Mets batters’ Brutus to pitchers’ Caesar

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?

8 comments for “Mets batters’ Brutus to pitchers’ Caesar

  1. Chris F
    April 26, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Dont leave out the starting pitching, which has been a considerable disappointment for a group of supposed #1s. They need to provide more than 7 innings per outing, and from what Ive seen not getting to 7. That puts the high stress on the middle part of the pen in particular, which is now facing burnout. The other aspect of the short starts is that places the relievers, who have overall done excellent work, to hold the game close or maintain thin leads for many innings.

    My grade for the rotation so far is C. And its hurting all other aspects of the game. For example, two highly mentioned CY candidates are Syndergaard and Kershaw. Kershaw has pitched nearly 10 innings more than Syndergaard already. That is not good.

    • Name
      April 26, 2017 at 1:19 pm

      You only need 1 simple reason to give the rotation a C.

      2 guys have ERAs north of 5.

      • Chris F
        April 26, 2017 at 1:34 pm

        yeah,well,that too.

  2. Jimmy P
    April 26, 2017 at 10:31 am

    And after tonight Noah will close that gap to 2-3 innings.

    Like it or not, the starting rotation was decimated with injuries last season. So the brain trust got together to plan a strategy to try to help these guys stay on the field and stay strong in October. The idea was to limit innings in Spring Training and to gradually ease them into longer outings as the season got into May.

    You may not like that decision, but in no way was it a failure of the starters. We really won’t be able to evaluate it until the end of the year. Will Jake be out of gas, like he was in 2015? Will Harvey be healthy? What happens to Wheeler? Matz?

    I don’t know the answers. But I do understand the intent behind limiting the innings early in the year. In my view, the starters deserve an A. I’m very pleased with Noah, Jake, Matt, and Zack. They’ve been great and are soooooo not the problem.

    • April 26, 2017 at 11:14 am

      That was my thinking. If we’re criticizing the starters and management for only getting 5-6 innings of 2-run ball from a starter instead of 7-8 innings for the first month of the season, it’s nitpicking. Asking the hitters to have a batting average closer to .300 than .200 and actually get on base, is not.

    • Chris F
      April 26, 2017 at 11:28 am

      Well I disagree. Blisters, fingernails, and blah blah blah are all not good. So we limited innings in of starters to burn the pen and fall back to Braves country? Much like the offense, thats a terrible plan. It shows. However, what we have witnessed are not innings limits, but pitch limits. If the pitchers were better, then they wouldnt need 97 to go 5 2/3. Thats inexcusable in my eyes.

      • April 26, 2017 at 2:59 pm

        By that argument, we’re expecting every starter to be great and go 7+ innings every game before handing it off to Reed and Familia, ideally shutting out every opponent. Unrealistic, no?

        Why not focus on the huge elephant in the room – the lack of offense forcing pitchers to be perfect.

        • Chris F
          April 26, 2017 at 3:12 pm

          Because aces and #1s pitch more than 6 innings.

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