It’s Apr. 10, 2014, and the New York Mets have played eight games. So far, the Mets’ offense has been abysmal, batting .190/.261/.321 as a team with 79 strikeouts. Is there enough of a sample size to reach a conclusion about the Mets’ lineup? Apparently it’s large enough for many fans, but there’s no reason to panic just yet.
Several Mets have been under-performing. Take David Wright. He’s hitting .233/.294/.333 in 34 plate appearances. First, if those PAs came in August, no one would notice. Second, Wright is a career .301 hitter who is in his age-31 season — smack dab in the middle of his prime years. Nothing about his career trends suggest he will remain a sub-.700 OPS player all year. Second, He’s been battling the flu since the Mets played in Montreal just prior to the start of the season. One beat reporter even described Wright coughing while answering questions in the locker room the other day. Wright, like most ballplayers, would not use that as an excuse, but the flu can certainly take its toll. The good news is flues rarely last six months.
Eric Young and Travis d’Arnaud each started the season by going hitless in their first several at bats. After starting the season 0-for-12, Young has hit .286 with a .375 on base percentage. After starting the season 0-for-15, d’Arnaud is 3-for-8 in his last two games with a double and an RBI.
The point is it’s impossible to judge a player based on his performance in 15-30 plate appearances. On the flip side, does anyone think Juan Lagares is going to have a .946 OPS all year?
The Mets are also starting the year off against tough opponents. The Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds, and Atlanta Braves are all expected to contend this year, and all three organizations are known for their pitching. The Mets have faced the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Johnny Cueto, Ervin Santana and Craig Kimbrel in the season’s first week. A lot of batters have looked bad against those guys.
You have to look at factors like a player’s track record, age and competition before you can even attempt a small sample-size judgement. Eight (games) is not enough. Based on their track records, the 2014 Mets aren’t going to remind anyone of the ’27 Yankees. But let’s give them time before we compare them to the ’62 Mets.