Archive: June 23rd, 2021

Mets 68-game grades

There are now two weeks to go before the midway point of the season. I’m hoping that a lot happens in those two weeks to clarify what kind of team the 2021 Mets can be. Will hot players cool off? Will slumping players bounce back? Will injured players return and contribute? Before we get the answers to those questions, let’s take stock what we’ve already seen.

The Manager

Luis Rojas – B
The team has been hit as hard by injuries as any team I’ve seen, and the healthy lineup anchors have underperformed. And yet, somehow, the Mets’ fortunes climbed as high as a 35-25 record with a 5 game lead in the NL East. That’s the stuff Manager of the Year campaigns are made of.

The 2021 team has stayed positive and pretty focused. The pitching has excelled despite all sorts of disruptions which have required multiple bullpen games.

Rojas does make the occasional strategic blunder, which is why I’m not giving him an “A”, but no manager is perfect, and Luis has done an admirable job overall with what he’s had to work with.

The Players

Jacob deGrom – A+
Jake has had trouble staying on the mound due to various arm issues, but on a per inning basis is off to the best start in MLB history. Two 1-0 losses leave his record less than perfect, but team has actually held leads for him for a change. He’s 7-2, with the team 9-3 in his starts.

Taijuan Walker – A
Walker has given the Mets more than they could have possibly expected. He doesn’t always hit the glove, but he has decreased his walks as the season’s gone on, while keeping hitters off-balance with pitch variety and movement.

Marcus Stroman – A-
Stro’s rate stats are nothing special, but he has been consistent, tough with men on base, and a groundball machine. His 2.32 ERA is spectacular, and he leads the team in innings.

Edwin Diaz – B+
Diaz has 2 losses, and his ERA is nothing special, but he’s 15 for 16 in save chances, and his walks are down.

Aaron Loup – B+
Loup has been tough on lefties and has survived against righties. He’s gotten a lot of big outs.

Jonathan Villar – B+
He’s only hitting .240, but Villar has been stellar in other areas. He’s currently fourth on the team in plate appearances (due to injuries to the planned starters) and the Mets would have been lost without him. Villar has contributed some great defense, some great baserunning, some walks and some homers. He’s prone to the occasional gaffe, but he more than makes up for it.

Kevin Pillar – B
Pillar hasn’t gotten on base much, but has provided more power than expected. His speed is not what it used to be, but he’s still a good OF. Also a fantastic leader by example.

Tomas Nido – B
Nido got hot and carried the offense to a few low-scoring wins when everyone else was cold or hurt, leaving him as the team leader in Win Probability Added even now, after he’s regressed to his usual levels of offense. Solid behind the plate as always.

Miguel Castro – B
Castro has had a few clunkers and a lot of walk-induced nail-biters, but has gotten the job done more often than not. His change-up was dominant in April, but now he’s throwing all sliders. His fastball command remains poor, but its velocity complements his other pitches well.

Seth Lugo – B
Lugo has jumped right into a high-leverage role off the injured list. He was great at first, but has struggled recently.

Jeurys Familia – B
Recently Familia has been worked hard, and his performance and health have suffered. Before that, though, he looked the best he has since 2016, getting lots of weak grounders. Some of those have found holes, making his numbers look worse than how well he’s pitched.

Sean Reid-Foley – B
Sean has provided great value as multi-inning reliever. After seven excellent appearances, he got lit up in his last one.

Robert Gsellman – C+
His sinker was actually sinking again, and his walks and HRs were down… until he tore a lat muscle and now will miss 2 months.

James McCann – C+
MCCann has looked more like the hitter he was in Detroit (poor) than Chicago (good), but his defense has been even better than advertised, as the best game-caller in recent memory among Mets primary catchers.

Pete Alonso – C
Pete has been excellent with the glove, but has rarely squared up the ball at the plate, and has already had several slumps where he’s waved at junk and popped up meatballs. He looked like 2019 Pete in spring training, but hasn’t carried it over to the games that count.

Joey Lucchesi – C
Lucchesi initially struggled while pitching irregularly, but became quite effective two times through the lineup as a regular starter. Pitching his best baseball of the year, he tore his UCL last week and is now finished for the season.

Trevor May – C-
Erratic; dominant one day, batting practice the next.

Dominic Smith – C-
Smith has gotten better in LF but is still below average. 2021 has seen a huge decline with the bat. He’s rarely squaring up pitches to hit, and he’s also waving at a ton of stuff above the zone or in the dirt middle-to-in. The back foot breaking ball is an almost automatic chase.

Michael Conforto – C-
At the start of 2021, Conforto did not resemble the hitter he was in 2020, when he hit a ton of opposite-field, 2-strike singles. Instead, he looked back to his old all-or-nothing self… but without the power. Then he got hurt.

Jeff McNeil – C-
McNeil rarely struck out, but he couldn’t square up many pitches, looking bad on anything up or away. He got hurt in the same game as Conforto.

Lindor – D
Anyone who expected Lindor to save the Mets has to be very disappointed. He’s provided great first-step quickness and range in the field, and he’s always talking and effervescent, but the positives stop there.

Lindor has shown an ugly swing, terrible situational hitting, and a propensity for choking with RISP. His arm is mediocre, and he’s made several questionable decisions in the field, such as turning down DPs in favor of one easy out. He sometimes runs hard to first, but sometimes not. He didn’t attempt any steals until he got hot at the plate, despite having drawn plenty of walks.

As one of two healthy guys in there all year (alongside Dom Smith), Lindor had the chance to be an enormous difference maker in all the low-scoring games the Mets played. Instead, he’s slashed .212/.304/.351 and contributed -0.3 WPA.

He’s appointed himself the leader of the team, and perhaps his positive attitude is helping, but he certainly isn’t leading by example at the plate.

David Peterson – D
Two excellent starts, six okay starts, and five absolute disasters. Peterson has tended to lose control very badly and not get it back, resulting in both walks and homers.