This column is my last for the 2023 Regular Season – a season of significant disappointment. Looking back over my articles earlier in the year, it doesn’t seem as though they are written about the same team. In many ways, they are not. Gone are Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Now on the roster are the “Baby Mets” – Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. What went wrong? Everything. What’s left for next year? That’s not the topic of this article. We’ll have all winter to contemplate the strengths of next year’s roster.
This article will discuss the accomplishments of five of this year’s Mets Standouts. These players performed brilliantly, despite having little to play for half-way through the year. They never quit. They deserve our admiration and thanks.
Nimmo has done everything one could have expected this year. He deliberately sacrificed some of his on-base prowess in order to develop more power. He already has 20 HRs and could end up with 25 on the year. Coupled with absolutely stellar play in center field and an infectious team spirit, Nimmo is a joy to watch and a reason to go to the ballpark.
McNeil got off to a difficult start of the season, but in the last two months has been a top performer. Over the last 28 days: .327/.366/.462 (.828 OPS). His versatility in the field (2B, 3B, LF, RF) is useful – but what really makes him a wonderful player is that he makes reat plays from all of these positions. There are those who are saying that he might be traded in the offseason. I truly hope the Mets front office considers McNeil’s entire value before they trade away a player who brings so much to the table.
Lindor has been a spectacular player this season. On a team with the playoffs in its future, Lindor would be under consideration for MVP. 25 HRS; 25 SBs; 81 RBIs. His play at SS has been Gold Glove caliber – but no one will notice because the team has tanked.
Despite trade-deadline rumors that he was being shopped elsewhere, Alonso has had another Pete Year. So far, 41 HRS; 100 RBI’s – he even has 4 SBs. He is now one of only 5 players in MLB history to hit 40 HR’s three times in his first five years – with one of the non-40 HR years being 2020 – where he would certainly have hit 40 in a full season. In the other season, he hit 37. To be in the same conversation as Ralph Kiner, Eddie Mathews, Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard is a statement about Alonso’s talent and determination. He could have mailed it in after being hit on the hand mid-season. He didn’t. He came back because he knew his team needed him.
This 30 year old rookie would have been a baseball sensation on a better team. In 25 games started so far this year he pitched 143.1 innings. His season started off a little shaky – but after his first several starts, he has been one of the best pitchers in the game. His 3.08 ERA is best among first year pitchers in baseball. His signature Ghost Forkball has produced 176 strikeouts – or a little better than 11 strikeouts per nine innings. He exhibits an enthusiasm on the mound that is refreshing. He deserves strong consideration for Rookie of the Year and should get votes for Cy Young.
Alvarez didn’t start the year on the Major League roster – but since his call up in May, he has been an absolute joy to watch. His 21 HR’s at age 21 puts him in a very small circle with Johnny Bench. He has obviously hit a wall since the beginning of August at the plate – the long season took its toll on his offense. But he has been sterling behind the plate all year long.
As for the balance of the roster, the performance has either been awful (please, please, please can the Mets finally move on from Daniel Vogelbach), or inconsistent – Tylor Megill, David Peterson – or too short (Jose Quintana has pitched really well – but his beginning of the season injuries made a significant difference in the W/L of the team early on.)
One word about the last player whose performance is worthy of note: D.J. Stewart. It is a great story. A former First Round Draft Pick gets released by the team that drafted him and finally finds himself at age 29. But a peek behind the numbers shows that repeating this performance is simply not sustainable. He has 26 hits – of which 10 were HRs. That extrapolates to 55-60 HR’s over the course of a season. For anyone counting on Stewart to take over RF next year, we should all reminisce about the legend of Mike Vail.