As they close in on a division crown, the Mets have even shocked themselves in 2015
Nearly two years ago, the Mets endeavored to change the operation of their franchise from an organization in transition to one that puts winning first.
Gone were the concerns over years of control and Super-Two status when they called up both Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero from the minor leagues in early May, 2014. Gone were the worries over rebuilding the low levels of the organization when they signed Michael Cuddyer to a two-year contract last November, surrendering their first-round pick in the 2015 draft in the process.
For the most part, their roster maneuvering was based on need and meritocracy, and not dependent upon years of control, concerns over arbitration, and contractural status.
And while the Mets were devastated by significant injuries and lost time to so many key players, they managed to stick around in the National League East (or, it can be argued the Nationals kept the Mets lurking with their own uninspiring play through the first 100 or so games of the 2015 season).
And so, here they are, nearing the top of their first summit in 2015.
The Mets are 82-61 with 19 games remaining in the regular season. They are 9 1/2 games ahead of the Nationals, giving them a magic number of 11 to clinch the National League East championship. They have won 30 of their last 41 games, netting 12 1/2 games in the standings and putting them on the verge of getting to the playoffs for the first time in nine years.
But a look at the standings does not characterize what these New York Mets are. Their 30-11 stretch since July 31 is one of utter dominance, resiliency, and a fiery will to win even under the most dire circumstances.
During that span, they have proven they can win with dominant pitching, a dominant offense, and an absolute refusal to quit even if they are down to their last strike in a game thanks to a new hero being cultivated every 24 hours.
Look no further than Sunday’s win over the Braves which completed a four-game sweep of Atlanta in a building which has absolutely terrorized this franchise for almost 20 years.
Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, Curtis Granderson and Bobby Parnell all got it done on a day the Mets had no business winning.
Even the manager, who was the first to proclaim the 2015 Mets as a real contender last November, is shocked by his team’s electric dominance.
“It’s really hard to imagine we would be sitting where we are right now, even though we thought we had a good team,” Collins said shaking his head on Sunday afternoon in Atlanta. “This is far and above what we expected.”
Everyday has a different story of heroism tied to the Mets. It doesn’t seem like they ever have a systematic win.
Certainly, their distance from the Nationals in the standings can be attributed to Washington’s inability to get out of their own way for the better part of the season. They were expected to be better than the close-to .500 team they ultimately are at this point in the season, and the Mets most recent 7-2 run over Washington has proven to be fruitful for them in the standings.
But that doesn’t discount what the 2015 Mets have ultimately become themselves, which is a team while retro-fitted at the trade deadline, has been instilled with a desire and a hunger to win since the doors to the clubhouse opened at Tradition Field in early February.
“We know how good we are and how good we are going to be this year,” a current Met said in late February.
That confident clubhouse has been the one common denominator throughout the 2015 season, even as they watched one key component after the next go down with an injury, as they remained patient and hopeful they could stick around long enough in the race for Sandy Alderson to make the remarkable and transofrmational moves he made ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
But all of this is only a first step for the 2015 Mets. They have – and have always had – a grander vision for the 2015 season, and the manager will not be satisfied merely with an invitation to the playoffs.
“We made a commitment last fall that it was time to win,” Collins emphatically explained. “We are not done – we’ve got a long way to go yet.”
So they hope, anyway. But as constructed and with the brand of baseball the Mets are currently playing, there is no question the 2015 Mets might be one of the most formidable teams in the game come October.