Coming in with the highest of expectations last season, the New York Mets were nothing but a big fat dud by season's end. They finished fourth in the NL East, with a 75-87 record, obscenely far from their projected win total and nowhere near the playoffs.

The only thing larger than the Mets' expectations last season was their league-leading payroll, which exceeded $350 million. This year, they have an active payroll of $212 million, according to Spotrac. The expectations, however, are much less.

For the Mets in 2024, it looks to be the beginning of a minor rebuild, yet, in the first two weeks of the season, they are not playing like a team in the middle of one. Though even in a small sample size, the Mets have surprised a lot of the league and its fans.

Mets' Pete Alonso earns NL Player of the Week honors

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) watches his home run against the Detroit Tigers during the ninth inning at Citi Field
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Likely to be in the next set of purging for the Mets, their homer-hitting first baseman could be earning some trade value with his early stellar play. Pete Alonso was named the National League's Player of the Week on Monday, following an outstanding performance at the plate last week. Alonso, 29, slashed an impressive .429/.556/1.048 with four home runs, seven RBI, and a 305 wRC+ during the week. His stellar play helped boost his season numbers to .271/.358/.593 with six home runs and 10 RBI.

Alonso's standout week included multiple-hit games in four out of six matchups, including a memorable 3-for-3 outing with two home runs against arch division-rival, the Atlanta Braves. He also displayed patience at the plate, drawing six walks, ensuring he reached base in every game he played during the week. Alonso's remarkable performance led to a significant increase in his batting average, which jumped by 104 points, and his on-base percentage, which saw a staggering 136-point increase.

Mets exceed expectations, remain competitive

Despite preseason predictions suggesting otherwise, the Mets have had a strong start to the 2024 season, highlighted by their recent series victories over formidable opponents. Facing off against the reigning NL East champions, the Atlanta Braves, and the surging and youthful Kansas City Royals, the Mets took two series victories back-to-back, winning four out of their last six.

The Braves, boasting as one of the best teams in the MLB, and the Royals, riding a seven-game winning streak, were both considered tough matchups. However, the Mets proved their mettle by securing victories, improving their record to 7-8. The surging Pittsburgh Pirates will be their next test.

Starling Marte's solid start

Apr 13, 2024; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets right fielder Starling Marte (6) is greeted in the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Citi Field.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

To the surprise of perhaps all, Starling Marte has been a key contributor to the Mets' early success, delivering a solid performance at the plate. Marte has impressed with a .279/.343/.393 slash line and an OPS of .737. He has recorded 17 hits in 58 plate appearances, including 14 singles, one double, and two home runs, per Fan Graphs.

If you're the Mets you are hoping that Marte can maintain this type of consistency and stay healthy throughout the season. Injuries have plagued Marte in the past, and his durability will be crucial to the Mets' continued success in 2024.

Mets' starting pitching shines despite adversity

Mets starting pitcher Jose Butto (70) pitches
© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets' starting rotation has been a standout performer early in the 2024 MLB season, defying expectations and showcasing impressive depth. Despite notable absences and injuries, the Mets' pitching staff has risen to the occasion, ranking among the top teams in several key pitching categories.

Ranking seventh in the league with a collective ERA of 3.51, the Mets' starting pitchers have been instrumental in keeping opponents' run production in check. Additionally, the team ranks eighth in earned runs allowed, a testament to their ability to limit damage on the mound.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Mets' pitching staff has been their strikeout prowess, ranking sixth in the league with 146 strikeouts. This ability to miss bats has been a key factor in their success, helping them stifle opposing offenses and keep games within reach.

Considering this team is without two of their marquee acquisitions from last season in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, both of whom were expected to anchor the rotation, they are overachieving. Injuries to Kodai Senga, who has yet to make his season debut, and Tylor Megill, who has started just one game, further depleted the rotation.

However, the Mets have solidified their rotation with Jose Quintana, Luis Severino, Sean Manaea, and Andrea Houser and Jose Butto, who has emerged as a pleasant surprise. In his 12 innings pitched, Butto has recorded an impressive 15 strikeouts, demonstrating excellent command and efficiency on the mound. His two impressive outings has translated to a remarkable 0.75 ERA, making him key to the Mets' pitching staff thus far.