Jose Reyes is injured. David Wright is injured. Ike Davis is injured. Johan Santana is still injured. K-Rod was just given up for nobody. And yet Mets world is pretty calm. Nobody is freaking out. Perhaps that's because for all the doomed predictions preceeding the season, the Mets are above .500, despite all those injuries. How'd they get there? Well, believe it or not, it hasn't been grit, hustle, or even gristle, but rather, many of their players are playing well. Who? I'll tell you, with these obligatory mid-season grades of the 2011 Mets.
Jose Reyes You don't need me to tell you how awesome he is. Before his injury, which doesn't seem serious and hopefully won't keep him out much longer, he was so good, I'm having trouble describing it in words. So allow the above picture to suffice. This is basically my reaction to every Jose Reyes at bat this season.
Carlos Beltran Alas, he'll probably be doing this for Boston soon. Still, short of Jose's attempt to replace Ras Trent as the coolest living man with dreadlocks, watching Carlos's last hurrah has been the most gratifying thing about this season, not least because he's finally turned momentum in his favor, and giving fans a real appreciation of just how great he's been for this team. Like, stealth Hall-of-Fame candidate good.
Jon Niese Breaking news: Niese's potential has been upgraded from pretty good starter, all the way to poor man's Cliff Lee. Only 10 National League pitchers have lower xFIP's than Niese, who doesn't turn 25 until October, by the way. Niese is walking less batters than he did last season, and giving up less homers per 9 (.73, down from 1.04). These are good things. Are they sustianable? Why not? We're so used to everything coming up crap for the Mets, but Niese was once a highly-rated prospect (ranked No. 77 by Baseball American in 2009), is only 24, and has pitched well now, on the whole, over 324.2 Major League innings, posting a 4.21 ERA, but a 3.84 FIP and a 3.71xFIP and nearly 7.5 K/9. This guy is good.
Future Hall-of-Famer Ike Davis I'm giving Ike an A, even though he's missed most of the season. Mostly because he looked to be on his way to becoming an All-Star caliber player posting a triple slash line of .302/.383/.543, which is good, even at 1B. And homegrown, young, cost-controlled All-Stars don't grow on trees.
Chris Capuano Hey the Mets signed a couple low-risk, high-reward pitchers in the offseason and one of them worked out really well? No fuckin' way! Hey Omar Minaya, are you seeing this? Keep it in mind for your next job.
R.A. Dickey The wins aren't there, but the results are pretty similar to 2010: 3.61 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 3.88 xFIP, 3 plus months of being ridiculously cool. If you read this blog, you know I'm not big on praising guys for toughness and grit, but watching R.A. pitch this season when he's visibly injured, wincing with pain during each pitch, is pretty impressive. I love this guy. You know, I have no idea his political beliefs, but couldn't you see R.A. winning a seat in Congress in 10 years as a Libertarian from Tennessee, then leaving after one term because he thinks the whole thing is BS and would rather be climbing a mountain and reading poetry. I could.
Dillon Gee A month ago, I would have said that if you were looking for a Met who's playing way over his head, this is your guy. But with four less than stellar starts in a row, his overall season has regressed to a point that isn't a totally realistic representation of what Gee could be as a Major League pitcher: 3.76 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 4.18 xFIP. Maybe a Jon Garland type? While there's no way he's as good as he looked early in the season, I think it's pretty clear the Mets have found a nice, cheap piece for the back of their rotation.
Daniel Murphy Recently, I scoffed at Murph's lack of power, a truly troubling trend masked by a decent batting average a good defensive stats. Then he went and hit 9 doubles and a homer in the 14 games leading up to the All-Star break. So there's that.
K-Rod Well, he's gone. But this was a typical K-Rod season. Better than some people think. Not as bad as other people think, and infuriating in just about every respect.
Jason Isringhausen It's a feel-good story! Izzy comes back over a decade after being let go in a terrible trade, pitches well and maybe even ends up the closer! Love it.
Terry Collins I guess? I'm not sure what managers are worth, or what they do aside from waddling around, looking weird in a tight uniform and giving press conferences, but if you had to grade Terry Collins, you have to give him a decent grade, right?
Angel Pagan He started slow. He got hurt. Now he's awesome again. Most impressively, Pagan is walking in 10% of his at-bats, meaning that even with a .263 BABIP leading to a crummy .249 BA, his .326 OBP is keeping his full-season offensive value at a decent level. It's almost like taking pitches and drawing walks is helpful to a player's production. If only this had been common knowledge before 2011....
Justin Turner Big Red's slowed down a bit, but he's still a good asset at 2B and as a utility type. I'm a fan. Besides, between him and Ike Davis, the Mets have at least two guys who look like they could be distant relations of mine, which is pretty amazing. If I was still single, far more athletic looking, and the Mets were more famous, I'd totally tell girls at bars I was one of those guys. But none of those things are true. So this entire thought has been worthless.
Scott Hairston After a painfully slow start, Hairston is doing exactly what he's supposed to: Providing a decent bat off the bench, hitting the occasional bomb, and looking like he should be an All-Star player. Seriously, have you ever seen a professional baseball player whose looked that good but was so bad?
Pedro Beato A future closer? That's not totally crazy, is it? At the least, I think Pedro might have just the right amount of inconsitency to replace K-Rod, which is cool. If only he was bat-shit insane.
Tim Byrdak What's better? His pitching or his moustache? I say his moustache, but his performance on the mound has made it way closer than you'd think.
Ronny Paulino Who knew? It'll be interesting to see, with Josh Thole playing less terribly, how long Paulino can keep up a level of play that earns him the right to play more days than not. Also, every team needs a large, slow Latin American catcher, whether it be Ramon Castro, Henry Blanco or a Molina. Paulino is more than enough man to fill that void.
Willie Harris Similar to Hairston, in that he's been better of late, but the bat just isn't quite as good. Plus, he's been asked to play way too much, which isn't really his fault. 143 PA already this year, making him this year's Jeff Franceour. Or this year's Alex Cora. Or...Well you get the idea. That's not going to fly.
Josh Thole Thole is back up to a .350 OBP, walking 12.4% of the time with no power. So basically Josh Thole is who we thought he was at the plate. Behind it, he's looked atrocious. I don't quite know what to say about that. I was pretty impressed with Thole over the first 90 games of his career, but these last 66 in 2011 have been brutal. I think we need a lot more time before we make any definitive judgements there. Talk to me in 2012.
Mike Pelfrey It's not that Mike Pelfrey has drastically underperformed expectations. Pelf is a decent enough pitcher having a mediocre season. It's not his fault he's 9 feet tall, used to throw 95mph, was drafted in the first round, got a huge bonus, employs Scott Boras, plays in New York and started on Opening Day. Well, some of that is his fault, but you see what I mean. You just know Tim McCarver thinks Mike Pelfrey is a star player and every time he does a Mets game and glances at the stat sheet and wonders why Pelf's ERA is so high.
Ruben Tejada I wondered whether Ruben Tejada was coming around into a nice everyday player a while back, and like clockwork he turned back into the Ruben Tejada who I thought would never hit enough to be an everyday player. So a big fat mediocre C seems perfect.
Jason Bay You've said it all. I've said it all. We've all said it all. The crazy thing is, if not for a couple solid weeks, I would've had to invent a new letter grade to match his putrid season. Right now, I'd consider Bay thoroughly mediocre. Ladies and Gentlemen, our parting gift from Omar Minaya!
David Wright Oh, David. Where have you gone? I'm going to chalk Wright's poor performance entirely up to injury, but, on the other hand, a large part of his value was that he never got hurt. Remember three years ago when David was 25 and looked headed for the Hall-of-Fame. Sigh...
Brad Emaus Oh brother. What ever happened to voting him into the All Star game? How did that not catch on?
Chris Young You win some, you lose some.
Chin-Lung Hu I never understood why you'd put a guy who couldn't hit, at all on the team. It seems very un-Sandy Alderson like. Weird. At least he didn't wait 3 months to rectify the situation.
Manny Acosta, DJ Carrasco, Taylor Bucholz, Lucas Duda, Fernando Martinez, Nick Evans, Jason Pridie, Mike Nickeas I was going to grade these guys, but then I realized that would be a waste of 2 minutes.