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.

4.88 ERA
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.

8.48 ERA
That’s the combined ERA of Steven Matz, Michael Wacha and Robert Gsellman over a combined 16 starts. Collectively, this trio offered us just one quality start in 2020.

-0.9 dWAR
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

11 comments on “10 Stats Explain How a Talented Mets Team Will Finish Under .500

  • dongrdn

    To address lack of team speeds and defense, the Mets need upgrades at 3B, CF and C. This may require trading Davis, Nimmo, and Rosario as well as seeking free agents like Springer and Realmuto. Starting pitching though a disaster this year needs only a slight tweet next year with possible rotation of Degrom, Thor Peterson Lugo and Porcello. Mets biggest dilemma is what to do at first base. Smith has clearly earned the position. If no dh, they have no position for Alonso. Placing Smith in OF removes McNeil or Conforto.

  • Metsense

    Pitching is the primary concern and can be corrected. It will take two starters. One should be a SP2 and one should be at least SP4 to supplement deGrom, Lugo and Peterson. If they want to be division contenders then plan on nothing from Syndergaard and everything he contributes is a bonus. That should take care of the ERA problem.
    The problem with walks the that Famila, Castro, Diaz and Betances are all returning.
    Warm milk and Roland’s should take care of the problem.
    Defense can be improved by replacing Ramos for Realmuto or McCann, signing Springer or Bradley for CF and move Nimmo to LF and McNeil to 3B. Also this lineup would increase the SB and has faster baserunners.
    Springer would be better to sign then Bradley in order to solved the RHB vs LHP problem.
    The RISP and PH could be resolved by situational hitting which seems to be the team philosophy but is not mastered.
    I hope that Cohen dives head first into the Free Agent market in his first year so as not to waste the younger core talent on the 2020 squad.

  • TJ

    Matt,
    Great list. The RISP is abysmal but a bit quirky, and you can’t be that bad at RISP unless you have a lot of RISP, which is a good thing. The worst by far is the 16 starts, over 25%, from guys with a collective 8.48 ERA. That fix is job #1. The pen walks is nauseating as well, but I think one quality upgrade (while retaining/replacing Wilson) could change the complexion of the pen.

    I will be excited to have an owner with some payroll funds, but I hope the approach isn’t to simply sign all the top free agents. Realmuto would be great, but there could be a better improvement equation that doesn’t include him. Clearly they need a #2 or a #2/3 starter. After that, NL with DH or no DH will have the biggest impact on how they navigate the offseason. They are far behind the Braves, but there is plenty in the organization to work with to field a 2021 contender.

  • MattyMets

    Metsense, you make a lot of great points. As TJ and Dongrdn point out, whether or not we have the DH in 2021 will make a difference. A lot of teams are going to be in on Realmuto and he will get a haul. But as I said back when we mistakenly signed Ramos, if you can’t get one of the top catchers, then you go defense first. I’d rather have a weak-hitting catcher who can work with pitchers, control the running game, and not have passed balls and dropped play-at-the-plate throws. I don’t mean to keep bashing Ramos, but I think he is a huge problem for this team. His framing, his defense, his base running, etc. I don’t care if he hits .275, he’s become a singles hitter who clogs the bases when he gets on. He also hits into a ton of rally killing double plays. And his defense has cost us games. I think letting him walk and replacing him with a Nido/Rivera platoon makes us a better team.

  • Mike W

    This is a really good article that exposes the Mets true weaknesses. Have to make a lot of changes.

  • Brian Joura

    Ownership did not tighten the purse strings.

    The Mets’ Opening Day payroll was over $180 million, once you eliminate the extra salaries for roster slots for 26-30 to bring it to a historical 25 for comparison purposes. In 2019, OD payroll was under $160 million

    • MattyMets

      Brian – See: Wheeler. Zack

      • Brian Joura

        It’s disappointing that the club didn’t do what it had to do to re-sign Wheeler. But that didn’t happen because ownership was guilty of “tightening the purse strings.” Payroll went up a fairly significant amount. The problem was that the GM didn’t think Wheeler was worth pursuing.

  • TexasGusCC

    Nice piece Matt. The RISP stat is the same problem they had in 2015 or 2016, I can’t remember. The next year with the same players they were in the top ten. The fundamentals is my problem as they continued to make bad plays or not enough correct plays, whether baserunning or moving runners up, to give themselves a better opportunity at success. And the ERA for those 16 games… take those games away and see how good they can be.

  • NYM6976

    My only objection to your article is that without the DH there’s no place for Alonso. He is not a liability at 1B and Smith has been strong for a partial year. It’s more a teach Smith to play LF, perhaps the easiest position to learn, them anointing him to play first over Alonso’s HR bat. Alonso is certainly not seeing the same pitches he did last season and he is struggling. We need Chili back in person. As far as your other potential departures, back up the truck.

    • Mike W

      I like Alonso. We just cant have him hitting like Dave Kingman. I hate to say this for the kid and his background, but I think he would really really benefit from transforming his body as best as he can. He already proved he can be a great power hitter. I hope he is not a one and done player. If he got in better shape, it would also give him confidence that he lacked from being bullied as a kid. This year he looked timid. He needs to be laser focused on working on strike zone discipline and his defense.

      I am really happy and pleased with Dom. He has really turned it around. I admit, I was ready to just give him away over the last few years. I am glad we didnt.

      So here is a very good question. Assume a good equal payback on each player that meets a need. You have to trade one of Dom or Pete. Who do you trade?

      Fun question to debate.

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