New York Mets 2022 Season in Review: Revisiting Preseason Predictions

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Now that the 2022 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 back at some preseason predictions.

The twists and turns of a 162-game season can lead to some interesting storylines that completely overwhelm what the initial thoughts about the team were. The New York Mets experienced this in spades this season, going from a team that was a solid contender to a 101-win Wild Card team that nearly led the National League East wire to wire. Now that their season is over, let’s take a look back at the questions we had about the Mets in the preseason and see what we learned about the franchise as well as how it can apply to 2023’s team.

Revisiting Preseason Predictions:

1. When will Jacob deGrom return from injury?

What We Said Then:

The Mets will likely be without their ace until June while he recovers from a stress reaction in his right shoulder. Losing deGrom for any period of time hurts but if the Mets can get him back in two months there is still plenty of time for him to work with Scherzer to give them the pocket aces they were planning on this winter. Any longer delays could risk the upside of this team as an NL East contender.

What Actually Happened:

deGrom returned in August after missing four months with a stress reaction in his shoulder. The early returns were great as deGrom looked like the Cy Young version of himself but he had trouble getting deep into games. deGrom finished the season with a 5-4 record and 3.08 ERA in 11 starts, striking out 102 batters in 64.1 innings pitched. The bigger story is that deGrom is planning to opt out of his contract and test free agency with rumors swirling he wants to leave the only franchise he has ever known.

2. Will Francisco Lindor improve in his second year in New York?

What We Said Then:

Lindor received a huge contract from the Mets last season and slumped mightily as he struggled to adjust to New York, notably getting into a fight with Jeff McNeil in the dugout while also creating controversy for giving a thumbs down to the fans in August. The good news is that Lindor has torn the cover off the ball in spring training, meaning that his late-season surge in September could be a sign of things to come.

What Actually Happened:

This was an emphatic yes. Lindor hit .270, raising his batting average 40 points from a year ago, while hitting 26 home runs and setting a career high with 107 RBIs. The Mets also got Gold Glove caliber defense from Lindor, who should get down-ballot MVP votes, and feel much better about their $341 million investment.

3. Do the Mets have enough rotation depth?

What We Said Then:

The big reason the Mets were done in last season was due to a lack of pitching depth, leading Rojas to rely far too often on bullpen days and TBDs in the middle of the season. The Mets did build a staff with eight capable options to start the year but that depth is already being tested with deGrom out, Scherzer managing a hamstring issue and Taijuan Walker dealing with a knee injury. As long as the Mets can avoid having large swaths of their rotation land on the injured list at once it should be a win for New York.

What Actually Happened:

The Mets’ rotation actually held up pretty well despite seeing deGrom miss four months and Scherzer lose about two months through separate IL stints. David Peterson, Tylor Megill and Trevor Williams delivered strong results while Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco and Chris Bassitt were pretty much mainstays over the course of the season.

4. What kind of difference will Buck Showalter make for the Mets?

What We Said Then:

The Mets made a big shift in their dugout by going with the proven veteran Showalter, a contrast to first-time managers Rojas and Mickey Callaway. Having Showalter around will help because he won’t be learning on the job and has experience dealing with the New York media from his days with the Yankees. Showalter’s years of experience will help him manage the bullpen and clubhouse, possibly helping the Mets earn a few more wins that they squandered due to questionable game management from first-time skippers in recent years.

What Actually Happened:

Showalter won 101 games in his first year as the Mets’ manager, giving him an excellent chance to become the first skipper in franchise history to win the National League’s Manager of the Year award. The Mets benefitted from Showalter’s tactical knowledge and calming presence as he helped the team avoid seeing controversies spiral into season-ending disasters like the previous two managers had allowed to happen.

5. How will the DH impact the Mets?

What We Said Then:

The biggest positive for the Mets is that the universal DH will keep their pitchers from getting injured swinging the bat, which became an issue for deGrom and Walker last season. The Mets didn’t sign a true DH over the winter so expect that spot to be rotated between the likes of JD Davis, Dominic Smith, Robinson Cano and whatever veteran needs a day off their feet.

What Actually Happened:

This was a big whiff as Cano was cut after a month with Smith and Davis offering little punch. The Mets tried to upgrade their DH platoon at the trade deadline with Daniel Vogelbach, who was fine, and Darin Ruf, who was an outright disaster. The lack of production from the DH often led Showalter to hitting the spot seventh or eighth in the batting order, which is a problem the Mets will need to address in the offseason.

6. Is the Mets’ lineup deep enough?

What We Said Then:

The Mets made some necessary changes to the lineup after it underachieved in 2022, letting Michael Conforto and Javier Baez walk in free agency while importing Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar to add more balance to the order. The new-look lineup is a bit light on power and is counting on bouncebacks from Lindor and McNeil among others, so we will see if this new approach is more successful than last year’s.

What Actually Happened:

The contact-heavy approach helped the Mets score the fifth-most runs in the league but there were significant stretches where the offense did nothing if Pete Alonso or Francisco Lindor wasn’t hitting. The loss of Marte to a broken finger in September exposed the Mets’ lack of depth and their lack of power killed them in a critical late season series in Atlanta along with the Wild Card loss to the San Diego Padres.

7. Are there any prospects who can help in 2022?

What We Said Then:

Most fans would love to see Francisco Alvarez force his way to the majors to supplement James McCann but if all goes well that wouldn’t happen until September at the earliest. The two most likely contributors are Mark Vientos and Brett Baty, who could hit their way into the DH equation with a strong start to the season. Vientos is more likely to reach the bigs first since he is beginning 2022 in AAA while another name to watch is outfielder Khalil Lee, who could help out if the Mets have an injury in the outfield.

What Actually Happened:

Unlike their NL East rivals in Atlanta, who called up Michael Harris and Spencer Strider early in the season and saw them become key contributors to a team that eventually caught the Mets, New York was extremely hesitant to give their prospects a shot. The Mets didn’t recall Baty or Vientos until rashes of injuries forced their hand while Alvarez didn’t debut until the last six games of the season, which put the kids in an unfair position of trying to learn the major leagues in the heat of a pennant race. This situation needs to be remedied next season by ensuring that Alvarez and Baty, at a minimum, get significant big-league at bats to help them become contributors.

8. How active will the Mets be to improve their roster in-season?

What We Said Then:

Eppler already has made one trade this spring, dealing Miguel Castro to the Yankees for Joely Rodriguez to add a lefty to the bullpen, and the Mets have also strongly considered a deal that would have sent Smith to San Diego for Eric Hosmer and Chris Paddack. Since Cohen has already allowed the Mets to significantly exceed the luxury tax they will likely be eager to take a big swing to add to an area of need by the time the trade deadline rolls around.

What Actually Happened:

The Mets were patient to a fault with their team, opting not to overpay for rentals to supercharge a team in the middle of a pennant race. Eppler chose to improve the team on the margins, which was not good enough to hold off the Braves in the division or advance out of the Wild Card round in October, with his explanation being that the Mets didn’t want to burn too many prospects that would help build a sustainable contender. The decision preserved almost all of the Mets’ prospect capital at the expense of letting the 2022 team go without the significant upgrades it deserved.

9. Who is the X-Factor for the Mets in 2022?

What We Said Then:

The obvious answer is Lindor as the team’s highest-paid player but we will go with his longtime teammate Carlos Carrasco. The Mets got a lost year from Carrasco after a hamstring injury screwed up his 2021 campaign but Carrasco is a former AL Wins leader who has performed very well when he has been able to stay healthy. Getting quality innings from Carrasco in 2022 would be huge since the Mets already are dealing with health questions about three of their starting pitchers.

What Actually Happened:

Carrasco did win 15 games for the Mets and was a stabilizing presence in the back of the rotation but his struggles against contenders led them to leave Carrasco off the playoff roster. The answer was Edwin Diaz, who became the best closer in baseball and a lethal late-inning weapon Showalter utilized brilliantly, making him arguably the top priority for the Mets to re-sign this winter.

10. Will the Mets make the playoffs?

What We Said Then:

The addition of the sixth playoff team should only help the Mets, who would have reached the postseason in 2019 if the current rules were in play. The Mets are a deeper and more versatile team now, which should help them weather injuries, so if those improvements are worth 10 more wins it should easily result in a Wild Card berth. Any higher aspirations will likely be achieved if deGrom is able to return quickly and the rest of the team manages to stay relatively healthy over the course of the season.

What Actually Happened:

The Mets made the playoffs with ease after putting up 101 wins, their second-most in a single regular season in franchise history. The problem is they needed one more win to capture the National League East, which they didn’t get, and flopped in a Wild Card Series loss to the San Diego Padres to leave the victories as hollow ones.

Check back tomorrow as our Season in Review series continues with a look at notable surprises and disappointments from the 2022 campaign!

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