It’s too soon to really know what all MLB teams will look like in 2022. There’s a lot of offseason left to manipulate rosters, get better, and decide to unload your highest-paid player. To see the New York Mets finished with an 88-74 record this upcoming season in FanGraphs’ ZiPS projections should still raise a few eyebrows if only on the basis of where it means they finish in the standings.
An 88-74 record isn’t bad. According to this projection, it would put them two games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves at 90-72. The Mets would have to hope to make the playoffs via one of the wild cards. Unless the playoffs are expanded, they’ll be in a one-game sudden death matchup versus the Milwaukee Brewers for the right to play yet another game with everything on the line.
Can the Mets finish with a better record than 88-74?
Last year’s 77-85 Mets team matched what the ill-fated 2018 team accomplished except in reverse. The Mets got off to an awesome start in 2018 but by the time June rolled around, they were in freefall mode.
It was much different in 2021. The club held onto first place for much of the year until after the trade deadline and the wheels came off throughout August.
It’s a little odd to see other past 77-win Mets teams. Before 2018, we have the 2011 Mets. It was the first year under Terry Collins and not such a good year for the ball club. They finished 25 games out of first place and fourth in the division.
Past 88-win Mets teams haven’t been all that lucky. The club won 88 games in back-to-back seasons in 1997 and 1998. They would finish third and second in each of those seasons. Their other 88-win campaign came in 2007 when they were only a game shy of tying the Philadelphia Phillies for the National League East title.
The Mets have been able to make it to the postseason in the past with fewer than 88 wins. In 2016, they did it with 87 victories but settled for a one-game bounce after Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants took them down at Citi Field. The only other time they were able to make it to the postseason with fewer than 90 wins (the total they had in 2015) was in 1973 when the National League East was won with only 82 games.
Seeing the 88-74 projection and two one-game playoffs needed to advance serves as a reminder of what the Mets will need most in order to succeed this year. Their offense is pretty much set with the possibility of another bat or two of note added in. It’s their starting pitching that will need to be addressed.
The Mets could win against the Brewers with Jacob deGrom on the mound. Next, they can head to face the San Diego Padres in the wild card game and take them down with Max Scherzer. It’s the next task, pitting them against the Los Angeles Dodgers according to these projections, when things get more challenging.
A true number three starter is certainly on the Mets’ radar. The one-two punch of deGrom and Scherzer can drastically shorten a series. However, if a scenario like the one FanGraphs has projected comes true, the Mets can find themselves in an early hole, on the road, and a little more tired than their opponent.
I think by now we all have learned not to trust any projection too much. We’ve been fooled before—for better or worse.
If 88 wins are the trajectory the Mets are on at the moment, put your hands together and pray for good health, a rotation upgrade in the near future, and Freddie Freeman leaves Atlanta.