I initially started to reply to a comment from metsgiants3380 on my previous FanPost, but as it started getting a bit wordy and excessive, I decided it had enough to become its own FanPost.
In summary: I was struggling with the idea of putting down $20 on the Mets to win the pennant. The odds are 250/1 and I don’t actually believe they can win the NL all of the sudden, but strange things can happen. ("Strange things" can mean a lot of things. For the Mets? It usually means bad things. Especially the Mets. Always the Mets.)
Metsgiants3380 noted that while it’s good to be optimistic, they’re only playing .500 ball, and they’re still a year out from seriously becoming contenders.
Frankly, I totally agree. They're playing .500 baseball, but I still think that they have better than a 250/1 chance to win the pennant. 250/1 equates to a 0.4% chance. I would estimate a solid 1% for them to win the National League, meaning that the Mets win the pennant once every 100 times in this exact situation. Since I study finance, I'm trained to look at inefficiencies in markets, and this seems inefficient. Is it a long shot? Of course. My 1% assessment is entirely qualitative. If you want to see the actual percentages, head over to sportsclubstats.com, which gives the Mets a 0.2% chance of getting into the playoffs, let alone doing well in the playoffs. My thinking here is that if the Mets somehow get into the playoffs, they will do so by suddenly transforming into a super-hot streaky team. If they can beat the odds and make the playoffs, they will be the hottest team in baseball and the most difficult to eliminate.
To become contenders in future years, they will need to make up for the anticipated loss of production from Marlon Byrd (be it from free agency or old age) and take a further step forward. The playoff threshold is around 92 wins. Let’s assume a baseline 81 win pace in 2014, meaning that they would win 81 games and lose 81 games if the Mets continued their current performance over the entire 2014 season. How can they make up those 11 wins? Byrd has provided a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) this year of 3.9. So now, we’re looking to calculate an additional 15 wins. From the onset, the Mets anticipate natural growth. Since the cornerstones of the team are so young, it’s safe to assume an increase. How much of an increase? Let’s break it down.
I want to use Dillon Gee as a model of progression. He went from a 0.3 WAR in 2011 to 0.7 in 2012, to 2.0 in 2013. He has more than doubled his output each year while playing a substantial amount of games. As we have all witnessed, he has put of steady progression and still looks to be getting better. Matt Harvey has posted a WAR of 5.4 with a month left to play, so it’s unlikely any pitcher goes much higher than that. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that Gee picks up another game. So now we still need to make up 14 wins.
So far, Zack Wheeler has provided 0.8 WAR. Watching him play, it would be relatively safe to assume that he will be a "good player" over the course of an entire future season. I’ll be conservative and peg him at a 3.0 WAR. It remains to be seen how Wheeler will fair in 2015 and beyond. Your guess is as good as mine. This increase brings us to 12 more wins to go. Over 54 games played for the Mets, Eric Young, Jr. has put up a riveting 0.0 WAR. Since WAR takes into account how much someone actually plays, it’s safe to assume an increase. But how much? I would peg him between "role player" and "solid starter." You guessed it, 2 wins it is.
Ten more to go! For those keeping track, the Mets just broke the .500 marker. Good hustle all around, guys. Juan Lagares has provided us with a 2.9 WAR so far. Let’s be optimistic and keep that constant. I’m going to take a few more arbitrary assumptions. Travis d’Arnaud, at a whopping 0.0 WAR ups that to 1.0. Jon Niese actually makes a contribution at 1.0, conservatively. Jenrry Mejia goes from 0.6 to 1.6 for the sake of my algebra. You can make arguments for Wilmer Flores or Ike Davis, but I’m still unsure what to do with them. Add it all up and you get 85 wins before any signings. That sounds reasonable, right?
These Mets have added eight wins and need an additional seven wins to hit the playoffs. Meanwhile, they have plenty of cash to spend... allegedly. From 2009-10, Shin-Soo Choo put up a WAR of 5+. That seems a little far off, but he can still contribute a solid 3.0. So I guess that could be a way of plugging the forthcoming gap in right field. Elvis Andrus can also contribute 3.0. So with those two additions, the Mets hit 91 wins and are fighting for a playoff spot. Maybe they young guns contribute more than I gave them credit for, and instead of adding eight wins, they add twelve. That gives them 89 wins just on their growth alone. Fiddle around with your assumptions and you can get anywhere. If the Mets trade Ike Davis and ten dozen pizza pies for Mike Trout and his 10+ WAR, they're right there.
This season just needs a scorching hot streak to put them into conversation, and if the team youngsters experience substantial sustained improvement over the next few days, who knows what can happen? If they go 30-6, they’ll have a fighting shot!
Statistics taken from ESPN.com, WAR Chart taken from FanGraphs.com