Last season, a second-half surge from Travis d’Arnaud contributed to a Mets offensive turnaround that helped fuel a trip to the World Series.
If this bit of history repeats itself, d’Arnaud has gotten a head start as the first half winds down.
The Mets’ catcher is hitting .259 with a .315 on-base percentage and .329 slugging percentage, but has surged since the last week in June. During this time, he has gone 11-for-24 with a walk and a home run, which translates to a .458/.480/.583 slashline.
Though it is possible this is a mere sample-size fluke, some of it could be the result of a change in approach, as manager Terry Collins said d’Arnaud has changed his stance to more closely resemble that of his productive 2015 season.
“He kind of went back to what he was comfortable in his stance that he had a year ago,” Collins said before Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to Miami at Citi Field. “He’s swinging the bat very well.”
Last season, d’Arnaud finished fourth on the Mets in on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), and posted a .244/.352/.485 slash line. He missed all of May and most of July with separate injuries. Through July 31, the Mets were 29th in runs scored per game with 3.6; from August through the end of the regular season, they averaged 5.4.
The acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline was the more heralded catalyst of this turnaround, but d’Arnaud was also a significant contributor, as he slashed .256/.340/.464 with eight home runs after returning from the disabled list July 31.
He did not pick up this season from where he left off, though, as he posted only a .549 OPS in April, before missing all of May with an injury and starting June on a 2-for-15 skid. Through June 25, he had struck out on 19.4 percent of his plate appearances, a rate which was well above his career rate of 16.6 percent. He has struck out only once since.
D’Arnaud is still not walking or hitting for power at the same rate as he has in the past, as his 6.5 percent walk rate and .071 isolated power rate (extra-base hits per at-bat) pale in comparison to his career marks of 8.2 percent and .163, respectively.
He he will presumably need improvement in both areas to offset pending regression in terms of his production on balls in play.
Still, the Mets offense has been heating up (4.5 runs per game since June 15) and d’Arnaud is playing a significant role.