Will the real New York Mets please stand up?
The title of this post is a paraphrase from the famous line of the television show “To Tell The Truth”. It also very appropriate for the 2015 New York Mets.
After starting the season 13-3, with an 11-game winning streak included, the Mets have gone 12-18 over their last 30 games. Additionally, they are 19-20 against teams not named the Philadelphia Phillies. On the other hand, the Mets have fared reasonably well within their division. They’ve gone 6-1 against the Phillies, 4-2 against the Braves, 5-2 against the Marlins, and 3-4 against the Nationals. So, back to the original question, who are the 2015 Mets?
Well, they pitch well. The Mets’ team ERA going into May 25th was 3.37, good for fourth in the National League. The staff does not issue many walks. Before the Memorial Day game, they had allowed 96 bases on balls, best in the National League. Individually, Bartolo Colon, though his ERA is high at 4.82, is 7-3 on the season. Matt Harvey, who may be going through a “dead arm period”, is 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA. The bullpen has been solid, with Jeurys Familia leading the way, posting 14 saves and a 1.69 ERA.
Offensively, the Mets have struggled. Their team batting average going into May 25th was .234, next to last in the National League. The team’s offense, going into the season, was predicated on OBP and power. Neither has manifested through 46 games, just over a quarter of the season. The Mets have hit 37 home runs, 11th in the league. The team’s OBP is .299, 13th in the league. As a natural outcome, the team has not been effective in scoring runs. They have scored 168 runs, 11th in the league.
The more important question is what to expect over the remaining 116 games. Will the Mets be an up-and-down team, that will somehow finish over .500 and in contention? Or, should we pay close attention to the sample size after the 13-3 start, the much larger one? Are the Mets more of a below .500 team, doomed to a seventh straight losing season unless changes are made?
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There are some ominous signs. Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer, two of the offensive players of whom much is expected, have combined for 9 home runs. David Wright‘s future is at best in question with the recent diagnosis of spinal stenosis. Daniel Murphy, though he has fared better lately, is hitting only .268. The Mets are getting little from their catchers in the absence of Travis d’Arnaud, with Anthony Recker hitting .161 and Kevin Plawecki hitting .200.
There are some positive signs as well. Wilmer Flores, whose defense has improved of late, leads all MLB shortstops with 7 home runs. He is hitting a respectable .252. Lucas Duda is mashing left-handed pitching this year (an area of concern coming into this season), and has 6 home runs on the season. Juan Lagares continues to dazzle on defense, though his .264 average and .301 OBP are less than the Mets expect.
With one quarter of the 2015 season in the books, it’s hard to tell who the Mets are, and where they’re going. One can play point and counter-point with the team’s statistics, and probably not arrive at a true answer to what this team really is.
The most important question, in my opinion, is who Sandy Alderson thinks the Mets are at this point. Is Wright’s injury, combined with other key injuries and below-expectation performances, enough of a reason for Alderson to once again remain idle during the season? Will he again take the “we’re not quite there, but we’re close” approach? Or, will the General Manager see the team in contention, in a less-than-formidible division, and make that aggressive in-season move to try to vault his club into October baseball?
I think one can look at the body of work so far and be challenged to come to a conclusion about the 2015 Mets. So, I ask you, is this the year to go “all in”, or are there too many question marks to do so?
Let the debate, that will likely go until the July 31st trading deadline, begin.