10 Stats Explain How a Talented Mets Team Will Finish Under .500

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

Life aint right without my beloved Mets

Life has not been normal for anyone. Most of us have been quarantined for 75 days, and, even if we’ve been lucky enough not to get sick or lose a loved one or our job, it’s been a trying time.

We’re working from home (if at all), kids are home schooling, we miss friends and family, and we all need a haircut. We miss restaurants, movies, concerts, and malls (well, not me, but some people). And lest you try to to take your mind off of the fact that we’re living through a pandemic for even a moment, there are reminders everywhere. “Closed” signs on everything from shops and restaurants to parks, bowling alleys and roller rinks. So, we stay home and stick to TV.

Only THERE’S NO SPORTS. Unless you count The Last Dance and grainy classic re-runs of 80’s Mets and 90’s Knicks games. Those were fun for a while, as was Netflix and Amazon Prime and whatever other streaming service you have. Forget network TV. Every commercial, whether for insurance or canned soup, has to pander to us about “these uncertain times.” Besides, the major networks are not showing any sports. Not even golf or tennis. This is really not normal. And the main thing that reminds me of this, is that there are no Mets games.

My life without the Mets doesn’t seem right. I’ve been through the ’81 and ’94 strikes and 9/11, but this is different. This is not short-lived, there are no scabs, and uncertainty about the season is frustrating. No matter what’s gone on in my life, the Mets have always been a constant. Saddened by a death in the family? At least there’s a Mets game to watch. Disheartened by a job loss? Injured in a car accident? At least I’ve got the box scores and the radio commentary to distract me. Now? Nothing. No pre-game. No post-game. No next game.

The weather may be warming, but summer is one big cloud of uncertainty. Will the beaches be open? Will summer vacations happen? Will my son play baseball? Will my daughter go to camp? All I want to know is, when can I turn on the TV and hear Gary, Keith, and Ron?

Will we get to find out if this 2020 Mets team is as good as we predicted? What kind of manager will Luis Rojas make? Surely, we’ll all be picking apart his in-game decisions on these pages soon. Will we get to see a healthy Yoenis Cespedes in the middle of this lineup? Can Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil be that good again? Will we get the chance to redeem ourselves against the Nats and Braves? Will I get to go to Citi Field at all this year?

I love TV shows and movies. The good comedies make me laugh out loud and the action and thriller flicks keep me on the edge of my seat, but nothing makes me jump up and yell at the TV like the Mets. And that’s when I’ll know things are back to normal. #LFGM.

 

 

Ya Gotta Believe?!

Against all odds and reason, the Mets are now within spitting distance of the second wild card with a real chance to fight for the playoffs. These are the same Mets who were left for dead at the All-Star break a month ago, after a brutal month of June all but sunk their season. But something clicked and the team has gone on a miraculous 19-6 since then, to climb back in the hunt.

They’ve been feasting on a weak schedule. They’ve been riding a healthy rotation that’s hitting it’s stride. And the bullpen and defense haven’t been as disastrous as they were earlier in the season. Other NL teams went cold. Maybe Pete Alonso‘s rally cry of #LFGM got them going. Maybe it was the decision to not trade a starting pitcher and instead add one at the trade deadline. Maybe their new pitching coach has helped straighten out issues with some of the hurlers. Whatever the case is, this team has been more fun to root for since 2016.

The team now sits three games over .500 at 59-56 with a lot of baseball left to play – 47 games to be exact. Or, looking at it another way, 15 series. Of those 15, just five are against teams under .500 and eight are against NL East rivals. To “play meaningful games in September,” the Mets will need to win more than half of their remaining games, nine of which are against the division-leading Braves. Fifteen games will be against the Phillies, Nationals and Cubs, who all currently sit between the Mets and a wild card spot. The Mets will also play three against likely playoff-bound Cleveland. Simply beating up on the bad teams – Kansas City, Arizona, Colorado, Cincinnati and Miami – might not be enough to land a wild card. It will likely take at least 87 wins, which requires the Mets go 28-19 the rest of the way.

It’s not impossible. Especially with our rotation and the momentum we have going. Plus, we have more remaining games at home than on the road. But the remaining schedule makes it a real challenge. We may not have a chance to catch the Braves in the division, but we’d better stand up to them in three upcoming series if we’re to have a shot at the post-season. And let’s not forget, we’re in fourth place. The Phillies and Nationals won’t make it easy for us to leap frog them in the standings.

Savor this moment, fellow Mets fans. Wear your blue and orange hats and shirts proudly. For a few days, the sun is shining on us and we’re happily licking at our ice cream cones. It could be gone my Monday as the Nationals are coming to town this weekend with their three top pitchers looking to knock our cones splat on the sidewalk.

Mets stand pat at the trade deadline

After shocking the baseball world by trading for Marcus Stroman and then surprising no one by giving away Jason Vargas to save a few bucks, the Mets stood pat at the trade deadline.

Zack Wheeler’s name was seemingly brought up more times than Donald Trump’s in the past 48 hours. But despite rumors having him attached to nine different teams, none came up with a deal that satisfied Brodie Van Wagenen. Similarly, Van Wagenen wasn’t blown away by any offers for Noah Syndergaard, Edwin Diaz, Todd Frazier, Dominic Smith, Wilson Ramos or any other Met rumored to be floated in trade scenarios.

So, basically we upgraded our rotation, at least in the short-term, by swapping out a five for a two.  To make this happen however, we had to part with two pitching prospects, further weakening our depleted farm system.

There will be a lot of questions in the off-season, starting with do we attempt to extend Zack Wheeler or offer him a qualifying offer? In the meantime, we’re playing good ball and have an outside shot of making a run for a wild card. With a strong rotation and nine easy games in front of us, we should at least be able to get back to .500 soon. Then we can see if this franchise has another miracle to rally around.

An interesting tidbit I found on Twitter is that at some point the Mets were considering flipping Stroman to the Yankees.