Michael Conforto has homered in three straight games, two behind the club record of five straight contests, set by Richard Hidalgo back in 2004, when three of them came against the Yankees. Conforto hit his first two against the Phillies and then last night’s blast came against the Marlins. But Conforto’s hot hitting extends further than just three games. Since the All-Star break, he has an .857 OPS in 206 PA. In the first half of the season, Conforto managed just a .710 mark.
The homers in three straight games are nice but what’s really significant about them is that they all came at Citi Field. Home has been anything but friendly for Conforto this year. Even with this latest outburst, he has just a .641 OPS at Citi Field this year, compared to an .874 mark on the road. His away numbers match his output from 2017 near perfectly, as he had an .871 OPS last year. But the difference in his home numbers are striking. A season ago, Conforto had a 1.000 OPS with a .298 ISO. This year, it’s just a .143 ISO in Citi.
The offensive struggles in Citi Field extend far beyond Conforto. As a team, the Mets have an OPS 120 points lower at home than on the road. Three of the top four hitters on the club in home OPS have been out of action for months and the fourth, Jeff McNeil, has just 70 PA. Brandon Nimmo is the only player with significant ABs in Citi with an OPS over .800 and that’s just barely, as he has an .818 mark. Four players with at least 100 PA have a lower mark than Conforto and Adrian Gonzalez missed making that five by a total of seven PA.
PRIME PLAYERS STRUGGLE – Baseball-Reference has age-based splits, with four classifications. The first is those 25 and under, essentially guys getting established in the majors. Next is 26-30, which should be the prime of a player’s career. Then comes 31-35, which is the beginning of the end. Finally is 36 and up, when most players are running on fumes. In three of the four categories, the numbers on the Mets are virtually indistinguishable from one another. The outlier is the players from age 26-30. But instead of standing out in a good way, these prime players have just a .670 OPS, which ranks 14th in the National League.
The only reason the prime players numbers aren’t worse is because of McNeil. So, what happened? Nimmo was Sandy Alderson’s first pick and he’s 25. The Mets went more with high school hitters in their early top picks under Alderson. Omar Minaya sacrificed some top picks to sign free agents, went pitching with others and the less said about his high school hitters, the better. And this is another area where the Mets’ failure in international signings shows up. Neither Wilmer Flores nor Juan Lagares – the offensive success stories – have been able to establish themselves as regulars.
LONG-TIME CURSE HURTS – The Mets currently have nine players on the 60-day disabled list. Is this a lot? Don’t know – it seems like a lot. Let’s check to see how the other NL East clubs fare in this department: Braves – 9; Marlins – 5; Nationals – 3; Phillies – 0. Of course it’s not just quantity, it’s quality. The Mets are without Yoenis Cespedes. The best player on the shelf for the Braves is Aroyds Vizcaino. Four of the nine players the Mets have on this list – Cespedes, David Wright, AJ Ramos and Juan Lagares – pull down a combined $64.725 million – ouch.
CAN’T GET NO RELIEF – Everyone knows the Mets’ bullpen has been bad and last night was no exception, as two relievers allowed three runs in two innings pitched. But, just how bad has it been? Despite being below average in innings pitched – because of the strength of most of the starters – the relievers rank dead last in the National League in fWAR with a (-1.4) mark. Overall, 14 different relievers who pitched for the club posted a negative fWAR, led by Hansel Robles and his (-0.7) mark. Theoretically, the Mets could get seven freely available pitchers and assemble a better pen. That’s better than paying multi millions to Anthony (-0.5 fWAR) Swarzak and then have him make his first appearance since being activated from the DL be in a one-run game.
NO LUCK AGAINST NOLA – In recent years, the Mets have owned the Phillies. And this year was more of the same, even though the Phillies were up and the Mets were down. The Mets are 10-6 against the Phillies, with three games to play. Hopefully, they won’t square off against Aaron Nola in the last series. Nola is 4-0 against the Mets this year with a 1.97 ERA. They did manage to beat the Phillies in Nola’s first start, as he was removed after just five innings and the Mets made hay against the Philly pen. So, the Mets are 1-4 in Nola starts and 9-2 against the rest.