When Ben Zobrist was a free agent earlier this offseason, the two teams with the best chance of signing him used their own version of the same sales pitch. The Cubs and Mets worked to convince Zobrist that their respective futures offered a chance for him to be part of something great: future postseason appearances, and possibly a shared immortality in one of the world's biggest markets.
The Cubs won out, but there might be a few moments when Zobrist regrets his choice -- such as when he's standing in the batter's box trying to figure out a way to reach base against the Mets' incredible starting pitching.
In Part I of our annual team unit rankings, we present the top 10 rotations in baseball, based on input from evaluators around the game.
Rotation candidates: Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon, Zack Wheeler
Of the National League's top five hardest-throwing starters with at least 140 big league innings in 2015, the Mets have three of them: Syndergaard, whose fastball averaged 97.1 mph; Harvey at 95.9 mph; and deGrom at 95 mph. No. 4 starter Steven Matz, who has less time in the majors and is the least developed of the New York starters, generally checks in at 94-96 mph as well.
There are a ton of relievers who throw this hard these days, but few starting pitchers can maintain high-end velocity three times through a lineup, and the Mets are lined up to have four guys who can do that, with Zack Wheeler, MLB's fifth-hardest throwing starter in 2014, expected back sometime in 2016 after he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
But as the Mets' starters demonstrated on their journey to the World Series last fall, their excellence is rooted not only in how hard they throw, but in the quality of their secondary stuff and their ability to command those pitches. DeGrom, Syndergaard and Harvey ranked 9th, 10th and 12th, respectively, in the majors in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
They're all young, could be together for at least three more seasons and seemingly have a chance to be remembered as one of the best rotations of this generation. The Mets have the best rotation in baseball now, and there really isn't a close second.