Tommy Pham compares Diamondbacks, Mets as World Series begins: 'The drive wasn't there'

Tommy Pham is in the World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks just 87 days after his time with the Mets ended with a trade on deadline day. Aside from the nine-win difference and the on-paper talent discrepancy, Pham said that what separates the veteran outfielder’s two clubs from this season is work ethic and drive.

“That team is more talented than this team,” Pham said Thursday referring to the 75-win Mets compared with the 84-win Wild Card D-backs. “Let’s be honest here. And what makes this team different is, everyone is still, at this level, trying to reach their max potential.”

Pham, 35, who posted a .256 average and .774 OPS (111 OPS+) across 129 regular season games this year, acknowledged that his "max potential now might be average everyday player," but he is still trying to play like he did during a three-year span earlier in his career that saw him bat .284 with an .856 OPS for St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

“That’s what keeps driving me. I’m trying to prove I still got that in me,” he said. “The drive wasn’t there [with the Mets]. That drive is here. That’s what separates this team from most teams. You have guys that are still trying to get better every day. You have teammates trying to help you out. And that’s dangerous.”

Last month, Pham called out the Mets in a piece in The Athletic, saying, "Out of all the teams I played on, this is the least-hardest working group of position players I’ve ever played with.”

When asked for context to those comments about his former teammates – Pham had relayed to The Athletic that he said that comment to Francisco Lindor in early June – the outfielder admitted he works harder than most and isn’t “comparing anyone to me.”

“I’m comparing everyone to what I believe is the level of expectations,” Pham said, via Newsday. “I do feel like there’s a level of expectations and preparation and work ethic going into the game, and I was very honest. I just didn’t feel like it was being met as a whole.

“I didn’t call anyone out. If anyone disagrees with me over there, you gotta take a long look in the mirror and be honest. Be a very honest self-evaluator.”

Mark Canha, another player the Mets traded ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline, said last month that he wasn’t surprised Pham said that, not because he felt the same way, but because of the way Pham works.

“I don’t think I necessarily agree with the fact that other players don’t work hard,” Canha said in September. “I think it’s just to expect everyone to work the way that Tommy Pham works every day is a little bit much. And that works for him and what I do works for me.”

The Mets signed Pham to a one-year, $6 million deal with an additional $2 million in performance bonuses last January. He said Thursday he came to New York because “on paper, I was like, Man we’re that team.”

“But sometimes on paper it just doesn’t get put together like you envision it,” Pham said. “But I don’t see that team struggling for long. There’s guys over there that are hungry. You have an owner [Steve Cohen] that cares about winning.”

Pham will be a free agent again this offseason.