Recipe for Success
Jonah Keri was speaking about a book Baseball Between the Numbers a little bit ago in a chat. He had mentioned that Nate Silver, from Baseball Prospectus, wrote a chapter that looked at the past 25 years of playoff teams and the areas at which each team excelled. The conclusion was that teams with 1) two top starters, 2) great defense and 3) a great closer tend to be the best in the playoffs. Also according to the study, regular season offensive prowess had to post-season wins. Of course, we could have looked at the Yankees 2001 through 2006 seasons to see that but that is neither here nor there.
What is the point is that the Mets are pretty close to that recipe along with Anaheim, San Diego, and Boston. Of course the Mets have a better defense than either of those teams, but those two are no slouches. While the Padres stock is falling and their outlook for the playoffs is not all that favorable, the Mets, the Angels, and the Sox should march right in barring any disasters. Would we be shocked to see a World Series with some configuration of those teams? Not really.
While they satisfy the above criteria, they are obviously not bereft of offensive ability and could cause some trouble once they get into the playoffs. A lot of this is dependent upon the Mets two top starters pitching like top starters at that time. They have quite a few candidates that could be considered as such but a few have been inconsistent of late and one is pitching against A-ballers.
The x-factor here is the Mets offense has the ability to go from above average to American League-esque. With Alou back and adding such a consistent force in the lineup and the other shuffles, they could be dangerous on all fronts. Add that to the possibility of solid starting pitching, the top defense, a decent bullpen, and a dominant closer, this team could start firing on all cylinders and blast through the rest of the regular season and continue into the playoffs.
Of course that is easier said than done but the possibility of that happening is certainly there.
How he is doing this I will never know, but he has not been this good since 1998.
"It is about feeling good," Beltran told reporters after Sunday's game. "I am seeing the ball, and I feel balanced, and I am staying back."
All this is precisely why he can be frustrating at times. He can do it all and should be able to put it all together on a consistent basis, but he doesn't.
"When he gets hot, he gets ridiculously hot," teammate David Wright said after Sunday's game. "He has the ability to put the team on his shoulders."
I do not know if it is mental, his injuries that seem to be nagging him at times, or him getting out of synch physically, but if he can figure out how to bottle up his highs and minimize the lows, he can put up some cartoonish numbers.
However, you have to believe that the Reds got a pretty decent bounty for Conine and clearly more than the Twins got for Castillo which is inexplicable.
He just pounds the strike zone with his many variations of his sinker and srip players of their manhood.