New York Mets: Predicting Regular Season Record
It may not take the same level of intellect as Nate Silver predicting the entire Senate, but it takes a great deal of knowledge to predict baseball.
One was expected to compete for the AL East title, while the other was widely predicted to finish in the cellar. While it ended up being the correct placement in the standings, it was the wrong teams.
The 2013 New York Mets enter the season as 50/1 odds to capture their first NL Pennant since 2000.
Here are the variables that will affect the Mets' season and ultimately I will come up with an estimated record.
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The Mets will take the approach of the San Francisco Giants, who have won two of the past three World Series titles on the strength of their young pitching staff.
In order for that to happen, the combination of Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Shaun Marcum, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler will need to pitch consistently dominant for much of the season.
I left Johan Santana off that list because I don't anticipate him to magically become a workhorse pitcher again at 34.
The bullpen must improve on their No. 29 overall ranking from last season. They should be improved simply by the addition of Brandon Lyon, Scott Atchison, LaTroy Hawkins and Pedro Feliciano.
Bullpen relief is an area a team can go cheap on considering the year-to-year crapshoot that it tends to become.
As far as the offense, the team was putrid last season in the second-half, averaging 3.36 runs, which must be improved. Obviously, they performed a bit over their heads in the first few months of the season due to their incredible two-out hitting.
I believe a healthy Travis d'Arnaud, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, David Wright and Lucas Duda could form a formidable middle of the order. That means 30 home runs a piece from the latter three.
There must be some sort of production from the Collin Cowgill/Kirk Nieuwenhuis platoon as well as Marlon Byrd/Mike Baxter platoon.
That could be a tall order.
Unless Marlon Byrd re-discovers the stroke that made him a coveted prospect a decade ago, this will be a very poor area on the team.
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This is something the Mets will unfortunately have to deal with for years to come.
The NL East is very strong.
The good news is that they were 10-8 against the Phillies and 12-6 against the cellar dwelling Miami Marlins.
On the other hand, they posted an abysmal 4-14 mark against Washington and 6-12 against Atlanta.
New York's nightmare second half began with a five-game losing streak in Atlanta and continuing up to Washington.
Their veterans players must instill a sense of urgency in the team to halt the season-altering losing streaks.
The key is to play .500 against the upper echelon teams and play .667 against the weaker ones in order to be a playoff team.
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It's hard to criticize GMs for not making moves because it's impossible to know which players are truly available and what the asking price is.
With that being said, last year the Mets should have acquired a right-handed bat and a reliever to upgrade their team.
They were 46-40 at the break but quickly sunk as the trade deadline approached.
Perhaps Sandy Alderson would have made a move had the team been closer to first place on July 31.
If the Mets are lingering within striking distance of the second Wild Card spot, Alderson can make use of their mid-level prospects for a player that can get this team over the top.
In my opinion, that won't happen.
The team has refrained from taking on additional payroll for the last several years and I don't see them changing that approach now.
They will most likely stand pat even if the team has an opportunity to improve.
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With Justin Upton and Michael Bourn this could have been a 90-win team.
With the underwhelming outfield they have instead, this will be a 78-84 team.
There will be an influx of positives this season, however. We will see the crowned jewels of the farm system rise to the top.
Alderson has been hoarding prospects since the beginning of his tenure. Now is the time we will see the power arms such as Wheeler send Citi Field into a frenzy.
The combination of Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Travis d'Arnaud will give the fans reason to believe 2014 will be a pennant chase through October.
Additionally, players such as Wilmer Flores, Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Michael Fulmer provide this team with a legitimate reason for optimism.
In the short-term it will be frustrating to digest another sub .500 season, but fans have essentially adopted the approach of patience with 2014 as the end of the grace period.