Quick! Name the last three Mets to win the major awards bestowed by the Baseball Writers Association of America. You’ve got Jacob deGrom’s 2014 Rookie of the Year and R.A. Dickey’s 2012 Cy Young. And then? You have to go all the way back to 1985 to find Dwight Gooden’s CYA. (We don’t count the Rolaids Relief Award around these parts. This is so we need not discuss 2001 Armando Benitez, who won “best closer” with a 3.77 ERA. Can we institute a site-wide ban on Benitez references going forward?)
In 2012, Johan Santana removed the Mets from the list of teams that have never pitched a no-hitter. Much less discussed: Teams that have never had a player win the MVP. The National League award has gone to players on every team except the Mets, Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks. That the Mets have a 24-year head start on the Marlins and 29 on the Snakes makes the omission more glaring. Tom Seaver led the majors with 11 bWAR in 1973 (2.08 ERA over 290 IP!) but lost out to NL West-wining Pete Rose (.338/.401/.437, 8.2 bWAR). At least Seaver’s Mets beat Rose’s Reds in the NLCS.
The 2017 Mets are in as good a place as any to produce their first-ever NL MVP winner. Should they dominate the standings, it will almost certainly be due to a range-busting performance from Yoenis Cespedes. PECOTA says Cespedes’s 90th percentile performance would look like .289/.347/.526 with 33 home runs — a 6.4 WARP season. Maybe we’re biased Mets fans, but is it crazy to suggest La Potencia could hit .320/.390/.580 if everything broke right? That looks like an MVP.
The BBWAA awards are, fortuitously, not the only ones awarded each year. There’s no shortage of uncredentialed folks predicting who will win the major trophies. Here at BP-Mets, we’ve created our own Met Awards. As a special bonus, we will also tell you who will win them. — Scott D. Simon (@scottdsimon)
Empty Soup Can
It’s still hard to believe that James Loney, of all people, delivered the key home run to clinch last year’s wild card berth. It’s no surprise that Terry Collins stuck with Loney. Collins loves to stick with veterans, even when they slide below replacement level. Collins’s desperate attempt to bring Bobby Parnell back for a playoff spot in 2015 forced me to leave the stands when he was pitching. I could see the helplessness of lost command from the nosebleeds. I’m not sure if Collins can recognize when the well has run dry and he’s trying to sustain his team with an empty can of soup.
Loyalty is a wonderful thing, but every year it feels like Collins picks a player to shower with playing time no matter how painful the results. It’s maddening because we know we could make better choices. This year’s Empty Soup Can winner seems pretty obvious: Jay Bruce… Come on down to the stadium of boos! — Noah Grand (@noahgrand)
Robert the Rookie (of the Year)
Newly-minted No. 4 starter Robert Gsellman has earned plenty of column ink this spring as the wild card amidst the Mets’ collection of aces. BP’s crack prospect team rated Gsellman No. 17 among all prospects this offseason. This spring, his velo and stuff have looked as awesome as anyone’s in the rotation not named Syndergaard or deGrom. So how far out of the realm of possibility is it that Gsellman follows the former fellow-Mets-prospect Michael Fulmer’s path to a trophy? Well, the biggest hurdle standing between No. 65 and his hardware is the ultra-talented Dansby Swanson, so to get there Gsellman may have to put up a sub-3.00 ERA just like he did over 45 innings last season. It’s certainly possible … just don’t ask him to hit. — Byran Grosnick (@bgrosnick)
I don’t know how, but we’re still underrating Jacob deGrom. It seems impossible that the floppy-haired Florida Man who put up a 2.30 ERA in 133 innings and 21 starts before his elbow started acting up – his season ended on Sept. 1, just a few weeks after giving up eight runs to the Giants – can be underappreciated. Yet here we are. He’s stable: he’s not blazing a 97 mph fastball like Noah Syndergaard or breaking spin rate records like Seth Lugo or making a (hopefully) triumphant return after two years like Zack Wheeler. He’s just there, doing his thing. deGrom won’t be the staff ace – that title will still go to Thor, barring a national disaster. But on a team full of studs, he’ll finally get the respect he deserves. — Kate Feldman (@kateefeldman)
The Future Freaks Me Out
“[Terry] won’t stop [sending Jay Bruce] to [the outfield] / How [the Mets refuse] to [start Michael Conforto]”
At the end of last season, one assumed 2017 would be the year Michael Conforto got a good amount of MLB playing time. Even, potentially, a starting role. That assumption was halted around late January, when we discovered the Mets couldn’t find a trade partner for Jay Bruce.
“We waste away the days with [veterans] and [scuffling hitters] / From an era we hate to admit we embrace”
So, now here we are. Bruce, who owns a .288 TAv at his 90th-percentile PECOTA projection, is slated to be the Mets’ starting right fielder — over Conforto, who owns a .281 TAv for his 50th-percentile PECOTA projection. You could say it’s more a fault of roster construction than thinking Bruce is better than Conforto, if it makes you feel better. Nevertheless, the Mets still appear to be shunting off one of their potential key-stones in favor of a veteran. For that reason, Conforto takes home this somewhat conciliatory award for a young player the Mets appear afraid to give a full-time job.
“[Terry], I need you [to start him] / [We] miss [him] / [We’re a worse team] without [him] / To [see plugged in the lineup] with [our] cellular phones”
These are actual quotes from the song “The Future Freaks Me Out” by Motion City Soundtrack. Do not attempt to use the Google to verify. Just take my word for it. — Shawn Brody (@ShawnBrody)
Third Time’s the Charm
The well-traveled Kelly Johnson has been part of a mid-summer trade from Atlanta to New York each of the last two years. This summer will make it three in a row, as he will sign an early-season deal with the Braves only to be sent back to the Mets for their annual intra-division sacrifice of a decent pitching prospect. Mets fans will let out a collective sigh of “meh.” But late ’90s Mets reliever and known superstitious personality Turk Wendell will publicly offer a characteristically unique spin on the deal: “The Mets have traded for Kelly the last two years. They’ve made the playoffs the last two years. I don’t think they can get there without this yearly acquisition. Plus, he’s played in Yankee Stadium.” — Zane Moran
Photo Credit: Jerry Lai – USA Today Sports