Whether you are following social media accounts that cover the Mets, listening to New York sports radio, or just reading through online communities about the Mets, there is one consistent theme. The 2023 Mets were done before the season even started. Billy Eppler is an incompetent general manager. Eduardo Escobar is the worst third baseman in team history, and it should be declared in April that the season is over. Fair warning, if you are on board the negativity train that has been pulling through town recently, you might want to close your laptop and find something else. Have the Mets had a picturesque start to the season? Of course they haven’t. But to emphasize, it is only April and there is an entire summer’s worth of baseball to be played.
Now that we’ve stepped back from the ledge a bit, let’s look at this team. Their offense has been stumped early this season, ranking nearly last in all of the popular offensive batting categories except for on base percentage, where they find themselves in the middle of the pack. That’s due to them being near the top of the league in walks. If you are a fan of the batting average statistic however, this early part of the season likely has not been enjoyable for you. At the time of this writing, Starling Marte is pacing the team with a mark of .268. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Escobar, who is currently batting at a .103 and feeling the ire of Mets fans who are clamoring for the call up of Brett Baty.
Perhaps the most frustrating batting average statistic is not one of an individual player, but of the team as a whole. They’re currently batting .214 with runners in scoring position, leaving an average of 4.5 runners on base in scoring position this season. Compare that to last season, where they batted .269 with runners in scoring position, and left an average of 3.36 runners on base in scoring position. That one less runner left on base in scoring position assisted tremendously last season, where the Mets were 21-15 in one run ball games. This season they’re so far 0-2 in one run games. There are no statistics backing this up, but it also seems that the Mets have blown nearly every bases loaded, no outs opportunity that’s been handed to them.
If reading that made you ball your hand into a fist in frustration, now is the time where you can start to let your grip loosen a bit. There are some underlying facts to this team that can help provide a positive outlook to how things are going to improve. If you take a deeper look at the contact this team is making with the ball, they are absolutely going in the right direction. As a team, their line drive percentage is at 23.3%, which is above the league average of 20.1%. Their hard hit rate of 33.7% is also sitting above the league mark of 31.4%. This is telling me that the team is currently hitting the ball well, they are just not having the best luck when the ball lands.
When a team’s batting performance is low, one of the main attributes tends to be plate discipline. The Mets have continued their trend from last season of working pitchers to the bone, and drawing a high amount of walks as I mentioned earlier. They are also currently tied for the third least amount of strikeouts in the league, and that is even with Francisco Lindor’s current strikeout issues that were looked at by Brian on Thursday. While discipline has not yet paid off for them, looking back at recent World Series champions tells the tale of why discipline is important. Four of the last five World Series champions have finished in the top five for least strikeouts as a team, with the exception being those pesky Atlanta Braves in 2021. There is meaning and long term benefits to being a well-disciplined team at the plate.
Yes, the start of the 2023 season has been frustrating for the Mets. After what seemed like an offseason that took ages, Mets fans were undoubtedly chomping at the bit to not only see their team win, but win by being a productive team at the plate. For those getting out their torches and pitchforks however, I’d advise you not to give up on this team yet. Based off of some of their advanced statistics and their discipline at the plate, we have not seen the full potential of this lineup. When the offense starts to hum like it did last season, with the infusion of the inevitable callup of Baty, hopefully that will calm the masses that are currently trying to burn the online village down.
The Mets have a hard hit rate of 33.7%
The Mets currently have the second most walks in the N.L
Four of the last five World Series winners finished in the top five for least team strikeouts