Mets Issue: Is It Analytics?

Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire

Fact: The 9-10 New York Mets are last in the majors with 3-runs per game. They are last with runners in scoring position with a .187 average, last in OPS at .542, and at the bottom with one home run in every 39.7 at bats.

These are considerable drops from a 60-game season of 2020, if that means anything. Regardless, as April concludes, this is not what billionaire owner Steve Cohen envisioned.

Cohen can’t be content with Francisco Lindor. The batting average at .203 ranks in the bottom of the National League and fans at Citi Field booed their $340 million shortstop, which indicates the honeymoon is over.

It does not look right when you look up and see Michael Conforto (.219), Pete Alonso (.250), Dominic Smith (.203), Jeff McNeil (204), and James McCann at .231. J.D. Davis at .371, (at least he’s hitting, despite the errors) is the Mets most consistent hitter.

Now, it’s frustrating to be a Mets fan and there is every expectation the team will begin that streak of contagious hitting but the question is when? The Mets pitching staff is not the issue and that reflects with Jacob deGrom and a NL leading 0.51 ERA.

“We’re just off,” said manager Luis Rojas after the Mets 1-0 loss to the Red Sox Wednesday. HIs team has scored one run in the past 21 innings.

However this is April and with the Braves, Phillies, Nationals, and the Marlins playing below .500, the Mets could be in worse position in the NL East So there is plenty of time to make the adjustments because this is a lineup that is expected and capable to score a lot of runs.

You may ask. What is wrong with the Mets? A team this talented and built to win can’t be this bad. But the at bats of Lindor, Conforto, Alonso, McNeil, Smith, have been victimized with a consistent swing and miss. The depth off the bench is no different with Albert Almora Jr. Kevin Pillar, and Jonathan Villar chasing fastball pitches out of the strike zone, having difficulty with handling a curve, and the Mets look lost at the plate.

So you ask, what is wrong? Of course you can ask the astute baseball expert and getting an answer is more difficult than getting the final Jeopardy answer.

I have heard about analytics as a main emphasis of game preparation for the Mets.

Analytics, as you know, is dominating the game. You hear how the Mets and 29 other MLB teams have pumped a lot of money into metrics as baseball is all about numbers. Coaches and scouting reports are incorporated into the analytical reports, but teams rely more and more on the numbers that are passed to pitchers and position players.

This is not to say that analytics is totally at fault. Baseball is a game of adjustments and the Mets are not the only team dealing with issues of saying, “I can’t buy a hit.”

I spoke with a few of those Mets hitters. The numbers game, as they say, has disrupted their approaches at the plate. One report says take this approach with a certain pitcher. The scouting reports are communicated to the players through video from the analytical department and there are one too many of the reports.

No bunting or swinging for the fences? This does not mean the Mets are not executing and going with the game plan. Basically the game has changed but ballplayers are creatures of habit.

Again, I am not entirely putting blame on analytics as a reason for this early season of underachievement of the Mets lineup.

But a longtime NL insider said to me, “I would take Conforto anytime in my lineup. The Mets could be trying to shake off a sign and they fear going against what they are told to do.”

So this leads me to believe more that analytics is a definite cause of the Mets issues and their inability to produce at the plate. The pressure of a Michael Conforto contract extension, by all means, has nothing to do with his slow start.

There is every reason to believe that Conforto will hit 25 or 30 home runs, drive in 85 or more runs, and hit around or above .300.

Every reason to believe that Lindor is adjusting to a new league and is more adapted to hitting well in warm weather and fans will renew the honeymoon. Smith and McNeil, will come around. Alonso will get his home run stroke moving on a consistent basis.

It is expected the remainder of this Mets lineup will come around and score a ton of runs. Baseball experts and the Mets are sure the numbers will change. The analytical issue is not going to change for the Mets or the league.

But the Mets enter the month of May and there is a concern. What if, by Memorial Day, the numbers continue to show what they do now? Well, then it’s time to be concerned and have a reason to panic.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso

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Rich Mancuso

Rich has covered countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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