It has been a rough start to the season for two-thirds of Sandy Alderson’s “big” free agency acquisitions. While Bartolo Colon has gotten off to a decent start, Chris Young and Curtis Granderson have stumbled somewhat in the early going.
Young’s struggles have been much less alarming than Grandersons, mostly because of the much smaller sample size involved, but also the presence of some kind of process. Take his 11 pitch at bat Sunday against Tom Koehler for example. Young laid off pitches outside of the zone, fouled off several others and it resulted in a long home run.
He is pretty much who we thought he is: a player who will hit for a low average (.194) and good power (.194 ISO) and play a better defense than Lucas Duda. As the sample size grows, Young’s batting average should regress toward his career numbers somewhere in the .220 to .230 range, and if it does, he should have a solid season.
On the other hand, Granderson has a little bit of a larger sample to go by, and the results aren’t even as good as Young’s. On the still young season, Granderson has hit just .192/.242/.212. Just about the only redeeming thing about that line is that Granderson is taking his walks, but that is not exactly inspiring.
You can say that Granderson has gotten unlucky when he’s hit the ball hard this year, and you’d be right, but the problem lies in that he’s not hitting the ball with authority enough to say that luck has been the only factor – he has stunk.
It is nice to think that maybe the two walk-offs in the last week could do something to help get him going at the plate, and perhaps it will. Since that hit on Friday night, however, Granderson is 0-9 with two walks and two runs scored – not exactly something that indicates he’s breaking out.
All of this isn’t to say, of course, that luck hasn’t played any kind of role in Granderson’s struggles this season – pretty much any time a non-pitcher has a BABIP of .175 there is some bad luck involved – but he’s not necessarily helping out his cause by striking out 28 percent of the time.
But like Young, that’s who Granderson is at this stage of his career. When you’re going to strike out that much, whatever struggles you are having when the ball is put in play are only going to be amplified. When that happens at the beginning of a season, it only looks even worse.
Yet despite the struggles from two of the new Mets, the team has found success in the early going thanks mostly to their strong starting pitching. Despite an even run differential and a team wOBA of .277 (MLB average is .313), they’ve been able to scratch and claw out 14 wins in the first 25 games.
With peripheral stats such as the ones that the Mets have, the .560 pace that the Mets are on is unsustainable. A lot of people may mention the 2007 Diamondbacks as a counter argument to this – the team had a Pythagorean record of 79-83, and a real record of 90-72 – but that team was an aberration. Teams simply do not outperform their run differentials reliably enough.
If the Mets are to continue the success that they’ve had so far this year, they need to start hitting. There’s no reason yet to worry about Travis d’Arnaud, who is starting to come around, though the power is not there yet, and the same can be said for David Wright.
The real concerns should be focused on Granderson and Young, because if they can get it going, the Mets might just make some noise in the National League this year.
Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville SwampDogs and a play-by-play announcer for NJ.org Varsity.