Offseason Additions Contribute to Mets’ Amazing Start
Issue 15, Volume 112
After a disappointing 2021 season where the New York Mets failed to make the playoffs and suffered devastating injuries to their star players, the team has been looking to flip the script. They entered free agency this year, aiming to sign players that were going to make big contributions to the team, and based on their success this season, it’s appropriate to say that they did just that. Currently, the Mets are off to a stellar 18-8 start, a record that places them first in not only their division but also in the entire national league. Their strong start to the season would not be possible without some of their new off-season additions, the most notable of whom are discussed below.
A three-time Cy Young award winner, Max Scherzer flaunts a 3.15 Earned Run Average (ERA) over his 15-year tenure in the MLB. Last season, the 37-year-old had one of the best years of his career, finishing with 15 wins and a career-low 2.46 ERA. The Mets signed Scherzer to a three-year $130 million contract, and he’s been worth every penny so far.
Scherzer brings leadership, experience, and a veteran work ethic to the team, motivating his teammates with his strong desire to win. Scherzer said, “Win the world series, that’s what I’m playing for and that’s the goal every single year—come in here and win it. That’s what motivates me, that’s what drives me to do everything that I have to do to go out there and compete and win to be the last team standing.”
A man of his words, Scherzer has done nothing else besides competing and winning. He has risen to become the star of the team in place of injured ace Jacob deGrom, being 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA after five starts. The future hall of famer has even brought a no-hit bid into the sixth inning in a 10-strikeout performance against the Giants on April 19. In the very next game against the Cardinals, he would one-up his performance, striking out 10 and giving up no runs in seven innings.
Having pitched in the MLB for eight years, Chris Bassitt’s success did not take off immediately. Debuting in 2014, Bassitt never found success in his short tenures with the White Sox and the Oakland Athletics. He then missed the entirety of the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery (more formally known as ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction), and it was not until the 2020 and 2021 seasons when Bassitt finally started to gain recognition for his play. His emergence was short-lived, however, as in the midst of a breakout 2021 season, where the Oakland ace had made his first all-star team, Bassitt was struck in the face with a 100 mile-per-hour line drive and was sidelined for the remainder of the season. Bassitt was then traded to the Mets over the off-season in exchange for pitching prospects Adam Oller and J.T. Ginn.
Once again, the injury of Jacob deGrom affects the rotation. Instead of pitching third in the rotation, Bassitt now pitches second. Despite the switch, Bassitt has shined. After five starts, the 33-year-old is 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA, matching the ERA of his fellow teammate Max Scherzer. His best start this season came in his first start of the season, where he shut the Nationals out to zero runs with eight strikeouts in six innings.
However, Bassitt brings more to the table than just quality starts. As a veteran, Bassitt uses his experience to help younger pitchers. “A lot of times when you give up a bunch of runs, the instinct is to let him be, but for me, no, no, no—that's where you get to learn,” Bassitt said. Thanks to the guiding hand of the veteran, the Mets have seen the ERA of all of their starting pitchers improve from last season.
Prior to the 2021 season, Eduardo Escobar was considered a journeyman, having been a part of several teams over his 12 year MLB career. However, in his 11th season, he finally broke out and made his first all-star team. He was then traded to the Brewers from the Diamondbacks, where he finished his season with 139 hits and 28 home runs—earning him a two-year deal with the Mets.
As a player, the 33-year-old switch hitter has helped the Mets by being their everyday third basemen and consistently getting on-base, as he has a .359 on-base percentage through his 24 played games. Escobar brings leadership and a calm mindset to the locker room. “Real calmness about him, he doesn’t need to show anybody—those guys are always trying to show everybody what a good guy they are. You see people are drawn to him very quickly [...] Those types of guys bring a certain calmness through storms,” said manager Buck Showalter about Escobar.
Debuting in 2015, Mark Canha had been a career-long Athletic. Canha undoubtedly had his best year in 2019, but throughout his career, he’s been an on-base machine through mostly hits, but also walks and hit-by-pitches. In fact, he led the MLB in the most hit-by-pitches last season, with 27. The Mets signed him to a two-year $26.5 million deal.
The Mets found an everyday left-fielder in Canha, and he’s been exceptional for them so far. In 19 games this season, Canha’s stellar .338 batting average and .405 on-base percentage place him second on the team, only behind second baseman Jeff McNeil. If Canha keeps this production going, he is on pace for one of the best seasons in his career.
An 11-year veteran, Marte has consistently been a top outfielder in the league. As a Marlin and Athletic last season, Marte led the league in stolen bases, with 47. His speed has contributed greatly to his high level of defense, as evident by his two gold gloves. The Mets, upon opting not to re-sign former outfielder Michael Conforto, quickly signed Marte to a four-year, $78 million contract over the offseason.
Though Marte has had a slow start to his season, there is no reason to believe that his production won’t pick up anytime soon. Despite his batting woes, Marte has provided the Mets with an everyday right fielder, along with a stellar baserunner and defender.
Though there were a number of factors that led to the Mets’ poor performance last season, many fans pointed to one person, manager Luis Rojas, as being the central source of the team’s problems. The front office addressed these concerns by hiring a new manager: Buck Showalter. Having managed MLB teams for 20 seasons and boasting 1569 total wins under his belt, Showalter has both the experience and winning mindset that makes him a perfect addition to the Mets.
In the past, the Mets seemed to have gotten many of their points from home runs, but with Showalter, there seems to be a new game plan. This year, the team has remained in the bottom half of the league in home runs, manufacturing more of their runs by getting on base by hits and walks. In fact, the Mets lead the MLB in hits, on-base percentage, runs scored, and consequently, wins. Showalter’s fundamental baseball game plan has led to the team’s success.
Leading the league all season long in hit-by-pitches, Showalter has not failed to defend his players either. When shortstop Francisco Lindor was hit in the face by a pitch against the Washington Nationals, Showalter was seen leading the team out in what resulted in a benches-clearing brawl on the field. Recently against the Phillies, after Lindor was yet again hit by a pitch in the leg, Mets pitcher Yoan Lopez threw two pitches in to Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber. This resulted in a one-game suspension of Showalter, who MLB deemed was responsible for the pitches.
Showalter has missed two games this season, one for personal reasons and one for serving a suspension. The Mets lost both games. The team is 18-6 when Showalter manages, and 0-2 when he doesn’t. It is clear that Showalter's presence has been bringing the Mets great success so far this season, and will likely continue to do so.
The 18-8 Mets currently lead the National League (NL) and have no plans of slowing down. They’re on pace to easily make the postseason, which would be their first playoff appearance since 2016. Get excited, because there is still a ton of baseball to be played, meaning more home runs, strikeouts, steals, comebacks, walk-off winners, you name it—all coming from the best team in the NL. Baseball fans beware—the Mets are back!