Sunday the Mets left 10 runners on base and lost, 5-2. The story of the game is they had their chances but could not cash in. It stood in stark contrast to Saturday’s contest, where the Mets left only three runners on base but won the game. It’s easy to view Left On Base (LOB) as a negative thing but if you are ever asked to lead the league in a negative category, make sure you pick LOB.
The Cardinals lead the National League with a 4.84 runs per game average. They also lead the league on LOB with a 7.39 mark. On the flip side, the Cubs are 15th with a 3.73 runs per game mark and 15th in LOB with a 6.25 mark. The Mets are eighth with a 4.32 runs per game mark and are third with a 7.01 LOB.
For teams without a lot of power, the mantra has always been: “Get them on, get them over, get them in.” There’s no way to get them in without getting them on in the first place. And the sad reality is that there is always going to be “waste” in this equation. Not every runner who gets on, gets in. Think of it as a cost of doing business.
It’s frustrating to have a game with double-digit LOB totals because it’s easy to see a path to victory. When you lose a game and only have a couple of LOB – it becomes easy for the mind to say that the team just ran into a good pitcher. And no doubt there is some truth to that belief. But when the team only has two LOB against pitchers like Jason Marquis and Mike Leake, as the Mets have done recently, that seems like an indictment of the offense.
Since the All-Star break, the Mets have had eight games where they left four or fewer runners on base. They have a 1-7 mark in those games.
Another way that the offense is not producing here in the second half is by how many double plays they have hit. Here it is important to distinguish between a line drive double play, where the batter hit the ball good but had the misfortune of hitting it right at someone, and a ground ball double play, which is typically a ball not hit particularly hard.
In the first half of the season, the Mets hit 57 GDPs in 86 games, an average of two every three games. That is slightly below average and overall a pretty normal mark. The National League averages .71 GDP per game.
Since the All-Star break, the Mets have hit 32 GDPs in 35 games, an average of .91 GDP per game. For the season, the Dodgers have the highest GDP rate in the NL, with an averaged of .89 GDP per game.
In the second half of the season the Mets have had a bunch of games like Sunday, where they get runners on but cannot get them home. They’ve also had a fair share of games like Saturday, where they don’t even get runners on base. And when they do get runners on, they are hitting into more rally-killing GDPs than they did in the first half.
It’s not easy to play at a .314 winning percentage over a 35-game stretch, especially for a team that played at a .535 clip over the first 86 games. In a 162-game season, a .314 winning percentage would mean a record of 51-111 and I refuse to believe that is indicative of the talent on hand.
If asked to guess what happened, I would say that part of it was regression, part of it bullpen issues, part of it bad luck and part of it poor managing, both on and off the field. It’s impossible to say what percentage to put into each category and where you put the blame for the second half skid probably says a lot about how you view the game in general.
All I know is that I would rather watch a game where the Mets leave 12 men on base rather than one in which they strand two. In games where the Mets leave 12 or more batters on base, they are 5-3. In games where they strand two batters, they are 1-5.