The 2021 New York Mets wrapped up their home-stand this week with an ugly two-game set against the Boston Red Sox. Over 18 innings, New York posted just nine hits and a single run. The offense looked especially feeble considering David Peterson gave up just two runs over six innings, and Jacob deGrom held the Sox to one run over six.
The bullpen was similarly impressive, allowing only six hits, no walks, and no runs over six innings while combining for 11 strikeouts. With the pitching staff being able to shut down one of the league’s hottest offenses for three runs in two games, the Mets should have walked away with a sweep, or a series split at the very least. So what’s gone wrong with the offense?
2021 New York Mets: The Schedule
As any fan who was waiting all offseason knows, the Mets’ first three weeks of games were constantly being rescheduled for rain, snow, COVID, and everything in between. Outside of Brandon Nimmo, the offense could not get going. Many reports attributed this to the on-and-off schedule and inability of hitters to get into a rhythm. Unfortunately, the time limit on that excuse is quickly running out as the Mets have now been on a consistent schedule for two weeks.
The Mets thus far have a team OPS of .690. This includes little to no offensive contributions from Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and James McCann, who were all expected to be important members of the lineup. If this wasn’t bad enough, they continue to show an unexplainable lack of ability to hit with runners in scoring position.
The Mets offense could very well get into a groove and pick up the pace over the next few weeks, but if things don’t turn around soon the blame will shift elsewhere.
2021 New York Mets: The Hitting Approach
Some have already started calling out hitting coach Chili Davis as the culprit of the anemic offense. Davis has been criticized for preferring a groundball approach and potentially bringing down the Cubs offense in his one year as hitting coach in 2018.
On the other hand, in Davis’ first year with the Mets in 2019, the offense excelled; though this may have been due to the juiced ball. The overall impact of a hitting coach is not easy to quantify, but if the bats can’t turn it around, Davis will be the first to face the heat.
2021 New York Mets: Bad Luck, As Usual
As any Mets fan will tell you, it seems like the Mets get more than their share of bad luck each season. Most recently, in the form of this Francisco Lindor line drive in the eighth inning of the Mets 1-0 loss:
Based on the launch angle and exit velocity, Statcast gave this ball an expected batting average (xBA) of .870. In other words, this ball would’ve been a hit 87% of the time. So of course, it landed squarely in the glove of Red Sox second baseman Marwin Gonzalez.
The bad luck goes beyond this one play, however. Smith, McNeil, Lindor, Alonso, and Conforto all have xBA and xSLG percentages notably higher than their actual numbers. In fact, the lefty-hitting trio of Conforto, Smith, and McNeil all have expected slugging percentages more than 100 points higher than their real values. Smith in particular has posted a .328 SLG but has a .557 XSLG. This provides at least some indication that the team can anticipate an offensive turnaround in the coming weeks.
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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images