Baseball Prospectus, which has a pretty good track record of predictions in its PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), raised some eyebrows when it picked the New York Mets to win the 2020 National League East pennant.
According to PECOTA, the Mets will win 88 games (just two more than they did last season), which will be good enough to beat the defending division champion Atlanta Braves and the defending World Champion Washington Nationals.
Oddsmakers aren’t buying in just yet. The latest odds have the Mets at 3-1 to win the division, the same odds as the Phillies and behind both the Braves (7-4) and Nationals (5-2). So if you believe Baseball Prospectus the Mets might be worth a few bucks.
Any optimism around the Mets stems from their strong finish in 2019. After a 10-18 June that included a seven-game losing streak, the Mets stood at a season worst 11 games under .500 on July 12. They went 46-25 the rest of the way to finish 10 games over .500 at 86-76, which was still 11 games behind first-place Atlanta and seven games behind wild-card Washington.
This offseason didn't see the Mets spend wildly in free agency. The biggest addition was reliever Dellin Betances, the former Yankee who missed most of last season with assorted injuries. The Mets are hoping he’s healthy and forms a good back end of the bullpen with closer Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia, both hoping to have bounce back seasons.
The strength of the Mets is their rotation led by two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. It’s so good the team didn’t even attempt to keep free agent Zack Wheeler, who figures to be the Phillies’ No. 2 starter this season.
The question you have to ask when handicapping the 2020 Mets is was last year’s finish a sign of a bright future, or a dead team playing well without any pressure?