The 2021 Mets Fix Awards
Presenting our picks for team MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of Year & Silver Slugger
Well, the Mets ended their season in a fitting way yesterday: they got trounced by the Braves (5-0). It was a season of some highs (first place for a long stretch, historic pitching by Jacob deGrom) and plenty of lows (a quintessential Mets collapse, a short-lived war between the fans and some players). And in the end, there will likely be many changes over the coming months.
With that, let’s catch you up on all the latest news, and issue our first official Mets Fix awards for the season.
📈 STANDINGS: The Mets finish with 77 wins, which is technically an improvement over the 60-game results from last season in terms of winning percentage (.475 vs .433), but is down from the 86 they won in 2019. Overall, it marks the fourth losing season in the past five years and 10th in the last 13 seasons.
🔨 THOR: After an exciting return to Citi Field last week, Noah Syndergaard didn’t fare as well in Atlanta on Sunday. The tall right-hander served up a leadoff home run to Jorge Soler, before allowing two more hits and putting the Mets in an early 2–0 deficit in his lone inning of work.
GOALS MET: “I guess that was the goal from when I had my setback from two or three months ago; just to come back healthy and to showcase that I was healthy going into free agency,” Syndergaard told reporters after yesterday’s 5–0 loss. “I think now that I was able to come back after those two innings, I can kind of relax a little bit.”
FREE AGENCY: “It’s out of my control right now,” Syndergaard said. “It would be a tough pill to swallow not wearing the Mets jersey next year. I’m just going to take things day by day and try not to focus too much on it.”
🏥 SURGERY: J.D. Davis will undergo surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left hand on Tuesday.
TRADE BAIT? “It’s kind of 50/50, kind of a flip of the coin,” Davis said when asked about the possibility of being traded. “I know there’s going to be plenty of changes up and down from the front office all the way down to here. My gut feeling? I could be out of here. That’s what it’s kind of leaning towards. But there’s a possibility that I could come back. I love New York. I love the fans. I love the city. It’s a flip of the coin.”
↺ COMING BACK? The Mets hold a team option on pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, about whom Mike Puma tweets “is the most likely of the coaches to survive what could be a staff shakeup.”
🍂 CHANGE IS COMING: After the game, Mets players and coaches acknowledged the roster will likely look a lot different next season:
SUCKS: “We hold each other very accountable,” J.D. Davis said. “We love each other. It’s going to be different. It’s going to suck.”
NO WORD: Manager Luis Rojas could be the first major change this offseason, although he hasn’t talked to Sandy Alderson about his status yet.
🧑🏫 SOUND SMART: Lefty reliever Aaron Loup finished the season with a microscopic 0.95 ERA in 56 2/3 innings, making him the first pitcher in franchise history to finish a season with a sub-1.00 ERA (min. 20 innings). As a reminder, Jacob deGrom finished with a 1.08 ERA (in more innings pitched).
🎓 MLB DRAFT: With the final standings set, we now know the first-round order of the 2022 Amateur Draft. The Mets will pick 11th for failing to sign Kumar Rocker, and 14th based on this season’s results.
💸 FRIENDLY MONEY: Francisco Lindor continues to lobby for the Mets to sign his friend Javier Báez during the offseason:
📚 ON THIS DATE:
Mets Fix 2021 Awards
With the end of the season upon us, we thought it’d be fun to name the best Mets players this year using traditional baseball awards, such as MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Silver Slugger. As a reminder, last week we selected Francisco Lindor as our choice for Gold Glove.
Rookie of the Year
This year’s Rookie of the Year could also be listed as the “silver lining” award. With the starting rotation depleted by June, and the Mets still in the thick of the pennant race, Tylor Megill was called up for a critical start against the NL East rival Atlanta Braves on June 23. Megill was not a heralded prospect, but impressed right from the start. After two solid back-to-back performances against the Braves in June, he kicked it into high gear in July, throwing 26 innings with 27 strike outs and a 1.04 ERA. Megill appeared to tire down the stretch, which is not surprising for a pitcher with zero competitive innings in 2020 and just 71.2 professional innings in 2019. Megill finishes the season at 4-6 with a 4.52 ERA in 89.2 IP and 99 K’s.
Jacob deGrom was on his way to an all-time historic season, but it’s hard to give a Cy Young award to a pitcher for half a season of work, no matter how good. For the first half of the season, it looked like Taijuan Walker was filling the role of #2 to deGOAT. Walker earned his All-Star selection with a 2.66 ERA, but fell hard in the second half and finished up with a 4.47 ERA for the season.
That makes this one an easy decision: the most outstanding pitcher for the New York Mets in 2021 has been Marcus Stroman. Stroman stepped up and took the ball every fifth day, never missing a start all season – no small feat given the flood of pitching injuries across MLB this season and the fact that he sat out last season due to the pandemic. In the end, Stroman finishes the year at 10-13 with a 3.02 ERA and 158 K’s in 179 IP. At 30 years old and hitting free agency without being attached to a qualifying offer, that’s enough to ensure he gets paid this offseason.
Additional Context: With 92 IP, deGrom fell 70 innings short of qualifying for the ERA title. To give some perspective on how good his 1.08 ERA for a half season is compared with MLB ERA leader Corbin Burnes’ full-season 2.29 ERA … deGrom gave up just 11 earned runs in 92 innings. He could have given up 30 more runs over 70 innings (3.86 ERA) and he would have finished with the MLB ERA title (2.28).
Back in the day, Rolaids used to sponsor a relief man award. Normally, it would go to a colorful flamethrower like Goose Gossage, but that was before the use of bullpens evolved to a point where closers aren’t asked to go more than three outs and bringing in a top relievers with men on base in considered an excuse for blowing a lead. This season, there has been one relief pitcher that hasn’t at some point caused Mets fans to roll their eyes upon seeing emerge from the bullpen: Aaron Loup. Loup was a standout discovery by the front office this offseason, delivering way beyond anyone’s expectations. As noted earlier, he finished the year with a sub-1.00 ERA and a 2.8 WAR in 56.2 innings of work.
After the Mets got swept in a weekend series in Philadelphia in August, completing an embarrassing week in which the team dropped 7 of 8 to the Reds, Marlins and Phillies, Pete Alonso raised eyebrows with a bizarre vow to fans that the team would be okay and that no one should lose faith. The Mets has just fallen out of first place for the first time in three months and were 56-55. The team collapsed shortly after that, but not because of Alonso. On August 9, Alonso was hitting .247 with an .813 OPS and 24 HR. Since then, Alonso pounded the ball the last two months, raising his season average to .262 with an .862 OPS and 37 homers. There were long stretches, most notably when Francisco Lindor and Javy Báez were on the IL, in which Alonso appeared to be the only offensive star capable of producing runs. If some were disappointed in Alonso’s sophomore pandemic season, 2021 was the year Big Pete solidified his role as a star and team leader. The winner of our 2021 Silver Slugger Award is Pete Alonso.
There is a classic debate in baseball about the true meaning of the MVP award. Is it meant for the most outstanding all-around player? Should it focus on the term “valuable” and be given to the player with the greatest impact on his team? We have chosen to give the Silver Slugger award to this year’s most outstanding player, and we are giving our 2021 New York Mets MVP Award to the player who has had the greatest impact on the team and proven his value beyond a shadow of a doubt: the GOAT himself, Jacob deGrom.
No matter how you slice it, this team was good when Jake was active and bad when he wasn’t. This team led the division when Jake was on the active roster and fell into mediocrity when he was injured. When Jake played this year, he was the best pitcher on the planet and sometimes the best hitter in his lineup. When it lost Jake, this team learned how valuable he really was.
The Mets had a 4.5 game lead on the last day deGrom pitched, they went 31–47 since he went on the IL, finishing 12 games behind Atlanta. Obviously, there were several factors that played into that, but consider this: New York won 73% of deGrom’s starts when he was healthy, they only won 46.7% of the games started by Rich Hill and Trevor Williams, who were essentially required to “replace” his spot in the rotation.
If you add together deGrom’s value at the plate with his exceptional value as a pitcher, he was worth 5.5 wins above replacement this season, which amazingly still leads the team despite the fact he only played half of the season. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
Agree with our choices? Disagree? Put your own picks in the comments section!
🔗 How will the 2021 Mets be remembered? Debating their possible legacies, by Tim Britton, The Athletic: “New York played a competitively meaningless game in Atlanta that felt that way — a 5-0 loss in which it collected three hits. It lasted all of two hours and 26 minutes. Despite leading the division for more than 100 days, the Mets were eliminated from contention last week, playing out the string in games that, for so long, appeared as if they would be meaningful.”
🔗 What exactly went wrong for the Mets in 2021, and how do they fix it? by John Harper, SNY: “After all, this was a team that spent a total of 114 days in first place but in retrospect was always walking a tightrope, winning many a game with late-inning magic in the first half that said as much about their inability to score runs consistently as it did about their grit. And so, in the end, perhaps the simplest way to explain the 2021 Mets is to say they weren’t who we thought they were.”
🔗 Reliving the Mets Season Through Steve Cohen’s Tweets, by Katie Baker, The Ringer: “No other MLB team has ever spent more time in first place (103 days!) without having a winning record to show for it. What’s that they say? Same old Mets. The difference is that this season, all of this has been documented on Twitter by the sometimes snarky, frequently cheugy, and increasingly irritated billionaire owner of the team. Behold, the 2021 Mets season, as experienced through the Twitter-for-iPhone of @StevenACohen2.”
🔗 This Winter in Mets: A road map to the Mets’ critical offseason decisions, by Tim Britton, The Athletic ($): “The Mets dispersed from Atlanta in all different directions Sunday; some players headed straight home for the winter, others went back to New York on the team plane. Sunday was thus, formally, the last day they all spent together. The Mets, as a team, won’t gather again until next spring training. They’ll be a very different group.”
And we leave you with some parting words from a few Mets…
Thanks for reading all season long! We appreciate your support during our inaugural year, and we’ll be in touch in the weeks and months to come.