FanPost

What's the Mets' Baseline?

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Much of the debate over the Curtis Granderson acquisition centers around whether or not the Mets can compete before 2016. If you think they can, you're more likely to be happier with the Granderson deal than if you think he'll suck exactly when we're finally ready to compete.

A lot of how you come down on that question depends on whether you think the Mets start the season as closer to a 70 or 80 baseline win team.

I'd suggest it's not as simple as "you are what your record was" for the 2014 Mets. First, there will obviously be different personnel than there was last season but also because there's a case to be made that last season actually saw three different Mets teams take the field.

I want to explore the in-season roster changes from 2013 and whether or not that should shape how we evaluate the lessons of 2013. To do so I'm going to break the season into three Acts.

Act I: Opening day - June 17

Record: 25-40 .385. Run Differential: -56 (15 below .500 ties season low)

The most notable thing about Phase I is that our OF was a mess. Here are some of the OFers that saw a fair amount of time on the field.

Act I ABs

Season wRC+

Fate

Jordanny Valdespin

116

60

Demoted

Mike Baxter

85

65

Demoted

Rick Ankiel

66

67

Released

Colin Cowgill

61

42

Traded for minor leaguer

Kirk Nieuwenhuis

35

72

Demoted

Total

363

5.5+ ABs/Game

So we gave 363 ABs or over 5-1/2 a game to guys who combined for a wRC+ well below 70! And let's not forget that during that time we also saw Lucas Duda chasing butterflies err fly balls in left field. At least Duda was hitting. Byrd played but had not yet been installed as the every day RFer. Then look what happened.

June 12 - Marlon Byrd starts playing every day

June 17 - Juan Lagares starts playing every day

June 18 - Zack Wheeler's first start

June 19 - Eric Young's first game with the Mets

That's four major personnel changes over eight days. Those personnel changes led to the Mets send a dramatically different team out beginning June 18th - a team we'll consider the Act II Mets.

Act II: June 18 - August 24

Record 33-29 .532. Run differential +22

Look at that! The Mets commit to a dramatically different outfield and it pays off. Running out Young, Lagares & Byrd nearly every day improves the OF and Wheeler is now part of an improving rotation.

The club plays .532 ball over a 62 game stretch! Not an entire season but the changes in personnel provide an 18 game improvement from Act I. And not all was smooth sailing during Act II.

August 3rd - David Wright injured - goes to DL for 45 games.

So Wright gets injured but for the next 3 weeks the club manages to tread water by going 9-10.

As you've probably figured out this is the part of the season that I'm hoping provides a reason for optimism heading into 2014. But first, let's take a look at Act III. WARNING: You may want to avert your eyes.

Act III: August 25 - End of Season

Record 16-19 .457. Run differential -31

Sadly, Act III was all parts tragedy.

August 24th - Matt Harvey's last appearance for the season.

August 26th - Marlon Byrd's last game as a Met before being traded.

Well, it was fun while it lasted. That club that played .532 ball for 62 games lost its' best pitcher and best healthy hitter for the rest of the season.

The team would go 16-19 over the final 35 games during which Wright only made 10 appearances, Byrd made 2 and Harvey none.

So to summarize the mythical three phases of the Mets season in chart form:

Act

Dates

W-L Pct

Run Diff

Notes:

I

4/1-6/17

25-40 .385

-56

Duda the Butcher + too much Cowgill ...Ankiel/Bax/Valdy

II

6/18-8/24

33-29 .532

+22

Young/Juan/Byrd OF + new Wheels.

III

8/25-end

16-19 .457

-31

Byrd flies the coop/DW & SuperMatt grounded.

So what will the 2014 Mets look like?

Barring big injuries, it's very unlikely they'd resemble the hideous .385 club from Act I. The outfield certainly looks a lot better than the one from last Opening Day and the rest of the position guys are largely the same or have very low baselines that should be easy to match.

How about the .532 squad from Act II? That'd be nice since .532 will get you 86 wins over a full season and a playoff chase. As currently constituted they're down Harvey, Hefner & Byrd from that personnel but have added Grandy, Chris Young and hopefully Wright for a larger percentage of games than he made during Act II last season.

Or are they closer to the .457 crew that closed out Act III? If so, .457 will get you yet another 74 win season. I'll suggest they're better than that. Sure neither roster had/will have Byrd or Harvey but their replacements should be better than their 2013 versions. Granderson/Chris Young should be better than den Dekker/Eric Young. And hopefully there will be a move made for a pitcher that's an upgrade over the Torres/Dice-K level replacements from last September.

But how about we look at Acts II & III combined:

Act

Dates

W-L Pct

Run Diff

Notes:

II + III

97 games

49-48 .505

-9

No Wright for 45 of those 97. No Byrd for 33/97. No Harvey for 35/97

Look at that. A .500-ish club even though they played 45 of those games without Wright, 35 without Harvey and 33 without Byrd.

With a little luck and a lot of good health - you could argue that the Mets are a .500 club without any further moves. For that to be the case you'd have to accept the following formula:

97 games Grandy + 97 games Chris Young + 97 games Wright + 18 starts Montero

EQUALS

(64 games Byrd + 33 games MDD) + 97 games Eric Young + (42 games Wright + 45 games Flores/Satin) + (12 starts Harvey + 6 starts Torres/Daisuke)

That would also assume that none of the other guys regressed. On offense that would be Duda, Murphy, Quintanilla, Lagares, d'Arnaud. Two of the five baselines are so low that it's easy to imagine significant improvement. Two could regress and one could go either way.

2013 wRC+

Steamer

Oliver

2nd Half Shortstops

66

Tejada - 87

Tejada - 78

Travis d'Arnaud

60

108

102

Juan Lagares

75

84

82

Daniel Murphy

106

105

106

Lucas Duda

120

110

109

Total

427

494

447

Well according to projection systems - in the aggregate we should improve offensively at those four positions. The projected 10% slippage from Duda is more than offset by expected dramatic improvement from d'Arnaud, substantial improvement by Tejada from the crazy low baseline set by last season's shortstops and about a 10% expected improvement by Juan Lagares. If you add up the average of the projected wRC+s you get an average improvement of 11.7% for each of those five slots! That's massive improvement.

And imagine how much better those numbers might look if Sandy could acquire a league average shortstop.

Of course, those are only projections so don't open a playoff ticket lay-a-way account just yet. I'm not really sure how to do similar exercise for pitchers - especially since two of the rotation slots are still up for grabs. But we can look at projections for Niese, Wheeler & Gee.

2013 FIP

Steamer FIP

Oliver FIP

Jon Niese

3.58

3.59

3.54

Zack Wheeler

4.17

4.00

4.13

Dillon Gee

4.00

3.92

4.08

The projection systems don't publish xFIP so I had to use FIP - and based on FIP the projections basically expect more of the same from the three pitchers we believe are locked in. More good news.

The loss of Harvey will certainly be a big blow but many of you will recall that the Mets only went 13-13 in his starts. While it's far too simplistic to say all the Mets need to do is replace him with a .500 hurler, it's important to remember that you don't win every well pitched game and you don't lose every poorly pitched one. And most importantly, the fact that he wasn't able to take the ball for a full fifth of the season means the baseline impact of his loss is not as great as it would be had he made 33 starts.

So if you accept that the personnel that made up the Act I Mets of 2013 was dramatically enough different from the club that played the final 97 games that the two "clubs" had little to do with each other - then it's very easy to believe that this is at least a .500 club if it can remain healthy.

It's very hard to argue that this is another 74 win club that can "only" improve to 78 wins if they make "some good moves." To make that argument you have to completely reject the fact that the team played .500 ball for nearly 100 games after making dramatic changes to last season's opening day lineup. Of course, you're free to do so but it would seem the Mets are much more likely to approach 10 more wins than 6 more losses. And Sandy ain't done yet.


This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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