With more than 20% of their games played so far, the Mets are in last place in the NL East with a .385 win percentage and a 5-8 record.
While it isn’t too late to storm to the top, several things have been hurting the team and need to be addressed so that the losses can become wins. Too, losing two games in the last inning with your best reliever blowing the save aren’t going to help things, but other things have been a more consistent problem.
One is the RISP production: Second to last in the majors and that needs to be fixed, although it appears the fix has started. Those long swings that the Mets were taking have started shortening. In Sunday’s game, Pete Alonso took a 3-2 pitch and served it to right for a two-out base hit to plate a run. That was smart hitting and the Mets need to embrace that thinking.
The second most worrisome stat is the Mets were second to last in fielding efficiency before Wednesday’s defensive clinic and are still 25th after it. To this topic on Sunday, Luis Rojas bluntly said, “We can’t keep giving them extra outs each inning.” He’s right and the numbers back it. The Mets’ starters’ ERA is 4.71, but their FIP is 3.66 and their xFIP is 3.77. The relievers’ ERA is 5.33, but their FIP is only 4.23 and their xFIP is 3.88, despite the sad state of Dellin Betances and Edwin Diaz. The overall team ERA is 4.97, 24th in MLB, but their 3.82 xFIP is 11th. The bad fielding is also producing hits at a .309 BABIP, 4th highest in MLB.
Look at these efforts achieved in losses:
.718 OPS, second in MLB to the Yankees’ .739.
.352 OBP, first in MLB and second is San Diego at .314.
.263 AVG, second to Yankees’ .272 and 20 points higher than the third place Giants.
.354 BABIP, first in MLB by 50 points!
21st in Pitches per Inning at 18.33, while only 8th in BB/9.
In short, the majority of the reason the Mets are losing games is because they weren’t catching the ball well enough. The low fielding efficiency was leading to more pitches for the pitchers, more runs allowed than they should have given up, and a complete negating of their good offense.
Now it may be said that they weren’t going to have this good an offense with more gloves in the lineup, but to that I say that the Giants won three World Series last decade playing that way, and all five teams with a worse defensive efficiency rating than the Mets are also below .500 and they haven’t blown games in the other team’s last at-bat two times! These teams are the Royals (.286 win%), Red Sox (.333), Angels (.385), Phillies (.429, and a terrible bullpen ERA of 9.18, but their xFIP is 5.11), and Rays (.417 win%).
The one defensive player with the most staying power is Billy Hamilton because the Mets options in the outfield are few and in CF are fewer. Also, Hamilton can create a run by himself if he gets on base and that is gold to a team; the problem is getting on base. Historically, August has been Hamilton’s best month, so… Coincidentally, August is his lowest K% at 18.7 while September is his worst at 23.5. But, September is also half the plate appearances of August so he may be pressing (Full disclosure: I’ve always loved Hamilton’s tools but the results have not been there, yet).