A strong performance vs. the Philadelphia Phillies this week established that the New York Mets can be a very serious contender to win the National League East in 2019.
As we’ve mentioned recently, a road-heavy early schedule has helped hide true quality from casual observers. Entering this weekend’s series with the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field, the Mets have played just eight home games compared to 16 road games. Leading a division after that hindrance is a very good indicator for quality.
Also a good indicator…the ability to get on base. You don’t score runs by making outs. Thus far this season, the Mets have been well above the NL average in on-base percentage. Three players ranked in the top 11 individually after the Phillies series (Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso).
Analysts and bettors should pay very close attention to this statistic moving forward. New York’s ability to sustain its strong start will likely be tied to its ability to keep getting so many runners on base. Analytics has always placed a high priority on this stat. Sharps (professional bettors) have as well. Baserunners are required fuel for a run-scoring engine.
Among the benefits of a high on-base percentage…
*Hitting stats improve with runners on base. Opposing defenses must use their first baseman to hold any runner on first, creating more space for batted balls to sneak through the infield. Some pitchers implode with multiple runners on. So far in 2019, Major League batting averages are about 10 points higher with runners on than with the bases empty, while on-base percentages are about 20 points higher. In short, getting on base makes it easier for the next guy to also get on base.
*Pitch counts for opposing hurlers rise more quickly when hitters are working counts to draw walks or otherwise cause trouble. The sooner you knock a starting pitcher out of the game, the sooner you get to face typically more vulnerable middle relievers.
*With home runs flying out of ballparks at breakneck pace in 2019, any walk or hit in front of a dinger magnifies its value. It’s easier to win games with two-run and three-run homers than it is with solo shots.
If the Mets have been playing over their heads, a regression in on-base percentage will drive the slump that brings them back to earth. If the Mets are for real, this indicator will provide confirmation as the season progresses. Keep studying this stat so you can make smart bets in Mets games!
You should also consider monitoring all 30 MLB teams on a regular basis. Many stat websites make this easy to do. Too many baseball bettors fall into the trap of trying to bet who’s hot or fade who’s cold, while hoping to catch a streak along the way. Focus on skill sets, not imaginary team “temperatures.”
Bet on offenses with high on-base percentages, particularly against vulnerable pitchers. Fade teams with low on-base percentages, particularly against elite pitchers.
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