Do the Mets need to try less situational hitting?

On Wednesday afternoon, Asdrubal Cabrera came to bat with Curtis Granderson on first. Batting second, with a dangerous power hitter behind him, Cabrera’s “job” could be interpreted as “try to work a walk or poke a single to bring Yoenis Cespedes up with two men on.” Some Baseball People would consider that the “professional” or “situational” approach. Fortunately for the Mets, Cabrera ignored that wisdom and took a big rip, hitting a two-run homer to turn a deficit into a lead.

Is that what the Mets need?

This team has been an utter abomination in clutch hitting situations. When the #2 homerun hitting team in the National League is also the #13 team in scoring (well behind #12), it’s obvious that something is wrong. A .207 team batting average with RISP (runners in scoring position) is pretty obvious too. What’s less obvious is how we got here. Are Mets hitters nervous? Playing tight? Lacking confidence? Pressing? Is it a spiral where a little bit of bad clutch hitting becomes contagious and spirals out of control?

I have a theory. When Gary, Keith and Ron talk about situational hitting, they talk about hitting to the opposite field, about putting the ball in play, about not swinging for the fences, about advancing runners, and on and on in that vein. Terry Collins and Kevin Long don’t have three hours of air time to fill every night, but they sometimes (occasionally to the media, who knows how often to the players) talk about situational hitting too, and I’m guessing they’re talking about the same things. In doing so, however, they might be getting in the way of what their roster does best. These are Alderson players. They draw a few walks and hit a bunch of homeruns. Attempting situational hitting, which they aren’t good at (see that .207 AVG), just interferes with their strengths.

Here are the Mets’ rates of hitting homeruns, drawing unintentional walks, and striking out, by situation:

SplitHR %UIBB %K %
No RISP4.4 %8.3 %26.0 %
0/1 Out RISP3.4 %5.6 %27.7 %
2 Outs, RISP1.8 %8.8 %32.1 %

So maybe the 2016 Mets would be better served following the model of other Alderson-style offenses: take your walks, swing for the fences, and don’t ever change that.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

David Berg has been following the Mets since 1990, and counts himself as a "die hard fan" -- the agonies have been numerous and arduous, but he's still watching every game he can, determined to "earn" the satisfaction when the Mets eventually win it all. In his non-spare time, David is a designer of graphics, web sites, and games. See his work at Shrike Design
  1. DaveSchneck June 26, 2016 at 12:32 pm
    Having been much more of a baseball follower than a baseball player, my take is mostly observational, but here it is nonetheless. Each player has his own strengths and weaknesses, and the Met team collectively does as well. That said, baseball is and has always been a game of cat and mouse between pitcher and hitter, and a game of adjustments. Ultimately, it is a combination of having a plan,making split second decisions, and executing. Since the pitcher has the edge, the hitter basically needs to have a plan and then react to the pitch. The plan could be to go to the opposite field, but that plan can’t be executed successfully if every pitch is inside. In the AB that you reference, that had a successful outcome, Cabrera may will have planned to get on base for the power behind him, but part of that plan could also have been to look to drive a ball if he found a pitch in his wheelhouse. The Mets’ dismal stats to me reflect deficits in planning, decision making, and execution. However, I have seen too many examples of issues with the planning piece, which to me is correctable regardless of a player’s strengths and weaknesses. Trying to pull outside pitches into a shift when losing or in tight games is not good baseball. Trying to crush a middle-in fastball in a hitter’s count like Kelly Johnson did last night is good baseball. I hoe to see more good baseball in the games ahead.