With the regular season right around the corner, we take a peek at what the New York Mets need to do to capture the 2017 NL East crown.
If the New York Mets want to win the NL East in 2017, they’ll have to do these three things …
Every single expert has the Washington Nationals taking the NL East this season. On paper, the Nats are probably the better team — but it’s a whole lot closer than most people think. If the Mets can accomplish these three (fairly simple) things in 2017, the East will be theirs.
Last season felt a lot like the plot of Final Destination; you knew everyone was going down, you just didn’t know when or how.
The Amazins lost pitchers Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz to season-ending injuries, and Zack Wheeler couldn’t find the field yet again. The other side of the ball wasn’t any prettier. David Wright, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker also had season-ending injuries. On top of this, Yoenis Cespedes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Juan Lagares, TDA, and Jose Reyes all missed multiple games due to injury.
To put it into perspective, 60 percent of the Mets opening day infield and 60 percent of the projected rotation were lost for the season. The remarkable thing is they still made the postseason. If the Mets can find a way to stay on the field in 2017, there’s no possible way they fall in win total. The injury-riddled Mets had 87 wins last season. If a majority of the guys who were lost last year are back, you have to figure that number go up by at least 6 or 7.
2. Take advantage of the Braves and Phillies
The Mets went 9-10 against the Braves (68-93) and 12-7 against the Phillies (71-91). That’s a combined total of 21 wins and 17 losses against two teams who combined to go 139-184.
The Nationals, on the other hand, went 15-4 against the Braves and 14-5 against Philadelphia. That’s a 29-9 record, eight games better than the Mets. Washington won the NL East over the Mets by, you guessed it, eight games.
New York also went a combined 2-12 vs the Arizona Diamond Backs and the Colorado Rockies, who both finished the season with under 70 wins.
The Mets have to do a better job against teams in which they own a significant edge in talent against. Whether this is on Collins for not treating these games the same as games against the Cubs or the players for thinking they can give less effort and still beat the sub-par teams, something has to change.
Against these four sub-par ball clubs, the Mets posted a 23-29 record. Realistically, that record very well could have been flipped. So that’s another six wins to add on.
3. Offensive Production Must Improve
Aside from being able to hit home runs, the Mets offensive was putrid last season.
In runs scored, hits, batting average and on-base percentage, the Mets ranked 12-of-15. In total stolen bases, they were second to last. Looking at these statistics alone, it is shocking how the Mets made the postseason. If the Mets want to overtake the Nationals, they must improve in these four categories. Even if they move up to 8-of-15 (still bottom half of the NL), that should be enough run support for the dominant pitching staff.
You can never predict injuries, but, realistically, there is no possible way for the Mets to have worse luck in the injury department in 2017. Having a higher win total against Atlanta, Philly, Arizona and Colorado should not prove too difficult, considering how low the number was in 2016. And with the added depth the Mets now have offensively, the hitting numbers should spike.
The Mets went 87-75 in 2016, eight games behind the Nats. Figuring they stay healthy, adding five wins is appropriate. If the Mets can go just 29-23 against lackluster ball clubs, that’s six more wins. And if the offense gets men on base, you figure the Mets score more; resulting in more wins. Improving on these three tasks really is not that unrealistic to accomplish, considering how poor the Mets did in all of them last season.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself and say the Mets should have a win total close to 100, but the Mets should have a win total close to 100. That will be enough to take the East.