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Are the Mets actually favorites in the National League East?

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Brandon Nimmo
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Brandon Nimmo
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 17: Jeff McNeil #68 of the New York Mets high fives Michael Conforto #30 after Conforto hit a three run home run in the top of the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 17, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Mets defeated the Phillies 9-4. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Are the New York Mets actually entering the 2019 season as the favorites of the National League East? Let’s crunch some numbers and find out.

On multiple occasions this offseason, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has made a case for the New York Mets as the favorites in the division. As the curtain closes on the offseason, spring training gets into full swing, and rosters start coming further into focus, we examine whether the Mets new GM was overconfident or spot on with his proclamations.

Van Wagenen, has not been shy in making his opinion known that the team he has put together can go toe to toe with any of their NL East competitors, declaring for the other teams in the division to ”come get us” – as though the Mets were already winning the “race” and the division’s other squads have to catch up.

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“We believe we can win, and I think because of that we should not be afraid to say it,” BVW added.

But the Braves, Nationals, and Phillies have all made moves of their own this offseason while the Marlins’ young core is a year older and more polished. So, since paper is all we have for comparisons right now, how, exactly, does the National League East look on paper?

Funny you should ask as there is certainly no shortage of sources from which to choose from for your preseason prognostication needs this time of year.

Below is a list of preseason predictions for the Mets in 2019 from various sources (as of 02/22/2019).

Pecota Ratings

Mets…87-75 (2nd Place)

Rotochamp

Mets…87-75 (2nd Place)

Fangraphs

Mets…85-77 (2nd Place)

Davenport Projections

Mets…89-73 (1st Place)

Caesars Casino Sportsbook

Mets…83.5 wins (3rd place)

The Mets were also represented in Jayson Starks’ Spring Training Preview in The Athletic, as they were voted “most improved in NL” by Starks’ 30 esteemed baseball professionals.

So, as a composite of the analysis above the Mets should land somewhere near the top, but not quite; better than .500, and significantly better than their 77-85 mark from last season, but not great.

We can’t just sit back and let everyone else have all the fun, however. We can chime in with our two cents too. Devising our own rating system to determine the NL East favorite while testing Van Wagenen’s claims along the way.

Let’s not get too clever, however. Using long, drawn-out formulas and crunching exotic stats in a supercomputer is a bit over the top for my taste. And all that work seems a bit silly when, in reality, predictions are a futile business to begin with.

Accordingly, I’d prefer simple(ish) rantings based on not much more than my opinion of how I expect the players to perform in 2019.

There are five teams in the National League East (Braves, Nationals, Marlins, Mets, and Phillies). In order keep score, we’ll rank the top three (of those five) NL East players at each position awarding each NL East team a point for a number three ranking at a position, two points for a number two ranking, and three points for the best player at each spot.

Tally up the collective points for each team and that is their respective National League East score. Teams will be rated by these scores, accordingly, and we’ll see how our ratings stand up against the experts’.

All of the natural caveats apply for these ratings, of course. Free agents (large and smaller ticket items alike) are still to be had at this late stage of the game and could come off the board at any minute – obviously affecting rosters. And spring training can also change a number of things, but we have a basic idea of how things will look on Opening Day based on where we stand today.

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