It might only be December, but the National League East favorites for 2019 are none other than the New York Mets. That’s not Yahoo Sports MLB’s official prediction. That’s what new Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen believes.
Van Wagenen told SNY reporter Steve Gelbs that he thinks the team’s offseason additions have made the Mets the favorite to win the NL East.
— Steve Gelbs (@SteveGelbs) December 18, 2018
While it’s unlikely for a 77-win team to put it all together and contend a season later, it’s not unprecedented. The Oakland Athletics made the playoffs in 2018 after winning just 75 games in 2017. The Minnesota Twins went to the playoffs in 2017 after winning 59 games in 2016. It can happen.
But will it happen to the Mets?
While the team’s offseason acquisitions of Robinson Canó, Edwin Diaz and Wilson Ramos should help, the Mets still have to deal with a tough division. The Atlanta Braves are young and coming off a 90-win season, the Philadelphia Phillies look ready to take the next step and the Washington Nationals have the talent to bounce back. Topping those teams could prove difficult.
There’s no doubt the Mets have talented players. The rotation will be headlined by Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard — for now. Those two are followed up by Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, who have both shown flashes throughout their careers.
Offensively, Brandon Nimmo could be an on-base machine, and Canó hit pretty well after returning from his PED suspension.
Even with those two, though, the offense is far from imposing. The Mets would need to see growth from Amed Rosario and one of Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso.
Perhaps most importantly, the team needs to stay healthy. Yoenis Céspedes is coming off a heel injury, and it’s unclear whether he’ll be ready for the start of the 2019 season. While the top four members have upside, Matz, Syndergaard and Wheeler have never thrown 200 innings in a single season. Injuries have been a major problem for the Mets in recent seasons.
There’s certainly a path to the Mets contending in 2019, but it would take quite a bit going right. Van Wagenen may be convinced the Mets are the class of the NL East now, but he might want to make another big move or two just to be safe.
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