How Did The Mets Perform Vs. Expectations?

Syndergaard_1We’ve now had a little bit of time to digest the wild card loss to the Giants, and the end of another pretty good season in Queens. Any time the Mets make the playoffs—particularly while the Yankees miss out—feels like a fun year once the disappointment of elimination starts to pass. But here I want to take a look back at how the Mets and their key players performed versus expectations this season.

The Mets In The Playoffs

This is a tough concept to measure, but if we’re going by preseason expectations, it’s probably fair to say that the Mets performed slightly worse than people thought they would. Preseason World Series odds listed the Mets with the fifth best chance at claiming a World Series, which more or less implies that they should have made it to the division series. Naturally,this is a fluid concept. Significant midseason injuries hampered the Mets more than most other contenders, and there are some who would say at this stage that the club overachieved even by making the wild card game.

The Mets In The Division

It’s also fair to say that the Mets fell slightly short of expectations, unfortunately. Heading into the 2016 season the betting markets tabbed the Mets as favorites in the NL East, and while it was a competitive division at times, the Nationals wound up with a pretty decisive first place finish. For those who might have stopped looking when it became clear who would clinch the division, the final count was an eight game lead over the second place Mets.

Matt Harvey

We all know what happened with Matt Harvey this season, and it feels unfair to judge him one way or another against expectations. Mets fans and baseball followers in general expect the best of Harvey these days, but after pitching well below his standards for the first few months of the season, he was forced to undergo surgery to fix a problem with his shoulder. This one’s a wash—we have no way of knowing how well Harvey might have pitched, or how different this season might have been, had he remained healthy.

Noah Syndergaard

Syndergaard was probably the most enjoyable part of this Mets team. After his stellar 2015 season the expectations were cautiously high coming into this year. We all knew we’d seen a potentially great pitcher, but you just never know with these young guys. As it turned out, Syndergaard was better this year by just about every measure. Consider this: In six more starts and 33 more innings than he pitched in 2015, Syndergaard let up only one more run than a year ago. That pretty much says it all. Right up to the incredible pitchers’ duel he staged against unfairly-dominant postseason phenom Madison Bumgarner, he was better than we dared to expect.

Bartolo Colon

Steven Matz probably deserves some mention for bolstering the Mets’ rotation without Harvey as well, but Bartolo Colon should be a highlight in any conversation about expectations. 43 years old, overweight, and coming off a
season that seemed too good to be true in 2015, he was significantly better this year. He cut his ERA by nearly a full run and led the team in wins with 15 (after going 14-13 last season). Colon outpaced expectations about as thoroughly as any player in the MLB. Now we just have to decide if he should be re-signed.

Yoenis Cespedes

I might be in the minority where Cespedes is concerned, but my own expectations were actually not particularly high. As talented as he is, it’s hard not to think of him as slightly unreliable simply because he seems to bounce around the league so much. But the Mets wound up getting more or less the player they had for parts of 2015, which amounts to one of the best all-around players on the roster. As always, there are questions about whether or not he should be brought back. But after Cespedes performed at a consistently high level, we at least know that Cespedes
has the support of some teammates.

Asdrubal Cabrera

Cabrera was a much-needed offseason acquisition at shortstop, and seemed like a strong piece of the new lineup. But I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that he performed better than we thought he would. Cabrera posted his best average
(.280) since 2009 (.308), was every bit as good as expected in the field, and ultimately became one of the most reliable members of this team. There’s no arguing with the assertion that he beat expectations.

This is of course a small selection of star players, but looking at performance as it relates to expectations, there’s a pretty clear pattern with the 2016 Mets. The team slightly missed a high mark that was set for it, despite the best players playing as well or better than we hoped we’d see. That suggests at least to some extent that injuries to the likes of Harvey and even David Wright derailed what could have been a special season, rather than just a good one.

That ought to give Mets fans some hope that next season, if all the pieces fall into place, could be even better.

7 comments for “How Did The Mets Perform Vs. Expectations?

  1. October 11, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    2016 was a season of Pride and Fun. Pride for all Mets fans in seeing their team rise through the injuries and adversity and fun to see the “replaceMets” succeed.
    Any Met fan is sad that our team is not the ones battling the Cubs right now, but hey, let’s all be realistic…that Cubs team won over 100 games and had, what, just one significant injury – Schwarber ? I love my team, but I would not place a bet on them beating this Cubs team this year. The Mets may have to consider a whole new training and medical staff. It is just too, too weird how they had all those injuries this year. I would take the same team plus the new additions >
    TJ Rivera, Lugo, Gsellman, Reyes, R.Rivera, plus the returnees from injury and go to war in 2017. The only real change I would consider is catcher, for a frontline starter. d’Arnaud has not proven anything except that he can and will get hurt. Bad enough he cannot throw, but this year he could not hit either…Plawecki is not the answer and R.Rivera is suited for exactly how he was used this year, not more. Again, be proud that the Mets gave us tons of fun and excitement this year, against the odds. Can’t wait for spring training.

  2. Eraff
    October 11, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    My major expectation was far more Categorical versus your specific Player focus—I expected that the Mets season and success would be inseperable from the results (and as always the Health) of their Core Starting Pitching.

    The fact that the Season trended so Strongly against The Trend of their Core Pitchers was one of the more amazing things that I’ve experienced as a Fan.

    I’m not sure that there’s a statistical reason they did so well over the last 40 or so games of the season. The “Replacement SP’s” certainly performed at a very high level. Was the balance a “Sum Greater than the Parts”, or was it just “normal” for the given group, given the pitching performance.

    Is it happenstance?…is it repeatable?

    It was amazing!

  3. DED
    October 12, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Question: did the Mets get more home runs from the combination of the 2nd base and Shortstop positions last year, than any team in history? I think the answer might be Yes.

    Besides Walker and Cabrera, Kelly Johnson, Wilmer and T. J. Rivera all played those positions. I am guessing they contributed at least a few bombs to the regulars’ total of 46 while playing one of those positions.

    Who might have hit more? My first three thoughts were: Rogers Hornsby, Ernie Banks and Robinson Cano/Jeter; I think the Mets surpassed the highest totals any of those three and their partners ever managed.

    I suppose one would have to go through the game logs to see exactly what the Mets’ total was; if it was 50 homers, it probably was a record.

    • Jimmy P
      October 12, 2016 at 9:22 am

      Interesting trivia. Davey Johnson hit 42 at 2B, but I believe he was paired with Mark Belanger at the time.

      Hard to find two slugging middle infielders.

      A-Rod in the old SS days. Can’t remember who he teamed with. Ernie Banks and . . . ?

      Utley and Rollins?

      Cano and Jeter? Soriano?

      I’ll stop, because obviously I’m not helping.

    • October 12, 2016 at 10:43 am

      I don’t know the answer but I’d make a significant wager that 50 HR is not the record.

      In addition to the guys you and JP mentioned, I went to Ryne Sandberg. All 40 HR he hit in 1990 were as a 2B. Might as well look up Dunston — all 17 of his were hit at SS. So, you have to beat 57 to be in the conversation. And it’s possible there’s one or two more hit by backups that year.

      • DED
        October 12, 2016 at 2:13 pm

        Yeah, I totally forgot about Alex Rodriguez; I forgot about a lot of guys. If one did some sort of weighted value, where the combination of the two positions rather than the simple counting number is what mattered, then may be.

        If there was a point to be made, it was that what the Mets got from that corner was highly unusual, and therefore not to be assumed to happen twice in a row.
        Davey Johnson hit 42 home runs as an Atlanta Brave.

    • Name
      October 12, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      Cmon guys, A rod wasn’t that long ago… He alone hit 57 HRS in 2002, and along with Michael young they hit a combined 66 hrs. But the record for MI was the year before when they combined for 70.

      In fact, the Mets MI weren’t even top in the majors this year because of Dozier’s historic 2nd half the Twins got 56 HRs

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