Whoever said that money can buy happiness clearly hasn’t seen the New York Mets this season.
Possessing the largest payroll in Major League Baseball history, the Mets have been the largest dud in the league this season as they sat eight games under .500 following a rare series win over the San Francisco Giants.
Their divisional hopes are already dead as they trailed the Atlanta Braves by 18.5 games as of July 2 and their playoff hopes in general are in serious jeopardy. Five teams sit between the Mets and the Giants, who possess the third and final NL Wild Card spot.
With an abundance of blame to go around, here are our grades for the Mets’ abysmal 2023 first half.
Mets 2023 first-half grades
Francisco Alvarez, B-: Initially, the 21-year-old top prospect was going to be held down in Triple-A until the “complete package” was ready to go. Instead, necessity forced him up to the majors and he ran away with the starting job by batting .324 with a 1.079 OPS, six home runs, and 14 RBI over a 22-game stretch from April 27-May 27. It’s been a significant struggle since then, batting .148 in his last 28 games, but his defense has been good enough throughout.
Pete Alonso (1B), B: The power hasn’t gone anywhere for Alonso as he’s amongst the best of the best in the majors with 25 round-trippers in 76 games. But his all-around offensive game hasn’t necessarily been there. He was batt .221 as of July 2 with an .835 OPS, which would be his career’s lowest full-season marks.
Jeff McNeil (2B), D-: McNeil has been a shell of his batting-title-wining self from last season. After posting a .327 average in 2022, he’s batting just .258 this season with three home runs and 24 RBI.
Francisco Lindor (SS), B: Much like Alonso, Lindor is one of the top offensive performers at his position with 17 home runs and 55 RBI. But a .223 average and .752 OPS leave plenty to be desired.
Brett Baty (3B), C: Defensive issues coupled with a mediocre bat (.244 BA, .672 OPS, 5 HR, 21 RBI) have limited Baty’s impact in his first full season in the majors after being called up to replace Eduardo Escobar in late April.
Mark Canha, C: Canha’s batting average is 20 points lower than last season and his on-base percentage is 30 points lower. However, a bat that was always slated to be a bottom-of-the-order option has a .732 OPS.
Brandon Nimmo, B+: Nimmo has remained a productive lead-off man for the Mets with an ever-improving glove in center field. He’s been red-hot as of late, posting a .941 OPS with eight of his 12 home runs this season coming in his last 22 games.
Starling Marte, D-: Marte’s rekindled base-stealing has provided a sliver of positivity, but he’s had issues producing after offseason core surgery. His OPS has decreased from an .814 mark last season to a paltry .630 in 2023 — and further pressure was heaped on him after failing in a pair of bases-loaded opportunities during Thursday’s loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Tommy Pham, A-: Pham had been the Mets’ most consistent bat over the last six weeks. In 34 games from May 17-July 2, the veteran is batting g.360 with a 1.053 OPS, six home runs, and 25 RBI. It’s earned him more of a starting role after being signed in the offseason as a fourth outfielder.
Daniel Vogelbach, F: If a designated hitter isn’t hitting, it makes this grade an easy one. Battling an approach that is far too passive, Vogelbach is batting just .209 with five home runs and 23 RBI this season for a team that was in desperate need of a legitimate bat to fill that hole.
Max Scherzer, C-: Back and neck issues and a 10-game suspension for sticky stuff hasn’t helped Scherzer find much consistency. He had a miserable start to the season. On June 13, his season ERA was 4.45. But it appears as though he’s starting to figure it out, allowing just five earned runs over his last three starts (20 IP) with 25 strikeouts compared to just four walks.
Justin Verlander, C-: After missing the first month of the season with a shoulder issue, Verlander — like Scherzer — struggled to find his footing during his debut season in Queens. Through seven starts, his ERA was at a 4.85 and was still at an uninspiring 4.50 on June 20 after allowing four runs on eight hits against his former club, the Houston Astros. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last two starts, though, working through 10 hits in 12 innings of work with 11 strikeouts.
Kodai Senga, B: What Senga is doing certainly isn’t easy. He’s adjusting to life in the United States on the fly while being hoisted into ace-like responsibilities after the struggles of Verlander and Scherzer. He’s 6-5 with a 3.53 ERA across his first 15 starts in the majors and has a ghost forkball that is one of the most fearsome putaway pitches in baseball. But he’s struggled on the road and has only worked on regular rest twice this season.
Carlos Carrasco, D-: Carrasco has been unable to provide any sort of consistency for a team desperate for depth in the starting rotation. He has a 5.94 ERA in 11 starts, which has been incrementally lowered after he was ripped apart for 11 runs across his first two starts o the season. However, he hasn’t pitched more than five innings in nine of his 11 outings this season.
David Robertson, A-: The veteran right-hander had been lights-out this season as the only dependable arm of the Mets’ bullpen. But even he ran into trouble on Friday night against the Giants when he allowed a game-losing three-run home run.
Adam Ottavino, D: The man responsible for being the Mets’ eighth-inning guy after Robertson was forced into closing duties because of Edwin Diaz’s injury, Ottavino has struggled. He’s yielded 15 earned runs in 34 innings pitched (3.97 ERA).
Brooks Raley, B+: With an expanded role in Queens, Raley has done well as the Mets’ shutdown lefty option with a 2.43 across 36 appearances. He owned a 4.64 ERA across his first five MLB seasons.
Jeff Brigham, F: One of the Mets’ notable offseason acquisitions for the bullpen has seen his 2023 run off the rails. He has a 5.16 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched, headlined by the major implosion on June 25 against the Philadelphia Phillies in which he walked one and plunked two. He’s allowed five earned runs in his last 2.1 innings pitched.
Drew Smith, D-: Smith hasn’t met the high expectations put on him by Mets management over the years and a 4.23 ERA was only made less impressive by a 10-game suspension for sticky stuff.