For better or worse, Mets defined by homers

New York ranks 2nd in NL in blasts, but last in average with RISP

For better or worse, Mets defined by homers

CINCINNATI -- Live by it or die by it, the Mets are going to need the long ball in their push to the postseason.

After nine homers in the three-game series against Cincinnati, including three in a 6-3 victory on Wednesday, New York has 192 homers -- the second most in the National League this season. Ninety-five of those came on the road -- sixth most in the Majors and 10 short of the franchise record. And, most importantly, nearly 54 percent of the Mets' runs are scored by the homer, and they are 64-36 when they hit one out, compared to 10-30 when they don't.

"When you hit a home run, you get a chance to score a run," outfielder Curtis Granderson said. "That's the only play that scores a run guaranteed. Whether you do it or don't, it's never a bad thing. Players on this team or in the past couple years don't go on saying, 'We need to hit this many home runs to win today.' We just put ourselves in a situation where we're trying to drive the baseball, and sometimes they happen to get out of the ballpark."

While that method of "home run or bust" has New York even with the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot, it's definitely a risky approach. When the Mets don't hit one out, they don't have a lot of other avenues for scoring.

"I think it's good when we're hitting home runs, but when we're not, we need to find ways to [produce] runs," Yoenis Cespedes said via translator Nelson Sealy.

Mets slug four homers

With runners in scoring position, the Mets ranked last in the Majors with 315 RBIs and a .215 average entering Wednesday. By weighted runs created plus (wRC+), they were 33 percent below league average in terms of offensive production with runners in scoring position and 11 percent below league average with men on base. To make matters worse, the team is without Neil Walker -- who hit .295 with runners in scoring position and drove in the third-most runs on the team -- for the remainder of the season.

There is some hope as the offense has started to heat up. Asdrubal Cabrera has hit .391 with six homers and 15 RBIs in 19 games since returning from the disabled list. Jose Reyes, who is second on the team coming into Wednesday with a .321 average with runners in scoring position, has hit .320 with 21 runs scored in 24 games since his injury problems.

Reyes' leadoff homer

However, the Mets aren't likely to become a small-ball machine all of a sudden. Hitting home runs is what they do, and that isn't going to change.

"We got where we got because we hit the ball out of the ballpark," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Are we going to change the way we hit? No, not at this time of year. This is who we are. We're hoping that you get a couple other guys hot in the lineup; that makes a big difference instead of just riding one or two guys."

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.