The New York Mets had the talent to win a World Series in 2020, but their season never got off the ground. Not all hope is lost though.
The 2020 season was one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory for the New York Mets. The Amazins hadn’t had a team this talented in a long time. On paper, the offense was elite, the starting pitching was league average, and the bullpen could’ve been elite.
The Mets didn’t live up to any of that in 2020 though.
The offense was hot and cold, the starting pitching was atrocious, and the bullpen was league average. Everything that could’ve gone wrong…sure enough…went wrong. Stars regressed, injuries occurred, and the record reflected that.
However, the future looks bright in Queens.
New ownership, stand out rookies, and key advanced stats paint a picture of a team that could turn it all around swiftly. With a strong offseason, the Mets could be among the elite in baseball.
The offense was elite and awful all at once
The Mets finished the 2020 season tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best wRC+ in baseball. They led MLB in batting average, were second in on-base percentage, and were fourth in slugging percentage. By nearly any metric, they were an elite offense.
However, they struggled to score runs equal to that production. The Mets were 13th in MLB in runs scored. The big reason for that giant divide?
Their inability to hit with runners in scoring position.
The Mets were the worst team in MLB in those regards, slashing a dreadful .245/.328/.406. Among the biggest culprits was Pete Alonso. The Mets’ biggest RBI bat in 2019, Alonso hit just .234 with runners in scoring position. That looks Herculean compared to Wilson Ramos’ awful .139 average with runners in scoring position.
In reality, everybody on the Mets struggled in those situations. Still, they couldn’t afford for their offensive stars to fall off a cliff, especially the ones who provided negative impact on defense.
This shouldn’t be a problem in 2021 though. Batting average is a stat that tends to correct itself from season to season. If the Mets continue to be an elite offense in every other aspect, they’ll begin notching hits with runners in scoring position.
This is one of those examples of why a shortened season hurt the team. With 102 more games, the Mets could’ve corrected their offensive incompetence and potentially made a late-season run.
The strong wRC+ and OPS scores are reasons to be excited about the future. The Mets will return most of their offense from this elite core, including Michael Conforto and Dom Smith — two of the best hitters in all of MLB in 2020.
If the Mets can correct their clutch hitting, they will have the best offense in MLB moving forward.
Defense is still a major concern
To say the Mets defense is poor doesn’t do it justice. The ballclub had just five players with a positive OAA. Of those five, three of them were bench players, one was a primary designated hitter, and the other was a rookie who was in and out of the lineup.
Andres Gimenez was a huge bright spot for the Mets in 2020. He was one of the best defensive players in MLB and his bat was a nice surprise. Outside of him, the Mets didn’t employ many strong defenders. For example, every single starting outfielder recorded a negative OAA.
Defense has been a problem for the Mets for years. It’s killing them. It makes their pitching worse, which makes it nearly impossible to win games.
Four of the Mets’ five primary starting pitchers in 2020 recorded a better FIP than ERA. It’s impossible to compete for a World Series when a team’s defense is actively making its pitchers worse.
The Mets need to fix this moving forward. The easiest place to start is catcher, where Ramos was the worst in MLB defensively.
Poor starting pitching and a strong bullpen
The most disappointing part of 2020 was the Mets starting pitching. Jacob deGrom was his usual dominant self and was an injury-shortened start away from winning his third consecutive Cy Young. There was little else behind him.
The next best starter was rookie David Peterson, who was impressive but not great. Peterson’s 3.44 ERA masks his poor advanced numbers. He struck out just 7.25 per nine, walked 4.35 per nine, and his FIP and XFIP were atrocious.
On the flip side, Rick Porcello was the victim of the Mets’ horrendous defense. His 5.64 ERA is a stark contrast to his 3.33 FIP. His inability to work around poor defense was his downfall, but he pitched better than his raw numbers indicate.
Seth Lugo showed exactly why he’s more valuable in the bullpen in 2020. His 6.15 ERA as a starter made him one of the worst on an already poor team. However, he continued to excel as a reliever. Look for the Mets to put him back into the bullpen in 2021.
Speaking of the bullpen, the Mets relievers performed well in 2020. They were 18th in ERA in MLB, but they were the 14th-best from August onward.
The relievers were led by Edwin Diaz, who underwent a bounce-back season. Diaz recorded a team-best 1.75 ERA and 17.5 K/9. He was joined by Justin Wilson, Chasen Shreve, and Jeurys Familia. Even Erasmo Ramirez put together a strong set of appearances at the end of the campaign.
It wasn’t all good news though. Dellin Betances struggled mightily throughout the season and concluded the year on the injured list. Jared Hughes, Brad Brach, and Robert Gsellman all experienced some difficulties as well.
It’s going to be up to the Mets to rebuild their pitching staff in one year. They need three starting pitchers and four or five relievers this offseason.