There is an undeniable chemistry that has been built with the current players that inhabit the roster of the New York Mets. This chemistry is often talked about when championship team discussions are brought to the table as an intangible, unmeasurable quality that a championship team must possess. Mets fans witnessed it firsthand in 2015, when a Kansas City Royals team that was galvanized strongly together came together to take away the dreams of the 2015 Mets on the grass of Citi Field. Since that 2015 season, the team chemistry has been spotty at best, and the results have shown, with only one postseason appearance since that 2015 season.
The 2019 Mets began to change that image however, beginning with competition in spring training. The question of who would start the season at first base in 2019 was burning as camp opened. On one hand there was Dominic Smith, who lost weight entering camp and finally looked and seemed as if he had his act together entering camp. There was also Pete Alonso, then known as Peter, who had torn through the Mets minor league system over the past two seasons and was viewed as a top prospect by many. The nature of humans led many people to believe that this would cause a natural rift between the two players, but the exact opposite ensued. The two became close, and they turned each other into better ballplayers. This friendship carried into each players’ season, as they each had a breakthrough season.
This is just one example of a blossoming chemistry that currently exist amongst the 2020 Mets. A quick trip to the history books of the St. Lucie Mets can offer a glimpse as to why the current Mets are brought together so well. According to the official account of the St. Lucie Mets, on April 16th, 2015, the St. Lucie Mets defeated the Brevard County Manatees 14-6. This seems like just another crazy game in A Ball, but a look closer reveals that it was a glimpse into the future of the New York Mets. McNeil, Smith, Michael Conforto, and Amed Rosario went a combined 8-18 with 6 RBIs and 6 runs scored. If you want to get even more crazy, a quick look at the manager of that squad will suffice. Luis Rojas was the skipper of that squad of future New York Mets, and now is looking to take advantage of that chemistry that he built with the players in the minor leagues.
It seems the formula of success for MLB teams to build a long, lingering contender is to do it from within, and to take your time in doing so. This is no secret, and if it weren’t for their cheating scandal, the Houston Astros would be the glimmering example of that strategy. The Mets are now on that path, but it seems like their chemistry is on a level not seen for a while for the team. We have seen multiple times during the COVID-19 shutdown Mets players practicing and working out together. Whether it be Smith playing catcher for Marcus Stroman or McNeil working out at his neighbor, Brandon Nimmo’s house, it is quite evident that this team not only intends to play together, but win together as well.
Yet, the bond that the players hold can’t be assessed by a statistic. It can be assessed with stories such as that of the “Cookie Club,” which brought together players on road trips as they bonded together over Insomnia Cookies. According to Smith, they created the idea from being frustrated with the way that they were losing. As detailed in an article by Anthony DiComo, these cookie-eating sessions turned into scouting sessions, and helped the players grow as teammates. The players admitted that they held their club “meetings” more in the second half of the season, and in the second half, the team was a scintillating 46-26, with a ridiculously good +100 run differential.
There is no specific scientific formula on how to build a baseball team. There will probably never be a set formula either, as it seems find new ways every season to win a baseball game, be it shifts, openers, or trash can banging. There certainly are wrong ways of building baseball teams though, and one of those ways is by putting together a group of men who can’t stand each other. All you need to do is look at Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon get together in their own dugout during the 2015 season for evidence of that. For certain, the chemistry built by the 2019 Mets will help them build towards winning whenever baseball returns.
The 2019 Mets were 10 games under in the first half, but 20 over in the second half.
In the second half of the 2019 season, the Mets outscored their opponents 371-271.
The 2015 St. Lucie Mets, managed by Rojas, finished 68-70