Bob Klapisch of The Record takes a look at some of the issues, realized or not, that are negatively impacting the Mets offense or lack of it.
He raises the age old issue of shortening the dimensions of Citi Field, which currently ranks 13th in the National League in home run park-factor. He also points out that Jeff Wilpon recently told the Daily News that he has no intentions of making any changes to the park.
However, he concludes that the real problem is the organization’s stubborn insistence on long at-bats, a philosophy that’s been the norm in the big leagues for almost a decade.
Extending a plate appearance to a fourth or fifth pitch theoretically increases the odds of a mistake fastball slogging through the heart of the strike zone. This allows for an ambush – a home run – or at least a base on balls, two of the most valued metrics in baseball today.
But the home-run-or-walk tenet only works if you can reach the fences. A fat four-seamer is a gift for the likes of Giancarlo Stanton or Troy Tulowitzki, but the Mets have no such sluggers in their lineup.
Klapisch says the team is suffering from a lack of talent and coupled with a formula that is intended to work best with elite hitters, the whole thing just backfires on them.
He says that if the team ever bothered to ask Curtis Granderson (who went 4-8 with two home runs at Yankee Stadium) and David Wright (whose home run/fly ball ratio is at career-low 4 percent) what they thought, the answer would be obvious. But team brass won’t ask.
The solution, he says, is to move in the fences, which is unlikely for now, or let their hitters swing away without worrying about the opponents’ pitch quotas.
Daniel Murphy clearly is this kind of free swinger, and succeeding because of it. He leads the Mets with a .320 average and .827 OPS.
Murphy’s success over the last two years is opposed to the team’s philosophy and he and Sandy Alderson both know it.
Klapisch says this philosophy is more complicated than hitting should ever be, but that Alderson isn’t backing down or backing away, telling Mets hitters, “This is what we’re looking for. If you don’t play that way, then realize we’re looking for somebody else. Right now.’’
The mantra has been a total failure: The Mets led the NL in pitches per plate appearance in 2013, and they’re ranked No. 3 in the league this year. Obviously, they’re waiting, like their boss demands. But to what end, especially at home?
While the Mets seem intent on waiting for their young arms to lead them to a winning season, he says the fact is that everyone is developing great, young pitching these days.
The pendulum has swung that far. It’s hitting – and real slugging — that now serves as the difference maker, in which case the Mets hardly are ahead of the curve.
He concludes by saying that unless something changes, the Mets appear headed for their sixth straight losing season.
Wow, that was quite a mouthful by Mr. Klapisch.
Agree or disagree with him? Let us know…