The Mets finished the 2019 season with better than average NL team batting stats in the glamour categories. But a closer look reveals a weakness in key areas.
In 2019, the Mets were outscored by only six teams in the National League. They finished with better than average league numbers in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, and the ultimate glamour category – home runs.
But in areas less visible but equally or even more significant, the Mets offered a dismal performance that needs corrective action in 2020.
Situational hitting enables a team to score more runs. Force-outs and double-plays lose games, or at the very least, put extra stress on a team’s pitching staff.
Mets Situational Hitting – Team Stats
Using Baseball-Reference as a source, let’s run through how the Mets did last year in critical situational hitting categories among the fifteen National League teams. In parenthesis is the Mets positional ranking.
- Grounded into double plays (2nd most)
- Productive outs make (Successful advancement of a runner) (12th)
- Percentage of baserunners who scored (10th)
- Runner advanced with none out and a runner on second (dead last)
- Runners left on base (4th most)
- Strikeouts (11th most)
So while the Mets ranked seventh in runs scored, the salient question has to be – how many more runs could the team have scored with a better performance in these critical areas?
A program developed by an actuary can probably provide a data-driven answer. Still, a reasonable person shouldn’t need “proof” to make a fair guess that the Mets shot themselves in the foot more often than not last season.
Moreover, if the Mets perform at the same level this season, the results are likely to be the same as last season when we look at the NL Final Standings following game 162 in October.
Mets Situational Hitting – Individual Stats
Let’s move to a different track for a minute, taking a look at individual Mets performances in some of these and other situational hitting categories. Using a separate page from Baseball-Reference, we learn the following:
- Grounding into double plays – Fewest: Jeff McNeil Most: Robinson Cano
- Productive Outs – Worst: Jeff McNeil Best: Michael Conforto
- Advance runner on second no outs – Best: Amed Rosario Worst: Jeff McNeil
- Percentage ball put into play – Best: Wilson Ramos Worst: Pete Alonso
Essentially, we wind up with a mixed bag with no particular player rising to the top.
Although, it is interesting to see McNeil’s name pop up as the worst in two key rankings. This could be a reason why the Mets have definitively never taken him off the trade market.
If it’s a team thing as it appears to be, the onus falls on Carlos Beltran to strike a chord of improvement that accents the significance of these non-glamorous rankings as much as home runs and doubles.
A Team Goal – A Home Run Equals Advancing A Runner
Some teams employ a Kangaroo Court following each game to mete out “Awards” that include fines for failing to perform in these intangible categories. So, for instance, every time a hitter fails to advance a runner, a fine of fifty bucks is levied by the team.
“Scoring” is kept, and the same player can redeem his fifty dollars the next time he does advance a runner. If he errs again, he now owes a hundred bucks to the kitty.
The monies collected are then used to sponsor a team dinner at the season, or they can be donated to a charity.
It’s a silly idea in some ways, but it does accomplish shining light in an area where the Mets need to improve. Situational hitting is undervalued but only because it seldom is recognized.
Gary Cohen, on an SNY telecast, will tell us that so and so has X home runs and Y runs scored, but he is not liable to mention that the player has made only Z productive outs.
It’s all just food for thought suggesting that situational hitting is something we need to keep our eyes tuned to during the Mets 2020 season…