Ironically enough, the New York Mets’ bats will be key to any and all success we see in October.
On August 11, the New York Mets had produced the 29th most runs in Major League Baseball, as the team owned a league-worst .237 batting average, along with a team on base percentage in the bottom five.
The team’s recent surge has managed to move the needle to .245 on team batting average – good for a four team jump – and total runs sit at 26th in the league, a far cry from production which was once in Philadelphia/Atlanta territory.
That forgettable period in the Mets’ season, from the June swoon that took an extra month to the dog days of August, is comfortably in the rearview mirror in a major offensive turnaround. In fact, since September 1, the Mets have scored the second most runs in baseball, and have the second best record in the sport as well, behind only the Dodgers.
While the pitching has been steady, and surprisingly so in the absence of Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz, the bats have come alive to the avail of winning baseball in Queens, a formula that must be followed when the postseason rolls around.
Ultimately, the production stems from a wealth of depth more than anything else. Starting at the keystone, the Mets’ lost a stable force and the club’s hottest hitter at the time of injury in Neil Walker. A time share of Wilmer Flores and, more recently, T.J. Rivera has proven effective; though, Flores’ nagging injury may hand full time duties to Rivera. Behind him, the Mets have premium insurance in Kelly Johnson, a consistent bench bat.
At first base, the Mets will find their man in either James Loney or Lucas Duda, both of whom have contributed to the team’s stretch run. With Jose Reyes having all but locked down the hot corner and Asdrubal Cabrera flashing power and the leather, the Mets are reasonably set on the left side of the infield.
If problems seemed to manifest in the outfield when Jay Bruce seemed to be poised for an “Ike Davis slump” (also known as, one that never ends), both he and Curtis Granderson have righted the ship. Each has touched 30 home run territory, and both ride some eye-catching streaks. Granderson has reached base a ridiculous 15 of his last 23 plate appearances, and has become a Terry Collins‘ staple in the cleanup spot. For Bruce’s part, after a 3-4 night yesterday with an opposite field homer, chalk up his ledger at 10 for his last 20 in his last six games.
That is what makes the Mets lineup formidable – its versatility and depth – and poises the Mets for some serious playoff noise, if they are to reach the postseason and advance to the five-game League Division Series.
And if the club is to be so fortunate, it is one the strength of a true meritocracy that the Mets can mix and match the lineup. With an offense filled to the virtual brim with talent, Terry Collins can manage his club on who’s hot, and who’s not.
In a most ironic way, this time around, it may be the bats that do the talking for the New York Mets.