NORTH PORT, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves plays defense at first base in the third inning of a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at CoolToday Park on February 22, 2020 in North Port, Florida. The Braves defeated the Orioles 5-0. New York Mets
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The New York Mets’ schedule may be easier than previously thought. A number of their opponents have lost key players due to COVID-19.

The New York Mets reside in the National League East, the hardest division in baseball. No other division in MLB finished 2019 with four teams with a .500 record or better. The NL East also boasts the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals.

Well, the division may not be as grand in 2020. A number of stars have contracted COVID-19 or have opted out of playing this season. Among those who have opted out are the Atlanta Braves’ Nick Markakis and Felix Hernandez, and Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross of the Washington Nationals.

An even larger number have contracted the disease. The Braves have lost Freddie Freeman, Touki Toussaint, and Will Smith. The Nationals have lost two unidentified players. Meanwhile, the Phillies have lost a league-leading eight players to COVID-19, the most prominent among them being Aaron Nola, Hector Neris, and Scott Kingery.

The Mets only have one player who has contracted COVID-19 and the team has said they don’t expect any players to opt-out. That gives the Amazins a distinct advantage heading into the season over their main competition.

It doesn’t stop there though. The Mets will also have to play the American League East in 2019 and some of their stars have also contracted the disease.

The New York Yankees have lost DJ Lemahieu. The Red Sox have also lost two relievers from their already weak bullpen.

The road to the playoffs is still going to be a tough one for the Mets, but for the first time in a long time, it seems like health is their one big advantage. However, remember that players reserve the right to change their minds.

Markakis had no plans to opt-out until he saw how sick Freeman was. It could just take one Mets’ player getting sick for everything to change. That said, at least one New York Met doesn’t think that’ll be an issue.

Hopefully, MLB can figure out how to provide a safe environment for the players and drive infections down league-wide. The health and safety of the players and team personnel should be the top priority.

With that said, it’s impossible to overlook the competitive advantage the Mets are gaining by staying healthy.

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