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high hopes

Plotting a Mets Playoff Path

In 2007, the Mets suffered the second-worst late-season collapse in baseball history. (The worst was the 1995 California Angels.) On September 12 of that season, the Mets had a seven-game lead over the Phillies, and Baseball Prospectus's playoff-odds report had the Mets with a 99.8 percent chance of making that year's playoffs. They missed it: a 500-to-1 shot. Currently, the Mets have a 1.27 percent chance of making the 2010 playoffs. That might sound low, but compared to the 0.2 percent of 2007, heck, the Mets are downright favorites! So: How could it happen?

The Mets are currently 55-56. B-Pro estimates (roughly) that it will require 92 wins to win the NL East and 91 to win the NL wild card. So: The Mets, to reach 92 wins, will need to go 37-14 the rest of the way. Not easy!

Of course, that also requires other teams in the division not to go over 92 wins. That's not that hard, though: The Braves must go 28-22 the rest of the way to reach 92 wins, and the Phillies must go 30-21. Those are pretty good winning percentages: If the Braves were, say, to go .500 the rest of the way, and the Phillies to go 27-24, both teams would end up with 89 wins. (It is unlikely, of course, that either team will go .500 or just over the rest of the way, but play along.) The Mets would only need to go 34-17 the rest of the way, winning two out of every three games. That's actually a lower winning percentage than the Mets had in June.

The wild card is more complicated, because the Mets have five teams ahead of them and one, the Marlins, just a half-game behind. But if they Mets go 37-14 the rest of the way, that wild card will at least be within reach. Let's just concentrate on the NL East situation anyway.

Obviously, the way the Mets are playing right now, 37-14 and 34-17 seem far beyond the realm of possibility. But yaneverknow, you know? Stranger things have happened, and did, just three years ago. Just to keep our interest in the Mets' season the rest of the way, we will be tracking every Mets loss against the "17" figure: We're gonna count down every Mets loss until that number reaches 17. That's going to be a long time from now: 17 is a lot of losses. And until the number is 17, there is hope. There is a chance. The Mets have a six-game homestand starting tonight. Whaddya say, let's cross fingers for something amazing happening the other direction this time. 37-14 ... who's with us?!

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Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images