When the Wilpons decided they were going to tear down Shea Stadium and build Citi Field, it can probably be assumed that they wanted a stadium that would provide their team an advantage. Well, playing at home this season has been nothing short of a disadvantage for the Mets.
So far this season, the Mets are 22-28 at home and 33-27 on the road. For a team that entered August with a fighting chance at catching the Atlanta Braves for the wild card, winning at home has to be a priority, and in two home games this week, it has appeared as such.
If you look deeper into the statistics, one would think that the Mets should have a solid record at Citi Field. Instead, their 22 home wins rank second-to-last in the majors, tied with San Diego and ahead of only the hapless Houston Astros (18 wins at Minute Maid Park).
This season, the Mets are hitting .263 at Citi Field, ranking them 11th in the Major Leagues. Their team OPS is a respectable .735, ranked 14th in the majors. They have a team ERA of 3.70, good for a rank of 15th overall, and their batting average against is .246, putting them 12th in the league.
One of the only categories the Mets don’t rate as high is home runs. In a not-so-surprising statistic, the Mets rank toward the bottom of the league (22nd), hitting only 33 homers at Citi Field. But that’s not why the struggle at home. On the other hand, they have blown seven saves in New York, including last night. For comparison, the first-place Philadelphia Phillies have three total blown saves all season. If the Mets closed just four of those seven blown saves, they would sit at 59-51 and trail the Braves by only 3.5 games.
Also, the Mets have been playing to solid crowds throughout the season, averaging 30, 969 fans through 49 home games, a rank of 13th in the league, so fan support cannot be cited as a reason for poor play.
Looking at all of these factors and from something so simple as watching the games, it seems as though the team just isn’t as focused at home, because blown saves and mental mistakes late in games is what’s costing the Mets wins. And if it’s preparation, from knowing what base to throw to, to knowing when to take an extra base to knowing what type of at-bat a specific situation calls for— if it’s these things the team isn’t doing well—then the responsibility falls on the coaching staff and manager Terry Collins.
Throughout the season, Collins, along with general manager Sandy Alderson, has been heralded for changing the culture of the Mets, for instilling a new attitude among the players and for keeping the team in contention despite a rash of injuries to key players.
But with success also comes failure. Fans and the media can heap praise upon the manager when things go well, but when the team struggles so mightily in its own ballpark, criticism will come and will be justified.
So no matter how successful this season is deemed by those around the Mets, one thing is certain- the way the team has played at home has been a failure.
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