The Mets are four games below .500 and six losses back of first place. Yet, based on GM Brodie Van Wagenen's comments Monday, he and his team remain committed to getting to the postseason.
In addition, Van Wagenen said that manager Mickey Callaway has the support of the clubhouse, front office and ownership. Van Wagenen has no choice but to stick with his manager or risk losing credibility with his on-field talent.
The point is, despite the microscope of New York and a frustrated fanbase, the Mets are locked in to at least fighting their way through the NL East. However, what are the chances Van Wagenen and Company rise to the top of a playoff race and play in October?
Sadly, out of the 111 National League teams since 1996 to enter May 21 at or below a .457 winning percentage, only seven percent (eight teams) battled back to get in to the postseason. The most recent among this group were the Dodgers last season, who were 20-27 on this date, after which they went 72-44 to vault themselves in to October and in to the World Series.
Unfortunately, in the five years before LA's amazing run, only the Pirates were able to fight back from the same situation to get to the playoffs, where they lost to the Giants in the Wild Card game.
What's more, of those 111 teams, only 13 percent (15 teams) finished the season at or better than .500.
Math and projections are also not on the Mets' side...
Based on the strength of their remaining schedule and their current run differential, FanGraphs projects the Mets are on pace to win just 79 games, which would be only two wins more than last season and would make for the organization's third straight losing season.
As a result, FanGraphs puts just an 18.5 percent chance the Mets will play in the postseason.
In contrast, FanGraphs lists a 61 percent chance for the Phillies, a 55 percent chance for the Braves and a 35 percent chance for the Nationals, who actually have a worse record than the Mets.
For what it's worth, while Baseball Reference projects a similar result as FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus sees a slightly more rosy scenario for the Mets, though they still see them falling short.
According to BP's projections, instead of just 18.5 percent, the Mets have a 33 percent chance of fighting their way in to the postseason, while on pace to win 83 games instead of 79.
The thing is, based on projections, Mets fans and the organization will be disappointed, especially given the offseason excitement surrounding the addition of Van Wagenen, who was quite bold when speaking about his team's potential during his first year at the helm.
If you recall, he brushed off any talk about "rebuilding," and instead did his best to exude confidence and a strong message in hopes of leading his roster, coaching staff and fans toward a more positive mindset and belief in him and the overall organization.
For instance, in early January, he went so far as to state his goal of winning a championship...
"Internally, we can argue we're the favorites in the division right now," Van Wagenen said. "So, come get us."
There are 116 games left in the season, yet -- to drive home a point -- I'm putting the above quote in this post on May 21. I can only imagine how the above comments will be used if the Mets fail to beat the above odds and meet his stated goal.
The odds are stacked against him, as stated above. However, as unlikely as FanGraphs, Baseball Reference and Baseball Prospectus think it might be, there remains the possibility of the Mets catching fire. In that scenario, Van Wagenen's winter confidence will make him look like a prophet.
On the other hand, if we witness the more probable outcome and the Mets miss the playoffs, fans and players are going to be skeptical of him making similarly bold predictions for 2020. In all likelihood, he'll need to acquire better talent to stack digits in the win column, but he'll also need new talent to motivate and recreate belief in his ability to turn around the organization. Otherwise, the same old players will hear the same old message and wonder if it means another year of the same old results.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!