Part II can be found here.
The Kansas City Royals are really starting to rub me the wrong way. Not because they did anything "wrong", but it has just been a while since the Mets have won a ball game and the Royals keep getting in the way. Stupid Wade Davis and his incredible baseball ability. Yech.
With two days off until the next game, the fanbase will undoubtedly be festering. Strikeout-expert David Wrong and lousy Matt Harvey, The Dark Knight of Bumville, are already being blamed for the inevitable 0-162 season. If you came here looking for hope and positive outlooks (some might say "realism" with a group as talented as this year's team), not only did you click the wrong link, you're rooting for the wrong team. Instead, try this nice PECOTA projection that has our heroes winning 123 games.
However, you did come to the right place if you're looking for logical extremes, objectively bad MSPaintz, and a world where Antonio Bastardo and Jerry Blevins become co-player-managers and subsequently run the team into the ground.
In Part I, I'll cover what the standings and Mets pitching would look like in this dark, alternate universe that is about to form. Part II, coming soon, will feature Mets position players and their exploits in the field and at bat.
Columnists and sports pundits have heralded the Mets this spring. The brilliant starting pitching will get a full season together. Jeurys Familia has emerged as valuable and reliable as any closer in the league. From the 2015 Opening Day, John Mayberry Jr. and Michael Cuddyer have been replaced in the current version with Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto. Things are looking good. There is reason to be optimistic.
However, this is the Mets we’re talking about. The franchise with the GM who refers to fans and beat writers as "residents of Panic City." Being one of the favorites is an uncomfortable dynamic for a franchise born in tragicomedy. Remember 2009?
This is one for the pessimists.
We all know spring training doesn’t matter. For the most part. Sometimes it does. But it doesn’t really matter. Except when it might possibly matter in certain circumstances. Still, it’s hard to say a team’s win-loss record, for example, truly matters when the games and lineups are fake and the pitching staff is being used in a completely different way than what will actually occur in the regular season.
There are minor league players to test out, positional assignments to play with, and junk ball pitches to throw. Players guaranteed to be on the 25-man roster are likely not going 100% and even those that are fighting for a major league assignment, might not be giving it their all either.
There are split squad games, ace pitchers throwing two or three innings, and AAAA talent who get more at-bats than your Opening Day lineup. Everyone is tweaking some aspect of their game and the box scores at the end of each day should not be taken at face value. Spring training performance is usually not indicative of a team’s performance during the regular season.
But what if it was?
The Mets were noticeably bad this spring training. They went winless the last fifteen games before the finale in Las Vegas and finished near the bottom of the meaningless Grapefruit League standings. Only Pittsburgh and Atlanta finished with a worse winning percentage across all 30 MLB camps.
This has caused minor concern among fans because 1. no one likes losing and 2. some key contributors from last season’s pennant victory have struggled in these games-that-do-not-count. Jacob deGrom’s velocity is down, Matt Harvey allowed ten earned runs in twelve innings pitched, and Jeurys Familia blew a save. Clearly those guys are better than their respective March performances and if you do not believe that, rewind your minds to six months ago when the Mets won the pennant.
But what if performance in games-that-do-count means nothing? And performance in-games-that-don’t-count means everything? What would happen if spring training performances and win-loss records were actually a perfect indicator of how a season would play out?
It. Would. Suck.
A Historically Disparate Baseball Season
The Cardinals won 100 games last season. Before them, the last team to hit triple digits in the win column was the 2011 Phillies with 102 victories. Only six teams have ever won 110 games or more: the 1927 Yankees (110), the 1909 Pirates (110), the 1954 Indians (111), the 1998 Yankees (114), the 1906 Cubs (115), and the 2001 Mariners (116). The ’06 Cubs and ’09 Pirates did it in 154 games, the ‘27 Yankees did it in 155 games, and the ’54 Indians did it in 156 games. Not that it really matters. Winning 100+ games in a single season is impressive, regardless of the number of games played.
Which is why it is insane that not only will 2016 completely blow away the record for most wins, but include four of the top ten teams ever and seven teams with 100+ wins. The most 100 win teams in a single season currently is three, which has occurred five times (1942, 1977, 1998, 2002, 2003).
|2. Tampa Bay||78||84||0.481||32||-||-|
|3. NY Yankees||75||87||0.463||35||-||-|
|2. Detroit||100||62||0.617||3||WC||4 or 5|
|4. Chi White Sox||92||70||0.568||11||-||-|
|5. Kansas City||65||97||0.401||38||-||-|
|1. LA Angels||111||51||0.685||-||D||2|
|2. Houston||100||62||0.617||11||WC||4 or 5|
|4. NY Mets||54||108||0.333||78||-||-|
|3. St. Louis||73||88||0.451||8||-||-|
|4. Chi Cubs||63||99||0.389||18||-||-|
|3. LA Dodgers||71||91||0.438||49||-||-|
|4. San Francisco||64||98||0.395||56||-||-|
|5. San Diego||53||109||0.327||67||-||-
Not quite unlike the 2015-16 season the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs are having right now in the NBA, the 2016 Nationals (132-30 (yech)) and the 2016 Diamondbacks (120-42) will be ranked among the best teams ever. In the win column, they will be 1 and 2 all time, with the 2001 Mariners in a distant third.
Meanwhile our beloved Mets, with their record of 54-108, will be only the fourth-worst team in all of baseball. The Braves (41-121), Pirates (45-117), and Padres (53-109) will all hold worst records with the Braves coming dangerously close to tying the 1962 Mets’ record of marvelous ineptitude. Technically, this ’16 Braves team would lose one more game than the ’62 Mets (40-120), but their winning percentage of .253 is .003 better. Small victories I suppose.
So how did the league get here? The two teams in the 2015 World Series finish 38 and 78 games out of first place in their divisions. The Phillies miraculously and frustratingly win 93 games. The Diamondbacks, who are everyone’s favorite team to discount, win 120 games. The Nationals win 132. Two 100-win teams hold the American League Wild Card spots and two 90-win teams completely miss out of the playoffs, while the 81-81 Cincinnati Reds somehow win their division.
This is what happens when you take the worries over spring training performance to its (il)logical extreme.
If you take the Mets spring training record this March (8-17-5) and extrapolate it over 162 regular season games you get a record of 39.10-94.96-27.93. Or 39-95-28 if you round appropriately since you can’t have a tenth of a win or 93% of a tie.
There is also no tying in baseball, regardless of what Bud Selig and spring baseball might lead you to believe. So where do those 28 ties go? Well putting them in the win column does little for Mets’ playoff hopes and the sanity of the fans. 67-95 is still a very, very bad baseball team. 2015 Atlanta Braves bad. In fact, the only teams with a worse record in 2015 would be the Braves (same record), Reds (64-98), and the Phillies (63-99).
But it would also be unrealistic to say the Mets (and all the other teams) would lose all of their "ties". Not that anything about this exercise is particularly sound in its methodology. Extra inning baseball is pretty much a crapshoot anyway, but bad teams usually lose more than they win (duh). A good indication of who’s going to win a baseball game is how many runs they score and how many runs they allow (also duh).
This spring training, the Mets scored 130 runs and allowed 163, according to MLB.com. Plug that into the Pythagorean win-loss expectation (runs scored^2/(runs scored^2)+(runs allowed^2)) and you get a winning percentage of roughly .389. Applied to the Mets’ five spring training ties, you get a rounded record of 2-3. Add those totals to the win-loss column and stretch it out over 162 games and you get a final record of 54-108.
The spreadsheet I used to calculate all this can be found here. Feel free to check my math, but I believe it makes sense within the nonsensical parameters I defined for myself.
Also note that these records would likely not match up to the 2016 scheduling. There is inevitably going to be some conflict, but figuring out how to incorporate scheduling into my calculations was a step past what I was willing to explore.
Observations based off wins and losses
- Dusty Baker for Manager of the Year.
- This even year is not one for the Giants (64-98).
- Terry Collins, John Farrell of the Red Sox, Don Mattingly of the Dodgers, and quite a few other managers will likely lose their jobs. It’s hard to say the sources of these teams struggles because this is all made up, but it could likely be accredited to injury. As expanded on below with the Mets roster, limited playing time in spring training means limited playing time in the regular season and a significant playing time for AAAA talent and minor leaguers. Barring a talent drop off across the board, injuries are the only explanation for why a team like the Mets would not succeed this coming season. And while it’s usually hard to blame management for injuries, fans and organizations hate losing. There would definitely be a record number of manager firings in this 2016 season.
- This playoffs would actually be fun to watch. Obviously the disappointment over the Mets being excluded would suck, but with how bad it looks from this record, the season would be over by July. Once fans got past that, October would be a lot of fun. The most talented and marketable stars in baseball would be leading dominant teams into the playoffs. Paul Goldshmidt, Zach Grienke, and maybe a quickly returning AJ Pollock winning 120 games for the Diamondbacks. Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Troy Tulowitzki powering the 110-win Blue Jays to an AL East championship. Mike Trout and Albert Puljos in the national spotlight with the 111-win Angels. And yes, Bryce Harper and his stupid Nationals would lay claim to the Best Team Ever accolade. Yech.
- Boo the Phillies. Even in this made-up world of illogical and fake baseball I hate them for their success. Reality will be so much sweeter than this nightmarish alternate universe. Yech.
Some "fun" facts:
- The 2016 Nationals would be the only team ever with a winning percentage over .800. Yech.
- The Cincinnati Reds (somehow) would manage to get to an 81-81 record, making them the only .500 ball club to make the playoffs. The 2005 Padres (82-80) and the 1973 Mets (82-79) currently rank as the playoff teams with the worst regular season record. Reds fans: Ya’ Gotta Believe
- Only two teams have ever won the World Series and then followed up with a last place finish the following year: The 1998 Marlins and the 2014 Red Sox. The 2016 Royals (67-95, 5th in AL Central) would join the club, finally proving PECOTA right. Absurdly, they would only have the second worst post-World Series record after the ’98 Marlins (54-108). What a franchise.
The Mets 2016 Pitching Staff
Wow that's a big table. Originally it was even bigger with all those dang decimal places. I rounded (somewhat arbitrarily) and cut a few categories, but the full data set can be found here.
It really is sickening to look these stats over. So much would have to go wrong for the Mets to end up like this. And if you take individual player statistics from spring training and expand them over a full season, you can see what went wrong and fill in the blanks elsewhere. There would be lot of bad players getting a lot of playing time in this horrid 2016.
- Innings pitched (IP) for each pitcher was calculated thusly:
(SpringTrainingIP/TeamSpringTrainingIP) x 1445
- Wordily, it is the ratio of individual IP in spring training compared to the total IP by all Mets in spring training and then multiplied by 1445. 1445 is roughly the number of innings pitched per season by yoiur average MLB staff.
- Most stats were then calculated like this:
(Spring Training Stat/Spring Training IP) x 2016 IP.
- Or, strikeouts per Spring Training IP multiplied by a full season of IP.
- WHIP, ERA, and opponent OPS were all recalculated using the new data, but they should be essentially identical to the spring training WHIP/ERA/OPS for obvious reasons.
- Since there were no complete games or shutouts during spring training, there will be none for the 2016 Mets pitching staff. Also no balks.
- Jeurys Familia did not have a good spring, so brace for that. But his intentional walk to Carlos Peguero of the St. Louis Cardinals in a tie this spring was the only intentional walk issued all spring by Mets pitching. Over a 162 game season, that only comes out to about 6 IBB (all from Familia) which would set the Major League record for least amount of intentional walks since the stat was first tracked in 1955.
- Another record: the 2016 Mets will blow 60 saves. The current holder of this ignominious record is the 2001 Rockies with 34. Because this Mets team will be using quite a few pitchers and see almost no long outings from the starters, they will also set the MLB record for Holds at 142. The 2015 Giants and 2015 Rays broke the previous record of 110 (The 2010 Padres) with 116 and 113, respectively. Both stats began being tracked relatively recently, but with the rise of bullpen use and the absurdity that is this exercise it is safe to assume 142 will hold.
- The 2016 Mets staff ERA of 5.01 is not only abysmal, it would be the second worst in franchise history after the ’62 Mets (.504). Their WHIP (1.44) would tie with the ’82 Mets for fourth worst in franchise history, after the ’62 Mets, ’03 Mets, and ’09 Mets respectively.
- The Mets cut 38-year-old Buddy Carlyle at the end of camp this spring. He has yet to sign on with another team, likely because of his age and his 8.10 ERA in Grapefruit League play. Unfortunately for the 2016 Mets, that ERA came as the righty made the 10th most appearances for the spring squad. When Carlyle inevitably rejoins the team, he will pitching in 35.2 innings over 38 games with his marvelous 8.10 ERA and 2.10 WHIP.
- The total number of wins and losses doesn't match up with the record I calculated before, but I believe that is caused by not rewarding the "tie" decisions to a specific pitcher and not an error in the math.
- Zach Wheeler did not pitch in an official, fake spring training game therefore he will not pitch in a fake, official regular season game. Presumably because of some horrid re-injuring of his arm and poorly thought out boot-implementation.
In this 2016 season, the Mets will use 11 starters.. Which is not even that bad. When the original starting five consists of four aces and Bartolo Colon, one would hope that you could rely on them for 30 starts a piece, but injuries and other unforeseen events do happen. This model has Logan Verrett and Sean Gilmartin starting 11 games each, which is a lot, but not the end of the world. They are the (real) Mets’ starting depth going into this season.
After that it gets a lot worse.
Rafael Montero somehow manages to start six games and come in as relief in five others. His spring was particularly bad so his total innings pitched across a full season comes out to only be 11. He will average 1 IP, 3 hits, 2.7 runs, and 1 walk per major league appearance this season. I mean, I get it. Maybe the Mets are in a tight spot and do a game-by-committee kind of thing. But to start the man six times and get an inning or less each outing? Whoever is still making decisions at that point should be fired.
Paul Sewald, the 25-year-old righty drafted by the Mets in 2012, also starts 6 games for the Mets in 2016. While Sewald has shown promise as a reliever in the minor leagues, he has yet to pitch at a major league level. Also he’s shown promise as a reliever. Not a starter. Why is he starting six games for the Mets? Because he started one this spring training. Blame Terry Collins’s sentimental nature and Jacob deGrom’s paternal instinct. Also funky simulations and spring training statistics.
2015 Bartolo Colon: 14-13, 31 GS, 194.2 IP, 4.16 ERA, 3.84 FIP, .741 OPS, 6.29 K/9, 1.11 BB/9
2016 Bartolo Colon: 6-11, 27 GS, 129.2 IP, 6.08 ERA, 4.44 FIP, .874 OPS, 7.61 K/9, 0.39 BB/9
- Perhaps Bartolo’s most important job is as an innings eater. At 42, no one expects him to strike out ten batters every fifth day, but 200 quality innings pitched from a fifth starter is an incredible asset to have. That asset is not there in 2016, as Bartolo gets clobbered for runs in about sixty less innings pitched than in 2015.
- One of the best things about the (real) Bartolo Colon is that he does not walk batters. From 2013-2015, no starting pitcher walked less per nine innings than Bartolo. In 2016, his six walks would give him a rate of 0.39 BB/9. According to Fangraphs, that would put him with 2005 Carlos Silva (0.43) as the only two pitchers to post a sub-0.5 BB/9 rate among players who did not pitch in the 1870s and who pitched at least 100 innings. Quite a mouthful, but an impressive highlight in a miserable stat line. Even if you include all the Candy Cummings and Cherokee Fishers of the 19th century, only 33 pitchers have ever accomplished such a low rate.
2015 Steven Matz: 4-0, 6 GS, 35.2 IP, 2.27 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, .246 AVG, 8.58 K/9, 2.52 BB/9
2016 Steven Matz: 6-11, 27 GS, 129.2 IP, 4.94 ERA, 3.56 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, .186 AVG, 7.99 K/9, 4.94 BB/9
- Oddly enough, in Matz’s first full season, he puts up nearly identical stats in significant areas. His FIP, WHIP, and K/9 numbers are relatively constant. Batters are not hitting him nearly as well, but his walks skyrocket and his ERA goes up by almost three runs. His 2015 small sample size was small, but the Mets definitely had higher hopes for him then this. No Rookie of the Year for young Steven, at least in this universe.
2015 Noah Syndergaard: 9-7, 24 GS, 150.0 IP, 3.24 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 1.05 WHIP, .221 AVG, 9.96 K/9, 1.86 BB/9
2016 Noah Syndergaard: 0-0, 22 GS, 113.0 IP, 2.61 ERA, 1.97 FIP, 1.06 WHIP, .273 AVG, 8.71 K/9, 0.44 BB/9
- So, uh, yeah. Noah Syndergaard would be a very good pitcher on a very bad team. His inning count is unfortunately low and he is slated to make five relief appearances at some point. This understandably means his full potential will not yet be realized in his sophomore effort. The ace pitcher that he could become is definitely reflected in his stat line. Including…
- His walk rate! Would you look at that! Syndergaard’s 2016 effort places him alongside Colon, Silva, and 32 pitchers from the 1800s who walked less than half a batter every 9 innings! Silver linings people.
- Syndergaard would also join (and surpass) Bert Blyleven with 20+ starts without a decision credited one way or the other. Blyleven, bless his critically underrated soul, had a no-decision in 20 of his 37 starts in 1979.
- I fear for Syndergaard’s hair. While his 22 consecutive no-decision starts is statistically impressive, it would be unsurprising to see our Norse hero tearing his hair out in the dugout each fifth day.
2015 Jacob deGrom: 14-8, 30 GS, 191 IP, 2.54 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 0.98 WHIP, .210 AVG, 9.66 K/9, 1.79 BB/9
2016 Jacob deGrom: 6-0, 22 GS, 91.1 IP, 1.62 ERA, 1.69 FIP, 0.90 WHIP, .217 AVG, 8.10 K/9, 1.08 BB/9
- For some reason, Jacob deGrom does not pitch a lot in 2016. His 91.1 innings is 100 less than the year before. When he does pitch, he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball. Which is also what it is like in reality. His projected FIP, WHIP, and ERA would have topped the charts in 2015, and likely would again in 2016 if he could stay on the field. Clearly, with all the Mets pitchers missing time, there is some kind of flu or something going around.
- His BB/9, while not quite as impressive as 2016 Colon or Matz, still would have lead the league in 2015. Hm. Must be something about the quality of spring training competition.
2015 Matt Harvey: 13-8, 29 GS, 189.1 IP, 2.71 ERA, 3.05, FIP, 1.02 WHIP, .219 AVG, 8.94 K/9, 1.76 BB/9
2016 Matt Harvey: 6-11, 22 GS, 65.2 IP, 7.50 ERA, 6.05 FIP, 0.90 WHIP, .217 AVG, 8.10 K/9, 1.08 BB/9
- Averaging 3 IP per appearance, Matt Harvey registers an abysmal 6-11 record and ends his season in early August. The Mets season has long been lost at this point and something is clearly wrong with The Dark Knight. Scott Boras scott-borases irritatingly! Dr. James Andrew goes into hiding! Dan Warthen hijacks the team plane, never to be seen again! New York Post backpages run for eight days straight with nothing but a picture of Matt Harvey and the word "penis" printed repeatedly in different fonts and sizes! Mike Francesca falls asleep at the microphone! Adam Rubin quits his job and becomes the full-time PR guy for that high school basketball team he likes!
- At least the Yankees probably won’t sign him now.
In total, accounting for both starters and relievers, the Mets will use 33 pitchers in 2016. Colon and Matz will both throw 129.2 innings to lead the pack and Can-Am league transplant Kyle Regnault will somehow manage to throw 1.2 innings over 5 games without allowing a single base runner. Nice job Kyle!
Antonio Bastardo and Jerry Blevins will lead all pitchers with 71 appearances. Both will pitch terribly, as reflected in their spring training stat line. Hansel Robles will also be bad. It is going to be rough.
2015 Jeurys Familia: 76 G, 78.0 IP, 43-48 SV, 1.85 ERA, 2.74 FIP, 1.00 WHIP, .206 AVG, 9.92 K/9, 2.19 BB/9
2016 Jeurys Familia: 60 G, 54.2 IP, 0-5 SV, 5.40 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 1.50 WHIP, 2.68 AVG, 11.7 K/9, 3.6 BB/9
- For all the blown saves the Mets will have in 2016, Familia is responsible for surprisingly few of them. For some reason, the emerging top-5 closer will only be used in save situations five times in his sixty appearances. Clearly Familia, who was not strong this spring, is set to have a worse season than 2015. Still, you would hope after Antonio Bastardo's 10th or 11th blown save you would switch back or something. My god.
2015 Antonio Bastardo: 66 G, 57.1 IP, 1-2 SV, 2.98 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, .186 AVG, 10.05 K/9, 4.08 BB/9
2016 Antonio Bastardo: 71 G, 62 IP, 0-16 SV, 5.56 ERA, 5.00 FIP, 1.59 WHIP, .289 AVG, 6.35 K/9, 3.97 BB/9
- The most blown saves last season was 7. The most blown saves in a single season is 13, by Bob Stanley of the 1983 Red Sox. But Bob also had 33 saves. My money is on Terry getting fired mid-season and Antonio Bastardo being appointed player-manager. How else do you explain no Familia and all Bastardo? Jerry Blevins also goes 0-11 in save opportunities, so maybe they will be co-player managers? Yech.
- Also, if you were worried about Bastardo's (real) upcoming season, I hope this helps. :)
2015 Hansel Robles: 57 G, 54.0 IP, 3.67 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 1.02 WHIP, .188 AVG, 10.17 K/9, 3.00 BB/9
2016 Hansel Robles: 66 G, 64.2 IP, 4.63 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 1.54 WHIP, .250 AVG, 11.57 K/9, 4.63 BB.9
- Hansel so cold right now. :(
2015 Jim Henderson (Brewers AAA): 29 G, 29.2 IP, 2 SV, 4.55 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, .270 AVG, 7.58 K/9, 5.16 BB/9
2016 Jim Henderson: 66 G, 58.1 IP, 0-0 SV, 1.69 ERA, 1.26 FIP, 0.84 WHIP, .205 AVG, 10.97 K/9, .84 BB/9
- One of the few bright spots in this abysmal bullpen, this signing would be the steal of the year if the 33-year-old actually performed anywhere close to this level. That stat line is All-Star, best-reliever-in-baseball stuff.
- Which Jim Henderson is not. He had a good spring, but a good spring (or a bad one) is not an indicator of regular season success. And if you haven't gotten that by now, after 6,000 words, well you are more foolish than co-player-managers Antonio Bastardo and Jerry Blevins.
2015 Addison Reed: 55 G, 56.0 IP, 4-8 SV, 3.38 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, .261 AVG, 8.20 K/9, 3.05 BB/9
2016 Addison Reed: 60 G, 58.1 IP, 5-5 SV 2.53 ERA, 2.38 FIP, 1.13 WHIP, .250 AVG, 5.91 K/9, 1.69 BB/9
- Co-player-managers Antonio Bastardo and Jerry Blevins are self-centered fools! Clearly their beef with Jeurys Familia is too much for their pride to overcome, but Addison Reed is the next best option. Shame on you Antonio! Shame on you Jerry!
2015 Logan Verrett: 18 G, 4 GS, 47.2 IP, 1-2 SV, 3.59 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 1.03 WHIP, .197 AVG, 7.36 K/9, 2.83 BB/9
2016 Logan Verrett: 44 G, 11 GS, 85.2 IP, 5-6 SV, 1.15 ERA, 2.28 FIP, 0.83 WHIP, .228 AVG, 4.02 K/9, 0 BB/9
- Logan Verrett with the break out season! He's starting games, he's saving games. Look at that WHIP! That ERA! Not a single walked batter in 85.2 innings! He should start a no walk club with Bartolo, Henderson, and Matz. They could call it "The Gandalf Pitchers Society".