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.