The New York Mets entered the 2021 season with heightened expectations. The Wilpons, after all, had a history of not spending money on the “big-name” free agents. If they did splurge on a player, it was the wrong one. For example, Jed Lowrie went to New York on a $20 million contract but ended up playing in just nine games for the team because of injuries. That seemed over, though, as the Wilpons shifted majority control of the franchise over to a hedge fund billionaire. Steve Cohen came in as the team’s new owner and immediately made an impact. He traded for Francisco Lindor and locked him up. However, the season would end as the last five seasons have ended: without a playoff berth.
Manager: Luis Rojas
Position: 3rd Place in NL East
Postseason: Missed playoffs
The Mets decreased their win total in 2021 compared to their last full season. What made it more frustrating for fans is they had a stranglehold on first place for months but then collapsed. Jacob deGrom and Francisco Lindor dealt with injuries. Javier Baez didn’t put himself in the good graces of Mets fans with the thumbs-down situation.
The Mets also experienced more turmoil in the front office. Then interim GM Zack Scott was caught driving under the influence in September. That led to his firing, which was weeks before Rojas was also shown the door.
Most Valuable Player: Jacob deGrom
Some fans might give it to Pete Alonso or Marcus Stroman since they were healthy the whole year. However, deGrom was on pace to win another Cy Young award before he got hurt. There was a point in time where deGrom’s ERA was under one and it wasn’t only after a few starts. deGrom pitched in 15 games but had a 5 WAR, 0.7 higher than Alonso (who played 152 games). deGrom finished with a 1.08 ERA and 146 strikeouts. He was one of the reasons why the Mets were in first and the club collapsed when deGrom went down with his elbow injury.
Starting Pitcher of the Year: Jacob deGrom
I just explained why deGrom was the team MVP so he’s obviously the pitching MVP, too. Marcus Stroman, though, earned a lot of props and is going to cash in on his 2021 season this winter. He finished with a WAR over 3.5 and went at least six innings in 17 of his 33 starts (51.5%). Cohen has the money to keep Stroman but it’ll be tough to do so when there will be many suitors.
Relief Pitcher of the Year: Aaron Loup
If I were to tell you before the season that Aaron Loup would be the best Mets reliever, you’d think I was crazy. It’s true, though. Loup, 33, started two games and came out of the bullpen in 62 games, pitching to a 0.95 ERA. Yes, a guy on a $3 million contract had an ERA under one. He gave up nine runs all year, 18 less than Edwin Diaz. Loup clearly deserves to be the reliever of the year when he didn’t allow a run in April, June, and September.
Best Hitter of the Year: Pete Alonso
Brandon Nimmo deserves props for compiling a 3.6 WAR in 2021 after Mets fans didn’t want him playing center field in the offseason. But, Alonso stayed healthy all year and led the team in homers (37). The second most homers on the team was from Lindor. He had 17 fewer than Alonso. Alonso also led the team in RBI (by 31), slugging percentage (by .082 points), and hits (by 34). The gap is so big between Alonso’s stats and the rest of the team, making it an easy vote in favor of Alonso.
Best Fielder of the Year: James McCann
McCann provided a lot of value to the Mets behind the plate, catching over 100 games. He led the team in defensive WAR (5.2) among those who played in more than 100 games. Fans could make the argument for Tomas Nido since he led the team in defensive runs saved. But, it’s important to consider that he didn’t even play in two-thirds of the games.
Comeback Player of the Year: Noah Syndergaard
There wasn’t a Met that came to mind that had a great year after a bad one in 2020. Edwin Diaz had a hot start but ended up with an ERA north of 3.40 for the second time in three years. Syndergaard only pitched in September but it’s commendable that he came back from Tommy John surgery to pitch. He could’ve told the Mets to shut him down since the team wasn’t contending but he still went out there. In two innings of work, he allowed two runs with two strikeouts.
The Mets’ offseason is going to be focused on finding the next leaders of their franchise. They need a new general manager and manager, so that’s the first priority. Billy Beane is an intriguing front office name. After those hires, they need to find a solution at third base and try to bring back Michael Conforto, Syndergaard, and Stroman. All three are scheduled to be free agents. They will likely get Conforto at a discounted price after his underwhelming 2021 season but that money will be made up for in Stroman’s bidding after a great season. Baez is also a free agent.
Follow Ben Fadden on Twitter @ben_fadden
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