Even as individual Mets players achieve franchise milestones, the club has remained mired in fourth place in the National League East for the past four seasons. Win totals have diminished each year since 2010, dropping from 79 to 77 down to 74.
New York's salary expenditures and attendance continue to drop as well. Its Opening Day payroll has plummeted from $149 million in 2009 to $93 million in 2012, while Citi Field attendance has fallen from 3.2 million to 2.2 million in the same period.
The Mets may begin bidding for impact free agents again following the 2013 season, after which Jason Bay and Johan Santana come off the books. Then again, they may not, given the financial difficulties faced by owner Fred Wilpon, who took a $162 million hit because of his involvement with Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.
Amid the gloom, Mets players delivered a number of high points in 2012. Santana threw the first no-hitter in the 51-year history of the franchise on June 1, though it required 134 pitches and he was ineffective afterward.
Signed as a minor league free agent in 2009, R.A. Dickey tossed back-to-back one-hitters in June, led the NL in strikeouts (230) and innings (234), and became the first knuckleballer to win a Cy Young Award.
David Wright, the last impact player developed by the Mets, established franchise career marks for runs, hits, RBIs and walks. He'll add more records after the club signed him to an eight-year, $138 million extension in December.
The arrival of Matt Harvey in late July served as perhaps the brightest spot for the Mets' future. The seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft, Harvey struck out 11 Diamondbacks over 5 1⁄3 shutout innings in his debut. He ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Triple-A International League—and might have done the same on this list had he still qualified—and ranked fourth among major league starters in fastball velocity (94.7 mph) and first in slider velocity (88.4 mph) among those with at least 50 innings.
The Mets have several holes to fill after ranking 12th in the NL in scoring and 10th in runs allowed in 2012. They have hope on the mound if Harvey and righthander Zack Wheeler, the system's best prospect, fulfill their potential as frontline starters.
A lack of blue-chip position prospects clouds New York's future lineup possibilities, however. Its best upper-level hitter is infielder Wilmer Flores, but he may not have enough power or defensive chops to profile as a long-term starter at any position.
Mets domestic farm clubs finished with a cumulative winning record for the third straight season, with the pitching staffs at high Class A St. Lucie, low Class A Savannah and short-season Brooklyn serving as particular highlights. All three units led their leagues in ERA, WHIP and K-BB ratio while featuring the bulk of the system's most promising arms, including Luis Mateo, Rafael Montero and Michael Fulmer.
Though the Mets sought to cut costs by going without an entry in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2012, they'll reverse course in 2013 and continue to invest in player development. For the second straight year, New York set a new franchise record for draft bonuses, upping the mark to $7 million. It also signed Dominican shortstop Amed Rosario for $1.75 million, the highest bonus it ever has paid for an international amateur.