Monday, September 1, 2014

The Worst Team Money Wasn't Spent On

"What do you mean, I won't spend money?  I got you four months of Chris Young, right?"  --Papa Smirk

Going into today's matinee with the Miami Marlins, the Mets have managed to score just 520 runs in their first 137 games.  That averages to 3.8 runs per game.  At that pace, the Mets would cross the plate 615 times this season, which would be four fewer than their run total from 2013.

So how far back do we have to go to find the last time the Mets scored fewer than 615 runs over a full 162-game season?  You have to set the arrival time on the DeLorean to 1992, when New York scored 599 runs.  If you recall, that 72-90 squad was more famously referred to as "The Worst Team Money Could Buy."

That team, full of superstars and a major league high $45 million payroll, batted .235 and was the last Mets team that didn't register 600 tallies in a non-strike shortened season.  And prior to 1992, the last time the Mets scored fewer than 615 runs (the pace they're currently on for the 2014 season) was in 1983.  That year was the seventh straight season the team averaged fewer than 3.8 runs per game.  Long-time Mets fans would recognize that seven-year period from 1977 to 1983 as the Grant's Tomb era - the period in which Mets fans abandoned Shea Stadium almost as quickly as former team chairman M. Donald Grant abandoned his senses, his wallet and his ability to field a winning team.

So basically, the 2014 Mets are scoring at a pace that's been seen just twice by the franchise in nearly 40 years.  And both low-scoring periods have been associated with some of the lowest moments in the club's history.

But not all is gloom and doom.  On the flip side, this year's pitchers have allowed just 533 runs, putting them on pace to give up 630 runs in 2014.  That would be the lowest total in a non-strike shortened season since 1990, when the team allowed 613 runs en route to a 91-71 campaign.

Although pitching wins championships, a little hitting and run-scoring helps as well.  Both the 1969 and 1986 championship teams boasted pitching staffs that allowed fewer than 600 runs.  Of course, those two teams combined to outscore the opposition by 296 runs.

The 1992 squad was the last team to score as little as the 2014 club has.  That was known as "The Worst Team Money Could Buy".  This year's squad is about to become "The Worst Team Money Wasn't Spent On".  The front office has a lot of work to do during the off-season to make sure future Mets teams don't have "The Worst Team" moniker attached to them, regardless of how much money can or won't buy.

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