Sunday, April 12, 2015

It's Early, But The Mets Offense Has Been Offensive

Earlier this morning, the MetsBlog Twitter account delivered this yummy bit of somewhat fictional information to its tens of thousands of followers.

Although the .196 team batting average is correct, the team had actually hit two homers during the season's first five games, with David Wright and John Mayberry connecting off Braves starter Eric Stults on back-to-back pitches during Friday night's game.

But perhaps the lack of extra-base hits produced by the Mets during the first week of the new season confused the fact checkers at MetsBlog.  After all, with just four extra-base hits in five games, the Mets are dead last in the majors in that category.  Let's put the anemic offense into perspective.

New York has 32 hits this season.  That's just four more safeties than the Colorado Rockies have extra-base hits.  The N.L. West leaders have hit 21 doubles and seven homers through their first five contests.

Speaking of the Rockies, their pitchers have accounted for two of their league-leading 21 doubles, as starting pitchers Kyle Kendrick and Tyler Matzek have both ripped two-baggers during the season's first week.  Therefore, Colorado's pitchers have produced more doubles than the entire Mets team, as Lucas Duda is the only Met to stroke a double so far in 2015.

As previously mentioned, the Mets have four extra-base hits this season.  How anemic is that?  Let me count the ways.

  1. The Detroit Tigers have as many triples as the Mets have extra-base hits.
  2. There are 15 players in baseball with as many or more extra-base hits than the entire Mets team.
  3. Nineteen of the other 29 teams have as many homers as the Mets have extra-base hits.

No extra-base production means no slugging percentage, and the Mets are dead last in the majors with a .252 slugging percentage.  New York is one of just three teams in baseball with a higher on-base percentage (.264) than slugging percentage.  The other two teams are the Miami Marlins (.285 OBP, .259 SLG) and the Minnesota Twins (.258 OBP, .256 SLG).  It should be noted that the Marlins and Twins are tied for the worst record in baseball, as both teams are 1-4.

The Mets have more bearded players than they have extra-base hits.  (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

If the Mets offense is not going to produce, then the onus rests on the starting pitchers to keep the team's opponents off the scoreboard.  But even the starting pitchers aren't going very deep during the first week of the season.  The Mets are one of three teams who have not yet had one of its starters pitch into the seventh inning this year, joining the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees.  And why are Mets starters not going deeper into games?  Some of it is ineffectiveness (see Niese, Jon and Gee, Dillon) and some of it is because of an innings limit (see Knight, Dark).  But another reason why the starters have not pitched past the sixth inning is because the team has needed to pinch-hit for them earlier in games because the offense has not been effective.

On Opening Day, Bartolo Colon was cruising, allowing one run on three hits in six innings.  But with the Mets holding on to a slim 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh, manager Terry Collins replaced Colon with pinch-hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis, even though Colon had only thrown 86 pitches to that point.  Nieuwenhuis failed to drive in Travis d'Arnaud, who had hit a triple two batters earlier, and Colon was out of the game.

Two nights later, it was Jacob deGrom's turn to be taken out of the game for a pinch-hitter.  DeGrom had thrown just 92 pitches through six innings, shutting down the Nationals after allowing a two-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman in the first inning.  But deGrom was trailing by a run when he was due to bat in the seventh.  Once again, Collins pinch-hit Nieuwenhuis for his starting pitcher and the Mets failed to score.

Both Colon and deGrom could have pitched into the seventh inning had the Mets been more productive with their bats.  But they weren't.  And because of that, the bullpen has gotten a lot of early work and two starters have gotten early showers.

Look, I know it's only five games.  I also know it's very possible the Mets might hit the stitches off the ball over their next five games and this blog post will be moot.  But it's just frustrating that the lineup looked halfway decent coming into the season and they're struggling to produce a slugging percentage that resembles a typical batting average.

Mario Mendoza, whose name is so synonymous with a low batting average that a .200 hitter is said to be at the Mendoza Line - never mind that Mendoza actually had a .215 lifetime batting average - would look at the 2015 Mets and shake his head in disgust.  That's what happens when an entire team can only muster a .196 batting average.  And it's not just the lack of hits that would upset Mendoza.  It's the lack of long hits.  The Mets' .252 slugging percentage is also lower than Mendoza's .262 career mark.

All you have to know about the early season offensive production of the 2015 Mets is this.  In last night's game, the Atlanta Braves produced three doubles and one triple in the sixth inning.  The Braves' extra-base hit production in that one inning matched the total number of extra-base hits produced by the Mets in their first five games combined.

The offense is doing just enough to offend and not enough to contend.  Let's hope "it's still early" doesn't turn into "it's getting late" for the team's lumber to awaken from its slumber.

This is what most Mets hitters have looked like in 2015.  (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY)


Deborah McIver said...

Let me just say....five games into the season and it already feels like same old, same old. This year is last year and probably next year. And the year after. The tragic is back. It appears to have never vacated the premises.

Ed Leyro (and Joey Beartran) said...

Any team can go through a tough five-game stretch, but it always seems like the Mets do it in the first five games and then they have several similar five-game stretches during the course of the season.

Makes me miss the offensive juggernaut of the 1999 and 2006 teams.