Do you think Dave Hudgens deserves to come back next season? It seems like every player does worse when he gets his hands on them. Look at what happened to Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Ruben Tejada. They all did great in their rookie years and then got worse instead of better. Look at Travis, Lagares and Flores. They were all top players in the minors, but as soon as they settled in with the Mets they look like scared sheep at the plate. I know that hitting coaches aren’t the end all – be all, but where is the accountability with this team?
Tommy Rothman replies…
First of all, the struggles of Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores can likely be attributed to the fact that they are facing Major League pitching, which is much more difficult to hit than Minor League pitching.
Ike Davis is the most confusing player in the league, in my opinion. He comes up from the minors with a great approach at the plate. Last year, he turned into an awful hitter before figuring it out and exploding in the second half… only to revert to his dreadful form in the first half this season. Ike seemed to be figuring it out after he got called up from the minors, which is promising. But can he consistently turn his talent into production? Not if he keeps changing his batting stance and hitting approach for no reason. I’m not sure that Ike is the brightest bulb in the box when it comes to hitting; I am sure that Hudgens has told him what he needs to work on, but he seems to often ignore all advice he receives.
Anyway, the Mets are obviously a bad team at the plate no matter how you look at it. Out of 30 teams, they rank 28th in batting average, 24th in on-base percentage, 29th in slugging percentage, and 25th in home runs. Despite the fact that the organization preaches a patient approach at the plate, the Mets strike out more than all but 3 teams at the plate, and there are 11 teams that draw more walks than New York. Overall, the Mets are 23rd in runs scored. The Mets have seen over 24,000 pitches at the plate, which is 5th in the league. The patience is there. The production is not. Is their approach at the plate wrong? Is the coach responsible?
I do think the Mets need to be less patient. When the Tigers came to town, we watched them slaughter us behind their aggressive first-pitch swinging. The Mets, on the other hand, usually like to take a strike before attempting to hit the ball. They also frequently let pitches sail by on 3-1. These pitchers they are facing are the best pitchers in the world. If they know that all they need to do is throw a pitch in the strike zone, they can probably do it. Taking a strike does not work. I am against the organizational approach to hitting, and I think that part of the blame must fall on Dave Hudgens.
However, there is only so much you can do when your lineup is so weak. Ruben Tejada is a lot more likely to draw a walk than he is to shoot a double into the gap, so maybe patience is the right approach for him.
Sandy Alderson has promised significant steps to improve the roster. If the organization is being honest, then Hudgens will have much more talent to work with. I say we keep Dave around for one more year. If the lineup improves, and production increases, continue to keep him around. However, if production stalls despite the added talent, send him packing. And if the lineup doesn’t improve… send Alderson packing…