New York Mets: Reviewing Mets' June

Joe CampioneContributor IIIJune 30, 2012

New York Mets: Reviewing Mets' June

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    It was a roller coaster, but the New York Mets will live to tell the tale.

    In what was easily their toughest month so far, with eight of their nine opponents in June having records over .500, the Mets had some major highs and plenty of lows, but ended a respectable 15-13, putting them only 2.5 games out of first place in the NL East.

    This month really exposed the Mets' strengths— gritty play and two-out RBIs, and some of their weaknesses—the bullpen and lack of consistent power.

    With only six games left until the All-Star break, the Mets are not only giving their fans an entertaining season through the halfway point, but are also very much alive and contending for the playoffs.

    The road won't be getting any easier for the Mets, whose July includes only six home games post-All-Star break, six games against the first-place Washington Nationals and the beginning of their always tough West Coast road trip.

    But for now, let's look back and review some of the highs and lows of what was easily the wildest month of the season for the Amazins

June's Most Valuable Player: R.A. Dickey

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    Last month, Dickey was Amazin'. This month, he was RAdiculous.

    R.A. Dickey completed one of the greatest months by a pitcher in recent memory. Don't believe me? Just look at his stats.

    In the month of June, Dickey made six starts, went 5-0, pitched 48.1 innings, tossed three complete games, two shutouts, allowed only eight walks, struck out 55 batters and had a microscopic ERA of 0.93.

    Outside of one minor speed bump (h/t ESPN.com), Dickey was nearly unhittable all month. He became the first NL pitcher since Jim Tobin in 1944 to throw back-to-back one-hitters.

    Dickey's unbelievable 44.2 innings stretch without allowing an earned run propelled Dickey to be a national story, as the league is now starting to take notice and appreciate how dominating the knuckleballer has been.

    Dickey has made himself a strong candidate to be the starter for the National League in the All Star Game, and has even made himself a candidate for a Triple Crown among NL pitchers. Currently, Dickey leads the league is wins, is third in ERA (behind two men on the DL), and probably most surprising of all, is second in strikeouts.

    As for what he means to the Mets, Dickey has been the definition of a stopper, though he has said he prefers to be known as a "starter" instead. Twice this month, Dickey stopped a three-game slide by tossing a gem.

    Every time things looked like they may be spiraling out of control, Dickey was there with a big time start to right the ship, and he is a major reason why the Mets are in the position that they're in.

    Honorable Mentions

    David Wright: Second in the league in batting, leads the team in nearly every offensive category and if it weren't for Dickey being historically good, he'd be the clear-cut MVP. 

    Lucas Duda: Ended on a bit of a slump, but with 17 RBI on the month and being in the middle of almost every Mets rally, he's earned at least a mention.

    Miguel Batista: With the bullpen collapsing around him, Batista remained strong and has become a go-to guy in the pen. 

June's Least Valuable Player: Jason Bay

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    This was admittedly a tough call, and maybe it's just my personal feelings that made the final decision, but Jason Bay was June's least valuable player.

    So how does a guy who only appeared in seven games make the cut for least valuable player? By doing absolutely nothing in those seven games, that's how.

    In his short June tenure, Bay managed only two hits and one walk in 26 plate appearances. The frustrating part of it was that six of his seven games took place against AL East teams, who he normally thrives against, and in Yankee Stadium, with its comically short porch, Bay went 0-11.

    Jason's June came to an abrupt end when his archnemesis, the left-field wall of Citi Field, struck again, this time concussing Bay and putting him out of action until at least the All-Star Break.

    The biggest problem fans have with Jason Bay right now, aside from his lucrative contract and minimal production over three seasons, is that the Mets really need him right now.

    The Mets lineup is chock full of left-handed hitters, and a major piece of the offense that is missing is a big right-handed bat. Jason Bay can be that bat, and the fact that he isn't is hurting the Mets.

    The difference between Jason Bay and a guy like Ike Davis, who struggled mightily for two months, is that Mets fans were rooting for Davis to get out of his slump and believed that he could turn it around. Whether it was because he was homegrown or past performances, Mets fans never gave up on Ike Davis.

    At this point, Mets fans have given up on Jason Bay. It is going to take a huge second half from Bay to even start to change the minds of the Amazins' fanbase, but if he can come back and produce like he did for Boston and Pittsburgh, he can make this lineup as dangerous as any lineup in the NL East.

    Dishonorable Mentions

    Daniel Murphy: A very recent power surge was the only thing keeping him from LVP "honors" despite his ugly month.

    Jon Rauch: The big man went posted a 4.50 ERA and went 0-3 for the month....as a reliever.

    Elvin Ramirez: Big hopes for the young reliever ended in a thud thanks to his 0-1 record and 9.00 ERA.

June's Biggest Surprise: Ike Davis

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    After two ugly months, the Ike Davis saga has finally hit an upswing.

    Ike had been middling along again before having a conversation with former MLB great Reggie Jackson. Now, I don't know what Jackson said to Davis, but whatever he said stuck.

    From June 9th through June 18th, Davis launched a nine-game hitting streak, raising his average .034 points in the process. Ike started play on the 28th with a batting average over .200 for the first time all season, and for the season, is currently hitting .203

    Davis found his power stroke this month, bashing six home runs. What has been even more impressive from Ike is his penchant for the multiple-run home run. Ike Davis has now hit six three-run home runs and one grand slam.

    Add in his 24 RBIs for the month, and all of a sudden Davis is looking at starting July batting .203 with 45 RBIs and 11 home runs. 

    That's...actually not a half-bad stat line. He's tied for the team lead in homers and second in RBIs. Davis has made up so much ground in June that it has nearly erased his first two months.

    The key for Davis this past month is that he has looked more comfortable at the plate. He's taking more pitches (14 walks in the month as opposed to a combined 12 the first two months), he's stopped flailing at the outside pitch and he's been aggressive in his at-bats, drilling more than one first-pitch mistake over the right field wall.

    The resurgence of Davis is important for the Mets, as it adds another dimension to this lineup and injects a much-needed power threat right into the middle of it. Hopefully his Renaissance this month sets up Davis for a huge second half.

    Honorable Mentions

    Jordany Valdespin: Back in the minors now, he looked like a much more mature, complete player in his second stint with the big club and added some fire and explosiveness. Don't think we've see the last of him.

    Chris Young: Didn't expect this guy to be with the Mets until July and didn't know what he'd give us. How does 2-1 sound so far?

    Omar Quintanilla: The bat was on and off, but filled in valiantly at shortstop and flashed a nice glove that should keep him in Flushing for a while.

Lowest Point of June: The Subway Series

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    The Yankees just have a knack for taking all of the good feelings you're having for your team and turning them on their head.

    This year, I, like many other Mets fans, was excited for the Subway Series. All of the talk leading up to the Battle for New York was about how the little start-up known as the Mets would have no chance against a superior lineup and team that the Yankees had. I was ready to watch the Mets prove all of the critics wrong.

    The problem? The Yankees spent the Subway Series repeatedly beating down and embarrassing the Amazins. 

    Sure, we had our moment after Francisco's chicken comments, but for the most part, the Subway Series was an absolute disaster for the Mets.

    It started when the Yankees bashed our conquering hero in the first game, hitting back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Johan Santana. Then there was the blown lead. Then the sweep. And just as a topper, they even beat up our untouchable pitcher, R.A. Dickey.

    Now, I know that these games count just as much as the other 156 games on the schedule. At the end of the day, going 1-5 against the Yankees is the same as going 1-5 against any other team.

    But we Mets fans know that's not really true.

    These games against the Yankees take on a playoff-like atmosphere. The crowds are bigger. The noise is louder. The games just have the sense of being bigger than a regular game.

    So for the Mets to go out and fall flat on their faces, it was heartbreaking. It not only gave the Mets a sizable hit in the standings, but it also led Mets fans to question whether or not this team was as good as we thought they were.

    The Yankees did everything that they could to crush the spirits of Mets fans, and they did a hell of a good job.

    Dishonorable Mentions

    June 5th: One of the ugliest baseball games I've ever seen, highlighted by three blown leads and three errors...two which came in the bottom of the ninth. The fact that it was against the Nationals made it even worse.

    June 15th-17th: A nightmare of a series against the Reds that saw the Mets get swept at home and lose Jason Bay for the rest of the first half.

    June 25th-26th: The Yankee hangover was in full effect, as the Mets were listless, sloppy and downright bad against the lowly Chicago Cubs.

Highest Point of June: No-Han Makes History

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    Was there ever really a doubt that this would be the top moment of the month?

    Honestly, there's not much more that I can say here that I didn't already say in my article the night of the historic event, but hey, that's never stopped me before, so let's give it a shot.

    Johan's no-hitter to start the month was huge in so many ways. Obviously, it was the first no-hitter in the 50 years of Mets baseball, but it also felt like it gave the Mets some sort of legitimacy around the league.

    Yes, fans of the Mets knew what they had in this team, but this was the first time that other people in baseball looked at the Mets and said, "they're pretty good this year."

    There was also something poetic about the people involved in the no-hitter. Adam Wainwright was the losing pitcher. Carlos Beltran was the one who got his hit taken away by Adrian Johnson. Yadier Molina was the one who was robbed by a spectacular, all-out play from the latest Mets folk legend, Mike Baxter.

    You all know where I'm going with this. It was as if, in the course of one game, Johan Santana was trying to reverse all of the post 2006 NLCS bad juju. We can only hope that, for our sanity's sake, he did.

    Now, I'm not old enough to have experienced a Mets World Series victory, but I have to imagine that it feels pretty close to how this no-hitter felt. The crowd was unbelievable. There was champagne. There was even a whipped cream pie.

    Just like I said on the last slide, yeah, at the end of the day this win counts just as much as every other win. But every Mets fans, young and old, know that this one was different. This one was special.

    Regardless of what happens this season, Johan Santana gave the Mets a historic moment that will be replayed for years to come, and Mets fans will forever remember where they were and what they were doing on the evening of June 1, 2012.

    Honorable Mentions

    June 12th-14th: The Mets took their pent-up aggression out on the Tampa Bay Rays, sweeping them in convincing fashion and salvaging what could have been a disastrous road trip.

    June 18th: Dickey's second straight one hitter launched him into the national spotlight and continued the Mets incredible month for pitching.

    June 27th: The Mets ended a mini-skid by decimating the Cubs, posting 17 runs in a rout at Wrigley Field.

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