The Mets have a built-in core of talent that is well-known to their fans moving into the 2020 season. But beneath the radar are players who can make the difference…
The Mets begin the 2020 season with a stable of players under team control, with or without additions brought on by Brodie Van Wagenen, that is capable of making waves in the NL East.
But beneath the talent of All-Star players like Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto, there has to be something more if the Mets are destined to reach beyond in 2020.
When Max Scherzer was asked to explain what made the 2019 version of the World Champion Washington Nationals different from the teams of the past who failed to take it all the way, he replied with a concise but targeted, “1-25”.
They always say that, but in this instance, you can tell Scherzer was sincere in his appraisal of the Nationals season. (watch the video here)
Mets: Who is that player destined to make the difference
Baseball is a team sport, and the Mets came close to realizing that in 2019.
And while it goes without saying, some players on a team are better and equipped with more innate talent than others, the grind of a major league season requires an effort and a roster of players. And one prepared and willing to give and take, while in full trust of the next-in-line to achieve – winning baseball.
And so as you go through the Mets roster as currently comprised, the “givens” are Alonso, McNeil, deGrom – and who else? Where will the push come from to take the Mets where they belong as a 2020 postseason team?
Is Michael Conforto the next Anthony Randon, ready to break out of the box as “The Man” on his team? Is Noah Syndergaard prepared to assume his post as the next Stephen Strasburg – where we know he belongs – but has yet to even come close to attaining?
Will Amed Rosario add or subtract from his development, or has he reached “his Harvard,” leaving the Mets in thirst of a Twenty-First Century major league caliber shortstop, like the one destined to be traded, Francisco Lindor?
These are things we do not know. And much like Brodie Van Wagenen, all we can do is sit here pondering the possible outcomes. Is J.D. Davis what he appeared to be last season – or the reason why he was shunned and let go by the Houston Astros?
Will Steven Matz go on forever as the Jerry Koosman or Jon Matlack of the Mets future? Indications are he has crossed the barrier, but can he sustain the progress he made in 2019, or was it merely a mirage?
And what of Yoenis Cespedes? No one is more capable of bringing the Mets up or down than Cespedes.
The crown prince of New York when he ignited the Mets to a World Series appearance in 2015, he remains a burden to his team by injuries and subsequent surgeries, while carrying the highest salary on the team.
And if Cespedes can return to the field to play in 140+ games for the Mets – is this what “1-25” turns out to mean for this team?
The Mets core is good – but not enough
Nothing is written in stone, and in baseball, we all understand that.
But the core of what remains is that the Mets need to duplicate the National’s clubhouse containing a group of guys, who, when summed to the total of 1-25 players, produced a World Championship in 2019.
Given the number of recent attempts by the Nationals and even the Yankees and Dodgers to reach the ultimate goal, the odds against the Mets would seem impossible.
But somewhere – somehow – all the Mets need to do to unlock the key leading to the top is to find a team where that 22-25 player makes all the difference.
We’ll stay tuned to when it becomes Jacob deGrom’s turn to echo Max Scherzer’s sentiments about his team (1-25) that returned a World Championship to New York…