Disparity in home runs between Mets and their opponents is a constant source of frustration

David Wright of the New York Mets tosses David Wright of the New York Mets tosses his bat after striking out to end the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on August 20, 2014 in Oakland, California. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Ezra Shaw

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OAKLAND, Calif. - The relationship isn't absolute. But over the years, it has proved to be a telling barometer, one that still carries weight with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.

The battle for home runs -- either by hitting them or preventing them -- often means the difference between winning and losing. And as the Mets approach a pivotal offseason, one in which they hope to transition into legitimate contenders, their success may hinge on how they go about shifting the balance of power in their favor.

"The home run issue, as with a lot of things, is relative," Alderson said this week. "We need to hit more than the opposition. Right now, that's not happening. That's in part because we're not hitting enough, and in part because we're giving up too many."

Not since 2008 -- their last year with a winning record -- have the Mets finished with more homers than their opponents. This season that trend has continued: The Mets have hit 92 HRs, and they have allowed 118.

The disparity has been a constant source of frustration for manager Terry Collins, whose lineup has been prone to prolonged power droughts.

Said Collins: "You see the importance of having it."

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That importance shows up all throughout the franchise's history. Of the club's top five teams by winning percentage, all but one (1969) outhomered their opponents. But under Alderson, the Mets' attempts to add power have yielded mixed results.

Since taking over after the 2010 season, Alderson has brought in two players who have hit at least 20 homers in a season, Marlon Byrd (21) and Scott Hairston (20). They also made the correct decision to trade Ike Davis over Lucas Duda, who has hit 23 homers in a breakout season.

But this winter, the Mets bet big and lost on a one-year, $7.25- million deal for Chris Young, who they thought would show some power in a bounce-back year. Curtis Granderson, signed to a four-year, $60-million deal, has hit only 15 homers in an erratic first season with the Mets.

Although Byrd and Hairston proved to be savvy bargains for the Mets, teams such as the A's have been more proficient at identifying and acquiring power sources without busting their budgets.

"We've done a pretty good job developing some of our own players and getting lucky on a couple of other guys," Alderson said. "But unfortunately, it's sort of a hit-and-miss proposition, and we needed to hit more."

This winter, the Mets will enter the market with an enviable stable of young arms, headed by the likes of Noah Syndergaard. With offense sagging all throughout the game, and with power becoming an even scarcer commodity, the Mets' young arms will almost certainly be the currency needed to acquire impact bats.

Yet, they Mets have been steadfast in their hesitance to part with any of their arms. With dominant pitching, they could choose to win the home run battle by giving up fewer of them.

Already, they have the makings of a young staff that is stingy with the long ball.

In 2013, Matt Harvey allowed fewer homers per nine innings (0.35) than any other pitcher in baseball. This season, both Jacob deGrom (0.54) and Zack Wheeler (0.65) rank in the top 30 among pitchers with at least 100 innings.

"Some have responded to this new era by approaching the game a little bit differently, not eschewing the home run, but not pursuing it," Alderson said. "I think we feel that the home run is still very important."

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