The New York Mets first trip to the World Series since 2000 did not go as planned for the team. Seeking its first championship since 1986 when the franchise beat the Boston Red Sox, the Mets fell to the Kansas City Royals in five games. While the Royals played well and were pitching effectively and frustrating the Mets by constantly fouling off pitches to draw out successful at-bats, the Mets ultimately beat themselves.
Errors were a huge reason why the Mets came up empty. There were the couple of grounders that second baseman Daniel Murphy botched, but the error that will likely stick in the minds of Mets fans for years to come is the one made by first baseman Lucas Duda in Game 5. The Mets were at home at Citi Field, up 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Starter Matt Harvey had left the game after pitching eight brilliant innings, but had given up a walk and a double to get the Royals back in the game. Closer, Jeurys Familia, had come on to try and save the game, and nearly did. With one out, Salvador Perez of the Royals jammed a short-hop to Mets third baseman David Wright. Wright made the play and held Eric Hosmer of the Royals at third long enough to make the throw to first to get Perez. Hosmer then busted down the line in an attempt to tie the game. If Duda had made a throw that nearly any other major league baseball player makes, there is a very good chance that Hosmer is a dead duck at the plate. Instead, Duda horribly misfired the ball at catcher Travis d’Arnaud, allowing Hosmer to tie the game. The Royals would later go on to romp the Mets in the 12th inning, scoring five runs to beat the Mets 7-2 and win the World Series in New York.
Now, if Duda had made a throw similar to two people having a catch on their front lawn, the Mets very likely go on to win the game assuming d’Arnaud was able to make the tag. The team would’ve still had to travel to Kansas City and win two games there, but they would have at least been given a chance to, with starters Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard slated to pitch the last two games, respectively.
As key as they were, errors were not the only reason the Mets lost the World Series. Clutch hitting, or lack thereof, also let the Mets down. It seemed like any time the Mets had runners in scoring position, they would not be able to capitalize. That had something to do with the Mets heart of the order struggling against the pitching of the Royals. Throughout the series, Murphy, Yoenis Cespedes and Duda were limited to zero extra-base hits.
Cespedes, the Mets major acquisition at the trade deadline, looked lost at times during the World Series. He had two balls deflect off of him in the outfield, allowing the Royals to get extra-base hits out of them. The first one was against the Royals first batter in the series, Alcides Escobar, who was able to set the tone for the series with an inside-the-park home run. In Game 4, Cespedes was caught way off first base on Duda’s soft line drive to Mike Moustakas, who doubled Cespedes up at first to end the game in which the Mets were attempting to rally from a 5-3 deficit.
Familia had also blown a save in Game 1, when he allowed a home run by Alex Gordon to tie the game, which the Royals eventually won in 14 innings. The comeback victory was potentially a big momentum driver for Kansas City.
While a World Series plagued by mistakes may not have necessarily provided many bright spots for the Mets going forward, the postseason in general did at least. For the first two rounds against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs, Murphy put in a herculean effort, hitting seven home runs. If the Mets are unable to re-sign Murphy, now a free agent, going forward, they would be wise to sign Royals utility-man Ben Zobrist, who could play any position for the team aside from pitcher and catcher while putting up similar hitting statistics as Murphy.
The starting pitching displayed throughout the entire season for the Mets should be a strong source of optimism for Mets fans going forward into the future. Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard and Steven Matz all showcased elite potential at certain points in the season and playoffs. The Mets are also hoping to have yet another young pitching stud, Zack Wheeler, back, after he missed the whole season to an unfortunate injury.
Armed with an amazing young pitching rotation and experience, the Mets will hope to get back to the World Series multiple times in the future and win it all, avoiding some of the mistakes they made against the Royals.