Singling out singles for the Mets’ offensive woes

Scratch LogoThank the stars for the home run offense!

While everyone and their brother wants to blame the team’s foundation of being built on homers for its recent problems, the simple fact is that the only thing keeping the team alive right now is home runs. Because the singles have gone into hibernation. It seems like blaming home runs for the Mets’ problems is similar to blaming a team’s best player for its shortfalls. It’s easy, it’s convenient and everyone loves a scapegoat.

In April the Mets averaged 1.5 HR per game. In May, that number was 1.4 HR per game.

Meanwhile, the team went from a BABIP of .299 in April to .252 in May.

Is the problem that Curtis Granderson is trying to hit every ball out of the park or is it that a lifetime .299 BABIP hitter has a .222 mark this past month? Maybe he’s not the best example because at age 35 we should probably expect some decline here. But let’s not pretend he’s the only one. Here are some other BABIPs for May:

.257 – Yoenis Cespedes
.189 – Michael Conforto
.265 – David Wright
.236 – Kevin Plawecki
.189 – Lucas Duda

Only Asdrubal Cabrera (.320 BABIP) and Neil Walker (.316) had marks above league average among those who started regularly in May. Neither of them were above league average to the degree that Conforto, Duda and Granderson were below. And the middle infielders combined for seven homers in the month, so it’s not like they weren’t trying to hit the ball out of the park and that their success was due to some philosophy that the others didn’t share.

Matt Reynolds, Ty Kelly and James Loney were all added to the roster and no one will accuse them of being guys who think home run when they come to the bat. That trio has gone 4-36 so far. And to make matters worse, they’ve got nothing to fall back on when the singles don’t drop in.

We all like to blame one person or idea whenever possible and advocate for far-ranging changes at the drop of a hat. Sometimes, not regularly but sometimes, one person or idea is the correct target for scorn. My suggestion is that this time is not one of them.

June got off to a horrific start. Yet my expectation is that by the end of the month, the Mets will once again hit more singles and the BABIPs will regress towards normal. And if the homers can stay at the pace of the first two months, the offense will be just fine. Patience may be a boring solution but it can also be the correct one.

7 comments for “Singling out singles for the Mets’ offensive woes

  1. Chris F
    June 2, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    If we had no HR we would have no offense, that is true. It has got us to a point, but itself will not deliver the division, nor is it healthy. So sure, I’m happy we are hitting HR, but to be any threat, we will have to figure out how to win when we have 13 walks.

  2. June 2, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    As of this morning, League avg. BABIP is .298. Mets are last in the NL at .276. Per BB-Ref.

  3. Eraff
    June 2, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    The teamwide regression to the norm on BABIP may coincide to a “regression to MLB Ballplayers in the lineup”— returnees and guys who may be added in trade.

    Kelly-Reynolds-Rivera-Campbell: 122 ab’s/41 Ks….. those are over-matched hitters. Their Contact is generally defensive. At best, they’re making contact on Pitcher’s Pitches. Building Contact with these guys may not result in dramatic BABIP increases. This is not about luck or Breaks—it’s a demonstration that they are not (at least not yet) MLB level players.

    Washington is not going to hang around and wait for them—and 90 wins may not get a WC. Wright’s return is not the return of a slam dunk ED player—Duda’s will be slower and also with some risk. d’Arnaud is a tremendous defensive liability and a bad arm before his injury—they may need to make a very quick measure ( Loney) and some choices. They cannot afford to lose contact with the Leaders.

  4. Jimmy P
    June 3, 2016 at 9:45 am

    Somebody please start a post that gets us on the only topic of the day, David’s health.

    I googled January’s projections here at 360. Interesting to look at. The biggest surprise this year has been the HR power/Slg %. But generally, we were hopeful and relatively accurate. No one can predict injuries but in this case . . .

    BTW, when the Mets begin by saying “4 to 6 weeks,” doesn’t that translate into “eternity”? A neck injury. Wow. That poor young man. So sad.

    • Chris F
      June 3, 2016 at 9:59 am

      Over at MMO there was an article yesterday about the almost certain end of DWrights career. It was actually shocking to read, and yet at this point it is far more likely that this is his last season than not. It’s practically incomprehensible. We need to seriously consider questions that lie far out of baseball. At a young age, he is facing decisions that will have quality of life implications for 50 years. We as fans and supporters must have a focus on his health as a person, not his OPS. He has a permanent condition with stenosis…my dad has it and has been almost completely unable to golf through his retirement years. David’s situation is so terrifying be a use he has so much life left.

  5. TexasGusCC
    June 3, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t want Flores to get first shot, but I am rooting for Rivera. Truth is, both Flores and Rivera have that “just put it in play” mentality that made both good RBI players in the minors. Hope that continues.

    Further, Matt Reynolds’ scouting report from early last year on AA. I can see why the Mets want to at least make sure on this guy first:
    After the 2013 season, Reynolds followed his agent’s advice and began working with hitting instructor and part-time Mets scout Rick Strickland. Strickland was able to correct the mechanical errors in Reynolds’s swing, and helped him regain the line-drive stroke that had brought him success in the past. The results of the turnaround were immediate, as Reynolds tore up the Eastern League to the tune of a .355/.430/.422 batting line in 58 games with the the Double-A Binghamton Mets. The organization quickly took notice of Reynolds’s success and promoted him to Las Vegas. The shortstop remained hot in Vegas and earned the praise of 51s manager Wally Backman. Backman applauded Reynolds’s work ethic and referred to him as a “grinder,” the kind of player Backman himself was known as during his professional career.

    Despite his impressive performance—.333/.385/.479 in his 68 games—in Triple-A, Reynolds didn’t get a September call-up in 2014. Given that the Pacific Coast League is known to be hitter-friendly and can skew players’ offensive numbers, the Mets sent Reynolds to the Arizona Fall League to give him another look. Reynolds hit just .234/.326/.442 in 21 games in Arizona, but did showcase his defensive abilities, making believers out of many scouts.

    The future is bright for the young shortstop, who is currently at the University of Arkansas preparing for the upcoming season in Triple-A. Ranked as the 19th-best prospect in the Mets’ organization, Reynolds will enter spring training as a dark horse candidate to join the major league roster. Flores, despite the concerns about his quickness and range, will go in as the favorite to start at shortstop. Ruben Tejada will likely be his backup, with Reynolds going back to Vegas for more seasoning.

    Reynolds is going into his age-24 season. If he continues to dominate at the minor league level, the Mets could be forced to consider a promotion as early as May. While it isn’t likely that he’ll assume the starting shortstop role in the very near future, Reynolds brings a tremendous amount of value as a utility infielder: Reynolds has the tools to play second, third, and short, and can hopefully be a solid situational hitter off the bench. Should Flores prove not be a viable major-league shortstop, Reynolds should at least get the opportunity to show what he can do.

    • Chris F
      June 3, 2016 at 10:56 am

      I think this is Reynold’s last real shot to make it at this level as a Met. I don’t have an issue with giving him ABs but not an infinite amount, unless this becomes a “reloading” year. At this point, that would not surprise me. Flores should not be given the chance to be at 3B daily. He simply cannot field the position at a credible level.

      This road trip is going to be brutal with a tough and equal-to-us Marlin team that plays us tough all the time followed by the Pirates. The Nats have Cincinnati the White Sox, and could sweep both. I would be surprised if we lost both series, any maybe even swept in Pitt as usual. All the sudden the Mets are near/at .500 and or 7 back. I hope this doesn’t happen, but…

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