The Mets have not had an easy year. The defending NL champions added to the depth on their roster this past offseason, and it’s a good thing they did, because their list of players on the disabled list or expected to miss the playoffs due to injury is lengthy. In spite of all of those problems, though, the Mets who managed to stay healthy (or, at least, healthy-ish) pulled through and earned a wild card and the opportunity for at least one postseason game.
Mets third baseman David Wright, long a cornerstone of the lineup, underwent neck surgery, and is expected back in spring training next year. Neil Walker’s back put him on the DL for the rest of 2016 with what seemed like far too much season to go. The Opening Day rotation featured Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, and Bartolo Colon: now, only Syndergaard and Colon remain, with the rest all out for the season for one injury or another, and the Mets never did get Zack Wheeler back mid-season as expected, either.
Starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud only played in 75 games. Michael Conforto struggled in his sophomore campaign, part of which he spent in Triple-A. Alejandro De Aza didn’t repeat the 2015 success that had the Mets sign him in the first place. The bullpen was often a mess, and managed in a way that only made the mess bigger. Jon Niese, whom the Mets acquired as pitching depth, ended up on the 60-day DL with New York. Wilmer Flores is unlikely to return in 2016 due to a wrist injury, Justin Ruggiano is on the 60-day DL ... as said, it just wasn’t an easy year for the Mets.
Even with all of this, though, there were bright spots. Re-signing Yoenis Cespedes has worked out even if he opts out after 2016, as he powered the offense regardless of who was written in the lineup around him. Walker was great while the Mets had him, and Flores stepped up to replace the various options around the infield as they went down with injuries, until finally he went down with his own. Asdrubal Cabrera, spot-starter Seth Lugo, and even Jose Reyes — who was signed after the Rockies let him go following the end of his suspension for assaulting his wife — all contributed on the field beyond the expectations put forth for them.
All of this, plus the year-long dominance of Syndergaard, the ageless nature of Colon, another productive Curtis Granderson campaign, and a seemingly endless supply of successful backup options meant the Mets were able to overcome everything put in front of them — whether from the baseball gods, the schedule, or self-inflicted. It wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of the entire team, from those who played part of the year before an injury, after an injury, or from start to finish.
The Mets finished 87-75, second in the NL East and well behind the Nationals. They could have done even better had they been healthy, sure, but one of the realities of baseball is that you can never truly rely on health. Things happen, many of them negative, and how a team responds following those events is what ends up defining their season. The Mets rallied despite injuries, despite poor performances, and they came out with a wild card to show for it.
Now, the Mets that are left get another shot at successful teamwork, as they can advance to the NLDS and the Cubs should they get past the Giants. Getting to October is the hard part: the Mets already managed that, in spite of all the trips to the disabled list. Now, it’s anyone’s game, and if the Mets can have a little bit more of that whole team-wide contribution for a few more weeks, they just might be able to secure another NL title and World Series berth.