Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mets Shouldn't Be So Evenly Matched With the Marlins ... But They Are

The Mets and Marlins never seem to budge when they face each other.  (Photo by Andy Marlin.  Seriously, that's his name.)

When you think of the Marlins, you think of fire sales and less-than-mediocre baseball.  After all, other than their store-bought championships, the team Jeffrey Loria built (then dismantled) has only surpassed 84 victories three times since their inaugural season in 1993 and has finished in last place or next-to-last in 13 of their 23 campaigns.  The Marlins have also never won a division title - joining their '93 expansion mates in Colorado as the only MLB teams never to do so - even though they won two titles as wild card teams.

Since the Marlins came into the league nearly a quarter century ago, the Mets have secured two wild cards, two division titles and two National League pennants.  New York has also finished above .500 ten times since becoming N.L. East rivals with Florida/Miami and has finished in first or second place in the division on nine occasions.

Finally, the Mets have posted a worse record than the Marlins in just eight of their 23 seasons.  And from 1993 to 2015, New York has gone a collective 28 games under .500, while their division rivals in Florida are a combined 230 games below the break-even point.

Just by reading the three paragraphs above, it certainly appears as if the Mets should have an easy time with the Marlins when they play each other.  But they never have.  In fact, the two teams are so evenly matched when they square off against one another that a single run usually decides their contests.  And no other team in the division is even close to the Marlins when it comes to one-run affairs played against the Mets.

Since 2009, when Citi Field first opened its doors, the Mets and Marlins have played each other 67 times in Flushing.  Incredibly, the two teams have played a whopping 32 one-run games at Citi Field in those seven-plus seasons seasons - or almost half of all the games they've played against each other in New York.  In the same time period, the Mets have played a similar number of games against the other teams in the division - Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington - and haven't had nearly as many contests decided by the slimmest of margins.  In fact, according to this tweet by a supposed Mets blogger, the disparity between Mets/Marlins one-run games and Mets/Other Division Rivals single-tally affairs was enough to make his fingers stick to the CAPS LOCK button.
In addition to the plethora of tight ballgames at Citi Field, the Mets and Marlins have also played their share of one-run games at Marlins Park, Florida/Miami's previous stadium and Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico.  In total, the two squads have played 26 one-run games (out of 65 total games) in the state of Florida and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico since 2009, giving the clubs an incredible 58 one-run affairs against one another in the last seven-plus seasons, which include the back-to-back single-tally decisions that closed out this week's series between the two teams at Citi Field.

And why just stop at one-run games?  Since 2009, the Mets and Marlins were tied after nine innings in 14 different contests.  One of those games, played in 2013, lasted 15 innings and resulted in a 4-3 win by Miami.  Another, played just 40 days later, took a little longer to complete, as the somewhat blurry photo below confirms.

Just like the Energizer Bunny, Mets/Marlins games just keep going and going and going...

Let's recap, shall we?  Since 2009, the Mets have played the Marlins 132 times.  In 58 of those games, the two teams were separated on the scoreboard by just one run.  (For all you kids out there, that's 43.9% of their showdowns.)  When the two teams have dueled each other at Citi Field, they've played one-run games in 32 of those 67 affairs, or an incredible 47.8% of their matchups in the Big Apple.  No other team has even come close to approaching the frequency of one-run games that the Mets and Marlins have had over the past few years.

Look at the final season records since 1993 and you'll see that the Mets have an advantage over the Marlins in won-loss record, postseason appearances and number of times finishing near the top of the division standings.  But when the two teams play each other, it seems as if no team has the advantage.  If you've come to a Mets/Marlins game with the hopes of watching a blowout, you've picked the wrong game to attend (although Steven Matz might disagree with that statement).

Here's one final note on how evenly matched the two teams are.  As mentioned before, the two teams have played 58 one-run games against each other since 2009, with 32 of those games taking place at Citi Field and the other 26 occurring at whatever named park the Marlins have been playing in at the time.  In New York, the Mets have won 21 of those 32 games.  In Florida and Puerto Rico, the Marlins have emerged victorious in 18 of the 26 contests.  Put that together and what do you get?  You guessed it.  The two teams are 29-29 in their 58 one-run games.

The Mets and Marlins have 16 games left against each other in 2016 that will probably end up with eight wins for each team and several one-run tilts and extra-inning affairs for your viewing pleasure.  Would you expect anything else from the two squads?

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