It’s kind of unfathomable that a team with a killer lineup, the best pitcher in baseball, and a solid bullpen can miss the playoffs in a year when more than half the teams make it. There are plenty of teams who will be playing in October who don’t have half as much talent as this Met roster, yet our season is all but over. Lame duck GM Brodie Van Wagenen definitely deserves blame for shuttling off all our pitching depth in lopsided trades and bringing in some dud free agents. Ownership deserves blame for tightening the purse strings, meddling, and hiring an agent to be the GM. The Noah Syndergaard injury and Marcus Stroman Covid defection certainly played a part as well. However, the below stats go a long way to explain why and how this team so badly under-performed in this shortened season.
That’s the Mets team ERA as of this writing. It ranks them 20th out of 30 teams, despite having the best pitcher in baseball on their staff. Mets pitchers also rank 23rd in BAA and 21st in OBP allowed. They are 17th in home runs allowed and 21st in walks issued. No lineup can carry that to the playoffs. Subtract Jacob deGrom‘s numbers and we fall to dead last in many pitching categories. The Indians lead the Majors in team pitching WAR at 10.2. Mets pitchers have collectively earned a 5.0 WAR, ranking us 15th in the Majors. This is the worst Mets pitching staff in many years, despite the fact that we may have a three-time Cy Young Award winner on our team.
Among the 10 Mets players who’ve seen the most action in the field, only three have positive dWAR ratings – Jeff McNeil, Andres Gimenez, and Wilson Ramos. The latter inclusion tells you how flawed this particular stat remains. Led by J.D. Davis‘ ugly -0.9 dWAR rating, the rest of the Mets every day players are all either making errors, mental mistakes or lacking in range. This is not a good defensive team.
24.6% Walk Rate
That fat, juicy number comes courtesy of the Mets bullpen. Of late they’ve been better – partly due to Edwin Diaz finding his confidence, and partly due to the struggling Dellin Betances winding up on the IL. The walks issued by our bullpen have been a killer. How many times have we seen Jeurys Familia enter a game and promptly walk the first batter he faces? And his ugly 14.6% rate is only the third worst on the team. Brad Brach owns a 20% rate! Find the strike zone during your bullpen warm-ups please!
.253 vs. Lefties
As of this writing, the Mets were leading the Majors in team batting average, but the dominance is entirely against right handed pitchers where they fair .30 points higher in batting and .52 points higher in slugging. This Mets offense has been carried by lefty hitters. McNeil, Dominc Smith, Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, and Brandon Nimmo all have OPS over .900. They can all hit righties. As for their counterparts, Pete Alonso, Amed Rosario, and Wilson Ramos all had down years, while Jake Marisnick struggled to stay off the injured list. J.D. Davis has been the only consistent right-handed bat this year, and he hasn’t been as good as last season. For this reason, the Mets rank 13th in team batting average against lefties. And their record reflects this.
.30 Points Lower At Home
The Mets lead all of baseball with a whopping .366 team OBP on the road. Citi Field does not give our hitters the warm and fuzzies though as the lineup has produced a far more pedestrian .336 OBP at home. Maybe they miss the fans?
18 Stolen Bases
That’s not how many our team leader has; that’s how many we have collectively. It puts us near the bottom of the league, as does our overall team speed, which is a much bigger issue. This franchise lacks team speed and made too many undisciplined base running mistakes this year. We also lead the league in grounding into double plays. We may not have a prime Jose Reyes or Mookie Wilson on this team, but we can certainly be smarter and a bit more aggressive on the bases next season. Amed Rosario is a shining example of how foot speed doesn’t always translate into good base running. That kid has a knack for getting thrown out at second and picked off at first.
29th Out of 30
Here’s a fun stat. The Mets rank 29th out of 30 teams in BsR (Base Running Runs Above Average). Fangraphs defines this as the number of runs above or below average a player has been worth on the bases, based on stolen bases, caught stealing, extra bases taken, outs on the bases, and avoiding double plays. It is the combination of wSB, UBR, and wGDP. Having the Buffalo clog up the bases every time he hits a single certainly plays a role in this, but our base running clearly needs to improve next year.
6 for 30 with 1 Home Run
That’s the collective stat line for Mets pinch hitters in 2020. That amounts to a putrid .542 OPS. Last year, led by Dominic Smith before he got thrust into a full-time role, the Mets got a ton of timely hits from guys off the bench. This year, they’ve been sorely missed.
#30 in RISP
Here it is. The granddaddy of all 2020 stats that defines the Mets season. We rank dead last in MLB in runners left in scoring position per game with a hideous 3.87. At home, we rank 24th (3.74 RISP per game), but on the road, we more than make up for that big batting average with a nauseating 4.00 RISP per game that is by far the worst in baseball. While this may seem to be a familiar problem for this franchise, we actually ranked in the middle of the pack last year so this is a disturbing trend. Certainly getting Alonso on track in 2021 will go a long way to alleviating this issue.
So, beyond getting Alonso out of his sophomore slump, what can we do to fix this team in 2021? For starters, we need a catching upgrade. Ramos’ defense and base running are both really detrimental to this team and his bat just wasn’t what it used to be. Next we need to bolster the rotation with two reliable arms. And we need to bid adieu to a few players who need a change of scenery, like Matz, Gsellman and maybe Rosario.
Although we couldn’t be in attendance this year, Mets fans deserved a lot better in 2020. Hopefully, having a new owner with deep pockets will help us plug the holes and right the ship. #LFGM