When did it all go wrong for the Mets?

A season that began with plenty of promise has turned sour for the Mets. A case could be made for several different times as marking a spot where things went south. On April 16, the Mets entered the game against the Nats with a 12-2 record, then opened up a big lead but dropped the game 8-6. Perhaps it was May 9, when the Mets lost 2-1 to the Reds in a game where the Mets batted out of order. Then there was June 1, when the Mets lost to the Cubs 7-4, dropping below .500 for the first time, and officially squandering away their great start. However, the case could be made that an offseason move was the catalyst for Met futility in 2018.

On November 2, 2017, then Mets batting coach Kevin Long signed with the Washington Nationals as their batting coach. Reports at the time said the Mets had wanted to retain Long. Long of course had applied for the managerial job that ultimately went to Mickey Callaway, so no one could blame him for leaving after not getting the promotion he thought he deserved.

Long was the Mets batting coach for three seasons, and many players credited him with improving their hitting during that time frame. Daniel Murphy revised his stance and launch angle at the urging of Long, and went from a singles hitter to a feared power hitter in the latter part of 2015, and especially in the playoffs as the Mets made their pennant run. Neil Walker and Yoenis Cespedes, among others, credited Long for helping them become better hitters.

This year though, with Long gone, the Mets offensive production has plunged. The team slash line as of this writing is .231/.310/.382, resulting in 319 runs scored, which is good for only 26th place among MLB teams. Michael Conforto, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce, among others, have all seriously regressed at the plate. Bruce, for example, has an OPS of just .613. As the recent open thread on this site noted, Kevin Plawecki is hitting a lot of ground balls. Long has been a strong proponent of higher launch angles, perhaps he could have helped with getting Plawecki on track for getting more batted balls into the air.

The starting pitching for the Mets has held up well. Jacob deGrom is a potential Cy Young award candidate with his league-leading 1.84 ERA. Noah Syndergaard, although limited to 11 starts so far due to injury, has a 3.06 ERA. Steven Matz has a solid ERA figure of 3.46, and although Zack Wheeler has a 4.47 ERA, he has pitched much better of late. His ERA for June was 3.26. Only fifth starter Jason Vargas has been bad.

The combination of fine starting pitching and poor batting, especially in key spots, has lead to an abundance of games where the opposition scores only one or two runs yet they still win the game. The bullpen has hurt the team, but the off seasons of so many hitters has really weighed the Mets down.

8 comments for “When did it all go wrong for the Mets?

  1. Chris F
    July 3, 2018 at 10:33 am

    Dont forget the atrocious defense that has also been at the root of giving opponents extra outs…and extra runs.

    But the “when” question was sealed some time back. The team was really only super good for 2 months of regular season games…Aug and Sept 2015. The approach brought by the GM and the players he brought in have been a profound disappointment. In 7.5 years of Alderson’s FO, the Mets own a pretty poor .481 winning percentage, or a 78 wins per year team. The long and short of it, this team has been broken for a long time.

  2. July 3, 2018 at 10:45 am

    December 10, 2008

    • David Groveman
      July 3, 2018 at 11:17 am

      Beat me to making a similar joke.

  3. Michael
    July 3, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Perhaps it was when they mixed up Cespedes’ and Gomez’ x-rays. Good Lord we have paid in spades for those two glorious months of 2015.

  4. July 3, 2018 at 11:01 am

    I pin the date Monday, April 16, 2018.

    Cruising with a 6-1 lead in the 7th inning vs. NL East favorite Washington and Jacob deGrom on the mound, the fans begin to mock Bryce Harper — who had accounted for the Nationals’ lone run with a broken-bat homer — with a sing-song serenade of his name. Josh Lewin on the radio warned, “Hey, this is fun & all, but be careful. This game isn’t over. You don’t wanna wake the big guy up.” As it turned out, it woke up his teammates. The bullpen coughed up that lead in a 6-run 8th inning and the Mets lost, 8-6, leaving them with a record of 12-3.

    The Baseball Gods’ retribution was swift and terrible. The Mets had their first losing week of the season. They’ve had 1 winning week, since..

    Since that night, the Mets have gone 21-45.

    • John Fox
      July 3, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Charlie I did mention that date in the first paragraph, thanks for fleshing it out

  5. Mike Walczak
    July 3, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Last off season. Bruce, Vargas, Reyes, Gonzalez, Frazier and Callaway.

  6. July 3, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    August 14, 2002. The date that Nelson Doubleday was bought out by Fred Wilpon. That’s the date when it all started to go wrong for the Mets.

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