Were the Mets really worse than the Marlins this year or is baseball just weird?

Miami Marlins v New York Mets
Miami Marlins v New York Mets / Elsa/GettyImages

Three teams from the National League East are in this year’s MLB postseason. The case was the same last year with one difference, the Miami Marlins have replaced the New York Mets.

The Mets finished with an identical record with last year’s NL East Champion Atlanta Braves but because they lost the tie-breaker settled for a Wild Card berth. We know how things manifested afterward. The Mets were quickly disposed of by the San Diego Padres in the first round.

Hopeful to get a little further in 2023, the Mets spared no expense at getting better. Unfortunately, they’ll be with the Washington Nationals watching as the Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and the surprising Marlins continue to play in October for at least a little while longer.

How did the Marlins overtake the Mets by such a wide margin in 2023?

The Mets beat upon the Marlins this year, going 8-4 against them with an asterisk on that final game called in the top of the ninth due to rain. Either way, the Mets put the Marlins in their place.

The Marlins are far from the most exceptional team in this year’s postseason. Although they had a seemingly sturdy starting rotation with the reigning National League Cy Young winner, Sandy Alcantara came up small in his 28 starts for the team. At 7-12 with a 4.14 ERA, he was hardly the ace they needed.

The Marlins did get big years from Jesus Luzardo and Braxton Garrett. Edward Cabrera wasn’t bad. Eury Perez showed a ton of promise. Looking good on paper and in terms of youth shouldn’t be enough to get you into the playoffs. The 2025 Marlins are much scarier than the 2023 team.

Miami’s bullpen had its own problems with former Mets reliever David Robertson even losing his closer role. They appear to be somewhat of a mess on the pitching side of things. Their bats aren’t so scary either.

Up and down the roster, the Mets seem like the superior team, especially before the trade deadline. The Marlins successfully brought in Josh Bell and Jake Burger who were two of the better acquisitions midseason via trade. However, it’s not those two who helped propel Miami further than New York. The Marlins were already finding better results before either of them were dealt.

The Marlins did get a 200+ hit season from Luis Arraez and Jorge Soler reminded everyone that he has the potential to hit 40 in a season. However, the Marlins only had three players, including Arraez, have 100+ hits on the year. Nobody scored 80 runs. Nobody had 80 RBI.

The difference was how well the Marlins played in one-run games. At 33-13, it's one of the best in MLB history.

The Mets were better than the Marlins this year except in the one place where it matters: actually winning

Miami’s run differential is the strangest among the postseason teams this year. At -56, they had an expected record of 75-86. Tack on another loss pending whatever it is MLB decides to do about the rain shortened game in the final week. The Mets, meanwhile, had a run differential of -13 and would have an expected record of 80-82 if we add in a victory for that same game MLB hasn’t officially decided about for the record books.

MLB’s expanded playoffs paved the way for a team like the Marlins to get into this year’s postseason. It’ll be the case going forward and we should expect the playoffs to expand even more so.

The Marlins aren’t guilty of being frauds for getting in. After all, the National League Wild Card picture itself is incredibly mediocre and has been for weeks. They’re not even the last seeded club.

Everything but where it counts seems to suggest the Mets were better than the Marlins in 2023. Unfortunately, it wasn’t even close with a full ten games separating the two clubs. Imagine how the 82-80 San Diego Padres must be feeling to be two games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks with a +104 run differential to Arizona’s -13. Baseball is weird.