Top Notes from the New York Mets ZIPS Projections for 2024

Coming off a year where the New York Mets grossly underperformed lofty expectations, can they exceed more conservative one's in 2024?

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 18: New York Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez (4) and New York Mets third baseman Brett Baty (22) look on during batting practice before the MLB game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, 2023 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The ZiPS projection model is one of the most reliable systems used to project baseball performance. While it doesn’t always hit the nail on the head, it offers a data-driven, highly justifiable prediction for each team.

The 2023 Mets are one of the few examples where the projection model simply didn’t get it right. The team was projected by ZiPS to finish 93-69 and have “one of the top offenses in the National League,” according to ZiPS creator Dan Szymborski. Instead, the team finished 75-87 and experienced regression nearly across the board.

Entering 2024, ZiPS is naturally not as high on the Mets this year. While the model isn’t perfect, evidenced by last year’s performance, it’s worth seeing how it projects the Mets to perform in 2024.

Let’s first take a look at the position players before diving into the pitchers.

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Position Players

Francisco Lindor remains an elite shortstop — ZiPS has Lindor taking a minor step back in 2024. Coming off a 6.0 WAR season (initially projected for 5.5), ZiPS projects him to be worth 4.9 WAR in 2024 with minor offensive dips. Even if Lindor doesn’t match his 2023 production, he should still find himself among the upper echelon of shortstops.

ZiPS thinks Brandon Nimmo overperformed offensively in 2023 — Nimmo recorded 24 home runs last year for a career high while also being worth 4.3 WAR (initially projected for 4.6). ZiPS now projects Nimmo to regress across the board offensively, still believing though that he’ll be worth 3.9 WAR. He should continue to be a productive bat from the leadoff position in 2024.

Pete Alonso is one of the premier power hitters in the game — ZiPS is projecting Alonso to record the same WAR (2.8) in 2024 that he did in 2023. The Polar Bear actually underperformed his initial 2023 WAR projection of 4.1 but still recorded 46 home runs and a 122 OPS+. Alonso should once again threaten to lead the league in home runs in 2024.

ZiPS is expecting disappointment yet again from Jeff McNeil — McNeil’s 2023 was troubling and ZiPS projects more of the same this year (2.6 WAR in 2023; 2.6 projected WAR in 2024). With Eric Chávez reverting back to his 2022 role of hitting coach, expect more out of McNeil this season.

Expect more of the same from Francisco Àlvarez — ZiPS doesn’t think the 22-year-old will develop further following an impressive rookie season (2.7 WAR in 2023; 2.6 projected WAR in 2024). The model almost nailed his rookie season projection (2.6 WAR), and they expect similar numbers across the board in 2024.

Starling Marte’s golden days are behind him — The 35-year-old outfielder is projected to play in only 96 games in 2024 but is expected to have better results when on the field (-0.3 WAR in 2023; 1.2 projected WAR in 2024). A lot hinges on him being healthy, but even if he is, don’t expect a repeat of his productive 2022 season.

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Brett Baty takes a step forward in 2024 — ZiPS is projecting Baty to be worth 1.7 WAR and record 17 home runs in 2024 after he grossly underperformed his projection in 2023 (2.9 projected WAR in 2023; -0.5 WAR in 2023). While still not at the level of how you want a former first-round pick to perform, Mets fans will be pleased to see any sort of development out of Baty.

ZiPS thinks Mark Vientos will also take a step forward in 2024 — Vientos had similar fortunes to Baty in 2023 (1.6 projected WAR; -0.9 WAR) but is also projected to develop. The model has him worth 1.7 WAR while hitting 20 home runs in 2024. The Mets could finally see some stability at DH if Vientos takes this kind of leap.

Harrison Bader continues to be one of the best defensive center fielders in the game — Following a rough offensive season in 2023 (69 OPS+; 1.0 WAR), ZiPS projects Bader to rebound as he figures to play a significant role with the Mets in his first season on the team. The model has Bader worth 2.4 WAR in 2024, so even if he does struggle again with the bat, he should still be able to handle center field with ease.

The Mets undoubtedly have some great bats at their disposal, but the top-heavy nature of the projected lineup doesn’t bode too well for the team’s expected production.

Starting Pitchers

ZiPS makes it pretty clear: there’s Kodai Senga, and then there’s everyone else when it comes to the Mets’ rotation.

Kodai Senga will have a very good sophomore season, but don’t expect him to be as dominant — Senga exceeded all expectations in his rookie year (initially projected 2.7 WAR in 2023; actual 3.4 WAR in 2023) en route to having the second-lowest ERA in the National League. ZiPS projects a little bit of a step back (3.63 ERA, 3.0 WAR) but there’s no doubt Senga is the top man in the rotation. With all that said, Senga is set to miss the beginning of the season due to a shoulder strain.

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ZiPS expects a regression from José Quintana — In 13 starts in 2023, Quintana was serviceable for the Mets (3.57 ERA, 1.5 WAR). However, ZiPS thinks the 35-year-old starts to decline this year (4.60 ERA, 1.2 WAR) which would mean trouble for an already unstable rotation.

Sean Maneaa is a solid, albeit underwhelming addition to the rotation — ZiPS projects Manaea to be a serviceable mid-to-low rotation guy (4.54 projected ERA in 2024; 1.4 projected WAR in 2024), which is in line with where he’s been the last two or so years (4.96 ERA, 1.0 WAR in 2022; 4.44 ERA, 1.1 WAR in 2023). Manaea is certainly a welcome addition to the rotation, but his ceiling at this point in his career is pretty limited.

ZiPS feels the same about Adrian Houser as they do about Manaea — ZiPS sees Houser as nothing more than a mid-to-low rotation arm. He is projected to have a 4.45 ERA and be worth 1.0 WAR, putting him right in line with how they expect Sean Manaea to perform.

Luis Severino must improve considerably — ZiPS expects Severino to improve from his 2023 season, but that’s not saying much considering he was arguably the worst starting pitcher in baseball (6.65 ERA, -0.6 WAR). ZiPS has Severino recording a 4.80 ERA and being worth 1.1 WAR in 2024, but considering his injury history, only projects him to throw for 86 innings.

The Mets have plenty of starting pitcher depth with guys like David Peterson, Tylor Megill, and even some guys in the upper minor leagues who could make their debuts in 2024. Unfortunately, though, behind Kodai Senga there’s a jumble of older guys that lack upside, making it hard to be excited about this group heading into 2024.

Relief Pitchers

As expected, ZiPS is very high on Edwin Díaz. Not so much about everybody else.

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ZiPS thinks Edwin Díaz will return as one of the game’s best closers — After missing the 2023 season because of a torn patellar tendon in his knee, ZiPS is expecting Díaz to return as the top dog in the Mets’ bullpen (projected 2.62 ERA, 1.4 WAR in 2024). This would be a step back from his elite 2022 season (1.31 ERA, 3.0 WAR), but it would still cement him as one of the game’s top closers.

ZiPS is very wary of Brooks Raley in 2024 — Raley has been fantastic the past two years for the Rays and Mets (2.68 ERA, 0.9 WAR in 2022; 2.80 ERA, 0.6 WAR in 2023). However, ZiPS has Raley worsening significantly in 2024, projecting him to have a 4.40 ERA and be worth 0.3 WAR. It would be surprising if Raley experiences such a sharp decline this season.

ZiPS expects Adam Ottavino to be near replacement level — Ottavino is coming off a 3.21 ERA season in which he was worth -0.1 WAR. In 2024, ZiPS projects him to have a 3.98 ERA and be worth 0.2 WAR. He might have to be better than that as one of the Mets’ likely set-up men in 2024, but don’t expect much more from the 38-year-old.

ZiPS isn’t projected the best season from Jake Diekman — The Mets signed Diekman to fortify their bullpen coming off a season where he pitched to a 3.34 ERA across 56 2/3 innings pitched, striking out 10.16 batters per nine. ZiPS thinks the strikeouts will be there (10.91 K/9) but expects his ERA to balloon to a 4.79 mark.

After the top four members of the bullpen, the rest of the names don’t inspire much confidence. Still, though, it’s a lackluster group that is expected to be average at best in 2024.

Closing Thoughts

Expectations for the 2024 Mets are justifiably low. The team features some of the best stars in the game, but once you start making your way down the list of names on the roster, you’d be hard-pressed to find many more guys who will contribute positively.

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Unfortunately for Mets fans, the ZiPS model’s projections tell the same story. Anything is possible, but don’t expect the Mets to be contenders in 2024.