For the past five or six years, following the New York Mets has been downright painful. They have broken their fans' hearts time and time again, performing just well enough for optimism to sneak into the mind of their loyal followers, only to rip away their fans' hopes in brutal fashion. Year after year, the Amazin's have failed to get over the hump of mediocrity, finishing with a win total in the 70's in each of the last six years. However, the collection of young talent assembled by general manager Sandy Alderson has many fans feeling more optimistic about the upcoming season -- and with good reason.
On the surface, the 79-83 record the Mets produced last season does not seem too impressive. However, when investigated, the 2014 campaign may have been more successful than it seemed. According to Baseball Reference, the Mets had a Pythagorean win-loss record of 82-80. What this essentially means is that, based on their runs scored and runs allowed totals, the Mets should have won three more games than they actually did. Consider the fact that the Mets lost 29 one-run games in 2014 and 15 games to the Washington Nationals alone, and maybe they were not as bad as their record indicated.
In addition to their lack of luck in 2014, the captain of the Mets, and usually one of the best all-around third basemen in the league, David Wright, had the worst statistical year of his career. Dealing with a shoulder injury throughout the majority of the season, Wright slugged only .374 and had an OPS under .700. Add this to the loss of phenom Matt Harvey for the season and the under performance of high-priced free agent acquisitions Curtis Granderson, Chris Young, and Bartolo Colon, and one would figure that the Mets would have one of their worst years in recent memory. However, they did not, and this is a credit to breakout years from players like Jacob deGrom, Juan Lagares, and Lucas Duda. Now, because of the unexpected production from these players, the Mets have more potential than ever for 2015.
All else aside, possibly the biggest reason for optimism for Mets fans in 2015 comes in the form of Travis d'Arnaud. The young catcher got off to a painfully slow start in his first full season behind the dish, posting a batting average under .200 before he was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas to regroup. However, after his recall, the young backstop showed everyone a glimpse of what the Mets' brain trust has known he has been capable of since they dealt R.A. Dickey for him after the 2012 season. d'Arnaud regained his confidence and hit .264 with an OPS of .787 after the All-Star Break, both of which are outstanding marks at the defensive-oriented catcher position. If Travis can put up those numbers for a full season, he, along with free agent acquisition Michael Cuddyer, can provide the production the Mets have been missing in the middle of their lineup for the better part of the last five years.
Clearly, the ceiling for the Amazin's is higher in 2015 than it has been for the past few years. Consider the fact that the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves are both in a rebuilding process and the Mets will probably be able to beat up on them a bit, and the potential is there for the New York Mets to make a wild card run in 2015.