Mets: Worst in MLB in May

Yeah, I know we’re a week away from the end of June, but it just came to my attention that the Mets were the worst team in MLB in the month of May, with a record of 11-18.

I know, I know — “worst” means different things to different people. And few people who are focused on baseball stats count wins and winning as important, because as everyone knows, a win is simply a result, and not something you can necessarily measure. But me, I’m old-school, so I put more value on the team that has the most runs at the end of a ballgame.

Interestingly, despite having the most losses and the worst winning percentage (can you call it a “winning” percentage when you mostly lose?), the Mets were neither the lowest-scoring club nor did they allow the most runs. Their 112 runs scored in May was about middle of the pack in the National League, and their 122 runs allowed was the fourth-highest total. Wait — I thought the Mets’ problem was that they couldn’t hit / couldn’t score? Hasn’t that been the mantra for the past several weeks — that the Mets were “one hit away” from winning the ballgame? That they weren’t getting the “big hit”? That they didn’t have enough offense, and it was too bad because their pitching is such a strength?

As has been mentioned by many readers in the comments, there is the illusion that the pitching is a strength because the hitting is so bad. But now I’m really wondering — how can pitching be a strength if the team allowed the fourth-most runs in the league? Maybe our perception is more about living on Planet Mets and not seeing the rest of the baseball universe, where everyone is pitching well.

So far this month, things are evening out a bit, and the Mets’ recent three-game winning streak has pushed them further away from “the race to worst” in June, as well as closed the gap on their run differential.

Here are the worst 8 teams in the NL in June. Why 8 and not 10 or 5? Because there are 15 teams in the unbalanced NL, and I wanted to represent the bottom half, but half of 15 is 7.5, which rounded up to the next even number is 8. OK?

Race To Worst


Anything jump out at you in the above? For me it’s that “+3” in the run differential column for the Mets. The only other team with a positive integer is the Phillies, who are only one game below .500 for the month. I suppose you could look at yesterday’s drowning of the Fish as being a contributing factor, but there is still a pattern forming here, based on the current +3 and last month’s -10. If you believe the numbers, the Mets can score enough runs, and prevent enough runs, to be a better team than their record indicates. Could that be true? Might the Mets be better than 6 games under .500? Could they be, say, three games better, which would make them 38-38, and fighting for the top of the NL East right now instead of trying to crawl out of the bottom? And if they are, what’s holding them back? Or, what has been holding them back?

Before you spout out something like “as soon as Juan Lagares returns …” or, “once Noah Syndergaard joins the rotation …”, please understand that’s not what this is about. We’re looking at PAST PERFORMANCE, and trying to understand why the Mets are in the mess they’re in. Based on the personnel available over the past 76 games, it would appear that their record should or could be better. Is it bad luck? Running into the wrong teams at the wrong times? Something else?

Post your theory in the comments.

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. Tommy June 23, 2014 at 11:28 am
    I think the pitching may have given up the 4th most runs, but that is skewed! The reason…….a perfect example was that Brewers game from 10 or so days ago? The game was 1-1 until the 14th or so, then the Brewers scored 4-5 runs! The bullpen held the Brewers scoreless for 6-7 innings & the Mets couldn’t get a run, including leaving a small army on the bases in extra innings! The pitching takes the blame, but was it really the bullpen’s fault? How many of those type games have the Mets lost this year! If the Mets would have scored 1 friggin run, the bullpen ends up the hero!
  2. Murder Slim June 23, 2014 at 11:39 am
    Defense at 2B and SS has cost the Mets numerous double plays, runs and wins. Oh, and getting sweep by the Cubs didn’t help. I still think they’ll end up at .500 in the end, however… the wonders of parity and the NL being weak.
  3. Do the Geren! June 23, 2014 at 12:59 pm
    Here’s the problem: Terry Collins is an idiot and he’s holding back the greatest living bench coach on God’s green earth.


  4. Bat June 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm
    • Ball June 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm
      Well, Ruben’s mystery source is none other than Jeff Wilpon. So it would make sense that Jeff is ready to make the cut and Sandy’s people will deny it because they disagree.

      But it’s Jeff’s team and Young is gone if he doesn’t pull a rabbit out of his Mets cap vs. Oakland.

  5. crozier June 23, 2014 at 6:13 pm
    The point can be argued both ways, I suppose. Statistically, it’s more likely that the Mets could have been at .500 now. But it can work the other way as well: if the Mets aren’t that good, eventually the run differentiation gets worse, in effect catching up (or down) to their .460 WP.

    An offense constantly struggling to generate runs creates more pressure on the staff, and I would expect that to increasingly work against them as the season wears on. And proponents of Lagares as savior should bear in mind that his performance may not be for real.

    As to your point about starting pitching, Joe, with few exceptions it hasn’t exactly lifted the team on its shoulders in the past, and I don’t expect it to now. Unless/until they up the offense, a .460 team is what I expect.

  6. david June 23, 2014 at 7:37 pm
    I think the answer is this – the Mets hitters are not good in the clutch but are fine, perhaps better than fine, when the pressure is off. Lucas Duda is a prime example of such a hitter, and hence he has repeatedly failed to perform in the clean up spot because of the added pressure that comes with being the Man.

    One guy that seems to thrive on the pressure is Captain Kirk. I know he strikes out too much, but these days who doesn’t?

    Not sure if it matters since the OF situation remains a movable feast. I wonder if the “Mets source” realizes how dumb it is to talk down a player you hope to trade for something, anything, before the deadline. Just poor organizational discipline.

    And since I like to end on a positive note, I think TC’s move with Grandy as leadoff deserves credit.

    • crozier June 23, 2014 at 10:41 pm
      Lucas Duda, overall, 2014: .250, 10 HR

      Duda, bases empty: .234, 4 HR

      Duda, runners on: .272, 6 HR

      Duda, RISP: .276, 4 HR

      In sum, another example of why statistics are useful for providing clarity.

      • crozier June 23, 2014 at 10:48 pm
        Extremely small sample, but Kirk is 1-8 with RISP. For what it’s worth.
  7. DanB June 24, 2014 at 7:26 am
    The pitching isn’t as good as we are led to believe because it is based more on the prospects still in the minors then the MLB. Also, there appears to be a forgiveness of the bullpen, as if when the day comes when the Mets are competitive, the front office will pay the money for a quality bullpen. Don’t know if I believe either.
  8. DaveSchneck June 24, 2014 at 7:33 am
    The Mets are what their record shows they are. While Alderson speaks to the run differential, like he spoke last season of a 100 game stretch of .500, Ws and Ls are what count. If anything, the disproportionate winning percentage compared to run differential indicates that the Mets beat themselves more often than opponents, and that is nothing to brag about. The eye test seems to back that up as well. As Joe and others have pointed out, sooner or later someone will figure out that being good at the little things can be a competitive advantage and be a very inexpensive way to secure more wins.
  9. DanB June 24, 2014 at 9:04 am
    Dave, you make a great point about the little things. The Mets spend like a small market team but they don’t act like a small market team, meaning they lose a lot of games by means that are coach able rather then natural ability. Base running can be taught. Proper throws are just as important as arm strength. There is no sense of winning baseball.
    I also feel Alderson’s “homerun/walk” offense is not appropriate for Citi Field and is one of the reasons the Mets leave a lot of RISP. I’d like to see more players who can score from second on a single and more players who make contact with RISP. I have seen enough fly outs to the warning track.
    • DaveSchneck June 24, 2014 at 12:33 pm
      Thanks for the credit but it is actually Joe, Argon, yourself and others that have made this point repeatedly. To me, that is glaring given record vs. run differential.

      I also agree 100% with the run mfg vs. homerun/wak. With good pitching and good defense in a big ballpark, the big HR bats aren’t essential. Guys that can gap hit, hit well situationally, and run a little can be part of sustained winning.

  10. Sidd Finch June 24, 2014 at 12:57 pm
    I don’t think its an illusion that pitching is a strength on the team.

    Here’s why:

    Three of those May games came during a Rockies series at Coors where they allowed 28 combined runs (including 10 and 11 in back to back games).in the first three games of that series.

    It wasn’t until mid-month that they straightened out the bullpen into what for the most part they have now. Farnsworth was still there, even Valverde hung around till late May.

    Since May 15th the Mets have allowed 3 or fewer runs in 20 of the 36 games played. Since June 1st they’ve allowed 3 or fewer in 11 of the 20 games played.

    They sucked in May, but the pitching staff and pen were in transition. Pitching is a strength for this team. Colon-Niese-deGrom-Wheeler (sometimes)-Dice K (he is what he is) have pitched well. The bullpen has been solid since late May also.

    Last 28 days: 12-13 2.99 ERA 8.1 K per 9.
    Last 14 days: 6-6 2.81 ERA 1.18 WHIP

    Even in their 11-18 May they posted an ERA of 3.70 and of those 122 runs allowed 12 were unearned.

    The 2014 Mets have a lot of weaknesses but pitching is not one of them.

  11. DanB June 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm
    Sid, most of us agree that Mets pitching is not a weakness, The debate is how much of a strength is it. The bar has been set high because of a influx of good young pitching. The Mets need to be a top five pitching staff to be World Series contender with these hitters. I wish Alderson stockpiled young hitters rather then young pitchers. Good pitchers will be easier to find over the next few years then hitters.