Are the Mets Any Good?

The short answer is that I have no idea. But here’s a little bit about the difference between their runs scored and runs allowed this season.

The Mets have won an inordinate number of close games this season: They’re 11-3 in one-or-two run games. They have not fared as well in blowouts, 0-5 in games decided by six or more runs.

Because the Mets have won so many close games and lost a number of blowouts, they have been outscored by 18 runs. Over the course of a full season, it’s difficult for a team to have a winning record and allow more runs than they score. In the last five seasons, only six teams ā€“ the 2011 Giants, the 2009 Tigers and Mariners, the 2008 Astros, and the 2007 Diamondbacks and Mariners ā€“ were able to do just that, and only the Diamondbacks topped 88 games and made the postseason. Basically, good teams tend to blow out bad teams, the reverse rarely happens, and close games go either way. So if this Mets team isn’t blowing anyone out . . .

Think of it like the Knicks-Heat games over the last two seasons: Miami has taken nine of the 12 meetings, and the Heat have won by margins of eight, eight, ten, ten, 12, 14, 17, 22, and 33 points. Meanwhile, the Knick’s three victories against the Heat came by two, five, and five points. Maybe you could argue the Knicks are better at winning close games. But would anyone argue that the Knicks are better than the Heat? When everything clicks for Miami, they win a blowout. When everything clicks for New York, they win by five in the last minute.

The scoring in the Mets’ season has followed a similar pattern. They win the close ones (of their 18 wins, 14 have come by one, two, or three runs) and lose the blowouts (of their 13 losses, nine have come by four or more runs). That type of scoring pattern tends to be unsustainable, because teams that only win close games and then lose blowouts tend to prove less talented than their opponents in the long run. If the Mets are outscored by 18 runs over their next 31 games, they probably won’t go 18-13 again.

On the other hand, it’s only 31 games, so small sample size warnings still apply. We’re at the point in the season where you can find the numbers to support any argument regarding a team or a player or whatever. The Mets are both good and not good, so you’ll just have to poison a cat in a box to find out which.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Are the Mets Any Good?

  1. well, it depends really. Are they winning the close games because they’re not playing well but managing to hang on? or are they hitting hot streaks and that’s the best they can do?

    I think it’s more likely given that Ike Davis has left a basketball team worth of runners on every game that the Mets will indeed blow some teams out.

    but I’m not sure it’s a simple as good teams blow others out. I think the blow outs fall under the “you lose some, you win some, it’s the other games that really matter” adage. You’re gonna blow teams out. bad teams do it. good teams do it. you’ll get blown out. it happens. It’s the murky inbetween that plays.

    It’s a lot of luck and randomness and just statistical anomalous. Mets relievers are bunching their bad performances. fielders are bunching their errors. The Mets are getting their hits with runners on and 2 out rather than with no one on.

    I think it’s still impossible to tell how things are going to level out. Sure, they’ll stop getting every hit with 2 outs, but maybe they’ll stop grounding into double plays with 1 out. maybe they’ll get more 0-out bloops and blasts.

    • Patrick Flood

      Right, bad teams sometimes blow out good teams. It almost never happens in football and rarely in basketball, but sometimes it does happen in baseball. In general though, good baseball teams score more runs than their opponents over the course of a season.

      • I think it’s actually saying the opposite. The Mets are not/were not playing well and still winning.

        Is there numbers behind the blowing out bit? There is just sooo much randomness in baseball. Mets just beat the Phillies 22-12. But then, the Phillies are a last place team. The Rockies are not a good team, but blew out the Mets in one game and just barely lost the other two (28-22) They were 11-10 with the blow out. Good team at the time?

        What about the Astros? They won a series against the Cardinals right after the Mets, but they’re clearly a bad team.

        It’s too hard, especially in a 31 game sample, to really derive anything. Factor in that it’s really hard to predict when you’re going to a play a team on fire and I’m not sure it’s worth anything.

        Transcendent performances are hard to analyze. Phil Humber probably ends up with a poor season. You look at a team that gets to play him and the Sox and you figure they’re supposed to beat them soundly, score runs, but what if you’re the Mariners and faced Humber when he was just lights out and no-hit you?

        This plays into why I think the balanced schedule is never balanced too. the randomness of it. There was a year..2009 maybe? where the Mets kept missing Cole Hamels. (was he ducking them? hmm..) Doesn’t this inherently make the in-division schedule the Braves and Mets faced pretty different? Same with teams that faced the Mets in the first half last year versus teams that faced them in the second half without Reyes and Beltran.

        That’s a lot of rambling, but to tie it back a little with the whole ‘luck is a residue of design’ adage.. The Mets have gotten their best bullpen performances and their best two out hits when it counted.

        Perhaps it’s just luck. Lucky that the Mets have won the games since Tejada and Thole went down, lucky to win Batista’s game. But if you look back at the Phillies, that was something they did too. Somehow Wilson Valdez hit well just when he needed to in replacing Utley, or Worley (or Happ) or whoever somehow make the games stand up. The Yankees did it a few years ago by somehow getting Aaron Small to win 10 games down the stretch. Can we really say this habit is just luck, or is there something we’re not seeing?

  2. I’ll be curious to see if this anomaly works itself out by the end of the season, or if they end up winning more games when run production suggests they should have.
    I doubt they go 13-18 over their next 31 while outscoring the opponent by +18, but over the whole season it possible that it may balance back out.

  3. Hitting wise they are a bunch of good hitters. Wright seems to be back to his clutch self, Turner and his level (so to speak) are doing more good than not. Torres is a surprise so far, and Duda is in his usual slow start, but still manages to get clutch hits. Ike is coming around as long as he keeps his hands even with his head. I wonder how they got derailed in Houston but before and after…so far so good. Pitching…when the starters are going good, if they get to the 7th, seems we’re mostly OK. Still pitching overall is shakey at best.

    Nobody gave the 69 or 73 Mets any chance either and look what they did! You never know.

    • With today’s fans they would be calling for Hodges head and wondering how much of a bust Seaver would be after going only 32-25 in his first two years…

      I kid, but the understanding and expectations of young developing teams is much higher today.

  4. Patrick,

    My understanding is that this kind of pythag analysis is extremely unreliable so early in the season because of the chance that one or two blowouts will skew results too dramatically. Are there “expected run” pythags using FIP and advanced offensive stats (instead of just runs allowed/scored? Are those any more reliable at this juncture, and what do they say about the Mets prospects?

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