The New York Mets are in the midst of a summer-long reminder that a return trip to the postseason doesn’t come easy.
Numbers are not supposed to lie, however in this case they appear dangerously deceptive.
The defending National League champions have been reeling since the All-Star break, at least that’s what the stats tell us.
Following a tough 5-3 defeat to the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks Tuesday night at Citi Field, Mets manager Terry Collins maintained optimism in his struggling ball club.
The Mets, now 57-55 on the season, dropped to 2.5 games back of the second wild card spot in the National League. The numbers, again, tell us they’re still within striking distance of a playoff spot.
This is the same ball club which is now 10-14 since the All-Star break and lost 10 of their last 13 home games dating back to July 8.
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and outfielder Michael Conforto aren’t hitting anywhere near where they were a year ago. Yoenis Cespedes, their big thumper who ignited the team upon his arrival in the summer of 2015, has been hampered by a nagging quadriceps injury which finally forced him to the disabled list, where Jose Reyes and Juan Lagares also currently reside with ailments of their own.
It’s gotten so bad for d’Arnaud that Collins pinch-hit him in the bottom of the ninth for Ty Kelly, with a runner on base. Kelly, representing the tying run, grounded out to end the ballgame.
“We’ve gotta get him going,” said Collins afterwards on d’Arnaud’s struggles. “He’s a big part of our lineup. He’s far better than a .230 hitter.”
That would actually be .234, the batting average d’Arnaud currently brings to the table for the Mets. His defense also hasn’t done much to make up for his lack of production, Arizona stole five bases on him in their win.
D‘Arnaud, had this been 2015, would’ve been at the plate with the game on the line. The numbers indicate he most likely would’ve found a way to come through in the clutch. That, however, was last year.
Make no mistake about it, this isn’t the same team from a year ago.
Michael Conforto has regressed from the potential he showed everyone in 2015, his struggles this year led to a short-term demotion back to the Minor Leagues. He’s back, however, his bat’s still inconsistent and presently cold.
“They’re a big part of our offense,”Collins said of Conforto and d’Arnaud. “If we’re going to get going with anything they gotta be part of it.”
New York has been powered lately by, the suddenly red-hot again, Neil Walker. The second baseman, now with 20 home runs on the season, has kept the offense afloat. The Mets have homered 38 times in their last 23 home games, they’ve also gone deep in nine consecutive games dating back to July 31.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson’s mid-season acquisition of outfielder Jay Bruce does help the team with runners in scoring position, however New York still struggles at times with just getting baserunners from first to second.
The Mets are next to last in the National League, with 27 stolen bases. Lagares is their team leader, with four. As exciting as the long ball is, so is a stolen base or a bunt single, or even something as subtle as moving the runner over from second to third. It would be nice to see a blend of small ball incorporated into the mix.
This team’s capable of showing the grit and excitement they provided fans a year ago. It can’t just be one or two players hitting solo home runs, it’s going to have to be a team effort, starting with the little things which go along with winning ballgames.
If the Mets want to “get going ” with the intention of securing a wild card this year, they’ll have to find a way to manufacture their way to it.