You could sum up the 2017 New York Mets’ season in one word: disappointment. The Mets hoped to be in the playoffs and be fighting for a World Series title at this point in the season. Instead, they lost 92 games and are booking tee times. While it is easy to simply look at the year as a blatant write off, there were some positive developments for the Mets as well. As we continue to look back at the season that was, let’s look at some specific surprises and disappointments for the 2017 Mets.
Michael Conforto Becomes A Star: After a lost 2016, no one knew what to expect out of Michael Conforto in 2017. Conforto put together a strong spring training but almost didn’t make the Opening Day roster due to the Mets’ gut of outfielders. A late injury to Juan Lagares allowed Conforto to make the team as a reserve, and he exploded once he got regular at bats, earning an All Star nod and becoming the anchor of the Mets’ lineup. Conforto’s season ended early due to injury, but his emergence as a potential superstar was the biggest surprise for the Mets this season.
Rafael Montero Shows Flashes Of Competence: Mets’ fans were growing increasingly frustrated at the seemingly endless opportunities Rafael Montero got to showcase himself. Montero, who was at one point a higher touted prospect than Jacob deGrom, had failed time after time to establish himself as a viable big league pitcher. After a few more false starts this season, the Mets went back to Montero as a starter after injuries wrecked the team’s vaunted rotation. Montero actually displayed some hints of competence, recording a 5-8 record in 18 starts and posting a solid 4.15 ERA in seven appearances (six starts) in August. There were bumps in the road, but the Mets have to be pleased with Montero’s progress in 2017.
The Catchers Got Better: The Mets entered 2017 with major catching questions and may walk out of it feeling good about their backstops. After Rene Rivera was claimed off waivers by the Cubs, the Mets elevated Kevin Plawecki to the majors from Triple-A Las Vegas. Plawecki played much better in his latest call up, batting .303 in the second half to take playing time away from incumbent Travis d’Arnaud. d’Arnaud responded well to the challenge, batting .297 in September with six homers and 19 RBI’s. The pair played well as complements to each other, a role that will likely continue into 2018.
Injuries: The biggest disappointment for the Mets was, by far, injuries. Nearly every significant Mets’ regular spent time on the disabled list, with most of them missing weeks of action at a time. All of those injuries, especially significant ones to Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, and Jeurys Familia, essentially ended the Mets’ season before it could even get going.
The Rotation: The Mets’ strength for the past few years has been their starting rotation. That strength turned into an absolute nightmare in 2017, with the group struggling to stay healthy and performing poorly when they were taking starts. Aside from deGrom, Mets’ starters were either injured (Noah Syndergaard), ineffective (Montero, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo) or both (Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler). The end result was a team ERA over five, which cost long time pitching coach Dan Warthen his job.
The Leaks: The poor season exposed a lot of cracks in the organization, and they often took the form of anonymous leaks. Mets’ front office personnel who were unsatisfied with the way things were going often leaked their displeasure through the media, creating unnecessary firestorms for the team to deal with. Things hit a head in the last week of the season, when several articles emerged with players and front office figures anonymously bashing lame duck manager Terry Collins. The articles were classless and infuriated GM Sandy Alderson, who threatened to fire any leakers if he found out who they were.