Offensive woes for the New York Mets have me wondering, can this team ever build around its offense or has Citi Field doomed them?
Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, has a reputation as a ballpark where pitchers thrive and batters watch their batting averages die. It’s not exactly batter’s hell like it was early on. Moving the fences in certainly helped turn it into a more balanced place to play.
Still, it seems like a stadium where pitchers have the advantage. Mets starters have benefited from this while the offense has often floundered.
The success of an offense is deeper than home runs. The ball can still travel well without a preposterous amount of four-base hits. Citi Field doesn’t offer either at the level other ballparks do.
I wrote recently about how the Mets shouldn’t regret building their franchise around the starting pitchers. When they originally went down that path, this was the best way to win. Baseball has since transitioned into favoring strong bullpens over five good starters. This team could always choose to follow the trend or they may want to build around the offense.
Will Citi Field allow them to?
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In 2017, Citi Field averaged the third fewest home runs in MLB. Only AT&T Park and Petco Park averaged fewer.
I’m surprised to see Citi Field rank so low. In 2016, it was number 11, one spot above Fenway Park. Of course, this measure also has a lot to do with the pitching and the way the roster is constructed. The Mets had Yoenis Cespedes healthy for all of 2016 which certainly helped boost the numbers.
Nevertheless, the ballpark in Queens routinely finishes in the second half of home runs per game. Unlike their brother, Yankee Stadium, it’s not a place with a clear hitter’s advantage.
I do think it’s wise for a team to build a squad built around the stadium they call home. The Colorado Rockies can only go so far with a rotation full of aces and a mediocre lineup. The best shot the San Diego Padres have at making a run is by adding top-level starting pitchers.
On the contrary, maybe it’s best teams build up a roster to fight the ballpark factors. If the visitors struggle to hit at Citi Field, perhaps the Mets will benefit from a dynamic offense that makes it look like a bandbox.
Clearly, the Mets need some type of identity. The Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs won the last two World Series with young talent leading the way. In 2015, the Kansas City Royals took home the crown by not striking out much.
Who is this team? They have no single strength we can say is better than any other out there.
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I’m convinced the easiest way the Mets get back to the World Series is by putting a fast team on the field with a deep bullpen to save the later innings. In other words, the opposite of what they have in 2018.