It used to be that you talked about a team’s performance with runners in scoring position and people’s eyes would glaze over. And then 2016 happened, when for nearly five months out of the season, the Mets had the worst performance in the category since the expansion Padres in 1969. Then people started taking notice. Earlier this year, it was a common refrain to point out how poorly the Mets were doing in this split.
The 2020 version of this is a team’s record in blowout games compared to its overall record. Conventional wisdom is that good teams win the close ones. And as a general rule of thumb, they do. But you’ll always find multiple teams with winning records who finish below .500 in one-run games. It turns out luck plays a significant role in these games, too. But if you want to see a mark of a team’s quality, you should check out their mark in blowout games, defined as ones with a margin of five runs or greater.
The 2019 Nationals, the team that won the World Series, won 93 games during the regular season, yet were 17-21 in one-run games. But they were 29-19 in blowouts. That’s just one example. Let’s look at all of the clubs in 2019-2020 and see what their records were in blowouts. While this is just a partial season, it will still give us a 60-team sample.
|Team||Year||G||W||L||W-L%||BL W||BL L||BL %||BL% – O%|
It’s really easy to get lost in a 60-line chart. But you should know of the 32 teams to have a .500 or better record overall, 30 of them finished with a .500 or better record in blowouts, too. Only the 2019 Brewers and the 2020 Marlins failed to have a winning record in blowouts. And when this season is finished, no one will be surprised if the Marlins finish with a losing record overall.
On the flip side, of the 28 teams with losing records, only the 2020 Mets and the 2019 and 2020 Reds had winning records in blowouts. The Mets’ 2020 blowout winning percentage of .692 is the seventh-best mark in the majors over the past two seasons. Is it a small sample illusion? Perhaps. You’d think the Mets would be in line for a few more blowout losses, given the shaky status of their starting pitching. But their offense is really good, so it’s not a surprise they have a bunch of blowout wins.
And tying it back to RISP, a better performance in that category will help the overall record.
THE SQUIRREL GETS HIS WINGS – Jeff McNeil is flying high, shaking off a mediocre start to pound the ball in the past two weeks. In his last 12 games, McNeil has a 1.330 OPS, thanks to a streak where he homered in four straight games. He has 11 extra-base hits in his last 54 trips to the plate. There were quite a few people before the season started who wanted McNeil to go back to be the hitter he was when he first came up, one who concentrated on putting the ball in play and one who posted a high average. But the McNeil who cranks XBH is the one we should want to see. After years of watching Daniel Murphy being content to flick the ball the other way for a single, it’s amazing that people want McNeil to follow that path, after what we saw Murhpy do down the stretch in 2015 and his next two years with the Nationals. And with what we saw McNeil do the last two months of 2019 and the last two weeks here.
NOT EVERYONE IS HITTING – The Mets’ offense has been pretty good this year, usually with multiple guys hitting lights out at the same time. But there are always guys who are scuffling. And right now, the three who are acting as anchors are Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano and J.D. Davis. Everyone wants Alonso to be the guy he was last year and anytime he does anything positive at all, the broadcasters trip over themselves to praise him. But in his last 19 games, Alonso has just a .186 AVG. Luckily six of his 13 hits have been homers. Otherwise it’s just been dreadful. Cano got off to a terrific start but has just five hits in his last 34 trips to the plate. And that includes a 3-hit game in Friday’s blowout. Davis is mired in a 4-25 slump. It’s tough when the two primary RHB are struggling at the same time.
A REBOUND FROM A FAMILIA FACE – Last year, Jeurys Familia was terrible. After 12 games this season, he stood with a 5.11 ERA and a 1.541 WHIP, as he allowed 7 ER and 9 BB in 12.1 IP. He was about the last guy you wanted to see on the mound in a tight situation. It got so bad that in his 13th game, Familia entered in the fifth inning. But starting with that outing, Familia has allowed just 1 ER in 8.1 IP and has held batters to a .188 AVG. Walks are still a problem and he’s probably never a guy you’ll want to see on the mound in the ninth inning with a one-run lead. But for the year now, he has a 3.48 ERA and we likely won’t see him pitching in the fifth inning again anytime soon.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR – There’s been no shortage of people moaning about Wilson Ramos and wanting a better defensive backstop behind the plate. The white whale is J.T. Realmuto, a guy who’s been a strong player on both offense and defense for a number of years now. Realmuto is an impending free agent and it would be a nice story if the Mets took him away from the Phillies one year after they took Zack Wheeler from the Mets. But if not Realmuto, then who? People are quick to say any defensive guy will be an improvement. Those people would be advised to check out Robinson Chirinos‘ numbers. It doesn’t matter how good you are defensively, you can’t make up for a sub-Plaweckian OPS.