On the strength of a strong start to the year, Travis d'Arnaud has been one of the Mets' best hitters this season.
Since returning to the lineup on July 31 after being sidelined by an elbow injury, though, d'Arnaud has struggled offensively -- until Monday night. He hopes a new approach at the plate can get him back on track, and those adjustments paid early dividends in a 4-2 victory over the Rockies at Citi Field.
"There was a little funk in my swing and I had to figure that out," said d'Arnaud, who went 2-for-4 with a home run. He said the adjustments involve standing closer to the plate and that Monday was the first day he applied them in a game.
D'Arnaud got the Mets on the board in the second inning with his first home run since June 20, a solo shot to leftfield. He also got the go-ahead rally in the seventh started with a one-out single and scored the tying run when Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
"That was a great streak of at-bats," d'Arnaud said. "Fortunately, I was able to lead it off, and then [Michael] Conforto [got] the big walk. From there, everybody else kept having great at-bats."
D'Arnaud is hitting .276 with five home runs, a .327 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage. His .827 on-base plus slugging percentage leads all Mets with at least 100 plate appearances.
D'Arnaud had an .829 OPS in April before a fractured right hand kept him out of the lineup until June. He picked up where he left off after his return, posting an .846 OPS in June before the elbow injury put him back on the disabled list.
This time his production dropped after his return, as d'Arnaud entered Monday night's game with a .179/.269/.261 slash line in his last six games.
Aside from swing mechanics, the randomness inherent in a small sample size also could be driving these suppressed numbers. D'Arnaud has a .250 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) since returning from the elbow injury. BABIP is an inconsistent statistic that tends to regress to the league average (roughly .300) over time; when this rate strays too far above or below the average, it's usually an indicator of good or bad luck.
Assuming d'Arnaud can return to his early-season form, it would be another boon for an offense that already has gotten a boost from the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline.
"Everybody here is awesome," d'Arnaud said. "We all want to win for this city, we all want to win for each other. It's a great atmosphere and I'm very fortunate and happy to be back."