Despite Monday night's much-needed seven-spot, put up in the hitter's paradise of Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, the Mets have a serious offense problem.
While the pitching has been a problem -- a 5.13 ERA over the last two weeks -- unless the bats can turn it on, the team is going to find itself losing a lot of games, whether it's 2-0 or 11-0.
After a hot start, the Mets hit a serious offensive wall in mid-April that culminated in a six-game losing streak last week during which they were shut out three times in four days. Since April 14, they have a team OPS of just .665, which ranks 28th in baseball. By that measure, the fact that they somehow managed to score 84 runs in that stretch -- 23rd in baseball -- is almost impressive.
There is no offensive category in which they've excelled at any point in the season, but their biggest weakness by far is in power hitting. Their 33 home runs and .379 slugging percentage rank 24th and 25th in the league, respectively. Only two Mets -- Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes -- rank in the top 60 for home runs, while former power threats Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto, and Wilmer Flores are slugging at or below league average.
In terms of what the Mets can do to remedy this, other than play every game in Great American Ballpark, the first thing the team needs is for the above three players to step up, particularly Bruce and Conforto, who are expected to be anchors of a strong offensive outfield. Conforto has begun to show signs of coming out of his month-long funk and his home run to lead off Monday night was exactly what he needed.
Bruce has quietly been suffering from similarly suppressed power as Conforto. Most of his stats are as good or, in the case of his walk and strikeout rates, better than last year's, except that his hard hit rate has plummeted and, along with it, his slugging percentage and home run rate.
It's possible that Bruce's plantar fasciitis, which has bothered him for months now, is impacting him. Like Conforto, Bruce had a big night at the plate Monday that may indicate he's settling in finally, but if he continues to tread water, the best option for the Mets is to play Brandon Nimmo and his .890 OPS until Bruce is back to full strength.
On the infield, the Mets may simply have to play the waiting game. Amed Rosario's .605 OPS has hurt them all year, though he too had a standout game in Cincinnati with two doubles -- matching his season high so far. The team badly needs him to pick up the pace because his glove is so valuable, but it's not easy to carry such a weak bat on an every day basis -- especially when catcher is already a black hole offensively.
An improvement at catcher would be another key to revitalizing the lineup, and Matthew Cerrone outlined the situation there yesterday.
As it currently stands, the Mets have three easy outs in the lineup at shortstop, catcher, and pitcher, three underperformers in center field, right field, and first base, and three above average performers at second base, third base, and left field. What they need is an upgrade from one to two players in each of the first two groups while the third continues to thrive.
Whether that means a breakout from Rosario or Conforto, more time from Nimmo in place of Bruce, or a new catcher, something's gotta give before the Mets play themselves right out of contention.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) 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