Here are the final grades for the disappointing 2023 season for the Mets. The goal is to incorporate actual production, along with preseason expectations, as well as the individual’s role on the club. This means not all grades that are the same are equal. In order to qualify for a grade, a player needed to amass at least 100 PA or pitch 40 innings. Usually, 50 IP is the cutoff but there were pitchers who just missed that threshold who deserved a grade, in my opinion. This gives us 29 players to rate.
Pete Alonso – It’s always tough to grade Alonso because his HR and RBI numbers are so good and the rest of his numbers leave something to be desired. It seems fair to say that the end results didn’t match up with what was expected. Grade: B-
Francisco Alvarez – The power was good and the overall defense was way better than expected. But there’s a lot of growth left with his overall hitting and with his throwing. Still, the brass didn’t think he was worth a spot on the Opening Day roster and he finished with a 2.7 fWAR. Grade: B
Brett Baty – It’s hard to imagine that barring an injury that would roll into 2024 how this year could have been much worse. Grade: D-
Jose Butto – Absolutely nothing was expected of him coming into the season and he performed well when given a chance. His relative lack of innings is what keeps this from being any higher. Grade: B
Mark Canha – He finished with 303 PA and a 100 OPS+. That seems pretty close to what should have been expected. Grade: C-
Carlos Carrasco – It seems like Carrasco is one of the good guys in the game. It gives me no pleasure to hand out this grade, equal to the lack of pleasure from actually watching him pitch. Grade: F
Eduardo Escobar – He was worse than Canha but at the same time, less was expected from him coming into the year. Grade: D+
Francisco Lindor– A little bit like Alonso, it’s tough to grade Lindor because so much is expected. Still, he was pretty good, even if a hair worse than last year. Grade: A-
Joey Lucchesi – See the comment for Butto. Grade: B
Starling Marte – Maybe the expectations were too high given the offseason surgeries. Still, for both how he played and what he symbolized, it’s difficult to see any other result. Grade: F
Ronny Mauricio – My expectations were probably too high but that factors in here. Well, that and his 28.7 K%, his .099 ISO and his 80 wRC+. Grade: D+
Jeff McNeil – A lot was expected from McNeil this season and when it counted, he simply wasn’t good. In 2021, Michael Conforto got a “+” next to his grade for a similar-type season. McNeil’s year was more of a disappointment. Grade: D
Tylor Megill – Coming into this season, Megill had a lifetime 4.73 ERA and was counted on the be a depth starter. He got more innings than we would have preferred but his ERA was … 4.70 and only got that low due to the extra innings. I’d like to give him a “-“ just on principle but that wouldn’t be fair. Grade: C
Omar Narvaez – The expectation offensively was that he would bounce back and perform closer to how he did in 2021 but he turned out a hair worse than 2022. And Alvarez looked better defensively. Grade: F
Brandon Nimmo – Like Lindor, there are high expectations here and Nimmo was a bit worse than he was in 2022. Grade: B+
Rafael Ortega – There’s perhaps no better indication of how things turned out for the 2023 Mets than the fact that Ortega got enough playing time to qualify for a grade. There were zero expectations that he would qualify and he turned in an 83 OPS+, one above the Galvis Line. He didn’t contribute as much as Butto or Lucchesi. And this is probably as good as it gets. Grade: C+
Adam Ottavino – Another one who was good but not as good as in 2022. He allowed more baserunners and was even less effective controlling the running game. His ERA was over a full run higher than the previous year and his FIP targeted his production as an option reliever. Grade: B
David Peterson – Seems like the expectations here were similar to those for Megill, perhaps higher. And since Peterson’s results weren’t quite as good, neither should his grade. Grade D+
Tommy Pham – He greatly exceeded my expectations due to his hot streak and then was traded before regression fully hit. Grade: A
Brooks Raley – Ideally, he would have pitched more but that’s not his fault. A few too many walks but hard to argue with the overall results, especially his performance against RHB. Grade: A-
David Robertson – Was every bit as good as expected and did this while filling in at a greater role than anticipated when signed. Grade: A
Max Scherzer – A lot was expected and he didn’t reach that. Feels like his grade should be similar to Alonso’s and probably worse. Grade: C
Kodai Senga – We hoped he would be good. And he was better than we had any reason to expect. Grade: A+
Drew Smith – He was counted on to be one of the five reliever “locks” when he should have been just another option reliever. Grade: D
DJ Stewart – For a month or so, he was terrific. But the 3-34 finish with 15 Ks meant the clock struck midnight and we’re left with a pumpkin and some mice. It was fun while it lasted, though. Grade: B+
Justin Verlander – The timing of his injury was awful. And it took awhile for him to round into shape. But when he did, he was everything the Mets hoped he’d be. How do you value that? Grade: B-
Mark Vientos – He got better as the year went on. But he was awful for a long stretch while he was in the majors. By September he seemed better than Baty. But by how much? Grade: D+
Daniel Vogelbach – Very similar to McNeil in that he played better after the year was seemingly done. But his revival came earlier and not as much was expected. Grade: D+
Buck Showalter – He was dealt a bad hand and didn’t exactly play it all that well. But he kept the clubhouse together and he should leave with his head held high. Grade: C+
Billy Eppler – The old pitcher plan didn’t work, the option reliever strategy was a failure and the bet that the same roster with the hitters would pay off, well, didn’t. But the same guy re-signed Ottavino, traded for Raley and imported Pham, Robertson and Senga. That’s a mixed bag. How much credit/blame should he get for the Verlander move? Was the old pitcher strategy his or was it forced upon him from ownership? It seems from my chair that ownership made the decision to sell and he got good returns for Robertson, Pham and Dominic Leone. And perhaps the Escobar, Scherzer and Verlander trades will work out, too. Grade: C
Steve Cohen – Are we allowed to say anything bad about the owner? Is that allowed or will we have our Mets fan card revoked if we do? He approved the highest-payroll in history – yay! He got his white whale when he hired David Stearns – yay! The long-awaited pitching lab has been unveiled – yay!
Nervously looks around to confirm no guns or listening devices are around…
Cohen had a plan and at the first sight of trouble, he immediately abandoned said plan and reversed course. If you’re an optimist you admire his flexibility and ability to pivot from something that wasn’t working. If you don’t drink the Kool Aid, you wonder how committed he can be to any plan and you also wonder if you want someone who bails at the first sign that everything isn’t perfect. Hey, I hear China is now on their 14th five-year plan.
Scherzer and Verlander were told by Cohen that he was targeting 2025 or later to contend. Does that mean that no impact free agents are added in the offseason? Does it mean that the Mets are back to shopping in the bargain bins? Or does the plan change again? Nobody has a clue! The Mets could have another $350 million payroll. Or they could try to get under the tax level that would make them suffer a drop of 10 picks in either round one or round two of the 2025 Draft. If you don’t like the answer, just wait six months – it could change.
Hey, it’s tough to build a model franchise. It’s even tougher when you’re schizophrenic about it. Here’s hoping Stearns decides on a course of action, follows thru on it and gets Cohen to shut up and stay out of the way. Because right now, Cohen is more James Dolan than Art Rooney or Jerry Buss.
Hey, Rooney owned the Steelers when they were terrible in the 1960s, when they had one winning record in the decade. There’s still plenty of time for Cohen to re-write his legacy. And we all know that winners write the history books. But – despite what it seems – we’re not writing a book here. Instead, we’re handing out grades for 2023. And the team that Cohen assembled, both on and off the field, produced a sub-.500 team with the highest payroll in history. Grade: F
Despite the grade, I’m still glad he’s the owner and my firm belief is that eventually the franchise will stop wandering in the desert.