The New York Mets are an organization that has been built around their pitching for the last decade, but the lineup will be what makes or breaks this year’s team.
I know what you are thinking right now. How could anyone say that the New York Mets, who were built on the ‘five aces’ philosophy, will need to rely on their lineup this year if they want to have a successful 2018 season?
The team’s horrific 5.01 ERA was the 28th highest in MLB, ahead of only Cincinnati (5.17) and Detroit (5.36). Part of that was due to injuries, while part was due to a .319 BABIP (Batting Average on balls in play), second-highest in the big leagues to Detroit (.320).
While a healthy Noah Syndergaard should help improve those numbers, history shows us that the team’s success isn’t as reliant on pitching as some think.
The 2014 New York Mets finished 79-83, while the team finished 90-72 in 2015. What made up that 11-game difference? It has to be the pitching, right? Well, not exactly.
Here are some important pitching statistics to compare between both seasons.
Basically, the difference in the 2014 and 2015 pitching staffs was minuscule in both ERA and BAA. In 2015, the staff only produced three more quality starts and shutouts.
The only real difference can be found in the strikeout numbers, where the 2015 staff was more effective as they sat down 34 more batters than in 2014. Put simply, if the 2015 New York Mets had dominant pitching, so did the 2014 team.
This is exactly why the Mets lineup will be pivotal in 2018 if the team wants to make a successful run at the playoffs. For most of the offseason, sports radio hosts, fans, and the Mets themselves have all contended that if the pitching staff can stay healthy, this could be another special year in Queens.
My rebuttal to that is as follows. Even if the pitching stays healthy and reproduces those 2015 numbers, this team could end the year with 79 wins, just like it did in 2014.
The Mets have been all about pitching for some time now, but moving forward, their focus needs to be all about offense.
The Mets projected 2018 lineup looks something like this:
— Elite Sports NY (@EliteSportsNY) January 16, 2018
That lineup looks awfully close to what we saw in 2017, a year in which the offense finished 19th in runs scored. It’s important to remember how big of a question mark Michael Conforto will be this year.
The return of Jay Bruce isn’t exactly moving the needle and making this offense a top 10 squad, especially if Conforto cannot return to form.
If we take a quick look back to 2014, it shows an offense that finished 22nd in runs scored, which is not a far cry from last year’s 19th overall rank.
What these numbers should tell the Mets is that this team needs more offense, and fast. If management continues to believe that a rebound by the pitchers will be their saving grace and lead them to the promised land, they are gravely mistaken.
Considering all the question marks surrounding the rotation and bullpen at this time, a 3.40 team ERA is wishful thinking, which is exactly why the Mets will actually be reliant on their lineup this season to put them over the top.