Was the Mets' offensive explosion a sign of things to come?
I'm not sure how many New York Mets fans could possibly be reading this right now, because if you watched the the team score eight runs in one inning in the second game of yesterday's doubleheader, you probably dropped dead from shock.
Just in case paramedics were on hand to bring you back, let's talk about what happened yesterday. After dropping the early game against the Washington Nationals in a way that Mets fans have become far too familiar with (leaving nine men on base), the Mets were well on their way to yet another anemic offensive performance in the afternoon tilt. Then, somehow, the bats awakened.
The Mets found the runs faucet and turned it as far as it would go.
They hung an eight spot on the Nats to run away with the game, plating more runs in the fifth inning than they had in the previous four games combined.
Even after winning yesterday's second game, the Mets still sit a game under .500 at 20-21. Mets fans are looking for a reason to believe. Did the offense find something sustainable? Are the shutouts a thing of the past? Let's dig in.
The Mets had ten hits and four walks in the win. Most encouragingly, the offensive surge was fueled by two players that have struggled mightily for much of the season. Mark Canha and Starling Marte each recorded two hits, and it's no coincidence that this resulted in the Mets highest run total since April 27th. Even more importantly, the team seemed to be finally having fun, punctuating big hits with what my son Henry would call "the booty butt slap."
Canha said after the game, "It felt like our good ABs finally turned into something and we cashed them in. It was only a matter of time before that happened." For the most part, I agree with him. The Mets have had a few games where nothing at all happens at the plate, but so many of their losses have come as a result of stranding runners on base.
The Mets rank 12th in the majors in on base percentage. Nothing that will kickstart plans for a postseason parade, but certainly not the kind of number you would expect from a team that ranks 24th in runs scored.
As a team, the Mets are only hitting .239 with runners in scoring position, and a huge part of that disappointing average has been Canha and Marte, who are hitting only .174 and .207 in such spots, respectively. For much of the season, Marte has occupied the two-hole in the lineup, but his struggles have forced Buck Showalter's hand in moving him down. His almost total lack of power hasn't helped, but it's important to remember that he's still working his way back from offseason surgery.
Canha's struggles have been similar. He hasn't hit for average or power, and his inability to produce runs, combined with the continued hot hitting of Ronny Mauricio in AAA, has many Mets fans looking to move Jeff McNeil to left field and bring Mauricio up to play second, demoting Canha to a bench role. Though this may ultimately come to pass, the fact that it hasn't yet shows that the Mets still have faith in Canha, and he rewarded that trust on Sunday.
Can Marte and Canha suddenly morph into All-Stars? Doubtful. Both are 34, but they're hardly ancient. They've been good in the very near past. I believe they can hit enough to help raise the Mets from that dismal 24th in runs scored stat.
Are the Mets going to be batting around with regularity? Not likely. Nor will they be scoring eight runs in a game all too often. Team power is still a problem outside of Pete Alonso, but the Mets have to feel better about their rest-of-season prospects after Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer both had good outings last week.
If the offense can step up even a little bit, the Mets can turn around what's been a terrible month and stay in this race.