The cycle repeated itself throughout the Mets' most recent road trip. Despite getting runners in position to score, the Mets failed to deliver timely hits, which has only increased the scrutiny on their struggles with situational hitting.
Manager Terry Collins hinted that some of the issue is mental. "When you're put in a situation where you can lift the club to a victory, yeah, you try pretty hard,'' Collins, whose team is mired in a season-high six-game losing streak, said last week. "In our market, in our situation, they try too hard.''
Whatever the cause, the Mets have lagged when it comes to scoring runs. At 4.00 runs per game, they rank eighth in the National League, even though they lead the league in walks.
With runners in scoring position, the Mets are hitting .228, 11th best in the NL. That number reflects their overall offensive struggles. With a team batting average of .235, they rank 13th in the league.
Of course, those situational struggles could be overcome by simply hitting for more power. The top five run-scoring teams in the league -- the Rockies, Marlins, Dodgers, Giants and Brewers (who visit Citi Field starting tonight) -- rank among the league leaders in home runs and slugging. But the Mets have lagged in that area, too.
Curtis Granderson was signed to a four-year contract worth $60 million in hopes that he would infuse some power into the lineup. He has heated up after an awful April, but his eight homers put him on pace for only about 20 for the season.
Lucas Duda is tied for the team lead with eight homers. David Wright has hit only four.
The Mets rank second to last in the NL in homers (45) and slugging percentage (.350). That lack of pop also might be why they have failed to capitalize on a league-high 236 walks and a team on-base percentage of .313, one of the few offensive categories in which the Mets are better than the league average.
Without significant power, particularly from the middle of the lineup, the Mets' ability to hit with runners in scoring position has grown in importance.
Collins is hesitant to resort to small-ball strategies in hopes of kick-starting the offense, even with the Mets struggling to score runs. Tactics such as bunting would result in giving up outs -- which he called a precious resource -- and ultimately could be counterproductive. "These guys are here because they're good hitters,'' he said.
The key, he said, simply might be finding a way to ease the pressure, given that the Mets have so often given in to the temptation to press with runners in scoring position. "It's human nature,'' Collins said.
The Mets generally have given themselves chances to score, which Collins tried to accentuate throughout the road trip. But Wright believes the Mets could be better.
"With us, we need to do a better job of routinely getting runners in scoring position,'' he said. "I think it's magnified when you only have a couple of chances in a game and you don't come through in those chances. The way to fix that is we need to get more runners on base.''
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