Projections are one of the weirdest things that a baseball fan can consume. These predictions, based on statistics and expert predictions can be the best friend of a fan, or the worst enemy depending on what side of the spectrum they fall on. In a way, we all put our projections for how our team will do out there in one way or the other. What’s so peculiar what makes people decide to side against or for the projections laid out in front of them. On Tuesday it was revealed that PECOTA projected the New York Mets to win the NL East.
This is interesting, considering the only substantial move that the Mets made on the field this offseason was acquiring Dellin Betances. Yet, even as the statistical predictions pile up in favor of the Mets, there are plenty that doubt them. They have seven players placed on the “Shredder’s” list on the MLB network so far, which ranks the 10 best players at each position. Jacob deGrom came in first, to no one’s surprise for starting pitcher. Still, pessimism remains for a lot of Mets fans following the debacle that was the attempted sale of the franchise. There are several reasons to be optimistic about the season, however. Even if it be cautiously optimistic.
To start, the Mets are projected to have a bullpen that marks amongst the most elite in baseball. According to Fangraphs, it is supposed to be the top in the NL East with a total WAR of 5.0. The second closest is the Braves, who check in with a 4.2. Outside of the computer-generated projections, there are the obvious eye tests that one could point to that could also lead someone to that conclusion. A renaissance for essentially the same bullpen from last season will require bounce back efforts from Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and a healthy Betances. It will also require an equivalent effort from Seth Lugo to what we saw last season. Familia’s way of attempting to bounce back from last season is to get into better shape, and he has done exactly that by cutting his weight by 30 pounds. Familia had stated that he was too overweight last season, which led to his struggles on the mound.
With all of this making sense, it should come as no surprise that PECOTA pegs the Mets to finish as high as they have them finishing. If this is the case, then why are there so many who are doubting this team? Well, statistics will always miss one key aspect of every ballplayer, and that is the human aspect. This is a team that while on paper will be ready to tear the cover off of the ball, is liable for injury. Last season, the Mets lucked out with the health that their rotation sustained, as they were able to start 154 of the 162 games last season. It would be hard to expect that same kind of health from starters this season.
The same problem translates to the starting lineup. No one really knows what Yoenis Cespedes we’ll be seeing on the field this season, and no one knows where in the world Jed Lowrie is. This should make it nearly impossible to predict what kind of season J.D.Davis is going to have for the Mets, simply because it is impossible to predict his workload. At the moment, he seems like he’ll be a dynamic bench piece, but that can quickly change with an injury to a corner outfielder or Jeff McNeil. Despite all of the maybes that come with this team, and all of the offseason turmoil with coaches and the front office, there still should be optimism with the season ahead.
Despite the flimsy predictions that truly only serve to entertain us and help with fantasy drafts, there are other ways to read this team. Having a top three made up of deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman should evoke fear in other teams. The fact that last season the team went 20 games over .500 in the second half with a team that has nearly the exact same makeup as the one they’ll be fielding this season should be encouraging as well. With a better bullpen last season, the Mets would have been a postseason team. This season, they’re counting on that better bullpen becoming a reality. Forget projections, common sense, if there was ever such a thing used in the same sentence as “New York Mets,” should rule that the team makes the postseason this year.
PECOTA projected the Mets to win the NL East
Jacob deGrom is going for his third consecutive CY Young award
Mets starters pitched in 95% of their games last season