The Mets have been hitting rockets all year, putting up a 35 percent hard-hit rate that ranks 3rd in the majors. But their .493 average on those balls in play ranks 28th, per Fangraphs, a factor that contributes to an offense that is overall around league average. So where are these hard-hit balls ending up?
To begin with, a lot of them are going in the air. The Mets lead MLB with a 42 percent fly ball rate, with Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce both in the top 10.
Fly balls are generally considered more valuable than groundballs because even though more grounders go for hits, fly balls generate much more power and ultimately more runs. So being a fly ball hitter is not necessarily a bad thing (though less desirable than a line drive hitter), but it does mean sacrificing average for power.
Even accounting for the effect of fly balls, the Mets are still not seeing the success they should on hard hits, and that comes down to a couple of different problems. One is quite simply, bad luck. Their batting average on hard hit fly balls is well below league average and it's very likely that will improve at least slightly as the season wears on.
Additionally, they are seeing a relatively low percentage of hard hit fly balls go for home runs. Citi Field plays very differently in the early part of the season than in midsummer and as the humidity picks up, expect more of those hard hit flies to carry out.
The good news is that the Mets are really walloping the ball, putting up the franchise's highest hard hit rate since they began tracking it in 2010, and that they are likely to see improvement in their outcomes on these over the course of the season.
The bad news is that the profiles of their key hitters means they will likely not reach the top tier in batting average on hard hit balls. They will need to get close if they plan to maintain their current level of production, since so far it is highly dependent on unsustainable numbers with runners in scoring position (but that's a story for another day).
Maggie Wiggin has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts