11/07/11 2:01 PM ET
Reyes, Dickey, Duda win inaugural awards
By Anthony DiComo / MLB.com
R.A. Dickey won MLB.com's Mets Pitcher of the Year Award on the strength of his season-long consistency, and rookie outfielder Lucas Duda won MLB.com's Mets Breakout Player of the Year Award for his second-half performance.
The Mets have yet to win any major national awards this year, with Reyes falling short behind Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in Silver Slugger voting, and no New York player winning a Gold Glove for the third consecutive season. Nor is any Met expected to compete seriously for the National League MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year or Manager of the Year awards.
But for a long stretch earlier this summer, until injuries interfered, it appeared as though Reyes might run away from the MVP pack. Hitting .354 with a .398 on-base percentage on July 2, he strained his left hamstring, missed three weeks and was never quite the same again.
At the time, Reyes was leading the NL in hits, average, runs scored and triples, and threatened to finish with more triples than any player since the dead-ball era. Though his inability to stay healthy wound up being the great misfortune of his summer, he still won the first batting title in franchise history with a bunt single on the final day of the season, finishing at .337.
Most years that might have been enough for him to net his second career Silver Slugger award at shortstop. As it was, Tulowitzki trumped him with his own standout season, and the Mets went a third consecutive year without one.
That's no knock on Reyes, who might have taken home significantly more hardware had he stayed healthy. In addition to winning MLB.com's Mets Player of the Year Award, Reyes was also the club's nominee for the NL Hank Aaron Award, which ultimately went to Los Angeles' Matt Kemp.
As manager Terry Collins said earlier this season, "Anybody who wouldn't want Jose Reyes on their team, they need to re-evaluate some stuff."
The Mets certainly want Reyes to stay around, even as they are unsure whether or not another team will snap him up through free agency. They do know, however, that both Dickey and Duda will be back in prominent roles next summer, each of them looking to build upon solid seasons.
Following a rough start to the season that included a partial tear of the plantar fascia in his right foot, Dickey capped his campaign with 12 consecutive quality starts, posting a 2.45 ERA over that span. Finishing 8-13 with a 3.28 ERA, he was the only qualified Mets starter to record at least 200 innings and the only one to post an ERA under 4.00.
"It really is amazing," Collins said after Dickey's final start of the season, in which he took a no-hitter into the seventh. "His job isn't really to win games, it's to give his team a chance to win games, and that's what he's done. That's exactly who he is and what he stands for."
The Mets also received a second-half boost from Duda, who replaced the traded Carlos Beltran in right field and quickly became a force in the middle of the lineup. From Aug. 22 through the end of the season, Duda ranked sixth in the NL in on-base percentage, 17th in slugging and 18th in batting average -- and that with limited protection in the lineup.
Duda's production was enough to convince the Mets that he is ready to take over the full-time job in right field next season.
"I'm never going to be Carlos Beltran," Duda said with his typical modesty in July before nearly outproducing Beltran over the second half of the season.
That production was enough to earn Duda an award alongside Dickey and Reyes, three standout Mets in a down summer. More hardware may come later this offseason, when the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America reveals its local awards. Until then it is clear that at least three Mets have made their marks.