Atlantis Casino recently published season win totals for each MLB team, and the Mets and Yankees opened at relatively high numbers.
The Mets, fresh off a World Series appearance, opened at 88 wins, just two short of the market-leading Giants. The Yankees opened at a more modest 85 wins, which ranks 14th on the list. So should we be bullish or bearish on New York’s baseball futures? Let’s investigate.
The Mets were 90-72 last season, one game better than their Pythagorean record (which is based on run differential). The NL East appears to be a two-horse race between them and the Nationals, just as it was at the tail-end of last season. With plenty of games scheduled against the Marlins, Phillies and Braves, the Mets should be able to pad their record a bit. They’ll have the benefit of a full season from Yoenis Cespedes, and health permitting, David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud. They also upgraded their roster by replacing Daniel Murphy with Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, which takes away at-bats from players like John Mayberry Jr. and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who cost the Mets wins early last year.
The Mets’ fearsome rotation needs no introduction,and Steven Matz will be getting the ball on a regular basis -and for the most part -without the looming presence of an innings limit. The bullpen projects to be stronger than ever, with Jeurys Familia saving games, and Antonio Bastardo, Addison Reed and others to back him up.
The Mets look poised for another deep postseason run, and with a soft divisional schedule, expect the Mets to go over 88 wins with ease.
The Yankees are a more risky proposition. Starting with the positive, the Yankees brought in Starlin Castro to play second base and Aroldis Chapman to close games. Castro fills in for Stephen Drew, who was dreadful last season, while Chapman adds to what was already among the best bullpens in the game (the Yankees’ projected bullpen WAR is 6.2, well clear of the Dodgers’ next-best unit at 4.1).
The Yankees (87-75) were one game unlucky per Pythagorean Expectation in 2015, but their "Cluster Luck" (which determines how often a team clusters together hits and prevents opposing teams from clustering theirs) measured them as the ninth-luckiest team in baseball at 22.1 runs above average. And while the Bombers are projected to be the seventh-best team in baseball by combined WAR, that forecast is based on full seasons from everyone on the roster. At the advanced ages Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran are at, health is far from guaranteed.
Then there’s the Yankees’ shaky rotation. Masahiro Tanaka has been flirting with Tommy John surgery since he came from Japan two seasons ago, Nathan Eovaldi was a lemon in 2015 despite his absurdly lucky win-loss record, Michael Pineda is streaky and injury-prone, and C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova’s best days are behind them. The Bombers will be counting on Luis Severino, who was phenomenal last season, but with only 11 starts under his belt he’s bound to make some mistakes.
All of this points to a down year for the Yankees, whose division rivals have loaded for bear in 2016; under 85 wins is the prediction.