Like most of you, I’m pretty frustrated at the ugly turn this 2018 season has taken for the New York Mets in recent weeks. One moment we’re sitting on top of the division boasting an MLB-best 11-1 record, and then, just like that, it all comes crashing down.
Sooner or later we knew the Mets would hit some adversity, so I was glad the team had built themselves a pretty sizable cushion that would help us get through some of those rough stretches that were bound to occur.
However, I never imagined that we’d squander that 10-game cushion so soon. Here we are, just three weeks later, sitting in 4th place behind the Phillies, Braves and Nationals, who were once nine games behind us. How many people betting on the game saw that coming? Baseball can be so humbling.
Momentum has always been a big part of the success or failure of a team, and right now the Mets are travelling in reverse while the rest of our division rivals are all passing us by. The Mets are 7-16 since their incredible start, and have lost six of their last seven series. Even more troubling, and a sign that things might get worse before they get better, is the story that their Run Differential tells.
|Team||Runs Scored||Runs Allowed||Differential|
Until we can consistently start scoring more runs than we’re giving up there’s virtually no chance that the Mets will return to the top of the division, and that’s assuming our NL East rivals do a complete reversal as well.
While most baseball analysts considered Washington the best team in the division and that sooner or later they’d overtake the Mets, I don’t think anyone expected Atlanta and Philly to be playing this well this soon.
With an abundance of elite prospects on the way and their big-league rosters peppered with young up and coming stars, Sandy Alderson and the Mets should be extremely concerned that both the Braves and Phillies are a year ahead of schedule.
What surprises me about how quickly the Nats have turned it around with their recent 14-2 run, is that they’ve managed to do it without the services of two of their top performers, Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton.
When the Mets and Nationals both entered the offseason looking to target a bat that could play some first base and outfield, both teams were kicking the tires on Matt Adams. But when Adrian Gonzalez was suddenly designated for assignment, Sandy Alderson jumped on him leaving Adams to sign with the Nats.
While A-Gon has had his moments this season and is only getting paid the league minimum by the Mets, the Nationals have gotten an offensive juggernaut in Adams for the bargain rate of $4 million dollars. All he’s managed to do is post an incredible .304/.421/.734 batting line with 10 home runs, 24 RBIs, a 1.3 WAR and perhaps most impressive, an OPS+ of 208.
Meanwhile, their top prospect Trea Turner is quickly blossoming into one of the game’s top leadoff hitters. Turner is well on his way to topping last season’s 41 stolen bases, and he’s batting .309/.398/.407 in the number one slot. Like Adams, he too has a 1.3 WAR and he’s doing it from a premium position – shortstop.
We’ve already seen what the Braves have to offer, having gotten some great glimpses at their young stars Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, and Ronald Acuna to name a few. And this weekend we’ll make our first visit to Citizens Bank Park to see just how good Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin and Rhys Hoskins really are, while tangling with young up and comers Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco.
I guess what I’m trying to point out here, is that the Nationals are still the cream of the crop and that the Braves and Phillies are really good and only getting better. Meanwhile the Mets have been floundering and those once bright dreams we had of a dynasty run have really taken a big hit. The Fab Five never materialized, Michael Conforto is struggling, and Amed Rosario didn’t hit the ground running as we all had hoped.
Sandy Alderson has some work to do if he expects this team to hang with the rest of the division this year and beyond. And newly minted manager Mickey Callaway isn’t smiling that much anymore as he searches a way out of this current funk the team finds itself in. It’s still early enough to turn things around but Memorial Day is quickly approaching and then comes the long, hot Summer. This was supposed to be our window to succeed, but did we peak in 2015? Are we what our record says we are? The fourth best team in the division? Time will tell.