Heading into the season, the Mets plan to repeat as National League champions seemed pretty obvious; they were going to beat their opponents with elite starting pitching and an above average offense, hoping those strengths would outweigh their defensive deficiencies and a just-okay bullpen. It was a solid enough plan, and based on their depth chart on Opening Day, we gave them a 51% chance to win the division and a 78% chance to make the postseason. And mostly, those things have played out as expected. The rotation has been fantastic, ranking second best in baseball to this point. The bullpen has been fine, with occasional lapses. The defense has been bad.
But one part of the formula hasn’t really gone according to plan yet; that productive offense hasn’t really come to fruition. To this point, the offense has been a little bit below average, ranking right in the middle of the pack in wRC+ while costing themselves some runs with relatively poor baserunning. And on top of that, the team has distributed their hits in a highly inefficient way, so despite an expected 4.2 runs per game based on their BaseRuns inputs, they are only scoring 3.7 runs per game, third-worst in the majors.
Certainly, health has been part of the problem. First, Travis d’Arnaud went on the DL at the end of April. Then in May, it was Wilmer Flores and and Lucas Duda. June brought David Wright‘s DL stint, and more recently, news that he’ll require back surgery that may sideline him for the rest of the season. The infield has ended up as a patchwork group, and with Michael Conforto and Alejandro de Aza not hitting as well as expected, the outfield hasn’t been able to carry the load. And so now, the team is openly talking about making more additions, and not waiting until the trade deadline to do so.
“I think we might need to do something before,” Wilpon said Monday at the Harlem RBI fundraiser in Manhattan. “The deadline is still four, six weeks away. We’ve got to start playing better baseball now.”
Thankfully for the Mets, identifying a potential spot to upgrade is pretty easy. They’re not going to add an outfielder, most likely, given that group is already crowded, and Conforto and de Aza can both be expected to improve in the second half. Neil Walker has been good at second base, and Asdrubal Cabrera is a good enough player at shortstop to not require a replacement. So, the team is left with just the corner infield spots or behind the plate if they want to upgrade the offense.
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