This certainly won’t be pretty, as the negatives on this team outweighed the positives, but a few Mets actually did pull their weight this season. Let’s take a closer look, starting with the face of the franchise.
David Wright, 3B: Wright had a strange season in 2010. He was much better than 2009, with his power returning from a year-long hiatus. He finished with good numbers across the board, batting .283 with 29 homers and 103 RBIs with 87 runs scored and 19 stolen bases. However, something seems awry with Wright these last two seasons, namely an alarmingly increasing strikeout rate. He fanned 161 times, setting an all-time high (even passing notorious whiff machine Dave Kingman). Couple this with 69 walks, Wright’s on-base percentage was by far the worst of his career (.354). He also didn’t do very well in clutch spots, batting .236/.323/.436 with two outs and runners in scoring position and a woeful .221/.315/.379 late in close games. I’m hoping a switch in hitting coaches could help Wright, but what would really help him is if the lineup around him improves. At times, Wright seems like he’s trying to do too much. At one time, I thought Wright would emerge into a yearly MVP candidate, a guy who could hit .310 to .320 every year with 30 homers and 120 RBIs. I’ve scaled down my expectations, hoping he can produce seasons similar to this one, but just with a few more big hits sprinkled in. Grade: B
Jose Reyes, SS: After missing most of last year’s abominable season, I was looking forward to getting Reyes back in the fold. Immediately, his spring started off poorly with news of his thyroid condition. He missed most of spring training and was rushed back to the team in early April. He struggled, as Jerry Manuel insisted on having him bat third for reasons only known to Jerry. Reyes eventually began to hit, but he really never resembled the electrifying player he was a few years ago, at least not on a consistent basis. However, when he played well, the Mets generally won, and he did manage to appear in 133 games, batting .282 with 29 doubles, 10 triples, 11 homers and 54 RBIs. He scored 83 runs and stole 30 bases, the lowest total of his career (not counting injury-shortened seasons). And while Jose is pretty steady at short, he makes mysterious mental errors both on the field and on the bases (getting picked off too many times). Under the “tutelage” of hitting coach Howard Johnson, Reyes has regressed as far as pitch selection and patience go. His OBP dropped to .321, unacceptable for a leadoff man. I still love what Reyes brings when he’s on his game, and I honestly believe the proper staff could light a fire under him, so I still have hope. But this was a pretty disappointing year in my book. Grade:C+
Ike Davis, 1B: Following a brilliant spring and dominant start at AAA, Davis was called up to take the first base job after the failed Mike Jacobs/Fernando Tatis experiment early on. And while Davis experienced typical peaks and valleys for a rookie, his debut was promising. Davis hit 19 homers (several tape-measure shots) and drove in 71 runs, batting .264. Those seem like pedestrian numbers for a first baseman, but there were signs late in the year that Davis will make a big jump forward in his sophomore year. For one, he drew far more walks late in the year and was able to lay off breaking balls out of the zone much better than he did earlier in the year. His on-base percentage of .351 was just three points worse than Wright’s, and Davis brought a major-league ready glove at first. And while he won’t win the award this year due to unfamiliarity around the league, I can see Davis winning multiple gold gloves, as he’s got good range, and outstanding arm and a penchant for making the highlight-reel play. Of all the first basemen I’ve seen with the Mets, only Keith Hernandez and John Olerud were better with the glove (and they were perennial gold glovers). Davis is a keeper, and I look forward to see him continue his development. Grade:B
Jason Bay, LF: The Mets’ big free-agent addition last winter flopped big time before a concussion ended his season in mid July. Bay never got comfortable at the plate, and his power mysteriously vanished. In 95 games, he hit a grand total of six homers, knocking in 47. Hardly what Mets fans (or the front office for that matter) expected. And while his hitting was brutal, there were a few things I actually liked about Bay. He was a much better fielder than statistics showed and he always busted it every game. He’s a smart baserunner, stealing 10 bags without getting caught. His on-base percentage was OK (.347) considering his low batting average (.259), and Mets fans can only hope this was just an off year, as he is signed for three more years. Grade:C-
Angel Pagan, OF:Pagan continued his progression this year, establishing career highs in several categories. Playing center early on and shifting to right when Carlos Beltran returned, he batted .292 with 31 doubles, seven triples, 11 homers and 69 RBIs while stealing a team-high 37 bases. He also played an outstanding center field and really should have stayed there when the slowed Beltran returned, as his speed makes him the better defender, especially in spacious Citi Field. Pagan was the Mets’ most consistent hitter, only struggling a bit in September after keeping his batting average above .300 most of the year. Pagan has arrived as a solid major-league starter and is still young enough to continue improving. Very satisfying year. Grade: A-
Carlos Beltran, CF: Beltran is a bit hard to grade, as he missed the first half of the season and seemed to still be in recovery mode in July and August. It’s clear he’s lost a step in the outfield and on the bases, although he’s still plenty athletic enough to not be a hindrance. His bat was pretty silent for the most part, until he finished with a strong September before ultimately getting hurt again, but nothing serious. His MRI showed his bone bruise on his right knee is actually improving, even with a few months of baseball activities on it. In 64 games, Beltran posted a slash line of .255/.341/.427, nothing to write home about. But considering those numbers were much lower going into September, there is hope he can still be a solid contributor next season, whether with the Mets or with another team (he’s got one year remaining on his big contract, making it hard to move him). Grade:C-
Luis Castillo, 2B: Pathetic, injury plagued year from a guy the Mets never should have signed to a long-term deal. Coming off a solid 2009, Castillo’s injuries and inability to hit the ball more than 60 feet coupled with his grandfather-like range at second make him my least favorite position player on the team. Castillo still showed a decent eye at the plate, but that was eradicated by a putrid .235 batting average and even more embarrassing .267 slugging percentage (he had a whopping six extra base hits in 86 games). Injuries have robbed him of his ability to run (just eight steals), so his only remaining skill is the ability to take a walk. I know the team’s struggles the last four years aren’t Castillo’s fault, he’s just one of several problems. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the team’s fortunes began to head down the crapper shortly after he was acquired in July 2007. He has one more year left on his contract, but I’d be shocked if he was on the team next year. Actually appalled would be the better word. Grade: F