The New York Mets have been criticized throughout the whole season for the way that they have performed on the field. Most players, with the exception of Jacob deGrom and Brandon Nimmo, most players have fell very short of their expectations, or have not been on the field to execute those expectations. As an aggregate however, we should criticize the construction of this team. After all, this team is a victim of being built for the wrong type of ballpark.
The Mets have been scoring runs at an incredible pace lately. Between a two game stretch, against the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies, the Mets scored a grand total of 40 runs. Not only did this make deGrom shake his head in disbelief, but it had many Mets fans asking if the team had finally put it together. What those fans need to do however, is take a step back and look at the one commonality between the Phillies and Orioles. Both of those teams just happen to play in stadiums that are known league wide for their friendliness to power hitters.
Since its inception in 2009, Citi Field has been basically known as the opposite. The field that the Mets have called home now for almost 10 years may be beautiful for a fan to catch a game in, but hitters have struggled at the plate there. This year, Citi Field has the lowest ranking on ESPN’s park factor ranking, and it is not even close. Citi Field’s number is .687, with the next highest being the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum at .754. According to ESPN, Park Factor compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road. A rate higher than 1.000 favors the hitter. Below 1.000 favors the pitcher. While this may be nice for Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard, the lineup of this team suffers from playing in a stadium that it just simply isn’t designed for.
There are numerous statistics that show that this lineup was crafted to play in other stadiums. The Mets have hit 49 home runs at home, while they have slugged 78 home runs on the road. Compare that to the aforementioned Phillies, who have hit 84 at home and 49 on the road. Possibly the stat that stands out most is that the Mets are hitting .214 at home, but .256 on the road. This tells me that these players are very capable of hitting productively, but maybe just not at Citi Field.
How can the front office fix this problem? They certainly can’t build a new stadium, and they certainly shouldn’t. Their team ERA at home is 3.81, which is impressive considering that Jason Vargas has a home ERA of 6.75. The pitching staff benefits strongly from pitching at Citi Field, which is beneficial to the young arms that are starting to come into form. Instead they need to build a lineup with maybe only one or two hitters focused on power, with the others focused on speed and getting on base. With players with more speed, gap hitters will take advantage of a spacious outfield, and there will be more runs generated. While a lineup with power hitters from top to bottom may sound enticing, the fact of the matter is that it will not work at Citi Field.