The New York Mets almost completely revamped their coaching staff this winter, with the only hold-over being pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. The coaching staff now features a nice mix of wisdom and youth, as well as mechanics and analytics
One of the Mets’ new hires was former-player-turned-hitting-coach Eric Chavez, and he has completely revitalized the Mets’ offense.
Probably the most obvious way to see this is hitters using the opposite field. Pete Alonso has gone oppo to beat the shift. Same for Jeff McNeil. Same for Brandon Nimmo. And Starling Marte, and Mark Canha. These guys are buying into the idea of putting the ball in play, instead of being a boom-or-bust hitter trying to blast the ball over the shift or striking out. If you click on their names and look at their spray charts, they're very spread out.
Chavez excelled at using the whole field in his career, with basically a third of his balls in play going that way. The Mets did a great job bringing in hitters who are capable of hitting the ball the other way and getting the homegrown guys to buy into that mentality.
Look at the below tweet with a clip of McNeil’s RBI single against Ryan Helsley. His full intent was to drive that outside-corner fastball to left, and that’s exactly what he did.
Another obvious change under Chavez is the approach. The Mets are being very selective and working counts much more than they have in the past. It feels like a couple of times a week, the Mets are able to get opposing starters out of the game early and get deep into the bullpen.
In the last week, Cardinals pitcher Steven Matz only pitched five innings, while George Kirby only got through four. Forcing opponents to get four or more innings out of the bullpen tires them out quickly, especially with a team as patient and disciplined as the Mets.
This was another thing Chavez was good at when he played. He had a career on-base percentage of .342 and walk rate of 10.3%. He also didn’t strike out much, just 17.3% of the time.
It’s been refreshing to watch this new Mets offense. They get on-base and put the ball in play all over the field. Eric Chavez is doing a great job guiding this team, and I’m looking forward to more of this.