HomeTeamsMetsThe Mets Are Who We Think They Are

The Mets Are Who We Think They Are

We’re just two weeks into the season and already the Mets have looked like a last place team trying to find its way, and a postseason contender who can never be counted out of a game. This adds up to a team that right around .500, and at 5-7, that seems about right.

Before the season started, the range of projections of the Mets final record was not especially wide. It would be hard to find an outlet that had expectations any better than 84 wins or any worse than 83 losses, and an even .500 record of 81-81 was a common prediction. After the first five games of the season, all losses, even .500 seemed like a lofty goal. The Mets return to Citi Field tomorrow to begin their fifth series of the year. They have a 5-7 record after losing both of their two home series and winning their both of their two series on the road.

If the expectations were higher for this team, it would be easy to look at the team from these first two weeks and think that they’re just trying to “find their footing.” Similarly, if the expectations were lower, it might be possible to take away from these games that the Mets are perhaps better than we thought. In the end though, they are playing very much like they’d been expected to play, and it seems quite possible that this will be the trend all year.

This is probably an important point to keep in mind whenever this team goes through a cold streak, like the opening week against the Brewers and Tigers, or a warmer streak, like this past road trip in Cincinnati and Atlanta. In their opening home stand, the Mets scored a total of 13 runs in 6 games, with 6 of those runs coming in a 7-6 loss to the Brewers in the second game of the season. They were 1-hit on Opening Day and shut out in their first game against the Tigers. At that point, it was nearly impossible to imagine them having a series like they just played against the Atlanta Braves, where they scored a total of 29 runs in 3 games, including Thursday’s 16-run outburst. It was understandable that after the first homestand, fans were bracing themselves for one of the worst Mets seasons in recent history. Similarly, it would be similarly fathomable if fans looked at the Braves series as an indication that the Mets are coming out of their early-season slump. Chances are though that it’s neither.

If you look beyond the offensive extremes, you’ll notice what is more likely the sign of a team that will hover around .500 – almost every one of the Mets games so far this year has been, by definition, close. Aside from the 16-4 victory over the Braves and 5-0 shutout at the hands (paws?) of the Tigers, the Mets have had five 1-run finishes, two 2-run finishes, and three 3-run finishes. This indicates a pattern that we’re likely to see all year: the Mets will be in all games and will win about half of them.

This all-or-nothing approach plays out with the specific members of the team as well. While there are a few players who have started out playing consistently, like the youngsters Brett Baty and Francisco Alvarez, most of the Mets hitters have oscillated between games that look like slump exemplifications and others that appear to be slump breakers. While it’s not worth getting too deep into statistics at this point in the year, there are interesting things to point out. DJ Stewart has 2 hits all seasons, both for home runs, and clutch ones at that. Similarly, Francisco Lindor, who leads the Mets in at-bats, only has 5 hits, and has gone hitless in two thirds of the team’s games so far.

Throughout baseball there have been relatively few surprises in the opening weeks. Most of the teams are already playing to their expectations. The Dodgers, Yankees, and Orioles have been good. The Marlins, Rockies, and White Sox have not. Many of the early-season home run leaders are familiar names. And a bunch of the most notoriously injury-prone players are already on the IL, some for an extended period of time. The Mets Jekyll and Hyde start fits that mold as well, and right now it’s hard to imagine anything different.

Shai Kushner
Shai Kushnerhttps://mlbreport.com/
Shai Kushner, is a seasoned sports journalist and versatile professional deeply embedded in the world of baseball. Since 2014, Shai has been a trusted voice covering the New York Mets for BaseballDigest.com and GothamBaseball.com. Before his journalism career, he served as a video engineer for the Mets Baseball Operations department.


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