Which non-playoff teams can become contenders in 2020?

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 08: Eugenio Suarez #7 celebrates with Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on August 8, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 08: Eugenio Suarez #7 celebrates with Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on August 8, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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New York Mets
(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) /

MLB Teams to Watch

New York Mets

The dysfunction of the New York Mets organization has always been well documented. This MLB season did not disappoint. There were locker room issues, front office disagreements, and as always, underperformance. Their big offseason acquisitions faltered, thus leading to a lot of criticism of General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen. Robinson Canó had by far the worst season of his career, Edwin Díaz had 7 blown saves after being the best closer in the league in 2018, and Jed Lowrie only managed to play 9 games.

However, not all was bad for the 2019 Mets. Thanks to an incredible second half, the Mets finished at an improved 86-76. They still missed the playoffs, but the future is not as bleak as it has been in years past.

First, they got rid of manager Mickey Callaway and replaced him with former Mets All-Star Carlos Beltrán. Now, the front office seems to finally be on the same page. The Mets still have some glaring needs, but fans have reason to be optimistic about the near future.

The Good

When talking about the good aspects of the Mets 2019 MLB season, it’s hard not to start with rookie sensation Pete Alonso. Alonso broke out in a big way, hitting .260/.358/.538. He led the league with 53 home runs, while also breaking Aaron Judge‘s single-season rookie home run record. He will anchor the Mets lineup for the foreseeable future. At the top of that lineup will be super-utility man Jeff McNeil, who also enjoyed a breakout season. He hit an impressive .318/.384/..531 with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs. He is a unique, versatile player who should be a staple in the Mets lineup for years to come.

The most surprising breakout performance in the Mets lineup was J.D. Davis. Davis came out of nowhere to hit .307/.369/.527 while bashing 22 home runs and 57 RBIs. Along with Amed Rosario, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Dominic Smith, the Mets have a solid young lineup.

The next good thing about the Mets roster is their starting rotation. While it appears they will let Zack Wheeler walk in free agency, Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman make up one of the best 1-2-3 punch in the majors. DeGrom has a chance to pick up his second straight NL Cy Young, after pitching to a 2.43 ERA with 255 strikeouts. Syndergaard had a down year but pitched incredibly well in the second half. Stroman came over in a trade at the deadline and continued one of the best seasons of his career. With the Mets, he went 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA in 11 starts.

Where They Need Improvement

The area that needs the most improvement for the Mets has been well documented in the media. They ranked 25th in bullpen ERA with a 4.95. Besides Seth Lugo and Justin Wilson, everyone in the bullpen was abysmal. Everyone already knows how bad Edwin Diaz was in 2019, so there’s no need to beat the dead horse. Robert Gsellman was ineffective, and Jeurys Familia was the worst of the bunch. If the Mets want to seriously compete, they must bolster their bullpen.

The X-Factor

Beyond the bullpen issues, the Mets have one person who needs to step up in order to transform the Mets into legitimate contenders. While Robinson Canó certainly needs to improve on his horrible 2019 campaign, another former All-Star must lead his team in the right direction. That would be the new Mets manager Carlos Beltrán. The Mets have been historically plagued with public embarrassment in the media. It seems every year the Mets get caught up in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Beltrán needs to ensure that it does not happen. He is familiar with the New York media and must stand tall in the spotlight. If he can manage the exterior media, then he can focus on creating a strong locker room culture. If he can do all of that, the Mets have enough talent to make a run to the playoffs, if they improve their bullpen. Out of all the talent in the Mets organization, Beltrán has the most to prove.