The baseball season is over, but the work is just beginning for our New York Mets. Following a year in which it finished in fourth place in the N.L. East and failed to reach the playoffs, it may seem that Steve Cohen's team is a long way from enjoying the champagne-soaked success that the Texas Rangers did two nights ago. If the Mets are smart, though, they'll find that there is plenty to learn from the Rangers' run to a championship.
Lesson 1: Rebuilds can happen quickly
Just two years ago, the Rangers lost 102 games and finished 35 games behind the Astros for the N.L. West crown. Now, they're World Series champions, having bested Houston in the American League Championship Series to get there.
The Rangers aren't the only team that quickly turned its fortunes around. Their World Series opponent, the Arizona Diamondbacks, are only two years removed from losing 110 games and finishing an unsightly 55 games out of first in the N.L. West. The Baltimore Orioles lost 110 games themselves two years ago, then ascended to win the A.L. East, the toughest division in baseball, with 101 wins this year.
The lesson is clear. Turnarounds in baseball can happen more quickly than ever before, and the Mets should take notice. 2024 has been talked about as a "transitional year" for the Mets, in part because this past season, in which Steve Cohen spent more in payroll than anyone in baseball history, completely failed to live up to expectations.
The Mets finished the season 75-87, a far cry from the 60-102 record that Rangers fans had to suffer through two years ago. This year's Rangers were deserving champions, thanks in large part to an amazing 11-0 road record and 30 home runs in the postseason, but they were anything but juggernauts before the playoffs, faltering in the season's final week to fall into a tie for the division title (which they lost in a tiebreaker) with the Astros.
One of the perceived problems with the Mets this year was the team's pitching. Though it's true that they were unable to replicate the success of last season's 3.57 team ERA, their 4.30 ERA from this year was nearly identical to the Rangers' 4.28. The difference is that the Rangers were a better hitting club, as they posted a .789 OPS, good for third in the majors, while the Mets were 18th with a .730.
Two offseasons ago, the Rangers signed Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, which help transformed their lineup into one of the best in baseball. It's not ridiculous to believe that with a couple key additions to Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, and Francisco Alvarez, it could be the Mets' turn to plan a parade next October.