The alarm bells are ringing loud for the New York Mets offense, as they are coming off a brutal three-game sweep by the Toronto Blue Jays at Citi Field over the weekend, in which they hit .173 and scored just five runs in three games.
But there can be one swap the Mets can make right now to shake up the lineup and send a message to the team.
Francisco Lindor needs to be moved down to sixth in the Mets lineup because the Mets have fallen behind far too much early on.
One of the reasons the Mets were so good last year was because they kept setting the tone early and making the other team react and feel overly desperate to over-compensate for trailing and trying to do too much to make up for it. That allows the pitching staff and Buck Showalter to dictate the terms of games that usually pin the opponent to surrender.
The Mets have gotten shellacked in the first innings of games this year. They've been outscored 46-13 in the first inning, and are 13-26 when not scoring first (39 times) whereas they've scored first just 21 times, in which the team is 17-4 when such an occurance happens. Those number must be dramatically turned around if this team is to play in October.
Francisco Lindor has batted in the first inning in all but two of the team's games so far, in which he is batting .161 with a .217 on-base percentage, both of which rank last among all hitters with 50 or more first inning at-bats. Lindor has been unable to help the team set the tone early.
Lindor's first inning struggles the number one reason why they can't take advantage of having two great on-base guys (Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil) and the National League's best power hitter (Pete Alonso) surrounding him.
Plus, since April 17, Lindor is batting just .202 in 178 at-bats, and has just three hits in his last 32 at-bats, so he is stuck in a really bad slump. He clearly needs to make adjustments with his swing and batting stance, and there hasn't been any evidence that those changes have been made with hitting coach Jeremy Barnes.
However, the Mets need Lindor in the everyday lineup because he single-handidly makes the defense elite and is the front runner to win the Gold Glove at his position right now. And they can also acknowledge that Lindor's best offensive numbers have come in big spots in games. So in order to do that, the Mets should move Lindor down to the sixth place position in the lineup until he makes the changes in his offensive game.
Starling Marte has done enough over the past couple of weeks to warrant him to move back up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
One of the keys to the Mets' successes in the first five months of last season was the impact Starling Marte had in setting the tone early on. In fact, Marte hit .350 in 100 first inning at-bats last year. He was dearly missed down the stretch because other teams went ahead so often and the Mets couldn't replicate his production.
But overall, Marte's first six weeks of the 2023 season were brutal, as he hit just .217. However, Marte has since turned it around, batting .306 over his last 22 games. So give Marte, and his dynamic playmaking abilities, though a tad limited this year, a chance to make his presence known early in games while Lindor works out his issues with the bat.