Finding a prognosticator, analyst, fan or soothsayer who didn’t have the New York Mets in the postseason dance was probably more difficult to find than a colleague who picked them to return to the World Series. Years of rebuilding, two consecutive playoff appearances and a roster full of both talented youth and veterans fueled the dreams.
But 19 games into the season, those dreams threaten to mutate into nightmares, courtesy of a dagger to the back. The Mets offense has betrayed the club’s pitching staff, which has somehow kept New York within striking distance of almost every single game. Only two games – back-to-back 7-2 and 8-1 losses to the Miami Marlins earlier this month – ever had the Mets more than four runs behind.
Sometimes it’s a matter of relievers giving up a crooked number – like Fernando Salas blowing a 3-2 lead on April 15 – and other times it’s a matter of starters yielding a few too many runs – as Jacob deGrom did in a 3-1 loss on April 22.
As a whole, New York pitchers are allowing 4.32 runs a game, which includes four extra-inning affairs and 23 runs in just three games against the Marlins.
The offense is averaging 4.2 runs a game, a figure heavily-buoyed by one anomaly – a 14-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Striking that game results in an uglier 3.6 runs a game; even that’s generous considering the Mets haven’t scored more than five runs in a game in nine consecutive games.
Examining the statistics is a dreadful task. They’re no. 30 in stolen bases; no. 30 in batting average on balls in play; no. 29 of 30 in batting average; no. 27 in on-base percentage; and no. 21 in slugging. Even the stats where they fare better aren’t inspiring – no. 20 in strikeouts; no. 19 in total bases; no. 17 in runs scored; no. 16 in RBI; and no. 9 in walks drawn. The only statistic they excel at is home runs, boasting the second- most in the majors.
General Manager Sandy Alderson said during Spring Training that he wanted “less reliance on the home run, better with men in scoring position, a little higher on-base percentage.”
Nineteen games into the 2017 campaign, New York is averaging 1.5 home runs a game compared to 1.3 home runs a game last season. And for added measure, round-trippers make up 21 percent of all Met hits this season, compared to 16.24 percent in 2016.
Don’t be tempted by the seemingly innocuous runners in scoring position numbers. After all, the club is no. 8 in batting average and no. 7 in on-base plus slugging in these situations. The mask is bared by the team’s number of at-bats in these situations – 95, easily dead-last with as the only 2017 club not to have at least 100 and way below the MLB average of 146.
And for added measure, this year’s Mets team is no. 27 in on-base percentage at .288, compared to the still-disappointing .316 figure that earned last year’s club a tie for no. 21.
The New York Mets offense generally can’t get on base, advance on the base paths or cross home plate – unless it involves cracking one over the fence. This coming from an offense featuring power-first threats like Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson. Adding an already-banged up Asdrubal Cabrera, an infected Wilmer Flores and an atrocious Jose Reyes concocts the stuff of nightmares.
Et tu, Brute?