Bill Petti of Baseball Nation penned a post on how much Park Factors play into a team’s success. He noted the following about the Mets since their move to Citi Field:
After opening Citi Field in 2009, the New York Mets saw a significant decline in their ability to score runs. The team averaged 681 runs scored per year from ’09-’11 compared to 812 over the previous three seasons. Additionally, management worried that pitchers were developing bad habits while pitching at their spacious home park that led to worse performances on the road.
The decline in run production is no surprise and has been well documented. It is no doubt tied into the decrease in home runs. But wouldn’t that also hold true for Mets opponents?
What bothers me more is that the starting pitchers picked up bad habits. In fact, I believe Terry Collins addressed that a few months ago and he suspected that his starting pitchers and bullpen got far too comfortable and it led to too many mistakes. They forgot how to pitch and simply challenged everyone with fastballs down the middle believing that the park would contain any damage.
Where was Dan Warthen while this went on and why was it not addressed? It’s obvious he knew this was going when he made this comment:
“We got into being a little bit mentally lazy and overly secure. I think that caused a lot of the homers this year. I really do. [The new dimensions] will help us focus and concentrate and not be so ready to go out there and throw a fastball away and hope they hit it to center field.”
That explains why opposing offenses had no problems hitting the ball into the Mo Zone or over the Black Monster in left field.
In a way it may also explain why so many of our pitchers have regressed in the last two seasons.
R.A. Dickey offered up these comments after the news broke that the Mets were bringing in the walls:
“A guy might hit a triple or a double in the gap, but the chances of him hitting a bomb out of left-center are probably pretty slim. I remember a few times where I would roll the dice and say, ‘Here’s a 3-1 fastball. I’ll take my chances of you hitting it at somebody. I know you’re probably not going to hit it out’. A couple of times it would burn me, but sometimes it paid off.”
It is much easier for a pitcher like Dickey to succeed with such a strategy because batters typically slow their swings down against a knuckleballer and by the time they realize it’s a fastball coming in, it’s too late to adjust.
But imagine how this bodes for starters like Mike Pelfrey, Dillon Gee or Jon Niese?
Maybe I’m just grasping at straws here, and I hope I’m wrong, but unless Pelfrey, Niese and Gee make some serious adjustments to their overall pitching philosophy, they may be in for a rude awakening in 2012. There’s nothing wrong with challenging a hitter from time to time, but if you do it all the time you lose the element of surprise and hitters are cocked and ready, and sitting dead red on a fastball.
Lets see what Warthen says at Mets camp in a few weeks… He will need to address this and it’s definitely something to watch for this spring…