Now that the 2021 season is over for the New York Mets, we will spend the next several weeks taking a look at the big picture. This deep dive will be broken down into phases every weekday, continuing today with a look at surprises and disappointments.
An annual tradition in the Season in Review series is looking at some surprises and disappointments. It was admittedly far easier to narrow down the disappointments, but there were a few positive surprises for the New York Mets in 2021. Let’s break down three from each category, starting with the surprises.
There was almost no conceivable scenario where the Mets were expecting Tylor Megill to be a factor in their 2021 starting rotation. A rash of injuries in June, combined with a solid start to the season in the minors for Megill, gave him his opportunity. Megill took full advantage, flashing some moxie and skills to get big-league hitters out over the course of the season. The Mets were forced to keep Megill in their rotation for the remainder of the year and he wore down as Megill exceeded his previous innings highs by a lot but he has shown that the Mets can use him as quality rotation depth in 2022.
It may seem hard to believe now, but most Mets’ fans were actually pining for the team to re-sign Justin Wilson instead of Aaron Loup last winter. Loup got a one-year, $3 million deal with the Mets and more than earned his money, becoming one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. The Mets saw Loup pitch to a 0.95 ERA as he was effective against both lefties and righties, making him the most valuable member of the bullpen.
The Bench Mob
A big part of the reason why the Mets were able to maintain first place in spite of a rash of injuries in May was the strength of their bench. Players like Jonathan Villar, Kevin Pillar, Tomas Nido, Jose Peraza and Brandon Drury delivered big hits when called upon all year long. The fact that the Bench Mob is here instead of any starting position players does explain a lot about why the Mets finished below .500.
We could easily list the whole offense here, but Francisco Lindor will serve as their representative in the disappointments section. Lindor had high expectations after signing a 10-year, $341 million contract and largely flopped, underachieving in every major offensive category for the majority of the season. When you factor in the fact that Lindor missed six weeks with an oblique injury and created a controversy by co-founding the “thumbs down” movement to help the players get back at booing fans, Lindor is emblematic of what went wrong for the Mets this season.
The surface level numbers aren’t terrible for Diaz but he did regress from his strong 2020 season, which was played without fans in the stands. Diaz melted down in several big spots for the Mets, costing them key games and helping contribute to the team’s seemingly inevitable collapse. The fact that Diaz was also bad in non-save situations didn’t help either and leaves the Mets with a difficult choice to make for how to proceed with him for both the short and long term.
The Front Office
While Luis Rojas took the heat for the Mets’ collapse the front office deserves a near-equal share of the blame. The front office was way too lackadaisical in its approach to moves, far too often relying on suboptimal TBDs or bullpen games to replace injured pitchers while playing for tomorrow instead of going for the kill in a weak National League East. That laissez-faire approach left the division up for grabs, allowing Atlanta to take it with aggressive trade deadline moves while the Mets made one splash and didn’t do much else. Add in the off-the-field embarrassments created by decisions from Sandy Alderson in the past as well as a DWI for Zack Scott (Jared Porter’s firing predates the season but deserves mention) and it is clear that the front office is a massive disappointment.