Sunday, August 12, 2018

Three-Run Leads Are a Recipe For Disaster For the Mets

"You know what, Mickey?  My high school sweetheart, Sandy Koufax, never blew a three-run lead." (R. Schultz/Getty Images)

Good baseball teams know how to hold leads when they have them.  And as a team's lead increases, the odds of ending the game with a happy recap usually increase as well.

That is, unless you're talking about the 2018 Mets.

The Mets lost Saturday night's game to the Miami Marlins in 11 innings.  New York dropped the 4-3 decision after taking an early 3-0 lead.  If that kind of result sounds familiar to you, you're not alone.  In fact, just minutes after the walk-off defeat was complete, I was asked this question on Twitter.

I can't confirm if the Mets have set some kind of record for losing games after holding a three-run lead, mainly because I'm lazier than the average blogger, but thanks to, I can say that the Mets have lost an incredibly high percentage of games in which their opponent had to erase a deficit of three or more runs.  But before we get to that, here's a little background research.

For the Mets to lose a game in which they held a three-run lead, that implies that they had to score at least three runs.  (Duh!)  And in their 66 losses to date, they were held to fewer than three runs a total of 36 times.  For all you kids out there, that's a lot of defeats in which the Mets couldn't have possibly held a three-run lead.

So that leaves just 30 losses in which the Mets could have been up by three runs.  You would think that given the fact that I only had to go through two-and-a-half dozen boxscores, I would find maybe five or six instances in which the Mets lost after they had taken a three-run advantage on their opponent.  If you thought that was the case, then clearly you haven't been following the 2018 Mets closely.

Here are all the games so far this season in which the Mets gave us temporary pleasure by taking a three-run lead before reminding us that they're still the 2018 Mets.

  • April 16:  Mets lead Nationals, 6-1.  Lose 8-6.
  • April 21:  Mets lead Braves, 3-0.  Lose 4-3.
  • May 26:  Mets lead Brewers, 3-0.  Lose 17-6.
  • May 27:  Mets lead Brewers, 4-1.  Lose 8-7.
  • May 29:  Mets lead Braves, 4-0.  Lose 7-6.
  • June 9:  Mets lead Yankees, 3-0.  Lose 4-3.
  • June 20:  Mets lead Rockies, 4-1.  Lose 10-8. 
  • June 27:  Mets lead Pirates, 3-0.  Lose 5-3.
  • July 3:  Mets lead Blue Jays, 5-0.  Lose 8-6.
  • July 27:  Mets lead Pirates, 3-0.  Lose 5-4.
  • Aug. 5:  Mets lead Braves, 3-0.  Lose 5-4.
  • Aug. 11:  Mets lead Marlins, 3-0.  Lose 4-3.

The Mets have lost 30 games this season in which they scored at least three runs.  And in a dozen of those contests - that's an incredible 40% of the defeats - they held a lead of at least three runs.  It's so unbelievable, even Tom Glavine would be devastated by it.  (His former team, the Atlanta Braves, have no problem with the Mets' generosity, as they've engineered three of those 12 comebacks.)

Do you remember earlier when I said that good teams know how to hold leads?  The 2015 National League champion Mets - otherwise known as a good team - lost just six games all year in which they held a three-run lead.  This year's squad has doubled that total with 48 games still left to play.

On Sunday, less than 24 hours after suffering their 12th defeat in a game where they held a lead of at least three runs, the Mets defeated the Marlins, 4-3.  How did they manage to hold the lead in this game?  It's simple, really.  They never allowed their lead to reach three runs at any point in the game.  If only they had followed that formula all year.