Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated put together a terrific report on the New York Mets’ offensive struggles at home over the last few years, the possible cause of the issues outside of personnel, and the team’s attempts to remedy the problem.
As per Verducci, the 2018 Mets would stand to have to second-worst home batting average on balls in play (BABIP; .262) since the 2009 season, with the 2009 Padres (.259) holding that unpleasant distinction.
The Mets currently own a .285 combined home-and-away BABIP this season tied for worst in the majors with the Angels.
Not too far down that line behind this year’s squad is the 2014 Mets (.266), who are tied with the 2010 Blue Jays for fourth-worst since 2009. The National League Pennant-winning 2015 Mets are tied for tenth-worst BABIP in that span (.272), with the 2016 team sitting just above them at .271.
Then, just for good measure, the 2013 and 2017 reincarnations of our Metsies round out the list, tied for twelfth-worst with .273. That gives the New York Mets six 0f the worst seven home BABIP’s since 2013.
As Verducci notes, “That pattern is staggering, if not downright mystifying”.
Mets officials seem to have, at least in theory, narrowed one of the possible causes of these issues down to their ballpark, Citi Field, which opened in 2009.
Mets hitting coach Pat Roessler spoke to Verducci about the situation and gave one possible train of thought the team could be following.
“We don’t know why, but something is going on at this ballpark […]. We’re trying to find out. One thing I’ve heard is that the centerfielders will tell you sometimes they can feel the wind at their back, coming in from both sides of the [centerfield] scoreboard. But that’s just one anecdotal thing.”
Whether that turns out to be the culprit or not is yet to be determined, but having the wherewithal to at the very least attempt to rectify a potentially huge issue with outside-the-box thinking is awfully refreshing and uncharacteristically proactive for this organization, but all the better.
Verducci also touched on NL Cy Young Award front-runner, Mets starter Jacob deGrom.
On top of the 30-year-old’s league-leading 1.68 earned-run average, 2.09 fielding independent pitching rating, 7.3 fWAR, and 0.43 home runs per nine innings, Verducci brings to light a few other mind-blowing deGrom stats.
Jacob deGrom ranks first among NL CYA candidates (Max Scherzer of the Nats and Aaron Nola of the Phillies) in percent of pitches with the go-ahead or the tying run at bat or base, or stress rate, at 71.1 percent, significantly more than Nola (63.7 percent) and Scherzer (50.4).
Over 78 percent (78.2) of the batters deGrom has faced this season (734) have come with the score tied or within one run, again considerably more than Nola (71.1 percent) and Scherzer (55.3 percent).
Apparently, pitching in high-leverage situations still means something to at least one BBWAA voter. Hopefully bringing these achievements to the forefront will make enough difference to secure Jacob deGrom the hardware he deserves.