Five Reasons Why the New York Mets Will Win the NL East
To say it’s been a roller-coaster season for the fellas from Flushing would be an understatement.
Jerry Manuel’s firing appeared to be a sure thing six weeks ago. Now, with his Mets 11 games above .500, he’s about as untouchable as a New York coach is going to get.
The Atlanta Braves' most recent loss to the White Sox, combined with the Mets' shutout victory over Detroit, moves the Orange and Blue to within a half game from first place.
For a very streaky Mets team, everything seems to be going their way right now.
Will it last, though?
Here are five reasons why a return to the postseason may not be too far out of the question.
As the saying goes, "Speed never goes into slumps."
The Mets lineup is loaded with speed guys, including one of the fastest guys in baseball. Jose Reyes is finally turning the corner and producing at an All-Star level.
Angel Pagan, who has filled in beautifully for Carlos Beltran, is quite possibly the hottest hitter in baseball right now.
And then you throw David Wright into the mix, who’s a power-hitting third basemen with speed (12 stolen bases already in 2010).
The Mets know how to run the bases and set up tons of scoring opportunities that way. Their speed is an asset for scoring runs and staying out of double plays.
It’s an asset many don’t have.
More specifically, hitting for average. When you’re a team like the Mets and you play your home games in the Grand Canyon, you need to be able to hit the gaps for doubles and triples (and the occasional inside the park homer).
The Mets have five players currently sporting an average of .270 or above, and that doesn’t include the production from the catching position, which is currently getting split between Henry Blanco (.277 average), and Rod Barajas (21 extra-base hits).
While many might be quick to point to Jason Bay’s power struggles (only four homers in 2010), consider the fact that he’s adjusting quite nicely to Citi Field (instead of hitter-friendly Fenway Park).
Bay is batting .277 with 17 doubles this season.
Normally when you hear a team is streaky, it usually means it’s inconsistent. That’s not necessarily the case with the Mets.
New York has won 15 of its last 19 games, and eight of its last 10. The Mets closed out April with an eight-game winning streak.
New York started May losers in four out of five games and lost seven out of eight at one point (including five in a row). But on the flip side, the Mets also know how to get hot, stringing together five wins out of six games against the Yankees and Phillies.
The Mets know how to get hot at the right time, something that might help shake off their recent September struggles.
4. Bench/Role Players
The Mets’ bench has been quite impressive in 2010. Carlos Beltran has yet to play this season, and Angel Pagan has quickly proven himself to be an admirable replacement (if not also an All-Star Game hopeful).
Newcomers Ruben Tejada and Chris Carter have also worked out well. Tejada’s glove has been a nice addition to the infield with Luis Castillo on the disabled list, and Carter has hit well in DH and pinch-hit situations.
Henry Blanco has also hit well when giving Rod Barajas days off.
Who would have ever guessed this would be the strength of the New York Mets this season?
Johan Santana has been good, albeit not Johan Santana-good, but he’s notoriously a second half guy anyway.
Mike Pelfrey is a shoo-in to be an All-Star and would be in the Cy Young race if Ubaldo Jimenez wasn’t putting up one of the best pitching seasons of all time.
The best surprise for the Mets, however, has to be the performances of R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi. Dickey threw eight shutout innings against Detroit last night to improve to 6-0 in seven starts this season. Takahashi has been very good as a No. 4 starter.
Bonus: Ike Davis
It’s worth mentioning that the arrival of prospect Ike Davis to plug the Mets’ first base issues has been a major success.
After the club parted ways with Carlos Delgado last year and Daniel Murphy suffered a season-ending injury, Davis has stepped in nicely.
The rookie is hitting over .270 with eight homers and 14 doubles. He should continue to produce numbers like this over the rest of the season as he becomes more acquainted with the majors.
What’s even better is despite playing under the scrutiny that comes with New York, he’s been a well-kept secret, as he plays in the shadows of other National League East rookies Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg.