|High fives at the plate have become more prevalent for the Mets these days. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)|
On Saturday, the Mets defeated the Miami Marlins, 11-3. The drubbing of the Fish was the ninth consecutive game in which the team scored five or more runs. It was also just the fifth time in franchise history that such a streak had been reached, surpassed only by a 12-game stretch in 2007.
What makes this current streak all the more impressive is that the Mets are doing it without the services of disabled sluggers Yoenis Céspedes and Lucas Duda, and with middle-of-the-order hitter Curtis Granderson batting .139. Even the healthy players have been having a rough time during the season's first five weeks, as their combined .233 batting average is tied with the San Francisco Giants for the second-lowest in the National League. (Only the San Diego Padres are lower, at .217. It should be noted that the Giants and Padres have the the two worst records in the N.L., as they have combined to go 23-40 through Saturday's games.)
So what exactly have the Mets been doing to produce all these runs during this recent outburst of offense? Smoke, mirrors and the threat of Ray Ramirez paying a visit to the visitors' clubhouse can only go so far. Let's take a look at how a depleted team has become an offensive juggernaut practically overnight.
In scoring nearly eight runs per game over their last nine contests, the Mets have been able to move from last place in the division to second place. However, despite the fact that the players have been doing a conga line around the bases for the last week and a half, the team has managed to bat just .287 during those nine games. Although this a marked improvement from their low Mendoza-like average, it's still the lowest batting average of the five Mets teams that have produced nine-game streaks of 5+ runs (see chart above). In fact, it's the only time the Mets have had such a streak without batting over .300 or collecting 100 hits to accomplish it.
The Mets have been bunching their hits together to produce crooked numbers on the scoreboard. During their nine-game skein, the team has come to bat in 79 innings. They've failed to score in 50 of those frames and scored one run in ten of the innings. For all you kids out there, that's a total of ten runs scored in 60 innings. That means the other 61 runs during the streak have been scored in just 19 turns at bat.
In last night's game, the Mets pushed across 11 runs. Every time they scored in an inning, they scored at least three times. (They scored five times in the first and touched the plate three times in both the fifth and seventh.) In their come-from-behind victory on Friday, they used another five-run seventh inning to complete their comeback. In each of the last five games, the Mets have had at least one inning in which they scored four or more runs. That'll certainly help a team continue a streak of 5+ runs per game.
In addition to the big innings, the Mets have also been teeing off on opposing teams' bullpens in the late innings. The Mets have batted 25 times during the streak from the seventh inning on. They've scored 26 runs in those 25 innings. Included in this is Jay Bruce's grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning against the Braves on Tuesday, which pushed the Mets' run tally for the night from three runs to seven. Yup, without the four-run blast, the 5+ run streak would have ended and I'd be writing about the sex toy in Kevin Plawecki's locker or Matt Harvey's suspension instead. (What do you mean those would have made better topics?)
The main reason the Mets have been scoring a handful of runs a night is because they're killing it with runners in scoring position. Prior to the streak, the Mets were doing fairly well with runners on second and/or third, batting .277 in those situations (28-for-101). That number for the season is now up to a whopping .328 (62-for-189), as the Mets have gone 34-for-88 (.386) with runners in scoring position in their last nine games. That would also explain why the team hasn't needed to follow their usual formula of home runs or nothing to score their runs. The Mets failed to hit a homer in their two highest scoring games of their nine-game streak (16 runs, no homers on Wednesday; 11 runs, no homers last night).
Here's the crazy thing about this streak. It could very well continue, or at the very least, be interrupted by no more than a game or two before a similar streak begins. Why is that? Because the team still has a ridiculously low .252 BABIP this season. Eventually that number has to get closer to .300, and when it does (as it's trying to do now), the runs will light up the scoreboard. As you can see in the chart below, over the last 14 days (ten games), the Mets have produced a slight lower-than-normal .291 BABIP and have still managed to average 7.3 runs per game. They're averaging nearly double-digit runs per game with a .320 BABIP over the last week.
|Last 7 days||5||49||.320|
|Last 14 days||10||73||.291|
Hot streaks come and go. The one the Mets are currently on could come to an end soon. But the low BABIP over the first five weeks and the production with runners in scoring position all season leads me to believe that it won't come to a crashing halt. In fact, the Mets might actually not have their annual June swoon next month, especially since most of their injured everyday players could be back by then.
It's not smoke. It's not mirrors. It's just a good baseball team finally doing what they were supposed to do when they were put together.