What We Learned Through a Quarter of the M.L.B. Season

What We Learned Through a Quarter of the M.L.B. Season

There is no question that this season will go down in history as the one in which the pitch clock changed baseball. Whether it is also the season that saved baseball is too soon to tell, but the pitch clock’s effect is real: With around a quarter of the season complete, the average game is 27 minutes shorter than it was last season and the percentage of games lasting longer than 3 hours 30 minutes has fallen off a cliff, to 0.4 percent, after having been higher than 10 percent in five of the previous six seasons.

But while everyone has been focusing on how quickly things are moving, there have been some other notable developments.

Here is what we’ve learned:

  • The very expensive Mets are in a sizable hole. It is understandable for Mets fans to be frustrated. The team made headlines in the off-season with a Steven A. Cohen-powered spending spree that gave the franchise the highest payroll in major league history. Yet the Mets entered Monday’s action at 20-21, in a tie with the Miami Marlins for third place in the National League East. Injuries have been a factor, but you could argue that the team played above its head last year and didn’t improve despite all that spending — it just got more expensive.

    The good news? Three wild cards in each league mean the Mets were only a half-game out of qualifying for postseason play. If Justin Verlander is full speed ahead and Max Scherzer has regained his stride after a suspension and an injury, the Mets could easily get one of those three spots — putting them in roughly the same position they were in last year when everything went right.

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