Mets analysis: Putting the Mets hot start in historical context

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The Mets won their sixth straight series this week against the Cardinals. It’s the first time in 61 seasons that the Mets have won their first six series and put the 2022 club in the top four starts in franchise history. By direct record, it ties them to the 2018 club with 16-4 in their first 20 games.

So far, the 2022 Mets competition has been with teams with varying levels of success, both in the shortened season and where they are expected to finish at the end of the season. The Giants are the best in terms of current success because they are 13-5 so far in this short season, as well as FanGraphs projections, which see them as an 89-73 team. the Phillies should be the best of the pack by PECOTA (84-78), just ahead of the Cardinals (83-79). Nationals and Diamondbacks are off to a rocky start and are expected to be among the worst teams in baseball.

By the same projections, the Mets look strong, with PECOTA predicting a 93-69 season, FanGraphs being slightly (read: one game) more optimistic, with the Mets finishing 94-68.

The 2018 Mets won their first four series and in their first 20 games faced two teams that would eventually win their divisions, the Brewers and the Braves, going 3-3 collectively against those teams. The Mets dominated the rest of their competition, earning 13 of 14 wins over the Cardinals, Phillies, Marlins and Nationals. Of this group, only the Nats and Cardinals would finish the season with winning records, with the Mets finishing ahead of only the Marlins in October.

Those two seasons look extremely similar across 20 games, but Mets fans would be horrified if this team sank into the depths of Mickey Callaway’s first season, when the club finished in fourth place with a 77-85 record.

The second-best start in franchise history comes from the 2015 National League Championship team, which went 15-5 to start the season. This team only won its first series before suffering a series loss, but faced off with its division rivals to a 13-3 record, with a short series split with crosstown. Yankees. The Mets will win 90 games in 2015, three more than their Bronx rivals and seven more than Washington.

It’s no surprise that the 1986 team had the best start to their magic season, going 16-4. Due to ugly Smarch April weather, this club won their opener against the Pirates, but saw the rest of the series rain down, and followed that up with a series loss. This team faced two teams that didn’t make the playoffs in 1986, but would have in the Wild Card era in second place Phillies and Reds, but also played the two worst teams in the National League in the Pirates and Braves, back when the Les Braves were in the NL West. The 108-win Mets in 1986 are Queens baseball’s gold standard, and the team the club of 2022 is, prematurely in this writer’s view, being compared in the media after that meteoric start.

But a hot start means nothing. Of the 12 best starts in baseball history, only 2 clubs have won the World Events (the 1955 Dodgers and the 1984 Tigers, both 18-2 starters), with only 3 others (the 1946 Red Soxthe 1977 Dodgers and the 2003 Yankees, all 17-3 teams) also in the series.

What the Mets have going for them is that they do it without the best pitcher on the planet, Jacob deGrom, along with their fifth starter, Taijuan Walker, and without any offensive player on an incredible streak. Sure, the starting pitch will come back to Earth a bit, but with Walker edging out David Peterson of the rotation and Tylor Megill doing his best Grom impression so far in the season, their regression to the mean looks sustainable and not catastrophic.

Offensively, this team looks deeper than the 2015 squad at this point in the season, before the acquisitions of Yoenis Cespedes, Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe. And with an owner more willing to spend, the Mets look set to add players and fix issues at the deadline, just like that 2015 team did. The smart money is part of the 22 team that needs a bullpen facelift by the trading deadline.

So while a hot start is fun and refreshing, it remains to be seen whether the Mets can live up to the reputation put forth by two of their four World Series predecessors.

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