Spring has sprung… or, at least, baseball’s back — and, as such, it’s time to get down to brass tax.
For months now, folks have been arguing about where the Phillies might stand in comparison to the rest of the National League East, so, I thought it might be fun to delve deep into the Phillies’ primary competitors to discover just that.
Today, we take a peek into the, surprisingly underrated, Amazin’ Mets. Let’s get started:
Key pieces added:
RHP Michael Wacha
RHP Rick Porcello
RHP Dellin Betances
Key pieces lost:
3B Todd Frazier
First Impressions: Don’t sleep on them.
What a tumultuous offseason it has been for the New York Mets.
They lost their manager at the hands of the Astros’ cheating scandal, roasted Minor Leaguers everywhere with the unveiling of a $57 Million clubhouse upgrade in Florida, and they even signed two starting pitchers that they totally didn’t need.
The first of those pitchers? Michael Wacha, who suffered through an abysmal 2019. Across 126.2 innings, Wacha posted a 4.76 ERA, paired with a 5.61 FIP — not great. However, the Mets think they see something in the 28 year-old, and gave him a $3 Million MLB deal to prove it.
The second pitcher they nabbed was the once Cy Young winning Rick Porcello, who, since said Cy Young, has been pretty horrible. In 2019, he tossed a 5.52 ERA with a less terrible 4.76 FIP, but he hasn’t managed to log a sub-4.20 ERA since 2016. It’s hard to believe the 31 year-old will re-find his stuff in 2020… but anything can happen!
The final piece that the Mets added was the risky arm of Dellin Betances — which, all things considered, was a solid move for the club. The tall righty managed to reach the bump just once during the regular season in 2019, before his year was cut short by an achilles injury that confined him to the bench for the remainder of the year. All of that aside, Betances’ career 2.36 ERA is nothing to scoff at, and, if he can manage to bounce back, he’ll be a solid contributor.
CF, Brandon Nimmo, 69 G, .221/.375/.407, 8 HR, .783 OPS, 112 OPS+
SS, Amed Rosario, 157 G, .287/.323/.432, 15 HR, .755 OPS, 102 OPS+
LF, Jeff McNeil, 133 G, .318/.384/.531, 23 HR, .916 OPS, 144 OPS+
1B, Pete Alonso, 161 G, .260/.358/.566, 53 HR, .941 OPS, 148 OPS+
RF, Michael Conforto, 151 G, .257/.363/.494, 33 HR, .856 OPS, 128 OPS+
C, Wilson Ramos, 141 G, .288/.351/.416, 14 HR, .768 OPS, 107 OPS+
3B, JD Davis, 140 G, .307/.369/.527, 22 HR, .895 OPS, 138 OPS+
2B, Robinson Cano, 107 G, .256/.307/.428, 13 HR, .736 OPS, 96 OPS+
Okay, upon transcribing this lineup, I can’t lie — it looks pretty fearsome. In fact, I might go as far as to say that this is the best lineup in the National League East.
Brandon Nimmo is a severely underrated player. He boasts what is quite possibly the best batter’s eye in the game, and is the perfect candidate to lead a lineup like this off.
The meat of this lineup in McNeil, Alonso, and Conforto is also a HUGE problem. McNeil is one of the best, if not THE best, pure contact hitter in the game right now, Alonso just put up one of the greatest rookie slugging years of all time, and Conforto is a perennial breakout candidate.
This thing finishes out strong, too. Ramos and Davis posted dangerous 2019s, and Cano, who might as well be a $24 Million sack of potatoes, is surrounded by all kinds of talent.
Plus, this lineup isn’t even including Dominic Smith or Yoenis Cespedes, both of whom make for excellent outfield depth.
The Mets’ bats were firing on all cylinders in 2019 — it’s a shame they had to waste such an outstanding offensive season. I don’t think many of these players will carry their torrid 2019s with them into 2020, and they’re probably headed for a slight regression, but that doesn’t change the fact that this lineup, on paper, is terrifying.
RHP, Jacob deGrom, 204.0 IP, 2.43 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 0.97 WHIP, 167 ERA+, 11.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9
RHP, Noah Syndergaard, 197.2 IP, 4.28 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 95 ERA+, 9.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9
RHP, Marcus Stroman, 184.1 IP, 3.22 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 1.31 WHIP, 136 ERA+, 9.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9
LHP, Steven Matz, 160.1 IP, 4.21 ERA, 4.60 FIP, 1.34 WHIP, 96 ERA+, 8.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9
RHP, Rick Porcello, 174.1 IP, 5.52 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 1.39 WHIP, 87 ERA+, 7.4 K/9, 2.3 BB/9
Do I really have to say it? This is easily the second best rotation in the National League East, behind only the Washington Nationals.
Jacob deGrom has had too many incredible years wasted, which is sad, but he’s showed no signs of slowing as his age has progressed.
Syndergaard, Stroman, and so on have a tendency to be volatile, but, if they can string together good years, this rotation is tough to beat.
Outside of these five guys, however, the Mets are lacking. Michael Wacha is the only semblance of rotational depth that they have, so, if one of these guys should go down, they might be in trouble.
That’s all that really needs to be said here — this is a super strong rotation.
The Mets invested a metric ton of resources into their bullpen in 2019; trading for Edwin Diaz, re-signing Jeurys Familia, and so on. Unfortunately, Edwin Diaz (who was very unlucky) utterly imploded, as did Familia, and their bullpen was left to be saved by one Seth Lugo. However, if either of the aforementioned names can manage to bounce back in 2020 — you’re looking at a pretty imposing bullpen, especially after the addition of Dellin Betances.
Combine the already present arms with names like Robert Gsellman, Justin Wilson, and Brad Brach… and you’ve got a darn good bullpen here.
However, as with the entirety of this Mets team, this bullpen has a tendency to be polar, as showcased in their 2019 campaign. They’ll need to really lock it in if they want to succeed.
Where do the Phillies stack up?
On paper, though it’s a shame to say it, the Mets seem to have the Phillies bested in every category — IF everything breaks right for them.
The Phillies have a good lineup, and it effectively rivals the Mets’ — but if Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil have years like they did in 2019, they’ll be tough to beat.
The Phillies have a fine rotation, too — but the Mets’ is just better. deGrom is as good as it gets, Syndergaard has #2 potential, and Stroman was a solid mid-season pickup.
The Mets bullpen may be volatile, but it’s nowhere near as volatile as the Phillies’ will be this year after an offseason of dumpster diving.
I’m starting to see now why PECOTA has the Mets as the favorites to win the division… on paper, they’re fearsome.
All of this taken into account, the Mets will always be the Mets. It’s almost hard to believe that this team can succeed, especially given what we’ve seen from them over the last few years — and especially this offseason. The Phillies made easy work of them in 2019, (claimed the season series 12-7) and New York managed to waste a Rookie of the Year performance from Pete Alonso AND tossed another year of Cy deGrom out the window. Yet, they’re not to be overlooked.
The NL East is going to be a fun watch.