Not much is going right for the Mets of late, but one of the reasons they’ve lost 14 of their last 20 games is that they simply are not hitting left-handed pitching.
As a team, the Mets have just a 61 wRC+ against southpaws, the worst in the Major Leagues, hitting .205/.280/.288 (.568 OPS) with three home runs in 278 at-bats against them.
After Zack Wheeler who is batting .500 (2-for-4) against lefties, the Mets best hitter against them has been Asdrubal Cabrera who is hitting .333 (11-for-33), picking up where he left off after hitting .392 (49-for-125) against them last season. Next is Amed Rosario at .308 (8-for-26), then Juan Lagares at .292 (7-for-24), and Tomas Nido at .286 (2-for-7). Then it starts to get ugly with nobody else topping .200, so let’s just “rip off the bandaid” so to speak.
Jay Bruce (.194), Michael Conforto (.176), Adrian Gonzalez (.167), Jose Reyes (.167), Wilmer Flores (.161), Todd Frazier (.154), Jose Lobaton (.154), Yoenis Cespedes (.138), and Brandon Nimmo (.000). Zack Wheeler has more hits against lefties than Gonzalez, Reyes, and Nimmo.
The most surprising name on that list of shame is obviously Wilmer Flores, someone who is known for mashing lefties. When looking deeper into the numbers, he of all people is primed to turn it around. In his 31 at-bats, he has struck out just three times. His exceptionally low .179 BABIP and his 32.1% line drive rate suggest he’s still making solid contact, but a symptom arises here: He is not driving the ball in the air.
His 35.7% ground ball rate against lefties is right on par with his career average (34.3%), but his 32.1% fly ball rate is much lower than his 43.5% mark. The alarming statistic is his exceptionally high 22.2% infield fly ball rate. For comparison sake, the league-average IFFB% has been between 9.5-9.7% each season since 2013.
His career average before this season was 9.2% and was steadily improving, as his marks in 2016 and 2017 were 6.3% and 5.6% respectively. It is obviously still early in the season, and while these numbers should absolutely not be ignored, he could very well turn it around and destroy left-handed pitching as per usual. He seems to be a minute adjustment away from driving the balls he is currently just getting under. If Maxwell Smart were a scout, he’d say Wilmer was missing it by that much.
As for the rest of the Mets hitters that aren’t connecting against southpaws, there are various reasons for that. The lefties like Bruce, Gonzalez, and Conforto have never been particularly effective against them, and Reyes isn’t hitting right-handers either. Another explanation, and Frazier would probably fit under this umbrella, is that they are all just struggling overall right now.
It stands to reason that once the Mets start hitting better overall, especially against righties, they will start to find their stroke against lefties as well.