What the 2020 Mets would look like with 2019-level luck of the Braves and Nats

If you want to make the playoffs out of the NL East, you better have two things – talent and luck. This was true in 2019 and it will be the same in 2020, too. Last year’s two playoff teams from the East featured a 97-win team and the eventual World Series champions. Obviously, those two teams were talented. But let’s take a look at some of the luck they received on the way to the postseason.

Braves
Had two players exceed 700 PA. Only nine guys did that in all of MLB in 2019 and two of them were on the same team.
Signed a guy on the wrong side of 30 who had combined for 165 games the previous two seasons and he put up 155 games and an OPS 99 points higher than the year before.
Signed a guy who in his age 33 season put up a .675 OPS and for them at age 34, he put up an .858 OPS in virtually identical playing time.
A bench piece for them put up an .882 OPS after never having topped an .800 mark previously and one who had a career .744 rate.
Adeiny Hechavarria gets cut loose from the Mets after posting a .611 OPS. He gets picked up by the Braves and posts a 1.039 mark.
Francisco Cervelli puts up a .526 OPS with the Pirates last year. Joins the Braves and posts a 1.066 mark
Dallas Keuchel misses half the year but is able to give them 112.2 IP at a 121 ERA+. The other major free agent to sit out that long posts a 6.53 ERA.
Touki Toussaint, Jacob Webb and Dan Winkler get added to the team during the year and combine to go 11-1, with one of them posting a 4.98 ERA and another a 5.62 mark.

Exceeded their Pythagorean mark by six games.

Nationals
Anthony Rendon makes a jump for his age 27-28 seasons and makes another jump at age 29
Howie Kendrick puts up a career year at 35.
Asdrubal Cabrera has a .711 OPS with the Rangers, joins the Nats and posts a .969 mark.
Anibal Sanchez at age 35 reaches 30 starts in a season for the first time since 2012.
Stephen Strasburg makes 33 starts, just the third time in his 10-year career he reaches 30 and the first time since 2014.
Daniel Hudson has a 3.00 ERA and a 1.271 WHIP with the Blue Jays. Joins the Nats and puts up a 1.44 and 0.880 marks, respectively.

After posting a .785 OPS with RISP in 2018, they post a league-leading .887 mark in 2019.

*****

So, what would be the Mets equivalent of what these two teams enjoyed last year? We’ll take both lists in the same order as they were presented above.

Brandon Nimmo and whoever hits second both top 700 PA.
Yoenis Cespedes comes back and puts up a .920 OPS over 155 games.
Jake Marisnick puts up an .875 OPS.
Luis Guillorme puts up a .784 OPS.
The Mets pick up two castoffs from other teams, insert them in their starting lineup and they play at MVP levels, giving the team an incredible late-season boost.
A SP goes down, the Mets sign someone to play at near AS-level for half the season.
The Mets call up Tyler Bashlor, Jacob Rhame and Paul Sewald and they combine to go 11-1.

And on top of that, finish with a six-game edge over Pythagoras

Or

Michael Conforto jumps to the 145 wRC+ range. Except he’s already reached that level in his career, while Rendon had not.
Jed Lowrie puts up a career year
Trade for someone at our weakest offensive position, insert him in the lineup and have him produce at an MVP level for 38 games. You know, like 2015 Cespedes. Except Cespedes was a guy in his prime already having a great year before the Mets got him. Unlike the 33-year-old Cabrera last year.
Michael Wacha makes 30 starts with a better ERA and WHIP than his career marks
Mets don’t have an equivalent here. But let’s just give Noah Syndergaard Strasburg’s mark of 209 IP and 18 Wins.
Mets make a bullpen trade and get a guy who takes over as their closer with a sub-2 ERA and a sub-1 WHIP.

And on top of that, lead the league in OPS with RISP.

*****

Just to be crystal clear, this is not meant to say that the Braves and Nationals don’t have really good players. They absolutely do. And it’s also not meant to say that nothing went wrong. Because, again, they absolutely did for both franchises. It’s just that whenever a team wins 90 or more games, you can guarantee that things went right for them at multiple different places.

And things went right for the Mets last year, for sure. Their SP enjoyed remarkable health. A rookie came up and hit 53 HR. A player who came up in 2018 and had success in half a season with a high BABIP put up a .337 mark over 567 PA. Their 31-year-old catcher set a career-high with 141 games. A bench bat forced into full-time duty responded with an .895 OPS.

It’s just that the list of things that went wrong for the Mets was over twice as long.

The talent level of the Mets is on par with that of the other top clubs in the NL East. We’ll see which club enjoys the best health and good fortune. And if you want to dock the Mets because of questionable health of guys like Betances, Cespedes and Lowrie – that’s fine. Just make sure to dock injury question marks on other teams the same.

7 comments for “What the 2020 Mets would look like with 2019-level luck of the Braves and Nats

  1. Chris F
    January 9, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    Of course there is an X factor (many X factors) in baseball, but there is a bigger picture than luck. Here is 1 NL East team ranking for the last decade. These numbers point to much more than “luck”. Im betting everyone knows who this is.

    2019 – 2
    2018 – 2
    2017 – 1
    2016 – 1
    2015 – 2
    2014 – 1
    2013 – 2
    2012 – 1
    2011 – 3
    2010 – 5

    • José
      January 10, 2020 at 5:24 am

      “Im betting everyone knows who this is.”

      OK, since I have no fear of exposing my ignorance, I’ll bite – I don’t know who this is or what it means

      Edit: Wait, does it represent where the Nats have finished in the NLE standings?

      • Chris F
        January 10, 2020 at 7:41 am

        yep.

  2. January 9, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    Seeing those Braves pitchers who went 11-1 reminded me of the year that David Cone went 20-3. Pete Rose said that he may win 20 again, but he’s going to lose more than 3. Cone went 14-8. I think it would be nice if they won 6 less games and lost 5 more.

  3. Rob
    January 9, 2020 at 10:33 pm

    See the division as roll of dice. No clear front runner. Braves maybe but not dominant. I think the Mets need a superstar player which hopefully Alonzo can provide.

  4. MattyMets
    January 10, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Really interesting take. I don’t know if it’s luck so much as systemic that so many players over the years have done worse in a Mets uniform while many others have gone to organizations like the Braves, Yankees or Cardinals and found new life.

    In terms of the health I’m actually quite concerned. No way our rotation stays that healthy again. And no way Ramos plays that many games.

    • January 10, 2020 at 11:25 am

      Much like with Wilmer Flores hitting in the clutch, remembering the successes of the Braves, Yankees or Cardinals is only part of the story. The successes happened but you can’t ignore the failures.

      Good things and bad things happen to every team. And the teams with 90+ wins don’t get there just on talent. The Mets have talent. And hopefully 2020 moves Alonso and McNeil away from the “lucky” and over more firmly to the “talented” category.

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