There has been much talk about the failures of the Mets' bullpen this year. Although it is true that most of the bullpen has underachieved, save for Bobby Parnell and Tim Byrdak, I'm not placing all the blame on the relievers. In fact, it's not WHO is giving up the runs, but WHEN and HOW they're being given up. Let me explain what I mean.
In 2011, Mets pitchers (starters and relievers) allowed 147 home runs. Here is the breakdown of those homers:
- Solo homers: 94 (63.9% of all homers hit producing 94 runs)
- Two-run homers: 34 (23.1%, 68 runs scored)
- Three-run homers: 16 (10.9%, 48 runs scored)
- Grand slams: 3 (2.0%, 12 runs scored)
- Total homers: 147 (producing 222 runs, an average of 1.51 runs scoring on each homer)
Now let's do a similar breakdown for 2012. In the season's first 41 games, the Mets have allowed 44 home runs. The results are quite different, especially the percentages and the runs scored per homer.
- Solo homers: 18 (40.9% of all homers hit producing 18 runs)
- Two-run homers: 16 (36.4%, 32 runs scored)
- Three-run homers: 7 (15.9%, 21 runs scored)
- Grand slams: 3 (6.8%, 12 runs scored)
- Total homers: 44 (producing 83 runs, an average of 1.89 runs scoring on each homer)
In 2011, the majority of the homers given up by Mets pitchers were of the solo variety. This year, almost 60% of home runs allowed have come with men on base. That means more runs are coming via the homer and the opposition is putting up more crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
But it's not just the abundance of base runners scoring on balls that leave the yard that's troubling to me. It's when these blasts are occurring. Let's look at 2011 vs. 2012 and compare the home runs hit in each season, looking specifically at the number of outs in the inning at the time the home runs were hit.
2011: 147 home runs allowed
- No outs: 48 HR
- One out: 64 HR
- Two outs: 35 HR
2012: 44 home runs allowed
- No outs: 13 HR
- One out: 14 HR
- Two outs: 17 HR
As you can see, in 2011, Mets pitchers were especially stingy with the long ball when they were one out away from ending the inning. The exact opposite has been true in 2012, as opposing hitters have been more likely to hit home runs as the inning progresses.
The 2012 Mets have been at or above .500 all year. But looking at the pitching stats above, if things don't change soon with regards to home runs allowed, the Mets might be on the south side of .500 before long. Giving up too many home runs with men on base and allowing home runs with two outs will tend to do that to a team.