The New York Mets rode an improved offensive attack over the final two months and a strong young pitching staff to the 2015 NL East crown and a World Series berth.
Entering the 2016 season, that improved offense and dynamic young pitching had the Mets once again among the favorites in the division and the National League.
The club did win 87 games, giving them back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the mid-2000’s. They also captured an NL Wildcard berth. This made it consecutive postseason appearances for the first time since the 1999-2000 teams each played in the NLCS.
But the 2016 campaign would prove frustrating for the Mets and their fans. New York fell out of a share of the NL East lead in late May and never returned to the top.
They spent much of July and August in third place, and fell below the .500 mark as late as August 20. At that point, the Mets were just 3.5 games ahead of the fourth place Philadelphia Phillies, and had lost 17 of 23 games.
But then, just as they had a year earlier, the Mets suddenly found their game. New York regained their winning consistency. The team exploded to a 27-13 finishing kick, capturing that Wildcard playoff berth.
The Mets were quickly bounced out in the NL Wildcard Game thanks to a four-hit gem by Madison Bumgarner. The loss punctuated a season that, aside from that late six-week push, was largely disappointing.
Now the club faces the prospect of losing key free agents, and will have to hope for positive answers to some serious questions involving the health of some of their young pitchers.
METS 2016 OFFENSIVE LEADERS
The most key of those likely departing free agents is outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. The 30-year old opted out of his contract with New York after a season in which he was an All-Star for the second time.
Cespedes hit for a .280/.354/.530 slash line this year with team highs of 31 homers and 86 RBI. He also was awarded his first Silver Slugger, and finished eighth in NL MVP voting.
Veteran right fielder Curtis Granderson banged 30 homers and 24 doubles at age 35 years, leading the club with 88 runs scored.
Middle infielders Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera each hit well. Walker produced a .282 average with 23 homers, while Cabrera matched that home run total and hit for a .280 average. Both players have now reached 31 years of age.
25-year old Wilmer Flores played all over the infield, producing 16 home runs and 49 RBI in just 335 plate appearances. The Mets will now try to determine his long-term value and role.
METS PITCHING STATS LEADERS
On the mound, 43-year old Bartolo Colon was again an age and body makeup defying wonder. He went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA, tossing 191.2 rotation-saving innings over 33 starts.
Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz were each strong – when they were able to take the mound. Matz won nine games, allowing just 129 hits in 132.1 innings with a 129/31 K:BB ratio. Meanwhile, deGrom won seven games with a 3.04 ERA, allowing 142 hits in 148 innings with a 143/36 K:BB ratio.
Problem was that deGrom was limited to 24 starts and Matz to just 22 by injuries. An elbow injury knocked deGrom out by mid-September. With one Tommy John surgery already in his medical charts, he faces rehab from what, for now, was a less intrusive surgical procedure.
Matz battled a bone spur in his left elbow for much of the season, and then had to be shut down after experiencing shoulder discomfort in mid-August. How either will hold up next season is a big question.
Jeurys Familia had a fantastic All-Star campaign, registering 51 Saves to lead all of baseball. The 26-year old allowed just 63 hits over 77.2 innings with an 84/31 K:BB ratio. He registered a 2.55 ERA, led MLB with 67 games finished, and even received some NL MVP votes.
SYNDERGAARD THE TOP METS PLAYER
The top player for New York this season was Thor, the God of thunder. Well, at least the player with the long, flowing blonde hair and Scandinavian surname who seems to throw lightning bolts with his right arm.
Noah Syndergaard is a 24-year old right-hander from Texas who was the Toronto Blue Jays top pick in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft at 38th overall. He came to the Mets in a seven-player deal featuring former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey going north.
Syndergaard went 14-9 in what was his first full big league season. He registered a 2.60 ERA, 1.149 WHIP, and led all of baseball with 2.29 FIP and 0.5 HR/9 marks.
In 183.2 innings over 31 games, 30 of those starts, he allowed just 168 hits with a 218/43 K:BB ratio. Syndergaard was a first-time NL All-Star, finished eighth in the NL Cy Young voting, and also received NL MVP consideration.
SYNDERGAARD TURNS DOWN THE WBC
Following the big season, Syndergaard was invited to help lead the U.S. team in next spring’s World Baseball Classic, but has decided to turn down that invitation to prep for the MLB season.
“Noah feels his performance the past two years is in large part due to his offseason and spring workout routines,” his agent Ryan Hamill said in a statement per Mike Puma at The New York Post. “After consulting with the Mets, and given the injuries that plagued their rotation last year and his role on the team moving forward, both Noah and the Mets feel it is important to stay in his established routine.
“It is a tremendous honor to be considered to play for Team USA and Noah does not take the prospect of playing in the WBC lightly. But he also feels strongly about his responsibility to the Mets, their fan base, and their quest to win a World Series.”
His decision is a big loss for the hopes of the American squad to finally capture a WBC crown. But as the 2016 New York Mets Player of the Year, Noah Syndergaard’s decision likely sits just fine with fans of the ball club as they hope to return to the postseason once again.