Experts see the Mets as a top tier team

Based on the comments posted on this site, most of you are biased Mets fans. That is to say that none of you are realistic. A few of you optimistically see everything falling into place and the Mets win 110 games en route to their third World Series. A few others have had their hearts broken too many times over the years and assume the season will be derailed by injuries, off-years, bad calls, and questionable transactions. Somewhere in between, there’s a sweet spot where not every pitcher gets injured, but not every hitter has a career year. In this case, the Mets win somewhere between 85 and 90 games and compete for a playoff spot. Las Vegas gives the Mets 12-1 odds to win the World Series, tied with the Giants for the 7th best shot. The Cubs lead the way with 7-2 odds, followed by the Indians, Red Sox, Dodgers, Nationals, and Astros.

This is what the experts – FanGraphs, ZiPS, USA Today, Las Vegas odds makers, etc. are predicting for 2017. While their respective formulas may vary, all are based objectively on past performance, expected outcomes, strength of division, payroll flexibility, farm system, etc. It doesn’t put us at the tip-top of the heap – a spot logically reserved for the defending champion Chicago Cubs, but it does put us in the top tier, and thus, in the playoff discussion.

Whichever source of off-season prognostication you trust, you’ll find that they all seem to divide the 30-team league into three distinct groups – 10 A teams who will compete for the playoffs, 10 B teams who will hover around .500 and might have a puncher’s chance if everyone stays healthy and they get a few breaks, and 10 C teams who are either rebuilding, tearing down, or just simply have too many holes in their roster to compete this season. The general consensus breakdown looks like this:

The A Teams

The Cubs, Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Dodgers, Nationals, Mets, Giants, Cardinals, and Rangers. These 10 teams all have talent on both sides of the ball and either made or just missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons. The experts call for these teams to each win at least 85 games.

The B Teams

The Blue Jays, Mariners, Yankees, Pirates, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Rockies, Marlins, and Angels are all expected to more or less break even teams this year. These teams have aging stars, emerging youth, and most find themselves either a few pitchers short of a good rotation. Still, these teams aren’t that far off and with a few breaks could find themselves in the playoff chase come September.

The C Teams

The Reds, Brewers, Diamondbacks, White Sox, Padres, A’s, Rays, Phillies, Braves, and Twins are all pegged to win 76 or fewer games. The Phillies, Braves and Brewers might all find themselves out of this category in a year or two, but for now, they don’t have enough talent to even sniff the postseason. The other teams in this group are not as far along in their rebuild, or perhaps still have some tearing down to do and some are in perpetual rebuild due to lack of payroll.

16 comments for “Experts see the Mets as a top tier team

  1. BK
    March 31, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Based on these projections, the Sox and Indians should run away with the AL East and Central, respectively. I can see Toronto and Detroit exceeding projections and giving each of them a run.

    Assuming the Mets get off to a good start (which they should, given their first two months’ schedule, although I still think Atlanta will be tougher than expected) they should run close with the Nationals all season. By the June series we should know if the Mets will be able to take advantage of the Nationals’ bullpen issues.

  2. MattyMets
    March 31, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    BK, since you live in Nats land, what’s the deal with their bullpen? I kept thinking they’d trade for Robertson. I think they have a good, but not great rotation. Scherzer is an ace, Ross and Roark are solid, but not great. Strasburg is great when healthy but is built like our Steven Matz. And Gio Gonzalez seems to get worse every year. Plus they traded away their top two pitching prospects so they have very little depth. I also think the top half of their lineup is strong, but it drops off a cliff at the bottom. Zimmerman looks like he’s 48.

    • March 31, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Over at FanGraphs there’s a column about newly-appointed Nats closer Blake Treinen that’s worth reading. With Treinen, Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover, they have the makings of a solid late-innings crew.

      While the Nats did trade some pitching depth, they still have A.J. Cole and Erick Fedde so the cupboard’s not bare.

      Even with Ryan Zimmerman, the Nats have a potential top 3 offense in the league.

      • MattyMets
        March 31, 2017 at 2:56 pm

        Brian – Lineup wise, 1-4 is really strong, but Rendon (inconsistent), Werth (old and streaky), Weiters (injury prone and not that great), Zimmerman (looks like he’s 48) after that doesn’t scare anyone. Plus, 3 out of 4 of those guys are injury risks with little depth behind them. Top 3 NL lineups IMO – Cubs, Rockies, Marlins. I also think the Braves lineup is strong.

        A lot of talk about the health concerns on the Mets, but I think the Nats may be due for a snake bit season with some of the guys they have. Adam Eaton was a nice pickup, but they gave up a lot of insurance and mortgaged the future to get him.

        • March 31, 2017 at 3:25 pm

          I know you can’t go too much by Spring Training, especially in a WBC year, but it’s noteworthy to me that the Nats were using Eaton lower in the order and batting Werth 2nd.

          As I’ve mentioned more than once, the Nats were pretty healthy last year. Let’s see if they can duplicate that again.

  3. March 31, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Personally, I’m higher on the Blue Jays and lower on the Rangers. I also believe a lot of folks areally selling low on the Mets. It won’t take much to have a great regular season and there’s enough depth to have a real playoff run in September.

  4. Chris F
    March 31, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Often time I find many Mets fans optimistic far past what I think reality warrants, but I definitely see reasons to enter 2017 with high expectations. Here is a few things I like balanced by others that temper the high-fives all around.

    What I like:
    1. Winning teams have an “it” factor when it comes to knowing their place. I know of no metric for this, but this ST, as Gus mentioned yesterday, seems to be moving along with an air of the right level of confidence. I like what the team has.

    2. Although the starters will be one of the oldest in the MLB, I like the 25 man team and then some. That major-league talent exists up and down 30+ players is inspiring enough to believe the team can weather the inevitable DL bad weather. I can envision an NL average (or better) player pretty much across the board and that is great news. This means I think they can throw, hit, and field the ball pretty well.

    3. The number of players that spent the off season getting in serious physical condition is excellent, from Conforto to Ces to Smith and beyond. Note: Im not sure being this “in shape” is really a plus, but lets imagine it is, and it certainly is on the mental side.

    4. The starting rotation has a two #1 starters, a potential #2, and so on. It is nice to have Lugo parked down the line as deep depth for starting. As an aside, as reported by Jim Bowden in an interview, Alderson said that by far the most calls the Mets received this off season in terms of trades was for Robert Gsellman, presently #5 in the rotation.

    What curbs my enthusiasm:
    1. Across the industry, mention the Mets and two words come up every time: disabled list (on the plus side, that answer is starting rotation). I think we are leaving PSL in pretty good shape all things considered. I did not expect DW to be ready, and really, Id be surprised if he plays in > 50 games this season. Of course we all cringe when we hear elbow tenderness, and just hope thats a problem for the Cubs, or Nats, or Giants, or Dodgers more than in NY.

    2. Extra streaky offense. It flat out exhausts me to pile on 15 runs one day and not get 3 hits the next.

    3. Bull pen. I dont quite see the depth here as others do.

    4. Catcher. I dont like TdA at all.

    5. Return to (1) above.

    All accounted for, I see the Mets neck-and-neck with the Nats for the division title and with something like 91 +/- 2 Wins and headed to the post season.

    • March 31, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      I think #3 in your positive points is definitely noteworthy. I know you said “and others” but I’d like to specifically mention Duda and Harvey, who both seem much trimmer.

      • Chris F
        March 31, 2017 at 5:12 pm

        for sure. and TdA too looks lean. I just hope the team is has better fundies this year.

    • MattyMets
      March 31, 2017 at 3:25 pm

      Chris F- nice to see a little optimism from you. “It flat out exhausts me to pile on 15 runs one day and not get 3 hits the next.” I couldn’t agree more. I have found myself shouting “save some for tomorrow!” at the screen.

  5. Joe F
    March 31, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    I live in SF and expect the Giants to disappoint this year. They had worst record in NL after ASB last year and have done little to improve their disaster of a BP last year, other than Melancon. Bum and Cueto are top notch, but the rest of the rotation is meh and despite having some good bat to ball guys, they have no pop. Probably the best manager in the game

    • Chris F
      March 31, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Interesting perspective Joe. The thing is Melancon is the real deal and thats a huge step up. Im not super excited about the rotation after Cueto, but there is enough there. It strikes me that the health of Pence is a huge deal in SF success. Any news on how he is doing? Boch is a different maker, and one of the few managers that really brings net wins for the team.

      • April 1, 2017 at 11:18 am

        Melancon has been excellent the past few years.

        However, my feeling is that of any “solid” closers, say the top 10-12 closers in the league, he’s the one most likely to crater.

  6. Name
    March 31, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    My personal thoughts:
    I’m not a fan of either Texas team, not enough pitching. I think the Rangers will finish well under .500 this year. The winner of this weak division may only need 83-85 wins.

    Marlins have the second worst pitching staff in the NL behind the Padres. I have them at 95 losses.

    I think the surprise team this year might be the Phils. I predict 82-84 wins and in the hunt until the last week of the season. Remember last year in May when they were ahead of the Mets in 2nd place?

    • April 1, 2017 at 11:32 am

      I remember their fast start. I also remember that it was due to the fact that they were winning something like 80% of their one-run games. Shoot, let’s count it — they started 14-2 in one-run games during their hot stretch.

      They were 7 games over .500 on May 14 at 22-15. For the rest of the season, they were 49-76 (14-21 in one-run games), which I think is much more indicative of their talent level last year. They brought in some veterans, and get an upgrade going from Howard to Joseph, so they’re likely better than a .392 winning percentage. Still, if they win more than a couple of games more than they did in 2016, it will be a major surprise.

  7. Jimmy P
    March 31, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    So many positives with this group, hard for them to win less than 90.

    However, concerns:

    * Reyes at 3B. Age 34, a full season, I see him going through some rough spots and the Mets keeping him in the leadoff spot too long. On the plus side, a shift of Cabrera to 3b and Rosario to SS school.

    * If Steamer and ZIps are correct on Bruce, with a .740 OPS, a low OBP, no baserunning or defensive skills, it will not be pretty — i don’t care if he hits 25 bombs. I think modern statistical analysis has helped people recognize the emptiness of that type of player. However, for any team, I think having one guy like that in the 6 or 7 spot makes sense. Having two back-to-back does not.

    * Worried about Granderson holding up in CF for a full season.

    * Without a major injury or trade, Conforto makes no sense, has no role, for the 2017 Mets.

    * And as much as I like Travis d’Arnaud, if things don’t click with him, that position becomes a problem.

    * I see a good bullpen, not a great one.

    * There’s something about this offense I don’t like, but that’s a long ramble and I don’t have the heart for it now. The good news is that a mediocre offense probably gets it done.

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