the trade deadline acquisitions of Tyler Naquin, Daniel Vogelbach, and Darin Ruff were truly colossal busts. So while other teams, like the Padres, were all improving and getting stronger, the Mets were getting embarrassing performances.
Speaking of embarrassing… the Braves promoted players from the farm like Michael Harris, Vaughn Grissom, Bryce Elder, Dylan Lee, and Spencer Strider, all of whom performed well enough to make everyone forget that Ronald Acuna was MIA. Meanwhile, the Mets, in desperation, summoned their top three prospects in this order – Brett Beatty, Mark Vientos, and, finally Francisco Alvarez. Not only did none of the Mets top prospects do well, they were way overmatched. And the situation was so desperate that Alvarez was sent up to pinch-hit, only to strike out, an at-bat he should never have had.
The Mets were in first place by a slim margin and the Braves were losing. But a three-game sweep by the Cubs on September 12, 13, and 14 left the door wide open for the Braves because the Mets could have gained some ground in the standings, even with one win. Instead, they got none. This series would be what did the Mets in because had they taken two of three from a horrible Cubs team while the Braves were losing – they went 10-4 immediately after – the Braves series would have been meaningless.
Regardless of what happened previously, the Mets could have taken matters into their own hands and simply beaten the Braves and captured the division title. Even having Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer back to back in Games 1 and 2 did not make the difference and create the advantage everyone expected. On the contrary, the Braves beat the two aces enroute to a sweep and another Atlanta Braves division title.
From April 7 through September 30, the Mets spent all but two days in first place in the Eastern Division of the National League. They won 101 games. They were projected to win anywhere from 85 games to a high of 91 games by all of the so-called experts. Outperforming the expectations should have generated plenty of excitement. But that wasn’t good enough. Spending an entire season in first place only to lose it is disappointing and demoralizing. And the ugliest part of it all has been the reactions of fans who have taken to booing even Jacob deGrom, and media and fans alike who have taken to social media and blasted the players, management, and even owner Steve Cohen.