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2020 Mets Did Not Underachieve

As the season wound to a close, there was much talk about how the Mets were too talented for this season to have unfolded the way it did. Certainly, some players struggled, but in the end, the Mets missing even an expanded postseason should not have shocked anyone.

Things changed dramatically for the Mets the day Noah Syndergaard had to shut it down due to Tommy John surgery. It was at that point the Mets went from possible postseason contender to a team who was likely going to miss the postseason.

Syndergaard presented, along with Jacob deGrom, two top of the rotation, swing and miss pitchers. The Mets desperately needed this as this was a team with far too many pitchers who pitched to contact in front of a terrible defensive team.

In 2019, the Mets were last in the National League with an 86 DRS. Despite planning on going into 2020 with Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello, two pitchers who pitch to a high rate of contact, the Mets affirmatively opted not to improve their defense. In actuality, they probably made t worse.

Remember, the plan was to always have two first basemen in the field with Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis. Based on what we saw of Robinson Cano in 2019, you could’ve argued, the Mets were really putting three first basemen in the field. That’s beyond ill advised.

An important thing to remember here was not only were the Mets playing three first basemen, they were playing three poor ones at that, at least in terms of their respective positions.

By OAA, Alonso was the worst defensive first baseman in the NL last year. Davis was the 26th ranked LF with the second worst success rate. Cano was also ranked 26th.

The good news is Cano rebounded by OAA but not DRS. Past him, well, it was a complete disaster.

Davis didn’t last long in LF because he was even worse, which you could not imagine to be possible. He then moved to third where he was again an unmitigated disaster. That was a precipitous drop from the good, albeit declining defense, provided from Todd Frazier last year.

Alonso too regressed leading him to lose his everyday job at first. Instead, he split time with Dominic Smith at the position. When Dom wasn’t at first, he was in left. That meant the Mets had FOUR first basemen in the field.

You can’t win games that way.

What makes this even worse is the Mets didn’t really surround these players with plus defenders to offset the terrible defense.

Brandon Nimmo isn’t a center fielder. That was again proven by his -4 OAA and -5 DRS. Wilson Ramos was just about the worst catcher there was in baseball behind the plate. His framing numbers were poor, his ability to block the ball worse, and his ability to tag out runners nonexistent.

Essentially, that made the pitchers mound look more like a tiny island with a bunch of people around him just letting him drown.

Really, when you look at the Mets, the only position they had good defense was short with Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario providing very good defense there. Other than that this was a terrible defensive ballclub with the fourth worst DRS in all of baseball.

The sad thing is it didn’t have to be this way. There were very good defenders on this roster who earned playing time. Case in point was Luis Guillorme. He had a very good defensive season with a 1 OAA and DRS, and he posted a 144 wRC+ at the plate. Playing him up the middle with Gimenez or Rosario could’ve had a profound impact on this suspect pitching staff.

On that note, Porcello struggled with terrible defense behind him. Stroman opting out certainly hurt, but he also might’ve struggled in front of a flat out terrible defensive team.

Throw in Michael Wacha being predictably bad and injured and Steven Matz regressing, and this wasn’t even close to being a team being built to compete over a 162 or 60 game season.

Truth be told, the only way this team could’ve competed was by having a starting staff of swing and miss pitchers who induced soft contact. Unfortunately, Syndergaard was injured, and the Mets didn’t want Zack Wheeler. Once the latter two were gone so were the Mets chances.

In the end, Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon treated the Mets like they were a fantasy team. With the Mets having an MLB best team 122 wRC+, they probably won their fantasy league.

However, on the field, where things like defense and base running matter, they built a flawed and arguably bad baseball team. Certainly, this was not a team truly built to compete, and in the end the Mets didn’t.

That’s why Van Wagenen will be gone and why Steve Cohen has zero interest in keeping Jeff Wilpon around in any decision making capacity when the sale is officially ratified by MLB.

Overall, the 2020 New York Mets didn’t underachieve. No, this team did EXACTLY what they were built to do. That was have deGrom be great, the offense hit, and get horrendous defense and suspect starting pitching.

22 thoughts on “2020 Mets Did Not Underachieve”

  1. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Mets underachieved, for sure, and big culprit was the starting pitching. Very different outcome had the Mets gone into the season with the rotation and quality performance from it they rightly expected. Everything keys off that, provides weapon balance, reduces fallout on other areas of the game.

    We go into 2021 with two quality starters – Degrom and Peterson. The Mets should try to extend Stroman, sign Bauer, put Lugo back into pen, trade Matz, trade Gsellman, acquire 5th starter, and build starting pitching depth while Syndergaard works his way back from TJ surgery, rejoining rotation after all star break.

    They should also work hard to sign JT Realamutto. extend Conforto and some other arb position players, and continue to develop current players in offseason and spring training to further improve.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      No, this was the team that was built, and they did what was expected. That’s not underachieving.

  2. Oldbackstop says:

    Well, this wasn’t a terrible analysis, but you missed some key factors. I’m going to write this out and post the coresome other places, so excuse my chattering. Defense, Offense, Pitching, Analysis.

    Defense
    — Well, first off, — I was very surprised with Dom’s bat….well, I don’t think anyone but his mother could say otherwise, but I give you credit for being higher on him than I was…
    — not sure how you can write about the Mets 2020 defensive woes and not start, or even mention, McNeil. He was to be the sparkling starting third baseman. Frazier wasn’t on the team, and JD got very little time there in “summer camp.” McNeil, unfortunately, had five errors in seven games at third base, and after game 10 never played there again. McNeil’s implosion set a serious of changes into motion….
    — similarly, not sure you can criticize the Mets defensive plans without even a mention of Marisnick. They got him last December for CF defense. He is only 29 and had a fabulous 9.0 dWAR in a bunch of partial seasons. He had shown excellent sporadic speed and power in his career. .16 HRs in one partial season and 24 SBs in another, albeit with a low BA and OBP. He easily could have been a 20-20 guy with an elite glove (and could be next year for whoever signs him). He got injured but in a small sample was killing the ball with us, BA well over .300 and OPS up over .900. Had he stayed healthy he would have been the starter there in CF and an excellent one.
    — As a result of McNeil, despite getting no reps at third and having been directed to focus on LF in the off season, JD was moved to third from LF in G10. He hadn’t “gotten even worse there” in left. He only had *ten* chances and made one error, and that was a grey area call. I’m sure you can drum up nasty defensive stats on a total sample of ten chances, because that is what you do. Anyway, JD was suddenly switched to third because McNeil was playing soccer over there. For the rest of the year, JD had sporadic trouble with consistency, but had a series of highlight film plays that the announcers raved about, mostly with his arm. You can’t teach that. The inconsistency is not surprising given his time there. I believe that even now he only has like 65-70 MLB complete games at third. If we get Arenado, fine. If not I think he will be given a chance there next year, because the baseball pros see the talent there, although you don’t.
    — Cano is a two time Gold Glove at second. Do we have a GG on the roster, even? Lagares for a week, maybe? While he has clearly lost a half step there, his bat, at a near MVP season level for much of August, shows he is not in total decline….one error there all year (contrast to McNeil, 5 in 7 games) Cano’s bat was crazy hot and had to be in the lineup and, as you say, DH was getting clogged….
    — Having two bright young hitting stars at first base in the NL is a waste. The DH saved some of that flaw. I advocated the out-of-the-box idea of trading Alonso last year to the AL for somebody’s entire farm system, you, and to be fair, everybody on the planet, thought that was silly. Now he is damaged goods, as Dom was last winter. Dom, unfortunately, did not exactly sparkle with the glove at first either for someone touted as a future GG.
    — a far as having “four first baseman”… JD and Cano have had no time there. What we really have is two DHs in Alonso and Dom, although if they committed to Dom there I think it would work out. However, first base is a position easily filled every winter with a slugging vet. A psychotic new GM might trade them both for some young ace arms and come out brilliant.
    — sidebar. I was very surprised with Dom’s bat….well, I don’t think anyone but his mother could say otherwise, but I give you credit for being higher on him than I was…
    — going around the horn, Rosario had a fine defensive second half last year, and at 24 there was no reason to think he was inadequate for this year. Gimenez threw shade on him, obviously, but his glove would with most any SS. It should be noted that his bat came out of the box hot, but after the second week in August he hit a shade below .250, which is probably where you would expect him (although he is young so hopefully will improve). With Ronnie in the wings, if Rosario is still here next spring it is GM malpractice.
    — you say we only had good defense at short, but Conforto was fine there and getting better, a positive rdrs/yr if that is your stat of choice.
    — what else? Ramos? Shoot him in the head. In his BEST offensive year, maybe it is a tradeoff. A three run HR is worth a passed ball. It was NOT his best offensive year. Good luck, Willie. Next year if we don’t get Realmuto we can afford a glove first guy there.

    It would be nice if the Wilpons could afford a five tool player everywhere. They can’t or won’t. Given the strong pitching and the bolstered bullpen, the strategy this year was offense first and then put gloves in with late leads….Marisnick in center, Nimmo in a corner, McNeil, Dom at first, Nido, Guillorme, Gimenez. That depended on scoring runs early.

    Next, offense….

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Ahh yes, the trade quality pitching depth for defensive replacements, not play them, and trade for more.

      Pure BVW genius.

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        What quality pitching depth are you talking about? Who we we have gone to in July while you were driving Stroman to the airport?

        You keep saying this like it could have saved us. Pause your mantra. Are you confused on what trades we made?

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Pitcher injuries happen. That’s why you don’t give up your SP depth. Only an imbecile would do that

          1. Oldbackstop says:

            Define. Starting pitcher. Depth

            This is like a creepy catechism with you… Brodie traded away starting pitchers who could have saved 2020.

            You are like freaking zombie with that shtt. It didn’t happen. You can’t name anyone.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Starting pitching depth is defined as having capable arms at the ready in your farm system.

            I seriously can’t believe that had to be defined even for you.

  3. Oldbackstop says:

    Offense doesn’t need an analysis and who was bad/good. The team Brodie put on the field led the majors in batting average, first NL team in 50 years beside two Rockies freak squads. We were second in OBP as well.

    The problem was RISP. After hitting six points above the team batting average we hit 37 points below, with much of the same lineup, and much lower than that much of the year.

    RISP has, beyond any statistical debate, shown to be, in effect, “luck.” It is the ultimate return to means stat. Over a full season it almost inevitably would have improved.

    Not much more to say. We field this lineup next year we will have the top offense or one of them in the league. Even if Dom (.368 BaBip) comes down to earth, some other guys have better seasons to be expected (catcher, Alonso, JD).

    Next, pitching

    1. metsdaddy says:

      The team Sandy Alderson assembled you mean

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        I said “put on the field.” Sandy have have variously assembled parts, but he hasn’t made roster decisions quite awhile.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          And those decisions were making players like Conforto, Nimmo, Smith, Alonso, and McNeil a part of the Mets organization

          1. Oldbackstop says:

            And Brodie kept them and continued their development. He peeled off the people he didn’t….wait, have you ever managed anything? A McDonalds? You make people decisions.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Again, you make stuff up, and you troll. The end result is you continue to contradict and embarrass yourself.

  4. Oldbackstop says:

    Pitching.

    Now, you make a good point about looking at the groundball pitchers and defense.

    But that wasn’t how we started the year. In terms of Ks/9, Wacha, Matz, Porcello were or have recently been all over league average this year. But that was supposed to be the BACK of our rotation.

    In a year when there was, in effect, no trading once the season was postponed, NO REASONABLE PERSON can blame Brodie for how bad the starting pitching was. Thor went down only TEN days after the season was postponed. In a normal year I’m sure Brodie would have gone after a number 2 type, probably trading some kids, which you would still be bitching about even if we won the WS. But who do you rent in a year where no might not have a year??? And then a year when everybody thinks they have a shot at the postseason??? ( even the Marlins)

    I challenged you, to no answer here, but aside from magical thinking about hitting the lottery for 100 mil and personally signing Wheeler (have to be Mega millions, actually)

    Here was the Mets rotation put together by Brodie before the world froze and how they rated with how they were reasonably expected to rate:

    DeGrom A+,A+
    Thor (B, F)
    Stroman (B, F)
    Matz (C, F)
    Porcello(D, C)
    Emergency:
    Lugo (A, C)
    Wacha (D,D)

    I know, like the position players, you want aces through the whole team and think we traded “depth”. But not for this year. Maybe Dunn could have been our number five, but against the East schedule he probably would have had his “chased after 2 innings” type outings. Nobody else we traded was major league ready in 2020.

    Now, Brodie is to be credited for Peterson, who was a 7-10 A ball pitcher when he took over and now looks like a budding ace. He gave them a shot when others, specifically and elegantly here YOU, said it was insane to risk ruining him when he had never pitched above AA.

    So….when trading went impossible, we lost Thor (who you wanted to extend for 5 years) for a year and a half Then we lost Stroman, who left to your applause. Then we lost Matz (who you wanted to extend) to batshtt implosion.

    Porcello, who you did NOT want to sign, delivered as advertised at a number 5 innings burner level, throwing the most innings behind deGrom to an unimpressive ERA. It should be noted that in his 7 losses the Mets scored something like 7 runs.

    Wacha wasn’t supposed to be much, a cheap lottery ticket as a young guy who had performed at an elite level before. He either isn’t recovered from injury or is just done. In a normal year he may not have made it out of spring training. And, despite this, he still was better than Matz when he did pitch.

    So, again, you have vetoed everybody Brodie was depending on (Stroman last year, but you applauded his brave exit this year). You liked Thor and Matz. . They were a net negative. You mixed Peterson for youth. You hated the deals for Porcello, Stroman and even cheapie Wacha.

    What would YOU have done? You know the budget. You know the free agents.

    You aren’t getting Wheeler.

    Be specific.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      So you’re not blaming BVW for acquiring pitch to contact pitchers and putting them with a terrible defense and continuing to deplete the starting pitching depth?

      Who do you then blame?

      M. Donald Grant? Joe McIlvane?

      1. Oldbackstop says:

        How precisely did Brodie deplete starting pitcher depth who would have been in Queens this year? Names.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          They’ve been named time and again here and other places.

          1. Oldbackstop says:

            Name one traded starting pitcher that would have helped the Mets losing their 2,3, 4. Trading away AAers and possible replacement level ceiling players is a thing a good GM does.

            Kelenic was the only prospect of consequence. And he can be bought back when he is 26.

          2. metsdaddy says:

            Justin Dunn
            Anthony Kay

            There’s two, and there’s more

          3. Oldbackstop says:

            globe, Ksy played in 2020. He was a one inning lefty specialist, then he collapsed for two outings then went on the IR.

            HOW DOES HE POSSIBLY FILL OUR NEED FOR A MIDDLE TO FRONT END STARTING PITCHER???

            Justin Dunn had some nice outings this year, but all against the two worst teams in the AL. When he played two tough teams he got chased in two innings. If he had to play the AL East and NL East, he would have been about a Matz level or maybe Porcello at best.

            HOW DOES HE POSSIBLY FILL OUR NEED FOR A MIDDLE TO FRONT END STARTING PITCHER???

            What other names? Who are these mysterious aces traded away by Brodie? They live in your head. You’ve repeated the lie enough that it has stuck. Thank god Brodie landed Diaz, it gave us enough bullpen depth to slide in Lugo. Without Diaz we would have been screwed.

          4. metsdaddy says:

            You continue to prove your ignorance.

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