Happy New Year to all of you! Before I say goodbye to 2018, I wanted to look back one last time and put together my choices for the best and worst of the Mets’ previous season. Feel free to include your own award winners in the comments. Enjoy…
Most Valuable Player Award – Jacob deGrom
What can I say about Jacob deGrom that hasn’t been said a million times already? Just when some thought the lanky right-hander posted a career season in 2017, he goes out and blows the doors out of the 2018 season, copping the Cy Young and setting a few new franchise records in the process. Tabbing deGrom as the team’s MVP is a no-brainer and there’s no reason to believe he’ll slow down in 2019. All that’s left to do is rewarding him with a fat extension.
Least Valuable Player Award – Jose Reyes
Not to pick on Jose Reyes, who is still the best shortstop in franchise history, but somebody had to be the least valuable player. And by virtue of over a dozen offensive metrics, Reyes may have turned in one of the worst seasons in the Major Leagues, let alone the Mets.
Rising Star Award – Zack Wheeler
It has been a long and winding road for the former top prospect the Mets received in exchange for Carlos Beltran eight years ago. Nobody ever doubted Zack Wheeler‘s talent but injuries kept impeding his progress. Finally healthy for a full season, Wheeler delivered on all his promise and in fact had a better second half than teammate Jacob deGrom. That says it all.
Falling Star Award – Dominic Smith
“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” ~ A Bronx Tale
Dominic Smith has been heralded as the team’s first baseman of the future from the day the Mets selected him in the first round of the 2013 Draft. But despite some lofty numbers in the minors, injuries, weight control, and poor production doomed the 23-year old Smith. Peter Alonso has supplanted him at first base and Smith’s future is very cloudy.
Top Rookie Award – Jeff McNeil
One of the best surprises of the 2018 season was the emergence of infielder Jeff McNeil, who was finally promoted after tearing up the minors – albeit a couple of months too late. McNeil slashed at an impressive .329/.389/.471 clip while stroking 11 doubles, six triples, and three homers in just 225 at-bats. However with Robinson Cano on board and Mickey Callaway announcing Todd Frazier as his third baseman, it’s not clear what McNeil’s role is in 2019. How very LOLMets.
Top Sophomore Award – Amed Rosario
After an unimpressive rookie season in 2017, top prospect Amed Rosario lost some of his luster and some in the front office even soured on him. But despite a rough start to last season, Rosario shined bright in the second half, flashing his game-breaking speed, a quick bat with pop, and some fancy glove-work in the second half. Expectations will be high in 2019.
Top Slugger Award – Michael Conforto
Recovering from offseason shoulder surgery limited Michael Conforto to just 18 extra-base hits and a .211 average in the first half. But after the All Star break, the Mets’ right fielder went into beast mode, swatting 18 doubles and 17 homers while posting a .895 OPS and a 149 OPS+. Easily the team’s top slugger especially with left fielder Yoenis Cespedes on the shelf until July.
Top Glove Award – Juan Lagares
Yes, Juan Lagares is still the team’s top defensive player, and on those rare occasions when he gets a start in center field, he continues to dazzle with the glove and make spectacular plays in the field. I gotta give honorable mentions to catcher Tomas Nido and right-hander Jacob deGrom. Actually, I felt deGrom deserved a gold glove for his defensive prowess in 2018.
Top Prospect Award – Peter Alonso
With 36 homers between Binghamton and Las Vegas, Peter Alonso became the first Mets prospect ever to lead the minor leagues in home runs. The 23-year-old also collected 31 doubles and 119 RBI while batting .285/.395/.579 in 132 games between Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas. In the 2018 Futures Game, he wowed everyone with a 415 foot home run that set a Statcast record with a 113 mph exit velocity and 46 degree launch angle. Barring a disaster, Alonso takes over at first base for the next seven years.
Nicest Surprise Award – Brandon Nimmo
Last season showed us that there’s more to Brandon Nimmo than just a great smile. After injuries opened the door for more playing time for Nimmo, the former first-rounder ran with the opportunity and impressed with a solid campaign that included a .404 OBP (2nd in NL) and a 4.4 WAR season. His 28 doubles, 8 triples, and 17 homers were just what the doctor ordered.
Fond Farewell Award – David Wright
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when a sold out crowd showed up to Citi Field to watch David Wright play his final game with the New York Mets. An unfortunate string of injuries including spinal stenosis, laid waste to what could have been a Hall of Fame career for the beloved captain. He still goes down as the best Mets position player of all time and owner of over a dozen franchise records. I’ll miss you, David.