Comparing the Mets to 29 other Major League teams, their 276 runs scored is only better than three other teams. Stellar pitching continues to outweigh suspect defense for a 24.1 dWAR, but a –39.4 oWAR – sixth worse in the league – brings their total WAR down to 7.7
Identifying and eliminating the source of the stank has been troublesome, especially lately. New York scored 22 runs in the last 10 games, including Sunday’s 7-run anomaly. They don’t hit for power, get clutch hits or put bunts down.
Some of it has to come from a lack of talent. It’s all but impossible to score runs fielding a team of Eric Campbell, Darrell Ceciliani, John Mayberry Jr. and sadly Michael Cuddyer. Poor decisions have been made in talent acquisition and minor league call-ups, and there aren’t many remedies mid-season.
Bad luck, as skipper Terry Collins and hitting coach Kevin Long claimed, is also a part of the offensive offense. There have been some well-struck balls that find the webbing of a defender’s glove or the wrong side of a foul pole. Using BABIP, the Mets are not only well under the typical .300, but at .280, they have the third weakest Batting Average on Balls In Play. Even last year’s BABIP wasn’t that bad.
“When you’re going through it, it always seems like it’s the worst ever, but we’ll come through it. We’ll be fine. We just need to stay together and keep fighting,” Long said.
But another component of their woes may actually be the hitting coach’s fault. The team mantra is to wait for their pitch and unload. What’s actually happening is the Mets are walking less than the Major League average, striking out more than the average and just all around failing compared to the average.
Part of that comes from too much patience and a lack of aggression at the dish. Sabremetrics reveal the Mets are very good at not swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, not swinging through a pitch and making contact on pitches in the strike zone. They see an average amount of first pitch strikes, but more total strikes than 22 other teams. New York, however, is one of the least likely to swing at a strike and are worse at making contact with pitches out of the strike zone. The Z-Swing metric measures swings at strikes compared to all pitches within the strike zone. As of mid-day Monday, the Mets were no. 20 with a 65.9 percent in a range of 61.5-71 percent.
This passive approach may be stifling young hitters like Dilson Herrera and Wilmer Flores. Through the minors, Herrera showed promise of hitting 20+ doubles and 10+ home runs every season. A .302/.367/.464 minor league slash, along with an average of 28 walks and 63 strikeouts, suggested his bat may have that pop. Instead, the 21-year-old second baseman boasts a weak .195/.290/.390 slash with just a pair each of doubles and home runs to go along with 9 walks and 22 strikeouts in 25 games. Formerly known as the heir apparent shortstop, Flores is sporting a .238/.270/.395 slash with 10 each of doubles and home runs to go along with 9 walks and 35 strikeouts in 71 games. As a farmhand, the 23-year-old slashed .292/.334/.440 and averaged 25 walks and 59 strikeouts a season.
Both players hit for high averages, power, few walks and a reasonable amount of strikeouts before they arrived in Queens. Maybe it’s not just ironic their numbers tanked since they joined a club so focused on waiting and taking pitches.