Maggie Wiggin, ContributorThe 2014 Mets set a dubious record Tuesday night, striking out 31 times in their first two games, the most of any team in the modern era. Going into the season, there was little doubt that this would be a team prone to striking out, but numbers this high are obviously unnerving.
The good news is that the Mets are incredibly unlikely to maintain a strikeout rate of over 40 percent for very long. The prior team record for a full season is just 25 percent, so expect some big-time regression to the mean. They have also faced pitchers with above average strikeout rates, both starters and relievers. Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez deserve credit for doing what they do.
The other good news is that striking out doesn’t always indicate a low-scoring team. The only team in the National League with a higher K% in 2013 than the Mets was the Braves, who also scored the fourth most runs.
The Mets struck out 18 times on Monday, but they scored seven runs. The key was that when they made contact, it was solid, hitting for the kind of power they sorely lacked last season. They also collected three walks, suggesting they weren’t just swinging wildly.
In contrast, Wednesday night’s offensive disaster had no such positives to point to. For the most part, the ball barely left the infield and only Juan Lagares showed the ability to hit with authority. They didn’t work deep counts and generally looked lost at the plate, managing only five baserunners over 9 innings.
If the team can repeat their Opening Day performance (hopefully with better pitching this time) and emulate the 2013 Braves, they can effectively trade more contact for better contact and score some runs. But, if they come out swinging weakly and wildly like they did yesterday, we’re in for a long season.