Long throughout the time of sports, fans have loved the story of their homegrown talent contributing at the major league level. Pepper that storyline with a dash of trade deadline dramatics and a pinch of minor league promotion and you have Carlos Gomez, the outgoing center fielder for the New York Mets. Gomez has historically been known for his pop and his glove, never as a particularly patient hitter; historically he owns a 6.1% walk rate which is 2.1% below the league average. This year, Gomez is also amongst the leaders of Mets batters in terms of O-Swing%, also known as swing rate of pitches outside of the zone. Gomez, who owns a 38.8% rate is not alone in this regard as the rest of the club is poor at this statistic. Only three Mets batters are below the 30% league average in this category: Michael Conforto, and you guessed it, Todd Frazier and J.D. Davis.
In the beginning of the season, Met fans shouted their praises for Chili Davis and his teachings of a new offensive approach. Much of his influence has been dispelled since then, but the increase of general swing rate across the club leaves us to wonder if that is his doing, or part of young team’s learning curve (again only Conforto and Frazier are below the league mark in total swing rate, while Gomez swings at an astounding 59% of total pitches). Other offenders of poor O-Swing% are Tomas Nido, Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. Of course, this could all be forgiven if their O-Contact% was improved, however most of the club is just about average at making fair contact at pitches outside the zone. As expected, the poor approach and plate discipline at the plate has led to a decreased contact rate. Jeff McNeil and Wilson Ramos are the lone Mets who makes contact above the league average.
It is difficult to assume what is going on behind the scenes of the Met’s dugout and locker room. However a review of this data suggests that the Mets have altered their overall approach at the plate to be more aggressive. It’s interesting to note that the Mets are notoriously known for their lack of analytics based investments. The inverse of this? Look no further than 2017 World Series Champs, the Houston Astros. In fact, former Astro J.D. Davis had high praise for his former club with regards to their daily preparation; “I just try to be prepared. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned coming over from the Astros, with how those guys prep,” said J.D. Davis.
Davis goes on to explain that during his time in Houston, he would show up to the ballpark each day and there would be a bespoke preparation packet for each batter with scouting reports, charts, ballpark conditions, etc. This commitment to excellence is most certainly a cog in the Astros development machine, something that the Met’s seem to be poor at. Of course, an improvement in this area would require a fresh new perspective and an investment in technology and staff. We shall see if this aggressive approach pays off for the Mets, however I’d wager that simply flailing at more pitches will not result in more wins.