In that mid-June set, the Amazin’ offense managed to plate just four runs against Braves pitching and lost one game to John Gant, a 23-year-old rookie who had never won a decision in his career. That series offered a grim reminder that the Mets are nowhere near prepared to defend their National League pennant.
In fact, approaching the end of June, the team was in a virtual three-way tie for the second wild card spot. There will have to be a major turnaround offensively for the club to go deep into October. As the front office ponders trades ahead of the July 31 deadline, here are three frightening stats the club has to confront at the plate.
There is no simpler stat than runs scored, and none more important. The New York Mets offense ranks 28th in baseball with 259 runners plated in 71 games, which is just slightly above three-and-a-half runs per game. Hopes were much higher for this group with Yoenis Cespedes joining the club and Michael Conforto expected to continue his development, but the formula has not worked as injuries affected the team early.
As a result, the Mets trail every team except the rebuilding Phillies (243 runs) and Braves (239 runs). The inability to score leads to heartbreaking one-run losses like the 4-3 defeat at the hands of Atlanta on June 23. Mets pitching deserves a great deal more support for the cause.
.208 average with runners in scoring position
New York ranks in the top 10 in home runs, which is an encouraging sign for a lineup that lacked punch in recent years. Unfortunately, the club’s .208 average with runners in scoring position (RISP) has kept its overall damage to a minimum.
Without more base hits in the clutch, this team will be unable to beat first-class pitching — the kind you see in the playoffs. In another post discussing the ills of the Amazin’ offensive attack, we zeroed in on the club’s overall performance with men on base.
Nearly a month later, the Mets remain unable to hit for power with ducks on the pond. The club’s .326 slugging percentage with runners on is the worst in baseball. Unless you pop the occasional double and triple in these situations, you get single runs even when you hit for a high average. (Neil Walker has 13 RBI off 13 hits with RISP.)
63 RBI from the infield corners
Through nearly half the 2016 season, the Mets have just 63 RBI from first and third basemen. Injuries to David Wright and Lucas Duda have forced the duo to miss a combined 66 games this year, and production from the corners has been especially anemic.
With Wright on the DL indefinitely, there is no clear answer to the third base conundrum. (At press time, New York was reportedly mulling a deal for Jose Reyes.) Teams usually count on 180 to 200 RBI from the infield corners manned by sluggers.
New York is counting on most of its production from the outfield. Since Duda’s timetable for return remains up in the air, it will be interesting to see how the front office addresses the void. The New York Mets offense cannot become a force without more from these positions.
Connect with Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY