Mets Wasting Golden Opportunities

For this thing to work, everyone's got to pick each other up..

Well, that was entirely disappointing. Getting swept out of Chicago by the upstart Cubs was presumably not on Mets manager Luis Rojas’ list of ideal ways to wrap up this road trip to forget.

An array of misplays in the field, an even wider selection of missed opportunities, and a handful of misplaced victories will characterize this unfruitful stretch however the next few days, weeks, or months pan out.

It’s how this team bounces back from early adversity that will earn them their identity moving forward.

Despite all the facepalms over the last 72 hours or so — and there have been plenty — the Mets are still 7-7, tied for first place in the National League East with the Phillies, have four games in hand to Philadelphia’s 18.

As Pete Alonso intimated ahead of Thursday’s loss, whether they lose a game by one or 20, it’s only one loss in the ledger.

In this instance, it was three losses. But still, there's plenty of baseball yet to play. One hundred forty-eight games, to be exact. A whole lot can happen over that span.

If you look past the general malaise of the Mets’ first 14 games, there are bright spots to be found. There are also reasons to be encouraged as guys shake out of their respective funks.

We talked earlier this week on Twitter about Dominic Smith’s outstanding expected metrics so far. Of course, expected metrics don’t plate runs. But they are indicative of good things on the horizon.

Over the last few games, Smith’s been slowly but surely translating those good swings into productive at-bats, with four hits in his last 13 at-bats. Keep chopping that wood.

Michael Conforto still doesn’t look like Michael Conforto, but a 5-for-20 line over his last few games is better than what he was doing last week.

Jeff McNeil’s lack of positive results is clearly an anomaly, as one doesn't put together a .312/.377/.491, 135 wRC+ (.333 BABIP) batting line over 263 games and then simply fall off.

In fact, McNeil’s .335 expected weighted on-base percentage, as well as most of his batted-ball metrics on Statcast, are right on par with his career marks. It’s just a matter of these balls dropping for base hits.

That’s gonna happen eventually, and they’re gonna come in bunches.

Mets Offense Built For Stability

As of Friday morning, Conforto and McNeil are the only Mets regulars with negative wins above replacement metrics (FanGraphs). Dom Smith is at 0.0 fWAR. Everyone else — including some of the bench guys — is pulling their weight.

Brandon Nimmo (0.6 fWAR), James McCann (0.3), Pete Alonso (0.2; more on him shortly), and even Francisco Lindor who, amid a dreadful early slump, has still been worth 0.2 fWAR will all be productive, valuable players.

As will the guys pulling up the rear, offensively. All in due time. As for Rojas’ daily decision on who to play at third base, that answer will come soon, as well.

J.D. Davis has been outstanding at the plate (.444/.524/.722 in 21 plate appearances) but very bad in the field. Luis Guillorme has been terrific on both sides of the chalk (.353/.500/.353 in 17 PA). This isn’t cut-and-dry.

As evidenced by Guillorme’s play at third and Davis’ clutch hit off the bench on Thursday, the Mets can make this work. Having two capable players to field one position is a luxury. Let’s treat it as such.

Alonso’s exploits at the plate have been otherworldly. The Polar Bear is absolutely crushing baseballs and that trend needs to continue for this team to succeed.

Following his season-high 117.1 MPH exit velocity groundout and 108.6 MPH home run on Thursday, Pete increased his MLB-leading average exit velocity to 100.3 MPH; 2.5 MPH higher than the Yankees’ Aaron Judge’s 97.8 MPH average. Unreal.

Though, none of this will matter if everyone’s not carrying their own weight. And right now, the Mets’ offense (and team defense, for that matter) pales in comparison to what the team’s pitching staff is doing.

Teamwork to make the dream work, correct?

The Mets starting rotation’s 2.93 ERA is fifth in MLB, their 0.73 home runs allowed per nine innings rank third, and their 2.74 fielding independent pitching rating is best in baseball.

The bullpen, while not owning a gleaming earned run average (4.61, 21st), has allowed just 0.66 home runs per nine (tied with Seattle for 2nd in MLB) with a third-in-baseball 3.07 FIP.

Everyone’s gotta do their jobs for this plan to come to fruition. It’s the only way. LFGM.

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