Are the Mets Really A First Place Team?
The New York Mets are clinging to an ever diminishing lead in the National League East. Last night’s 8-4 loss to the surging Washington Nationals, in a one game make-up date, did little to quell Mets fans fears, as they wait for disaster to strike again. The Mets are known for historic calamity when it comes to blowing big leads in the National League East, see 2007 and 2008...or if you are a new Mets fan, don't.
However, it’s 2021 and it’s only the end of June. There is no point in hitting the panic button or is there? New York’s leading hitter is Jake deGrom. OK, no surprise there. The next two leading hitters are JD Davis and Brandon Nimmo. They are the only 3 players that are on the roster hitting over .300, one is a freak athlete superstar pitcher and the other two have played less than 22 games each and are on the Injured List.
Then there are the question marks. Will Jeff McNeil return to the clutch hit machine that he displayed over his first 3 seasons, two of which were less than 64 game samples? Maybe National League pitchers have figured out McNeil. I tend to think he’ll be fine and a .300 hitter by the end of season.
What about the $300 million dollar elephant in the room? Will Francisco Lindor be worth a third of that? Yes, he is only hitting .215 and Dom Smith has driven in more runs than the cash cow with 33 less at bats. But he's a great fielder, right? Well yes, but the Mets golden shortstop is on pace to make more errors than he has ever made in a season and his offensive numbers are on a 3 year decline. Those are not good stats in the first year of a 10 year deal, however Carlos Beltran suffered a tough first year of a contract with the Mets and he figured New York out. Beltran had a great career for the Metropolitans and Lindor just needs to bring one World Series ring to new owner, Uncle Steve Cohen to earn his stipend.
Thankfully, the Mets pitching has been outstanding. They rank first in Major League Baseball and it’s easy to know why. Jake deGrom is on another level. It is fun to watch. Marcus Stroman and Taijuan Walker have been among the best number 2 and 3 starters in MLB so far this season. The bullpen in the middle innings have been great and Edwin Diaz has been dominant, converting 16 out of 17 save opportunities.
The Mets rank 5th in defense and 1st in pitching. They are in 1st place. Maybe old school baseball is working in Flushing. How about that! Now let’s see if they can get the hitting going and hold on to that lead. This week in Atlanta will be a big test.