Outs are outs. And strikeouts are just another kind of out.
Yes, making contact leads to productive outs, moving runners over, sac flies, all that good stuff. But contact also creates the possibility of hitting into rally-killing double plays. Anyway, the point is, a whole bunch of strikeouts on their own aren’t necessarily something to freak out about.
This is particularly true for teams such as the Mets, who expect their hitters adopt an approach based on extreme selectivity. That means getting deep into counts. In turn, that increases the likelihood of a walk, or ideally, the chances that a hitter gets a good pitch to drive.
Such an approach also leads to more strikeouts. In this context, they're regarded as part of the cost of doing business.
“It’s just baseball being baseball,” said Curtis Granderson, who has five strikeouts in his first two games a Met. “Outs are outs. They’re going to happen that way. It’s part of it.”
But it can’t be all of it.
And that seems to be the biggest issue for the Mets, who have done a lot of whiffing, without a whole lot of walking. Or hitting. The results have been alarming.
Yes, the sample size caveat applies here. The Mets have played just two games. Little can be gleaned from such a tiny sliver of time. But at the same time, strikeouts have long been thought of as a likely issue for the Mets this sesaon, and so far they’ve only reinforced those concerns.
After whiffing 18 times in Monday’s season-opening defeat against the Nationals, the Mets added another 13 strikeouts in another losing effort on Wednesday. That brought the Mets’ strikeout total over their first two games to a staggering 31.
It’s the highest total in team history, eclipsing the previous record of 23 set in the first two games of the 1998 and 2003 seasons.
What makes the strikeouts even harder to stomach for the Mets is that most haven’t been a biproduct of the team’s selective approach. In fact, in the 31 plate appearances that have ended in a strikeout, 21 have come on one-ball or no-ball counts.
Meanwhile, the Mets have drawn five walks and hit three homers -- not enough in either category to excuse the skyrocketing amount of strikeouts.
The Mets will play their just third game of the season. But they’re already on the brink of making history, and not in a good way.
No team in Mets history has started the season with three consecutive double-digit strikeout games. With 10 strikeouts or more against the Nationals on Thursday, the Mets would clinch that dubious distinction.