Published on: 18th April, 2017
by Scott Mandel
It is early in the 2017 baseball season. All is still tracking reasonably well for the New York Mets despite their bumpy start, which has led to their 7-6 record.
The good news is the expected dominance of their starting pitching staff has fallen right in line with pre-season predelictions. Matt Harvey appears to be Matt Harvey, health notwithstanding. Jacob deGrom is more dominating than ever, coming off a career-high 13 strikeout performance. Noah Syndegaard is throwing gas, and has a miniscule earned run average of 0.95, after three starts. The bullpen has held up pretty well, generally, with Jeurys Familia soon to be available to close out games when his 30-day suspension expires. There have been a few bleeps and blips in the late innings but nothing that would alarm the organization. Pitching is certainly not at the top of the list of Mets’ brass concerns.
And, the offensive output is on track to do what was expected of it, whether or not you prefer lots of power but few opposite field singles to drive your run-scoring efforts. Home runs are being bashed by the likes of Lucas Duda, Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto, Curtis Granderson, Travis D’Arnaud, and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. But, those homers cannot hide the weakness behind the Mets sometimes inept offensive display.
The numbers don’t lie. They aren’t scoring a whole lot of runs, despite the power and they aren’t getting on base. The Mets are 22nd in the majors in on-base percentage, with a pitiful .301 rating. For comparison’s sake, the Yankees, just a few miles up the road from Queens, lead the majors with a .353 on-base percentage.
It doesn’t end there. Their team batting average is a putrid .223. Good for 26th out of the 30 teams.
They are missing the one thing every team needs to manufacture runs when the homer guys are swinging and missing on a given night, as often occurs with big swingers who can be either feast or famine. The table-setter. The leadoff man. The top of the order speed guy who can get on base and distract the hell out of opposing pitchers. Someone like Jose Reyes would fill the bill, perfectly.
And, therein lies the Mets’ dilemma. Has anybody seen Jose Reyes, lately?
Reyes. 33-years old, has just four hits in his first 46 at-bats (.087 BA) and is the prime reason the leadoff spot has become a black hole for the team. Mets leadoff hitters own a .086 BA and a .172 OBP, easily the worst marks in the majors.
Reyes is 1-for-29 with a .034/.097/.034 slash line while batting first in the order.
Are the Mets worried that the meager production from Reyes is more than just an early-season slump?
“His struggles have some in the organization wondering if time is finally catching up with the four-time All-Star and former batting champion and he is declining quicker than expected,” wrote one beat reporter in the New York Daily News.
The piece did not mention whether the Mets are pondering a benching of Reyes, who has received ample playing time at third base due to David Wright’s persistent health issues. Mets manager Terry Collins has told reporters, “We’ve got to get him going.”
Reyes was dropped to seventh in the order for most of last week. Granderson also has struggled as a leadoff hitter (.174 BA), and the Mets have also tried Conforto, who had two hits and a walk in his one game batting first.
Yes, it’s early but in a tight National League East race, it can get late pretty early. Reyes getting off the schneid would put a lot of Mets fans’ hearts and minds at ease.