Maggie Wiggin, Contributor
Baseball Prospectus released their PECOTA projections, which show the Mets finishing with a third consecutive 74-88 record and in fourth place in the NL East (one game behind the Phillies). This is disappointing, but there are some ways the Mets can top this, both by bringing in a few more pieces and by maximizing production from existing players…
PECOTA uses computer algorithms to predict performance in a similar way that ZiPS does, combining past performance with injury history, aging, and other factors. It goes a step further than ZiPS, though, and estimates how much playing time a player will get and builds a projection for the team as a whole out of that.
The biggest hole in the Mets lineup according to PECOTA, as well as many fans and experts, is shortstop, where the team is expected to have just 1 win above replacement (actually an improvement from last year when the position was a scratch). Because he’s unsigned, PECOTA doesn’t have projections for Stephen Drew, but an average of the different systems listed on Fangraphs suggests he’s likely to be worth about 2 wins, so an upgrade of 1 win overall.
Shuffling the bullpen could also have an impact for the Mets. PECOTA lists Carlos Torres as a starter, a 0 WAR player over 11 starts. I disagree with this assumption, and think he’ll pitch almost exclusively out of the pen, where his numbers will be better. PECOTA is conservative on nearly all of the young relievers, such as Josh Edgin and Gonzalez Germen and while I expect the group as a whole to outperform this expectation, it also suggests that the team could be on the right track in looking for an established veteran, like Fernando Rodney. Prudent bullpen moves could add another win easily, more if the young arms in AAA come up and thrive.
Another point PECOTA and I disagree on is the expected performance of David Wright. Like with other systems, he’s still getting penalized for playing with a broken back in 2011, even though the injury has been completely gone for two full seasons. He is projected at less than half the value he provided in either 2012 or 2013 and even if he takes a step back, I think he’ll bring about 2 wins more than anticipated.
If all of these things break right – and I think it’s very realistic for them to – the Mets could be looking at closer to 78 wins, not a great season by any means, but a step in the right direction. This would still include PECOTA’s projections of disappointing seasons from Jenrry Mejia, Curtis Granderson, and Juan Lagares, so it’s not a best-case scenario either.
At the end of the day, these projections are a fun read and can help us see how the different pieces of the team may fit together, but I’m ready to watch some baseball.