The New York Mets might really be on the verge of a resurgence.
With a four-run, two-out, last inning rally capped by an Anthony Recker grand slam, the Mets came back to tie the Texas Rangers in their last game of the spring. The Amazins finished the preseason at 19-12, the best record in the Grapefruit League; and while spring training performances are often derided as meaningless, the way they went about it was intriguing.
First, and most surprisingly to many: The Mets clobbered the ball for much of spring training. Lucas Duda only hit .236, but he showed power and used the whole field — and he hit reasonably well off of lefties. Curtis Granderson hit a blistering .442, looking more comfortable at the plate than he has so far as a Met. David Wright hit .291 with four home runs, and most of all, he used the entire field and drove the ball to right-center. Wilmer Flores looked solid at the plate, but more importantly, he looked fairly comfortable at shortstop instead of the liability many feared he’d be exposed as. Juan Lagares looked great at leadoff, showing patience, speed and power to complement his renowned defensive prowess. And that’s just the lineup.
The pitching staff, considered to be the Mets’ biggest strength and potentially one of the best in baseball, looked ready for prime time. Matt Harvey brought surprisingly effortless heat in his first outings since Tommy John surgery. Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom looked ready for another dominant season. The bullpen looked solid, despite sustaining unexpected losses early in the spring, and Dillon Gee looks like a strong option at the end of the rotation as he regained his spot as fifth starter in the wake of Zack Wheeler’s Tommy John injury. The Mets have the air of a team that expects a lot of itself, and more importantly, is at peace with others’ heightened expectations.
And that’s the part that’s most interesting of all: the fact that more and more people are raising their expectations of the 2015 Mets.
Numerous projections have the Mets finishing second in the National League East and contending for a postseason spot until the very last day. Mets tickets are reportedly up almost 20 percent in resale value, while Yankees tickets are trending in the opposite direction. Even some of the most heartbreak-toughened Mets fans are expressing hope for the Amazins’ near future, and social media is abuzz with fan excitement for the first game of the season. For the first time ever, Citi Field is opening its doors to fans who want to watch the season opener — a road game, at a stadium that’s notoriously chilly in April — on the stadium’s big screen.
Granted, it’s still early April. Good preseasons can be either instructive or terribly misleading, and none of the Mets’ 19 spring training wins will get them to the playoffs. There are a few question marks, and there have been injuries in recent weeks. But one of the keys to becoming a winning team is believing you can be a winning team. The Mets seem to firmly believe they can win now, and more and more people seem to believe it, too.