Just a few short weeks ago, I took a look at the Mets offense and offered a scathing critique. The team as a whole was getting solid pitching from their rotation, they bolstered their bullpen, but on the offensive side of the ball could not put anything together. The outfield in particular was horrendous, amassing value that was 30 percent lower than league average.
Well, a lot has changed in the past few weeks. With the return of two players and the addition of a power hitter, the Mets have thoroughly transformed their offense production.
Stalwart David Wright and catching young-in Travis d'Arnaud returned to the lineup and, combined with the trade deadline acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes, have helped the Mets become, as one scout described, "a runaway freight train". My, how things turn around quickly!
Since August 1, the Mets lead the league in wRC+ (132) and are second in runs scored with 137, only four behind the Red Sox. As a team (pitchers included!), they have posted a slash line of .274/.336/.503, and are second in the league in weighted on base average.
The Mets seemed to hit rock bottom in a July 23rd game when they faced Clayton Kershaw in New York. With John Mayberry, Jr. batting clean-up and Eric Campbell behind him, people seemed genuinely surprised that the Mets mustered three hits. Kersh retired the first 18 batters he faced and cruised to a complete game shutout in which he did not walk a batter and struck out 11.
With Wright and d'Arnaud back in the saddle, and an upgraded outfield that includes Cespedes, New York reached the pinnacle of their offense success on Monday night, clobbering eight home runs and putting together a 16-7 knockout of the Phillies (who themselves have been playing pretty decent ball ------ 21-14 since the All Star break).
The Mets broke a franchise record with their eight home runs on Monday night, and no Phillies pitcher was exempt (especially starter Adam Morgan, who gave up four long balls in 3.2 innings). Let's take a look at these dongs and get to the part everyone came here to see: GIFs!
David Wright - 2nd inning, solo home run off Adam Morgan
It started with Wright's first plate appearance since coming off the disabled list, in which he looked true to his old form. This ball is just absolutely crushed. Cameron Rupp, the Phillies' catcher, is clearly looking for the ball to be low in the zone, but Morgan hangs it over the plate, and Wright destroys it. Chalk it up to missed location, a strong power hitter sitting on a fastball, ending up with this result.
At this point the Phillies are up 3-1, so this doesn't really seem like a big deal.
Juan Lagares - 3rd inning, solo home run off Adam Morgan
In all fairness, Morgan didn't make a bad pitch here. This pitch is low and barely even touching the bottom of the strike zone. Juan Lagares (wRC+ of 82 this season) pulled an Adrian Beltre. There wasn't anyone on base, it wasn't a bad pitch, these things happen. Because the Phillies put up another run off Jacob deGrom in the bottom of the second (deGrom would only go 2.2 innings), the Phillies were leading 4-2 and the game was still in hand for Philadelphia.
Wilmer Flores - 4th inning, two-run home run off Adam Morgan
Morgan was having a rough night, and with the resurgence (or...surgence?) of Wilmer Flores, the fastball up in the zone carried over the 334 foot marker in left field. Flores has been a hitting machine since the fateful night he was traded, then not traded and left out to flap in the breeze by Terry Collins. In August, Flores is hitting 53 percent better than league average with a .319/.356/.551 slash.
Also worth noting the sweet catch by the bro in the Mets jersey — didn't even need to compromise his overpriced beverage.
The Phils came into the fourth inning up 7-2, but they went into the bottom of the frame up 7-5. The slugfest was on.
Travis d'Arnaud - 4th inning, solo home run off Adam Morgan
As we can see from the chart I created for my previous Mets article that compares the Mets hitters to league average, they have struggled at catcher for most of the year. This is to be expected when it's August and a team's 26-year-old starting catcher has played fewer than 40 games. With Anthony Recker and Kevin Plawecki each taking time behind the dish in d'Arnaud's absence, his lineup presence was missed. Once again Morgan missed up in the zone...this time in a pitcher's count and TDA made him pay for it.
Most of the homers in this game were no doubters, and d'Arnaud's was no exception. He was sitting fastball and got one right in his sweet-spot. Despite this being the fourth home run of the game for the Mets, they still trailed 7-5. Sequencing seemed to be favoring Morgan.
Wilmer Flores, second of the game - 5th inning, three-run home run off Hector Neris
Hector Neris received the loss in this game, but this was truly a group effort. Another bomb that was a no doubter the moment it went off the bat, Flores crushed this one again to left field. With this angle, it's tough to tell what pitch Neris threw, but he only throws a four seamer and a splitter, so we can assume it's a four seamer.
This home run plated three of the four runs the Mets scored in the fifth with Cuddyer (below) posting the other.
Michael Cuddyer - 5th inning, solo home run off Hector Neris
Neris would have been hard-pressed to put the ball any more down the middle of the plate than he did on this pitch. 93 MPH in, and probably faster than that going out. Michael Cuddyer has been a league average hitter so far — not exactly what you want in the first year of a two-year deal for a corner outfielder. He's barely been worth much above replacement level, but this is basically how the Mets are going at present.
The Mets took a 9-7 lead they would never relinquish. But the fun wasn't over yet!
Daniel Murphy - 6th inning, two-run home run off Justin De Fratus
Seriously, look at these home runs. These aren't wall-scrapers, these are monster shots. Daniel Murphy has played the most games at second for the Mets, and has been about a league average hitter compared with the rest of the league at 2B. Murphy has a wRC+ of 109, and this was his tenth home run of the year. Murphy also gets credit for the best bat-flip of the night. Easy 70-grade right there.
This two run shot was part of another four-run barrage in the sixth inning. The Mets took the field in the sixth up 13-7, the 7-5 deficit a distant memory.
Yoenis Cespedes - 9th inning, two-run home run off Adam Loewen
It wouldn't be appropriate for the Mets to have a hit parade without their newest outfield member getting in on some of the action. In the ninth inning, with most of the outfield seats vacant, Yoenis Cespedes teed off on a hanging curveball by sacrificial lamb Adam Loewen. In his second inning of work, Loewen gave up two more runs, and the Mets went on to win 16-7.
These are not your early season or early-summer New York Metropolitans. This game was certainly a fun outlier to dive into, but this team actually has some pop in their lineup that has a high ceiling for offensive firepower.
Per Hit Tracker, on August 24th they managed to put together 2,878 feet of home runs with an average batted ball velocity on the home runs over 104 MPH.
Sure, the Nationals have underachieved, and they've just now started to trot out their projected optimal lineup, but these Mets can be fun and, dare I say, scary should they ride this wave into the postseason.
Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score and a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row. He's not a Mets fan, but now he's enjoying the ride. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.