Mets' offense has a serious power problem, but here's how it can be fixed
Even before the Mets' two inept and uninspired losses at home to the Nationals, where they scored a combined one run in 18 innings, it was clear that their offense had a serious power deficiency -- something that was a concern entering the season.
Those losses to the Nats further exposed it, though.
And this isn't just a lack of home runs, it's a lack of extra-base hits.
Here's a look at some of the numbers from the two losses to the Nats, the two games the Mets lost to the Giants in San Francisco right before them, and how they've done overall this season...
*The Mets have hit two home runs in their last four games. One of them was by a guy they've kept mostly nailed to the bench for some strange reason (Francisco Alvarez) and the other was off the bat of Brandon Nimmo
*In addition to the two homers, the Mets have four other extra-base hits in their last four games. One has an asterisk next to it (a triple by Eduardo Escobar that was a misplayed single), one was hit by Brett Baty (who, like Alvarez, isn't playing as much as he should be), one was by Francisco Lindor, and the other was by Daniel Vogelbach.
*The Mets have hit 26 home runs this season, tied with the Marlins for 19th in baseball. The Braves have hit 40 (third-most)
*Of the 26 homers the Mets have hit, 14 of them have been by Pete Alonso (10) and Lindor (4). Two players carrying a load that big is not tenable
Making matters worse right now is that Alonso and Lindor are slumping. They're both way too good for that to continue much longer. But even when Alonso and Lindor are hot again, the Mets -- featuring two key lineup cogs who are not big home run guys (Nimmo and Jeff McNeil) -- are going to need others to step up.
Who will that be? And what can the Mets do to enhance their power potential beyond that?
One of the key culprits right now is Starling Marte, who was so important to the lineup in 2022 that it's fair to believe the Mets would've hung on in the NL East had he not gotten hit by a pitch and missed significant time late last season.
The Marte who was an offensive beast in 2022, slashing .292/.347/.468 with 16 homers, 24 doubles, and five triples, is nowhere to be found -- perhaps due in part to double groin surgery he had last November and a neck issue he's been dealing with.
Marte has a .631 OPS in 89 plate appearances this season, has hit just one home run, and has not had an extra-base hit since April 14 -- a span of 35 at-bats.
For the Mets to truly get going, they'll need Marte to reemerge as a force.
Another issue has been Vogelbach, who has been getting most of the DH at-bats against right-handers.
Vogelbach is a valuable hitter, and his .418 OBP is elite. But for a team like the Mets, who are power-starved, they cannot afford to have a primary DH who is on pace to hit six home runs and 13 doubles this season -- especially when that player clogs up the bases and is largely unplayable in the field.
Vogelbach should not change the core of what he is as a hitter. But he needs to be a bit less selective at the plate and has to hit for more power.
While hoping for more from Marte and Vogelbach, there are two things the Mets can do right now to help themselves.
The first is to make Alvarez the regular catcher, and stop giving consistent playing time to Tomas Nido.
There will continue to be growing pains with Alvarez. But he has game-changing power. And if he gets the chance to play regularly, that power should translate quickly.
One thing Alvarez definitely won't do is bunt back to the pitcher with a runner on third and no one out, as Nido did on Wednesday night.
The second thing the Mets can do is stop platooning Baty.
Yes, left-handed pitchers in the bigs are a different animal than lefties in the minors, as manager Buck Showalter pointed out before Wednesday's game. But there is no reason to think Baty will be unable to make the necessary adjustments.
If Baty is inserted as the true starter at third base, the Mets can continue to get Escobar in the lineup against lefties by having him be the DH when they're on the mound. Doing that is easier now since Tommy Pham has cooled off significantly -- he has no hits in his last 12 at-bats and hasn't reached base since April 17.
Looking down the road, the Mets will likely turn to Mark Vientos and Ronny Mauricio to help add punch to the lineup. But there's no room for Vientos yet, and Mauricio just started learning a new position. So It'll likely be a bit longer.
In the grand scheme of things, the Mets' offense has been fine overall. The 113 runs they have scored entering play on Thursday ranked 13th in the majors -- tied with the Phillies. But it's not good enough or powerful enough -- not for a team that hopes to win a World Series.