Mets 2018 midseason report card

When the season started, my opinion was that with reasonable health and with reasonable luck, this was a team that could challenge for 95 wins. Surprise, surprise – they didn’t get either one of those. But they probably weren’t that good, either. It makes giving grades out even more difficult than normal. But that won’t stop me!

So, let’s line up everyone in alphabetical order and hand out midseason grades. Obviously, this is a very subjective process. My goal was to include role, preseason expectations and overall results in the final outcome. Only hitters with at least 50 PA and hurlers with at least 20 IP will receive a grade.

Jose Bautista – A credit to baseball senior citizens everywhere. There will be no argument from me if you think this grade is too generous but based on his results compared to my expectations he gets a …
Grade A-

Jerry Blevins – No one expected a 5.01 ERA and a 1.543 WHIP. My opinion is that he’s been misused a bit but most of the fault here lies with the player.
Grade D

Jay Bruce – Tried to play through an injury and failed miserably. That the Mets let him play as much as he did while clearly hurting is not good, either.
Grade D

Asdrubal Cabrera – One of the few bright spots of the season. He’s never been a favorite of mine but even this cynic will be a tiny bit sad to see him traded away.
Grade A

Yoenis Cespedes – It just wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Grade D+

Michael Conforto – It’s hard to figure out what hurts more – a guy like Cespedes who was counted on to be a big producer not being in the lineup or a guy like Conforto, counted on to be a big producer playing but with a .710 OPS.
Grade D+

Jacob deGrom – His sOPS+ first half split of 53 is better than 1985 Dwight Gooden’s mark of 55. If that sentence seems like it was written in a foreign language, suffice it to say that deGrom has been awesome.
Grade A+

Jeurys Familia – He’s been solid and his DL stint was minimal. See, you can be injured and not miss multiple months. That’s worth something, right?
Grade B

Wilmer Flores – Since being activated from the DL, he’s hit well and hasn’t hurt the club at first base.
Grade B

Todd Frazier – Was tremendous the first 18 games of the season. Then he tried to play through an injury, landed on the DL, came back and was nothing special and now is on the DL again. And one of his selling points was his durability.
Grade D+

Adrian Gonzalez – My expectation was that he would be bad and he met those, even if it took slightly longer to get there. He gets a split grade, with the first one being his performance and the second one being a combination of his GM and manager in regards to his acquisition and playing time.
Grades C+/F

Robert Gsellman – Started off the year with a bang but then had a 6-game stretch where he allowed 11 earned runs – 13 total runs – in 6.2 IP. He’s back to being good. Roughly 98% of relievers go through one bad stretch per season. Gsellman certainly had his.
Grade C+

Luis Guillorme – A rookie called up earlier than expected and then asked to play a position he had no experience playing. He was not good but who anticipated him to get the call in early May?
Grade D

Matt Harvey – Coming into the year I thought he’d be really good or he’d be lousy – no middle ground. Well, he was lousy as for whatever reason he didn’t adapt well to the changes in manager and pitching coach.
Grade D-

Juan Lagares – Was somewhat hopeful because of the chance of increased offensive productivity with a change of approach to hit more fly balls. Before landing on DL, had good production but it was all BABIP and he hit more grounders than ever. Getting hurt has to be expected from him now.
Grade C+

Jose Lobaton – Triple-A depth signing was needed in April. Hit a triple in his first AB with the Mets and it was all downhill from there. Did not look equipped to play in the majors which was shocking for a guy who had 1,221 PA in MLB prior to 2018.
Grade F

Seth Lugo – Has been tremendous in relief, with a 1.96 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP while frequently going multiple innings. Has a 3.91 ERA in five starts.
Grade A-

Steven Matz – His 3.38 ERA says woo-hoo but his 4.81 FIP says uh-oh
Grade B-

Devin Mesoraco – No one was quite sure what to expect when he came over from the Reds in the Harvey trade. But he’s stayed healthy, has been a massive upgrade behind the plate and has delivered a nice power threat with the bat.
Grade B-

Brandon Nimmo – The expectation was that he’d be a reserve outfielder. The reality is that based on nothing more than first-half stats, he should have been an All-Star. Has been slumping lately, though.
Grade A

Corey Oswalt – One bad outing is distorting his overall numbers. Doesn’t throw as hard as we were led to believe, which cuts down his margin for error. But he feels like a guy who can contribute.
Grade C+

Kevin Plawecki – My opinion was that he looked like a hitter setting up in the box but the results in the majors just weren’t there. At least until his last call-up in 2017. Seems like a solid backup now and could develop into something even better if he can hit more balls in the air.
Grade B-

Jose Reyes – My expectation was that he wasn’t going to be nearly as good as he was in the second half of last year but that he would play more than he deserved. That’s pretty much what’s happened, but he was much worse than I anticipated.
Grade D

Amed Rosario – Thought he would be better but seems to be coming around here in the last month.
Grade C-

Paul Sewald – Didn’t expect much and after a nice start, he’s been worse than I expected.
Grade D

Dominic Smith – Has been unimpressive in sporadic playing time.
Grade D

Noah Syndergaard – When he’s been on the mound, his results have been solid. But with his stuff, you expect more than solid. Then there’s the lengthy DL stint…
Grade C-

Jason Vargas – Here’s a comment I left on the news that he signed:
I’d rather go $8 million on Vargas than $12 million or more on Lynn. That said, I’m not doing jumping jacks about this signing. It’s okay, I don’t hate it, but that second half last year scares me some.

My reaction was lukewarm and his results have been incredibly awful.
Grade F

Zack Wheeler – Started off lousy but has been much better lately. He deserves a higher mark than Matz.
Grade B


So, that’s 28 players graded and 12.5 of them got a D or F. And if everyone was graded, there would be around 10 more of those lousy marks.

25 comments for “Mets 2018 midseason report card

  1. July 18, 2018 at 10:01 am

    I don’t know where to begin but just from your observations you can see why this team stinks. I’m pretty much in agreement for your grades. Brian I’d like to ask you for a favor. Can you please grade the FO as well? From this past off season FA signings (including the mgr) up to the All Star Break? This team plays with no heart. No fire. Can’t always blame injuries for their poor play. I can’t believe I’m going to say this. I miss Collins.

    • July 18, 2018 at 11:13 am

      I don’t miss Collins.

      It’s hard to judge the front office because they’re doing more than just assembling the 2018 team. How has it done in structuring future payroll? How has it done in assembling a farm system that can contribute a couple of pieces each and every year? How did it do in the MLB Draft? How did it do in international signings?

      2018 Team – Well, in an earlier thread I went back and posted all of the links for the various signings this offseason. The reaction to them were overwhelmingly positive, with the exception of Gonzalez. At the time they were made, commenters here loved the Bruce signing, loved the Frazier signing, loved the Swarzak signing and were happy with the Vargas signing. You judge the plan and you judge the results. The plan has to be in the A-/B+ range and the results are in the D-/F range.

      Future Payroll – The first year that Alderson took over, there were virtually no expiring contracts, which really hamstrung the org’s ability to make moves. Here’s the expiring deals for the next few years:

      18 – Ramos, Cabrera, Familia, Harvey, Blevins, Reyes — roughly $40 million coming off books
      19 – Frazier, Lagares, Vargas, Swarzak, d’Arnaud, Flores, Wheeler — more roughly $53.5 million coming off
      20 – Cespedes, Wright, Bruce, deGrom, — in the neighborhood of $73 million coming off

      I think that’s a pretty good job – a whole lot better than the previous administration. Not sure how to grade it, though.

      Farm Contributors – The 2019 club will have pre-arb guys in Lugo, Gsellman, Nimmo and Rosario and ARB1 guys in Conforto, Matz and Plawecki. They’ll have Dominic Smith, Peter Alonso, Justin Dunn and a couple of righty relievers on the doorstep. That’s 1/3 of your roster dirt cheap – more when you add in back of pen and a bench spot or two – and a few guys ready to step up. I think this is where you want to be. Can they continue to have 3/4 guys from the minors step up? Hard to project going forward and 2020 might not be great but there seems to be good prospects coming up behind that. Time will tell.

      And there’s no way to tell how the draft and int’l signings this year went. They have to hit on Kelenic and he’s off to a really good start. But it’s only rookie ball.

      We want to pass immediate judgment and we just can’t do that. At the time he was let go, everyone hammered Minaya’s farm system and then it turned out better than anyone thought.

  2. Pete from NJ
    July 18, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Tyler Kipber the beat writer from The NY Times pre season prediction was the team is injury prone and and fields poorly. He was correct on the first two but I think the bullpen was the unexpected. I liked the construction of the staff preseason with good money spent but Swarzak-Ramos-Blevins combo turned out ugly.

  3. John Fox
    July 18, 2018 at 11:19 am

    I would have put Reyes in the F category along with Lobaton and Vargas, Reyes does not deserve to be graded above them.

  4. July 18, 2018 at 11:21 am

    I just thought that the Gonzalez signing was to light a fire under Smith and show him he has to earn his spot on the 25 man roster. If the bull pen can perform to their expectations then the Mets have a reasonable chance to play .500 ball the rest of the way. That’s assuming they don’t trade deGrom. Let’s hope Bruce and Frazier get healthy enough so they can play out the rest of the season. It seems like every year the mid term grades and final grades have so many injured players grades affecting them.

  5. July 18, 2018 at 11:24 am

    How does Lagares get a C when he played excellent defense and hit well even though it was smoke and mirrors? Reyes has arguably been the worst player in baseball and he gets a D? I’d mark Cespedes as an incomplete.

    • July 18, 2018 at 11:55 am

      I should put in the intro graphs that results take in consideration things like FIP and BABIP. Matz has the 20th-best ERA in the majors, which if you ignore his FIP should result in a grade higher than B-. Lagares got a C+ because I didn’t ignore his .392 BABIP or the fact that he got hurt, again.

      The intro graphs stated that we were grading everyone with at least 20 IP or 50 PA, which eliminates giving Cespedes an incomplete.

  6. eric raffle
    July 18, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I believe the Rosario and Thor Grades are somewhat harsh….. Thor was a Solid B when healthy. We expect a Super Hero. He’s been a Spectacular Thrower and a Good Pitcher for most of his short career. A Good Pitcher. Good.

    Rosario is now at a 668 ops playing a skilled spot. I expected to grade “Survival” as a C+ or B.

    Otherwise, the Grades are Horrible—the team has been Horrible. It’s sort of a Quasi Pythagorean— the equation is very much in balance.

    Editor’s Note – Please pick one handle and use that exclusively.

    • Eraff
      July 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      ha!—you can tell it’s Me by my writing?–that’s either great or not great.

      This mixed handle has been unintentional

      • July 18, 2018 at 12:06 pm

        I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed but I was able to deduce that Eraff just might be one and the same as Eric Raffle.

  7. July 18, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Plawecki has the 8th best wRC+ for catchers he’s starting caliber. I wanted Cain and hated the Bruce signing. I def liked the Frazier signing.

  8. Chris F
    July 18, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Thanks for sticking your neck out like this Brian. Its a thankless task, but one we all want to see.

    Instead of pulling each apart for my own grade, I’ll just go ahead and you an A- on this. Overall very well done and spot on. A few things I would edit, but no errors.

    • July 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      Thanks Chris!

      I sent a note to John Monday afternoon and asked if he wanted to do it. Here’s what I said to him, “We typically do a midseason report card during the AS break. It’s a tough column to write because people will always nitpick it but it’s always one that gets read and gets lots of comments.”

      John had already finished his piece that he posted yesterday so he politely turned down the chance to write it.

  9. Steve S.
    July 18, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    I don’t have any real problems with any of these grades. Much as I love Nimmo, I would give him an A- because of the 90 strikeouts. Excellent job, Brian.

  10. TJ
    July 18, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Nice job. I tried to refrain from nitpicking, but I’m going to have to take exception to your grade for deGrom. I have to knock him down to a C, after giving up a home run to a marginal all-star like Mike Trout, who grew up a Phillie fan no less. That was one costly pitch by Jake. Jeff was having that $100 million contract offer draw up by his legal dept and poof, the prince turned into a frog.

    • July 19, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Thanks TJ!

      Recorded a podcast last night and the guest – Mike Silva – was laughing at the idea that was floated by some that deGrom lost value because he gave up the homer. If he hadn’t mentioned that, your sarcasm would have went right by me.

  11. TexasGusCC
    July 18, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    If sub .200 with terrible defense doesn’t get you an F, you should have been my grader all my life.
    Reyes is an F.
    Bruce is an F, and not everyone loved it.
    Cabrera is a B+, because his defense stinks. Had it been better, then A.
    Swarzak is an F.
    Conforto is an F, he’s batting .217.
    Have to agree with Steve, Nimmo can’t be an A with that modest production. B from me.

    • July 19, 2018 at 8:57 am

      You didn’t respond on the original article here at the site about the Bruce signing. On my follow-up piece to the Bruce signing on February 18, you said the following:

      “There are always variables out of the public eye that influence contracts and looking at the Hosmer deal that was announced last night, Bruce looks like a bargain. At the time of the Bruce signing, the Mets needed a 1B/OF type who had leadership skills and was productive. I don’t know if one good year of LoMo is enough to hang your hat on him and the options really were few.

      Also, Lorenzo Cain said that when negotiations started with the Brewers and he saw they were serious, he ceased negotiating with other teams. With regard to Panik, I just don’t see why they would make that deal. Even if Lagares hits .260, we know he’s a 3+ WAR player on a team that lacks outfield options but has many 2B options similar or not too much worse than Panik. That made no sense.

      The #1 regret of the top ten money managers is they sold too soon, and could have had more profits. But, these guys aren’t the top ten by accident, yet have regrets because no one can completely forecast a market. The biggest rear view mirror has to be taking Cabrera’s option. In November, it seemed like Frazier and Moustakas would be out of reach for our lovable bargain hunters, and Cabrera’s appeal wasn’t his versatility but rather his ability to play 3B well, as the Mets didn’t have a credible second option there. After signing Frazier, Cabrera actually stands in the way of getting a similar lead off option like Nunez who just went to Boston for $4-5MM per year for two years, depending on incentives, or trading for Harrison.”

      That’s 274 words you used more than a month after the signing and not once did you talk about not liking the deal. But you found time to talk about not liking the Cabrera deal.

      • TexasGusCC
        July 19, 2018 at 10:14 am

        I did not respond to the Bruce article because I didn’t love Bruce, but didn’t hate him with the news that he was open to playing first base, like very often; and if you think that by saying Cabrera stands in the way of getting a leadoff hitter is wrong, then tell me how in February you could know that he would surpass his HRs in the first half and hit .282. In fact, Cabrera at second was a by product of signing Frazier. Up until then, Cabrera was a third baseman thus the chase for Kipnis and Harrison. Too Cabrera’s lack of range makes him no better at second than Flores.

        Bruce was signed as kind of a first base/outfield type. As you read my comment, that was with the expectation that Bruce would fill-in in the outfield but play first, which is why I compared him to Morrison, a first baseman. In fact, as you point out, I list the first base position first when writing his position.

        In fact, I do recall in an article this winter before the Bruce signing, that I wrote that the Mets could get by for one month without Conforto and use a Lagares/Nimmo platoon for the season and not sign another outfielder, but I don’t want to search for it.

        I still say that Bruce, as a first baseman, isn’t terrible. But, he claims that he’s “a right fielder” and I beg to differ. In right field he looks slow and plodding, just pathetic. However, combine that with our newest rehabbing first baseman, our top prospect first baseman, a former top prospect first baseman and our present first baseman, and we have a headache.

        • July 19, 2018 at 11:03 am

          Hey, I did not pick up the option on Cabrera when I ran the Mets in the GM sim, so I certainly didn’t expect him to have the year that he has so far.

  12. July 19, 2018 at 10:54 am

    No Gus we have a mess. Move Cespedes at the trade deadline. Let’s call it an addition by subtraction a la payroll. Next package Bruce even if it means eating salary. Ask Wright to “retire” to take a FO position. Take that money and find someone who is healthy and who’s future is in front of him. One key signing and the Mets holes don’t appear to be so obscene. Perhaps for one year we will more payroll on the field than on the DL.

    • TexasGusCC
      July 19, 2018 at 3:12 pm

      Pete, be careful about being hasty. Peter Alonso is hitting .165 in AAA, a league Smith hit over .300 in. They want to keep Cespedes in LF, but with his arm, since he used to be a third baseman, why not go there Yoenis?

      Also Pete, as it stands now, it’s too much money to eat. Cespedes and Bruce both have two years left after this. Hopefully, they finish strong.

      • Chris F
        July 19, 2018 at 4:36 pm

        I think the game is far to fast for Ces at 3B. Hes a bit of an anchor. Do you really see him diving play after play? I dont.

        Unless there is a big turn around, Ces is a DH, and maybe would agree to a trade.

  13. MattyMets
    July 19, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    Every offseason addition grades an F or a generous D. Swarzak not included here but I imagine he’d have flunked as well.

  14. July 19, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    If Cespedes is healthy the Mets shouldn’t eat any of his salary. Just don’t ask for a top tier prospect. Since its his legs that appear to be a problem. I think playing 3rd base and asking for some agility as in fielding a bunt barehanded and throwing on the run is a highly risky request. As for Bruce. I believe he has 28 million for the next two years. So say the Mets eat 4 and 4 then that should entice a team in a playoff hunt. Again adding a piece or two for the future. Gus it doesn’t matter about if Alonso is ready or not. Flores at first base is adequate. Can platoon him with Smith.

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