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In the past when I have written an article on the Mets for the Chronicle’s fall preview issue, the focus has been basically a prognosis of what the team would be during the off-season, since the remaining month of the season was fairly meaningless. This year, however, the Mets are legitimately in contention for a postseason berth. And no matter what happens in September (and longtime Mets fans know that a lot of good and bad has happened in the team’s history the last month of the season) the Amazin’s have made significant progress this year.

Even the most rabid Mets fan will concede that their first-place team has been the beneficiary of the fact that the Washington Nationals, with a vastly superior and expensive roster that has plenty of postseason experience, have badly underachieved this season. Like the Mets, the Nationals lost many

of their starting players to lengthy stays on the disabled list. Second-year manager Matt Williams has been roundly criticized for questionable in-game moves and there is a good chance that he may be canned after the season even if the Nationals do overtake the Mets and win the National League East.