David Wright is heating up, and so are his New York Mets teammates. Most surprisingly, the Captain and his cohorts are hitting home runs – a lot of them – in their cavernous home ballpark.
The Mets hit 11 home runs at Citi Field in the month of April. In May, they hit only nine. The Mets hit only three round-trippers in June going into a series against the Oakland Athletics (with the qualification that the team only played eight games in New York that month). Against the A’s, they went on a home run tear at Citi Field that has lasted into mid-July.
New York touched up former Met Scott Kazmir and Oakland’s bullpen for four home runs. Since then, (and including that game), the Mets have hit 16 home runs at Citi Field in 10 games. The power surge helped them win seven of those 10. So what’s the difference?
New hitting coach Lamar Johnson is still preaching the organizational hitting philosophy, but perhaps he’s doing a better job of explaining it. Curtis Granderson said Johnson is telling his hitters to be ready to hit on the first pitch of an at-bat, as that may be the best pitch they get. Wright thinks it has something to do with the weather, and there’s some validity to that.
In the history of Citi Field, the ball hasn’t carried well in cool weather. This year, New York had an unusually cool and damp spring. The average temperature in April was 52 degrees Fahrenheit. In May, it was 64 degrees. In June, it was a more seasonal 72 degrees, with temperatures consistently getting into the 80s toward the end of the month, right around when the Mets started hitting long balls at home.
As for Wright, he’s heated up with the weather as well. The 31 year-old is hitting .385/.414/.692 overall since June 16 with four home runs. During that time, he’s only struck out five times. Even missing a week in the middle of that span with a left shoulder injury couldn’t slow him down.
The team as a whole has been hitting as well as they have all season, scoring fewer than four runs only three times in the month of July. If the Mets can keep this up, they’ll give a solid pitching staff the support they’ve needed for a long time. And that adds up to a better chance of winning ballgames in the second half.