NEW YORK -- One is a closer who has gone from hearing regular boos to consistent cheers. Another is a second baseman who has endured years of trade rumors despite consistent production. Another was a part of the Mets’ offseason makeover. Still another is the power engine upon which this offense relies.
Those four will travel to Los Angeles for the 2022 festivities at Dodger Stadium (with the possible exception of Marte, who is nursing a left groin injury but should be healthy by the time of the game). Should Marte or other stars around baseball drop out, the Mets have additional candidates to make the roster, including outfielder Brandon Nimmo and pitcher Taijuan Walker.
“We have one of the best records in baseball, and our team is super talented,” Alonso said. “So we should have that many guys. We have an excellent team.”
Here’s a look at what each has accomplished over the first three-plus months of the season:
Key stat: 17.8 strikeouts per nine innings
Don’t look now, but Díaz may be the game’s most dominant closer.
That might seem hard to believe for anyone still stuck in 2019, when Díaz blew seven saves, lost seven games and produced a 5.59 ERA during his first season as a Met. Better campaigns followed in 2020-21, but it wasn’t enough for Díaz to shed his reputation as something less than automatic in the ninth inning of games.
Now that reputation is transformed. This hasn’t just been Díaz’s best season as a Met, it’s been his most dominant season, period, including his prior All-Star year with the Mariners in 2018.
“It means a lot, because my Mets career didn’t start the way I wanted to,” Díaz said. “But I’ve been able to get it back on track. To make the All-Star team, I’m really happy.”
Key stat: .311 batting average
Always a consistent hitter, McNeil endured a down 2021 in which he batted .251 -- by far the lowest mark of his career. While some of that was due to poor batted-ball luck, McNeil came away unsatisfied enough with that explanation that he began tweaking his mechanics over the offseason. The goal was to make his swing more repeatable, allowing him to revert to his old profile as an all-fields hitter.
It’s worked well for McNeil, whose offensive profile once again resembles his stat line from 2018-20. Defensively, McNeil has likewise proven invaluable to the Mets, giving them versatility at second and third base as well as left and right field. Buck Showalter said he expected NL manager Brian Snitker to call him asking permission to use McNeil in multiple spots during the All-Star Game.
McNeil would be happy to oblige.
“He’s a guy that wasn’t looking for the four days [off],” Showalter said. “He’s got a lot of respect for the All-Star Game.”
Key stat: .881 OPS since the start of May
A disappointing April did not last long for Marte, who has been on fire ever since. No single statistic stands out for the veteran outfielder, who continues to hit for power (nine home runs) and run with speed (10 stolen bases) at age 33. More than anything, Marte is a consistent producer on both sides of the ball.
Marte suffered a left groin injury on Saturday but should be able to participate in the game, provided he doesn’t experience any setbacks. He has been looking forward to the prospect of taking his three children with him to Los Angeles.
“It’s really just having fun, making sure that the kids can go out on the field and meet all the players that they want to meet,” Marte said through an interpreter. “It’s really about them, just so that they can experience that moment for themselves.”
Key stat: 70 RBIs
Power production has been an issue all season for every Met other than Alonso, who still has a chance to break David Wright’s franchise record of 74 RBIs before the All-Star break. Many of those have come via his 23 home runs, as Alonso spent much of the first half leading the NL in that category. But Alonso has also worked tirelessly to become a more complete hitter, batting a career-best .273 so far.
“It means a lot,” Alonso said. “It’s something that I really take pride in. I’m really happy that I was able to play my way into the game. Hard work pays off.”
The real question for Alonso in Los Angeles is whether he will succeed in becoming the first player to win three consecutive Home Run Derbies. Alonso has yet to announce that he will take part in the Derby, but he’s said in the past he will do so if he makes the All-Star team.