The New York Mets have played in an extraordinary number of doubleheaders so far this season. Because of Covid-19 outbreaks among their opponents coupled with unfortunate weather, the Mets, as of July 26th, have played a total of 10 doubleheaders this season, which is approximately 30% of the doubleheaders that have been played during the 2021 season.
Initially, when the Mets found themselves scheduling numerous doubleheaders in such a short span of time, there was concern that this would be detrimental to them. Considering that the Mets have had well-documented injury struggles this year, playing more than one game a day increased the likelihood that they will have further injury issues.
There was also a historical precedence that legitimized fan concerns. From a historical perspective, the Mets have not been very good winning doubleheaders. From the time the Mets were officially inaugurated as a franchise in 1962, they have played a total of 510 doubleheaders in their franchise history. In their inaugural season, they played 30 doubleheaders, only managing to sweep three of them, or 10% of doubleheaders.
The New York Mets do not have a strong record in sweeping doubleheaders, but in 2021, they are avoiding being swept in them, which has had a positive effect on their record.
The team did not improve much from that inauspicious feat in 1962. Of the 510 doubleheaders, the Mets have only swept 106 of them for a winning percentage of 20.76%. This is well below the average figure. When all the doubleheader results are tabulated for all 30 teams since the 1961 season, the statistics show that an MLB team sweeps a doubleheader 50.89% of the time. Historically, this comes out to 2,371 doubleheader sweeps in 4,659 doubleheaders. When home and road splits are taken into account, 30.37% of doubleheaders have resulted in a home team sweep compared to 20.52% for the visiting team sweeping a doubleheader.
For the Mets, they have swept doubleheaders at home 22.04% of the time and 18.93% of them on the road since their inception. In 2021 though, they have performed better in doubleheaders, splitting all of them except two, which ended up in sweeps in their favor. Even more importantly, one of their doubleheader sweeps came against the Philadelphia Phillies, one of their rivals in the National League East and, along with the Atlanta Braves, their biggest threat in the division.
So have the Mets performed better in doubleheaders this year compared to previous years? It depends how it is evaluated. Currently, through July 29th, the Mets have played a total of 11 doubleheaders. They have only swept two of them, one of which was a twin bill against the Phillies in early April, and the other was against the Colorado Rockies in late May. However, for the other 9 doubleheaders, the Mets have always split the doubleheader, which gives them a record of 13-9 in doubleheaders so far this year, which is a .591 winning percentage. Currently, the Mets are hovering between a .530 and .540 winning percentage.
As a result, the amount of doubleheaders has thus far not hurt the Mets as much as they might have initially anticipated. One potential explanation for their improved performance in doubleheaders could be because of their position depth. With a deep bench filled with seasoned veteran hitters who can perform at a reasonably high level, they have been able to make sure that no one player has been overexerted during these strenuous days. The signings of Jonathan Villar and Kevin Pillar, along with the acquisition of Billy McKinney and calling up numerous veteran hitters throughout the year like Brandon Drury and Jose Peraza, have allowed the Mets to remain competitive in doubleheader games when the starters do not play.
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The Mets are still set to play a couple more doubleheaders as the second half of the season continues. Now that the team is fully healthy from a position player standpoint, it is reasonable to expect that they will continue to utilize that depth in doubleheaders to keep their players fresh and not overexerted.