What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I’m a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2012 title for all 30 teams.
Going into 2012, the New York Mets were projected as one of the worst teams in baseball, following the loss of free agent shortstop and last season’s mid-year trades of closer Francisco Rodriguez and right fielder Carlos Beltran. Hell has frozen over, because today, the New York Mets are your World Champions of baseball.
The Mets won the wild card in the National League, finishing second in the NL East behind the Phillies. The Mets got to where they were after every other team in the NL East collapsed, leading to New York sneaking in the back door and winning the wild card with 86 wins.
The major sparkplug for New York was center fielder Andres Torres, acquired in the offseason for New York’s incumbent center fielder, Angel Pagan. In 2010, Torres racked up 6.8 fWAR after providing amazing defense in center field along with a .822 OPS and 26 stolen bases. He fell off a bit in 2011, but came back to a good level this year, racking up 6.3 fWAR, stealing 31 bases and OPSing .817. His defense was once again spectacular, racking up a +15 in the cavernous Citi Field outfield.
Face of the franchise David Wright rebounded from an awful 2011 season to post an excellent 2012, OPSing .935 and regaining his lost power, homering 31 times on the year, his highest total since 2008. Another big contributor for the Mets was first baseman Ike Davis, returning from a 2011 season lost to injury. Davis blossomed into the player that many expected he could be after a good start to 2011, homering 33 times with an .891 OPS. Outfielder Jason Bay was another story, but his .807 OPS was a huge improvement over his .703 OPS from 2011.
On the mound, it was a struggle at times for New York. They didn’t know what to expect from former ace Johan Santana, who missed all of the 2011 season following shoulder surgery, but his performance was solid: a 14-8 record along with a 3.24 ERA and 174 strikeouts in 194 innings. It was a nice shot in the arm for New York, who had a rotation anchored by guys like RA Dickey, who ate 210 innings and had a 3.87 ERA, and Mike Pelfrey, who threw 197 innings and had a 4.27 ERA.
New York actually had a pretty solid bullpen, which was anchored by incumbent (and new closer) Bobby Parnell, along with free agent signings Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco. Each pitcher had an ERA under 2.80, with Parnell leading the way at 1.91 and striking out 10.48 batters per nine innings en route to saving 41 games. In fact, Parnell was the best closer in the NL East, following the free agent disappointments that were Heath Bell and Jonathan Papelbon, and the sophomore slump put together by Craig Kimbrel.
The fact that the Mets were even in contention this year, let alone winning the whole damn thing, is a testament to manager Terry Collins and general manager Sandy Alderson. Alderson managed to pare New York’s payroll by 50%, and Collins was able to take that gutted team and win a title with them.