Player Evaluation: Check Your Emotions At The Door

An article by posted on October 21, 2010

As I was writing a response to Cerrone & Joe D and the rest of our MMO population, I realized I was writing a blog. Therefore, I figured a responsive blog may be the best route to go. 

It’s a great debate. It’s one that isn’t stale and what I find fascinating about it is well two things. #1 – Nobody knows the answer because nobody knows who the General Manager is, and #2 – The school of thought at stake here is whether or not you believe in statistics versus emotion.

There’s absolutely no way a Mets fan should be able to deny that not wanting to trade Ike Davis for Prince Fielder is fueled first and foremost by emotion. I don’t blame you. We like homegrown talent.

If you’re basing your decision on talent there’s absolutely no possible way you can make a realistic argument for Davis over Fielder. You just cannot. You can’t even use age to support your theory because Fielder is only 26. You can use his contract situation, but I’d have to think in a utopian world where Fielder comes to NY in the off-season it’d be with an extension. 

It’s near impossible to make an educated guess on *any* roster decisions going forward. You, myself, Cerrone, Joe D, Greg Pomes…and the players themselves have *no* idea who is staying, who is going and who is coming in. It depends on the driver of this out of control ship. 

So here is how I evaluate it as somebody who examines statistics more than emotion. This debate is more about how we should be looking at non-Mets talent, and how we also need to start looking further into the players wearing the Mets uniform. 

Home Runs: The important factor here is not how MANY homeruns a player hits but if he has that kind of power. That kind of power forces pitchers to deal with hitters in the lineup differently. Does Fielder have more power? Absolutely, if you think it’s a question you’re foolish. 

Strikeouts: What Mets fans will learn actually if the Mets hire a guy like Alderson or Hahn is that Strikeouts are…. outs. They are practically no different from a ground out or a deep fly ball to CF with nobody on. They are just an out. So you shouldn’t be examining how many times a player makes one SPECIFIC type of out… you should be looking at how many OUTS they contribute. 

Sure a strikeout is frustrating because to a fans eye it looks bad… but if half of David Wright’s Ks were split between ground balls in the infield and shallow fly balls in the outfield… nobody would complain. Yet they all add 1 out in the inning. 

So with that said Ike Davis made an out about 64% of the time he came to the plate. Fielder made an out about 60% of the time. That’s what’s important… not the certain type of out they make.  

Walks: I don’t even know why this is a debatable topic. One guy is a proven power hitter and one guy was in his rookie year. A large part of why Fielder walks so much is due to his reputation and rightfully so. 

Defense: Here is where you will need to answer some questions as a Mets fan. You can’t deny that Fielder is an eye sore at 1B… but what you need to be able to tell me is, how many runs does Fielder cost you at 1B and how many runs does Davis cost you?

If you can’t answer that question then you can’t give me an educated guess on whether Fielder hurts you at 1B. Does he force more runs from the opponent than he produces for his team? I’d find that very hard to believe.

The people that try to use defense as their basis for supporting Davis to me, are the people who just really like Davis (not blaming you). Your defense at first base impacts the game how often? Making great plays at 1B are fine, but how often do you make the great play and how often are you just making routine plays at 1B?

If you’re telling me Davis is so far more superior than Fielder, I retort by asking you how do you know? 

How many games have you seen played by Davis? Now how many have you seen by Fielder? 

The problem with defensive statistics is that a large part of defense is judged based on opinion of a scorekeeper, and opinion of the fan watching the game. You strike out, you strike out. But who says a certain ball is more playable over another?

Is Davis a better fielder at 1B than Prince? I’d guess so, but what are you basing your decision on for saying that with certainty? You certainly are not using errors committed, because Fielder has 11 errors combined in the past two years compared to Davis’ 9 last year.

Are you using Zone Rating? If you are, Fielder’s ZR was better than Davis’ last year. Or maybe you’re just using Range Factor which would just add to the sillyness of this debate because the guy plays 1B and by nature of the position is involved in enough plays that his RF is skewed anyway.

So what are you basing it on other than… emotion? The only other item you could use is that occasionally Davis has the ability to make a more spectacular play. Awesome…but you don’t build a team on that idea. That type of play is so few and far between that to use it as a basis for argument is simply forming your facts around your opinion.

There’s nothing out there that can REALLY tell you having Ike Davis at 1B with a glove on his hand and a bat in the other outweighs the same idea with Prince Fielder. So if we’re being honest, there’s no logical way you can use defense to support your theory of Ike Davis over Prince Fielder.

Overall:  At some point we as Mets fans are going to have to understand that you cannot fix this franchise by keeping the same players and keeping the same mindset as in the past. You want a new look to this franchise but… not if it means getting rid of Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Santana, Pelfrey, Niese, Pagan, Davis etc. You can’t have it both ways you know? 

With that said, I think this is an impossible question to answer. If the Mets new GM comes in and says he can turn this team into a championship team within 2 years, then if this offer is on the table…you take it. You have to with the current makeup of this roster. If the new GM comes in and says be patient, we’ll be competitive but we are not ready to go all the way yet… then frankly you hold onto Davis and see what happens with Fielder’s contract in comparison to how Davis performs in his sophomore year. 

The toughest part about being a fan of any team is checking your emotion at the door. This is why in large part I respect Bruce Bochy. Pablo Sandoval is arguably the most popular Giants player next to the Freaky Franchise, and he sat him in the playoffs because at the time he was not helping the team. 

When you check your emotion at the door, you are able to make more informed decisions on your talent. This is why it’s never a good thing when a GM falls in love with a player, or when ownership falls in love with a coach.

So as the Mets are about to give a tour of Citi Field to who I hope is the next General Manager of this franchise, we as Mets fans are going to have to learn to adjust our thinking. Phillips, Duquette, and Minaya are gone. Our thinking was in response to their management styles.

Alderson is a complete opposite to all 3 of them, and that will take some getting used to on all of our parts.

If it is Alderson, one thing I expect we will learn very quickly is, you can’t make educated decisions on players if you’re allowing your sports heart to be involved in the process.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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