The Mets May Look Great in Their Uniforms, But Can They Play?

 (Photo by Anthony J. Causi)
(Photo by Anthony J. Causi)

If the way the Mets look in their uniforms this spring is any indication of how well they will play, the Mets may be on pace for a playoff run this season.

The problem is, the correlation of a player’s waist size and the ability to hit a major league fastball…or curveball…or slider…or changeup, is minimal. In fact, it’s probably non-existent aside from a slight boost in power that comes from putting on muscle.

So why all the hype surrounding the Mets players attending a fitness camp this winter? This is what major leaguers are supposed to do. Being a professional athlete entails keeping your body in top physical condition—it’s part of the job description. Excuse me if I don’t get all excited because players are in great shape, because they’re supposed to be in great shape.

Does anyone think that Ruben Tejada couldn’t hit in 2013 because he was out of shape? Does anyone really think that because he seems to be the best shape of his life, he’s going to return to his 2012 form? It doesn’t. If you can hit, you will hit…period. Being in poor physical condition may alter his range at shortstop, or his speed around the base path, or even his likelihood of being injured during a grueling season, but it won’t affect his ability to hit.

The same goes for Lucas Duda. How good of shape does a player have to be in to walk from home plate to first base?

The player I’m most excited to see how this fitness camp impacted him is Wilmer Flores. Here is a kid that has never had time to dedicate to improving his speed and agility because he played baseball all year-round. A dedicated program for him could have worked wonders for him on the defensive side of the ball (where all of his question marks are). Offensively, the Mets have to find a way to get Flores in the lineup which is why it was critical for him to dedicate time this winter to developing his speed and agility.

The Mets look like they’re in great physical condition so far this spring. They’re getting rave reviews from the media for looking so trim. However, that is no indication of how they will play on the field…and that’s all that really matters.

  • BronxMets

    Thank you and neither does showing up for camp early help you hit…..

  • Alex68

    Mitch, they can play… about how good they do their respective job is a whole nother question… i believe we’ll be 2 games better, for us to reach 500 everything has to go right..
    Let’s not forget we have an awful manager and a sub par coaching staff at best, and a FO who just don’t care about the major league roster apparently… 76-86 at best!

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    Hold on. Haha. You spent half this piece discrediting the work of Tejada and Duda, I assume because they aren’t popular players among the fans, then talk about how excited you are to see how that same work impacted Flores?

    Why is Flores’ work so much more exciting and encouraging?

    And if you’re able to say putting on muscle and toning up doesn’t make you a better hitter, I can say having one bad season after two good ones (Tejada) doesn’t mean you aren’t a good player.

  • RyanF55

    I agree with your sentiment, but a player coming into camp in better shape than last year or great shape overall certainly isn’t a bad thing. To assume that correlates directly to hitting better, I can’t see it. Still, being in shape can’t hurt any part of anybody’s game.

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    It’s not a bad thing, but extra work done by unpopular players isn’t important because…um…yeah…Sandy, Wilpons, Madoff, Drew.

  • Preparing yourself mentally and physically in a program like that will at least help them come into camp ready to go. I’ll take that any day but I agree at this level it will not have any dramatic affect in terms of performance. Hopefully it can help with those intercostal strains that always hit the team in spring.

  • Zalmen

    Well what do you think with Tejada who hit in 2012 but not in 2013?
    Actually getting into good shape will help him hit cuz he’s not a power hitter
    He has to be able to controll his bat and have quickness in his little swing to be a successful hitter
    And being in good shape has everything to do with that

  • Dark HelMet

    Haha i thought the same thing.

  • Metsaholic

    I believe his premise is that Tejada and Duda’s abilities as offensive players will not necessary be impacted by their being in better physical shape. However, he does give physical conditioning more credibility to improving defense. Hence,the view Flores can be a star hitter who never really had a chance to improve his defense because he really did not focus on it. He feels that conditioning of Flores improves his over all value, more than it would for Tejada or Duda. I guess we’ll all see the results soon enough.

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with other commenters about how it’s unfair to laud Flores for putting in this work while ignoring Tejada’s work and this article is exactly what I was talking about except it’s 1000x worse.

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    I’ve never had anyone tell me playing baseball all year round doesn’t improve your game. That seems like a strange statement.

  • Dark HelMet

    Being in better shape makes you a better overall player. That’s pretty obvious. Not saying it makes your hit tool any better, but obviously you’ll have more stamina and a bit more agility. You’re not gonna turn from Colossus to Nightcrawler or anything, though.

  • DrDooby

    My main issue with Tejada last season was his lack of defense. He was awful in the field when he played SS. If the conditioning program helps him play defense, I can live with a highly BABIP dependant offense as a non-power hitter who may hit .290 one year and .230 the next year.

    If Tejada plays solid average SS defense like he did in 2012 or parts of 2011, he´s adequate and playable there. If he not only is a below average hitter but also a well below average defender, the Mets would be better off with Wilfredo Tovar´s nice glove at SS while expecting very little to no offense.

  • Metsaholic

    I don’t know one way or another. It could depend on where you are in your career, age, abilities, or injuries.

  • Jake Jones

    You forget Tejada played pretty good in 2012. Being in better shaoe should help

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    I just think it’s safe to assume Flores has worked out plenty throughout his minor league career and saying somehow playing baseball year round held him back is odd.

  • mitchpetanick

    I’m not applauding work ethic. They are major league baseball players they should have work ethic. The premise, which you seem to have missed was that Tejada hit like crap last year and it had nothing to do with him getting in shape. Flores has more to gain from this program than any other player and it will be interesting to see if it impacted his range.

  • metsman

    This is a great argument to refute something nobody ever said.

  • Metsaholic

    You keep typing that idea that people forget that Tejada played “pretty good” in 2012. I doubt there are many fans, particularly the ones who post here, that have forgotten that. There a question as to whether pretty good is good enough. Even if Tejada should rebound, is he the best the team can do at the position? He’s been basically a singles hitter with a marginal OBP., but steady defense. In 2012 he did get good at bats and get hits in key spots. That said, it came crashing down last year. Fans could have given that a pass, except that his defense was terrible. The burden is on Tejada, not the fans to change the perception that he is as good as 2012 AND can get better.

  • mitchpetanick

    So you haven’t read a single thing from the media regarding the Mets looking trim and in shape? I find it scary that this is news since most other teams don’t make such a big deal of this. Did everyone expect them to come into camp out of shape?

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    So let me make sure I get this. Tejada shows up to camp out of shape and has the worst season of his career. But you don’t see a correlation with that, is that correct? What did it have to do with then?

  • Jake Jones

    Relax man. I’ve only said it like 1 other time. My point is that our fans need to give player a CHANCE

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    I don’t think I’ve read news articles devoted to lauding the Mets physical appearance. Where are they?

  • metsman

    I think hype is being confused with the slim pickings of winter baseball “news” stories. I don’t read multiple blogs of other teams, but I’m sure their existence sometimes necessitates going over some rather seemingly minute stuff to fill the page in The dull months

  • Metsaholic

    I’m not sure it’s safe to assume that at all. What did he work on? I’ve read where it was viewed that he really had a growth spurt and didn’t adjust to his increased size. He seem to have good hands and a strong arm, but his lateral quickness diminished. We’ve seen Murphy improve with working in the off season to improve at 2nd. Flores can be viewed in much the same way, hopefully with a better upside, since Flores was actually a SS but Murphy was not a 2nd basemen. Again, we’ll see.

  • mitchpetanick

    I didn’t discredit anyone. I’m glad they worked hard, but they are professional athletes so that isn’t impressive to me in the slightest. I never saw so much media attention regarding the type of shape players are in. And the attention to Flores because he is an excellent offensive prospect.. so if he improves his speed and agility, it’s huge because the Mets can get his bat in the lineup.

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    If it were up to me, the Mets would give Flores his longest look at 1B in ST. Unless he looks great, put him in AAA playing there every day and if Davis falters, call him up and that’s that. Flores doesn’t strike me as a SS and I’m hoping Murphy gets the extension he deserves.

  • Metsaholic

    Dude, you’ve said it at least 1/2 a dozen times in various forms on this blog. Your entire MO is as no.1, Mr. positive, Mets cheer leader. And you’ve made it a point to say that most of the fans are not giving the team a chance. Why don’t you chill on that a bit…boy.

  • Andrew Herbst

    I’m hoping that Tejada being in shape will help him regain his 2012 form when he hit .290.

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    I haven’t read any news articles devoted solely to the Mets physical appearance. And if they exist, it’s the same early ST news we always get. All teams get it because there’s nothing to talk about.

  • Jake Jones

    First off dont call me..boy. Secondly you are pissing me off

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    Ssssshhh. That never happened.

  • Dark HelMet

    I’d be more than happy if he played like he played in 11 and 12.

  • mitchpetanick

    As you can see from the chart – his ground ball rate and fly ball rate increased while his line drive rate dropped off drastically (from 2012-2013). Line drives have a higher likelihood of dropping in for hits than anything else. This drove his BABIP down by about 100 points and his batting average followed – simply stated, the balls he were putting in play were not dropping in for hits. Being in better shape will not lead to more line drives or better BABIP and AVG.

  • Erin_II

    No, but it might help you get in the lineup, which always gives you a better chance of hitting….

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    Hmmm. What if I said being in better shape will increase speed, which means a better chance to beat out ground balls that otherwise would have went for outs? Or how about beating out singles into doubles? Maybe legging out a triple? How about improving…gasp…defense.

    Would that be inaccurate? I don’t think so.

  • Metsaholic

    If it were up to me, I’d like to see Flores at ss during ST. If it looks like there is improvement in his athleticism, and he can be a Jeter type at short, It could mean we have a chance to get more offense into the line up. If not, send him down to continue to play 3rd as the backup to DW. I do indeed feel Murphy as earned an extension, but a lot is in flux with this team. Maybe Murphy is put together in a package for another position and Flores is moved to 2nd. I’d also like to see the situation at 1st cleared up. I prefer Duda to Ike as a better overall hitter with good enough abilities defensively at first. I’ve alway felt the SA love affair with the HR is a mistake. There focus should be to get the best hitters possible at each position. If this team had a line up in which every hitter could bat at least .280, speed or consistent extra base power, you really don’t need 35 HR power. With the teams pitching, scoring consistently will make them very, very good.

  • mitchpetanick

    No, you are correct. It just won’t make that big of an impact for a guy like Tejada. Legging out 2 or 3 more grounders per year isn’t impactful. I believe it was more mental than physical with him, so if being in shape gives him more confidence, then it could help. He has to get back to hitting line drives.

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    Not sure why you’d want to bury Flores at 3B. At least at first he’d be playing every day.

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    2-3? Maybe it’s 10-12. Maybe it’s 20. You’re choosing arbitrary numbers.

    Line drives can come from being stronger and having a faster bat, two things he may have gained at this fitness camp.

  • Great article, but I disagree. Being in shape will help both Duda and Tejada and they play for practically peanuts. Colon, on the other hand, gets a big fat salary and is not what I would call fit. If he can win at least 15 games, your theory that fitness is not key may hold water.

  • Metsaholic

    It’s not that I want to bury him there at all. I question the idea of just putting him there over Duda, Ike or Satin without him ever really playing there. Given his arm, he seems to be better suited to 2nd or 3rd. But the truth is that I had a feeling the organization never really wanted to bring him up, for fear of exposing his shortcomings to the league. DW injury changed all that. I think Flores very well might have been traded to get the position player they needed either in the outfield or infield. Now, we have to make the best of it. I like Flores, but I grew up watching Keith Hernandez playing first base. Flores fits my standards for the position offensively, but I’m not sure about him there defensively.

  • Metsaholic

    LOL! Whatever you say…boy.

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    Don’t be a keyboard warrior.

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    That’s why I said play him at 1B in AAA every day.

    If you’re looking for the next Mex, you’re in for a long wait. Lower your standards.

  • Metsaholic

    Why should you have all the fun. 😉

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    Haha. I do like a good jab here and there, I must admit. But I prefer nonsense.

  • Metsaholic

    I’m hoping the next Mex is Dominic Smith.

  • Jake Jones

    He always does that. I wish he would just talk baseball and be more respectful. kids are gonna be kids lol

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    Well that could very well be true.

  • Metsaholic

    Really Jake, stop fishing for sympathy. fight your own battles. Man up…boy!

  • mitchpetanick

    Line drives come from swing mechanics and hand-eye coordination. Bat speed attributes to the authority the bat strikes the ball – I can have tremendous bat speed but it doesn’t mean I will hit a ton of homers or line drives. Most players only get 20-30 infield hits per season if they are really fast so I’m not sure Tejada can add 20 to what he’s already getting.

  • Jake Jones

    Dont worry man i can handle myself pretty good. Been boxing since i was 6 years old so i dont have any problem holding my own

  • Metsaholic

    You saying you can beat me up boy? Wow! I was wrong, you’re not a boy. You’re really a little baby.

  • Dawn Davenport

    We’ll be having flashbacks of Sid Fernandez when Colon tries to “run” the bases!

  • BronxMets

    Hustle doesnt even gwt you in the lineup.

  • Andrew Herbst

    So would I. We need to have production from the ss position.

  • Andrew Herbst

    Not according to TC. That was the year Tejada started to become a professional ballplayer.

  • ThatGuyWhoLeavesComments

    Never happened according to the fans either.

  • Andrew Herbst

    That’s true. But TC doesn’t answer to the fans. He’s been around baseball for 44 years and knows it all.