James McCann of the Mets hits a three-run home run in...

James McCann of the Mets hits a three-run home run in the seventh inning of an MLB game against Atlanta at Truist Park on Tuesday in Atlanta. Credit: Getty Images/Todd Kirkland

ATLANTA – In order to spark their offense, the Mets need to clear the clutter.

They need to erase the split-second decisions that have players fiddling with their mechanics. They need to banish second-guessing that have them debating, mid-at bat, whether to sit fastball or offspeed. And above all, hitting coach Hugh Quattlebaum said, they need to quiet the distractions that have wormed their way into hitters’ ears, telling them that just because they waved at a curveball during their last plate appearance, they’ll do it again in the next attempt, too.

"We’re not where we want to be," Quattlebaum said in his first remarks since his introductory press conference; he took over for Chili Davis in May. "Hitting is a funny thing. Most of the lineup doesn’t feel as good as they’ve felt in their career and when you don’t have anybody who’s feeling like they’re clicking, you’re paying a little more attention to the results and you get distracted a little bit more."

At first glance, it seems counterintuitive – of course baseball players would focus on results. Results, after all, mean runs, and runs mean wins, and wins mean a playoff berth, and what is anyone doing if not gunning for a championship?

But the focus on results can be taken to extremes, Quattlebaum said, and can actually hurt hitters more than help them. Asked if the Mets, who came into Wednesday’s game averaging 3.6 runs, could potentially bump it up more a more respectable four runs per game, Quattlebaum redirected.

"Everything on that board wants to yank you to results and that is not where we want to be right now," he said. "We want to lock in on a process…processes that give us the best chances day in and day out."

The Mets entered the day last in runs (270), last in hits (539), and last in RBIs (258). Their .228 batting average is 26th and their .369 slugging percentage is 28th.

 

Quattlebaum, though, does see improvement. He’s seeing better at bats, especially from a guy like Kevin Pillar, he said. And the lineup is getting progressively healthier. The Mets already welcomed back Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo is likely to return this weekend.

"It’s hard when you might have some distractions, but some guys are starting to feel some things, starting to get guys healthy," he said. "The biggest thing for us is we’re focused on the process – not just what’s going to work in the next 24 minutes, 24 hours, but what gives us the best chance for sustained success through the rest of this year."

He also addressed the Mets’ latest oddity: Prior to Wednesday, they had a six-game span where they scored just a single run prior to the seventh inning. Quattlebaum hypothesized that it was a case of good starting pitching, coupled with getting to the bullpen, which cuts down on overthinking.

"Facing a guy that you haven’t thought about all night takes away some of those distractions," he said. "You’re thinking about less, you get in there and focus on one pitch, one thing and it helps."

Finally, he acknowledged that the lineup has, as a whole, struggled with the breaking ball. It was evident Tuesday, against Charlie Morton, and last week, against Aaron Nola.

"Distractions can sometimes lead you getting you caught in between here or there, on whether you want to be on a fastball or sit on offspeed at times and then you [start] second-guessing yourself and I would guess somebody who’s really hot isn’t second guessing themselves very much," he said. "It all really funnels back to not having really as clear a brain as you want to just lock in on things that are simple and keep it simple in the box."