Pete Alonso and the Mets are taking a deep breath and winning games.

Last season, the Mets topped their division for four months before falling. He finished with a record of 77-85, his 10th losing season in the last 15. One of the biggest criminals: a crime that was the worst in Major League Baseball. Only three teams scored less, and they averaged about 100 losses.

The Mets look very different this year. He has the best record in the National League. They beat only the Yankees in the win and scored Yankees and Dodgers in every game until Thursday. His offense is more disciplined and patient, advancing baseball by 20% in one season after coming in at number 17 in this important statistic.

The reasons for the change are many: the addition of new lineups to veteran hitters (Mark Kenha, Starling Marte and Eduardo Escobar), returning players with better performances after fewer years (Jeff McNeil and Francisco Landor) and new hits. Coaches (Eric Chavez and Jeremy) Barnes). Not discounted, though, with lots of deep breaths and a little bit of self-talk.

Take a closer look at the Mets’ hits, and you’ll see their four best hitters – Brendan Nemo, Pat Alonso, Kenha and McNeil – often coming out of the batsman’s box, not just adjusting their batting gloves or gesturing to the coach. To find, but to fill your lungs with air, to calm yourself and to focus.

It’s not unique to the Mets – Boston’s Rafael Divers, one of baseball’s best hitters, does – and it sounds easy, but “it makes a big difference,” said the 29-year-old Nemo, an outsider. Fielder “There’s a reason Pete does it, Jeff does it, I do it.”

“Definitely, it has been helped,” Alonso added, a first baseman. “If you look at not only us but the other guys, like every player, they have their own way of using it.”

During the regular season of Marathon 162-game, even experienced athletes can find it difficult to control their emotions. A relatively healthy and capable athlete will exhibit more than 600 plates a year, and the appearance of each plate is approximately four pitches. Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of Earl, at least 2,400 pitches. With.

“In any case – in any major situation – I would lie if I said my heart was not beating very fast,” Nemo said. “You get the feeling of anxiety that comes to you. And one way to deal with it is to try and take a few deep breaths, take deep breaths and you can really slow down your heartbeat. ۔ “

“But it’s not just the nerves that need to be tackled,” said Kenha, an outfielder. From the beginning of spring training to the end of the World Series, there is a daily game of about nine months. Deliberately stopping breathing during the beating, Kenha said, forces him to regroup.

“It’s very easy, day in and day out, just lose focus because it’s so repetitive and so monotonous that you need something to dial in,” he continued. “Otherwise, there are times throughout the season where you’re running carefree, and it’s almost normal, and you don’t really pay attention to what you’re doing. So it’s just present to me.” And there is a way to stay focused.

Alonso, 27, said that since his high school days, he has always been good at deep breathing and slow breathing while batting. He said mental skills coaches have helped him improve his approach along the way.

“I think about my plan in the on-deck circle, imagining where I want to watch baseball,” said Alonso, whose 2021 season was strong but he is at the top this year (20 home). Runs, 66 RBI, 913 on base plus slugging percentage as of Thursday). “But when I get up there, it’s basically taking my breath away and shutting my mind. The best thing is when I feel numb in the box, and I just trust it. That’s what I see and I leave. “

Kenha, 33, said that although she has read books on breathing techniques (“those things are a bit out of place”), she has worked her way up throughout her career.

“I make sure I’m always breathing,” he said. “All you have to do is breathe and listen for the breath coming out.”

When Nemo first arrived in the major leagues in 2016, he said that Will Lanzner, then the Mets’ mental skills coach, helped him learn more about the mental side of baseball and that How to play

Nemmo said Lanzner helped him adopt the concept (the process of imagining success) and breathing techniques. While batting, Nemo comes out of the box, takes a deep breath and then says to himself, “That’s what I want to do: I want to hit a line in the middle.” He said it allowed him to rearrange after each pitch, instead of having to brainstorm with that moment.

“Lowering your heart rate allows you to think a little more clearly,” said Nemo, whose career is at .388 on 20 percent, including the .361 mark this season. During which he has fought a few wounds. “When your adrenaline rises and when you’re in a state of fighting or flying an anxiety, it shuts down that part of your brain that thinks critically.”

McNeil, 30, is enjoying a recovery after the 2021 season in which he hit .251 with .679 OPS. Among the Mets who have offered at least 200 plates this season, he leads them with an average of .327 as of Thursday. Its .850 OPS trailed only Alonso.

A matt heater, though, is better at quietly opposing the pitcher than Kenha. Entering Wednesday, he was seeing 4.23 pitches per plate appearance, one of the team’s highest marks and one of the best in baseball. His .286 batting average and .378 on 20% are just behind McNeil.

Kenha leads an offense that was hitting the MLB-best .283 with runners in the scoring position, one of the most stressful moments on the plate, and it came from behind in 16 of his 45 wins. Is. When on the plate, Kenha just doesn’t breathe. He also talks to himself.

“It’s because I have rhythm in my bats and I won’t forget what my method is,” he said. “It’s like a mantra. It’s not the same thing every time. It’s just like, ‘That’s what you’re trying to do and stick to the plan.’

If he’s looking for fastballs up and down, Kenha said he reminded himself out loud. Asked if the opposing team could hear him or read his lips, he replied, “They don’t know where the ball is going.”

Whether it’s with fresh oxygen or self-talk, the Mets know where their offense is going this season. He hopes it will help him reach his first playoff birth since 2016 and perhaps his first World Series title since 1986. Until then, Mets fans, take a few deep breaths.

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