New York Mets 2021 Season in Review

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There are now four teams still in the hunt for a World Series title. Meanwhile, every other major league club is left mournfully musing about what might have been. Perhaps no other team fits this mold for the 2021 season more than the New York Mets. After a promising start and a lengthy stay in the NL East lead, the Mets collapsed late in the season to finish in third at 77-85. Now that the dust has settled on the regular season, it seems appropriate to revisit the Mets’ performance this year.

A Solid Start

This season started out on a hopeful note for the Mets. The addition of star shortstop Francisco Lindor via trade created a lot of buzz leading into spring training. Many baseball writers and experts speculated that the NL East would be MLB’s toughest division in 2021, with all five teams initially considered possible contenders. Early on, the Mets appeared to be up to the tough task. They went 48-40 before the All-Star break to lead the East. In fact, they enjoyed a nearly three-month stretch (from May 8th to August 5th) alone in first place. They led the competition by as many as five and a half games. Despite their unspectacular record during this time, the lackluster play from the rest of the division kept the Mets in playoff position.

Weaknesses Catch Up With Mets

Even while things were going well, various warning signs surfaced that the Mets weren’t as good as their record suggested. For one thing, they had a tough time staying healthy. In the first half, they managed to win enough despite missing key pieces like Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, and Michael Conforto for lengthy stretches. On the pitching front, they lost fifth starter Joey Lucchesi after a promising start to his season. Clutch performances from bench players and call-ups from Triple-A kept them afloat during the first half. Unfortunately, this could not be sustained all season long.

Another warning sign early on was the lack of offensive production. Even as the Mets continued to lead the NL East, they consistently ranked near the bottom of the league in several offensive categories. At the All-Star break, they were 11th in the NL in team batting average (.232) and team OPS (.687). They were also 14th in runs scored (333). The bats would need to wake up eventually for the Mets to stay on top, especially with division rivals making a charge. However, the Mets failed to substantially improve in this department. They finished the year 10th in the NL in batting (.239), 12th in OPS (.705), and 13th in runs scored (636).

Soon after Jacob deGrom went down with an elbow injury in July, the season began to unravel for New York. They lost seven of eight to begin the month of August. Their NL East lead was completely erased as a result. Soon after, they faced a 13-game stretch against the two best teams in the league, the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers. They went 2-11 in that stretch, allowing the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies to surge past them in the standings.

A Tough Ending

The disastrous two weeks against the class of the National League seemed to take the wind out of the Mets’ sails. Though they were technically still in the race at that point, they never regained the momentum they had early on. They finished out 12-18 from September forward, ending up in third place behind the Braves and Phillies. The 2021 Mets set a major league record by spending the most days in first place (103) only to finish with a losing record. This stunning reversal likely contributed to the firing of manager Luis Rojas after the season.

Mets 2021 Season – Final Thoughts

This year was certainly a disappointment for the Mets, especially after a promising start. The NL East was ultimately much weaker than expected, and the Mets failed to take advantage. When they were still in first, they had a chance to build an insurmountable lead as other teams struggled. Instead, they left the door open to the competition. The Phillies began to pick up their play after a mediocre start, and the Braves retooled their roster at the trade deadline after losing Ronald Acuna Jr. for the season. All of this created the perfect storm, and the Mets rapidly fell out of contention.

One major factor hurting the Mets down the stretch was the loss of Jacob deGrom, who was having a season for the ages before getting hurt. Another was the constant offensive troubles, particularly the underachievement from players like Lindor and Conforto. Both deGrom’s incredible half-season and Lindor’s underperformance will certainly be topics of further conversation this offseason. Other positives (e.g. Pete Alonso’s strong year at the plate) and negatives (e.g. Taijuan Walker’s inability to step up in deGrom’s absence) also merit further discussion. At the end of the day, however, for a team ostensibly built to still be competing this late into October, the New York Mets fell woefully flat in the 2021 season. In order to reach that level by next year, they will need to get healthy and hit more consistently.

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Players/Managers Mentioned:

Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeilMichael ConfortoJoey Lucchesi, Jacob deGrom, Ronald Acuna Jr.Pete AlonsoTaijuan Walker, Luis Rojas