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Do we believe in the Mets?


MLB: Atlanta Braves at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Seemingly all anyone can talk about these days are the New York Mets. Sure, they were discussed in jest when they were flailing, when GM Brodie Van Wagenen was reportedly making play call decisions from his couch in June, or when he allegedly threw a chair in a meeting with the coaching staff in early July. On those days—June 25th and July 6th—their playoff odds were a respective 10.4% and 7%. Now, despite a crushing 14-inning loss to the Braves last night, their odds sit at 46.1%, or let’s say a coin flip away from the wild card.

It’s not like we don’t still chuckle at #LOLMets even when they’ve improved; I can’t think of a better Yogism in 2019 than coach Mickey Callaway stating that “85% of our decisions go against the analytics.” Despite the buffoonery and the seeming total dysfunction, I can’t help but think this year reminds me of yet another interesting year in Mets history: 2015.

In that season, like today, it seemed like they were falling apart from every direction; at the trade deadline, their playoff odds were about one in five. In the first half, the team collectively hit .233/.298/.363, and nothing could have been more Mets-esque than the Carlos Gomez trade that happened and then un-happened, and let a crying Wilmer Flores stay on the field for a trade that would never occur. Like many things Mets this Kafka-esque experience would also yield something else interesting, which was the now-famous Yoenis Cespedes trade, turning around their season and launching them to a pennant win.

The 2015 team this team isn’t; the division and the league writ large are incredibly more crowded than it was back then, and the team despite their recent surge still has to climb over either the Cubs or Cardinals, two formidable and likely-more-talented clubs.

While they don’t have their Cespedes boost, their mirrored Bizzaro trade was for Marcus Stroman, another deal that either wasn’t supposed to happen, or was supposed to be used in conjunction with a deal sending away either Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard. Instead, it sets them up rather nicely for a playoff series.

Over the last 30 days, the Mets have won 21 of their last 27, and they have hit a collective .257/.327/.436 and have pitched to a round 3.00 ERA. All good! But if we now finally address the actual title of this piece, do we believe that? Do we believe in them, specifically, and do we think that they have the collective muster to match and even exceed the obstacles put in front of them in 2015?

Well, that’s a complicated question. On offense, it’s kind of obvious:

Mets Hitters, 30 Days vs. RoS

Player Last 30 Days wOBA RoS wOBA (ZiPS) Differential
Player Last 30 Days wOBA RoS wOBA (ZiPS) Differential
Amed Rosario 0.347 0.306 -0.041
Pete Alonso 0.377 0.354 -0.023
Michael Conforto 0.392 0.35 -0.042
Todd Frazier 0.262 0.306 0.044
Wilson Ramos 0.367 0.311 -0.056
JD Davis 0.423 0.319 -0.104
Jeff McNeil 0.42 0.344 -0.076
Juan Lagres 0.336 0.263 -0.073
Joe Panik 0.313 0.295 -0.018

Almost universally, the offense is expected to be worse sans Todd Frazier, which means that at least on one side of the ball, the team is playing way over their collective heads. Yet the projections probably don’t tell the full story on Alonso, Conforto, and Davis, where maybe they aren’t as far off from their true talent level as projections think.

Mets Pitchers, 30 Days vs. RoS

Player Last 30 Days FIP RoS FIP (ZiPS) Differential
Player Last 30 Days FIP RoS FIP (ZiPS) Differential
Jacob deGrom 1.57 2.8 1.23
Noah Syndergaard 2.35 3.1 0.75
Steven Matz 2.71 4.48 1.77
Zack Wheeler 2.95 3.67 0.72
Marcus Stroman 4.89 3.73 -1.16
Seth Lugo 2.52 4.05 1.53
Jeurys Familia 3.88 3.73 -0.15
Justin Wilson 2.79 3.44 0.65
Luis Avilan 3.32 3.72 0.4
Robert Gsellman 3.22 4.15 0.93
Edwin Diaz 7.99 3.16 -4.83

In this case, it’s a much more mixed story. While the top-end of the rotation is probably going to be still good but not as great as it has been as of late, the addition of Marcus Stroman and his projected 3.73 FIP will be a big boon considering the impending regression from the likes of, say, Steven Matz. And the piece of the staff where fans and analysts alike think they have a weakness is in the bullpen, where Seth Lugo is likely to slowly lose his form but Edwin Diaz, the supposed closer from hell, is very likely to rebound given what we know.

Take all of this with a grain of salt given the small samples both before and after the 30 days in question, but suffice it to say that while the Mets will likely not play at a .777 winning percentage pace down the stretch, their rest-of-season projected winning percentage of .550 is fourth in the NL, behind only the Nationals, Cubs, and Dodgers. With a lot of their pieces seemingly working together and with a rotation finally made complete with Stroman and a bullpen that could work if it sustains and finally adds a decent Diaz to the fold, there is nothing this team can’t do. LFGM? LFGM.