Ever since the Great Collapse of 2007, when the Mets choked a 7-game division lead with 17 games to go, a curse has fallen upon their miserable franchise.
It’s a story the baseball world is all too familiar with. Seemingly every year, the Mets take a commanding lead in the NL East for the first three months of the year, only to collapse and let a division rival overtake them.
Let’s take a look at some past examples:
- In 2021, the Mets were up 8 games on the Braves on June 16. We all know how that ended.
- In 2018, the Mets started the season red-hot, winning 12 of their first 14 games in April. Mets fans called the season particularly early, declaring the team 2018 champs! They peaked and collapsed in that fateful month, finishing the season 77-85 — good enough for fourth place in the NL East and 13 games behind your first place Atlanta Braves.
- In 2015, the Mets didn’t collapse in the regular season. They won the division and then the NL Pennant in commanding fashion. They saved the collapse for their 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Royals in the World Series.
- In 2010, the Mets were in first place on May 1. On May 16, they were in last place. They finished the season 18 games back of the first-place Phillies,
I could go on for days. The Mets are the best team in the league every single offseason. Their fans declare the team champions every April, May, and June.
Their new owner, Steve Cohen, subscribes to the philosophy that money buys championships. I mean, just look at Francisco Lindor’s contract.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. It’s why the Dodgers keep falling short in the postseason and the Yankees can’t get over the hump (even though this year they look like gods).
Money helps, sure. But it doesn’t buy rings in baseball.
The way to win in baseball is through scouting, development, and chemistry.
Which brings me to my next point.
The Braves Will Brave
Last year, we witnessed something magical. On August 1, the Braves were 52-55, 5 games back in the worst division in baseball, and 9 games out from a wild card spot.
And then years of scouting, development, front-office excellence, and plain old heart took over.
You know the story. They traded for Joc, Eddie, Soler, and Duvall. Four perfect acquisitions at the deadline.
But in the years prior, they had been silently building a monster. Atlanta developed talents in Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley, Mike Soroka, AJ Minter, Ian Anderson, and Ronald Acuña, Jr. The front office acquired more talent via trade in Dansby Swanson and Max Fried. Scouts found hidden gems like Tyler Matzek and Travis d’Arnaud.
Most importantly, the team had chemistry.
Factor all those things in and add a passionate fanbase that touts one of the best home-field advantages in baseball, and it starts to make sense how they won the World Series.
And unlike the 2019 Nats, the Braves are poised to just keep getting better.
The 2022 Braves Are Better Than The 2021 Braves
Dread it. Run from it. Cry on Twitter.
With that out of the way, we can look at the other reasons why the 2022 Braves are better than the 2021 Braves.
Reason 1: Ronald Acuña, Jr is back.
Reason 2: The Braves’ farm system and talent acquisition continues to flex its proverbial muscles. We’ve known for a while that Kyle Wright would be good. He is better than good. Spencer Strider has arrived quickly. He’s bolstered a rotation that was already good and has arguably made it elite. He may not be able to start for the full season, but 102 mph out of the ‘pen in long relief will be an incredible weapon come October.
Reason 3: Michael Harris II. This kid needed his own section. My brain can’t understand how good at baseball he is. It doesn’t make sense. He’s the youngest player in the majors and looks like the second coming of Andruw Jones.
Reason 4: The trade deadline. Unlike last year, the Braves can attack the trade deadline with a “let’s improve in small areas” approach. In 2021, they had to completely reconstruct the outfield and add power bats. This year, they only need situational players — like a reliever and a lefty bat. Sure, the argument could be made that they need a starting pitcher, but that continues to look less likely given the large number of buyers and limited number of sellers this year.
Reason 5: Kenley Jansen. If there’s any Will Smith truthers out there, I apologize, but I can’t take another October of borderline heart failure. Jansen is one of the best closers in MLB history and has a ton of postseason experience.
There’s plenty of reasons why the 2022 Braves are in a better position than last year, and if you want to hear us discuss them at length, check out the SportsTalkATL podcast here.
Here’s What’s Going to Happen
Mets fans continue to shout that the division will be decided by the 15 head-to-head matchups they have left with the Braves.
It’s entirely possible that that’s the case.
They simply fail to realize that the Braves are better than them in nearly every facet of the game.
The Mets jumped out to their lead based on a combination of good luck their way and bad luck the Braves way.
The Mets scored a ton of runs early in the season by stringing together timely hits. They make weak contact, don’t barrel the ball, and can’t hit home runs. The 6-9 spots in their lineup are simply bad.
The luck will not continue. It’s already catching up to them. They can’t hit bad pitchers and they can’t put away bad teams. Because they can’t score runs.
They’ll trade for a couple of bats at the deadline, and those new acquisitions will struggle to find a rhythm in the Mets lineup.
The Mets lack what makes the Braves so great. It’s one word: fit.
When the Braves brought in Joc, Eddie, Soler, and Duvall last year, each player was not great individually. But rather than throwing money or prospects at the big names of last year’s trade deadline, Alex Anthopoulos looked for the best fit.
The Mets can shop for statistics all they want. Steve Cohen’s money will not buy chemistry, and therefore it will not buy a World Series.
Max Scherzer and Jacob DeGrom are not scaring anyone. DeGrom hasn’t pitched in a year and refuses to lower his velocity to stay healthy. Scherzer is 37 and the Braves know him like the back of their hand. Remember when Joc Pederson gave him a tour of the Chophouse last October?
Feeling a little nervous about facing Scherzer tonight – he always brings it against the Braves. I mean just look at this. pic.twitter.com/P3Igg8gnd3
— SportsTalkATL Will (@wheelredmond) July 11, 2022
The Braves will continue to hit for power, and it will win them the NL East. The Mets will crumble — because they always do.
There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes, and the Mets collapsing.
“But this year is different!”
Yes. Because the Braves are now a powerhouse.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire