There’s on current New York Mets stat which should provide faith for immediate the future of this franchise.
The 2020 New York Mets have experienced an uncommon number of hurdles during a roller-coaster season. Like the rest of the league, the franchise has been forced to adapt to a global pandemic and a historic shortened season. Unlike other franchises, the Mets have also dealt with the loss of an ace caliber pitcher in Noah Syndergaard, a surpise opt-out by former All-Star Marcus Stroman, and an unprecedented mid-series opt-out by starting DH Yoenis Cespedes. It has been a wild ride!
However, amidst the chaos, there have been reasons for optimism. Superstar Jacob deGrom is a front runner for his third-straight Cy Young award and the team is in contention for an NL postseason berth. Even more surprisingly, the Mets led the major leagues in team batting average entering the final weeks of the season. This is an amazing development for a team that has long found its identity in its pitching.
Despite their impressive outburst, New York’s offense still has massive room for improvement entering the fresh 2021 season. The reason? They’re unfathomable performance with runners in scoring position.
The Mets are currently positioned to finish the season with the best team batting average in the league (.278). However, impossible as it sounds, they are also on pace to finish with the most runners left in scoring position (3.89).
This feels like a riddle. It also feels like something that only the Mets could manage to accomplish. How could the best hitting team in the sport also strand the most base runners? Is it a team-wide inability to produce when it matters? Or is it misfortune? The answer provides reason for great optimism entering next season.
The fact that the Mets lead the league in hitting and strand more base runners than any other team is unquestionably an anomaly. Even if you buy into the idea that some hitters struggle in “big spots” or “when the pressure is on,” there is no reason to believe that every batter is elite when the bases are empty and abysmal with runners on.
There will assuredly be regression to the mean. Some of this tension could be the result of team makeup. But much of it seems to be bad luck. Statistically speaking, things are highly likely to even out over a larger sample size.
There is also much evidence to suggest that the Mets’ batting numbers are sustainable. After all, the team has accomplished this shortened season feat despite very streaky play from their star hitters. Reigning NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso is batting a measly .222. Until quite recently, breakout star Jeff McNeil was having a disappointing campaign. J.D. Davis has been disappointing with a .263 average. And Amed Rosario and Wilson Ramos have both felt like trainwrecks.
It has largely been unexpected contributions by players like Dom Smith, Andres Gimenez, Michael Conforto, and Robinson Cano that have fueled the best hitting team in the league.
The team has dangerous stars in the heart of the lineup, as well as an uncommon level of depth throughout the order. On any given day, bats like Smith, Davis, or Cano can be found hitting in the latter half of the lineup card. How many other teams can boast that kind of depth?
Many fans (myself included) will be clamoring for the Mets to address dire holes in their roster by opening the checkbook this offseason. A name like JT Realmuto most immediately comes to mind.
A major addition to the offense would carry a considerable boost. But there is reason to believe the franchise can make a major leap without the aid of free agency or trade.
If Alonso and Davis have their number evened out over the course of a full season, and the supporting cast continues to play well, there is no reason to think that the team will continue to score so few runs.
Don’t sleep on the Mets locking themselves into a spot amongst the top-five offenses in the major leagues in 2021. And possibly top-three with the benefit of an addition or two.
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Pair this with a dominant deGrom, a healthy Syndergaard, and a retooled rotation, and the New York Mets window of contention seems to be wide open. Get the home run apple ready for a workout in 2021!