Mets: Converting with runners in scoring position is critical to success
It’s been widely known for quite some time now that the New York Mets have had a long-standing struggle from the past season with driving in runners that are in scoring position. This is one on-field weakness from 2020 that the Mets must correct if they want to be taken as serious contenders in the National League. this season.
Despite leading the entire Major Leagues in team batting average last season at .272, the Mets were ranked a lowly 22nd when it came to team batting average with runners in scoring position at a .245 clip. Those numbers translate to a league-worst 3.77 runners left in scoring position per game in 2020, which is astoundingly nearly four runners stranded per contest! Outside of Dom Smith, (.333 Avg w/ RISP), Jeff McNeil (.308 Avg w/ RISP), and Michael Conforto (.277 Avg w/ RISP), the rest of the team generally floundered with runners in scoring position.
Looking a year further back, the Mets were more of a middle-of-the-pack team back in 2019 as they ranked 13th when it came to team average with runners in scoring position. It could be said that if the Mets had been anywhere close to this ranking last season, they would’ve certainly positioned themselves for a shot at the playoffs.
After the Mets struggled with runners in scoring position in 2020, this year’s team needs to correct those issues to have any chance at the postseason.
Many fans, including myself, had wondered whether this team was that poor at situational hitting or whether it could be simply chalked up as bad luck. While both ends of the argument could be considered valid, one thing is for certain; If the Mets have dreams of playing baseball in October in 2021 they have to execute better with runners in scoring position.
After Opening Night in Philadelphia, it seemed to be a dark continuation from the 2020 season. The Mets would out-hit the Phillies ten to seven, but they only went 4-11 with runners in scoring position and left ten runners on base in total. Yet, it is such a microscopic sample size that it can’t be fully taken at face value, but it certainly gave me a stark reminder of how difficult it was for this club to convert with runners on base.
I believe the return of Mets Hitting Coach Chili Davis in the dugout certainly helps matters after Davis was not physically present with the team during the 2020 season due to Covid-19 precautions. But at the end of the day, Chili Davis can only do so much from the bench, and it all comes down to the players with the bats in their own hands performing in those key spots.
With a bullpen full of question marks this season, it is going to be that much more important for the Mets to score as frequently as possible.
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The Mets offense is absolutely loaded this season from top to bottom, and I would fully expect them to be among the league leaders in many offensive categories again with the amount of offensive talent this team possesses. However, as we have seen last season, if the team is not producing with runners in scoring position, it’s not going to be an easy ride to October regardless of how well many of the other aspects of the ball club do.