Mets playoff chances hurt by proposed realignment in 2020
By Zach Diamond
The proposed realignment for the 2020 season with games taking place in Florida and Arizona would drastically hurt the New York Mets’ chances at a championship.
According to Bob Nightengale, Major League Baseball has discussed a plan that would eliminate the National League and American League and realign based on the geography of their spring training location. Half of the league would play in Florida, the other half would play in Arizona. The New York Mets participate in spring training in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and are in the Grapefruit League.
The Mets would be in a division with the Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Miami Marlins.
If the MLB decides to go with this route, the Grapefruit League East becomes a very tough division for the Mets in the 2020 season.
If the Mets were in this division in 2019, the 86-win team would have come in fourth place.
- Astros 107-55
- Nationals 93-69
- Cardinals 91-71
- Mets 86-76
- Marlins 57-105
The Mets playoff chances in 2020 decrease with this realigned division. How are the Mets supposed to win the division against the Astros?
The Astros have won over 100 games the past three seasons. They have been to the World Series twice in that time. They have the same core in place going into the 2020 season (minus Gerrit Cole). There’s just no way the Mets can outperform the Astros and win the Grapefruit League East division.
The Mets would have an easier time competing with the Cardinals and Nationals for a Wild Card spot. The Nationals look a bit weaker in 2020 after losing Anthony Rendon in free agency. However, as long as they have Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Patrick Corbin in their rotation, they will always be a serious threat.
The Nationals rotation is now significantly better than the Mets in 2020 with Noah Syndergaard missing the season because of Tommy John surgery. Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Steven Matz is not a better threesome than Strasburg, Scherzer, and Corbin.
The Nationals hitting core has taken a hit over the last two seasons losing Bryce Harper and Rendon in free agency. Yet, the Nats were able to replace their once-in-a-generation talent with a new once-in-a-generation talent: Juan Soto.
Soto in a lineup with Trea Turner, Victor Robles, and Adam Eaton make up a good enough hitting core combined with their elite pitching rotation to have no problem competing for the Wild Card spot.
The Cardinals somehow are always a competent team, as they have won at least 83 games every season of the last decade. Jack Flaherty has immerged as one of the best pitchers in baseball to join a very solid core of Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong, Kolten Wong, and Matt Carpenter.
After winning 91 games last season, the Cardinals should compete for a Wild Card spot in 2020. The Cardinals are hurt by this realignment too, as 91 games were good enough for the team to win the NL Central division in 2019. Based on the teams in the new Grapefruit League East, 91 games probably won’t be enough to win the division.
The Mets get screwed with this realignment, as it essentially eliminates the possibility of the Mets winning the division. Unless the Mets can win 20 more games than they won last season, without Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler in the rotation, there is no shot they finish better than the Astros in 2020.
New York’s best outlook in the Grapefruit League East is that the Nationals and Cardinals take a step back from last season to allow the Mets to finish in second place and secure a Wild Card spot.
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The 2020 Mets would probably fare better in the normal National League East. The MLB has not decided on a plan yet, so until then all we could do is speculate the potential impact of each alignment.