The New York Mets have put their fans through a roller coaster beginning to this season. If this ride continues, all of us are going to be sick. The Mets can’t score runs in 2021. Normally, they reserve that party trick for when the greatest Mets pitcher of the last 30 years is on the mound. The Mets cannot hit with runners in scoring position. They simply refuse to do it. I bet if the Mets had the bases loaded and they laid down a bunt, it would turn out to be a double-play.
The Mets are not a good team on the field right now, but on paper, they’re the opposite. That’s where their biggest issue lies.
The team that exists on paper should be above .500 and on top of the NL East, no question. Instead, these imposters have taken their place. On paper, the team looks cohesive. In reality, however, manager Luis Rojas hasn’t figured out the right combination, the perfect lineup, and the optimal moves to get this team to its potential. Blame it on Rojas’s inexperience, or even Sandy Alderson’s reliance on advanced analytics. This team isn’t playing up to their potential, let alone some form of neutrality.
And to be clear, the offense is the problem. The starting rotation and the bullpen have been as good as we all thought they would be. Even without the talents of Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard, the Mets’ arms hold the 4th-best ERA in the league. And as the pennant race heats up, facing Edwin Diaz, Miguel Castro, Trevor May and Aaron Loup will be a tall order for opposing hitters.
It’s the offense that is volatile right now.
I understand the idea behind moving guys around the lineup to shake them out of a funk. Sure, dropping Dom Smith to the seventh spot is a good move. But moving Jeff McNeil to the three-hole? And only hitting Lindor leadoff once? At this point, the most consistency the Mets can count on is that the pitcher will bat later in the order. This lineup’s construction is a mess because it’s being dictated by a need to compensate for everyone’s concurrent slump.
A Reddit user put another way simply by asking, “Who in this lineup is scary to face? Don’t say it’s Nimmo.” And he’s right. If you’re an opposing pitcher, and the Mets have runners in scoring position, why should you be worried? All of a sudden, you’re pitching like deGrom in the midst of a 14 strikeout gem. Back in 2015, the Mets also didn’t have an answer to that question. A few days before trading for Yoenis Cespedes, they hit John Mayberry Jr. in the cleanup spot. Why? Because that lineup was a mess.
If there is one guy you should be afraid of in this lineup right now, it’s Pete Alonso. As he begins to heat up, asking Pete to carry the offense is not an ask you can make. We saw what happens when Pete presses and forces swings at the plate last season. To break his stride in the name of supporting the other slumping bats would be detrimental to the only thing that’s working for them.
This is more or less the same Mets offense from 2020. that one finished top 4 for batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. The entire team in 2020 had an OPS+ of 121, marking a better than league offensive output for every single hitter. And yet this team did not make the playoffs, due to their lack of situational hitting.
When every member of this roster is up there, taking labored cuts, trying to find their own swing, the idea of playing like a team goes out the window. Is the dismissal of Chili Davis and Tom Slater going to solve this problem? Not in the short-term. In fact, we don’t really know if their removal is a step in the right direction. All we know is that the New York Mets need to decide which team they want to be: the one on paper that didn’t pan out, or the one that found their groove and became a team.
Right now, it’s starting to look like the former.
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