Ho-Hum – it’s been another Mets losing season for Mets fans to suffer through. Who gets blamed? No one, because this was a team effort.
Another Mets losing season is about to go into the books that will add to the underwhelming story of a team that has qualified for the playoffs only four times in the past two decades.
The years roll by. Players come and go. Each season, there’s always tomorrow, until there are no more games on the schedule. All dressed up with the abundance of talent they have – and nowhere to go.
How did it happen again in 2020?
There are always reasons, and occasionally excuses, given for each Mets losing season. It’s the bullpen, the no-good starting pitching, managers who can’t manage their team, owners living in debt with checkbooks that never open, and on and on.
This Mets losing season is more perplexing than all others, though, and it needs to be marked with an asterisk that shines on positions where the team needs to improve on, beginning next season.
This Doesn’t Look Like A Losing Team
But first, here’s a question to consider.
How is it that a team can have three players with their names scattered throughout the NL Batting Leader categories, two rebounding bullpen arms, and a manager everyone seems to be happy with – and still – we get another Mets losing season?
Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto, and Jeff McNeil dominate the Top Ten NL 2020 Batting Leaders, while Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia both took steps forward from last year in the bullpen, and Luis Rojas proved what everyone suspected – he’s more than ready to manage a team at this level.
On top of that, Robinson Cano fends off Father Time for a year, batting .324 with no time on the IL, and a 21-year-old shortstop (Andres Gimenez) forces himself into the line with some brilliant play and the “right” attitude.
On the pitching side, Jacob deGrom is his usual out of this planet Cy Young contender, and a 24-year-old rookie (David Peterson 5-2, 3.80) comes out of nowhere to help replace Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman.
So, how does all of this individual success add up to another Mets losing season?
It can be as simple as pointing to Brodie Van Wagenen’s ill-advised belief that Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha would be the lightning in a bottle comeback pitchers the Mets needed to settle the bottom of their rotation.
The Anatomy Of A Mets Losing Season
Baseball, as we know though, is not an individual game, and the Mets losing season begins and ends there. The Mets failed as a team this year, and you don’t have to look far to find the areas where the team utterly flopped.
The most telling and by far the most impactful area of team failure is how they batted with Runners Left In Scoring Position (RISP). Dead Last out of thirty teams is where the Mets are landing this year, stranding runners at a rate of 3.91 per game.
In contrast, the Mets were eleventh in the majors in RISP in 2015, the year they went to the World Series, and twelfth in 2016, the last year they made the playoffs.
Another revealing contributor to this Mets losing season is in the Run Differential category. This stat shows a + or – number of the runs you scored versus the number of runs your opponents scored.
In 2020, the Mets are sixteenth in the league at -9. Again, by contrast, in 2015, they were sixth in the league at +84.
With team pitching, it’s the same thing. The Mets are twentieth in the majors in ERA, surrendering almost (4.90) earned runs a game.
Again, in 2015, the contrast is brilliant as the Mets finished fourth with an ERA of 3.44.
Another team-wide failure that contributed to another Mets losing season is in Walks Plus Hits Per Inning Pitched. The Mets rank 22nd in the league in this category, compared to the teams ranked 1-9, all of whom will be in this year’s playoffs.
Again, to see the importance of their World Series appearance year in 2015, the Mets ranked second in the league.
Mets: You’ve Lost That Winning Feeling
Somehow, somewhere, the Mets have lost that winning feeling – as a team. They had it in 2015, and they had it during the second half explosion we saw last year.
I insist it has more to do with culture than anything else. Look at the Dodgers, the Cardinals, and heaven forbid, the Yankees to find a culture that is instilled with winning.
These teams win because they go out there every day expecting to win.
In contrast, the Mets go out there hoping to win.
Yes, there’s the upbeat, yah rah presence of some:
“I try to be a positive influence on my teammates. I try to be a smile that’s around — especially when things aren’t going well like they were — to just try to be some kind of light in the clubhouse.” –Brandon Nimmo [Newsday]
But this is not high school, and as Joe Maddon is fond of saying, “You’re only as good as what your record says you are”.
A Losing Mets Season To Learn From
Winning teams have contributions coming from everywhere. Some are modest, others are huge, but they all add up to a winning culture that produces on the field.
The Mets losing season this year was not a fluke. It was a team effort that hopefully can be corrected during the infancy of Steve Cohen’s regime. The Mets need proven winners added to the team.
You’ll notice that both are the pulse of the team catchers, and maybe that’s where Cohen needs to start (J.T. Realmuto), but these Mets are not meshing, and until they do, we can expect more of the same – another Mets losing season.