Mets Defense Leading the Way

An article by posted on April 26, 2014

mets win granderson

What a refreshing sight last night to see the Mets lose the lead, and not quit.  For the first time in what seems like forever, the Mets didn’t mope around as if the game was already over when the Marlins pulled ahead late. Their come from behind victory is exactly the type of game that changes a team in the clubhouse overnight.  It’s the type of game that makes players believe in themselves.  I don’t recall a Mets team that believed in themselves in a long time.

The presence of Curtis Granderson in the lineup, even with the .140 avg, brings an element to the team that we have been missing.  He was not going to make an out in that situation.  It didn’t matter who we were playing.  It didn’t matter who was on the hill.  He was not making the last out of the game.  He let the Marlins, the fans, and most of all his Met teammates, know that we can win.  He let everyone know that we have a chance in every game.  So what if Steve Cishek is on the hill to lock down his 33rd consecutive save.  Granderson let everyone know that the Marlins are not better than we are, and now his teammates know it too.

MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at St. Louis Cardinals

The win put the Mets at 13-10 on the season during a brutal early season schedule that has included the Mets being matched up against the top 10 NL ERA leaders seven times already.  That’s one third of our total games played.  The Mets have faced the suddenly untouchable, and current NL ERA leader, Aaron Harang twice, man on a mission, Ervin Santana, twice, while also seeing Johnny Cueto, Alfredo Simon, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, C.J. WilsonAdam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn.  To come out of the first part of that schedule at 13-10 is about as good of an outcome as we could’ve possibly imagined.

How did we get there?  If you take a quick look at the early season team stats, the offensive numbers look absolutely putrid on paper.  It wasn’t our offense.  Although, we have scored a ton more runs than what would normally be produced by a team last in the NL is almost every statistical category. Are we looking are the wrong offensive numbers?

Maybe Sandy’s philosophy is finally paying off. It sure was nice to see Michael Wacha reach 100 pitches after four innings in the second game of a four game set. We tired out the bullpen, and got one of the best starting pitchers in baseball out early. Did we hit him hard? No, but he didn’t come out for the fifth inning, and we were up 2-1 with the Cardinals bullpen facing a long day of work.  Did that also help us win games 3 and 4 of the series?  Was the Cardinals bullpen exhausted from throwing additional innings from us taking pitches against Wacha?  Something to think about.

Our pitching has been pretty good.  Hasn’t it?  Our team ERA is 3.70 good for 11th out of 15 teams in the NL.  If you remove the Angels game, in which Colon got blasted, its looks better, but why remove it?  It happened. The team ERA is certainly not good enough to withstand such a small offensive contribution.

Surprisingly, its been our defense that has had the biggest impact on our team, currently the third best record in the senior circuit. Yep.  You read that correctly.  The Mets have played tremendous defense in the early part of the season.  Possibly the best in baseball thus far.  The Mets are 2nd in the league in Fielding Percentage at .986, 4th in Defensive Runs Saved/Year, according to Baseball Reference, and 2nd in fewest errors with 12. For comparisons sake, the Nationals, or shall I say, “the 3rd place team in the NL East”, have committed 25 errors thus far.  The simple fact is, the Mets are playing some “D”.

ytavis d'arnaud home

Behind the dish, TDA & Recker have all but eliminated the opposition’s run game with an NL leading 5 stolen bases allowed. Compare that to the Padres, who have allowed a whopping 26 steals.  Mets catchers have thrown out 44% of would be base steals for 2nd in CS%, and just ahead of St. Louis and the howitzer that is attached to Yadier Molina‘s right shoulder, who sits at 43%. The D-Backs and Cubs have thrown out 4% of attempted base stealers. It seems all of those passed balls that TDA has had isn’t hurting the Mets that much. I think its because the Mets’ tandem have but a single PB to date on the young season.  Funny how things get blown out of proportion sometimes.

At first base, the defensively challenged Lucas Duda, has committed a colossal ZERO errors, a stretch of errorless baseball that dates back to 2012 for Lucas while playing 1B. I thought the guy had stone hands.  What gives? The Giants and D-Backs with their defensive dynamos at 1B in Brandon Belt & Paul Goldschmidt have committed 3 errors each. For the saber guys, the Mets are 2nd in DRS and DRS/Year by a wide margin at 1B.  Looks like Duda isn’t a defensive liability anymore.

The keystone position has seen Daniel Murphy play really solid defense thus far.  He did have the two error game earlier in the year, but I would bet Murph didn’t get a whole lot of sleep the night before as he and his wife celebrated the birth of their first child. Say what you want about Murph, but he has been outstanding at 2B this year.

David Wright leads all 3B in Fldg%, and made his first error of the season last night. He’s always strong defensively, and Tejada has been solid defensively at SS of late, as well.

juan lagares

In the outfield, the Mets boast 5 outfielders in the top 17 of Baseball-Reference’s DRS/Year statistic. Eric Young Jr. has been superb in left field, with three OF assists in the early going, as he has one of the highest defensive WAR of any outfielder in baseball thus far.

Juan Lagares leads the league in range factor, and is slightly ahead of teammate Chris Young.  Granderson has played really good defense and the ball he caught in right field down the line to end the game against the Cardinals was a lot tougher than it looked.  The wind was swirling like a pinwheel that evening.

All in all, the Mets have gotten off to the hot start because they are not only NOT giving opponents additional outs. They hare taking away hits.

Its fun to see a fly ball hit in the air, and two guys waiting underneath to catch it each time.  Our outfield defense is freakishly good. We the fans have had our sense of reality skewed a bit while watching balls fly out of the yard during the steroid era, and we are constantly thinking we need more offense to win, but why do we always say, “we need to score more runs” or “we need more offense”?  Why don’t we ever say, “we need to limit the opposition’s scoring” or “we need solid defense.” 

We don’t have a very good offense right now, but our record says we have a very good team. The Mets look for their 6th win in their last 7 games at………home?  Maybe it was the food.

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About the Author ()

I’ve been a die-hard Mets fan for 30 years. When I’m not watching Mets baseball, I’m talking or blogging about it. My favorite Mets story is about the bottom of the 10th, Game 6, ‘86 series. The Kid, Kevin Mitchell, & Ray Knight all said the same thing, verbatim, at 1B. “I wasn’t making the last out of this f’n World series.”

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