For years, Mets fans complained about the offense being too one-dimensional. And now, coming off a season with 101 wins with a much more balanced offense, those same people are saying that the Mets need more power, the same dimension they thought the team relied on too much in earlier years. Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Hey, power is a great thing. If you started following the Mets in the 1960s or early 70s, power – especially over-the-fence power – was never in great supply. Rooting for those teams with John Milner as the main power threat is what caused me to become a fan of homers.

But you need to have context. Do people who lament the Mets’ lack of homers have any understanding on where the Mets rank in homers? When the Mets went to the World Series in 1973, they finished next to last in the NL with 85 HR, which was a whopping 121 homers behind the league-leading Braves. This year, the Mets finished with 171 HR, good for eighth-place in the 15-team NL and 72 homers behind the league-leading Braves.

The 2022 Mets were middle of the pack in homers, yet finished tied for third in runs. And in September/October, the Mets were tied for fourth in homers and led the league in runs scored. And this was with playing 31 games in the “month,” while eight teams played either 32 or 33 games.

The Mets had a very good offense in 2022 and at the end of the year, with Eduardo Escobar giving the power production expected of him, the team was at the top of the heap in runs, the thing that matters the most.

It’s bizzarro world because instead of being the guy asking for his favorite team to hit more homers, fate has me as the guy looking to repeat last year’s middle of the pack HR offense. Sure, it would be great for the 2023 Mets to hit more homers. But unlike the 1973 team, which needed a power boost in the worst way, next year’s Mets team just needs its players to hit like their history says they should.

Furthermore, my belief is that those lamenting the lack of homers don’t fully appreciate the hitting environment of 2022. Last year, there were 2,658 HR hit in the NL. The year before, the number was 2,885. On top of that, we should have expected more homers this past year, not fewer. Last year was the first time the NL had the full-time DH. In 2021, Pitchers and the DH in the NL combined to hit 36 HR, as pitchers hit 14 and designated hitters added 22. In 2022, those same two groups combined for 331 HR as designated hitters had 330 HR and the Giants’ Luis Gonzalez, a two-way player, hit one of his four homers as a pitcher.

So, home run production from pitcher/DH went up 295 homers last year in the NL, yet overall HR output fell by 227 homers compared to 2021.

If we look at the outfield, Starling Marte and Brandon Nimmo tied for the team lead in homers with 16 each. That doesn’t sound good at all. And maybe it’s not good but it’s not as bad as it seems from the raw number. Those two tied for 19th among all NL outfielders in homers. You add in Mark Canha, whose 13 HR had him tied for 29th, and that’s a representative outfield. A median OF would be 8-23-38.

Without a doubt, it would look better if the Mets swapped Nimmo’s 16 HR for Aaron Judge’s 62. But everything has a price and with all of the moves the Mets need to make this offseason, can they afford another Francisco Lindor-type deal, both in length and AAV? With the Rockies expected to make a push to sign Nimmo, he’ll be more expensive than many figured he would be this time last year. But he’s also coming off a 5.4 fWAR season and is three years younger than Marte was last year when he hit free agency. Nimmo is going to be expensive but Judge is going to get one of the top deals in the sport.

If the Mets end up signing neither player, their options are not good. Their best choice then might be to re-sign Michael Conforto on a one-year deal and look to cover center field with some combination of Canha and Marte. That’s got a shot to up the HR output from the outfield by 10-12 homers but at what cost to the defense? And can Conforto get back to what he was pre 2021? Is he more Jeff McNeil or Dominic Smith in his ability to bounce back from a sub-par 2021 after missing a year of playing time?

One last thing on Conforto. There’s the belief that he’s some great offensive player. Here are the top five yearly Offensive (batting + baserunning) contributions to fWAR for Conforto and Nimmo:

MC – 29.5, 24.4, 17.1, 15.2, 8.1
BN – 33.2, 26.6, 17.3, 14.1, 6.9

Conforto will hit more homers but at what cost? We know it would be a defensive issue to replace Nimmo with Conforto, but it would also be a (slight) offensive downgrade, too. Conforto’s 29.5 output came in 2017, when he was 24. Can he come close to that again? Nimmo’s 26.6 came last year.

There’s also been talk about signing an infielder and moving McNeil to the outfield. The problem is that the type of infielder who would make that move worthwhile will be close to Judge in contract value. Maybe Xander Bogaerts isn’t quite at that level, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he inked a deal north of $175 million in total value. But he also hit just 15 HR last year in 150 games, with 10 of those coming at Fenway Park.

Here are other players available as free agents – eliminating those with club and mutual options – and the HR they hit last year:

15 – Jose Abreu
21 – Trea Turner
22 – Carlos Correa
25 – Dansby Swanson
28 – Brandon Drury
19 – Joey Gallo
15 – Jurickson Profar
16 – J.D. Martinez
17 – Andrew McCutchen
18 – Trey Mancini

Not one of these guys seem like even a halfway decent bet to hit 30 HR and give the Mets the type of offensive upgrade in the power department that certain fans demand. Outside of Judge, there’s not an obvious upgrade. And the best bets among the rest will require defensive shuffling at other spots on the field.

Power may be a great way to make the playoffs but let’s not pretend that it’s a guarantee to advance to the World Series. The Braves finished second in the majors in homers and lost in the first round. It was the same story for the Dodgers, who finished fifth in homers. The Yankees, the MLB leader, squeaked by in their first round and got swept in the ALCS. The Blue Jays finished seventh and lost in their opening round series, too.

My hope is the Mets bring back the band on offense next year, re-signing Nimmo to play center. There’s going to be plenty of upheaval on the pitching side of things that it won’t be close to the same team that it was in 2022. Not that it would be a bad thing if somehow every worthwhile free agent returned to a team that won 101 games.

Even if they were just an average HR-hitting team.

21 comments on “On the Mets’ alleged need to add more HR power to the offense

  • ChrisF

    Blink 3 times if you are being held hostage. We can send for help.

    I think the thing worth noting is that a balanced team is the best. So while I am an advocate for more power, it’s not like I want to remake the team into the Braves Dodgers or Yankees.

    Where the team needs to improve in power is at C and DH, where offense was a complete unmitigated disaster. I think you want a constant threat from both sides at DH. One of the reasons that I think dimly on Vogelbach is because he really is just *half* on an offensive player. Why should 2 roster spots be given to DH? And then we have the malaise at catcher, where signing Contreras would make a lot of sense, even if there is a dip in defense. Id rather go with Contreras and Nido as backup and Alvarez as third, especially to give him time to re-establish after surgery.

    • Brian Joura

      I think it’s a legitimate question to ask about needing two players for DH. It’s not the ideal solution – it’s much, much better to have one guy to get the lion’s share of PA from the spot. But given how few of those guys there are in the 2020s, you have to scramble to optimize the position.

      Earlier, you mentioned Jose Abreu as a guy to be the primary DH and backup 1B. Abreu, in his age-35 season, had 15 HR and a .446 SLG last year. Vogelbach, who you seem to think is worse than month-old milk, had 18 HR and a .433 SLG last year. With the Mets, he had a .436 SLG. It’s fine if you want an upgrade at DH. But Abreu simply isn’t one and good luck finding one at a reasonable cost.

      • ChrisF

        We can always trot out the metrics that best suit our favored story. I definitely view Vogelbach as month-old milk. Still do.

        Let’s turn to bWAR, a favorite all-rounder that has some merit. Vogelbach put together a 1.4 bWAR between Pittsburgh and NY. For his salary, that’s not bad value. He had about 460 P. Meanwhile, Abreu logged a 4.2 bWAR, all of it on offense. So something doesn’t add up there. We can also move over to WPA, or a measure of “clutch-ness”. Since 2016 Vogelbach has put together a value of 1.3 for this cumulative metric, with a -0.4 for last year. Abreu has 17.9 since 2014, and last year a 1.6 while playing 157 games and 679 PA. I take those numbers all day every day over Vogelbach who is a fringe major leaguer who has a cumulative 1.4 bWAR over 7 seasons.

        I’d keep Vogelbach on the team with the notion he may have bench value but more likely trade value. I’d sign Abreu for 3 years at 12M$ per year.

        • Brian Joura

          Abreu is coming off a 3/$50 deal with the White Sox. My guess is that 3/$36 isn’t going to get it done. He may very well choose to go the Nelson Cruz path, signing one-year deals for the highest AAV he can get. We shall see.

          Also, I’d be very leery about signing a guy for his age 36-38 seasons, when he’s coming off his best year since 2017. The .350 BABIP sure didn’t hurt.

          Finally, did you see his splits? 11 HR and an .857 OPS in 395 PA in the first half and 4 HR and a .780 OPS in 284 PA in the second half. That’s a HR every 74 PA in the second half, not exactly the power upgrade we should be looking for. And Abreu needed a .366 BABIP to produce that .780 OPS after the break.

          • ChrisF

            Of course we can both dig in and find what ever. The fact is simple: in 467 games played, Vogelbach has an accumulated 1.4 bWAR. That doesnt sound like a key player on any team, let alone as post season bully. Furthermore, Vogelbach is really only 25% of a full player (being a half time DH).

            To lock down that person for a 100% roster position, the offensive production for a quarter-time hitter should be something like 2 bWAR every season. Right now we are sinking 2 full roster spots for 2 quarter-time players and getting essentially zero production. A contender cannot afford to waste roster spots in this fashion. Vogelbach is best suited as a DH on a team like Pittsburgh.

            • Brian Joura

              The Mets used Vogelbach in the way he should be used – as a platoon bat. Because of that, he had a 1.0 fWAR over two months with the club. You can point to his career rates and be pessimistic. Or you can see what he did when used properly.

              By using a platoon at DH, the Mets can have a reasonable chance to construct a 3-win position with a platoon, all for about $2.5 million. That’s $1.5 million for Vogelbach and minimum wage for Vientos or Alvarez. Or you can spend 8 figures on an old guy and hope he doesn’t crater.

              Did you see Keith Law’s rankings of free agents? He had Abreu at #34. He closed it by saying this about Abreu:

              “He’s already aged better than most players with no speed or defensive value do, so I’d love him on a one-year, $20 million-ish deal, but anything over two years is asking to pay to drive him over the cliff.”


              • ChrisF

                Oh Keith Law – the pre-eminent soothsayer. Who cares what he says? Its nice to spout off from the arm chair of zero responsibility to build a team. He doesnt negotiate contracts from his position in the ether. I see the decline in Abreu to be sure, and so 12×3 at 36M seems like not a big deal for the potential upside.

                If you think the Mets are so depth solid that committing a 1/2 tool player capable of only fulfilling 25% of a full roster position seems like a smart move, then have at it.

                Ill never change your mind, and Ive already poured the spoiled milk down the drain.

                Hell, Id even take 1 year of Justin Turner over Vogelback!!!!

                • Brian Joura

                  I’ll gladly stack up Keith Law’s credibility and track record to Jim Bowden’s – who you’ve used frequently.

                  • ChrisF

                    Ha!!!! I think its been years since Ive mentioned Bowden. Like any talking head, he’s got a loadful of “expert wisdom”. The one thing Bowden has is experience in the room. It was his job to make the contracts, including a 9 year deal for Ken Griffey Jr.

                    Anyway, I dont care what Bowden says either!

          • Brian Joura

            Abreu signs with the Astros. Terms not fully disclosed but ESPN+ speculates 3/$58.3

            At roughly $8 million per unit of fWAR, Houston is figuring he’ll produce 7+ fWAR over the life of the deal. I’ll take the under.

  • Footballhead

    Alvarez at third? I didn’t see that coming. Alvarez & Nido should be the catchers, with Alvarez DHing at times (R). Vogelbach was OK as a (L) DH, but he is just one dimensional as ChrisF pointed out. Now depending on how Baty does in ST, maybe he should be the (L) DH and also spell Escobar at 3B. Alvarez and Baty are suppose to be the future, so if they really are ready for 2023, they should have the two roster spot, being flexible and on the cheap (for now). So I think (hope) that DH & catching will be upgraded…..w/o Contreras.

    Unless the $$ is insane for him, I think Nimmo is a priority signing; even more so then deGrom, for the Mets. If possible, p/u Carrasco’s option, resign Walker & Bassitt.

    Curious if either Smith (L) or Vientos (R) have any spot/value for the 2023 squad. I think not.

    As for Brian’s article, I’ve no problem with the Mets being a middle-of-the-pack HR hitting team. It was unfortunate though, that in too many games, the bats were AWOL. I’d like to blame injuries, but all teams have that, so that’s not an answer. Also, we did have a core of hitters who stayed on the field…(Alonso, Lindor, McNeil, and Nimmo). That’ll be hard to duplicate for next year I’m, guessing.
    Sorry to be captain obvious on these issues, but I really enjoy this site and it’s contributors.

    • ChrisF

      As third Catcher, not to play third base

      • Footballhead

        Sorry ChrisF for my misread.

  • Woodrow

    Home runs are the coins of the realm.

  • TexasGusCC

    This past season, James McCann hit .092 against lefties. I know that sucks, but this is a lifetime .258 hitter against lefties. The .257 against righties is higher than the lifetime .237 mark, but a .092/.155/.169 slash against lefties doesn’t appear to be right. Something wasn’t right here. McCann must not be given up on, and Alvarez starting in AAA is the right thing to do. For his entire career, McCann has a .258/.325/.452 slash against lefties. Why not make him the DH? He did homer playing first base at the end of the year. Maybe he needs to be moved like Mike Sweeney was, like Mike Napoli was? I say Hold.

    As for Vogelbach, I don’t think that’s a DH on a winning team. He is limited in more than the platoon in that he is a glacier on the bases and basically has no position. I’d prefer Dom Smith. The only thing Vogey has going for him is a $1.5MM team option, which begs to ask why a player would sign that contract, and what do the other 29 teams know that the Mets don’t and didn’t offer him better when he as a free agent.

  • Aging Bull

    If Brian Reynolds is in play, he could be a target for CF if Nimmo goes to CO or elsewhere. Being from WY, Denver is probably a dream town for him to live.

    • Brian Joura

      That’s a mighty big if.

      In the last three full seasons, Reynolds has averaged 4.1 fWAR per year. He’ll be in his age-28 season next year and is under contract for just $6.75 million. You’d have to get a pretty big haul to justify trading him now.

      But even if they did get him, it would be a blow to the defense. Last year Reynolds had a (-2.6) UZR, a (-7) OAA, a (-6) RAA and a (-14) DRS in 1063 innings in CF

  • Nym6986

    You have to believe that Diaz and Nimmo are at the top of heap to be signed and returned to their Mets roster spots. We do need to get younger but it’s really up to our kids, Baty, Vientos and Alvarez, to step up. None did the way the two AA players came up and slotted in for the Braves and had awesome seasons. That highlighted our poor farm system and the need for continued better drafts and player development. Throughout their history they were known for developing pitchers and not hitters. And while good pitching beats good hitting sometimes you need a late inning HR to break open a game. With only two real HR threats, it became easy to pitch around Alonso and Lindor. Dom Smith was one of the bigger disappointments for me last year because he was a perfect part-time replacement for Alonso at first base and he had the tools to be a good DH. He basically played himself off the team as did JD Davis. On top of that we are still paying the price for the prior owners failure to lock up players such as McNeil and Alonso on long term deals at a reasonable price and Uncle Steve made a rookie mistake not locking up some during the season such as Nimmo and Bassitt and Diaz. He won’t make that mistake again but now those contracts will be 20% higher going into next year. If we would be willing to offer a $19 million qualifying offer to Nimmo, then paying him an average of $22-24 million is just not that much more. He will be hard to replace and that replacement will not be cheaper unless Mauricio is moved to CF and can hit at the MLB level. Oddest stat in your write up was the down turn in HRs even with the NL adopting the DH. It will be an interesting off-season and I am worried that we might just be the third best in our division, especially if the Phillies add more talent in the off season. The glass remains half full as I look to 2023 with the winter meeting coming up soon and spring training just around the corner. Seems I’ve had this crazy outlook for most of the last 60 years but I couldn’t possibly root for another team.

  • Metsense

    Alvarez will hit more home runs in 2023 then McCann or Nido hit in 2022.(6)
    Vientos, if he gets a chance, will hit more home runs in 2023 then Ruf or JD Davis hit in 2022.(4). The solution for the home run power should be solved internally .
    I don’t think it is a problem anyway. The offense is balanced. The catcher position and RHB DH was the problem for the offense in 2022.
    DH position should not be an exclusive starting position. The roster would be better served with with a good fourth outfielder, utility infielder and backup catcher that can hit and then rotate in the DH position. Therefore the starting position players can also be rested and the manager would have more flexibility.
    Aging Bull ^ does have an interesting thought if they had fo replace Nimmo.

  • Paulc

    ChrisF’s opening comment nailed it. C was an offensive black hole while DH underwhelmed. Fixing those will juice the HRs. That means signing Contreras at C (22 HR last year) and DFA’ing McCann as a sunk cost.

    As for DH, I’m fine platooning Vogelbach against righties and then having a rotating DH of starters against LHP (a rest day is a nice added benefit).

    Re-signing Nimmo should be a priority as OBP tends to win more games, overall, than power and he’s now a plus defender in CF. And he’ll be about $200MM less than Judge. If Nimmo is not signed, then Cohen has to go for Judge, but I’d be surprised if he signs with the Mets. I see Judge with NYY or SFG.

  • T.J.

    Agreed on Nimmo and Diaz as signing priorities. Even with Stevie’s money the Mets will need to make some tough choices and find some bargains. The idea of doing with Nido, McCann, with Alvarez as DH/C could interest me. I can live with middle of the pack HR so long as Nimmo-McNeil-Marte and getting lots of AB. My biggest concern is lineup coverage for Pete. That could require Lindor batting 5th. Conforto as OF/DH would also be interesting. Bringing back Conforto could replace the Vogelbach bay and perhaps allow a no position guy like Vientos to get a shot.

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