Heading into their game against the Texas Rangers on June 25, 2011, the New York Mets had lost five out of their last eight, dropped to fourth in the National League East standings and scored only 14 runs in their last five games.
Individually, the Mets were struggling as well—aside from Jose Reyes who is putting together an MVP caliber season—, Carlos Beltran, the Mets No. 3 hitter, entered the game on a 0-for-14 hitless steak while Angel Pagan and Justin Turner combined to hit just 6 for 39 in their last five games.
To make matters even worse, David Wright has been out of the Mets' lineup since May 15.
So, to say that you saw the Mets' offensive onslaught coming—52 runs in their last four games, a Mets' team record according to STATS LLC—would be a little bit of a reach.
But, without further ado, here are the seven main reasons for Mets recent offensive success.
The importance of leading off an inning by reaching base safely cannot be understated. Not only does it set the table—hence the nickname "table setter"—for the heart of the lineup, but also it dramatically increases the team's chances of scoring that inning.
According to Fangraphs.com, a website that compiled baseball statistics from 1952 to 2010, a batter scores 37.8 percent of the time when he leads off the inning by reaching first base safely.
Well, in their last four games, the Mets' hitters leading off an inning have reached base safely an astounding 50 percent of the time (18-36). Compare that number to the Mets' four game-stretch prior to this offensive surge, in which they led off an inning with a runner on base just 20.5 percent of the time (8-39) and it's easy to see how the Mets have increased their run production.
It's one thing to get runners in scoring position. It's quite another to drive them in.
The Mets can attest to that.
Heading into their game against the Rangers on June 25, the Mets were hitting just .246 with runners in scoring position (RISP), good for 17th in MLB. That, along with their lack of power, contributed to the Mets' low run production from June 19 to June 24.
However, in their last four games the Mets turned things around, hitting .483 with RISP (30-62) while driving in 31 two-out RBIs.
A key to their timely hitting: patience at the plate.
Rather than bailing out opposing pitchers by swinging at pitches outside the strike zone, the Mets hitters have been working the count and waiting for the opposing pitchers to make a mistake. As a result, they are getting ahead in the count—32 of the Mets' 59 hits in this four-game stretch came with the hitter ahead in the count—and are seeing better pitches.
The Mets' lack of power has been well-documented. Thus far in the 2011 season, New York has hit a grant total of 50 home runs—one more than Mark Teixeira and Jose Bautista combined.
Some people blame it on Citi Field's lofty dimensions, labeling the stadium as a pitcher-friendly park, which certainly is a fair argument; however, New York hasn't hit for much power on the road this season either, totaling just 25 home runs so far.
In addition to their lack of power, the Mets are just a middle of the pack team in terms of extra-base hits. Although they led they league in triples (27), the Mets enter July with just 215 extra-base hits—more than 50 behind Boston, Arizona and Texas.
So, when the Mets hit 16 extra-base hits over a four-game span, it certainly came as a surprise.
Because they hit so many singles,—70 percent of their hits are singles—extra-base hits are crucial for a team like the Mets, who rely on stringing together two or three hits in a row to produce runs.
Forget about his poor attitude or lack of leadership, Jose Reyes is reminding us all of one thing: when healthy, (and playing on an expiring contract) he is among the elite players in the game.
During the Mets four-game winning streak, Reyes hit .571 (12-21) with nine runs scored, four stolen bases, two triples and a double.
On the year, Reyes leads the National League in batting average (.352), hits (121), runs scored (65), doubles (22) and triples (15).
With David Wright and Ike Davis on the disabled list, Jason Bay struggling to regain his form from the 2009 season, and with Angel Pagan in a season-long slump, the New York Mets have lacked consistent production from the 3-4-5 spots all season.
In the five games prior to their four-game winning streak, the Mets 3-4-5 hitters combined to hit .166 (9-54) with just three RBIs and three runs scored.
However, during their recent four-game winning streak, the heart of the Mets lineup provided hope for the future, batting .357 (21-56) with 17 RBIs, 21 runs scored and six extra-base hits.
While Carlos Beltran was a mainstay in the No. 3 spot, Mets coach Terry Collins rotated Pagan, Bay, Ronny Paulino, Daniel Murphy and Scott Hairston in the No. 4 and No. 5 slots in the lineup.