Back Just in Time to Join the Hot Stove League
The Mets 2012 season was one of the strangest of all time. I really believed that the team was as good as it looked before Johan Santana got hurt. Then, late in the season, it looked like the Mets were the worst team in the league.
They had all kinds of short winning streaks, in which they played extremely well, and then they would go through a horrible stretch where they couldn't win at all.
From May 25-June 30, the Mets had two four-game winning streaks, one four-game losing streak, three three-game winning streaks, and three three-game losing streaks. So 30 out of 34 games were part of either winning or losing streaks of at least three games.
Later in the season, from August 19 to October 2, the Mets had two six-game losing streaks, one five-game losing streak, one four-game losing streak, two four-game winning streaks, and two three-game winning streaks. 35 out of 41 games involved winning or losing streaks of at least three games.
During that time of mostly losing (16-25 from August 19-October 2), the Mets managed two streaks where they won seven out of eight games! That means they were 2-23 in the other games. Truly bizarre.
In addition to the team as a whole being streaky and beyond unpredictable, I would say that one Met player had the strangest year of all time. That player is Johan Santana.
Up until the end of June, Santana, along with R. A. Dickey, gave the Mets one of the best one-two punches in baseball. Here are Santana's won-lost and ERA by month:
April 0-2 2.25
May 2-0 3.09
June 4-2 2.77
July 0-3 13.50
August 0-2 19.89
Total 6-9 4.85
During that time, he pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1, and after the no-hitter, he had two bad starts, giving up ten runs in ten innings.
After June 30, he ended the season with the worst streak of starting pitching the Mets have ever seen. He gave up 7, 6, 6, 8, and 6 runs in his final five starts, never going more than five innings. This may have the been the worst five games by a starting pitcher in the modern era.
He was pitching with several injuries during that time, which is probably good news, since it suggests that with a few months to recuperate, Santana may be able to pitch reasonably well next year.
There were some obvious bright spots this year, including R. A. Dickey's amazing year, David Wright's offensive and defensive contributions, Matt Harvey's excellent debut, Ruben Tejada's emergence as a good everyday shortstop, and Scott Hairston's power in the outfield.
Other signs of future life include Ike Davis's remarkable turnaround after about the worst start you can imagine; Kirk Nieuwenhuis's debut, before the league caught up with his weaknesses; Jordanny Valdespin's power pinch-hitting; and the continued development of Jon Niese and Dillon Gee.
Lucas Duda and Ike Davis had very disappointing starts to their seasons, and both could easily have ended up in the minors. Davis was spared, mostly because the Mets didn't have anyone to replace him, besides Duda, who was also struggling to hit, and to play the outfield.
Jason Bay continued to struggle, although there were some positive signs late in the season, after the pressure of playing everyday was removed, and he had more time away from his most recent concussion.
Josh Thole had a terrible season, as much defensively as offensively. There was a period of about three games in which he botched tag plays at the plate at least twice, and maybe more. He didn't just miss the sliding runner, he also was in terrible position to receive the throws, giving himself no chance.
I remember a series a few years ago in which I noted that the Mets got out-caught, by Yadier Molina, of course, and in 2012, I can say the Mets got out-caught on an almost daily basis. Mike Nickeas, Rob Johnson, and Kelly Shoppach contributed some good defense and pitch-calling, but offered little offense, and overall ability.
Mike Pelfrey got off to a surprisingly good start, and then had to be shut down for Tommy John surgery, leaving the Mets a little short in the rotation the rest of the year. Dillon Gee had his season end with a blood clot and surgery to repair it. He was also pitching well when he went down.
Santana's second-half of awful pitching and mounting injuries led to his being shut down in August, again leaving the Mets short in the rotation for the rest of the year.
When three of your five opening day starters miss as much time as Santana, Pelfrey, and Gee did, the season is unlikely to go well. The offense tried too hard to pick up the slack, and that was a disaster of its own.
Next time: What the Mets have to do to get ready for a more successful 2013.
© Judy Kamilhor 2012