Slow-starting David Wright and Curtis Granderson are weighing down Mets' offense
ANAHEIM, Calif. - David Wright understands the temptation to press.
The Mets' captain has been a fixture in the middle of the lineup, where he has grown familiar with the burden of carrying the offense. It's a responsibility he now shares with Curtis Granderson, the former Yankees slugger who signed a four-year, $60-million deal to join the Mets in the offseason.
For the Mets to have any chance to end a stretch of five straight losing seasons, they'll need production from Wright and Granderson. But both have stumbled to start the season, leaving a void in the Mets' offense.
(Not that offense was a problem Saturday night. The Mets brought a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but after Jose Valverde retired the first two Angels batters, Raul Ibañez hit a three-run homer to tie the score at 6-6 and send the game to extra innings.)
"I'm sure in his head, he wants to come over here and start off with a bang," Wright said of Granderson. "Then all of a sudden, you start off a little bit slow. You start pressing a little bit. It's only natural that you do that because you wouldn't be human if you didn't start pressing and trying harder. And sometimes that can be counterproductive."
Wright entered Saturday night's game against the Angels hitting .231 with one home run and four RBIs. But after battling the flu, he has shown signs of life, going 4-for-13 in his last three games. His at-bats have improved.
Granderson, however, continues to struggle. During the first four games of the Mets' road trip, he was 1-for-13. Though he had five walks in that span, he also struck out four times.
A ripple effect has infected the lineup. Through the first 10 games, the Mets had one of the worst offenses in the National League. Their 3.8 runs per game ranked 11th. Their .204 average ranked last, as did their .270 on-base percentage. Their .331 slugging ranked ahead of only the Cardinals.
Some of the offensive problems have stemmed from what the Mets have gotten from the middle of the lineup.
From the No. 3 spot in the batting order, they have posted a .629 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), 12th best in the league. From the No. 4 spot, the Mets have produced a .553 OPS, which lags at 13th.
Those numbers illustrate the struggles of Wright and Granderson, the tandem that's expected to bolster a lineup that is rife with question marks. Through 10 games, the two had totaled two homers and seven RBIs.
Terry Collins said some of Granderson's struggles may be rooted in his transition from the American League to the National League. It's an adjustment that he said can't be bridged with tape or scouting reports alone.
"It's a little different when you get in that batter's box," Collins said. "Sometimes you can see the ball may tail but you don't know how much it's cutting. Even though you see the velocity, maybe it's a short-arm guy, and because he's got the short-arm working, it's coming out in a different spot."
Wright noted Granderson's tendency to be streaky as a sign that things ultimately will turn.
"When he gets hot, all of a sudden after a week of baseball, he's right back where he needs to be," Wright said. "He's got the ability to carry an offense for an extended period of time."