Although it is early in the season, as Mets fans many of us are already pressing the panic button in regards to the offense. A variety of factors can affect why an offense may be lagging early in the season (Tough schedule, facing tough opponents, weather, location) but those factors weigh on the mindset of the Met pitching staff, which has been phenomenal thus far sans John Maine.
A few factors will play into the Mets success until the hopeful (as Met fans, yet again – ya gotta believe applies to injuries too!) return of Carlos Beltran.
Key 1: Jason Bay must become a clean up hitter
As of right now, Jason Bay is not hitting nor striking fear into many pitchers. This would normally be an isolated incident in case of a slump – but try telling that to #5, David Wright. With Bay being in a slump, pitchers would much rather face him then David Wright as evidenced by David leading the league in walks with 18, 5 more then Met-Killer Chase Utley. David is not being given pitches to truly drive and get into, and this is leading to him being stranded. With Bay slumping, David has been running wild though, with 5 stolen bases and 1 caught stealing (the caught stealing was off a PERFECT throw from Yadier Molina in the 20 inning marathon). Until Jason Bay can get out of his slump, David Wright will be forced to manufacture himself into scoring position, and at the same time press at the plate and swing at pitches he normally would not, which is also shown by him being 6th in the league in strikeouts with 16.
Key 2: Jose Reyes must return to a resemblance of his 2008 form.
Coming back from nearly a year off due to the misdiagnosed calf injury/hamstring injury/ebola virus (guess which one isn’t true – I can’t either) Jose Reyes has looked almost scared to let himself go and really give it 100%. When running out ground balls, he almost seems to be frightened to let it loose and run hard. At the plate, he is hitting .150 and has struck out in roughly 25% of his at bats and to some extent, already seems tired probably due to him being rushed back from the thyroid problem. He needs to become the table setter and get inside the pitchers heads for the Mets to be able to realistically score runs. As spectacular as Luis Castillo’s 2009 season was, a drop-off is to be expected, and we need a healthy Jose Reyes to pick up that slack.
Key 3: Contact, Contact, Contact
The Mets as a team, are batting .228 making them 3rd to last in batting average in the National League, and second to last in overall hits in the NL as well. The team has accounted for 104 strikeouts, showing that either they are looking at called strike 3’s or swinging from the heels every at bat. I have never managed baseball, nor will I ever probably but one thing i do know – if the ball isn’t put in play then your chances of getting on base hover around 0% minus a wild pitch strike three. If the mets can put the ball into play more, forgetting a few gold glove fielders, .5 out of 10 times (rough fielding percentage estimates around 95%) that routine grounder to third or ball hit in the hole will get through. Without the contact, the margin for run production drops tremendously and turns them into a three outcome team. Strike out, Home run or walk.
Honorable Mention: Production from the Catcher Position
In 53 total catcher at bats, 9 hits, 6 strikeouts, 1 walk. Henry Blanco is 0-9 with a .111 OBP. These guys will be sandwiched in the 8 hole in the lineup for the most part, but still. Angel Pagan and Jeff Francoeur get on base – if the catcher(s) can’t hit, then the 6 & 7 hitters will suffer.
Of course its easier said then done, but to avoid the April Met panic and make this more analytical, if at least two of these four key points can be addressed, the luck of the Mets should turn around pending good pitching performances.