Despite losing Carlos Beltran before the start of spring training, the New York Mets still have a lot to look forward to this season.
Without question, Jan. 16, 2020 was one of the craziest days in baseball history and it’s also the latest chapter in the sign-stealing scandal saga.
This historic moment began with the Mets mutually parting ways with the former Houston Astros slugger. Unfortunately for Beltran, he was the only player mentioned in the nine-page document that was released by the Commissioner’s office regarding their investigation involving his former team.
Faced with an unusual situation, Mets’ ownership along with general manager Brodie Van Wagenen agreed that it would best to find a different manager for the 2020 campaign. While a difficult decision, the Mets were left with no other options.
Van Wagenen and his staff are now tasked with locating the Mets’ third manager in less than three seasons with pitchers and catchers reporting to camp in less than a month.
While it may seem bleak for Mets fans right now, there’s still a lot of positives surrounding this team. In the midst of the chaos back on Thursday, the “Polar Bear” reminded fans of what’s to come in Queens this season.
Yes: there’s a lot of craziness in the baseball world right now. At the end of the day, we have to do our job on the field and win the battle between the lines. Great things are to come this year. The boys will be ready. #LFGM
— Pete Alonso (@Pete_Alonso20) January 16, 2020
Coming off his record-breaking rookie season, Pete Alonso‘s sophomore season is one of the most exciting storylines heading into the 2020 campaign.
During the 2019 season, Alonso passed Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge for the single-season rookie home record with his league-leading 53 home runs.
In addition, the 25-year-old also finished this past season with the fourth-most RBI (120), fifth-highest ISO (.323), tied with his teammate Jeff McNeil for the ninth-best wRC+ (143) along with the eleventh-highest OPS (.941) among all qualified hitters throughout the entire league.
This upcoming season will serve as a massive test for the young emerging superstar. Based on these impressive offensive results from Alonso, it’ll be very intriguing to see if the right-hander can sustain this production through the 2020 season.
As for Alonso’s defense, this season will provide him with an opportunity to significantly improve his fielding at first base.
Over his 1328.0 innings at first base in 2019, Alonso committed the third-most errors (12) along with a league-worst -6 DRS and a -7 OAA among all qualified first basemen. The 2019 NL Rookie of the Year winner also generated the sixth-best UZR rating (1.8) and the eighth-highest UZR/150 rating (1.4) as well.
Based on these concerning 2019 results, the Mets will require Alonso to make some major changes in the field during this season.
But, it appears that Alonso has already been working very hard this offseason to improve his defense.
Gold Glove next ?? @Pete_Alonso20
(via IG/snegron_18) pic.twitter.com/974UOOye59
— SNY (@SNYtv) January 17, 2020
Along with Alonso, Jacob deGrom‘s search for his third straight Cy Young award is another positive storyline for the Mets heading into the 2020 season.
During this past season, the three-time All-Star recorded the second-lowest ERA (2.43) and fWAR (7.0) along with the third-best FIP (2.67) and xFIP (3.11) among all qualified starters in the league. The right-hander also finished with the fifth-highest strikeout rate (31.7%) and the 14th-lowest walk rate (5.5%) as well.
If deGrom is able to replicate these outstanding results this season, then the 31-year-old will likely be at least one of the three finalists for the Cy Young award after the 2020 season.
In addition to chasing his third Cy Young award in 2020, deGrom can further cement his title as one of the greatest Mets’ pitchers of all-time.
Since deGrom has completed at least 200 innings in each of his last three seasons, he’ll likely be able to move into the top-ten for the most innings pitched all-time in Mets’ history. Currently, deGrom has thrown 1101.2 innings over his six seasons in the majors, which is just 108.0 innings short of passing David Cone‘s all-time total.
The hard-throwing rightie also has the chance to pass Sid Fernandez for the fourth-most strikeouts in franchise history. Heading into this season, deGrom is just 195 punchouts shy of passing the two-time All-Star’s total of 1449 career strikeouts. Given that deGrom has induced at least 200 strikeouts in four of his last five seasons, earning this milestone seems very attainable for him in 2020.
Most importantly, deGrom has the chance to surge into the top three in WAR among pitchers in franchise history. Through six seasons in the league, deGrom has produced a career 32.7 bWAR. Entering the 2020 campaign, deGrom is just a 6.9 bWAR rating away from passing Jerry Koosman for third all-time and he’s just a 9.0 bWAR rating shy of passing Dwight Gooden for the second-highest rating in Mets’ history.
If deGrom remains healthy in 2020, he shouldn’t have any issues replicating his dominance from this past season.
Losing Beltran before he was ever given much of a chance to manage the Mets is definitely a hard thing to move on from in such a short period of time. But, there’s still a lot for fans to be excited about with just over a month until spring training begins.
Once this ugly chapter is behind them, the Mets will attempt to improve off their 86-76 record from the 2019 season in hopes of making the postseason for the first time since 2016.