What the Mets can learn from NL East Championship rivalries

Philadelphia – Whatever the Mets do in strategizing to be champions next season, the most important item on the agenda – and this is by far, not even close – is that they lost 8-5 on May 23, 2023 in Colorado to drop to 23-32 and fall 10 games in the NL East.

Welcome to Mets.

Obviously, they could re-sign Jacob deGrom, Edwin Diaz, and/or Brandon Nimmo. They can elevate Brett Batty and Francisco Alvarez to more prominent roles. They can import Aaron Judge or Shohei Ohtani.

But let’s be clear, the only way out of the NL East to win a pennant – and maybe more than that – is to stink in the first third of the season. It’s a cutthroat league after all and the Mets may soon be playing in the same division as the last three World Series winners from a full 162-game season.

Most notably, the 2019 Nationals, 2021 Braves, and 2022 Phillies have had a horrible first three months of the season. The 2019 Nationals were 19-31 through May 23, 10 games out of first place with the second worst NL record. They were considering firing manager Davey Martinez. Some wondered if they would trade Max Scherzer.

The 2021 Braves were 30-35 through June 16, eight games out of first place with the fifth worst NL record. On that date, Fangraphs 36-25 gave the Mets an 88.7 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 12.7 chance of winning the World Series compared to 12.0 and 0.7 for the Braves.

The 2022 Phillies were 21-29 through May 31, 12 games out of first place with the fifth worst record in the NL. Manager Joe Girardi was fired. The Fangraves gave the Phillies a 19.4 percent chance of making the playoffs and a 1.2 percent chance of winning the title compared to the Mets’ championship percentage of 10.7 percent.

If you add up the low point of these three teams—because they came about a third of the way through the schedule—that roughly equates to a 162-game season in 70-95. So their average record was as low as 23-32, 10 games. The average score to drop to the lowest was 8-5. The Mets’ 55th game next year will be on May 23 in Colorado.

Again, you’re welcome.

Well, we can all stick our tongues out of our cheeks now. Obviously, the Mets aren’t planning on being awful for two months next year just because the 2019 National Championships and 2021 Braves then flipped to championships and the 2022 Phillies did just that and during Tuesday he drove two games from the World Series to one on the Stars. .

Mets general manager Billy Epler responded while speaking to reporters on Oct. 14, 2022.
Mets general manager Billy Epler responded while speaking to reporters on Oct. 14, 2022.
Bill Gastron

But it is, in fact, an imitation sport. So is there anything to glean from three teams in the NL East that, among other things, have all eliminated the heavily favored Dodgers on their way to the pennant:

1. Losing a star can be overcome. After the 2018 season, the Nationals lost Bryce Harper to the Phillies via free agency. Their World Series win without Harper was reminiscent of the Mariners winning 116 games in 2001 after Alex Rodriguez left free agency.

On July 10, 2021, the Braves lost their MVP when Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his ACL. They went 44-29 the rest of the regular season without him winning the NL East. On June 25, 2022, Harper fractured his left thumb. He missed two months and in those 52 games, Philadelphia went 32-20, moving from outfield to playoff spot.

Bryce Harper of the Phillies runs around the bases after hitting an inning of the first inning during Game 3 of the World Series against the Astros on November 1, 2022.
Bryce Harper of the Phillies runs around the bases after hitting an inning of the first inning during Game 3 of the World Series against the Astros on November 1, 2022.
Charles Winzelberg/New York Post

The Mets are basically given positional health in 2022, especially for Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor. But when Starling Marte went down late with a broken finger, the Mets were shaken, especially in a sweep of Atlanta that cost them the split. They should also brace themselves for this big loss unless they intend to keep DeGrom, Diaz, and Nimmo.

2. A lefty hitter who makes the difference is invaluable. Since we mention Harper’s absence from the 2019 National Championship, and two months with the 2022 Phillies, his presence in these playoffs should be noted. It was Reggie-esque. He thrives on the moment he writes big (postseason) and small (huge places in games).

Juan Soto did it in Harper’s absence for the 2019 Nationals and Freddie Freeman did it in the 2021 Braves – and Kyle Schwarber is providing co-star stellar left for Harper now.

The right amount of leverage overflows, especially from the stylus. The pace picks up this time of year—during the season, non-cutter fastballs averaged 93.7 miles per hour; He was 95.3 in the postseason. So, if you’ve been lacking for a game-changing Acer option that combines great bat skills with power, this really resonates. Plus it allows the other team to plan the game in an easier way to deal with their lineup.

Ronald Acuna of the Braves reacts after being hit against the Phillies during Game 1 of the NLDS on October 11, 2022.
Ronald Acuna of the Braves reacts after being hit against the Phillies during Game 1 of the NLDS on October 11, 2022.
Getty Images

Is the key-hitting Lindor this kind of left-handed existence? Indeed, how can the short-pitch Yankees view right-handers who can hit right-handed as the equivalent of true diversification and live without a left-handed carrier in the middle? Anthony Rizzo is good. Yankees need to get better in this aspect. So is the case with the Mets. So when they become available like Harper, Freeman, Corey Seager, etc., don’t ignore them.

3. A massive move at the trade deadline is not a must. Billy Eppler was hit for not doing enough on the deadline. But the Mets GM made the same kind of targeted, smaller moves that enacted the three NL champions discussed here. It just worked best for:

2019 Nationals – Daniel Hudson (Hunter Strickland was a disaster).

2021 Braves – Acuna famously replaced four outsiders with acquisitions: Adam Duvall, Jock Pederson, Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler.

Nationals 2022 – Brandon Marsh, David Robertson, Edmundo Sosa, Noah Syndergaard.

The impact that Marsh and Sousa, for example, had on the Phillies’ weak defense was greater than what Tyler Naquin, Darren Roof and Daniel Vogelbach had all along the Met’s lineup.

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