Mets Are One Of Baseball’s Elite Teams by Rich Coutinho
As we approach the second half of the 2022 baseball season, July 4th is usually a good day to check in how teams are performing with the trade deadline less than a month away. And it must be said that the New York Mets are an elite team in the sport and the argument could be made that are the best team in baseball.
When you consider Jacob deGrom has not pitched an inning yet this year and Max Scherzer has missed over a month it is unbelievable that they own a 3.5 game lead in the NL East and no team in the National League has won more games than the Mets. No team has more wins at home in the National League than the Mets and on the road they are an impressive 23-17 while their record versus NL East opponents is 24-9. In all fairness, they have only played 4 games versus the Braves and split them but their 9-3 record versus the Phils is likely why the Phils are right now a distant third in the division.
The biggest reason for the success of this team is that they are resilient in every way and there is no detail in their game plan they overlook. Buck Showalter is a big reason for that and they added veterans like Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha who not only perform well but lead by example making sure the manager’s game plan is followed to the letter of the law. We have seen that in relay throws, beating the shift with solid at-bats and who can forget taking advantage of a protest play prompting a Met win.
And this team is never out a game as they proved in massive comeback wins in the final inning on the road in both Philly and St. Louis. Their resilient nature is best illustrated in the fact they lost 3 in a row for the first time this season this past week–3 months into the season. And injuries have been commonplace as all 6 of their starting pitchers have spent time on the injured list. But hurlers like David Peterson, Carlos Carrasco and Taijuan Walker have not only pitched well but gotten deep in the game giving the Met bullpen some help.
Speaking of the bullpen, Edwin Diaz (with the exception of Josh Hader) is the best closer in the sport. He strikes out 60% of the batters he faces and has no fear in tight situations. His season likely will make critics of Brodie Van Wagenen apologize for their criticism of that trade–a deal that I always publicly agreed with from the time it was made.
The negative tweets you see after every Met loss are downright comical as in a 162 game season there will be ups and downs. But as you see in the standings, the Mets are 19 games over 500 which means even if they play 500 ball the rest of the season that is a 90 -win season. And with both deGrom and Scherzer returning I expect them to play higher than 500 ball.
From an offensive standpoint, Pete Alonso has more RBI than anyone in the sport and very few duos have more RBI than the exacta combo of Alonso and Francisco Lindor. They murder teams who shift them as every batter including Pete Alonso (the best power hitter in the game) uses the whole field. As a result, the Mets can win games without hitting the long ball even though they do hit a fair share of home runs.
In fact, this team wins in a myriad of ways–they can out slug you, out run you or out pitch you. And with Buck at the controls, out think you. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Atlanta Braves as they can do all those things as well. And they still have a plethora of head -to- head contests with the Mets that will decide the division but make no mistake–both will be playoff teams.
However, the division would be a valuable thing heading into the off-season as either team would likely have one of the two best record teams getting a bye from that first round of the playoffs moving to the NLDS with the pitcher rotation set up to put their aces on the hill in Game 1 of the NLDS.
We hear all this chatter about strong divisions but I could see 3 teams from NL East going to the post-season. And that will make those Mets/Braves games must watch television as both teams are clearly in the elite status when you evaluate the first half of the 2022 season.