When the 2012 Major League Baseball season began, the New York Mets were drawing comparisons to their 1962 team. Not that they would lose well over 100 games, but 90+ losses was almost a certainly, most baseball experts said. Through the first 80 games of the season, those pundits have been wrong. The Mets boast a record of 43-37 with 82 games left to play in the season. They are in contention not only for the National League Wild Card, but for the National League East division crown, only a handful of games behind the first-place Washington Nationals, also a surprise this season.
The biggest reason for the success of the New York Mets is undoubtedly All-Star pitcher RA Dickey. With a 12-1 record, 116 strikeouts, and a 2.15 ERA, Dickey is arguably the front runner for the National League Cy Young Award. Dickey has gained remarkable control over his knuckle ball, and has been consistently thrown it over 80 miles per hour, something unheard of by previous knuckleballers.
All star third baseman David Wright is also having a fabulous season, hitting .354 with nine home runs and 50 runs batted in. When the New York Mets declined to retain shortstop Jose Reyes in the off season, Wright became the face of the franchise, and he hasn’t disappointed at the plate in his first season in the role. Furthermore, Wright has become the leader off the field many thought he could become, has demonstrated by his reluctance to leave a game against the Milwaukee Brewers, when it was feared he would be hit in retaliation for a Brewer getting plunked.
Though it doesn’t show in his win/loss record, Johan Santana has also been key this season. His 6-4 record with 93 strikeouts and 2.76 ERA are respectable, but it is the presence of Santana in the pitching rotation that helps the team. On a consistent basis, his best days may be behind him with a slower fastball and a recent history of injuries, but on any given night, Santana is a competitor who knows how to pitch, as evidenced by his June 1, 2012, no hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals, the first in the history of the New York Mets history.
Complimentary players, like Lucas Duda, hitting .255 with 11 homers and 43 RBI, as well as Scott Hairston, also hitting .255 with 10 home runs with 32 RBI, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, hitting .275 with 7 homers and 25 RBI, are also major contributors to the Mets first-half success. Ike Davis, the talented phenom who was injured most of the season, has also begun to heat up. After spending most of the first half hitting below .200, he has 4 homers and 12 RBI in his last eight games, and, while hitting only .203 on the season, has a respectable 11 homers and 45 RBI on the season.
The New York Mets may still become the team they were predicted to be, but, with what they have shown in the first half, that is doubtful. They have given New York Mets fans a historic season already, and, if they can continue to compete the way they have in the first half, they will have more history to be made the second half of the season and beyond.