The Mets are 24-21 since the All-Star break, good for a .533 winning percentage. Over a full season that’s 86 wins. If they had played at that pace all season long, they’d be right in the thick of the NL East race. The Braves are in first place with a .547 winning percentage and the Phillies are in second with a .525 mark.
So, how have they done it? The easy answer is starting pitching and with Zack Wheeler pitching nearly as good as Jacob deGrom, and Jason Vargas not being a guaranteed loss each time out, it’s hard to discount that. But what gets lost with all of the attention focused on the rotation is that the offense has more than held its own here in the second half.
The Mets are third in the National League with 214 runs scored since play resumed after the All-Star game. They’ve been averaging 4.8 runs per game since the break. Brandon Nimmo (.977 OPS) and Jeff McNeil (.848) have led the charge but the key is that there have been virtually no anchors in the lineup. Of the 10 players with the most PA, the worst OPS belonged to Jose Bautista (.597) and even that came with 4 HR, 16 R and 16 RBIs in 34 games before he was traded to the Phillies.
Of course, scoring 40 runs over two games helps the offensive numbers. But just as important is cutting down on the games where the offense essentially no-shows. Since the break, there have been nine games where the offense tallied zero or one run. That’s 20 percent of the time. Compare that to late May-early June when they scored fewer than two runs six times in seven games and scored 13 runs in the following six games.
In the 48 games from May 1 to June 23, the Mets scored 165 runs for an average of 3.4 runs per game. And the club scored 12 runs twice in that span. The Mets were 14-34 in that stretch, which effectively ended their season.
So, what do we make of this? It’s a stretch of roughly ¼ of the season where the offense has pulled its weight. It’s no secret that the offense needs a productive Michael Conforto and after a first half with a .710 OPS, Conforto has posted an .817 mark since the break. Other players with noticeable splits include Todd Frazier (.780/.685), Jay Bruce (.839/.613) and Amed Rosario (.707/.668). Rosario’s numbers don’t stand out as much because he started off the second half slow. His first 10 games after the break he had a .445 OPS. But since August 1, Rosario has a .313/.345/.448 line in 142 PA.
The starters look good and the offense is coming around. Things look almost rosy if you ignore the bullpen. The quartet of Tim Peterson, Jacob Rhame, Paul Sewald and Bobby Wahl have combined for 32 IP and 37 ER here in the second half. They make Tyler Bashlor and Daniel Zamora – with ERAs right around 5 – look good by comparison.