If you told Mets fans before the season began that at the All Star break, Carlos Beltran would have played exactly zero games, Jason Bay would have as many home runs as Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan, Johan Santana would be just about a .500 pitcher with a dramatic decline in velocity, and Oliver Perez and John Maine would be out of the rotation (well, that would have been no surprise to anyone than Omar Minaya), they would have told you the Mets would probably be battling for the cellar in the NL East. In fact, they probably would have been confident placing a bet on that. Instead, they are four games out of first, and one game off the pace in the Wild Card race. How are they doing it? Let’s take a look:
Wright is back to his old self. He’s tied for the league lead in RBIs with 65, is 7th in hitting at .314, and has 14 home runs — 4 more than all of last season. Wright went into the break red-hot — driving the ball like the good old days.
Before Davis joined the team, the middle of the lineup had Wright and Jason Bay… and nothing. Davis added another threat in the middle of that lineup, making it far more formidable. He’s one pace for 20 homers and 80 RBIs — not a bad rookie year indeed. But he doesn’t look like a rookie — he has an idea of what he’s doing at the plate. He’s solid defensively as well, even taking away those three crazy circus catches.
Who could have expected this? Following a season in which it sometimes looked like he was playing another sport, Pagan has been playing excellent, fundamental baseball. His .315 batting average is 5th in the league. He also has 19 stolen bases, tied with a resurgent Jose Reyes for 4th in the league. He’s destined to spend some time on the bench when Carlos Beltran comes back after the All Star game, but Jerry Manuel will make sure Pagan gets his at-bats.
Despite his ordinary 7-5 record, Santana is 10th in the league with a 2.98 ERA. He could easily have as many as 12 wins if the offense had cooperated. But he has lost something on his fastball, and that’s a concern. Mike Pelfrey should have been an All-Star. Up until his last few starts, Pelfrey was finally living up to his potential. His 10 wins is tied for third in the NL. Jon Niese is having a solid rookie year — 6-3, 3.61 ERA. Hisanori Takahashi has been up and down (mostly up) with a 7-3 ERA. And then there’s…
First Half MVP
R.A. Dickey? Wright would have been an obvious, not incorrect choice. You could make a case for Pelfrey as well. But I’m going with Dickey. Keep in mind the circumstances that surrounded his call-up. The Mets were coming off that horrendous four-game sweep at the hands of the Marlins in which they lost one starter because of injury (Niese), and two to incompetence (Perez and Maine). The season could have been over right there. But Dickey came up and brought stability to an incredibly unstable situation. He and his knuckleball have been sensational — 6-2, 2.77 ERA in 10 starts. How long can his magic last? No one thought it would last this long, so who can say? Let’s just enjoy the ride.
So what does the second half have in store? Can Dickey keep it up (that sounds dirty)? Will Beltran be his old self, or will there be considerable rust? Can Jeff Francoeur get on another streak and keep Pagan on the bench? Will Bay ever start to hit? And what ever happened to Sean Green? Will he remain in witness protection (along with Perez and Maine)? Let us pray that we never see those three again. Then the Mets will have a fighting chance for the post-season.