The New York Mets finished the season with a winning record, something that was hard to fathom at the All Star Break. Back then, the Mets were 40-50 and looking like surefire sellers, so a playoff push wasn’t on our minds when we broke down five second half storylines to track. As our annual Season in Review series kicks off, let’s look back at these five storylines to see what happened with the Mets there.
Who do the Mets end up trading?
Back at the break, most of the attention was focused on who the Mets would ship out of town. Noah Syndergaard’s name was on the trading block while recent history suggested the Mets would ship out pending free agents like Zack Wheeler, Todd Frazier and Jason Vargas. The Mets pulled a switcheroo when they got themselves into the hunt, instead picking up Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays for prospects and only dealing away Vargas to the Philadelphia Phillies for AA catcher Austin Bossart.
Can Jeff McNeil win the batting title?
Jeff McNeil entered the All Star Break leading the league in hitting at .349, so there was a good chance he would become the first Met to win the batting crown since Jose Reyes in 2011. That won’t happen now that McNeil hit “only” .276 in the second half, lowering his average down to .318. The drop off in average came with an increase in power, however, as McNeil hit 16 homers after the All Star Break.
What will Pete Alonso do for an encore?
Pete Alonso made a name for himself in the first half by slugging 30 home runs and winning the Home Run Derby. The second half was just as good for Alonso, who shattered the Mets’ single season home run record in late August and set the rookie mark for most home runs in a season by slugging his 53rd bomb on Saturday. Alonso established himself as a star on the big league stage, giving the Mets a new face of the franchise after David Wright’s exit a year ago.
Does Anthony Kay make the majors?
Anthony Kay was the New York Mets’ top pitching prospect in the first half, leading to speculation he could make his big league debut after the team dealt away starters at the deadline. That did happen, but Kay ended up being one of the pieces dealt away to Toronto in the Stroman trade. Kay made his big league debut on September 7 and went 1-0 with a 5.79 ERA in three starts for the Blue Jays.
Can the Mets fix some of their underperforming players?
The Mets found themselves in a hole in the first half due to key players delivering poor performances. We highlighted five names to watch in this regard: Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Steven Matz, and Syndergaard. Neither reliever fared much better in the second half, with Diaz pitching to a 5.70 ERA and losing the closer’s role while Familia pitched to a 3.90 ERA but failing to establish consistent success. Matz’s demotion to the bullpen at the end of the first half paid dividends as he pitched to a 3.52 ERA after the break while mostly eliminating the first inning struggles that plagued him earlier the year. Syndergaard was slightly better in the second half but still struggled to find a groove with starting catcher Wilson Ramos, but the biggest success the Mets had was getting something out of Robinson Cano. Cano hit .284 with nine homers and 21 RBI’s in just 148 at bats, a significant improvement over his woeful first half numbers. The Mets have to hope that Cano’s second half performance translates to 2020, the first of four more years the team still has him on the books.