The Mets left a runner on second base in both the ninth and tenth innings Wednesday, bringing them closer to a dubious record in the process.
In their 3-2 extra innings loss to Arizona, the Mets went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position, dropping their season average in these situations to .203. Only the 1969 Padres, who hit .201 with men in scoring position, were worse, dating back to at least 1913 (the earliest season Baseball-Reference.com has situational statistics).
They came into Wednesday’s game in a tie with the 1968 Mets (who hit .204 with runners in scoring position) for the second-worst mark ever.
“We’re just not coming through when we need to,” Terry Collins said.
This was evident in the fourth inning, when Wilmer Flores hit a hard line drive to center that was caught, stranding Ty Kelly at third base. After Kelly Johnson hit a game-tying home run in the ninth, the Mets had two chances to drive in the winning run from second, but Flores flied out later in the ninth and Alejandro De Aza flied out in the 10th.
In addition to their general futility with men in scoring position, the Mets have also underachieved in these spots at a near-historic rate. They have the third-biggest gap between their overall batting average (.237) and their batting average with men in scoring position. Only the 1994 Padres (who had a 36-point gap) and 1981 Mets (38 points) underachieved by more.
If there is a silver lining here, baseball’s statistical community is generally in agreement that performance with runners in scoring position tends to regress toward a team or player’s overall performance in the long run. Individual batting averages with men in scoring position, for example, tend not to deviate significantly from a player’s overall average, given a large enough sample of at bats.
Since 1913, 766 players have had at least 900 at bats with men in scoring position. Almost two-thirds of them posted a career batting average in these situations within 11 points of their overall career average and over 95 percent were within 22 points (the average difference was less than two points).
Even historic outliers on the team level, like the 1981 Mets and 1994 Padres, did not continue to underachieve at the same rate the following year; the 1982 Mets hit only nine points worse with men in scoring position relative to their overall average, while the 1995 Padres actually hit 21 points better.
The 2016 Mets could use a similar turnaround.