As a Mets fan, it would be easy to succumb to the reality-based prognostications of the so-called “experts.” Many of them believe the Mets will win somewhere between 70-79 games, finishing in the bottom half of the N.L. East. Keep in mind that the Mets won 74 games last season, their fourth straight fourth-place finish in the N.L. East. (The Mets haven’t finished in last place since waaaayyyy back in 2003. So there’s that.)
Well, I say not so fast, guys. After all, Spring Training is upon us, and hope (if not necessarily logic) springs eternal. I am fully convinced that the Mets will lose no more than around a forty games this year. Here’s how.
1) Manager Terry Collins guided the Mets to 77 wins in 2011, three more than last season. I’m sure he’s learned from his mistakes, so he should easily get those three wins back. +3
2) Johan Santana won just six games last year (including the Mets first no-hitter in history.) His career 162-game average has been 15 wins per season. After on off-season doing nothing but drinking V-8 Juice and firewalking, he should be back to his old winning ways. Add nine more wins to the column. +9
3) Matt Harvey said in one of his first media appearances this spring that his goal is to win 20 games this year. Matthew is 6’4″, 225 pounds, so who are you or I to argue with him? Last year he won three of ten starts, but averaged over a strikeout an inning, and posted an ERA+ of 141. So, obviously, he’s talented.
Also, the Mets have a history of grinding their young stud pitchers into the dust (see: Wilson, Paul, and Pulsipher, Bill, among others.) Therefore, don’t expect any namby pamby, New York Yankees “Joba Rules” for Harvey. If he can get his shirt on, them By God, the boy should pitch. He ain’t no droolin’ little baby. Add 17 wins to last year’s three, and you have your 20-win season, Matt. +17
4) Ike Davis slugged an impressive 32 homers and drove in 90 runs last year, despite hitting a Dave Kingman-esque .223. How did he manage to hit for such a low average? Basically, he swung as hard as he could on every single pitch, sometimes finishing his swing even before the pitcher had decided what to throw. No worries, for Ike Davis claims that his goal this year is to be much more selective at the plate. He wants to draw as many as 100 walks (compared to last year’s total of 61.) Davis’ WAR last year was an abysmal 0.7.
But we all know that WAR loves walks the way the N.R.A. loves hollow-point bullets. Therefore, all those extra walks should result in a WAR of, say 5.0, which is Davis’ entire career total to date. (That’s five wins above replacement, for those of you scoring at home.) If we round up last year’s WAR to 1.0, this means Mr. Davis should expect to help the Mets win four extra games in 2013. +4
5) Chipper Jones has finally retired. In a normal year, the Mets could expect to be defeated, not by the Atlanta Braves, but by Chipper Jones himself, at least three times per year. Chipper should go into the Hall of Fame in five years wearing a New York Mets cap, because if you take his career production against the Mets away, he becomes just some guy named Larry. +3
6) Power of Positive Thinking should not be underrated. Just this morning, for example, my car wouldn’t quite start. It was an unusually cold morning here in Greenville, and she just didn’t want to turn over. At first, I was angry. Then I realized that with a little positive thinking, I could “will” her to start up. So I waited until the count of three, then tried again. Still nothing.
It was then I noticed the gas needle lying flat in the red zone. Not a drop in the tank. Granted, this sounds a lot like the Mets current outfield. But then I remembered there might be a little gas left in the plastic canister I use to fill my lawnmower in the warmer months. Sure enough, there was just enough in there to pour into my car’s gas tank to get her started.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. “But Bill, we have no spare high-test outfielders we could just drop into our outfield.” To which I would respond, “Why are you mixing gas cans with outfielders? What does one have to do with the other? I don’t get the analogy.”
The point being, you can’t underestimate the power of positive thinking, even if you can’t quite quantify it. But I successfully drove the three miles to the neighborhood Spinx on just a whiff of gas. If each mile represents just one Mets win, then that should conservatively mean an additional three wins for the Mets this year. +3
7) Inflation is currently increasing at an annual rate of about 2%. You can’t defeat the laws of economics. If inflation is 2%, then the Mets win total should increase by about that rate this year. Two-percent of 74 wins (last year’s total) is 1.48. If you round 1.48 to the nearest whole number, you end up with 1.00. But we’ll round it up to 2.00 because we are optimists, and hyper-inflation could be just around the corner. By next month, we might be pushing wheelbarrows full of hundred-dollar bills around just to buy our daily bagel and coffee. So there’s two more wins right there. +2
8) Jason Bay is gone. If you believe in addition by subtraction, as I do, then Bay’s bye-bye should be worth at least two additional wins this season, don’t you think? +2
9) In an embarrassing oversight on the Mets part, you may recall last season outfielder Mike Baxter played 54 games in the outfield before the Mets coaching staff realized he wasn’t wearing a baseball glove. The seven broken fingernails in three weeks puzzled the team trainer until late July, when finally Mr. Met, the team mascot, pantomimed catching the ball with his face. Baxter, it turns out, never played baseball as a kid, and is only doing so now so his dad would “finally leave me alone about hanging around the house all the time.” This year, the Mets broke down and purchased an actual baseball mitt for Baxter on eBay (ironically, a Jason Bay model), for just $13.99, autographed, with a C.O.A. +1
10) Over the 51 years of the history of the Mets, they have averaged 76 wins per season. As they say, all things revert to the mean. If you’re up a bit too much one year, or down a little more than usual the following year, chances are, the ship will right itself and return to the mean. Today, my six-year old son broke only two things. The day before, he broke six things. Tomorrow, then, I fully expect him to break four things, because that would be him just reverting to the mean. The Mets are more or less broken right now. Last season, they won just 74 games. The year before that they won 77 games. The year before that, it was 79 wins, and the year before that, 70 wins.
So it seems reasonable to assume that, at a minimum, you can add two wins for simply reverting to the mean. +2
Now, if you add up each of these carefully thought-out additional wins, I believe you will be forced to come to the same conclusion as I have, that the Mets can’t help but win 120 games this season.
Give or take several dozen wins.
- Next step: put money where his mouth is (nypost.com)
- Collins offers positive outlook despite Mets facing long odds (nypost.com)
- Mets First Baseman Ike Davis: Amazin’s Can Finish Over .500 In 2013 (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- New York Mets: Is Ike Davis Primed for a Big Season? (bleacherreport.com)
- Sophomore jump for Jordany Valdespin? He has a lot of competition (newsday.com)
- Collins to consider Justin Turner and Zach Lutz in the outfield (metsblog.com)