Coutinho: Mets Have Best Lineup In The National League

By Rich Coutinho
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I surely got your attention with that headline — but it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

New York’s lineup is the biggest reason why the Mets are in the midst of a 5-game winning streak. They have the ability to not only score runs early, but tack on runs late. Think about the pressure that’s taken off their bullpen.

Back in spring training, Terry Collins and I had a conversation during one of Carlos Beltran’s many batting practice sessions. The Mets manager laid it out for me in simple terms: “Is there a better group of five hitters in the league than Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Bay and Davis? I don’t think so, and if we’re healthy we’ll be as good as any offense in the league.”

At first, I thought it was a new manager’s bravado, Collins trying to convince himself his team was better than it actually was. But then I looked at the numbers these guys put up in their last healthy season and it occurred to me — Collins might have been right on target on this one. As it turned out, Bay started the season on the disabled list. With Pagan there, the team was still missing an everyday player.

Pound for pound this lineup has more sizzle than any team in the league.  The Phillies you say? Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Placido Polanco and an injured Chase Utley — I’d rather have the Mets’ quintet. The Braves are short a bat and the Giants don’t measure up offensively. The Rockies are a possibility, but they don’t possess the lead off threat the Mets have in Reyes.

Go ahead. Go up and down the lineups in the National League. You will find out — as I did — that if the big bats are healthy, no team measures up to the Mets. Not in terms of RBI sizzle, not in terms of team speed, not in terms of batting average even in the spacious surroundings of Citi Field. The 2006 Mets made scoring in the first inning a club trademark and transformed themselves into a great road team, putting some many clubs at an automatic disadvantage from the jump every night. This team has done its fair share of first inning scoring, especially in the last week or so, and that type of offensive start could compensate for a lot of weaknesses — like thin starting pitching.

The Mets’ success will indeed depend on both their starting pitching and their bullpen — but this lineup will help them win a boatload of games, and that has not been the case for the past 3 seasons. Their star players just could not stay on the field. And that is the key here — health. It always has been and always will be with the Mets. But in the past week, the Mets have reclaimed some of their shaken confidence after a 5-13 start. It’s due to Jose Reyes and a quartet of RBI threats.

Relying on your offense can be a slippery slope. But for a team that was close to falling off the cliff just a week ago, the Mets finally have something they can rely on — a high-octane offense. And that will only help the pitchers relax as the offense keeps rolling — and the Mets keep winning.

Do any NL lineups stack up to the Mets? Let Coutinho know in the comments below…

  • Patrick

    Did any of you ACTUALLY read what he wrote? Based on the responses the answer is no.

  • Purnell

    Coutinho is the flip side of Mike Francesa – two guys who can’t remember the simple rule – “A team is never as good as it looks when it’s winning or as bad as it looks when it’s losing.”

  • Carl

    there’s no logical reason to listen to dico j.

    he’s trying to submit nothing but opinions and the fact remains, he’s not a mets fan and obviously is a yankee or phillies fan (or some other team) and simply hates/likes making fun of the mets (to make himself feel better it seems like)

    I always find it hilarious when yankee fans (or any fans not in our division) are trying to insult the mets, personally. If the mets were perennial winners (albeit with huge, huge, huge pockets *cough yankees*), i doubt I’d be in the comments section for a team other than my own having hard luck, adding fuel to the fire. I’d be enjoying and focusing on my own favorite team. That’s just me.

    anyway, dico j. , just keep presenting your biased opinions as fact if you have to. No one who’s halfway smart is going to respect them anyway. And if you want to make fun of the mets, try picking a different player other than Wright. You just look foolish right now.

    as for the article, if ike davis keeps this up and hits 20 homers, perhaps and the mets stay healthy, i agree with it. If pagan hits .300 again that stretches the 5 great hitters to 6, no?

    • Red Bull

      That’s a lot of if’s there Carl my boy, if the Queen had balls she be King.

      Mays, Mantle, Williams, Ruth, those were great hitters. Pagan, Reyes, Beltran Wright & Davis, great, you got to be kidding. Only a Mets fan would put such a label on these just OK players. If they were great why haven’t the Mets won in the last 5 yrs. Let’s not use the injury excuse, that’s been used and mis-used. I also notice the Mets are still 3 games under .500 & nowhere near 1st place, why is that?

  • MFrancesanysports

    Jason Bay is the roman candle in the block of water changing ethnic needs. Try to retrend Reyes into the tire marks of pure johnsons.

    • metsfan0920

      I don’t think this is the best lineup we’ve had the last three years. The 08′ Mets lineup was far more potent than this one. We had 3 guys that got over 25hr+ in Wright, Beltran and Delgado, plus Reyes, guys like Damon Easley, Murph…etc… coming off the bench. The problem with that team was the bullpen. Otherwise they were clearly the NL’s best team that year.

  • acerimusdux

    Nice column. And the Mets have a nice lineup this year. But the Cardinals are better:

    Theriot, Rasmus, Pujols, Holliday, Berkman, Freese, Molina

    Yes, Reyes is better than Theriot, but Theriot will get on base near as much, and then the 2-7 hitters there are just a scarier bunch than the Mets solid RBI guys.

    • Berkman

      Why add those other Cardinals players, Pujols alone ends up with better numbers then the Mets entire line-up. No Mets player scares pitchers, just seeing Pujols on the on deck circle makes pitchers tremble with fear.

    • Tom G

      To say Reyes is better than Theriot and then try to say they are sort of equal- would be the same as saying Pujols is better than Ike Davis- but……..– Reyes and Theriot aren’t even on the same planet. Jose Reyes- WHEN RIGHT- is one of the top 10 (if not top 5 ) players in the game. His last healthy years he averaged around– .290 ave- 17 hrs- 30 doubles – 15 triples – 110 runs- 77 RBI – 40 SB-s — no one else really comes close as a leadoff hitter
      – Theriot is a nice player but again- they’re not on the same planet as far as ballplayers go.
      And for all you Stankee fans out there- it’s going to be amusing to listen to you beg the yanks to sign Reyes if he becomes a free agent.

  • Dan

    Braun, Fielder, Weeks, Hart, McGehee perhaps?

    Also Pujols, Holiday, Rasmus, plus the best remaining two Cardinals might do it as well.

    Votto, Bruce, Phillips, Stubbs, and Rolen might even be in contention depending on if J. Bruce takes off or not.

  • DB

    I see that you mus have had a lot of time to drink after the game.
    Pne of the bigest reasons that they are winning is that they played AZ and now Washington.
    Everybody gets so happy when a couple of wins come down the pike -reality will set in soon.
    Enjoy while you can

    • RC

      DB, we lost a lot of games without one of our top hitters in Bay and with Beltran playing the first few weeks as basically extended spring training. We get Bay back and Beltran starts getting his swing into form, and the Mets start winning. That also has a lot to do with the wins..

      And as bad as AZ might be, they’ve just beaten Philly two straight games so it’s not like the Mets are beating Little League teams. You can only beat the teams you’re playing, so you take wins and winning streaks when you can get them. The alternative was to lose to AZ and WAS, so of course we’re pretty happy about the win streak.

      • Col. Jessep

        And all this time I thought the Mets WERE a little league team. Maybe that’s not a bad idea, signed the Mets up for this year’s Little League World Series, maybe, just maybe Mets fans can finally have something to cheer for in trying to get that title they’ve been wishing for the last 25 yrs

        Can’t beat the big boys maybe the Mets have a better shot at beating the little boys & that’s a maybe, these little leaguers’ are pretty good players. Hell, if that fails, there’s always a shot at the girl’s softball league.

  • Crash 11

    I enjoyed this article. It got my attention because it is what I have been saying. We didn’t have Bay or a healthy Reyes last year. What we see is a team that is starting to believe in themselves again. 5 wins in a row you say? Absolutely. I love how a guy makes 2 great plays back to back in the Bronx last night and suddenly you guys are reading and commenting on Mets articles. Like we’re not even aloud to enjoy our team unless you allow it. I have only grown frustrated with Wright because of Reyes. This offense goes the way Reyes goes. (Maybe one of our numbers gurus can look up Reyes’ percentage of runs per times on base) Wright is great. He has also been given way too much of a pass for not putting the ball in play when the season is on the line. We will not realize what we had with Reyes untill ownership’s mismanagement of finances comes full circle and we have to see him play on another team.
    The Reds & Brewers are the only National league team that comes close BTW.

  • Chris

    I guess no one remembers the walk-off double to center field against Mariano Rivera at Shea Stadium a few years ago, hit by none other then David Wright.

    • WhyMyEntireTeamSucks

      Do you also remember the 2000 WS, that was years ago as well, that mattered. One double in a meaningless May game years ago does not.

      One hit against the King of Kings & this fool has Wright in the Hall of Fame. My guess, Chrissy is still not over the 2000 WS, just like all Mets fans.

      • WhyMyEntireTeamSucks

        let’s see there IC, The HGH doctor in Canada that Reyes & Beltran used to “supposedly” spin their blood goes to trail this year. Ronny Paulino will return this Friday, he was suspended for 50 games for HGH use.

        Steroid user Lenny Dykstra was arrested for fraud just last week. Former/current Mets players IC. It’s been in the news, you’re just too stupid to know or refuse to acknowledge, like all Mets fans, so you don’t have to face the truth. By the way, 2000 WS

      • IC

        *to WhyMyEntireTeamSucks* calm down. let us met fans enjoy a win streak. why do all yankee fans have to bud in and mention the 2000 world series. Let us be and enjoy our team. Are we allowed to enjoy our 10-13 mets? We haven’t hurt anybody. Do you see any former/current players in the headlines for steroids or hgh or anything? Let us be and stop being a wisea**.

  • Idratherbegolfing

    They are in last place because they have no pitching not because of their offence. The article did not say they were the best team just that they had a good offence.

    Same reason why the Yankees won’t win the division unless they make a deal. No pitching. Lets face it 40% of Yankee fans have no clue. If they were the Yankees of the 80’s 40% of the so called “die hard” yankees fans would be no where to be found.

    • Jeff

      unless they make a deal, Yankees just won in the title ’09 moron, also the Yankees have won the division 11 times in the last 14 yrs, I say the odds are always in their favor to win it again & again, same can’t be said about your LOSER Mets, they’ve won the division just 4 times in 50 years. Mets are in last place because they suck, no other reason, no excuses, they suck.

      And tell me where the Mets fans been the last few yrs? By July and this every year, you can set your watch to it, dating back to the 60’s, their joint is empty.

  • Tom Carlucci

    Meet the MUTS greet the MUTS , cmon out and beat the MUTS….You MUT fans never cease to amaze me . Just sit down and shut-up andwait till Aug . then you might have something to cheer about …..MAYBE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Patrick

      You don’t know how to spell Mutt.

  • Tom G

    For all you nay sayers ( aka Stankee fans) Please show me a line-up in the NL that is better than the Mets? The guy said they may have the best line-up. He didn’t say best team, he didn’t say they were going to win the division. He said they may have the best line-up in the league. I happen to agree with him- and for all you disagree- go take a look around the league and tell me who has a better line-up.
    I think the only argument would be the Brewers- but it’s close.
    Stankee fans- nice bullpen by the way. LOL!

    • dico j.

      You Mets fans a funny…just last week, they sucked…remember?

      • Oliver_Perez

        Just last week they didn’t have Bay in the lineup

      • Patrick

        I’d like to buy an “r” and an “e”

      • Moses

        Isn’t Bay the same guy that hit just 6 hrs last year & this was before he banged his head? The truth is that it was not a concussion that caused him to miss the rest of the season, it just finally hit him, & hard, that he joined a team the really sucks.

        And then there’s Wright, who can’t homer at Citi Field, yet blames it on the ballpark being too large, yet every visiting team has no problem crushing the ball deep into the seats.

        Phillies this weekend Mets fans, your little streak playing against bad teams comes to an end. Enjoy last place, this is where the Mets will be the whole season, as for the Yankees, they’re in first Tom G-irly

    • MCK

      Tommy Boy! Don’t like our bullpen…hmmmm….13-8…first place last time I looked! Laugh all you want but you got K-Rod the ticking time bomb! LOLOLOLOLOL!

  • Clarkey

    Let’s Go Mets! Let’s Go Mets! Let’s Go Mets! Let’s Go Mets!

    • dico j.

      They’re in last place !! I’m sure they will follow up this winning streak, with a classic Mets losing streak. That’s what last place teams do. Let’s go Mets….LOL

  • dico j.

    Coutinho is crazy….win 5 in a row and everybody goes nuts.

    • Kurt Spitzner

      I’m with you on this one,time to calm down and let history take over as it almost always has!

  • Anthony

    Only Mets fans are so eager to get rid of their players. David Wright is a very good baseball player and some of us seem to forget that! Any team would love to have him! I’m not saying he’s the best player in the MLB by any means but he is a really good player! This team has a lot of problems, David Wright is not one of them. Try watching another team as much as you watch the Mets and you will see just how good Wright is!

  • Dan B 86

    Health is key as you say. If we can get Pagan back and up to speed, Thole starts hitting more, which I know he will we could have a consistently awsome offense.

    Assuming Ike keeps raking and Bay continues to do well and Pagan starts hitting like he has the last year and a hald this is what I propose.

    1. reyes
    2. pagan
    3. wright
    4. Beltran
    5. Davis
    6. Bay
    7. Murph
    8. Thole

    This would allow you to put Murph at 7 without putting 3 lefties in a row from the 6-8 spots. Bay and Davis are fine where they are now but thinking ahead, when Beltran is gone next year (or later this year) you would expect Ike to take over with Bay giving him protection. This would allow them get comfortable, get Ike closer to the number 4 spot he is destined for and better ballance the lefty right situation.

    I like murph in the # 2 spot but if Pagan gets his head on straight his speed is more valuable there and murph should do fine at the 7 spot. So many choices!


    • Ralph

      I totally agree bro!

    • Grissom

      and yet the Mets are in last place. I wonder why?

      • Joe

        Um, because their pitching was horrendous until about a week ago.

      • dico j.


    • Timbo

      Hey Dan B. do I know you? Do you live in Franklin Square?

  • Andrea

    How many times are we going to see David Wright strike out with men on base or find a way to choke in clutch situations before people finally stop touting him as this great force on the team? I get so sick of columnists, Mets coaches and Gary Cohen with their lovefests for this guy, while other productive players are ignored! I turned on a game a few days ago, in the midst of another of Cohen’s ode’s to Wright and heard nothing about the fact that Jason Bay was having a spectacular game and was actually the reason why the team had the runs that they did, until almost an inning and a half later! Enough already!

    • Matt

      Why do people still insist that hitting in the “clutch” is a repeatable skill?… A good hitter will hit well with runners on base, a bad hitter won’t; it’s usually that simple.

      David Wright’s career slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG): .303/.382/.515
      Career with men on base: .304/.384/.523
      Career with runners in scoring position: .296/.384/.489

      It took me about 18 seconds to look that up… Those numbers are so borderline identical that there’s just nothing to be drawn from them… To suggest a player has any control over how he hits in the clutch, compared to how he hits overall, is just silly.

      • dico j.

        Numbers are deceiving. Just because he hits .300 with men in scoring position, doesn’t mean they were big rbi’s. Look that up. He is brutal.

      • Mac

        Matt, thanks for bringing out the numbers to counter these idiot mongos in the comments that probably watch all of 10 baseball games a year.

      • Matt

        How, in any way, are numbers deceiving? Numbers are exactly what they are.

        In “late & close” situations (7th inning or later, tie game or up by a run, or tying run at least on deck): .284/.388/.447 over 675 plate appearances… A little down from his career numbers, but not significantly, given that 675 plate appearances is basically one season… Certainly well within the realm of normal fluctuation.

        In “High Leverage” situations (as defined by baseball-reference): .315/.387/.524 over 945 plate appearances… Slightly higher than his career norms, actually… But again, not to a significant enough degree where you can actually make any claims.

        The point is, David Wright (and pretty much every player to ever play baseball) is basically the same hitter in any given situation as he is in general…

    • dico j.

      I agree 100%….D. Wright has has never got a big hit in his life.

      • Mambo Mund

        In fairness, he probably got a big hit from a gravity bong when he was a sophmore in HS. While wearing a Mets uniform, nope.

      • Gehoff

        In late and close situations, situations where if he comes through you might call it a “big hit,” Wright is hitting .284/.388/.447.

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