If There Is A 5th Playoff Spot, Can Mets Contend?
Today was supposed to be the deadline that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig finalized the plans to expand the playoff structure to include two wild card teams.
However, scheduling and logistics remain areas open for debate, which has halted the process.
Still, if MLB agrees to expand the postseason, it increases each team’s chances by one spot. The two wild card teams would play a one-game playoff to see who advances to the Division Series.
Where do the 2012 Mets stack up in the discussion if the NL playoffs were to include five instead of four teams?
Just looking at the NL East, many analysts have slated the Mets to finish last in the division. That is partly because of the current team on paper, but it’s also a result of the strengths of the other four teams. The Marlins and Nationals have improved, while the Phillies and Braves—the top two teams from 2011—have remained basically the same.
All four of these teams have a legitimate chance to trump the Mets for a spot in the postseason.
In the NL Central, the Cardinals still look like the favorite even without Albert Pujols. The Brewers lost Prince Fielder and are facing a possible 50-game suspension from Ryan Braun but still have solid pitching.
The Reds may turn a few heads this season, but they are a team like the Mets in that many different factors have to be perfect for them to contend all season.
The Pirates and Cubs are still rebuilding, and the Astros shouldn’t be a factor in their final year in the NL.
The NL West may be interesting. The Diamondbacks are fresh off a division title, but the Giants are hungry to repeat their 2010 success. The Rockies will rely on many inexperienced starting pitchers, while the Dodgers and Padres figure to bring up the rear in the division.
So if I had to rank the NL teams based on what they look like on paper, here’s my ranking: Phillies, Cardinals, Giants, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Braves, Nationals, Reds, Mets, Rockies, Dodgers, Pirates, Cubs, Padres and Astros.
The Mets are 10th based on this ranking, so they would have to finish ahead of five other competitive teams to earn that final spot.
Doing so would likely be a tall order this season, if this playoff structure were to be accepted. But since the Mets play in a tough division, maybe the new playoff structure can help them down the road, when the team figures to be back on track.
But hey, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You have to play the games. Maybe we are in store for a few surprises—not just from the Mets but from any of the NL teams.
About the Author: Jim Mancari
Jim Mancari hails from Massapequa, N.Y. He recently earned a Master's degree in Journalism at Hofstra University. He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets fans, Jim has plenty of hope. He also writes as the sports reporter for the Brooklyn Tablet newspaper and the senior editor of metroBASEBALL Magazine. Click my name to view my personal website.
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