Is it realistic, even in this age of Home Run Derby, to expect Pete Alonso to crush 50+ home runs a season? And if you look at his numbers for the season, they are pretty damn good. However, he did, in fact, fail to produce in much-needed situations. A generation ago, the numbers that Alonso puts up would put him in the stratosphere of the baseball gods. But in today’s game, in today’s world, he is a mere mortal…and his numbers, as good as they were, don’t tell the accurate story about productivity.
Another mere mortal? Jacob deGrom. He has become my Tom Seaver, my Walt “Clyde” Frazier, my David Wright…the cool, collected professional who goes about his business at the highest level of workmanship, integrity, and unwavering drive to be better. No unnecessary garnering of attention, no controversy, just sheer determination to win.
He was on a path to possibly have the best season in the history of modern day baseball. As if what he has been doing since he came up in 2014 was not nearly enough to prove how good he actually is. We are in a world of “more is never enough” and so we need to see better. And he was giving us that. And then…he wasn’t. The rug was pulled out from under and his body simply wouldn’t allow it to happen. Because he is not super human…he is but a mere mortal.
And that is the thing about baseball. You can have all of the analytics, all of the sabermetrics you want. The bottom line is that the player, the human being, has to execute. A computer can’t execute pitching and hitting. It can only present possibilities and probabilities from PAST performances.
New York Mets roster was flawed from the beginning
The roster was flawed from the very beginning. Other than bringing in Francisco Lindor, no other needs were truly addressed. Players were not playing in the best positions, the pitching staff was not very deep, and injuries took their toll on just about every player on the roster. Smack in the middle of the season, we were treated to games that seemed like we were watching the eighth or ninth inning of a spring training game. Who ARE these guys?
But the biggest problem? The biggest problem was the players not producing as expected. There were a lot of disappointing performances throughout Major League Baseball in 2021. Mike Trout was off to a poor start and then was shelved for the season because of injury. Anthony Rendon struggled mightily before injuries shut down his season. Christian Yelich has a brutal season that also was interrupted by a number of ailments.
At least the Brewers were able to enjoy success in 2021 even without another MVP performance by Yelich. And look at the Braves. The injury bug took Ronald Acuna out of the mix and, yet, they blew past the first-place Mets and won the division. Their best player…gone…and they still won it.
And, yes, first place Mets. The Mets held onto first place and were, believe it or not, 11 games over .500 at 36-25 on June 16. And then, slowly but surely, it all began to slip away. They built that good record up without being at “full strength” and using makeshift lineups, piecing things together, and running a shuttle back and forth to Syracuse on a more regular schedule than the PATH trains going back and forth from NJ to NYC, and having a 24-hour binge-watch of the waiver wire. Smoke and mirrors.
And as the team got back to full strength, it fell apart. From June 17 on, the Mets went a horrible 41-60 to finish 8 games UNDER .500. A 19-game swing. AFTER the team got most of their “starters” back in the lineup.
Players can have a bad season. It happens. Even Tom Seaver had a bad season, believe it or not. (1974 saw him succumb to sciatica issues.) But the backs of baseball cards are not written on the basis of just one season. And although players are financially rewarded for their “best” seasons (even if it IS only one), that certainly doesn’t mean you can rely upon that to build a team.
The 2015 World Series team is not that far removed. But think about it. There are only four players – four – remaining from the team that appeared in that Series. Three of them are pitchers – deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Jeurys Familia. The lone position player? Michael Conforto.
So the team has lacked continuity, has not established a core that will produce on a consistent basis. Let’s face it…Conforto is a great talent but has had his ups and downs. We all know about Familia’s initial success followed by his own ups and downs. Syndergaard has always shown flashes of brilliance only to implode every so often and then befallen by injury. Of course he has been in an entirely different universe when he performs…but time will tell if deGrom’s body will allow him to continue without interruption.
The misery is over. At least for the 2021 season. But guaranteed it will continue to linger...unless you refrain from reading posts on social media. Yeah...THAT won't happen.