As the second half of the season comes to an end, the New York Mets are 46-40. This season has been a testament to the work that Terry Collins has done this year with a young team that is very inexperienced. At six games over .500 the team is 4.5 game behind the Washington Nationals, baseball’s biggest surprise, and a half game behind Cincinnati, Atlanta, and San Francisco. A team that has turned doubters into believers and slowly changing titles from “pretenders” to “contenders”.
Most Valuable Player – David Wright
In his ninth season with the Mets, Wright is having his best season by far. His .351 average is the third best in the National League, and 59 RBI are fifth best in the National League. Wright’s stats speak for themselves but the intangibles he brings into the clubhouse is second to none. In nine seasons with the team, Wright has been to the post-season once in his career and is still searching to bring a title back to flushing. Young players like Justin Turner, Ike Davis, and Daniel Murphy all lean on Wright, who brings way more than just stats to Mets since Keith Hernandez. Wright will be playing in his sixth All-Star Game Tuesday night in Kansas City.
Most Valuable Pitcher – R.A. Dickey
It’s tough to not pick the National League wins leader as the most valuable pitcher of this staff. It seems that Dickey has finally mastered the toughest pitch to throw, the knuckleball. Dickey is 12-1 this year after going 8-13 the year prior, Dickey has seemed to turn it on this year and master his craft. After throwing 42 2/3 scoreless innings, Dickey has thrown three complete games, two of which resulted in shutouts. Dickey, 37, is throwing like a 27 year old and has often been the stopper at a point in the season when the Mets were playing as inconsistent as they have all season. The hard work has finally paid off as R.A. Dickey will be headed to his first All-Star Game in his career.
X-Factor – Johan Santana
Sidelined with shoulder injuries in 2011, Johan Santana is looking as sharp as he did in 2008. Just like David Wright, starting pitchers like Dillon Gee and Jon Niese find themselves studying Santana in his starts, what he throws in certain situations and how to approach a lineup. Santana is 6-5 this season with a 3.24 ERA. Since April the Mets offense has scored 3.8 runs per Santana start. Granted, there is another pitcher on this staff that is 12-1 but doesn’t have the missing link to this staff, a no-hitter. By throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history, Santana has led this team to believe that anything could be possible this season. The presence of Santana at the top of the rotation has transformed Dickey from an eight game winner last year into one of the best pitchers in the game this year. Santana has been an asset to Jon Niese, the recipient of a new five year deal this past off-season. Santana’s veteran presence has been nothing but beneficial to one of the better rotations in the National League.
Pleasant Surprise – Daniel Murphy
There have been many surprises to this season for the Mets, none bigger than Daniel Murphy. Entering his fifth season with the team, Murphy is hitting .295 with 3 HR and 43 RBI. His offensive stats are solid but his season at second base has been a welcome sign to the organization. In 74 games at second base, Murphy has made nine errors but his baseball IQ has sky-rocketed and by making his home at second base, Murphy can master the position and be the first positive player at the position since Edgardo Alfonzo.
Biggest Disappointment – Bullpen
The reason that the New York Mets are not leading the National League Eastern Division is because of the bullpen. A staff that only has one pitcher whose ERA is under 3.00 (Parnell) the relief core has not relieved at all. The bullpen blew 16 saves this season. Pitchers like Jon Rauch, Miguel Batista, and Frank Francisco haven’t exactly put out that many fires this year and will be the achilles heel come the second half if the Mets do not address it.
The NL East is still up grabs and is shaping up to be a three team race come down the stretch. The Mets have succeeded in multiple categories like starting pitching, clutch hitting, but will be limping come down the stretch without proper personnel in the bullpen.
At 46-40 this season the Mets have far exceeded expectations for what the team was projected to make a home in the cellar of the National League, but has experts believing, and of course the fan base rocking once again.