Examining Mets’ futility with bases loaded

Sunday in the seventh inning Jason Bay came to bat with the bases loaded and he struck out to end the inning. No big deal, it happens, right? Actually, it is a big deal because it happens to the Mets more than most teams. After 34 games, the Mets rank 15th in the 16-team National League with a .458 OPS with the bases juiced.

Hitting with the bases loaded should be a random, non-repeatable outcome. Yet year after year, we see the Mets among the worst teams in the league with the bases filled. Here are their recent National League ranks in OPS with the bases drunk:

2011 – .458 (15th)
2010 – .590 (16th)
2009 – .598 (15th)
2008 – .637 (13th)
2007 – .676 (12th)

Perhaps you don’t think it’s random. Well here are the top five finishers in OPS with the bases full over that same time span:

2011 – FLA, PIT, ARI, STL, HOU
2010 – WSN, SF, SD, ATL, PHI
2009 – COL, LA, CHI, PHI, SF
2008 – CHI, CIN, HOU, COL, ARI
2007 – MIL, WSN, COL, SF, STL

There’s only one team missing from the above list. The Mets are the only team not to finish among the top five in OPS with the bases loaded the past five years. Of course this year is not over but it would take an improvement of massive proportions to leap them from 15th to fifth over the next four-and-a-half months.

Let’s do the same exercise, except this time list the teams in the bottom five in the league in OPS. Here are the year-by-year results:

2011 – LA, NYM, CHI, SD, MIL
2010 – NYM, MIL, COL, CIN, LA
2009 – SD, NYM, CIN, PIT, FLA
2008 – MIL, SF, SD, NYM, PHI
2007 – LA, ARI, PHI, CHI, NYM

Here, 13 different teams finished in the bottom five. Of course, the Mets did it every year.

Let’s do one more chart. Here’s how the Mets finished overall in OPS for the same five seasons:

2011 – .722 (5th)
2010 – .697 (13th)
2009 – .729 (11th)
2008 – .761 (4th)
2007 – .775 (5th)

In this span the Mets have had three top-five teams by OPS and two bottom-five teams. It’s not like they have had consistently bad-hitting teams. When the Mets have been healthy, they have had good offensive teams. If not for their failure with the bases loaded, they might have had great offensive teams.

The Mets have had quite a bit of turnover among their offensive players in those five years. However, Carlos Beltran, strong>Jose Reyes and David Wright have been on all five teams. Here are their OPS marks in that span with the bases loaded:

11 10 09 08 07
Beltran 1.000 .000 .408 1.033 .733
Reyes 1.333 .445 .650 .538 .596
Wright .400 .731 .467 .717 1.067

These three hitters seem to have very random success with the bases loaded. Plus, all three of those players were on the 2006 team, which led the National League with a .976 OPS with the bases packed.

It would be nice to be middle of the pack with the bases loaded. That does not seem to be too much to ask for from a pretty good hitting team, like the 2011 Mets have been so far this season. But it also seems not to be in the cards. It’s gotten so bad that I expect other teams to intentionally load the bases, just to psyche the Mets out.

At this point, no one could blame a team for trying that.

3 comments for “Examining Mets’ futility with bases loaded

  1. AJ
    May 9, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Hey Brian – It’s been dreadful watching how poorly the Mets produce with the bases loaded these past few years, and it’s made worse by how well other teams do against them in the same situation. Although the stats you cite appear to indicate this is not random, I can’t believe it. This is one of those weird anomalies that crop up in baseball from time to time. Naturally, if it’s weird and dreadful, it will happen to the Mets. But that’s what makes them fun to root for, right? … Right?

    • Brian Joura
      May 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm

      My alternate headline was:

      Mets’ bases loaded futility: It’s comical, it’s painful, it’s random!

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