New York Mets: Grading The First Half
New York Mets' First-half Grades
The New York Mets and the rest of MLB passed the midway point in the season nearly two weeks ago, but with the All-Star break being the unofficial midway point of the season, now is the time to assign mid-term grades. As a team, the Mets probably deserve a C- which means, believe it or not, they aren’t failing. That said, there is certainly room for improvement in all areas.
The Mets have had a rather up and down season thus far. Unfortunately, they’ve been absolutely atrocious during their down spells, and looked as though they could be the worst team in all of baseball. Meanwhile, they’ve been able to play .500 baseball during the best of times, which unfortunately hasn’t allowed them to crawl out of the hole they’ve dug themselves into.
Of course, there have been some bright spots for the Mets. Matt Harvey has quickly become a star and one of the top pitchers in baseball in his first full season in the big leagues. Bobby Parnell has fulfilled his promise as a closer, and was one of the best relievers in the National League during the first half of the season. As usual, third baseman David Wright is putting together another great season on the heels of signing a long-term contract extension with the Mets.
But for the most part, the Mets have been disappointing this season, and the grades assigned to each position reflect that. So here is the Mets' mid-season progress report, position by position:
Starting Rotation B+
This was actually one of the Mets’ biggest strengths in the first half, and it still took Matt Harvey to raise the grade as high as it is. Luckily for the Mets, Shaun Marcum won’t be making any starts in the second half, but his 1-10 record really brought the rotation down, as did the sluggish starts to the season by Dillon Gee and Jeremy Hefner. Jon Niese was mediocre before his injury, which didn’t help much either. However, the arrival of Zack Wheeler, the improved performance of Gee and Hefner, and the brilliance of Harvey give this group a solid B+.
Aside from closer Bobby Parnell, the bullpen has been up and down all year. Injuries to Jeurys Familia and Scott Atchison have hurt the group, and the team had to release Brandon Lyon, who was expected to be their top setup man. The Mets’ bullpen has started to round into shape with the additions of Carlos Torres and David Aardsma, in addition to good contributions from LaTroy Hawkins. But as a whole, they were nothing better than average.
John Buck had a great April, but his numbers were well below average in May and June, which is why he receives a grade that’s barely above average. The grade could be even lower, but Buck has done a solid job handling the pitching staff behind the plate. Backup Anthony Recker doesn’t factor in much to the grade and he doesn’t help much with an average well below .200, but he has hit five home runs in limited at-bats, most of them in key spots.
First Base D
Had Ike Davis not been demoted, this would easily be an F, but the way Josh Satin filled in while Davis was in Triple-A and the way Davis has improved since coming back up is just enough to avoid a failing grade and earn a D.
Second Base B+
Daniel Murphy has been streaky, but he’s been an above-average second baseman for the Mets and may have garnered some All-Star consideration if the Mets were in contention. He’s played every day and he’s played good defense, making him one of the more reliable players the Mets had in the first half.
Ruben Tejada was the everyday shortstop for the first two months of the season, and deserves a D as he really struggled hitting the ball and wasn’t as solid on defense as the Mets were expecting. The play the Mets have gotten out of Omar Quintanilla is enough to raise the grade to a C-. Quintanilla has been streaky with the bat but steady with the glove, and if he had been playing the whole first half, the Mets would have graded out better at shortstop.
Third Base A
There should be absolutely no complaints about the job David Wright has done in the first half. He’s showing no signs of complacency after signing a long-term contract in the offseason, and he has embraced the role of team captain. He’s starting in the MLB All-Star Game not only because he’s a fan favorite (at least outside of PIttsburgh), but also because he’s the best third baseman in the National League.
There have been so many moving parts in the outfield during the first half of the season that’s it’s tough to figure out a grade. This group was heading for a D after the first couple months of the season, but the addition of Eric Young Jr., the contributions of Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Juan Lagares, and the incredible season Marlon Byrd is having are enough to push the Mets’ outfield to a C- just before the second half.
There have definitely been some sketchy moments for Terry Collins this season as his team looked horrible for large stretches of time. However, over the past month, the Mets have taken on the personality of their manager, fighting hard for every hit and every win. It’s taken a while, but Collins has finally gotten through to his team and led them through some difficult times and tough stretches, especially considering the number of rainouts and extra-inning games the Mets have had to play. He has the Mets in decent shape and playing good baseball heading into the break, and for that he deserves a solid B.
Front Office B-
Sandy Alderson really struck out with the signings of Shaun Marcum and Brandon Lyon, but look at how well the minor league signings of LaTroy Hawkins, Omar Quintanilla and Marlon Byrd have turned out. In addition, the trade that brought Eric Young Jr. to the Mets has worked out as well. Alderson didn’t put together a great roster in the offseason, but he’s held players accountable for their poor performance and hasn’t been shy about cutting ties with players that aren’t getting the job done. For that, Alderson deserves some credit and a decent B- grade.