They say that past results are pretty good indicators of future events, and it’s clear that Buck Showalter is a fan of that philosophy.
It’s something he’s mentioned when questioned about his lineup choices or the Mets’ lack of offense — a puzzling-but-not situation for a team that scored the fifth-most runs in baseball last year but often lacked game-changing pop. And he mentioned it again before their 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays on Saturday — an offensively tepid performance with enough blame to go around.
“You trust people that have done it in the past to do it again,” he said. “If you don’t think that’s going to happen, you make adjustments.”
It’s time for adjustments.
As we saw Francisco Lindor go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Saturday — a day after he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts — it became fair to question what falls under “past results.” Is it the .270 batting average and 107 RBIs that Lindor recorded last year, or is it the 0-for-16 stretch that currently is weighing down the top of the Mets’ order?
Let’s clear up a few things off the bat: (1) Lindor did not just forget how to hit. (2) He’ll get out of this slump eventually. (3) He’s far from the only reason the Mets have averaged a little over two runs in the past five games.
But he’s also looked lost at the plate for the better part of two weeks and is hitting .146 since May 21, meaning that slotting him in as the No. 2 hitter creates a rally-killing situation — something that happened in the fifth when, with a runner on second and two outs, he struck out swinging on a changeup far outside of the zone. The Mets were leading by one at that point, but they ended up needing the insurance when the Blue Jays scored a run in the sixth.
“It’s a constant fight uphill and I’m in it right now,” Lindor said. “But the more chances I get, in my mind, the faster I’ll get out of it . . . I’m working as hard as I can day in and day out. I promise.”
There’s value to that idea — the one that says stewing on the bench is a perfectly fine way for a player to get so far in his head that he can’t see daylight. He’s also the Mets’ $341 million man, typically has one of the team’s most productive bats and has earned the right to show he can bust out of this.
But a change of scenery can’t hurt, either. He’s started every game this season and played nearly every inning, and though Lindor insists he’s better when he plays through slumps, a reset seems to be in order. After that, the Mets need to strongly consider moving him down despite the challenges created by the roster Billy Eppler put together.
“I’ve got a lot of faith and trust in Francisco, and he’s got a long track record,” Showalter said when asked about shifting the lineup. “But he’s one of our best options.”
For the record, Showalter isn’t wrong, and that’s something Eppler should think long and hard about as the trade deadline gets closer.
But there’s wiggle room: Starling Marte is slowly busting out of his early-season slump and has the sort of speed that makes him a menace when he’s batting in front of a contact hitter like Jeff McNeil. They could move up McNeil, though that seems to go against Showalter’s preference of spacing out his lefthanded hitters. Alternatively, they could play around with Francisco Alvarez in that role (granted, he’s 3-for-11 when hitting second, but a statistician might slap you if you try putting too much weight on a sample size that small).
Whatever the choice, Lindor needs to be put in a position to succeed. The boos are starting to trickle across Citi Field after his at-bats, and they’re only going to get louder from here.
“I don’t want to block them out,” he said. “They’re expressing their frustration and I hear them. I hear them. I’m right there with them. I’ve just got to get better.”
Sure does. And the Mets have to let him.