Top 10 Reasons to Believe in the New York Mets in 2024

No longer the favorite they once were, the New York Mets have all the ingredients of a team that could exceed expectations in 2024.

JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 08: Francisco Alvarez #4 of the New York Mets looks on prior to a spring training game between the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets at Roger Dean Stadium on March 08, 2024 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

After entering the last few seasons as one of the favorites in the National League East, the New York Mets are right back to being where they feel most comfortable as a franchise. They are underdogs.

For a franchise dealt with a lot of struggle in their recent memory, the favorite hat never really seemed to fit for the Mets. When the 2023 Mets were put together, it seemed to good to be true from the beginning.

A rotation of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Kodai Senga looks so good on paper, it is still a marvel to think back and try to remember exactly why it didn’t work out.

Yet at the trade deadline, Mets owner Steve Cohen saw the writing on the wall and asked his front office to sell off his shares in future Hall of Famers Scherzer and Verlander and look ahead to building a sustainable future.

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In doing so, the Mets were able to jumpstart a rebuild in short order, which new David Stearns was fortunate enough to inherit when he took the job to be their President of Baseball Operations last September.

Stearns task in year one of the job, outside of getting to know his organization and building out a front office, was to put together a team that could win in 2024 without jeopardizing 2025 and beyond. That meant hanging onto all the Mets top prospects on the trade market and keeping free agent signings to just one or two years max.

The result is a team that is not quite projected to make the playoffs on Opening Day, but one that has all the tools to surprise some people and exceed expectations in 2024.

10. The Right Rookie Manager

When David Stearns took over the Mets, he had a very long list of tasks at hand. If he wanted to make life easier, he could have kept veteran manager Buck Showalter in place for the final season of his deal and solely focused on his front office and roster for the 2024 season.

Instead, Showalter was let go, with Cohen allowing Stearns to hire his own manager.

When that search began, many assumed the Mets would be the team to spend big to poach Craig Counsell from the Brewers, reuniting Stearns with his former manager. But before we learned that the Cubs been the ones to swoop in to pay Counsell, news broke that the Mets had instead hired Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza to be their manager.

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A former player who spent 13 seasons in the minor leagues, Mendoza’s transition to playing in the Yankees farm system to coaching within it first came back in 2009.

A decade after starting his coaching career, Mendoza was named the Yankees bench coach in November of 2019, serving under manager Aaron Boone.

Mendoza learned how to manage in New York City firsthand from watching Boone over the past four years, and quickly made a name for himself on the market once he started to interview for manager jobs. He was in consideration for many teams this offseason, but ultimately landed the Mets gig, allowing him to stay in New York and take over the club in the other borough.

There is no telling if Mendoza is going to be a great manager or not, but he has followed all the right steps to get an opportunity like this and his arc seems to fit perfectly with where the Mets are as a franchise right now.

This is a new beginning for the New York Mets, so why not have a rookie manager guide the ship.

9. Top Prospects Are Close

Remember when I said the Mets bought a rebuild at last year’s deadline?

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Well look no further than in Triple-A and you will find both Drew Gilbert and Luisangel Acuña starring on the Syracuse Mets. Gilbert and Acuña are both top 100 prospects, who could be knocking on the door of a big league promotion with a strong start to their season.

Gilbert, who was acquired in the Justin Verlander trade, has become the more highly-touted of the two prospects after a great finish to his season last year. After getting traded, Gilbert hit .325/.423/.561, with a 167 wRC+ in 35 games played in Double-A with the Mets.

He now opens the season as the starting center fielder in Triple-A, where he could be the first man up if the Mets need to add a sparkplug to their outfield at some point this season.

Meanwhile the same thing can be said about Acuña in the Mets infield, and unlike Gilbert, he is already on the Mets 40-man roster. Ronald’s 22-year-old little brother still has a lot to prove in his first taste of Triple-A, but could be a big league contributor sooner rather than later.

On top of Acuña and Gilbert, the Mets have three of their top pitching prospects in their Syracuse rotation to start the season as well. Christian Scott, Mike Vasil and Dom Hamel will all open the season together in Triple-A and any of them could be up this year.

Scott is the name everyone has their eyes on though, as he shined in a spring training start against the Marlins just last week.

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The 24-year-old right-hander enjoyed a breakout season in 2023, which saw him go from being outside our top 100 altogether to being featured at No. 78 in our pre-season update.

Between those five prospects, and left-handed reliever Nate Lavender (who also made a name for himself this spring), the Mets could have reinforcements on their way later this season.

8. Starting Pitching Depth

We just alluded to some of the Mets starting pitching depth with Scott, Vasil and Hamel. Beyond those three, the Mets also have both Joey Lucceshi and Jose Butto waiting in the wings in Triple-A whenever they need an arm.

The loss of Kodai Senga to start the season is a tough one to overcome, but at least their ace is back throwing now and is expected to make it back by early June at the latest. Before he does return, there is every chance that left-handed starter David Peterson could beat him off the IL.

Peterson is coming off a disappointing season in 2023, but an offseason hip surgery provided at least a partial explanation for the drop-off in performance. Now with a clean bill of health, and already throwing bullpens, Peterson will hope to return to his 2022 form, when he pitched to 3.83 ERA with a very strong 27.8% strikeout rate.

Everyone is looking at an Opening Day rotation of Jose Quintana, Luis Severino, Sean Manaea, Tylor Megill and Adrian Houser and is doubting the Mets, and in some respects rightfully so.

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With that said, the Mets have a lot of arms at their disposal to try to find a winning combination throughout this season.

7. Positive Regression

This is a big one for the New York Mets. It may feel like a long time ago, but the Mets won 101 games just two years ago back in 2022. While the pitching staff has changed a lot since then, a lot of the similar cast of characters is on this roster.

The return of Edwin Diaz cannot be overstated (we will get to that later), but getting a healthy Starling Marte and a better version of Jeff McNeil will go a long way towards helping the Mets bounce back to 2022 form. Both Marte and McNeil were All-Stars in 2022, before falling off in a major way last season.

If the Mets can even get 80% of the guys they had in 2022, they will be a significantly better team than they were last year. Marte went from being a 3.3 fWAR player in 2022, to being a net negative at a -0.3 fWAR in 2023. McNeil went from a 5.7 fWAR to a 2.6 fWAR.

Combine them and you have over six wins of difference between just those two guys alone. Now add in a fellow positive regression candidate in Luis Severino and the Mets could take some people by surprise compared to what the projections are telling us.

Coming off the worst season of his career with the Yankees in 2023, where he pitched to a 6.65 ERA, Severino looked fantastic for the Mets this spring.

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He finished with a 1.29 ERA and 12 strikeouts to just one walk in his 14 innings pitched. Signed to a one-year, prove-it deal, Severino is looking to flush 2023 and get back to being one of the better starting pitchers in baseball. He certainly has good enough stuff to do it.

6. Outfield Defense

A buzz word or phrase you will hear from David Stearns a lot is “run prevention”.

The easiest path to run prevention is of course great pitching. But when great pitching costs a lot of money on the free agent market, there are other ways to prevent runs through your roster construction. And that is with great defense.

Up until the signing of J.D. Martinez, every position player acquisition the Mets made this offseason was to bolster their team defense. First it was signing Joey Wendle to help their infield, then it was trading for Tyrone Taylor.

Where the Mets really leaned into defense however was when they signed Harrison Bader.

Bader’s signing has pushed a good defensive center fielder in Brandon Nimmo into left field, where he should profile to be well-above average. Bader has had his inconsistencies both staying on the field and at the plate, but when in the grass, few outfielders are better in center.

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Marte looks healthy this year and should be far better than he was last year in right, while Taylor gives the Mets a fourth outfielder who can play strong defense at all three positions.

When the Mets go to an outfield of Nimmo, Bader and Taylor, their outfield defense should be up there with any team in baseball.

Having great outfield defense is important when you have a pitching staff that lacks the stuff to rely solely on strikeouts. The Mets starters will be pitching to contact and they need fielders to clean up any mistakes they make.

Run prevention can come in all different forms and the Mets are counting on their defense to help overcome any deficiencies they have on the pitching side.

5. The Return of Edwin Diaz

Another way a team can overcome a lack of top-end starting pitching is to have a great bullpen. The return of the best closer in baseball goes a long way towards having just that.

Losing Edwin Diaz in the World Baseball Classic last season was a foreshadowing of all the bad things to come, but getting him back could turn the tides in the other direction. Diaz might have to shake the rust off a little to start the year, but no one is doubting his ability to be elite again.

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Having those trumpets blaring at Citi Field is going to bring an energy to the ballpark that was sorely missed last season. Last year proved the value of Diaz and getting him back now is an emotional lift that can really change things for this club.

4. Francisco Alvarez Will Be an All-Star

You heard it here first, Francisco Alvarez will be an All-Star in the National League this season.

The potential that Alvarez has is endless, as he could very well hit 40 pumps from the catcher position as soon as this season. Last year, Alvarez hit 25 home runs in a season where he was wildly inconsistent offensively. If he can find his rhythm, no telling what Alvarez can do.

The 22-year-old was thrust into action last year to replace injured starter Omar Narvaez and he outright Wally Pipped him. While everyone was focused on his bat, Alvarez really shined with his glove, where he was one of the best receivers in all of baseball.

The one weakness in his game defensively last season was controlling the running game, but it looks like he made it his mission to fix that this offseason.

On top of the sheer talent, it is the work ethic that separates Alvarez and because of that, I am expecting a monster sophomore season from the Mets young catcher.

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3. Consistent Franchise Cornerstones

Francisco Lindor and Brandon Nimmo are clearly the two building blocks the Mets have long-term. Each has contracts that span through the 2030 season, ensuring that they will be part of the Mets not only now, but long into the future.

Lindor has consistently been the best shortstop in baseball throughout his career and is coming off back-to-back six-win seasons. Last year, Lindor played through injury and still posted up to play 160 games to finish with a 30-30 season. Now fully healthy, Lindor could be even better this year.

Meanwhile Nimmo has played over 150 games in each of the last two years, while being the most consistent bat in the Mets lineup. Nimmo hit an identical .274 in both 2022 and 2023, and even added some slug to his game last year with a career-high 24 home runs.

Having Nimmo and Lindor batting first and second in the Mets lineup gives them a pair of stable veteran leaders who will show up to the ballpark and play the game the right way everyday.

2. Pete Alonso Has Protection in a Contract Year

We can talk about every player in the Mets lineup, but at the end of the day, there is one man that drives the damn thing. And that man is Pete Alonso.

Alonso leads Major League Baseball in both home runs and RBIs dating back to his MLB debut in 2019. There has not been a more consistent run-producer in the game, as Alonso hit 46 home runs and drove in 118 runs last year in what you could actually call a down-season.

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When looking at all the production Alonso has had, what is rather remarkable is the fact that he has done so with very little protection in the lineup. That will all change this year though, with the late addition of J.D. Martinez.

Martinez is one of the most feared sluggers in the game, who is always a threat to drive in 100 runs. Last year, Martinez had a fantastic season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which saw him hit 33 home runs in just 113 games played, with a .572 slugging percentage.

Putting together a top-four of Nimmo, Lindor, Alonso and now Martinez, is sure to strike fear into opposing pitchers on a daily basis.

This all puts Alonso in the perfect position for his walk-year heading into free agency, where we could put up video game numbers even larger than what we have already come to expect from the 29-year-old slugger.

1. Trust David Stearns’ Process

If there is one reason to believe in the New York Mets more than any other, it is the fact that they finally have a steady hand on the wheel guiding this franchise into the future.

Between a change in ownership and countless front office overhauls, the Mets have been in flux for a very long time. Bringing in Stearns on a five-year contract was Cohen’s attempt to put an end to that carousel.

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Stearns is widely-regarded as one of the best executives in baseball for how he was able to turn the Brewers into a consistent winner on a small market budget in Milwaukee. Now he gets to take some of those same principles over to New York, where he can operate with more financial freedom than he ever could have dreamed of in his past job.

The Mets weren’t big spenders at the top of the free agent market this year, but Stearns completely overhauled the 40-man roster in one offseason, creating a team that is far deeper than it was at the end of the last year.

Stearns did not get to “win the offseason” the way the Mets were able to in year’s past through free agency. Still, they had a methodical plan and were able to check off a lot of boxes that leave plenty of reason to believe in the New York Mets heading into the 2024 season.