How Bad is Mets Power Outage?

Quick, what do Miguel Olivo, Garret Jones, David Wright, Gary Sheffield, and Grady Sizemore all have in common?

All four players lead their respective teams in homeruns, but have hit less than 20.

power-outageHere’s where it gets scary — the season totals for these four:

Olivo (Royals), 19
Jones (Pirates), 19
Sizemore (Indian), 18
Wright and Sheffield (Mets), 10

Now, homeruns aren’t everything, but they do have a significant place in today’s game of watered-down pitching and emphasis on offense. And 20 is just a number — though most would agree it is something of a benchmark. A player who knocks at least 20 balls over the fence is generally considered to be a “power threat” — the type of hitter one needs to pitch carefully to in tight situations.

Yes, the injuries to Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran had something to do with the Mets not having a 20-HR hitter this year (though the pace of each suggested barely hitting 20 through 600 ABs). But Wright’s 15-day stint on the DL wasn’t the reason he is unlikely to reach that milestone. Further, the only other players on the Opening Day roster who had hit as many as 20 in a season were the 40-year-old Sheffield and Fernando Tatis (whose 34 in 1999 smell mysterious).

And before you point to vast expanse of Citi Field, consider that opponents have hit 75 homeruns in Flushing — or, a dozen more than visiting teams have hit in Coors Field. Chew on that one for a moment.

In fact, the Mets have hit 46 of their dingers in their home stadium, compared to 39 on the road. So Citi Field may have stolen a few fly balls, but that doesn’t explain the lack of power when visiting other parks.

Now consider this: there are currently 71 in MLB right now with at least 20 homeruns. In fact, 19 of them have 30 or more. Not one is a New York Met.

With a shade less than 20 games left in the season, there’s a very real possibility that the Mets finish the year as the only team in MLB without a 20-HR hitter. I’m not sure of the last time that has happened to an MLB team, but I know it hasn’t happened to the Mets since 2003, when Cliff Floyd and Jeromy Burnitz hit 18 apiece. You have to back another ten years, to 1993, to find a sub-20-HR guy lead the team (Bobby Bonilla, with 19, if you care).

Can a Major League team make it to the postseason in this day and age without at least one power threat? Some may argue a playoff-bound team requires at least three. Going into this offseason, the Mets are likely to let Delgado go, leaving Wright and Beltran as the only players under contract with the potential to hit 20 homers in a season — though they have an arbitration / non-tender decision to make with Jeff Francoeur, who has hit as many as 20 HR once in his five-year career. Assuming Francoeur returns, will those three “sluggers” be enough power to contend in 2010?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude September 15, 2009 at 6:07 pm
    I wonder what the “move the fences in” crowd will have to think of your factual evidence, Joe.

    What people need to understand is that, regardless of the size of the nuclear power plant, you can’t generate electricity without any uranium.

    The fact that the Mets have hit MORE home runs at Citi than on the road is evidence enough not to do anything with the CitiField walls, save for perhaps painting them blue.

  2. TheDZA September 16, 2009 at 3:47 pm
    Well it doesn’t seem like enough at the moment – despite all the talk from the front office about going with ‘speed, defense and pitching’ – which are all highly important no doubt, I cannot see playoffs without some guaranteed meat in the lineup.

    We only have to look at the past few world series champs – teams that do it all, its the balance that’s key here. Boston put a well rounded team out the last few yrs…even the Phils last yr with 214 homers also stole 136 bases.

    Now the Mets are outhomered by visiting clubs?! Mark Reynolds had a ball when he was in town…
    It’s times like this I hark back to earlier this yr when talk of Adam Dunn was circulating – which I was I fully admit not into (high strikeouts blah blah) – but what’s not to like? Every year the guy hits 40 dingers, has an OBP of almost .400, and he plays either LF or 1B, maybe not well but isn’t that where you hide these guys? Imagine if he played on a club with baserunners!!
    Joe mentioned Dan Uggla in a recent post – another strikeout king – but still averaging 30 homers.
    So maybe the Mets should look outside the beauty/finesse a little and just take a look at the guys who do the same yr in yr out – middle line-up horse with saddle.
    I’m sure there are other players we can think of…

    Don’t get me wrong I value the speed/defense/pitching and the fences aren’t moving but surely a balanced team should be the aim here?