Looking at the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians offensive model, it’s clear why the New York Mets couldn’t score runs.
With a season of offensive woe in the rearview mirror, further inspection of the New York Mets collective approach at the plate is due. Better put: it must be done.
The Mets scored runs via the home run in such a way that baseball elders wouldn’t believe. Offensive production was almost solely fueled by the long ball, a formula too often destined for failure. On May 7, Elias Sports Bureau determined that the Mets held a league-high 55% of runs scored on home runs. By season’s end, the team was wallowed away at 26th in runs scored.
The Chicago Cubs, in such a captivating way, scored the league’s third-most runs in 2016, while the Cleveland Indians ranked fifth. Yet, as opposed to the Mets’ home run slugs which amounted to the fifth-most in the Majors, the Cubs and Indians ranked a more modest 13th and 18th, respectively.
The paradigm sounds ironic, even counterintuitive. But here’s the catch: despite the padding of the home run ball, team slugging in Queens was in the bottom half of baseball (16th). The Cubs and Indians both finished in the top ten (again, even with the home run difference) in slugging, largely because the Indians hit the third-most doubles in the sport, and the Cubs sixth. The Mets were buried at an embarrassing 29th, ahead of only Philadelphia.
And, by the way, stolen bases help too; the Tribe swiped 92 more bags than the Mets this year.
Now, I know – that’s a lot of number crunching for one column.
But here’s one last, most important, stat to consider. While Cubs’ team on-base percentage was .343 (good for third in the league), and the Indians at .329 (eighth), the Mets finished at 23rd, reaching base at just a .316 clip. So, case closed: such an inability to reach base, and get the ducks on the pond to trot home because they are instead in the dugout, is the cause for the Mets’ offensive struggles.
When Sandy Alderson was hired as general manager, he immediately began preaching the value of on-base percentage. Reaching base, and hitting the home run, would produce runs. That formulaic approach is sensible, and it works; but when you have one foot ahead of the other, as the Mets did in 2016, you’ll trip and fall before the finish – just like the Mets did in 2016.
While a home run ball for every 25 at bats is good fun, it’s not necessarily good baseball. Observing on-base percentage and doubles are two demonstrable testimonies to a well-rounded offensive approach. Put into action by two teams holding a 2016 pennant, one of which will rise, the model of getting on base before slugging the long ball is one the Mets need to adopt for a future run at the Cubs’ current ground.
Because if the Mets want to return to the Fall Classic, and capture World Series glory, they’ll have to get back to basics.