The starting pitching performed better than expected. The hitting not as well as expected. But, when all was said and done, the New York Mets finished just about where many predicted: having flirted with .500, then dipped below that break-even mark.
"It was the opposite of what we thought in spring training," GM Omar Minaya said. "The pitching has been great. But, from an offensive standpoint, we haven't been able to produce the way we thought we could."
With Game No. 162 on Sunday, here's a season review:
MVP: Angel Pagan. With Carlos Beltran missing the first half following Jan. 13 arthroscopic knee surgery, Pagan more than picked up the slack in center field and at the plate. After being tormented during the 2008 and '09 seasons by shoulder, groin and elbow injuries, not only did Pagan stay healthy, he also showed an improved baseball IQ, putting a reputation as a nonheady player behind him. Pagan as well as Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton are the only players to achieve 30 doubles, 10 homers, 60 RBIs and 30 steals this season.
Cy Young: Mike Pelfrey. Entering his start in Sunday's regular-season finale, Pelfrey already has achieved a career high with 15 wins, surpassing the 13 he posted in 2008. After a June 13 win at Baltimore, Pelfrey had a 9-1 record and 2.39 ERA. He had an abysmal seven-game stretch, mostly during July, during which he went 1-6 with a 9.00 ERA, .437 opponent batting average and an almost-incomprehensible 80 baserunners in 30 innings before getting his season back on track.
Comeback Player of the Year: R.A. Dickey. From 2001 to '09 with the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins -- half of which was spent as a conventional pitcher -- Dickey had an unsightly 5.43 ERA in 144 major league games (48 starts). Among the first reassignments to minor league camp during spring training with the Mets, the knuckleball-throwing Dickey put up solid numbers at Triple-A Buffalo. He even retired 27 straight batters after a leadoff hit on April 29 against Durham. After completing his season Wednesday, Dickey had a combined 15 wins between the majors and minors and ranked seventh in the National League in ERA at 2.86.
Rookie of the Year: Hisanori Takahashi. Although he is 35 years old, can be a free agent after the season and pitched for Japan's top team, the Yomiuri Giants, for 10 years, Takahashi is a rookie by major league standards. The Mets, in fact, used 17 rookies this season -- third most in the majors, behind the Florida Marlins (21) and Chicago Cubs (18). It marked the most rookies used by the Mets since 20 appeared in 2003, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. There was no clear-cut selection from a group that included Jonathon Niese, Josh Thole, Ike Davis, Jenrry Mejia and Ruben Tejada. But Takahashi's versatility -- and particularly his ability to step into the closer's role minus Francisco Rodriguez -- has served the Mets well. Entering the final homestand, Takahashi was 8-for-8 in save opportunities.
Here's how the major questions from spring training were answered:
Rotation beyond Santana? Pelfrey and Niese stepped up nicely, and the Mets did a quality job as a starting pitching unit despite concerns heading into the season. Of course, it was not entirely the names that were being counted upon who stepped up. John Maine ended up needing another shoulder surgery, while Oliver Perez was buried in the bullpen. Dickey proved a savior as the Mets entered the final homestand with a 3.83 ERA from their starting pitchers, ranked seventh in the majors.
Eighth inning leading into K-Rod? The two primary options, Kelvim Escobar and Ryota Igarashi, never panned out, with Escobar never even throwing a pitch for the Mets because of continued shoulder woes. Manager Jerry Manuel blames the lack of an eighth-inning arm for so many road losses in late-and-close games.
Would Wright's power return? Perhaps the only issue on the list to work out positively, David Wright already had matched last year's 10-homer season on June 5. The Mets still rank among the least powerful teams in the majors, but they entered the final week with 120 long balls, already vastly surpassing last season's 95.
Bay's New York adjustment? Jason Bay figured to be relatively immune from a transition period to New York after signing a four-year, $66 million deal. After all, he was coming from another pressure cooker in Boston, not directly from Pittsburgh. Yet even before Bay's season essentially ended with a July 23 whiplash-induced concussion at Dodger Stadium, the left fielder was having a rough inaugural campaign as a Met. His final numbers: .259, 6 HRs, 47 RBIs.
Health of Reyes and Beltran? Jose Reyes had that thyroid scare in spring training, and the idle time clearly hurt him once he made his season debut. After he went 0-for-4 on May 2 as the Mets lost a rubber game in Philadelphia, Reyes' average dipped to .216. Unforeseen at the time, Reyes' second half would be tormented by right oblique woes. Carlos Beltran, meanwhile, returned from knee surgery for the second half and struggled not only at the plate, but in the field as well, with a clunky brace restricting his mobility.
10. Road series played to open the season before a series win. The Mets snapped the drought with consecutive sweeps at Baltimore and Cleveland from June 11 to 17.
25. Games unused between appearances in August for Perez -- the longest streak of being active and idle of any player in the majors this season.
32-49. The Mets' road record.
6. Homers by Bay in his first season as a Met.
56. Text messages by Rodriguez, allegedly, to his girlfriend in violation of an order of protection.
20. Innings played in St. Louis on April 17 before Reyes delivered the decisive sacrifice fly and Pelfrey produced a save.
91. Appearances by Pedro Feliciano -- and counting -- breaking his own franchise record.
156. Strikeouts by Wright through Wednesday, setting a single-season franchise record previously held by Dave Kingman (1982) and Tommie Agee (1970) at 156.
0. Grand slams. Opponents have 12. No team in major league history has ever been blanked while giving up that many.