The Mets hit three home runs Wednesday night, bringing their season total to 79 HR with four games still on the docket. Because there have been only 56 games played, you might think this is the team’s worst home run performance by a large margin. Boy, you’d be wrong. In the strike-shortened 1981 season, the Mets hit 57 HR in 103 games. But the 2020 team has surpassed two other teams in HR output. In 1980, it was touch-and-go if the Mets were going to surpass Roger Maris. They tied him, as they finished the year with 61 homers. The previous year’s team hit just 74.

Here are the team’s HR leaders through games of 9/23:

13 – Pete Alonso
10 – Robinson Cano
10 – Dominic Smith
9 – Michael Conforto
8 – Brandon Nimmo
6 – J.D. Davis

Nine other players for the Mets have hit home runs this season. Luke Voit leads the majors with 20 HR so it’s not like any individual is having a year like Alonso’s 2019. Alonso’s current pace would result in 38 HR over a 162-game season. At their current rate, the 2020 Mets would finish a normal-length season with 229 HR, which would have been the second-best mark in team history, 13 homers behind the 2019 squad.

The Mets have been known more for pitching than hitting throughout franchise history, so it’s no surprise that 10 of the 12 years with the most HR in franchise history have happened here in the 21st Century and another happened in 1999. There were the expansion blues, the deadball 60s, the apathetic late 70s-early 80s and the worst team money could buy of the early 90s.

If you turned on to baseball in any of these time periods and witnessed other teams clubbing home runs while the Mets had to struggle mightily to do the same, you might be enjoying the team’s current run of long ball prowess. And it’s not like the Mets are either a great home run hitting team or an all-or-nothing offense. They’re sixth in the National League in homers, an above-average mark but not a front runner. The Mets are also sixth in the league in runs, so it’s not like they fall apart if the ball doesn’t leave the yard. For a comparison, the Reds are fourth in the league with 87 HR yet 13th in runs with 228.

A reasonable question is how much of the 2020 power is real and how much of it is taking advantage of the uniqueness of this Covid campaign. Alonso has a 53-homer season under his belt so his 38-HR pace is nothing which should be a surprise. The same thing for Conforto, who has 61 HR the past two seasons. But do you feel like Cano and Smith are 30-homer guys moving forward and Nimmo is good for 23 or so?

It’s tough to forecast a guy of Cano’s age to be that productive, so it’s probably more directed at Smith and to a lesser extent Nimmo. Smith started off the year slow but has been producing at a tremendous clip since then. Starting with the game on August 12, Smith has hit 8 HR, thanks to a 25.8 HR/FB%. Much like the Mets’ home run totals overall – that’s a solid mark but not one that’s close to the leaders in the category. And Smith is hitting the ball hard, with an average Exit Velocity higher than Alonso’s. Plus, it’s not like Smith’s homers are wall scrapers. Rather, they’re upper deck blasts, like the one he hit Wednesday night. He has the power to be a consistent 30-homer guy.

Nimmo doesn’t have quite the Exit Velocity of Alonso and Smith but his ISO is nearly identical to what it was in his last healthy year of 2018. In that season, he put up a .219 ISO and this year he has a .218 mark in the category. In the former season, Nimmo’s power was more of the doubles variety. In that year, 53% of his XBH were doubles, compared to 32% homers. Here in 2020, 42% of his XBH have come via the home run, the same as via the double. It’s pretty normal for a player to become a better home run hitter as he ages.

Assuming they’re all on the team next year, it wouldn’t be an outrageous forecast for Alonso to hit 40 HR, Conforto 35, Smith 30 and Nimmo 25. You might go a couple of homers fewer for each of them but this seems like the ballpark of where they should be. If that quartet combined for 125 HR, that would be about right, not some giant fluke. That’s a pretty good core for a team to have. And it’s not impossible that Cano, Davis and Jeff McNeil would be in the same territory.

And it’s especially nice if you remember when John Milner and his 17 HR led the Mets in 1972.

9 comments on “The power of the 2020 Mets

  • Chris F

    And with Alderson coming back to lead the team with his HR ubber alles approach, we will see more. What a mistake bringing him back for another decade of losing following “true outcomes” baseball. UGH.

  • TJ

    I can testify first hand to sitting through many a season where a Met HR was a big event, especially at Shea. Lots of warning track flies. They could literally go a week without one. Now between the higher velocity, the stronger players, and the “ball”, it is a different world. Giminez he a shot last night that you would have never seen from a smaller positional player, even off a fireballer. HRs won’t be a issue for the 2021 team. But, it seems like they don’t score much without the longball, especially when the have an opportunity or where squeaking out a run has a huge impact.

    Regarding Alderson, I think it is premature to be down on his return. Cohen clearly feels he needs an established league guy to garner owner approval, and I’d expect a 70s Sandy working for an owner who can spend will have a somewhat different approach. We’ll need to see how he builds a management team and how he lets that team function before judging. This time, there won’t be Jeff to blame.

    • Brian Joura

      I think the criticism of the Mets not scoring enough without the HR isn’t valid here in 2020

      The Mets have scored 275 runs this year and have 80 HR. 47 of those were solo shots, 26 were two-run homers, 5 were three-run homers and 2 were grand slams. That’s a total of 122 runs from homers compared to 153 coming from other ways.

      The Reds have scored 228 runs this year and have 87 HR. 47 of those were solo shots, 28 were two-runs homers, 10 were three-run homers and 2 were grand slams. That’s a total of 141 runs from homers compared to 87 coming from other ways.

      The 2020 Reds are a team that struggles to score without hitting a homer. The Mets score more runs from non-HR events than they do from homers. And that’s with their dismal results with RISP. Just imagine if they had a few more timely singles…

  • JimO

    I think that bringing Alderson back helps Cohen garner the ownership votes needed to acquire the team. So, in that regard, I’m ok with it. I am also ok with Van Wagenen’s approach to drafting. So maybe Van Wagenen takes control of that under Alderson.

    Cohen’s ownership muscle is the biggest “power” development we’ve got.

    • David Klein

      Sandy drafted wonderful with Nimmo, Conforto, Lugo, Kelenic, Dunn, Kay, Alonso, Mcneil and Smith on his ledger. Brodie needs to be fired

      • TexasGusCC

        ^
        Taneous runs the draft.

        • Brian Joura

          Historically, the GM gets credit for whoever is drafted on his watch. Plus, who hired and promoted Tanous to his current position?

          And if you want to insist that the VP of Scouting gets all of the credit for the draft, that takes away the biggest plus for BVW.

          • TexasGusCC

            In an article by Tim Britton a month ago in The Athletic, there wasn’t an interview of BVW for the piece. Further, it was said that Taneous does the research to see what a player is looking to sign for, thus his draftability within the confines of the team’s draft. Now, I’ve always believed that the person who puts the right people in place deserves credit for finding the right people, and I like many of BVW’s Front Office hires, but the draft is very much Taneous.

            • Brian Joura

              Maybe BVW didn’t answer Britton’s call…

              No one is pretending that the GM does the leg work on the potential draft picks. But it’s the GM who ultimately decides who to pick and the GM who has to decide how much to spend to get a deal struck. Does the VP of scouting do preliminary work on what the prospective pick will sign for? Yes. Is he involved in negotiations after the pick is made? Probably. Does he make the ultimate decision to sign the player? No.

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