2020 is definitely a weird neighborhood to find yourself in. When you’re talking about this year, everything is in question and anything you thought you’d believed in is up for grabs, be it politics, health, societal norms and yes, even sports. To wit: we are in the home stretch of the 2020 baseball season, but only 45 games into it – 15 games left, rather than 117. It makes one wonder if it counts, or if it even should. And because of the brevity of the schedule, the season long shakeout of playoff contenders is obviously curtailed. To combat this, the deep thinkers at the MLB office decided to turn the MLB playoffs into hockey: 16 teams will make the post season, twice the norm and more than half of the League’s population. So right now, three quarters of the way to the end, the math is pretty simple. .500 is the demarcation line for contenders. There are eight teams in each League with at least as many wins as losses. Right now, it looks like if you play break-even ball or better, you’re going to the dance.

As this is written, the Mets are on the other side of that line. At 21-24, they find themselves two games out of a playoff spot. They are in a mishmash in the middle of the pack of have-nots, scrumming with Milwaukee, Colorado and Cincinnati to try and unseat surprising San Francisco from the number eight seed. This team has played schizophrenically all year, sweeping the Yankees in a doubleheader, getting swept by the Marlins in a similar set, Toronto — the hottest team in the AL – hosted the Mets last night and were dismantled to the tune of 18-1. Jacob deGrom was the stingy starter and Michael Conforto contributed one of the two homers by the New Yorkers. In his six innings, deGrom walked two, struck out nine. In his five plate appearances, Conforto had two hits, walked once and drove in four runs. I serve up these details from last night’s game as a typical example of the season each is having. They are both drawing strong consideration for some postseason hardware, as unprecedented at this whack-o season itself. There is some more than serious talk about deGrom walking away with his third consecutive Cy Young Award, something no Met has ever done – not even the late, great Tom Seaver – and only two other souls have achieved: Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson, two other Hall-of-Famers who took home four trophies apiece. Conforto has grown into the slugger a lot of us knew he could be, and it looks like his defense has caught up with his bat. He is garnering some strong notice for his play, perhaps with an outside shot at becoming the first ever Mets MVP – only 59 seasons into the team’s existence.

They’ll get help from the likes of Dom Smith, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and J.D. Davis, for sure, and hopefully more consistent performances from the rest of the pitching staff, but if the Mets are to make some noise in October, it will be on the backs of deGrom and Conforto. If the two of them can continue their spectacular work over the next two weeks, the Mets can find themselves right in the middle of the messy round-robin the playoffs are likely to be. And who knows? Anything can happen at that point.

Flags do fly forever, even if the season carries an asterisk.

7 comments on “Michael Conforto and Jacob deGrom can turn this season from strange to special

  • NMK

    If the 2020 Mets are going to sneak into the playoffs, let alone make any noise, they’ll need to figure out how to put quality innings together. If that’s letting Chasen Shreve go the first three before having Jeurys Familia throw another two and Drew Smith get you to the seventh inning, so be it. The bullpen was an early disaster and then the rotation took a dive. The good news is 2020 is such a weird beast nobody will care if Luis Rojas wins a game with five pitchers every night.

  • TexasGusCC

    To your headline Charlie, those guys are the leaders of their respective group in the hype, but are they in real life? JDG is the real deal, but Brian’s writeup on Conforto was spot-on: He’s had alot of good luck – and I’m happy for him. But, are his numbers better than Dominic Smith’s? Smith leads Conforto in OPS by 40 points, has one less HR at 8 and five more RBI’s at 36 in 25% less at bats than Conforto’s 166. While Conforto has the .343 average, Smith at .331 is right there too.

    It’s understandable to push the narrative that Conforto is the leader, but McReynolds and Strawberry finished second and third in the MVP in 1988 while a gimpy Kirk Gibson won the award for numbers less than either of this players. We may see a repeat this year.

    • David Klein

      Tatis is easily the mvp not comparable to 88

  • Brian Joura

    deGrom and Darvish are neck and neck in the Cy Young Award race. I hope voter fatigue doesn’t set in against deGrom, with people wanting someone else to win for a change.

  • José

    I recently read an interesting remark at a rival Mets blog (one not renowned for anything close to the civility displayed here).
    The bloggist suggested that there should be three major awards of each type (as opposed to two), one for each division (instead of each league).
    The reasoning, for example, is that Darvish and JdG are in competition for the NLCYA, yet not only have their respective teams not played each other, the set of teams against which each has played forms an empty intersection (please forgive the set-theoretic formulation)
    Thoughts?

    • Mike W

      I don’t like the idea of an award per division. I do like the idea if an equal award, one being MVP and one being Player of the Year.

    • Brian Joura

      Name has pitched this idea for awhile now.

      There’s a certain logic to it and I wouldn’t be upset if it was adopted. But it’s not an idea that I’m going to champion. I’m not excited about adding another award winner for each category in a year with only 60 games.

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