With Travis d’Arnaud’s 7th inning home run in last night’s ball game, the Mets have homered in 9 consecutive contests at Citi Field. This marks the longest such streak since the club moved over from Shea in 2009.
Despite an overhaul of the sprawling dimensions at Citi Field prior to the 2012 season, the spacious ball park has often been a convenient excuse for the lack of offense produced by the home team. In 2010 and 2011, Citi Field ranked in the bottom 5 in the MLB in terms of home runs per game. Since the Mets made the adjustments, the park has fluctuated between 10th and 12th.
Earlier this season Terry Collins suggested that the size of the park was getting in the head of his players, resulting in a lack of confidence and thus low production. These days, that worry seems to be a thing of the past. In the Mets previous 19 games, the club has hit 21 homers, the most in the National League over that span.
Jared Diamond, who covers the team for the Wall Street Journal suggests that the Mets recent power surge could be attributed to the weather. Diamond writes, “Since 2000, games have averaged 8.72 runs when the temperature is between 60 and 69 degrees, 9.24 runs between 70 and 79 degrees, 9.65 runs between 80 and 89 degrees and 10.15 runs between 90 and 99 degrees.” (Diamond, WSJ)
Perhaps the Mets could attribute their power numbers to new hitting coach Lamar Johnson. Since Dave Hudgens was let go at the end of May, the Mets have swung the bats more aggressively. This season the Mets have swung at just 44.5 % of pitches they have faced, marking the lowest figure in the league. However, in the last 30 days, they have swung at 46.6%, which is 8th highest in the MLB. (Diamond, WSJ)
"I think Lamar has done a fantastic job and been put in a tough situation with not knowing a lot of these hitters. To be thrust into that situation and go through a period where he's trying to learn guys' swings, he's done a very nice job" said Mets Captain David Wright.
Curtis Granderson adds, "L.J. didn't come in saying, 'Hey, we're going to try to do something different in terms of driving the baseball.' The main thing is to be ready to hit once you step into the box from pitch one because that might be the best pitch you get. That sometimes results in the ball getting driven out of the ballpark." (Logan, Newsday)
Obviously, the Mets front office under Alderson has preached a patient approach which they hope will result in more walks and better pitches to hit. However, it has been a breath of fresh air to see players like Granderson swinging on 3-0 or Duda swinging at a first pitch fastball down the middle. It will be interesting to see how the Mets approach their at-bats down the road if they continue to find success attacking early.
Whatever the cause for the Mets power surge, they are hitting the ball with a level of authority that Mets fans have grown unaccustomed to in recent years. Dating back to June 15th, the Mets have a team OPS of .758, which leads the National League. Though it is but a blip in the grander scheme of the 2014 season, their recent offensive success offers hope as the team heads into its final four games before the All-Star break.