The Mets charge to earn a Wild Card spot remains in high gear. Players are looking beyond that, though. How realistic is a Division title…
The New York Mets are the hottest team in baseball, hands down. With immaculate starting pitching and timely hitting, the team has overrun all but the Brewers, Cardinals, and Nationals on their way to securing a spot in the playoffs as a Wild Card Team.
But that’s only half the story. Because while most fans are focused on the Wild Card race, the Mets themselves are looking beyond to the Division race, in which they trail the Atlanta Braves by seven games (as play begins Sunday, August 11).
Mets Rookie of the Year candidate Pete Alonso sees it this way:
Pete Alonso is known for his always effusive optimism. After all, his can-do spirit won him a million dollars and the Home Run Derby at this year’s All-Star Game. But is he dreaming, or is he talking about something doable?
The Mets Vs. The Loss Column
Oh, it’s certainly doable for this Met’s team that’s been taking the field lately, spinning off two seven-game win streaks interspersed with only one loss. But the leap from doable to probable is murky at best, filled with hurdles and potholes – I’ll explain.
At this stage of any baseball season, the MLB Standings and the upcoming schedule tell everything. Our brain is wired to focus on the positive, which in this case is wins. But in reality, it’s the loss column that matters.
That’s because you can always add onto your win total during the season, but you can’t subtract losses. It’s reverse thinking, but does that make sense? So when you see the Mets (56 losses) are down six games in the loss column to the Braves (50 losses), that’s a massive challenge for the Mets to overcome with roughly forty games left to play.
It is, however, the Mets good fortune to have Atlanta on their remaining schedule nine times, and six of those games are at Citi Field, including the final three games of the regular season.
For these games, every Mets win reduces the loss differential by one. In other baseball vernacular, this is what they mean by a “two-game swing” in the standings when teams face off against each other.
That’s the easiest way for the Mets to romp to the Division Title. But it’s not the only way. Another way is to capitalize on their remaining schedule. Following today’s matchup against the Nationals, the Mets will have 44 games left to play. Twenty-six of those games will be played at Citi Field, against only 18 on the road.
Given the Mets prodigious 34-20 record at home thus far, versus a very suspect 27-36 record on the road, that should be one helluva advantage for the Mets from here on in.
Follow The Lead Of Pete Alonso
However, the only significant game on a team’s schedule is the one they are playing today. And perhaps, that summarizes the best outlook to have at this juncture of the season. Just win. It sounds simple because it is simple – because if the Mets win, they can’t lose by adding a game in that all-important loss column.
Finally, there’s another reason why Pete Alonso is correct when he points the Mets to a Division title, instead of a Wild Card.
The Mets want to come in hot when the playoffs begin, with the rotation, lineup, and bullpen firing on all cylinders. One way to do that is to keep the internal fire burning. Choose a higher goal because it’s less reachable. Whereas, the Mets can almost walk into the Wild Card from here forward, raising the chances of a letdown once the smaller goal is secured.
More than his 38 home runs and 85 RBI, it is refreshing to have Pete Alonso around to keep us focused – on winning it all. This year, now!