One of the most popular excuses for the New York Mets' lack of offense at home is the ballpark, Citi Field. The cavernous dimensions of Citi Field have significantly diminished offense since it opened in 2009. The Mets, in particular, have struggled in their massive new home, finishing with a sub .500 record at home in each of the last three years. Former hitting coach Dave Hudgens even suggested that the home fans' booing caused Mets' hitters to press at home. One notable former Met doesn't buy into the theory that Citi Field is responsible for the Mets' struggles to hit at home.
Future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza spoke out about the team's home field at Thursday's MLB Draft, Jason Rubinstein of the New York Daily News reports. Piazza was quick to suggest that blaming Citi Field for the team's struggles to hit is nonsense. Piazza told Rubinstein,
"I understand that (Citi Field) might not be a great hitters ballpark. But to me, just take a step back, hit the ball hard."
The Mets are hitting .222 at Citi Field this season with a woeful .333 slugging percentage. Even when you adjust for better hitting on the road, the team's .334 slugging percentage is last in the major leagues.
Piazza went on to suggest that the team should be focusing more on just making hard contact and to stop worrying about home runs. Piazza made it clear that he felt singles and doubles work fine for offense too, and if home runs come that's great.
Piazza is correct that the Mets can't blame Citi Field for why they can't hit. A lot of different teams have come into Citi Field the last few years and they have managed to hit the ball just fine, so it isn't the park (or the fans for that matter). The simple fact is that a lot of the hitters the Mets have on their roster right now aren't very good. If you look at the Mets' current every day lineup, there are only three players in it that would start on most other teams: David Wright, Daniel Murphy, and Curtis Granderson. The rest of the lineup would be bench players elsewhere.
If the Mets want to hit better at home, they will need to get better hitters. The Mets have some promising players in the lower levels of their minor league system, but those players are a few years away from contributing. The Mets need to find ways to add to the major league roster sooner than that, whether it comes via a trade or by owner Fred Wilpon opening his checkbook to add more free agent talent. There is no reason to hide behind the ball park as an excuse when the team's cheapness on the free agent market has come back to haunt them offensively.
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