Can the Mets Go 22-0?
MetsToday reader and commenter Jimmy Prinzler had this to say recently:
Its very disturbing that Mets can’t win in their own division. … if you can’t beat the 4 teams in your division then you will not get 90 wins because you play each other 18 times. Until the Mets find a way to beat those 4 teams then we’ll talk about wild card.
Jimmy has a good point, and though I’ve always known that it’s important to be able to beat your division rivals, I never actually sat down and did the math (mainly because I don’t like math).
But here goes the current math:
The Mets are a combined 18-23 vs. the Phillies, Braves, Nationals, and Marlins. That’s 41 intra-division games, which means there are 31 left (four teams times 18 games each equals 72, 72 minus 41 is 31 … elementary, my dear, elementary!).
That 18-23 record equals a .439 winning percentage (one might incorrectly albeit jokingly term it a “losing percentage”). If the Mets continue this pace of winning a 43.9% of their games through the final 31 contests vs. division rivals, their final record against the NL East will be 31-41.
The total number of games against non-NL East teams is 90. So if the Mets go 31-41 inside the division, they would need to go 59-31 outside the division to reach 90 wins. Are you still with me? Cool, let’s move on.
Currently, the Mets are 37-31 outside the division. In other words, for the Mets to reach 90 wins — assuming they keep their current pace vs. the NL East — they would have to go 22-0 against non-NL East teams from here through the end of the season.
Of course, that’s not going to happen.
Also, you are probably saying, “yeah, but there’s no guarantee that the Mets will continue to win less than 44% of their games against the NL East”. Well that’s true also — they could do better (they could also do worse). But when you look at the numbers, you come to realize how difficult the NL East is, how important it is to compete inside your division, and how much the Mets struggle against the teams that they know better than anyone (and in turn, know them). It is assumed that the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, and Nationals would have the most accurate and comprehensive scouting reports on the Mets, and vice-versa. Further, the NL East hitters and pitchers know each other’s tendencies, weaknesses, strengths, etc., better than anyone else. So what does all this mean? One theory is that the more a team plays against the Mets, the more vulnerable the Mets become — instead of the other way around. In other words, teams are making adjustments against the Mets, but the Mets aren’t making the counter adjustments, and/or aren’t able to exploit other teams’ vulnerabilities as well as they do to them.
People keep bringing up the fact that the Mets are 9 games over .500 since their 5-13 start, as if that is some indication that the team “figured things out” after the first 18 games of the year. I disagree, and think that the Mets’ success over the past 91 games is due more to the element of surprise — of playing teams that didn’t know the Mets well enough to exploit their weaknesses.
Just a theory. What are your thoughts?