By now, it has been six days since the New York Mets were eliminated by the San Diego Padres. We’ve seen all of the headline bashing, social media fun-poking, and rage-fueled Facebook posting for a week, and we’ve made it through a whole work week of coworkers sneaking in every jab that they could produce about a 101-win team that got eliminated the first week of the playoffs. While it may seem as if the world crumbled, we’re still here. While the taste of the season might be sour, it is time to start thinking of how this team built off of what they accomplished in 2021 by checking out some statistical improvements.
Citi Field Advantage- The Mets improved their home winning percentage from .588 to .667 this past season, opening up a true home field advantage for them during the regular season. This was due to their run differential at home being at a mark of +110. Compare that to a 2019 season where the Mets had a run differential of just +19. This can be improved even more for the 2023 season when you consider that two center pieces for the offense, Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor, actually fared better at the plate on the road in 2022. Should they both improve at the plate at home in 2023, this home field advantage could become even more potent.
Batting With Runners In Scoring Position- The infamous tagline for the 2021 Mets was that they could not hit with runners in scoring position. To slash .238/.334/.370 with only 391 RBIs is plain brutal. Eric Chavez stepped in, added a new approach, and the results showed across the board. They swapped those ugly numbers for a slash line of .269/.347/.441 with 554 RBIs, and even striking out 40 times less in that scenario. This is a situation where the aforementioned Alonso and Lindor cleaned up. Alonso slashed .300./424/.675, while Lindor was not far behind at .286/.328/.488.
Fielding- This is an improvement that will make Keith Hernandez glow from the booth. The Mets were rough in the field in 2021. Their combined defensive metrics helped them to the third-worst ranking in the National League last season according to Baseball Reference. With the addition of a manager who focuses on fundamentals in Buck Showalter, and the improvement on defense by guys like Brandon Nimmo (who has built himself into a formidable center fielder) led to the Mets skyrocketing to the second-best defensive team in the NL according to Baseball Reference.
Successful Manager Challenges- This is more about Harrison Friedland, the Mets Replay Analyst, than Showalter, although Showalter receives the credit for issuing the challenge. While this might be a smaller aspect of the game, the Mets took a quantum leap in the success of challenges this past season. In 2021, Luis Rojas won 5 of his 14 challenges for a success rate of 35.7%. It was essentially a non-factor in 2021. Compare that to 2022, where Buck Showalter won 26 of his 35 challenges for a success rate of 78.8%, the highest mark in the NL 2015. This non-factor turned into a true advantage for the team in 2022.
2022 will always be remembered in Mets lore as one of the classic “What if” years. You can certainly point to the negatives about the season, like how the team stumbled in series against the lowly Chicago Cubs or Pittsburgh Pirates, and of course that fateful last series in Atlanta. But, those outside of the team and those who do not root for the team do enough dragging down of the club. It’s important to remember to put things into perspective. While they did stumble down the stretch for a disappointing end, the Mets were at least in it for the entire season. Fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have an owner who appears to be dead set on running the thinnest margain possible on his team, would love the opportunity to be competitive for the entirety of the season, with a roster full of big-name talent. This was the first year in some time that the Mets were expected to compete for a championship, and it won’t be the last now that Steve Cohen is the owner. While the end to this season was disappointing, remember how far the team has come from last season, and how far they will improve next season. After all, the 1985 Mets won 98 games and fell short of World Series aspirations, and something special happened the next season.
The Mets improved their Citi Field run differential by 91.
The Mets drove in 163 more runs with runners in scoring position in 2022 than in 2021.
Showalter had a challenge success rate of 78.8% to lead the MLB.