Selfish at-bats from New York Mets stars Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil have hurt the team too often.
Watching a New York Mets game in my house is an experience. It is just me and my wife. While I park myself in front of the 65 incher, she stays in the bedroom waiting for me to call her to come into the family room whenever Pete Alonso comes up to the plate. We both watch together and then she leaves until his next at-bat. Basically, she helps solves TV murders while I immerse myself in the game. When he swings at some of those awful pitches way out of the strike zone, she is not a happy camper.
The Mets have a problem. Baseball, like all major sports, is a team game. In baseball, more so than other sports, It’s often the little things that don’t appear in the box score that it the difference between winning and losing. Here is what I am talking about.
I often wonder why I, from the comforts of home, can predict what pitch will be thrown and how the players don’t appear to have a clue. Or do they?
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How frustrating it is to tell my wife that the next pitch to Alonso will be low and outside the strike zone. When it is and Alonso swings and misses, she asks me why he does that. The reason is that he is selfish.
Alonso knows his importance to the team. The coaches know and the other players know. What Alonso does not appear to get is that his value to the team can increase exponentially if he adds the little things to his repertoire.
Statistics have shown over the last hundred plus years that when the batter is in a positive count (2-0, 3-0, 3-1) their batting average goes up. By placing the pitcher in an almost must throw a strike situation, the batter has the advantage. A BIG advantage.
Pete needs to realize that by taking his walks or placing himself in a better count situation, it helps the whole team. When Alonso walks, the following batters come to bat with runners on base. Home runs with no one on base become two-run homers. Runners on first when Alonso bats become runners in scoring position, and so on.
So, if I know what pitch is going to be thrown to Alonso, why doesn’t he and why doesn’t the coaching staff?
The answer is simple. They do know and Pete Alonso swings at those pitches because he is a selfish player whose baseball IQ needs to be increased by the coaches who are paid to do that. The whole team from the coaching staff to the players must understand that you can affect the team’s outcome in close games by doing the non-selfish things. By not understanding how the knee bone is connected to the leg bone and the leg bone is connected to the ankle bone, his selfish acts of swinging at curveballs two feet out of the strike zone will never stop. He needs to be a better teammate.
It is the same story with Jeff McNeil. I have seen at least, or so it seems, once per week when McNeil has a full count on him and swings at pitches way out of the strike zone rather than take the walk. I have to assume that he does this because he has so much conviction in his abilities with the bat that he would rather swing than take a walk. Once again, that is selfish. I think all New York Mets fans would rather see him walk to first and score on a hit by Conforto or Alonso than pop up weakly to CF after fouling off two pitches out of the strike zone.
The coaching staff must step up and convince these players that by having these selfish at-bats, it hurts the team in the things that don’t show up in the box score. I don’t have access to the analytics but I can sure pass both the eye test and the brain test.
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Let’s be honest here, it all comes down to having a happy wife. You know the old saying, “happy wife, happy life”.