This series takes a look at all 10 MLB teams to qualify for the postseason. We'll give them a ranking on a scale of 1-to-10 (1 being the Yankees, 10 being the Mets) to determine who best deserves Mets fans' casual support in the playoffs this year.
The Case: The lure of the Red Sox winning anything has long since gone by the wayside. The charm of 2004 is in the rearview mirror. And with each additional New England-based championship, the act wears thinner and thinner.
But these aren’t your usual band of characters.
Dustin Pedroia is a holdover from the 2007 and ’13 championship squads, but most of these guys are new, and as a result, refreshing. Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts, and Andrew Benintendi is going to be a very good outfield for a very, very long time. Xander Bogaerts keeps quietly putting up solid numbers, and Rafael Devers in the latest in a crop of young position players that is re-stoking the flames of the AL East Cold War between the Red Sox and Yankees.
But this team is built on pitching, maybe even more so than the old title team nucleus that included some of the modern day greats (Pedro, Curt Schilling, Jon Lester).
Boston ranks second in the American League in ERA, led by the absolute beast that is Chris Sale. Sale is sporting a 2.90 ERA, a 0.970 WHIP, and an eye-popping 308 strikeouts in his first season in Boston. Sale has never gotten the opportunity to pitch in the postseason, and it will be interesting to see if he flourishes or folds under the pressure.
But really, even if the Red Sox have had an embarrassment of riches in the last decade-and-a-half, there’s really no more compelling case in rooting for Boston than it’s essentially de facto rooting against the Yankees.
Mets Connections: In case you had forgotten, Addison Reed was really, really good for the Mets. Over the course of his seven-year career, he’s been worth 6.4 WAR, and 5.4 of that came in the 145 games he appeared with the Mets.
Hey, there’s probably Reed’s most underrated moment as a Met. Striking out Hunter Pence with the bases loaded in the Wild Card game last year. Obviously, that’s about as good as things got that night, but he deserves some big praise for that moment.
And he was an unsung hero of the September of 2015. After Sandy acquired him from the Diamondbacks: 17 games, 15.1 innings, two earned runs, 5 walks, 17 strikeouts, 1.17 ERA.
What that cut doesn’t show that, between the Mets tying the score at seven and Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ homer in the 8th, Reed had one of the biggest shutdown innings you can possible have (one hit, two strikeouts). That game and that series all but sealed a 2015 NL East crown, and it might not have happened without Reed turning Washington away one half inning after the Mets pulled even.
On the other side of the coin, there’s Chris Young, best remembered as the corner outfielder the Mets gave a one-year, $7.75 million deal to far too early into the 2013-14 offseason. Why do I remember this? Oh, because Nelson Cruz sat around on the scrapheap until February and signed a one-year contract for virtually the same money ($8 million). Would you like to guess who had the better season?
Yeah, I know there was draft pick compensation attached to Cruz after he turned down the qualifying offer from the Rangers. Still. 40.
For that same $8 million, Young slashed .205/.283/.346 in 88 games, and was released in August. He caught on with the Yankees and promptly slashed .283/.354/.521 to finish out 2014, then was a perfect complimentary bat against left handed pitching in the Yanks’ run to the AL Wild Card in 2015, hitting 14 homers in 140 games.
But he seemed like a nice dude, so hey, go get ‘em, Chris!