Just how amazing is the Mets’ 42-4 record in runs allowed split?

The Mets beat the Nationals Saturday night, 2-0, to bring their record to 42-4 when they hold their opponents to three runs or fewer. That amazes me. Obviously all teams will have a good record in these situations but for a sub .500 team to be playing at a .913 winning percentage seems significant. So let’s do a little digging to see how unusual this is or isn’t.

Overall, the Mets have a .475 winning percentage so I checked all clubs with a winning percentage between .451 and .499 so far this season to get a group of comparable teams. Besides the Mets, there are six other teams in MLB to fall in this range. They are all listed in the chart below, ranked by overall winning percentage.

  Overall Allowed 3- runs 3- Win PCT Comeback Wins Blown Leads
BOS .488 36-10 .783 28 30
NYM .475 42-4 .913 18 26
SEA .471 42-15 .737 17 30
TOR .467 36-7 .837 24 29
PHI .458 36-10 .783 22 33
MIA .455 40-15 .727 30 29
MIL .454 34-11 .756 32 32
Total   266-72 .787    

The Mets’ record in these types of games stands out compared to their peer group. They are tied for the most wins and they have the fewest losses. And their winning percentage is 76 points higher than the second-best in the group.

Another thing that stands out is that despite the oft-cited lousiness of the bullpen, the Mets have not blown a huge number of leads. In fact they have squandered the fewest leads of any of the teams in their peer group. Seemingly where the bullpen really hurts the team is keeping games close, allowing the Mets to forge a comeback.

The Mets’ 18 comeback wins is the second-worst mark in the peer group. But this likely says as much about the offense as it does the pitching. Before we get to the offense, let’s look at a few more pitching items. When the Mets have a lead at the start of the 8th inning, they are 49-4. When they have a lead at the start of the 9th inning, they are 52-1. Is now a good time to lament how many wins the Mets have lost because of their shaky closer?

Snark aside, the Mets are simply not a good team when the other team scores first. I was unable to find a split on Baseball-Reference for the team’s record depending upon who scores first. But the Mets are 26-3 when they lead after the first inning and 7-23 when they are behind in the same situation. As early as the first inning you can get a very good idea who is going to win the game, assuming a team scores.

Of course, a team scores in the first inning in only about half of the games so far for the 2012 Mets. So you need to watch a little more than that. But five innings should just about do it. By the start of the sixth inning, the Mets are 43-8 (.843) with a lead and 6-45 (.118) when they are behind.

In the first half, the Mets felt like a team that would earn more than their fair share of comeback wins. It seemed like an offense that could score no matter what part of the lineup was coming up. But as a fan I no longer have that confidence. The Mets have won 11 games since the All-Star break and only one of those did they trail at any point in the game.

The only comeback win in the second half came July 30th versus the Giants. The Mets fell behind 1-0 early and had a 4-2 deficit after seven innings. They came back to win, 8-7, in 10 innings. That’s it, that’s the total of comebacks in the second half. The Mets have played 34 games after the break and have one come-from-behind win. This is not limited to late-inning comebacks. In their last 34 games, the Mets have only won once in a game that they trailed at any point.

In the first half, the Mets averaged 4.6 runs per game. In the second half they have averaged just 3.7 runs per game. And those runs have been clustered, with the Mets scoring six or more runs nine times. Over 51% of the runs the Mets have scored in the second half have come in those nine games. On the flip side, the Mets have scored two runs or fewer 13 times in 34 games in the second half.

So, hopefully the Mets can score early against Gio Gonzalez today. The last time they faced him, the Mets scored twice in the first inning and had a 9-1 lead after five innings. Chances are they won’t score nine again today. Still an early lead seems to be the only way the Mets can win right now. For today, the Mets need to score first and hope Jeremy Hefner can turn in a strong outing.

5 comments for “Just how amazing is the Mets’ 42-4 record in runs allowed split?

  1. Chris F
    August 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Great, if not terrifying analysis Brian.

  2. NormE
    August 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Brian, you are really doing your homework. I suppose we Mets fans had suspicions that this sort of thing was happening, but your researching diligence has given real life to this weird, mediocre team.

    • August 19, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      That could be the epitaph for the 2012 Mets — A weird, mediocre team

  3. AJ
    August 20, 2012 at 12:03 am

    I just now read this article. But earlier today I was watching the game and I turned it off after the Mets went down 4 to 0 in the early innings. The stats you cite give confirmation to an intuitive sense developed by watching most of the Mets’ games this season – if the Mets go into an early hole they will most likely stay there. Every now and again they’ll bounce back, but the smart money says when this year’s team goes down they stay down. No reason to waste a couple or three hours watching the futility.

    The Mets playing meaningless games in August and September has become part of the cycle of the seasons; the nights get cooler, you see the first signs of leaves changing color and the Mets are steadily heading in the opposite direction of first place. Won’t be long now ’til the Winter Meetings…

  4. Name
    August 20, 2012 at 11:52 am

    It is quite strange that they have such a high winning percentage when they give up 3 runs or less. I think that can be summed up by saying that when the pitching is good, the hitters are into the game and able to produce. I have noticed too many times lately that when the offense doesn’t have a lead, they seem to go stagnant and can’t do anything.

    As for not having that many blown leads, i think it certainly goes beyond that. Take last Sunday for example. We were up like 6-1 on the Braves, and in the 9th Edgin/Franky frank allowed 4 runs to make it 6-5. They ended up winning that and didn’t get credited with a “blown lead” but it certainly felt that way. Also, like you said, it doesn’t take into account games we could have won when already behind if the bullpen didn’t allow so many extra insurance runs.

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