A Polar Bear and a Dick Mountain Walk Into a Bar...
Mets are taking what they can get when they can get it and building off of it
It isn’t often that things break the right way for this franchise.
Steven Cohen saving us from the previous ownership group was — hopefully — the first step in the opposite direction of that mostly perennial heartbreak.
Reinforcing not just the Mets’ 40-man roster this winter but showing the ability to perpetually adapt on the fly as this team’s depth has been tested throughout the year was an extremely important second step.
There’s still a lot of work to do (on and off the field, organizationally speaking), but New York Mets are getting to where they want to be.
Has it been a cakewalk? Most certainly not. But it has been an identity-building journey, to say the least.
A terrain of hot coals and glass shards toughened this team up to the point that — and now we’re all finally beginning to realize this — there are no insurmountable tasks for this group.
It’s not even August and the Mets are like two call-ups away from eclipsing their franchise record for most players on the active roster in a season. And everyone’s contributed.
Just look at the ageless wonder, Rich Hill.
Tampa sent the 41-year-old left-hander over for a song and a dance in Tommy Hunter (60-day IL) and the Mets’ 2020 fourth-round draft pick, catcher Matt Dyer (.194/.329/.452, 7 HR in 152 PA with Low-A St. Lucie this season), and the guy is already making an impact.
Hill entered the sixth scoreless with just 49 pitches to his credit in Sunday’s 5-4 win over Toronto. Things fell apart a bit in the sixth, but that’ll happen against a ballclub like the Jays. Nice team.
This is just how things go during the once-in-a-blue-moon magical seasons this organization (and fanbase) has had the pleasure of enjoying over the years.
Now that this team is settling into a groove offensively and putting together series wins on a consistent basis (13-5 with five splits over their last 23 series), it’s time to hit the gearshift and cruise.
Pete Alonso has essentially put the Mets’ offense on his back over the last two months and it’s been a blessing.
His 16 home runs since returning from the IL on May 31 are tied for third-most in the majors (Shohei Ohtani, 20) and he’s hitting .284/.347/.574 with 147 wRC+ and 1.2 fWAR over that span.
Since the calendar hit July, Alonso’s put together a .266/.318/.646 batting line with an MLB-leading nine home runs and an intriguing/encouraging 18.8% strikeout rate (well below his 24.6 percent career mark).
After pledging to be more mindful of plate discipline this season, the 26-year-old has seen his strikeout rate drop from 26.2 percent over 218 games in 2019 and 2020 to a tidy 20.5 percent this season.
Per Statcast, his hard-hit rate increased from a combined 41.8 percent mark over his first two seasons to 46.5 percent this season. Wow.
There’s no need to imagine a player that could be better than 2019 Pete Alonso. He’s already here. The command of the zone, the absolute tattooing of baseballs, etc, it’s all getting more refined and it’s all very exciting.
“I feel excellent right now,” Alonso said following the Mets’ win over Toronto on Friday night. “Right now I feel like I’ve been having a lot of high-quality championship at-bats.”
And it appears that whatever clubhouse culture that’s building behind those closed doors is something just as remarkable.
“We have one purpose,” Alonso said. “It hasn’t been one guy on any given night. It’s been so many different guys throughout the season from game-to-game and it’s been really special to be a part of.”
You know the parting line. Onward and upward. Let’s play two today!
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