Underneath the ownership and management antics, bullpen blowups, and horrid slumps, the immense talent on this team is often overlooked. With the team down in the standings and July 4th upon us it is natural to look ahead to the Midsummer Classic, the trade deadline (which now includes waiver-trades) and the offseason. But does a second-consecutive massive June stall mean the fan base should look beyond this season just yet?
Just as a refresher, the aforementioned talent would include Rookie of the Year frontrunner Pete Alonso, current NL batting leader Jeff McNeil, and a host of other home-grown talents like Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Dominic Smith. This isn’t just for the sake of listing names, but this is to demonstrate how impressively talented this team is especially when considering it is a franchise known for having a shortage of home-grown hitting talent. Pair this with an unprecedented four productive home-grown starting pitchers including the reigning Cy Young winner, and a 25-year-old closer with already over 100 saves that makes the working for what seems like a good ball club.
The recent surge of the Nationals reminds us of what talent can do. While that team is greatly lacking in a few areas, its core of hitters and elite rotation were eventually going to perform. Just over a month ago on May 23rd we completed a four-game sweep to get to 24-25, while our division foe fell to 19-31. A team with similar talent and lack of execution at the time is now in the second wild-card position.
Their success can be seen in the performances of their best players and in the improvement of their bullpen. The Mets have a core group of hitters and starters, but the bullpen has been dooming them recently. Analytics often underestimate the importance of the bullpen since performances by relievers are often unpredictable. The Alderson Administration often overlooked developing a good bullpen since the stats could not understand it.
With new management there was hope entering the season that the bullpen would be a strength this year instead of a crippling flaw. However, with some proven big leaguers coming off the IL there is hope that this could become a productive unit for the rest of the way, or at least a not as horrendous one. Honestly they can’t be much worse than they were in June, so just a regression back to the mean would greatly improve the team.
The Mets can be criticized for making moves that make the team only “seem” like a good team instead of actually be one, but the talent on this roster cannot be denied. Talent usually produces eventually, it will be about whether the Mets can retain and compliment this talent. Hopefully we see some improvements during the rest of the season and the organization can hold on to the fruits of their farm system through the deadline.