The Mets are 22-9 at home and 8-18 on the road. That’s a big split, no doubt.
So what’s happening?
I’m going to go with “nothing.” Or at least nothing important or lasting.
Jerry Manuel has suggested that the Mets’ hitters tense up on the road because they’re eager to maximize their home run totals while they have the opportunity to do so out of spacious Citi Field. That’s an interesting theory and one that’s impossible to disprove, but it argues that the psychological factors are enough to outweigh the park factors, and that seems like a stretch.
Also, neither Manuel’s explanation nor Charlie Manuel’s suggestion that the Mets are stealing signs covers why the team’s pitchers would be performing so much better in Citi Field. Certainly the park has something to do with it, but the Mets have a 2.85 home ERA and a 5.22 road ERA, likely too big a split to be explained away by the big park.
And though it would be reasonable to guess that Mets pitchers felt more confident pounding the strike zone in Citi Field, where they run less risk of gopherballs, there’s little evidence to support that case: The Mets have actually walked opposing batters at a slightly higher rate at home than on the road. They’ve just been hit much harder on the road, to the tune of more hits and home runs.
In general, teams win more games and players perform slightly better at home than on the road. That’s no surprise: They take advantage of the particulars of the familiar parks, plus the comforts of their own homes and beds and clubhouses and everything else.
And looking around the league, there are other teams with pretty strong distinctions in their home and road records: The Braves are 19-6 at home and 14-18 on the road; the Rangers are 20-10 at home and 10-16 on the road.
The Mets’ split is a bit more extreme than those, for sure. They have the most home wins in baseball and have won only 31 percent of their games on the road, so it is natural to try look for a reason and create some story about what’s happening.
But it’s just randomness again. Give it enough time and it will balance out. As long as the Mets are winning more games than they’re losing, it doesn’t really matter where it happens.