The New York Mets entered this past season with a bar as high as any team in the majors. They had just won 101 games and began the year with a record-setting payroll. Expectations were World Series or bust, and the Mets didn't even make the playoffs. What's worse is they gave up before the trade deadline by selling off several of their key players.
Despite the disappointing 2023 season, the Mets will once again have a high bar in 2024. They're going to expect to get back to the postseason. They have a core with some of the game's best players as well as ascending young talent that should continue to improve. The Mets should also be active this offseason to improve some of the glaring holes that exist on this team.
For the Mets to be the team we all hope they will be in 2024, they'll need players who have earned higher expectations to match them. These players all had fantastic 2023 seasons and will need to be just as good if not better next season.
1) Kodai Senga
Things couldn't have gone much better for Kodai Senga in his first season with the Mets. He started slowly, but finished the year with a 2.98 ERA in 29 starts and 166.1 innings of work. He fanned 202 batters in those innings and was an all-star. While he likely won't win the Cy Young, there's a good chance he'll be a finalist. He was that good.
Senga entered last season with expectations that were pretty hard to pinpoint. Who knew how well he'd adjust to the majors after pitching in Japan for so long? Everyone figured he'd have an up-and-down year as he adjusted but he really was dominant for most of the season.
Last season, Senga had less pressure pitching behind Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Now, he's the unquestioned ace. Sure, the Mets will make additions in free agency but how likely is it that someone else will start on Opening Day? Senga pitching as well as he did was awesome to see, but now after seeing it, has become the expectation. The Mets don't need him to be in the Cy Young conversation necessarily, but he's got to pitch like an ace for this team to go anywhere.