Top 10 positive things for the 2012 Mets

How do you ultimately judge a season where not much was expected only to have the team play inspired ball for three-plus months of the year? Especially when that strong play was followed up by inertia from the front office and then dreadful play over the final three months? I don’t know. So, instead of trying to put some type of grade on the year, here are the top 10 positive things I’ll remember about the 2012 Mets.

10. The maturation of RA Parnell – I’ve been told a few times that Bobby Parnell really does not like the name “Bobby” so after the season he’s turned in, I’m willing to accommodate him today. Did you know he’s got the same first and middle name as Mr. Dickey? Yes, they are both Robert Allen. The nickname RA has served Dickey so well that I’ll use it here for Parnell, too.

The Grapefruit League stories were that Parnell was going to sacrifice velocity for movement and location and that he was adding a new breaking ball. Both of them turned out to be true and Parnell had the best season of his career. A 2.60 ERA and a 1.279 WHIP are both career-bests. And while rumors continue to swirl that he can’t be trusted to pitch in the 9th inning, Parnell had a .197/.256/.289 slash line with a 2.08 ERA in 21.2 IP in the ninth.

9. JV Magic – I was not high on Jordany Valdespin coming into the season but his pinch-hitting heroics – 5 HR, 10 RBIs in 45 PA as a pinch-hitter – were something to behold. These weren’t just any homers, they were dramatic blasts off some top closers, including Jonathan Papelbon and Tyler Clippard. Valdespin was exposed with additional playing time but that can’t take away from the excitement he delivered in these key pinch-hitting appearances.

8. Strong starts versus Braves and Phillies – As alluded to earlier, not much was expected this year from the Mets and it figured to be an ugly start to the year, as the team played the Braves and Phillies nine times in the first 12 games. But New York opened with a three-game sweep of Atlanta and then took two of three from Philadelphia. Things soon reverted to normal versus the Braves, as the Mets finished the year with a 6-12 mark against them. But they finished the year with a 10-8 mark against the Phillies, something no one saw happening before the year started.

7. The rebirth of a reliever – The Mets’ bullpen has been a problem throughout most of the year and one of the biggest offenders early on was Manny Acosta. My position on Acosta throughout his Mets tenure is that he’s a good guy to have in the pen. Unfortunately that makes me a minority and I’ve defended him more times than I’d really prefer, seemingly making me his main cheerleader. So his brutal start was doubly painful. But since his recall in late July, Acosta has a 1.57 ERA over 23 IP, a stretch no one would have predicted from any Mets reliever, much less Acosta.

6. The development of a 2B – The fan base was nearly split in two over the decision to play Daniel Murphy at second base. The opponents pointed out the likelihood of injury, as Murphy had twice suffered season-ending injuries playing second and that even if he stayed healthy he would likely be the worst defender in baseball at the position. Neither of these came to pass. The overall defensive numbers are not pretty but Murphy has gotten the job done and he seems like he’s getting more and more comfortable at the position. His ability to play 2B an entire season ups both his trade value and his worth to the Mets going forward.

5. A 30-HR season from an unexpected source – If at the beginning of the year I told you that Ike Davis would clear 30 homers, you probably would not be surprised. But the journey he took to get there made the ultimate destination memorable. Davis was in the running for worst player in the majors early in the year. Through June 5th he had a dismal .501 OPS. But since then Davis has an .896 OPS with 26 HR in 332 AB. If only he was a righty-hitting OF…

4. The emergence of a top draft pick – The final first-round pick of the Omar Minaya era – Matt Harvey – made his major league debut two seasons after he was drafted. Harvey had a good but not great showing in Triple-A and was called up at least as much out of desperation as anything else. But once he got to the majors, Harvey was outstanding. Featuring a fastball that consistently registered in the mid-to-high 90s, Harvey posted a 2.73 ERA with a 10.6 K/9 rate in his 10 starts with the Mets. Harvey gives the Mets a dimension they simply have not had – a SP who can overpower hitters on a regular basis.

3. A great start from a great player – After a very disappointing year in 2011, no one really knew what to expect from David Wright. But the fan favorite busted out of the gates as if he was back to his pre-2009 prime. At the end of June, Wright had a 1.013 OPS and was playing Gold Glove defense at third base. The Mets were in the race and Wright looked like a serious MVP candidate. Unfortunately, the second half of the season closely resembles 2011. But his overall numbers still look very nice and his first half play reminded us of what we had been missing the past three years.

2. The first no-hitter in franchise history – It was almost a running joke. A team known for pitching had not produced a no-hitter in 50 years of existence. Finally, Johan Santana delivered the team’s first-ever no-no, with big help from a bad call by the umpire and a terrific catch by Mike Baxter which landed him on the DL after he crashed into a wall at full speed. It was a great night, one that Mets fans will always remember where they were when it finally happened. It makes it even more special that it was accomplished by a big-name pitcher like Santana. Everything seemed possible for the franchise this year after this curse was finally lifted.

1. The knuckleballerR.A. Dickey had been a very good pitcher his first two seasons with the Mets. But he took it to an entirely different level in 2012. Everything about this year has been magical for Dickey. He climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, authored a best-selling autobiography, appeared on David Letterman and put up a campaign that puts him in the thick of the Cy Young race. The Mets’ record when Dickey starts is 22-11. The Mets are 51-75 when anyone else takes the mound. Santana’s no-hitter was a magical night. Dickey has put up a magical season and given fans a reason to stay plugged in during the second-half slide.

*****

Check back tomorrow for the top 10 disappointments

18 comments for “Top 10 positive things for the 2012 Mets

  1. Chris F
    October 1, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I’ll add the seasons of Tejada, who without blushing at the task silenced all the talk and put a better season together than his 110M$ predecessor, and Wright, who will still finish with an awesome year having collected more all-time Mets records, as highlights ahead of the limited heroics of JV and relief pitching of Acosta!

    • Chris F
      October 1, 2012 at 11:50 am

      oops, I seem to have missed DW. Apologies.

      • October 1, 2012 at 11:54 am

        I had Tejada on my list but his lackluster play (.241/.285/.290 in his last 173 PA) down the stretch has taken some of the wind out of his sails for me. But you’re right – it’s another thing to be positive about in 2012.

        • Chris F
          October 1, 2012 at 12:10 pm

          Id also add Niese’s very nice season, which netted him 13 Ws, nearly 200 IP, and going from April through September without injury. Ive said he may make trade bait (not because I dont like him), but in my eyes his 2012 efforts are top notch in saving us from last place. As far as our pitching staff goes, thats got to be right up there too!

          • Doug Parker
            October 1, 2012 at 2:05 pm

            I agree– Niese was nice, and nearly Leiteresque.

          • Metsense
            October 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm

            Jonathan Niese with his 3.40 ERA (14th in NL),1.17 WHIP (15th in NL), 3.2 WAR (15th in NL),22 Quality Starts (8th in NL),0.73 QS% (11th in NL), and going to be only 26 this month and signed long term, emerged as a bottom tier #1 starter. Along with RA and Harvey give the Mets a solid 1-2-3 to begin 2013. He should have replaced #8 on your list and not been left off.
            #5 Ike being a 30 HR outfielder may materialize this off season through a trade.

        • Jim Graham
          October 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm

          I would agree except to mention this was his first season from start to finish minus a trip to the DL but at 22 years old he’s our future at SS..Now we need to improve CF & Catcher to be strong up the middle, not mention a power OF…..There are more positives than negatives it will be a telling sign how much of the purse strings the Wilpon’s are willing to spend in 2013..At 70 years old I would like to see a winner SOON, if you know what I mean !!! LOL…

    • Ray Savage
      October 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      Sorry, but DW was less than awesome. His bat disappeared for long stretches. We’ve seen that too many times in the past. He is not “Mr. Clutch”. I will admit that Tejada far excdeded my expectations. However, an improved Tejada still not good enough.

  2. TJ
    October 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Brian,
    DW and Tejada had similar trends, although I would give DW more benefit of the doubt as opponents were focused on not letting him beat them and he had little to no coverage in the line-up. I agree that Acosta has value given the low 2013 salary he dan command, albeit at the end of the pen. Parnell’s improvement was impressive but I still feel they need to add a proven closer to push everyone back and make the pen a strength, especially since they will not be able to fix all the offensive issues this winter.

  3. Name
    October 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    10. Parnell pitches well in games that aren’t close. I remember a stretch of 3-4 games where the run that he gave up ended up being the difference. Good statistical season. So-so real-life season.

    9. JV was awesome during that time, but pitchers adjusted to him. He needs to adjust to their adjustment to ever have a career.

    8. I still remember that 1st series vs Atlanta. Storylines coming into the game were about how the Braves would rebound after that 2011 collapse.

    7. I don’t think that Acosta was a rebirth. He was abused and misused by our terrible bullpen manager TC, and it took him 1.5 months to figure that out.

    6. I think the best thing about 2b is i haven’t heard any complaints about his defense. Which is big considering that was a top issue coming into this season.

    5. It’s nice that Ike turned his offensive season around. Now he just needs to get back to his elite defense…

    4. Harvey has been great this season, but i’m thinking that some Mets fans will expect too much out of him next year. He will mostly likely have some growing pains next year.

    3. Wright has certainly had a great season. But any team that pays for his 1st half production will surely regret it.

    2. Nothing to say about the no-hitter… expect that it shouldn’t have happened… But we’ll take them in any way shape or form as Met fans.

    1. Can’t say much more about RA. I’ve never been as excited about a baseball player during that one point in the season when he was unhittable and throwing CG’s every start out.

  4. October 1, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    If Daniel Murphy is such a gifted hitter how is it that Ruben Tejada has a better OBP than him? Do you consider D.M. to have a good eye at the plate?Whow is it he has only 36 base on balls in almost 500 at-bats?After all he has David Wright hitting behind him so he should be seeing better pitches to hit.As for his defense?Let’s say it’s adequate.Daniel Murphy is a DH and belongs in the American League.Let’s look to upgrade our bullpen.It’s not his fault he has to learn a new position for him.I do respect the fact that he hasn’t allowed his errors on the field to affect his hitting.

    • October 2, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Murphy has batted in every lineup position except leadoff. When he has batted second (presumably ahead of Wright) he has a .315/.357/.437 line, easily the best he’s hit anywhere in the order.

      He could benefit by taking a few more pitches but that description fits about 95% of players in MLB today.

      It’s simply not true that Murphy is a DH. He’s a natural 3B and he was a very valuable defender at 1B. It’s just that the Mets’ two best hitters play those positions. So, he’s playing his 3rd best defensive position on the club and not embarrassing himself out there. Let’s see Wright or Davis play second base and see how they handle it.

      People talk like Murphy is making an error every other game and it’s simply not true. He’s played 147 games and made 15 errors. He hasn’t made an error in 21 games and counting.

      • Chris F
        October 2, 2012 at 11:10 am

        I completely agree! Murph has turned into a very serviceable 2B guy in his first full chance at it. He’s stayed healthy and his timing with Tejada at SS is reaping benefits now. They regularly turn impressive DPs either 643 or 436.

  5. October 1, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    If Daniel Murphy is such a gifted hitter how is it that Ruben Tejada has a better OBP than him? Do you consider D.M. to have a good eye at the plate?How is it he has only 36 base on balls in almost 500 at-bats?As for his defense?Let’s say it’s adequate.Daniel Murphy is a DH and belongs in the American League.It’s not his fault he has to learn a new position at the major league level.I do respect the fact that he hasn’t allowed his errors on the field to affect his hitting.

  6. Mack Ade
    October 2, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Morning folks.

    I was released this morning and, though I’m still not 100%, I’d thought I’d check the site. MLB.com told me the Mets lost the last three games so moved on from that.

    This looked like an interesting piece and, I have to say, I had a little pullback when I say the paragraph on Parnell, but you lost me and I went back to my meds with the JV entry.

    Brian, you are so positive and you try to find the good in Mets.

    Me? In no particular order:

    Santana, Harvey Niese, Dickey, Davis, Tejada, Wright

  7. Chris F
    October 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Mets360.

    Our daily group therapy, which without, would make the top 10 negative things more difficult to bear!

    • norme
      October 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm

      Chris F, you hit it on the head. It’s great group therapy, and the price is right!

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