Mets beat reporter Marc Carig of Newsday, took an in depth look at Sandy Alderson’s organizational approach to hitting that included several insights and quotes from Terry Collins, Minor League Director Dick Scott, VP of Player Development Paul DePodesta, and players David Wright and Brandon Nimmo.
There is no room for deviation. So the Mets gather their hitters in the same conference room at the team’s complex in Florida. They sit through a presentation designed to show the benefit of discipline at the plate, which is expressed by charts, graphs, and percentages — props from a typical board room sales pitch.
Except, this is no proposal, which implies the choice to accept or reject. These are orders. And to wipe out any ambiguity, the architect of the plan ends the meeting with a ultimatum: follow the organization’s strict approach to hitting or find another uniform to wear.
“It’s not enough for it to be an idea, a concept,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. “It has to be executed, and the only people that can execute it are the players. It’s important that they get a consistent message.”
Brandon Nimmo said that even at the lowest levels of the minors, if there is a hint that a player swung outside of the hitting zone, an emergency meeting is called to straighten the player out.
The Mets say that the goal is to only swing at strikes and hit the ball with authority. It doesn’t matter if this happens on the first, 10th or 20th pitch, so long as hitters swing only at pitches they can crush.
However one player told me that it’s not that simple. He said that when all hitters are at the plate, they have to make a split second decision on if they are going to hit a particular pitch which starts out looking like a strike. ”It is nobody’s goal to swing at a pitch in the dirt.”
Two other points Carig hits on in his article:
- The Mets have drafted with an eye toward identifying and training hitters predisposed to discipline. They have instilled the mantra of selectivity at every level of the organization. They have assembled the mechanism required to hammer home the message.
- It is not to take pitches. It is not to run up pitch counts. It is not even necessarily to draw more walks. While these are beneficial byproducts, the real goal is to hit the ball with authority.
The Mets seem to think that they can make up for the lack of a true large market payroll by employing an approach that they believe will turn bad players and mediocre players into good and great player.
Elite players are not elite because they follow the Mets approach, they simply have infinitely more talent the next guy.
As Carig concludes, “not everyone has the pitch recognition skills of David Wright. Not everyone can fully take advantage of the plan. Which is why nearly four years after his arrival, Alderson’s vision remains unfulfilled, undermined by a variety of factors including talent and the team’s woes at Citi Field.”
If your goal is to get players to drive balls into the gap and over the wall, you might want to consider signing or drafting players who have already proven they can accomplish those things at above average levels.
The Mets seem to be stuck on this alchemist’s approach to turning lead into gold.