Posted by Reese Kaplan at 8:00 AM
While Sandy Alderson sits around waiting for his phone to ring, perhaps he might want to peruse the performance statistics from the season that just ended to point out new directions he should be exploring to allow the team to progress to the next level. While two years is not necessarily a trend, the fact remains you went from losing the World Series but winning your division in 2015 with 90 wins to a do-or-die Wildcard playoff game with 87 wins in 2016.
First let’s look at what’s good – pitching. Even with the loss for many starts of Matt Harvey, Steve Matz, Jacob de Grom and others, they still managed to finish near the top of nearly every pitching category. The cumulative 3.58 ERA was good enough for 3rd best in all of major league baseball behind just the Cubs and Nationals. They were also third in shutouts with 13 only 2 behind the major league leader. Their Strikeout to Walk ratio was the 2nd best in the game helped in large part in giving up the 2nd fewest walks in the majors. They also were 2nd best at being stingy with the long ball.
The strikeout totals were good enough for 6th place in MLB and Jeurys Familia helped lead them to the number two total in saves. They achieved a 6th best 87 Quality Starts and coincidentally won 87 games.
The one disturbing trend in pitching was that they also tended to be a bit all-or-nothing. If it wasn’t going to be a strikeout then they were going to yield quite a few hits. Opponents hit .254 off of them, in the 2nd tier of teams in the league. That might also account for the 6th place WHIP total of 1.27 despite the stellar work in walks and strikeouts. In fact, .254 is exactly what National League batters did on the whole.
Unfortunately now the analysis turns to hitting and the numbers are beyond fugly. Let’s get the one highlight up front. For home runs the Mets were 5th in the majors with 218 behind the league leading total of 253. If it’s true that chicks dig the long ball, then Queens was definitely a good place to be to fulfill that craving.
After that it gets bad…real bad. In hits, the Mets finished a dismal 26th out of 30 teams, more than 200 off the pace of the leader. For doubles, they were even worse at 29th out of 30. For triples they were 27th. Despite all those dingers, they finished a dismal 22nd in a Grandersonesque total of RBIs.
Perhaps the most embarrassing stat of all is stolen bases – a mere 42 for the entire team, whereas there are individual players who exceeded that number by themselves. Baseball’s best Arizona Diamondbacks, by comparison, stole 181 bases. That disparity boggles the mind.
Finally there’s the question of batting average. For the year the Mets finished with a team AVG of just .246. That’s 8 points off the league average of .254 and good enough for only 25th place out of 30 teams in the majors. What’s even more disturbing is that the pitchers were allowing opponents to hit .254 while the Mets were only hitting .246. Is it any wonder that they hovered around .500 for the season and by winning 87 games actually overachieved?
Obviously there’s been a lot of chatter about moving either Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson (and I’ve chimed in that Lucas Duda should be on the block as well). Payroll considerations aside for the moment, wouldn’t the club benefit from some higher OBP players who deliver better batting averages and are more adept at driving in runs? Granted, the only similarity between Earl Weaver and Terry Collins is their penchant for the 3 run homer. Hitting behind the runner, working counts, choking up, bunting, hit & run, and other small-ball strategies are not his forte. Still, it would seem the club may be squandering an opportunity to reshape it’s ability to improve its offensive approach if the only motivation for trades is reducing payroll. After all, given better health then the pitching stats should only improve upon their already lofty levels.
Maybe while waiting for the outfield glut to resolve itself Sandy Alderson ought to inquire about Charlie Blackmon or players of that ilk who can run, hit doubles and deliver a high batting average as well as putting the ball over the wall.