The 2024 New York Mets in the playoffs? Worse teams have earned the right to play a 163rd game. If the Mets are going to the postseason, it’s going to be because their team MVP of 2024 used more brain than brawn.
Although team MVPs are typically handed out to players, this trophy lands in someone else’s arms. Pitching Coach Jeremy Hefner has been entrusted in his current role through several front office regime changes including a complete change in ownership. Highly-regarded within the industry, the Mets are only going to the postseason if his coaching gets them there.
Hand Jeremy Hefner the team MVP Award in 2024 if the Mets make the postseason
How much coaching was there for Hefner to offer to Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander last year? Moreover, how much would they absorb?
The 2024 Mets pitching staff is looking much different. Although packed with veterans, virtually everyone has something to work on or improve. They aren’t future Hall of Famers who will do things their own way. They’re guys looking to work on their mechanics and do more than extend their careers. Many of the projects Hefner faces in 2024 are challenges he has seen before but in a larger abundance.
Exactly how much input Hefner has into a pitcher’s success or failure is difficult to measure. If the team’s ERA is the worst in the league, does it mean he deserves the boot? Not necessarily. The exact opposite is far truer, though. If the Mets somehow see Luis Severino bounce back, Jorge Lopez rediscover what made him special in the first half of 2022, and a pitcher like Tylor Megill actually look like a legitimate big league starter consistently, a lot of the credit should fall on the pitching coach.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Mets didn’t completely overhaul their coaching staff this offseason. Bench coach Eric Chavez was reassigned to become the co-hitting coach alongside Jeremy Barnes. There was never much doubt Hefner would stay, however. From the moment the Mets hired him he has never once landed on the hot seat even throughout a tumultuous 2023 campaign when the pitching staff didn’t make him look all that good.
Pitching Coaches often become the scapegoat for a poorly assembled staff. Expectations are already not where they have been in recent years which gives Hefner a little more leeway. Failure by the pitchers won’t fall on him. Their success, meanwhile, needs to get credited to his account.
The Mets aren’t making the playoffs unless multiple pitchers overachieve. Hefner is the one person who can have a positive effect on the largest number of those arms.