It’s no secret that the 2022 Mets fell short of expectations. While 101 wins is a massive step up from the 2021 total of 77, fans were still left unsatisfied after the team’s lackluster performance in the playoffs and their failure to close out the division in the latter half of September. However, Steve Cohen has retooled his lineup for the 2023 season, and on paper, it seems like one that is capable of meeting his goal of bringing the Amazins their first World Series title since 1986. Like any other championship team, though, everything must finally go right to reach the promised land.
1: Rookies’ offensive contribution
Between Brett Baty, Francisco Álvarez, Nick Plummer, Khalil Lee, Mark Vientos, and Patrick Mazeika, Mets rookies slashed .178/.236/.346 in 72 games in 2022, good for a .582 OPS. That’s bad… And when you compare those numbers to more successful teams like the Astros or Braves, it’s really bad because both teams had a single player who had better numbers in a larger sample size. The poor performance can’t fall entirely on the shoulders of the players, though. In fact, this is a particularly talented rookie class, excluding Mazeika; all players are highly touted prospects and, at some point, have appeared in the organization’s top ten rankings. Much of the blame for these rookies’ lackluster performance can go to the Mets’ front office for mismanaging these players and putting them in bad situations. Fortunately, four of the six players listed above are still with the organization (Patrick Mazeika, signed by Dodgers, and Nick Plummer, signed by Reds), and none of those four exceeded rookie status in 2022. If the Mets can utilize their rookie class correctly in 2023 and get better performance from top prospects like Baty, Álvarez, and Vientos, it would be huge for the team’s success in 2023
2: Veteran resurgence
There’s a legitimate argument that Darin Ruf was the most hated man in New York during the 2022 season. For a good reason, though, the DH posted abysmal numbers slashing just .152/.216/.197, good for an OPS of just .413, more notably though Ruf didn’t hit a single home run and drove in just six runs in his 28-game stint with the Mets. This shouldn’t be expected of the veteran, who, in his 247-game stint with the Giants, posted a .814 OPS. Ruf is ready to prove to the New York Faithful that he is the player they acquired on deadline day in 2022. Ruf isn’t the only veteran on the Mets lineup looking to bounce back, as both Tommy Pham and Omar Narváez are coming off disappointing seasons at the plate by their standards. If these three players can come back to form, it will prove massive for the 2023 squad as they all fill in positions that were offensive holes in 2022.
3: The emergence of Kodai Senga
The Japanese right-hander signed a five-year $75 million deal with the Mets this offseason, and he is surely the biggest wildcard on the current roster. The hurler has tantalizing stuff; his arsenal is headlined by a four-seam fastball that averages 96 MPH and can reach up to 102 MPH and a splitter that has coined the name “Ghost Fork” due to the fact it disappears from the batter’s vision while it makes its way to the plate. While signing a player foreign to western baseball is always a risk, Senga has the potential to be the best talent since Shohei Ohtani to make their way from Asia to MLB, and this potential is something the Mets could not pass up on. Senga already has a proven out pitch in the Ghost Fork, and pairing that with his natural velocity, his stuff should translate from the NPB to MLB, and he should be a very effective big-league pitcher. If all goes right, Senga could end up being a bigger offseason acquisition than Justin Verlander and could possibly be the biggest piece of the Mets’ success in 2023.