Last week, Fangraphs posted the initial version of its 2016 projected standings and stats. These are based on player projections using a system known as Steamer that has proven to be mathematically sound in the past.
The system projects the New York Mets for 84 wins (a six-win drop from 2015) and a second-place finish in the NL East behind the 88-win Nationals. They would tie for the second wild card with the Cardinals, finishing two games behind the Giants for the top wild-card spot and one game ahead of the Pirates in what would be a heck of a playoff race.
In other words: 84 isn’t as bad as it first sounds.
Here are a few other notes from a close look at the numbers.
A dip in offensive production: The net change of the moves the Mets made this offseason (losing Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy, adding Neil Walker and a full season of Michael Conforto) is a 30-run drop-off offensively -- from 4.22 runs per game to 4.04 runs per game (an average which would rank 11th in the NL). The only NL teams with a bigger drop from last year to this year are the Giants, Padres and Diamondbacks.
The rotation is going to be pretty good: So long as there are no unexpected bumps, the Mets “Big 3” of Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard should be outstanding. This system pegs them for a combined 13 WAR, with Harvey (3.07 projected ERA) being the best of the three.
The top three pitching staffs in the NL are forecast to be the Dodgers (18.5 WAR), Mets (18.4) and Cubs (18.3).
This system doesn’t like Granderson: The Mets' offensive drop-off wouldn’t just be due to losing Cespedes. Curtis Granderson is going to be challenged to be as good as he was last season. Steamer projects him with a .232 batting average and a .740 OPS. Those are drops of 27 and 81 points and are representative of how hard it is to maintain performance at age 35 (which Granderson will be in March).
All Wright? One thing that might make you uncomfortable about these projections: They’re based on David Wright clearing 500 plate appearances. Wright will be challenged to do this, given his spinal stenosis issues. Their projection (.267/.337/.410) is a cross between his 2014 and 2015 seasons.
The sailing might not be as smooth for Familia: The other Met forecast for a significant drop-off from 2015 to 2016 is Jeurys Familia. Familia had a 1.85 ERA last season, but Steamer has him dipping to 3.13 in 2016. That projection is based off the idea that Familia’s ERA should have been higher based on his strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed (his FIP was 2.74 last season).
Familia kept his ERA down the last two seasons with incredible numbers with runners in scoring position (.167 over the last two seasons), a stat that doesn’t stay consistent year-to-year. In fairness, a dip from Familia wouldn’t be that surprising given his heavy workload the last two seasons (77 1/3 and 78 innings) and the postseason (14 2/3 innings).
Don’t expect superstardom from Conforto: This projection system likes Conforto, but it’s not totally in love with him. It forecasts a .260/.321/.435 slashline, numbers reasonably close to what Walker put up last season. Conforto’s projection is as much putting an equivalent on his minor-league numbers as it is looking at his 194 big-league plate appearances. If I was gauging which of the Fangraphs predictions was underestimating the ceiling for a Mets player, I’d probably pick this one.
One note with this: The projection systems are not keen on Brandon Nimmo yet. This one has him with a .627 OPS in 70 plate appearances.
Fear the Marlins? The NL East may turn out to be more than a two-team race. Fangraphs projects the Marlins for an 81-81 record, a 10-win improvement from 2015. They are projected to be the most improved team in the NL.
This is largely based on a projection of 181 innings from Jose Fernandez, 630 plate appearances from Giancarlo Stanton and 65 innings in the bullpen from reliever Carter Capps. If the Marlins can keep those three healthy, they might be able to cause problems for the teams atop the division.
If you want to read the rest of Fangraphs' projections for the Mets, check them out here.