Even after winning Saturday’s game by nine runs, the Mets have a -21 run differential for the season, meaning they have been outscored by 21 despite winning more games than they have lost. This fact has been beaten home, both at this site and others, because it is so hard to be a playoff team when you allow more runs to score than you cross the plate. But while run differential grabs all the headlines, one thing has gone mostly unnoticed:
The Mets are a terrific team in the sunshine. After yesterday’s win, the Mets are 14-6 this year in day games, the second-best mark in the National League, trailing only the Reds (15-5). So, why are the Mets so good in the sunshine? It’s a total team effort. Here are their batting and pitching splits
D: .284/.356/.407 – .764
N: .242/.319/.360 – .678
D: .247/.312/.382 – .694
N: .279/.335/.451 – .786
On the batting side nearly all of the difference comes from BABIP. The Mets have a team .352 BABIP in day games compared to a .302 mark in night games. Daniel Murphy has a .402 BABIP in day games and David Wright checks in with a .472 mark. Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.489) and Ruben Tejada (.432) also are performing wonderfully under the sun.
On the pitching side, a lot of the difference comes from the gopher balls. Opposing batters hit a HR every 44.9 at-bats in day games compared to a National League average of every 42 at-bats. But in night games, Mets pitchers surrender a homer every 29.4 ABs compared to a 37.1 league average. Jonathon Niese has served up 7 HR in 17 IP in night games while Dillon Gee has surrendered 6 HR in eight starts under the lights.
Of the 115 games remaining on the schedule, the Mets have 35 day games left. The July 1st game against the Dodgers is currently listed as TBD, meaning it could end up as the ESPN Sunday Night game. If that game indeed ends up under the lights, the Mets will finish with 80 night games. If they maintain their current winning percentage for day and night contests, the Mets will go 25-10 in day games, 36-44 in night games and finish with an 87-75 overall record.
The Mets play their next two games in the afternoon, hoping for a 3-1 series win over the Padres and to get off on the right foot versus the Phillies.
It will be curious to see if the Mets can continue their fine play in day games. Last year there was virtually no difference for the team in day games compared to night games. The Mets had a .472 winning percentage in the sunshine and a .477 mark under the lights. But there is a precedent in the team’s recent past for preferring day games. In 2009, the Mets had a .545 winning percentage in day games and only a .374 mark in night games.