Spring training is starting up and so is talk about the 2014 season. For the upcoming MLB season, the New York Mets are mostly an afterthought. Most baseball analysts do not expect the Mets to contend with the most favorable comment we have read being “the Mets are a few years away.”
Oddsmakers seem to agree. Win totals for the Mets’ season, set by Las Vegas sportsbooks, opened at 71.5, but some oddsmakers have now inched the total up to 73.5. In 2013, Mets won games 74, so oddsmakers are not impressed with the Mets’ offseason dealings. However, “hope springs eternal” — especially at the start of a new season. Here, we take a closer look at the 2014 Mets using a wins above average (WAA) approach.
The Mets were seven games below .500 last year. What can Mets’ fans realistically expect this year? Interestingly, even with Matt Harvey out for season, the Mets’ starting pitching staff has potential. With the continued development of highly-touted young pitchers, along with the addition of veteran Bartolo Colon, the Mets’ staff is respectable. Colon adds stability, innings pitched and potential leadership — as well as mentoring for the young pitchers. The addition of Colon improves the entire pitching staff and has a kind of trickle-down effect. That is, a pitcher who might have been the No. 3 starter can now go against opponents’ No. 4 starters, and so on.
Curtis Granderson won’t help the Mets’ anemic team batting average, but the change in scenery should help Granderson bounce back to what the Mets hope will be the 25 to 30+ home run range. This will help the Mets improve upon the fourth-lowest home run total in the NL last year. Granderson is definitely an improvement for the Mets’ outfield.
Although baseball is less of a team sport than other sports, the impact of players on overall team results can be material. For instance, if Granderson has a strong year, he will offer much-needed lineup protection for David Wright. This, in turn, can potentially lead to better production from the Mets third baseman.
Shortstop Ruben Tejada was injured in 2013 and never really got out of the gate. The shortstop position is Tejada’s to lose in 2014, and most expect a bounce-back year from the 24-year-old. Tejada is an above-average fielder and should hit closer to the .285 he hit in 2011 and 2012, not the .202 he hit last season.
Improved pitching, Granderson and Tejada are each expected to add a few “wins above average” versus last year’s Mets team. In addition, center fielder Juan Lagares has proven to be an asset as a fielder and will hopefully improve at the plate.
As usual, there are a lot of “ifs” — but if these become a reality and if the Mets stay healthy, the team will definitely beat the oddsmakers’ 73.5 wins. Even more importantly for the Mets and their fans: the estimated wins above average says that if things fall favorably for the Mets, they can boast a better-than .500 record for the first time since 2008.