Are the Mets really a 74-win team?

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.

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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.




183 comments
eric88
eric88

Yes we are, well if everything breaks right for us.

Magnus Löfdahl
Magnus Löfdahl

F***k projections! I don't understand why projections is so highly thought of, it's almost as if there's no meaning of playing baseball! Let's just play the GAME! You've gotta believe!

Bob Giacalone
Bob Giacalone

Don't be an apologist for the team...they're awful. This sounds rights. It's going to be another summer of dropped balls, strikeouts, and players left on base. I'd LOVE a miracle. They just don't happen.


Zach Ripple
Zach Ripple

This team, despite losing Harvey for the season, Byrd for the last month Wright for over a month down the stretch, played .500 in the last 100 games. When they were doing badly early in the year, they had Laffey, Marcum and Hefner pitching games, their outfield had a Valdespin/Cowgill center field platoon with Duda in left field every day, Tejada and Davis were ABYSMAL and Gee and Niese were having awful beginnings to their seasons. This team has improved and, if healthy, will be serious contenders.

Zach Ripple
Zach Ripple

I'm not sure being able to "top" a 74-88 record is reason to celebrate. I will say, however, that you're right in how surprisingly realistic it is that a lot of these question marks break right for them. I really like Granderson, Lagares and the two Youngs in the outfield, and this team has a lot of infield depth, except for shortstop. However, Drew would make this team much deeper. I like d'Arnaud behind the plate, and I think the pitching will be outstanding. I really would be surprised if this team didn't at least play .500 this season. Granderson and Colon should help significantly, and Wright and Murphy are good hitters too. Hopefully one of Lagares or Tejada step up and handle the leadoff position (if EY isn't there in some capacity), and C. Young, d'Arnaud and Davis/Duda should be enough in the 5-7 spots of the batting order. And just think of how many more games they'll win without Shaun Marcum in the rotation. What a train wreck... 

SomeHighSchoolKid
SomeHighSchoolKid

This is the same site that said the mets would win 80 games last year.

Noah Baron
Noah Baron

The Phillies will not win more games than the Mets in 2014.  I am almost certain.

Steve
Steve

Argue all you want, but this sounds pretty accurate. I'm so sick of accepting this, and hoping that they can build on this the following year.  This franchise is pathetic.

nagel100
nagel100

pitching will determine the wins.


we may have a solid pitching staff if we are healthy.


Thor and Montero are waiting in the wings to make an impact.

sell
sell

This team is not better than last year's team.  So, yes, 74 wins seems reasonable.


2013 Byrd was most likely better than 2014 Granderson.

Chris Young is not a significant upgrade.

We have no SS.

Our catcher is an enormous ?

Our first basemen have been given the job at one point or another and neither seems to want it, or be good enough to secure it.

We are relying heavily on a 40 year old starter who has one season with 30 starts in the past 8 years.

We are also relying on Mejia (who I'm a huge fan of) to be our number 5, yet he has never pitched consistently and free of injury in the majors.

Our closer is returning from a neck injury.

No one seems to remember that the Mets finished ahead of the Phillies in 2013. The veteran Philliy players will be even older this year and that team seems to have done little to improve or get younger over the winter. It makes not sense to me that they have the Phillies jumping over the Mets into 3rd place.  

1345rmw
1345rmw

There are always if with this team,If Davis hits 270/25hr/80rbi wright 300/25/95 grander son 270/25/90 Davis is the key to lineup

hankincolo
hankincolo

Here's why this prediction is silly, (to put it midly) you never know from year to year who is going to blossom and who is going to be a bust. You also never know who is going to be injured, how seriously or at what point in the season.  

Sean Matrai
Sean Matrai

83 wins,and no im not drinking kool aid

Mickey Jennifer Wind
Mickey Jennifer Wind

plus, the Philllies are worse than last year and older.... Mets are at least going in the right direction.  I do not see how the Phillies are within 5 games of the Mets anymore, forget being a head of them at all. 


I agree with the Nats and need to see the Braves post McCann.  Who is left to lead them?

Mickey Jennifer Wind
Mickey Jennifer Wind

Impossible.  Mets are at least 10 games better now than they were last year already.  Granderson, C Young (who i think will do well) you already added 50 HR and 30 steals.  The Mets lost nobody offensively of note.  with TDA in for a full year, I just do not see it.  Mets clearly had a better off-season than all but the Nats in their division.  I just do not see how they did not gain ground.

ken1010
ken1010

I know it might not be likely, but if the Mets don't hit .500 this year, I'll be quite disappointed.  

Maury Feldman
Maury Feldman

@Magnus Löfdahl  If you're thinking of this is a prediction of the future, you're doing it wrong.


Forecasts are better thought of as the midpoint of likely outcomes for the current team.  The Mets might do a lot better or a lot worse than that, but they're about as likely to do better as to do worse.  Still, if they do better or worse, they'll make decisions during the season that will push the true outcome higher or lower.  It's better to think of 74-88 as a rough middle point that the current team would typically achieve.


I don't want your heart to be broken when the Mets have a great year and win only 81 games.

Edward Hoyt
Edward Hoyt

@Magnus Löfdahl  It's nice to have something to give you a snapshot of where you are as you build the team, that's all.

I mean, yeah, let's just play the game, except it's the first week of February.

zoddie
zoddie

@Bob Giacalone  If you think miracles don't happen, you don't remember the history of this franchise.  That being said, this is not the year.  I think 77 wins or so sounds about right.

zoddie
zoddie

@7up17togo This is why we need a down vote like in the old commenting system :)

Joe Paulson
Joe Paulson

@sell Granderson will be there over a month more.


Chris Young might help a bit -- "significant" is what? 


Buck didn't offer much at all except for one very good month.


SS/1B could do subpar and STILL be better than last year.


Colon's last three years - 26-24-30 ... with Noah S. coming in and Matt Harvey getting NINE wins last year, at worse a wash probably win-wise.


Lannan/Montero also alternatives, again, until NS comes in. Likewise, Wheeler, not Laffey is starting this year in another slot. No Marcum. etc.  


Our closer was out a chunk of the year last year & there are people who can fill in short term. The bullpen is about the same.


The team is the same as the team is May-August, probably, but the team went .500 or so that period. 74 wins included Byrd leaving (is Granderson leaving?) in August etc.  It's possible, but this sounds more like people saying the team was going to get 68 wins last off season.

Tarheel11
Tarheel11

 You don't seem to remember that Ryan Howard only played in 80 games last year and Utley only 131, and Ruiz only 92. They were decimated by injuries last year. Dom Brown will be better. Losing Halladay will only help them since he pitched to an almost 7.00 ERA. Jimmy Rollins was the only position player to play at least 140 games. 

As much as I hate the Phillies, you have to respect them. No way they can be as bad as they were last year 

Maury Feldman
Maury Feldman

@hankincolo  The prediction may be silly, but that's not the reason.  Not all players have an equal chance to blossom.  The pitcher who throws 88 MPH does not suddenly throw 98.  Some players will perform above and below expectations, but if you were betting, you'd bet on players with better past performance or high potential, and you'd win that bet more often than you lose.


What may be silly is predicting team-level performance.  Each player comes with some degree of variance in how well we can predict performance.  Extending that degree of variance to the team magnifies the variance.  


We assume that variance is randomly distributed, but that doesn't mean it will be evenly distributed.  If the Mets happen to have a bunch of the players who exceed forecast, they might jump above .500 (which could affect mid-season trades); if a too many do worse, they might win less than 70.  


This is why it's unhelpful to think of this as a psychic-friends sort of prediction, and better to think of it as the **average or middle of likely outcomes**.  

slainte2
slainte2

@Mickey Jennifer Wind  

Buck was a monster offensively for first month plus of season... probably worth a couple of wins that month alone.

But i agree ... i think Mets are going to pitch and field well, and hope for some bounceback from that offense. 

lgm86
lgm86

@Mickey Jennifer Wind  You're really ignoring Marlon Byrd's production last year.  And we lost Harvey.  And most importantly, we're going to be playing Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada.

Edward Hoyt
Edward Hoyt

@ken1010  Well that's a tall order.  No single player has hit as high as .400 since 1941!

Magnus Löfdahl
Magnus Löfdahl

I understand that it is a "longing" for baseball season to start that makes people do this projections. However, it's seems to me that alot of projections are made during season as well. I mean, alot of players wouldn't be in the majors according to "projections".

Edward Hoyt
Edward Hoyt

@zoddie  If 74 wins is awful, you must be working from a skewed perspective.

If you think miracles don't happen and projections are gospel, perhaps this baseball-watching thing isn't for you.

Edward Hoyt
Edward Hoyt

@Joe Paulson  Everything is a question mark.  It's February.


The problem is the notion that all question marks lead to bad answers.

zoddie
zoddie

@Tarheel11 And now those guys are a year older.  They were decimated by injuries because they are a very, very old team.  Utley has averaged 108 games over the last 4 years.  Ryan is no longer a good baseball player and played 71 and 80 games the last two years.

The Phillies aren't too much of a concern for the Mets over the next few years. The Braves and Nats will be.

Zach Ripple
Zach Ripple

@slainte2 @Mickey Jennifer Wind  He might have been worth a few wins in April, but he did his best to negate that the rest of the season. People were criticizing J.P. Arencibia after last year, but Buck was worse from May-August.

Sean Matrai
Sean Matrai

@slainte2 @Mickey Jennifer Wind  ,and nobody else can be a monster?


D'arnaud is very talented offensively. His production may win us a few games too.


He could be as offensively good as Molina.

Sean Matrai
Sean Matrai

@lgm86 @Mickey Jennifer Wind  Ignoring?


Granderson will replace that production,at the least.


Young should add production too the team,and your not accounting for any production D'arnaud may add to the team.

Mickey Jennifer Wind
Mickey Jennifer Wind

@lgm86 @Mickey Jennifer Wind  I think Young will hit 24 HR and steal more bases and add more pressure on the bases and it is him that will replace most of Byrd.  I think Granderson is a fully additional bat that will also help Wright in ways Byrd can't dream of.


I am not as concerned about Tejada.  I would not be surprised if he hit 270 with a 320 OBP.  I am concerned about 1B.  


I think Colon will replace much of Harvey from the win-loss stand point.  Plus we will get more out of the 5th starter, especially if Mejia stays healthy. Mets may not have less than a 3 on their staff.  


I need to see the pen deliver and I am not sold on Parnell. I give up on 1B...

Maury Feldman
Maury Feldman

@90ormore @zoddie @Tarheel11  Not meaningless.  A year older is a negative when you're in your mid-thirties.


It is not nearly as bad (in fact it's good) when you're in your mid-twenties.


So, no.  "A year older" does not apply the same way in all cases.


The Phillies' core players are, in too many cases, guys in that former category; aging is a big negative for them.

90ormore
90ormore

@zoddie @Tarheel11Everyone on the Mets, and on every other team for that matter, is also a year older. Meaningless.

Sean Matrai
Sean Matrai

@lgm86 @Sean Matrai @Mickey Jennifer Wind  Young lost a lot of playing time last year. He played in about 105 games for Oakland last year. More playing time can affect a lot of players.(look at EYJ,and Lagares).  He should hit around 15-17 hrs here. 

That would be good enough along with Granderson who should hit 25-30 to bring up the hr numbers. D'arnaud should hit 15-17 in his first year. I will take 10-12 from him as well with a .280 average.

lgm86
lgm86

@Sean Matrai @lgm86 @Mickey Jennifer Wind  I certainly hope you're right, but Chris Young was literally a replacement level player last y ear (0 WAR).  If he reverts back to 2010/2011 form, we're a much better team.  But there's no guarantee that he does.


Granderson brings more power to the table and somewhat better OF defense than Byrd, but will also hit for a lower average.  Byrd was worth 4 WAR while on the Mets last year (5 for the full year).  That's a really great year.  For comparison, Granderson was worth 5.4 WAR in 2011, when he finished 4th in AL MVP voting and had 41 HR with 119 RBI.


Grandy's value would have been higher that year playing a corner spot - maybe 6 - 6.5 WAR.  But he's only had 2 years of that performance in his 10 year career and the other one was in 2007.  

sell
sell

@Mickey Jennifer Wind @lgm86  Byrd was worth 5 wins last year and had a triple slash of 291/336/511.


In Granderson's last full season (2012) he posted 3 wins and had a slash of 232/319/492.


In Young's last 2 seasons combined(!), he posted 2 wins and had a slash of roughly 215/295/405.


All this means is that a career year from Byrd is better than recent work from Granderson and Young.  However, Byrd's production will be missed more than most assume.  What if recent trends from our new OFs continue?