MLB Coverage: Are The Mets A Disappointment?

It doesn’t seem fair to call the New York Mets a disappointment. They weren’t expected to contend for the playoffs. They’re playing basically at the pace of the 74-win projection they had in Las Vegas’ Over/Under win props at the start of the year. If you’re a disappointment, don’t you have to actually fail to meet a reasonable expectation?

I suppose so, but I can’t past the feeling the Mets have disappointed. And my reasons start with the area that’s brought them the most plaudits this season, and it’s starting pitching.

Matt Harvey has been genuinely fantastic this year, with a, 8-3 record and 2.21 ERA. But for all the hype Harvey gets, that’s still four games in every five where someone else will be on the mound. And in spite of being a very pitcher-friendly park, the Mets’ rotation ranks just seventh in the National League.

Three pitchers stand out as disappointments. Actually the first of them, veteran pickup Shaun Marcum, stands out as an unqualified disaster. He went 1-10 with a 5.29 ERA before hitting the disabled list and the waiver wire in that order.

The other two are younger arms in Dillon Gee and Jon Niese. They haven’t been awful, with ERAs in the low 4s. But again, this is a pitcher-park, there’ s no DH to deal with, and most important, we aren’t seeing either one progress, even with a couple years of big-league experience under their belt.

It’s the trio of Marcum, Niese and Gee that have to be looked at, because if you’d have told me at the start of the year that the Mets’ offense would rank 6th in the NL, I’d have figured this team was set to win at least 85 games.

Perhaps it’s not fair to label the team a disappointment, given that they’ve won the number of games the smart money expected. But it’s been a strange year, with the hitting overachieving, the starting pitching disappointing and it all being sort of covered up by the Harvey phenomena.

I suspect that eventually the Mets will return to being a good-pitch, no-hit team. It’s hard to see how this offense has pieced together the runs they have. The team rank in most offensive categories is significantly lower than their rank in the bottom line. What they’ve done well is steal bases—fifth in the league—making them the anti-Moneyball team of 2013.

But when you go piece-by-piece, only David Wright can really be counted on going forward. The third baseman has a stat line of .391/.506 and leads the team in steals with 17. Beyond that, do you want to bet on Marlon Byrd continuing his 17-home run/.512 slugging percentage pace?

And when we go to the pitching, there’s some reasons for optimism. Zack Wheeler, the young arm acquired when Carlos Beltran was dealt to San Francisco in 2011, has posted a 3.56 ERA in eight starts. Jeremy Hefner is at 4.21. Hefner is 27, and if he, Gee and Niese could all combine and get their ERAs into the low 3s—not an unreasonable goal given where they are at in their careers—the Mets could suddenly have a great rotation.

It hasn’t been a bad year for the Mets—they’re on pace to meet betting market expectations, they’re bringing up younger pitchers, and they’ve got a star that at least keeps them  relevant in New York City. But it feels like they could have been more.

One team that is a no-holds-barred disappointment is the Chicago White Sox. Please check out our MLB coverage from earlier today focusing on why the South Side of the Windy City has had such a miserable year.