- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Excellence Again and Again?

If anyone feared a 2007 letdown following the success of 2006 (and who didn't?), it hasn't happened. I suppose you could just look at the standings and figure that out for yourself, but out of curiosity, I did some checking to determine how historic the Mets' fine start is coming as it has on the heels of a very good season.

It's pretty historic.

Here is how 2006 + 49 games of 2007 ranks in terms of winning percentage among the best Full Mets Season + 49-Game samples.

Note: There's nothing magical about the 49-game mark, it just happens to be where we are after a delightful weekend and it's close enough to one-third of a season to form impressions considering there's no game today.

1) 1986-87: 133-78 (.630)

2) 1985-86: 132-79 (.626)

3) 2006-07: 129-82 (.611)

4) 1988-89: 125-84 (.598)

5) 1987-88: 126-85 (.597)

6) 1969-70: 125-86 (.592)

7) 1999-2000: 124-88 (.585)

8) 1984-85: 120-91 (.569)

9) 1990-91: 118-93 (.559)

10) 1997-98: 117-94 (.555)

What, if anything, does this portend for the rest of 2007? I'm not sure, of course, but '07 — nagging dings and vexing slumps notwithstanding — is one of only four successor years listed above that, after 49 games, has resulted in a winning percentage at least 50 points (.050) better than its predecessor's already excellent full season.

In other words, we're running at a .653 winning percentage (106-56 if you like to dream) right now, a nifty .054 better than where we finished 2006. History indicates that if the Mets win at least 90 games one year and have a winning percentage 50 points better than they achieved at the end of that first year after 49 games the next year, it's a pretty good sign in terms of things to come.

The newly discovered 90/50/49 Rule in action:

1987 Full Season W%: .568

1988 49 Games W%: .694

Improvement: +.126

1988 Full Season W%: .625

1988 Differential 49G to End '88: -.069

1985 Full Season W%: .604

1986 49 Games W%: .694

Improvement: +.090

1986 Full Season W%: .667

1986 Differential 49G to End '86: -.027

1984 Full Season W%: .556

1985 49 Games W%: .612

Improvement: +.056

1985 Full Season W%: .604

1985 Differential 49G to End '85: -.008

2006 Full Season W%: .599

2007: 49 Games W%: .653

Improvement: +.054

2007: Full Season W%: TK

2007: Differential 49G to End: TK

If precedent presents any kind of clue, we see that an already very good Mets team that improves upon its winning percentage for 49 games — approximately the first third of the next season — by at least 50 points (+.050) is likely on its way to a significantly better overall record than its predecessor.

Full Year 1988: +10 wins versus 1987

Full Year 1986: +10 wins versus 1985

Full Year 1985: +8 wins versus 1984

The '88 and '86 Mets did not maintain their respective .694 winning percentages (they both would have wound up with about 112 wins if they had), but they each put down a pretty effective marker in those first 49 games to launch them toward division titles. 1985 stayed pretty consistent throughout and its 98 wins would be golden in the Wild Card era.

I wouldn't swear to it based on my statistical noodling, but if the Mets can simply not screw up a whole lot over the next 113 games, I think we're in pretty good shape.

65-48 from here on out would get us to where we got last year: 97-65. The track record provided by 1988, 1986 and 1985 (each season building on an already very good record the year before) indicates a dropoff from the 49-game blistering pace of improvement is to be expected, but it shouldn't be so severe that it hampers us in the long run. If we suffered the worst of those three dropoffs, with our winning percentage declining by 1988's .069 over the last 113 games, we'd go 66-47 (.584) the rest of the way and wind up with 98 wins.

98 wins would be just dandy.

Also, for what it's worth, we seem to be in the midst of one of the finest two-year runs in Mets history. So enjoy that if you can stand to.