Though still possible, the likelihood of the Mets reaching the postseason is dwindling by the day.
As a result of losing six straight games to the Braves and Cubs, they now have just a 9.6 percent chance of reaching the playoffs down from a 51 percent just two weeks ago, according to FanGraphs.
Nevertheless, whether the Mets make the postseason or not, they will benefit this winter and next season thanks to what I consider five important positive developments during the past few months.
Finally, a First Baseman!
In the 10 seasons since Carlos Delgado left the Mets, the organization has tried more than 20 different people at first base, most notably Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Wilmer Flores and Ike Davis.
That experiment has ended. Pete Alonso is going to win Rookie of the Year and has a legit shot at ending this season with the most home runs in baseball. He will enter next season not only as the team's everyday first baseman, but -- when all is said and done - he may very well end up the organization's greatest first baseman of all time.
What's more, he has done very well in the field. He was clouded with concern expressed by fans, scouts and media, myself included, regarding his reported weak fielding in the minor leagues. He's been far better than expected, though. Alonso does not field the position like Keith Hernandez, but who does? Most important is that overall, he is significantly better than anyone trotted out there during the past decade.
Finally, a Catcher!
In many ways, what I wrote above about first base can also be said for the Mets at catcher. However, to be fair, catcher has been a mostly weak position during the past 20 years, so I'll cut the Mets a bit of slack.
That said, after years of questioning the health Travis d'Arnaud and potential of Kevin Plawecki, Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen cut ties with both former prospects. In their wake, he turned to an established veteran, Wilson Ramos, who was signed to an inexpensive, two-year deal.
During the days prior to the trade deadline in late-July, it looked like signing Ramos might end up being a bust. Through the first 94 games of the season, he hit .259 with 18 extra base hits, which was good for 26th in WAR among NL catchers.
That all changed the day after the July 31 trade deadline, though. He has hit .405 with 10 extra base hits and 21 RBI since August 1, including a 26-game hitting streak that ended this past Wednesday.
He is now 11th in WAR among NL catchers and one of only three backstops to appear in at least 120 games.
To be fair, he had a .271 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) through July 31. He has an unimaginable .405 BABIP during this recent hot streak. In all likelihood Ramos's true luck is some place in the middle, like most of the league. But, even in that reality, he's a top 4-5 catcher in the NL, which almost certainly guarantees him of being behind the dish for the Mets in 2020.
The Real Deal Jeff McNeil
It was clear last season to most fans that Jeff McNeil was an outstanding hitter worthy of playing every day in 2019. Prior to Van Wagenen acquiring Robinson Cano, we assumed McNeil would be starting at second base, where he played quite well in the field the previous season. However, with Cano on the roster and Todd Frazier considered the regular third baseman, McNeil's spot on field was in question. Turns out, in addition to being an above average infielder, McNeil can also play well in left field.
Ideally, McNeil starts next season at third since Frazier is a free agent. However, Van Wagenen now knows that he could acquire a better third baseman and use McNeil in left. Or, he can stick with McNeil at third and put J.D. Davis in left. Or, he can find a sucker to take Cano's deal and put McNeil back at his natural position.
The point is, thanks to McNeil's proven flexibility, Van Wagenen can be extra creative when brainstorming and building next year's team.
Brodie is bold and wants to win
It's important that Mets fans believe in Van Wagenen, but it's just as important that agents and players (not on the Mets) also believe in Van Wagenen.
He took a risk in the weeks after being hired when he declared the Mets contenders for the postseason following back-to-back losing seasons. He took a risk acquiring Cano and closer Edwin Diaz for highly-touted prospects that he almost certainly regrets trading. He took a risk keeping Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard and other big-leaguers when he could have restocked his farm system for future seasons at the trade deadline. And he took a final risk trading more prospects for Marcus Stroman at a time when the Mets were six games under .500 and assumed to be sellers.
It hasn't all paid off, but he's made it clear that he believes in his players, he believes in himself and there is no reason why players looking for a new home wouldn't be at least intrigued by what he is trying to do for the Mets in Queens.
The rotation has been bolstered to guard against losing Zack Wheeler
Wheeler may or may not be back with the Mets next season. He will be a free agent in less than two months and almost certainly be entertaining multiple, multi-year contract offers.
It would be nice to bring Wheeler back in 2020. However, thanks to Van Wagenen trading for Stroman, who is under contract through 2020, the rotation will not be a concern entering next season.
Van Wagenen likely would have spent time figuring out how to replace Wheeler. He doesn't have to do that now. Plus, if the Mets struggle in 2020 and Van Wagenen decides to sell, he may very well end up acquiring for Stroman similar prospects to what he gave up this season to get him.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!