With the end of MLB's regular season coming this week, Bally Sports will review the performance of each club with an eye looking at what happened in 2021 and another at what could happen next season. Our next Exit Interview is with the New York Mets.
What went right
• The Mets spent more than three months in first place — 103 days — and had as much as a 5 ½-game lead on June 26.
• Francisco Lindor was great on defense, as was Javier Báez at second base. It really could be a special combination.
• Pete Alonso won the Home Run Derby again and introduced the Home Run Horse to Citi Field.
• Brandon Nimmo is a great center fielder (six DRS) and leadoff man (.268/.395/.443).
• Marcus Stroman has been a rousing success in coming home. He has a 3.00 ERA in 32 starts heading into free agency. The Mets cannot really afford to let him leave.
What went wrong
• They fired GM Jared Porter in January for sexually harassing a female reporter with explicit texts.
• They put interim GM Zack Scott on leave in September after he was arrested for drunken driving.
• Right-hander Justin deGrom was having the best season for a pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1968 until a series of injuries eventually put him on the shelf. He finished with a 1.08 ERA in 15 starts. Team president Sandy Alderson said that deGrom’s partially torn elbow ligament had healed on its own, but it seems like an issue to watch in the offseason and going forward.
•They’ve gone 17-34 since Aug. 1, dropping from playoff contenders to also-rans. With a 73-82 record going into action Tuesday, they certainly will finish under .500. No team in history spent more time in first place before finishing with a losing record.
• Right-hander Carlos Carrasco has overcome leukemia, so this is a trifle by comparison, but his 5.73 ERA in 11 starts after recovering from a torn hamstring isn’t what he or the Mets were hoping for. He also endured a finger injury in September.
• Free-agent catcher James McCann ranked nearly neutral behind the plate but was a colossal folly in the batter’s box.
• Lindor did not live up to his contract extension, slugging .402 in 425 at-bats so far. He’s shown flashes of recovering his old hitting form amid recurring injuries, so an offseason to get away from it all should help in getting back to business in 2022. Then there was the whole thumb’s down thing.
• Jeff McNeil was hurt and not his usually offensive self all season.
• He missed about 19 starts, but deGrom still deserves down-ballot NL Cy Young and NL MVP votes.
• Right-hander Tylor Megill slumped down the stretch after some inspiring performances along the way. A great start against the Yankees in September, a terrific outing at the Giants in August, and six shutout innings against the Blue Jays in July. The Mets can work with that.
Reasons for optimism
• Báez had his moments at the plate, but his costly acquisition didn’t come with enough complementary help to prevent the Mets from falling apart. The end of the season also gives the Mets an extended chance to find Báez’s missing earring. It’s possible the Mets could re-sign him to play second long term.
• Carrasco hasn’t put a lot of miles on his arm the past three seasons, so a fresh start in 2022 should be agreeable to him regaining success.
• Alonso is a .254/.346/.540 batter with 104 home runs in his first 363 games.
What needs work
• They rank in the lower third among farm systems, though they have three top-50 (or so) prospects.
• Dom Smith and Michael Conforto had below-average seasons offensively at the outfielder corners, but Conforto appears ticketed for free agency.
• Conforto and Stroman figure to get big raises in free agency, and it will be interesting to see where the Mets will spend. If not on Conforto, they need to add another offensive piece or two. They are 27th in runs scored.
Check out our earlier MLB Exit Interviews: