As Steve Cohen told the media early in spring training, the 2022 Mets look good on paper.
The acquisitions of Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Chris Bassitt, plus the hiring of Buck Showalter, has stirred enthusiasm with the fan base. But as longtime Mets, fans know, and Cohen is one of them, the optimism does come laced with some caution.
This season’s Mets are getting the backing from sportsbooks, as they are tied with the Yankees and White Sox for the third-best odds to win the World Series, at +1100 on Caesars. As good as the team is projected to perform, due to their outstanding front of the rotation and a potentially improved lineup, intangibles, team chemistry, and culture will also play large roles in determining how far these Mets will go in the postseason.
Why Robinson Cano Is Important To The Mets’ Postseason Hopes
Restructuring Around Established Winners
With an eye on authoritative figures, the Mets acquired Scherzer and brought Showalter out of a three-year absence. Scherzer is a World Series champion and a proven leader. Showalter has a reputation for turning mediocre teams into winners and has taken his teams to the playoffs seven times. Jacob deGrom went to the World Series with the Mets in 2015, and Francisco Lindor also has a Fall Classic experience.
Those three players and the new manager will be major factors in attempting to establish a championship tone on the 2022 Mets. Lindor should be better in his second season in New York and may be the one player most critical in terms of the team’s potential success. An on-field rebound campaign is essential to the team’s possible drive to a National League pennant and maybe more. Lindor should also be counted on as a strong clubhouse presence among the offensive players.
There is another significant leader among the position players that will likely be considered very valuable to these Mets from a clubhouse perspective: Robinson Cano. Many Mets fans don’t view Cano as one of the team’s prominent performers. He is 39 years old and became a mostly forgotten man as he served a full-season suspension in 2021.
But Cano is back with the Mets this year, and from all indications, he has been welcomed back by the team. According to a report from Newsday, Cano made it a point to apologize to his teammates, and Showalter said they were very receptive and the team had already “moved on.”
Robinson Cano Is Highly Respected By Teammates
There is good reason to believe Cano’s teammates may have put the matter behind them, as many other players who have been linked to such infractions in the past have been seemingly forgiven in their clubhouses. They have remained integral parts of their team, and some have even gone onto positions such as coaches after their playing careers have concluded.
Cano was regarded as a focal point of the clubhouse culture prior to his suspension. He has won a World Series in New York and went to the postseason seven times with the Yankees. While he is no longer the same offensive threat he was in his prime and is coming off a season of inactivity, Cano should remain a very strong presence with his teammates because of his extensive experience as a winner and having won a championship in the pressure cooker of New York.
In terms of his place in the lineup, the National League adding the designated hitter should produce some quality playing time for Cano, who showed he can still be a very competent part of the offense during the shortened 2020 season. But having been through the playoff wars many times on the other side of town, Cano can be very valuable to the Mets in terms of being a strong voice of experience and insights while acting as a player/coach type of sorts.
Cano’s value to the Mets at this point of his career, especially in a season where he returns after a long layoff, is no longer as a central offensive contributor. But as a teammate, he should remain a very essential part of the mix.
Team Leaders Aren’t Always Marquee Players
As outsiders, fans cannot always see the true value of certain players to a team. When he was a Mets player, Alex Cora was not considered anything more than a utility player by fans, but he was a definite leader in the clubhouse. Players on other teams such as Wes Helms and Tommy Hunter were never stars, but they were regarded as strong sources of wisdom and influence by their teammates.
Team leaders sometimes post big numbers on the field, and sometimes they do not. Many MLB managers were not stars as former players. Being a valued teammate or staff member who once played the game is often not internally judged by levels of standout statistical success. How players are viewed by their peers is frequently much different than how the fans may perceive them.
The Mets have the roster to potentially contend for a championship this season as the franchise celebrates its 60th anniversary. In its pursuit of a pennant, it is imperative for the team to have a strong council of leadership. Cano will be one of the prime members of such a council, and that makes him a very important part of the 2022 Mets. His return to the team is more significant than just how many at-bats he will log as a designated hitter.
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