With some evolving, the Mets offense can be powerful and more contact-oriented in 2016
For the Mets, the 2015 World Series will forever be remembered as one filled with missed opportunities in a mistake-ridden five games.
The non-catch from the first pitch Matt Harvey threw which resulted in an inside-the-park home run. The misplays, poor throws, and near-catches that were not that resulted in non-outs and ultimately runs against the Mets.
It will also be remembered for an unnatural aggression and an extraordinary level of pressure put on by the Royals to force those mistakes by the Mets, catching them off-guard to bring out the absolute worst in the team in every area they were considered weak.
But the Mets also had such little margin for error, which was very reminiscent of their season prior to the arrival of Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed.
And the main reason for that is they simply did not hit consistently at all during the World Series, which was an extension of a team-wide slump for the Mets throughout the postseason.
“We’re going home disappointed,” Sandy Alderson told Newsday. “To me, it wasn’t a successful season if it wasn’t as successful as we all would have liked. We didn’t play really well.
“We had three hits tonight,” he said about Game 5. “We can talk about the glovework. We can talk about baserunning. And we can talk about defense. None of those things that we do particularly well. But the bottom line is we didn’t hit. And we had two ninth-inning leads and one eighth-inning lead.”
As a team, the Mets only had seven extra-base hits in the five games. Six of those extra-base hits were home runs, and those six home runs came from three different players – Conforto (2), Curtis Granderson (3), and David Wright (1).
Only one Met recorded a double – Travis d’Arnaud – and nobody had any triples.
The Mets were essentially an all-or-nothing offense throughout the entire series, but in reality that all-or-nothing offense came from three players the entire week.
Outside of Conforto, Granderson, and Wright, the rest of the Mets offense went just 18-for-107, with 17 singles.
In other words, that all-or-nothing offense was completely neutralized by the Royals good-enough starting rotation and lights out good bullpen, a staff that pitched to a 2.94 ERA while allowing only 49 base runners in 52 innings, 17 of which scored.
In contrast, the Royals had 64 base runners in 51 1/3 innings against the Mets, 27 of which scored.
The Mets hit six home runs in the five games, the Royals hit two, and one of those home runs should not have been thanks to a misplayed flyball from the first pitch Matt Harvey threw in Game 1 which turned into an inside-the-park home run.
But the Mets team-wide slump in the World Series was merely an extension of a complete outage throughout the postseason. They only hit .219 as a team with a .663 OPS. While they averaged 4.42 runs per game in the postseason with 140 strikeouts, 32 more than the Royals in two fewer games in the postseason.
And their run total was inflated by two routs in which they scored a total of 22 of those 62 runs. In the other 12 games, the Mets averaged 3.33 runs per game.
They hit .218 with runners in scoring position with 22 strikeouts in 87 at-bats. In contrast, the Royals hit a whopping .349 with only 17 strikeouts in 129 at-bats.
Of course, this is a very small sample, and typically teams and organizations do not rely on small sample sizes when evaluating talent, especially over the long 162-game season.
And to an extent, small sample sizes can’t be used to evaluate the value of any one player in one postseason series or an entire postseason, both positively or negatively.
But it can be used to evaluate the kind of offense the Mets have relative to the kind of offense they need in order to take the next step and win a World Series.
Simply put, Sandy Alderson and the front office have to evolve the offense. A one-dimensional offense which relies strictly on power is too streaky, as evidenced by their overall performance in the postseason. They were too dependent on the home run, and were downright poor when it came to productive outs and situational hitting with two many strikeouts, too many popups, and often times an impatient approach to the strike zone.
That means Alderson must tweak the offense to become more contact-oriented, and maybe trade some of the power and strikeouts they had in 2015 for more balls in play in 2016.
That’s not to say the Mets need to make wholesale changes to the offense. But as an example, if the Mets are able to retain Yoenis Cespedes, perhaps they’d be willing to shop Lucas Duda for a package of prospects and use the $6-7 million he will earn in arbitration towards a bat who makes more contact at first base, such as someone like Justin Morneau.
If the Mets do not retain Cespedes, perhaps they will shop for an outfielder who can hit for more contact and speed, such as Dexter Fowler or Denard Span, replace the lost power in Cespedes in Ian Desmond at shortstop, a complete year from Michael Conforto, and retain Duda.
That would also bring more power and on-base prowess to the middle of the lineup by shifting Curtis Granderson into the middle of the order.
The point is, there are ways to have the best of both worlds and evolve the offense to make it more complete top-to-bottom, limit severe cold streaks and provide more consistent protection for everyone in the lineup.
And if they can do that – and clean up their defense in the process – perhaps they will be outlasting the Royals or another American League opponent in the 2016 World Series.