Mets Merized Online » Good Fundies Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:46:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Good Fundies Episode 31: Brian on the Street Thu, 02 Feb 2017 19:42:19 +0000 matt harvey 2

Brian tired himself out after venting his continuing frustration at the lack of activity by the Mets front office, Matt Harvey declining to unblock him on Twitter despite extreme awareness, declaring we are all currently living in the darkest timeline, and from sending Roger to the therapist’s office to admit he’s frustrated at the Mets as well. (Yes, Jay Bruce was involved.)

Fortunately, Brian had a lot of positive energy hosting a game show a few days earlier testing Mets fans’ knowledge of their favorite baseball team, romance novels, and serial killers at the Queens Baseball Convention. In an even more fortuitous stroke of luck, the flattering facsimile of ‘Billy on the Street’ was recorded and presented on this episode. J.T. Teran and Michelle Ioannou of Rising Apple, and members of the Citi Field Sheas and The 7 Line Army were among the fun contestants.

The two also went into the mailbag and answered listener’s questions and concerns, like if the team’s new ‘catching guru’ can cure Travis d’Arnaud, if the fans and media will enjoy another spring training car and pony show from Yoenis Cespedes, and if David Wright will start more games than Michael Conforto. Feel free to email or leave a voice memo at to take part in that in the future.


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Good Fundies: Reviewing the Most Defining Moments of 2016 Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:00:22 +0000 noah syndergaard homers

In their last podcast, Brian and Roger presented their most important, impactful, and defining stories and moments of the 2016 season for the New York Mets. The two put together their ultimate countdown on the podcast as follows:

Honorable Mentions

16. Syndergaard’s 2-HR Game
15. Granderson’s HR to tie and walk it off against Twins on Sept. 17th
14. MLB-worst BABIP with Runners in Scoring Position
13. The Bruce Trade/Conforto’s Struggles
12. Wilmer Flores & Friends
11. The Injuries


Top 10 Defining Moments of 2016

10. The Hot Streak: The Mets finished the year 27-13.

9. Distraction-Gate and the Overall Managing of Terry Collins: In a season full of questionable moves (e.g. benching Conforto) perhaps the worst was on Sept. 10th, when Terry Collins forgot to pinch-run for Wilmer Flores – costing the Mets a game and Flores for the season.

8. The Wild Card Game: Grandy’s Catch, Thor’s Dominance, and Conor Gillaspie‘s 9th inning home run; this game had it all.

7. Murphy’s Near MVP-Season and Dominance Against Former Team: Daniel Murphy finished the regular season 31 for 75 (.413/.444/.773) with six doubles, seven home runs, 21 RBIs, five walks and nine Ks in 81 plate appearances against the Mets. With hits in all 19 games vs the Mets; Murphy tied longest single-season hitting streak vs one team in the divisional era (since 1969) as noted by @NationalsPR.


6. Fernandez Game: The very tragic, emotional first game in Miami after the death of Jose Fernandez, featuring Dee Gordon‘s leadoff home run.

5. The Debate Over, and the Return of, Jose Reyes: The debate raged all year, while on the field, he saved the season. Reyes played 60 games, hitting .267/.326/.443 with 1.3 WAR.

4. Bartolo’s Home Run: The impossible has happened. Bartolo Colon touches them all.

3. Piazza’s Induction Into the Hall of Fame: Mike Piazza is the greatest hitting catcher in history and is the Mets all-time leader in slugging percentage. He became the lowest-drafted player to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame and is only the second player enshrined as a representative of the Mets.

2. The Year of Cespedes: He signs with the Mets twice, dominating both offseasons, and has a year to remember. The Mets go 72-54 in Yoenis Cespedes starts, 17-23 without him, and he hit his second career walk-off home run.


1. Cabrera’s Sept. 22, 2016 Walkoff: Asdrubal Cabrera embodied the Mets season, playing hurt and hitting home runs, and the Mets’ Sept. 22 comeback in the heat of the wild card race, featuring a game-tying HR in the ninth and a walk-off HR, was an all-timer.

Here’s what a couple of MMO Staffers thought about our list:

Logan Barer says: It was a season with its ups and downs, but there were certainly plenty of ups. While Asdrubal Cabrera‘s walk-off home run was the epitome of the 2016 season, Mike Piazza‘s enshrinement was the epitome of the organization. Being drafted in the 62nd round of the draft to end up being the greatest offensive catcher of all time is one of the greatest sports stories of all time. Leading the Mets to the 2000 World Series and the September 21st, 2001 home run were just two of many great Piazza moments. I grew up watching him, so his enshrinement in the Hall Of Fame as well as going to the game before which his number #31 was retired were my favorite moments of 2016.

Mike Mayer says: Cabrera’s walk-off and bat flip was certainly one of the most important moments of the season, but the Bartolo Colon home run is the clip we will continue seeing for a very long time. Being able to bring back Cespedes was huge (and unexpected by most) the first time and should be even bigger the second time with him on the Mets over the next four seasons. Mike Piazza getting into the Hall of Fame (way overdo) and having his number retired wasn’t just a defining moment in 2016, but in Mets team history.

Good Fundies Ep. 30iTunes  –  Stitcher  -  Soundcloud

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Good Fundies Episode 30: The Mets Top 10 of 2016 Wed, 04 Jan 2017 18:18:55 +0000 granderson

Brian and Roger asked what the most important, impactful, and defining stories and moments of 2016 were for the New York Mets. Using those suggestions with the hashtag #Mets2016Top10, the two put together their own lists and combined them to create an ultimate countdown on the podcast.

Did Mike Piazza‘s Hall of Fame induction make it to the top? What about Yoenis Cespedes agreeing to play for the Mets on two separate occasions? Maybe a not so pleasant memory made it to the top! What do I know? I’m just a synopsis.

The two also dipped into the mailbag for the first time in 2017, and reminded listeners that January is Matt Harvey blocks @brianpmangan on Twitter Awareness Month.

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Good Fundies Episode 29: This is Not a Blog (with Dan Szymborski) Fri, 16 Dec 2016 22:03:34 +0000 santa-syndergaard

Roger and Brian wished each other, as well as the listeners, a very happy holiday season and New Year, before they talked about the recently quiet Mets offseason, as well as the fairly funny (to Mets fans) Winter Meetings the Nationals just had, before admitting that the Nationals still might be the better team.

They then had a long chat with Very Special guest Dan Szymborski of ESPN, who talked about which team is the one to beat in the NL East. He also tells us about the history of ZiPS, why he didn’t name it SiPS, the Baseball Think Factory days, the massive trade value of Ecto Cooler in the school cafeteria, what to expect from Cespedes moving forward, and why Curtis Granderson is like the suit you wore to the high school prom.

Dan also discusses getting dirty looks at Ned Yost media sessions, his feud with Murray Chass, the one player he wished Carl Everett played with, and more if you can believe it.


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Good Fundies Episode 28: Four More Years of Yoenis Cespedes (with Jared Diamond) Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:36:58 +0000 Yoenis , Cespedes

Brian and Roger were joined by Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal! He talked about the possible lockout, what really goes on during the Winter Meetings and the Rule 5 draft, the excellent newsletter he writes with Mike Vorkunov, and what Yoenis Cespedes’ signing portends for the future of the rest of the Mets outfield.

Oh yeah, Cespedes signed with the Mets (pending a physical no jinx). Brian and Roger talked about that a bunch, as well as if the Yo signing means the Mets are now capable of spending like a big market team, if its legal to have two players on top of one another at one position, and who they would like to see play third, center, and right field.


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Good Fundies Episode 27: The Disbarring of Bartolo Colon, Attorney at Law Wed, 23 Nov 2016 01:36:50 +0000 lawyer

Roger and Brian said so long to two beloved players – Bartolo Colon and Eric Campbell, and hello again to Neil Walker, and wondered if the additions and subtractions will equal better things.

Then the two ran down the top free agents in baseball and figured out who would make excellent new Mets. Brian again made it very clear he will be very upset if Yoenis Cespedes left, and gave Jay Bruce a cruel title.

He also broke his historic silence on the hiring of Glenn Sherlock, and while Roger said cutter when he meant two-seamer, he did explain how Sandy Koufax helped shape “Gilmore Girls”.

The two also gave thanks to the best of the Mets and to their listeners, the best-looking listeners in the world.


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Good Fundies Episode 25: The 1st Annual Fundies Awards Fri, 21 Oct 2016 02:01:29 +0000 thefundies

Roger and Brian hosted the first ever Fundies awards, celebrating the best and worst and everything in-between of the 2016 Mets season. They also interpreted Wilmer Flores’ enigmatic snapchat pics and talked about the playoffs and the upcoming World Series, which apparently, despite the lack of Mets involvement is still scheduled to take place. In the mailbag, they tried to find a place for eight potential starting pitchers in next year’s rotation. They apologize for their congestion and remind everybody it’s an honor just to be nominated.


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Good Fundies Episode 24: What Kind of Day Has It Been Fri, 07 Oct 2016 17:46:09 +0000 anguish

Roger and Brian talked about the wild card game, praising Noah Syndergaard but mostly they figured out where things went wrong. They also explored jinxes and weird superstitions before getting into which pending free agents on the team – including Yoenis Cespedes – the Mets should keep. They were so bummed out and annoyed that a listener asked specifically about Brian’s current mental health. They should be fine, or as fine as they are capable. We will get through this together.


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Good Fundies Episode 23: The Circle of Trust Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:00:29 +0000 yoenis-cespedes-jay-bruce

In the regular season finale of Good Fundies, Brian and Roger have a pleasant discourse over which Met would do best in a debate. Then they set the Mets’ wild card game roster (no jinx!) for Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson before figuring out who made Terry’s “circle of trust” and will come out of the bullpen.

They also talked about how sad Jim Halpert was on The Office, how annoying Ryan Howard was on both The Office and the Phillies over the last decade, felt bad for Steven Matz, and put the Mets’ ridiculous injury reporting practices on blast. Also, Roger at one point accidentally did an impersonation of Dracula impersonating Will Smith from “Concussion”.

Roger and Brian also talked about Jose Fernandez, and the legacy he left behind. Hug the ones you love, as well as the ones who are finally starting to hit some home runs.


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Good Fundies Episode 22: Hello, Welcome to New York. Boo. Fri, 23 Sep 2016 20:15:36 +0000 degromchair

Roger eulogized the late Jacob ‘deGrominator’ deGrom before he cursed the day the Warthen Slider was invented. Brian got into Jay Bruce’s troubles and if he would shoot him out of a cannon before the also struggling Travis d’Arnaud.

The two discussed if Lucas Duda should get some more playing time in these final days before a listener asked why they pick on James Loney so darn much. The two talked proper Mets booing etiquette, and they dipped into a particularly anti-Terry Collins mailbag. There’s a John Olerud reference.

P.S. The Braves are jerks.

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Good Fundies Episode 21: In Our Wildest Dreams Fri, 16 Sep 2016 11:00:25 +0000 cespedes

With snot-nosed punk kids going back to school, Brian and Roger figured out which Met was probably picked on the most in their formative years. Then they talked about if Yoenis Cespedes is, honestly, the most valuable player in baseball, before wondering if T.J. Rivera is going to be good before going around the horn to give the Mets the best offense possible.

Then they looked back at their 2nd half predictions from the All-Star Break to see how smart they really are. Roger and Brian both gave out awards and felt bad for Wally Backman before deciding if they want Terry Collins’ job in the first place.

It’s a must-listen to hear Brian give James Loney a round of applause and to find out if Roger can spell Doug Mientkiewicz correctly without cheating.


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Good Fundies Episode 20: The One During the Hot Streak Fri, 09 Sep 2016 16:00:25 +0000 wilmer flores hr

After Brian and Roger debated over whether or not anybody will get the references to Wilmer Flores’ favorite show ‘Friends’, they talked Tim Tebow, how the Mets have become unstoppable, and whom to blame for Michael Conforto not being his old amazing self this season.

Then they welcomed MetsBlog founder Matthew Cerrone. Him and Brian admitted they thought the season was over two weeks ago before Matt went into how the Mets are employing the rope-a-dope strategy, the origins of MetsBlog, why he’s writing a book during a pennant race, dealing with someone with the same name as you, and of course, #Tebow.

Then Roger and Brian said goodbye to Turner Field, the worst place in the known universe, before feeling sorry for Matt Reynolds (again) and dipping into the mailbag.

Editors Note: We want to welcome Good Fundies – hosted by MMO contributor Brian Mangan and Roger Cormier – to the MMO podcast lineup along with Talkin’ Mets and Amazin’ Metscast. You’re going to love their unique high energy, rapid fire style as they tackle each week’s Mets’ hot button issues. Please welcome them and give Good Fundies a listen on your morning or afternoon drive. – Joe D.





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One Man’s Quest to Get the Mets to Acquire Danny Valencia Fri, 24 Jun 2016 13:00:11 +0000 danny valencia

As is often the case, the baseball world has finally come around to seeing what one person on the internet has been saying all along. Sometimes, that one person is a brilliant one who was just waiting to be discovered (think: Nate Silver). Other times, that person is like a broken clock that you just so happened to look toward at just the right moment (think: Peter Schiff, who called the financial crisis but who otherwise has no apparent ability to predict the economy).

In this case, it doesn’t matter, because that visionary and/or broken clock is me, and Joe D. and Metsmerized are wonderful enough to let me write here. So I am going to.

The subject of my obsession? That former Blue Jay and now Oakland Athletics third baseman Danny Valencia. More specifically, it is that Danny Valencia is pretty good at baseball, and nobody was noticing.

Well, now, everyone has taken notice. Valencia is clobbering the ball to the tune of a .330/.375/.546 line after hitting .290/.345/.519 last year. He’s turning 32 in September, and has one more year of “team control,” so he occupies a somewhat unusual spot in baseball’s economy. He also occupies a somewhat unusual spot in this year’s trade market, and has been connected to the New York Mets for the last few weeks.

Fangraphs posted an article recently entitled Danny Valencia, Future Met and I felt that today was the proper time for me to get this off my chest.

On May 26, 2015, Valencia was on the Toronto Blue Jays, buried on the depth chart at DH behind MVP Josh Donaldson and 3B behind All-Star Edwin Encarnacion. He was also buried on the depth chart at 1B, but by veteran also-ran Justin Smoak. Smoak was worth a total of -0.3 WAR in his career entering last year over about 550 games. Nonetheless, the Blue Jays stuck with Smoak.

Smoak ended the year hitting .226/.299/.470 and posting 0.6 WAR, which is actually a huge improvement for him. He currently remains the Blue Jays primary first baseman. As I mentioned above, Valencia ended up hitting .290/.345/.519 and posting 2.2 WAR in only 378 plate appearances.

Through June, the Blue Jays continued to play Smoak over Valencia. Through July, it was no longer a question of probabilities — it was facially ridiculous for the Blue Jays to continue to be unable to find a spot for Danny Valencia somewhere.

That Valencia was buried was *especially* ridiculous given the fact that the Blue Jays had the #1 offense in Major League Baseball, but had the 21st ranked pitching staff through the All Star Break.

In fact, in mid-June I could no longer express my feelings through tweets alone and wrote an entire article about how the Mets should trade Jon Niese and perhaps get a player like Valencia in return. Article here:

One potential trade partner might be the Toronto Blue Jays who, at 35-32, are pushing hard in the American League East. Their rotation currently features an ineffective R.A. Dickey and has a vacancy due to Aaron Sanchez‘s injury … Coming back to the Mets could be a veteran like Danny Valencia … who is in his first year of arbitration.

It was widely read, but I guess it didn’t get to Sandy Alderson.

July and August Valencia updates. Even if he wasn’t as great as he was showing in 2015, his track record extended back through 2014 as well.

I expressed regret for the Blue Jays, who got nothing in exchange for Valencia and were failed by their pitching in the postseason.

During the offseason, I hoped that the Mets would make a play for Valencia before his price continued to rise. But alas, 2016 began and he raked again.

I even snuck in references on MetsBlog. I’d like to think that I had something to do with the public groundswell of support we’ve seen recently.

The worst part about the Danny Valencia trade talk right now is that the Mets could have had him for free last season when the Toronto Blue Jays put him on waivers in late July.

  • August 3, 2015: Selected off waivers by the Oakland Athletics from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Is Valencia the Mets savior right now? No. Is Valencia likely to hit .330 the rest of the way? No. But the Mets should have been all about acquiring a viable major league corner infielder last season and this past offseason to prepare for the eventuality that David Wright might become injured again.

Valencia is making only $3.15 million this year, and will likely make somewhere in the neighborhood of $6-7 million next year if he keeps this up. He’s a shorter, cheaper commitment than Yulieski Gourriel and he carries with him none of the baggage of Jose Reyes, which is why all the major outlets now see Valencia as the best fit for the Mets. The only question now is how much it will cost and whether the Mets will be willing to pay.

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Matz and Syndergaard Have Been Baseball’s Best 1-2 Punch Fri, 27 May 2016 14:00:57 +0000 matz thor syndergaard

We are almost two months into the season and, as always, people have begun taking a look at the statistics and leader-boards. As such, several writers have taken a crack at announcing who they think is the “Best 1-2 Combo” or “Best 1-2 Punch” at the top of rotation around the major leagues.

I have seen many worthy candidates suggested for that title:

But despite all of the articles and debate, there is one notable combo that I’ve noticed has been left out of the discussion:

MetsNoah SyndergaardSteven Matz

It’s not the duo that many of us expected to emerge as the co-aces at the start of the year (although I did predict Syndergaard would lead the staff), but Syndergaard and Matz have been fantastic so far in 2016. And the best part? There’s no reason to doubt it’s sustainability.

I did a custom search on Fangraphs to take a closer look at these twelve pitchers.


To nobody’s surprise, it’s Clayton Kershaw and… everybody else, which is why you’re seeing articles about the “Best 1-2 Punch” rather than “best pitcher,” which would be a thoroughly boring article.

Kershaw paces all of the major leagues in WAR, ERA, WHIP, FIP and just about every other important stat you can imagine, including innings. But things become far more interesting when we make the comparison by team.

If you take the same twelve pitchers and sort them by team and by FIP, there is an unexpected leader: Syndergaard and Matz of the New York Mets.

top 1-2.JPG

The Mets lead in K-BB%, GB%, FIP and xFIP. They trail only the Cubs in ERA and only the Nationals in strikeouts per nine innings. They place 4th in this group in WAR, although that is primarily a function of the fact that they have the fewest innings of the bunch — the Mets have 17 starts from this duo while the other couplings have 19 or 20. Syndergaard has yet to make his tenth start and Matz missed one turn in the rotation.

This is just a snapshot of the present and not a promise of the future, but it is easy to see the Mets duo continuing on this torrid pace, while some of these other pairs are outperforming what we might expect of them. For instance, Cueto and Strasburg are each veterans beating their career ERAs by about one run. Even though Strasburg’s emergence looks sustainable, it’s likely that Cueto is more of a 3.25 ERA pitcher than a 2.38 ERA pitcher. Other pitchers are wildly outperforming their peripherals, most notably Quintana who has a 0.14 HR/9 and is beating his xFIP by over a run, and Hammel who has a 2.17 ERA despite a K-BB% which is actually worse than league average. Even Arrieta, as great as he is, is probably closer to his FIP (2.71) than his ERA (1.72).

As for the young Mets, Syndergaard alone has staked a claim to “best pitcher, non-Kershaw division” by placing 2nd in FIP, 2nd in K-BB%, and 3rd in WAR in this group. Matz, for his part, has pitched to a microscopic 1.13 ERA/2.15 FIP with a sterling 23.2 K-BB% since his one disaster inning in his first start on April 11th.

There is a good argument to be made for most of these duos, although I would probably rank the Dodgers (Kershaw/Maeda), Mets (Syndergaard/Matz) and White Sox (Sale/Quintana) a little ahead of the rest, with the Nationals (Strasburg/Scherzer) as potential spoilers if Scherzer gets back on track.

Nonetheless, you’ve got to be impressed with Syndergaard and Matz, who lead in two other categories I forgot to mention: average fastball velocity (their average of 95.8 mph is more than 2 mph faster than the Cubs) and lowest salaries.

The future is bright in Flushing. It’s time these two Mets pitchers got their due.

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The Mets Bullpen Has Been MLB’s Best Tue, 24 May 2016 17:00:19 +0000 hansel robles

The Mets bullpen is off to a great start in 2016. Just how good has it been, and is it for real? The answers: 1) very good, and 2) yes.

It feels like a lifetime since the Mets bullpen was a strength in a year that mattered but, believe it or not, the Mets bullpen was 2nd best in baseball in 2006, at least according to WAR. The bullpen that year was headlined by Billy Wagner and Aaron Heilman, both of whom had fantastic years, but it was also deep, including Chad BradfordPedro Feliciano and Duaner Sanchez.

But aside from 2006 — and even that bullpen faltered a bit down the stretch — Mets fans are justified in feeling like the bullpen has been a weakness on most of the Mets recent competitive teams.

In 2000, the Mets bullpen was in the bottom-half, ranking 18th in ERA despite a monster year from Armando Benitez (who did not have a good reputation for performance in the clutch). In 2007, the bullpen ranked 14th in ERA, but also struggled in the second half (ranking 18th in ERA after the All Star Break). I don’t think I need to remind anyone about the Luis Ayala Closer Experience but, suffice to say, there was a reason that bullpen ranked 24th in ERA in 2008.

Last year, the bullpen ranked 13th in WAR thanks to the herculean efforts of Jeurys Familia (1.6 WAR) and Sean Gilmartin (0.9 WAR) with minor contributions from several other players (such as Erik Goeddel and waiver-trade addition Addison Reed). Nonetheless, the Mets spent most of the year looking for a reliable set-up man in front of Familia, trying out Buddy CarlyleCarlos Torres, and the ghost of Bobby Parnell after Jenrry Mejia was lost for the season to suspension.

Jeff Sullivan over at Fangraphs posted an article this morning about the surprisingly good Phillies bullpen. He is absolutely right to point out what a pleasant surprise they have been, leading MLB in Win Probability Added, but I have to take issue with Mr. Sullivan calling them the “best”. That title belongs to the Mets bullpen so far this year.

jeurys familia

So far this season, the Mets bullpen is 2nd in ERA, 1st in FIP and 3rd in xFIP. Their collective strikeout rate of 10.32 K/9 is 2nd in the majors, and their gap between strikeouts and walks (K-BB%) is 3rd. They’ve been good across the board, inducing swinging strikes (6th in MLB) and preventing home runs (1st in MLB).

Overall, the Mets pitching staff had performed amazingly well in “high leverage” situations. They have allowed the league’s lowest wOBA against in such situations, with a league leading .244 slugging against. Their ERA in those situations is 2nd in baseball and is almost less than half the league average.

The peripherals support the performance and they’ve been clutch when it matters. In fact, if there was anything limiting the Mets bullpen’s ability to lead the majors in WAR, it’s opportunity: they’ve pitched the fourth fewest innings this season, presumably thanks to our strong starting pitching.

So who and what is to thank for the Mets emergence as one of the top bullpens in the league so far this year?

I’ll begin with “what” is to thank: the fastball. According to Fangraphs, the run value for the Mets bullpen fastballs is a mind-boggling +20.3, nearly twice the value of the second-place Athletics. Take a look at this custom table sorted by reliever fastball value:


There’s nobody even in the Mets area code when it comes to the fastball. So, “who” to thank? Aside from Sandy Alderson, who assembled the team, and Dan Warthen, who made all of these players into monsters, of course.

Addison Reed is 10th in MLB and leads the Mets with a 1.74 FIP. This is supported by his career-high 12.71 K/9 and 13.9 swinging strike percentage. Jim Henderson has been a revelation so far this year, striking out a whopping 13.5 batters per nine innings so far and posting a 3.21 ERA while working with Jerry Blevins (2.53 ERA) and Antonio Bastardo (3.12 ERA) to lock down the 6th and 7th innings this year.

robles.JPGHansel Robles is one of only seven relievers with an ERA and FIP less than 2.25, K/9 above 10 and BB/9 less than 3. He’s with good company, on a list comprised mostly of superstars and closers.

Of course, we have yet to mention Mets closer Jeurys Familia who is among the league’s best. Familia pairs a 96 mph sinker with a hellacious split and slider in order to torment National League hitters. Among relievers with at least 50 innings pitched over the last calendar year, Familia ranks 13th in ERA, 11th in GB%, 10th in fastball velocity, 15th in swinging strike rate, and 10th in inducing soft contact. Like I wrote for MetsMerized last year, he excels because he can do everything you want a pitcher to do and does them all very well.

Quite frankly, aside from Henderson, there isn’t a single Mets reliever who you look at and think, “this performance is unlikely to continue.” It would be possible, if not overwhelmingly likely, for Reed and Robles to return to Earth somewhat, but even performances in line with their updated projections (for instance, Robles is projected to a 3.19 ERA for the rest of the year) would be welcome additions to the bullpen.

The Mets bullpen has been fantastic so far this year, and deserving of their high ranking on the MLB leaderboards. Most of the individuals who have contributed to that are the real deal, and will hopefully continue to contribute all year long.

Most fans are excited with the Mets flamethrowing young starters, and rightly so. But let’s not forget the men out beyond the wall who keep things uninteresting.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published Friday, May 20th. Since then, the bullpen has pitched eight more scoreless innings.

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How Much Did Cespedes Leave On Table To Stay With The Mets Wed, 27 Jan 2016 18:30:35 +0000 Cespedes Yoenis

Disclaimer: This is my last post about Cespedes, I promise (probably). Also, I love Cespedes. Pointing out that he didn’t take a discount is not in any way a “knock” on him… I just want to correct a misconception.

* * *

The public perception is that by taking the Mets three year, $75 million deal, free agent slugger Yoenis Cespedes gave the Mets a “discount” or was charitable to stay. Although, yes, it is true that Cespedes is taking a smaller overall financial guarantee to stay with the Mets, it turns out that the Mets offer to Cespedes was by far the most financially lucrative for him. In turning down the Nationals deferral-laden deal, Cespedes didn’t give up much and kept the rights to all of his upside.

The Value of the Nationals Reported Offer

The Nationals offer to Cespedes was reported to have been for five years and $110 million. The catch, however, is that it contained no opt-out and significant deferrals. We can only speculate as to what “significant deferrals” means, so let’s do so below.

The Nationals recently signed Max Scherzer to a seven year, $210 million deal with deferrals. In reality, Scherzer will be paid $15 million per year from 2015 to 2028, a span of fourteen seasons. According to the MLPBA, that reduced the net present value of the Scherzer contract to $191.4 million, a reduction of $20 million from the overall dollar figure.

The MLBPA used a discount rate of a little less than 2%, but their purposes (payroll tax, etc.) are slightly different than ours, so we will use a slightly more realistic discount rate. For many years, people have used 7% as the standard rate of return in the market, and that might be the rate of return the Nationals are getting on their invested money right now. However, it is fair to assume that Cespedes’s people would have him invested in something safer, so we’ll calculate his discount rate at 4.5%.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the NPV of Cespedes’s contracts in the following three scenarios: 1) no money deferred, 2) some money deferred, and 3) identical to Scherzer deal.


Note: any tax benefits which might come as a non-resident of DC or NY will likely not apply as Cespedes (unlike Scherzer) will not be able to “retire or Florida or Texas” because he will still be an active player when this contract expires.

Note: It was reported late last night that Peter Gammons said the NPV of the Nationals’ offer was $77 million, which is just about impossible unless the deferrals were worse than Scherzer’s or if a highly unrealistic discount rate was used.

The Value of Cespedes’s Contract with the Mets 

Already, the Mets offer to Cespedes looks much more generous. There are two scenarios that can take place between Cespedes and the Mets. Either he opts-out, earning approximately $27.5 million this season, or he does not opt-out, in which case the NPV of the contract offered to him is around $72 million (remember, this deal is also front-loaded and only extends for three years).

The worst-case for Cespedes is that he performs poorly in 2016 and does not opt-out (the idea being that if he is good, he will opt-out in favor of a huge contract) so we’ll compare the Nationals deal to this scenario.

Note: It was reported that the Nationals deal may also have included an opt-out. In either case, the Mets deal with opt-out would have paid him more prior to the opt-out than the Nationals deal would have, so in any case, the Mets deal would be superior. 

Outfielders Can Have a Big Paydays at Age 33

The year is 2018 and Yoenis Cespedes has just completed his deal with the Mets. Depending on the numbers, the Mets deal was somewhere between $15 to $25 million less lucrative than the Nationals offer, so in that sense, Cespedes is “betting on himself.” But when you break down the details, it turns out he’s making an extremely safe bet.

In this reasonable worst case scenario, Cespedes is a free agent again before the 2019 season, hitting free agency again two years earlier and two years younger than he would have with the Nationals. Cespedes will only be 33 years old at that point, an age where players can still receive lucrative multi-year deals.

Here are some “outfielders” who hit free agency at age 32+ over the last three seasons: Ben Zobrist ($56M), Nick Markakis ($44M),Hanley Ramirez ($88M), Jacoby Ellsbury ($153M), Shin-Soo Choo ($130M), Curtis Granderson ($60M), Carlos Beltran($45M), Michael Bourn ($48M), Josh Hamilton ($125M). This list includes some players substantially older than Cespedes, and omits a few who spend most of their time DHing (like Nelson Cruz). If you can still play, you will get paid.

Even The Reasonable Worst-Case Scenario is Better for Cespedes

What is the reasonable worst-case scenario for Cespedes? Perhaps he goes back to being a 3 WAR player in 2016 (instead of the 6.7 WAR player he was in 2015) and he has problems with injury and declines a little earlier or more drastically than someone of his unusual physical talents. Perhaps Cespedes is a shadow of himself and is only expected to produce around 2 WAR in 2019.

ces-compssThere are other worst-case scenarios than this, of course. Cespedes could be hit by a meteor, or have a 99%-ile worst outcome. But Cespedes is a professional baseball player, and a good one at that, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be so much a shell of himself in three years as to be out of baseball. To the right, you’ll see a list of players since 1970 comparable to Cespedes (Between 14.8 and 16.5 WAR in their age 26-29 seasons; baserunning value > 0; OBP less than .350).

By and large, these guys aged well. The other comparables list I made for Cespedes (OBP less than .330, Defensive WAR > 0 ) was also incredibly favorable, including only Curtis GrandersonAndre DawsonAdam Jones, and Carl Crawford.

In any event, assuming Cespedes is a 2 WAR player in 2019 means that a reasonable contract estimate would be similar to the one Beltran signed in 2014 at age 36, or like Markakis signed in 2015 (although even this diminished version of Cespedes is better than both).

Fangraphs generally estimates that the price of a win on the free agent market ($/WAR) will increase by about 5% per year. Therefore, if it is around $8 million per win this offseason, it’ll be somewhere in the neighborhood of $9.3 million per win in 2019. If Cespedes were to take a two year contract in 2019, at current $/WAR levels at that time, and be paid like a 2 WAR player, he ought to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of two years and $36 million.

The net present value of that would be $30.9 million in today’s dollars,bringing the value of this scenario for Cespedes — the reasonable worst-case scenario — to $102.8 million over five years. This is more money than he would have received with the Nationals offer.

The Most Likely Outcome is that the Mets Contract is by Far the Best

In just about every other scenario, Cespedes does much better than if he had accepted a five year contract with the Nationals for only $110 million (with money deferred). If he’s still a good player at age 33, he may lock in one more big pay day, a la Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury who both received $150+ million. Or, most likely, Cespedes will opt-out after just one season with the Mets and receive his huge payday next offseason. You can weight those outcomes any way you like, and in just about every scenario, the Mets offer to Cespedes was objectively the best one.


Let’s say in the opt-out scenario he gets a contract like Shin-Soo Choo ($150 million), in the 3-4 WAR scenario he gets a contract like Hanley Ramirez ($88 million), in the 1.5-2.5 WAR scenario he gets a contract like Nick Markakis ($44 million) and if he’s out of baseball he gets nothing. This weighted outcome is worth $125.7 million, not including the $27.5 million he’d earn from the Mets in 2016, bringing his grand total to $153.2 million, almost double of the Nationals five-year guarantee. Even if you were to weight everything pessimistically (say, for instance, that he were to only opt-out half the time and be a bad player a third of the time) his weighted outcomes would still add up to $133.3 million.

The worst thing that could happen to Cespedes is that his contract with the Mets is his last one. But in accepting the Mets deal, he’s only giving up $15 to $25 million in net present value in order to retain the right to bet on himself getting a big payday — or even a moderate one — in the future. In fact, signing a five year deal with the Nationals might have been the worst thing for a guy like Cespedes to do. Even though the Nationals were guaranteeing Cespedes $110 million, he was selling 100% of his upside and pretty much guaranteeing that he won’t get another crack at free agency in the future. And he was right, financially, to reject that deal.

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Yoenis Cespedes Had A Huge Strike Zone Problem Thu, 12 Nov 2015 14:00:28 +0000 yoenis cespedes

If you were watching the Mets play in the postseason and you thought Yoenis Cespedes was swinging at everything: you were right. And it might cost him tens of millions of dollars in free agency.

Cespedes was an anchor in the postseason for the Mets this year. Aside from his costly error in Game 1 of the World Series, or getting picked off in Game 4, Cespedes slashed only .286/.333/.357 in the Championship Series and only .150/.143/.150 in the World Series. In the playoffs overall, Cespedes struck out 17 times and only walked once.

Many observers want to lay blame for this poor performance on his shoulder, but there another obvious culprit as well. Pitchers simply stopped throwing Cespedes strikes — and he couldn’t lay off. Whether it was the pressure of the playoffs or a general problem with discipline, Cespedes’s control of the strike zone was nonexistent for a month.

This is Cespedes’s strike zone plot showing every pitch he saw in the playoffs. To call it ugly would be an understatement.

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(All of these zone charts are courtesy of the great Brooks Baseball).

Only 31% of the pitches Cespedes saw in the playoffs were strikes. The average Zone% for the major leagues is 45.3%. The number tends to only fluctuate between 40%-50% for individual hitters depending on how threatening they are (e.g. Martin Prado and Johnny Giovatella see around 49% strikes while Bryce Harper and Anthony Rizzo see 39%). Cespedes’s strike rate was a degree lower than we’d ever normally see.

Only 40% of the first pitches Cespedes saw were strikes, while league average is 60.9%. The opposing teams were begging to walk Cespedes, but he would not allow it. Furthermore, as you know from watching the games, once Cespedes got to two strikes, he was hopeless. Below is his swing chart with two strikes in the playoffs:

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There’s an awful lot of red in that chart, and that’s because Cespedes swung at just about everything. With two strikes, Cespedes saw 83% balls. He managed to swing at 63% of all two-strike offerings anyway.

I know it’s hard to lay off on a two strike pitch, when the pitcher is throwing you his nastiest stuff. But when there were two strikes on Cespedes, there was almost no chance that he was going to see a strike. Nonetheless, he swung almost all the time. He was unable to identify balls and strikes, as he swung 60% of the time when they were balls.

All of these issues were magnified further in the World Series.

According to Brooks Baseball, Cespedes only saw 28% strikes for the World Series (16/41). He swung at 48% of the pitches he saw outside the strike zone (20/41) and only 56% of the ones that were strikes.

His O-Swing% (swing percentage at balls outside of the zone) of 48% was way above the league average of 31.3%, while his Z-Swing% (swing percentage at balls inside the zone) of 56% was way below the league average of 66.9%. Not only is that terrible compared to the league, but it is terrible compared to his usual self – his regular season O-Swing% is 39.1% and Z-Swing% was 65.1%. He was not himself in the playoffs.

Ready for a real mind-blower? Cespedes only saw ten pitches all postseason in three ball counts. Four of them were strikes, and he swung at all of them. Six of them were ball four — and he swung at five of them:

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The pitch that Cespedes fouled off his leg in Game 5 of the World Series and which ended his postseason? It was, of course, a ball. But not only that – it was about an entire foot inside:

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Like all Mets fans and all baseball fans, I love Yoenis Cespedes. He’s a cool guy, with tremendous talent, and with a flair for the game which makes all of his at-bats a must-see event. But the guy the Mets were batting in the cleanup spot in the playoffs was not Yoenis Cespedes. In his place was a player who was completely lost — with no ability to distinguish balls from strikes, just hacking away at everything.

Steamer projects Cespedes to hit .266/.312/.473 next season, which sounds right. Remember, before putting up a .287/.337/.604 slash line with the Mets, he had a career .263/.316/.464 slash line in the American League from 2012 to 2014. Once Cespedes was done ambushing the National League throughout August and September, it may be possible that we began to see the same guy that American League pitchers were familiar with.

I wish Cespedes the best of luck, and we will always have his legendary August-September tear. But, unfortunately for Mets fans, we are left most recently with another case of what-if.

Postscript: I went through the box scores and Cespedes saw more than 57 pitches in the World Series. I’m not sure why Brooks Baseball hasn’t logged all the pitches or why the figure is wrong. I’m also not sure whether it calls the rest of the charts into question either. I welcome anyone’s input as to why Brooks might be incomplete or if I somehow erred in collecting the data and I will gladly update the article.


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Cubs Bloggers Help Preview Mets vs Cubs NLCS Sat, 17 Oct 2015 20:50:21 +0000 New-York-Mets-vs-Chicago-Cubs-MLB-Baseball-Pick-Prediction-for-tonight-May-11th-2015

The Mets wrapped up a series win against the Dodgers in the National League Division Series on Thursday night, which earned the team the privilege of matching up against a scary-good Cubs team that won 97 games in the NL Central, the toughest division in baseball. Along the way, the Cubs knocked off the 98-win Pirates in the Wild Card Game followed by knocking off the 100-win Cardinals in the NLDS. So to say that the Cubs are a worthy adversary would be an understatement.

In order to get a better idea of what the Mets are up against, I spoke to a couple smart Cubs fans and bloggers to get their input on a couple of the series’s most burning questions. Thank you to Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue (@bleedcubbieblue), Tommy of the Full Count Blog (@fullcounttommy) and Gunthe Dabynsky from Cubs Insider(@dabynsky) for giving us the time!


1. Kris Bryant. All that he’s cracked up to be? The rookie put up 6.5 WAR this year and cranked 26 HR, but hit only .150 in the Division Series. How’s he handled the grind of the long season and do you expect him to be a big threat in the NLCS?

Tommy (@fullcounttommy): Kris Bryant is one of those cases where I actually think he has been better than advertised. Yes he will strike out a lot and yes there are definitely ways to get him out (He has struggled with fastballs down and away), but Bryant provides a ton of value even when he is slumping with his walks, baserunning, and defense. He’s gotten over some early season throwing problems to become an easily above average third baseman.

One interesting thing about Bryant this year has been his incredible home/road splits. Bryant has had a 1.037 OPS at home while sporting only a .693 OPS on the road. I have no idea how to explain this, but it’s definitely something to make note of. It has already reared its head in the playoffs already as well. After going 0 for 11 with just 1 walk in the first three road games, he then went 3 for 9 with a home run and a triple in the next two home games.

Do I expect him to be a threat? The answer is always yes. Not only can he change the game with one swing of the bat, but his on base skills allow him to consistently get on in front of guys like Rizzo, Castro and Schwarber.

Dabynsky (@dabynsky): Kris Bryant had one of the better rookie seasons in the past several decades. Using fWAR he is third in the past twenty years and in the top 10 going back to 1980. It was an uneven season though with him really struggling in July, coincidentally timed up with the Cubs team as a whole struggling. Since August 1st he has been hitting a robust .323/.400/.567. Bryant probably has had a few positive bounces given his .446 BABIP in that stretch, but he has really driven the ball well as shown in .244 ISO.

It is always tough to predict what a player might do over a handful of games, but Bryant certainly seems poised to do damage in the upcoming series. One trend that has been well documented is Bryant’s extreme home/road splits this year. It might just be a sample size issue, but Bryant has hit a Herculian 184 wRC+ at home this year. On the road he has been slightly below average hitting a 94 wRC+. Given Citi Field I wouldn’t be surprised if this trend continues with a quiet first two games for Bryant followed by some fireworks at Wrigley.

Al Yellon (@bleedcubbieblue): Bryant had a good start and then a mild slump midseason. He came on strong over the last two months. He hit .323/.400/.567 with 12 HR in 58 games from August 1 through the end of the regular season. The division series numbers are too small of a sample size to make any judgments. He’s made adjustments every time he’s had to. He should be fine in the NLCS.

Analysis (@brianpmangan): Two of the guys made the same observations about Bryant’s home/road splits, so Mets fans should keep a particularly close eye on Bryant’s performance here in the first two games at Citi Field.


2. Do Cubs fans have any concern about the loss of Addison Russell? Or is Javier Baez a capable and ready replacement? Is there any talk about moving Castro back to SS or is he hitting too well at 2B to consider messing with?

Al Yellon (@bleedcubbieblue): Starlin Castro won’t be moving back to shortstop. Javier Baez is a fine-fielding shortstop (occasionally makes errors on plays you’d think are routine, but in general he’s got the best arm of any Cubs infielder) who can occasionally hit for power as you saw against the Cardinals. We’ll miss Russell’s glove, but the position is in capable hands with Baez.

Tommy (@fullcounttommy): There is concern, but I think that this is one of the losses that the Cubs were better suited to handle. Baez isn’t quite as steady with the glove, but has a better arm and a bit more propensity to make the flashy play. The bat is probably close to a wash as well, with Baez more likely to strike out, but also more likely to come up with the crushing blow (See Lackey, John).

I think the bigger hit here is not in the starting lineup, but rather on the bench. Having Baez on the bench allowed the Cubs a huge amount of flexibility, especially when it came to late inning defense. The downgrade from Baez to Jonathan Herrera (If he’s the replacement) is a large one. I for one don’t think the Cubs will miss much in terms of everyday production in the lineup, but Joe Maddon’s in game flexibility definitely took a hit with the loss of Russell.

Dabynsky (@dabynsky): Addison Russell’s lose hurts the Cubs twofold. One is defensively. Russell was the best defensive shortstop the Cubs have had in years. Javier Baez is going to take over at shortstop through the series with Starlin Castro as the primary backup. Baez is not a butcher and is capable of making spectacular plays as well. But the odds of a mistake are significantly higher with either Baez or Castro manning shortstop.

The real huge blow though comes to the great depth the Cubs have in their lineup. Javier Baez was a weapon both offensively and defensively off of the bench that is now pressed into starting lineup. The Cubs are likely to carry an extra arm which means that Maddon’s options for pinch hitting are going to be reduced, and that was the Cubs biggest power threat off the bench. Maddon has been extremely creative using his more versatily position players like Kris Bryant, Chris Coghlan, and Kyle Schwarber. The list goes on and on. Russell’s loss probably means you will see more double switches and musical chairs played in game to get the matchups Maddon wants.

Analysis (@brianpmangan): Again, both guys separately touch on a lot of the same points. Obviously, the Cubs are fortunate that their loss has come from an area of strength, but it will be interesting to see who gets the primary pinch-hitting duties late in games now and if Maddon gets creative.


3. We all now Jake Arrieta is great, but how much confidence do you have in the rest of the rotation? Jon Lester has been very good again, but he’s no Kershaw or Greinke, posting a 3.34 ERA/3.06 FIP this year. Beyond Lester, do you have confidence in Hendricks or Hammel to hold down a Mets offense that’s been the NL’s best in the second half?

Tommy (@fullcounttommy): The Cubs rotation after Arrieta is an interesting one. I for one have the utmost confidence in Jon Lester. Despite a slow start, he had arguably the second best season of his career. In other words, Lester this year has been exactly as advertised. The rotation after that does get a bit dicey.

I am higher on Kyle Hendricks than many in the Cubs universe, but he has seen a pretty stark increase in strikeout rate, while his walk rate has only increased slightly. Jason Hammel is the interesting piece. While I don’t have much confidence in Hammel, I have the utmost confidence in the Cubs bullpen and Joe Maddon’s willingness to have a quick hook. Guys like Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill and Clayton Richard gives the Cubs a ton of flexibility in the pen and has become a huge strength of this team.

Al Yellon (@bleedcubbieblue): Kyle Hendricks had a rough go of it through much of the second half but had two excellent starts at the end of the regular season, including shutting down the Royals offense the last week of the season and throwing six perfect innings against the Brewers.

His NLDS start was a bit shaky, but I have confidence in him. He doesn’t have great velocity, so he will have to locate to be successful. He’s done this in the past, including June 30 against the Mets at Citi Field.

Analysis (@brianpmangan): The Cubs appear to have a big advantage in the bullpen, so if they can get length from Lester and Arrieta, expect Maddon to be aggressive with the bullpen in the Hammel/Hendricks games.

4. Do you think the Mets see Arrieta more than twice?

Tommy (@fullcounttommy): I don’t, I think he goes 2 and 6. If it weren’t Lester set up for game 5 then I could see him going on short rest, but I don’t see much difference between Lester on full rest and Arrieta on short rest.

Al Yellon (@bleedcubbieblue):This one gets a short answer: no.

Analysis (@brianpmangan): GOOD.

5. Official prediction for the series?

Tommy (@fullcounttommy): It might make me a homer, but I think Cubs in 5. I know the games in the regular season don’t matter, but I think the patient Cubs offense will be able to drive up pitch counts on the Mets starters and get to the bullpen just like they did earlier in the year. I do think the Mets have a rotation advantage, but I think the Cubs have a large enough edge offensively and in the pen.

Al Yellon (@bleedcubbieblue): The Cubs will win. (Bet you’re not surprised to hear me say that.) I’m real bad at figuring out how many games a postseason series will go, so let’s just say I think the Cubs top two starters will shut down the Mets offense enough for the Cubs to take the series.

Answer (@brianpmangan): I’m taking the Mets in 6. Love the Cubbies but I think they just don’t stack up offensively with the Mets second-half offense that included Conforto and Cespedes. Arrieta and Lester are both world-class, but I think the Mets manhandling of Brett Anderson last week showed people that this offense was still for real. And the pitching, well, the Cubs will be facing an ace every day.


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Jeurys Familia Ties Franchise Record With 43 Saves Mon, 05 Oct 2015 12:50:00 +0000 jeurys familia

Jeurys Familia notched his 43rd save of the season on Sunday, matching Armando Benitez (who saved 43 in 2001} for the most saves in a single season in franchise history.

It’s been a remarkable season for Familia, who was unexpectedly thrust into the closer role after Jenrry Mejia was suspended for PED use in early April.

Familia finishes the season with a 1.85 ERA, 1.001 WHIP, .207 BAA and 86 strikeouts in 78.1 innings while walking 19.

“He was thrown into that closer’s role,” third baseman David Wright said. “And he never looked back.”

“He stepped up and did a tremendous job all year,” Mets manager Terry Collins added.

Enjoy the following article by Brian Mangan who does an exceptional job of chronicling just how special Familia has been this season.

— Joe D.

September 30 - Jeurys Familia is Very Good at Everything

It is no secret around the league now that Jeurys Familia is amazing. Familia posted a 2.21 ERA in 77.1 dominant innings last year (3.07 FIP) and has backed that up with an even more scintillating year this year, tallying a 1.88 ERA (2.79 FIP) and 42 resounding saves in 76.2 innings.

The league has taken notice since Familia was snubbed for the All Star Game in July; and since then he’s been even nastier to hitters. In early September, Familia added an absolutely unfair 95-mph splitter to his arsenal, complementing his 100-mph fastball and wipe-out slider.

Players around the league wilt at the idea of facing him. Media outlets everywhere have called him “unfair”. (For some good reading, here’s Eno Sarris at Fangraphs and Dan Weigel at Beyond the Box Score)

jeurys familiaWhat might be most amazing about Familia, however, is the way he’s gotten these results. Despite the overpowering arsenal, Familia does not have anything about his performance that screams “elite.” Instead, Familia is just really, really good at everything across the board.

It’s pretty clear that Familia could strike out more batters if he wanted to, but right now, Familia is combining elite “stuff” with a willingness to pound the strike zone and get ground balls. Together, this makes him the most elite of the elite. Let’s take a look at how Familia stacks up in the National League.

Among NL relievers with at least 60 innings, Familia is 3rd in saves and 4th in ERA, behind only Ken Giles, Aroldis Chapman, and Hector Rondon.

His strikeout rate is very good, but not elite, ranking 8th in the NL (9.86 K/9). His walk rate is very good, but also not elite, ranking 9th in the NL (2.23 BB/9). His combination of high strikeouts and low walks together, however, conspire to make him 3rd in the NL in K-BB%, which is a much more important stat than K’s or BB’s alone.

Among plate discipline components, Familia again does very well in just about all of them. Familia gets swings out of the zone the 4th most in the NL. Batters only make contact on swings outside the zone 46.3% of the time, which is also 4th best in the NL. Familia also pounds the zone with strikes, ranking 10th in the NL in first pitch strikes. Finally, he sports a very strong swinging strike rate, getting batters to swing and miss the 4th most often in the NL at 16.0%.

Batters don’t do much with the ball when the put it in play against Familia either, hitting ground balls 58.2% of the time, the 9th most in the NL. He gets infield fly balls (this is a very good thing) the 10th most often, and he gets soft contact the 7th most often and hard contact the 9th best rate.

So as you can see, Familia lacks the one stand-out tool. He doesn’t strike out 41% of the batters to face him, like Chapman or Kenley Jansen do. He doesn’t get 72% ground balls like Brad Ziegler. He doesn’t avoid the walk like Mark Melancon, who allows only 1.69 BB/9.

But what he does do — and people who have watched him all season can attest to this — is everything really well. Familia has been a godsend for the Mets this year. He’s a hard-throwing, strike-throwing, strikeout, ground ball and pop-up pitcher with incredible mound presence who has a three pitch arsenal and who can dominate both righties and lefties. There isn’t much more that you could ask for.

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The New Look Mets Offense Can Be One of the NL’s Best. Wed, 26 Aug 2015 13:00:14 +0000 yoenis Cespedes

To say that the Mets offense was bad in the first half of the season would be an understatement. The Mets crawled into this year’s All Star Break ranked 28th in runs and dead last in batting average. According to Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs, the Mets were actually lucky to be a high as 28th in runs – and with a slash line of .233/.298/.363, those outlets were probably right.

But then something miraculous happened. It wasn’t immediately after the All Star Break, which took place from July 13th to 16th, but shortly thereafter. The Mets began to get healthy and make some moves.

mmo feature original footerOn July 24th, the Mets made their first move, promoting fast-rising prospect Michael Conforto directly from Double-A; later that day, they acquired veterans Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson from the Braves, applying a tourniquet to a flagging lineup and bolstering their eventual bench; a week later, on July 31st, team leader Travis d’Arnaud made his anticipated return to the lineup; while earlier in the day the Mets added a bonafide star in Yoenis Cespedes, who currently sits 7th in MLB in WAR (5.6) and is having close to an MVP-caliber season.

The Mets Are Red-Hot in August

Since acquiring Cespedes on July 31st, the Mets are a blistering 15-6, thanks in part to an offense that has averaged 5.75 runs per game. Their turnaround is astonishing. They’ve batted .277/.337/.510 in August, and their 38 home runs is first in the league, dwarfing the National League average of 23.7. This would be impressive for any team, but for a team that could barely hit its weight only a month ago, it’s appears to be nothing short of a miracle.

So who are these Mets, who yesterday welcomed back their Captain, David Wright? Are they on a temporary hot streak, or is this offense one of the most dangerous in the National League? The answer, as usual is a little of both, as a little luck, some bad opposition, and some substantial improvements to the lineup have all contributed to their surge. But ultimately, there can be no doubt – the Mets offense can be one of the best in the National League.

The Mets Haven’t Been Overly Lucky

The Mets have had a little luck in August, but nothing that would make you stop and say that it’s all a mirage. The team’s BABIP, which is .286 for the season, has risen to .319 in August. Part of that rise in BABIP, however, can be credited to a 37.2 Hard Hit %, which is highest in MLB by a large margin this month. Also helping matters is a 17.4% HR/FB ratio, up from 11.1% on the year overall.

As you might guess, much of the improvement in the underlying components can be credited to simply having better players, like Yoenis Cespedes (average fly ball distance of 294 feet), Michael Conforto and Juan Uribe, each of whom have home runs of over 430 feet as Mets. The Mets have simply been hitting the ball harder and have been rewarded for it.

The Schedule Hasn’t Been That Easy Yet

As we mentioned, the Mets have had a somewhat soft schedule in August, having played 7 games against teams above .500 (Nationals, Pirates, Orioles), 3 against the Rays who sit at .500, and 11 games against teams thoroughly out of the race (Marlins, Rockies, and Phillies).

The Mets offense has faced some legitimate pitching in that time, with the Pirates (2), Rays (9), Nationals (11) and Orioles (14) all ranking in the top half of MLB in pitching, however the bulk of the damage has been done against bad teams. The Mets scored 60 runs in only five games against the Marlins, Rockies, and Phillies, but even without those blowouts, they have averaged 3.81 runs per game in the other sixteen contests.

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The Improvement Is Very Real

So if it’s not luck, and it’s not an extraordinarily easy schedule, can Mets fans bank on the fact that this is a legitimate improvement? In a word: yes.

In the first half this year, the Mets gave plate appearances to the following players: Michael Cuddyer (303), Kevin Plawecki (175), Eric Campbell (163), John Mayberry (104) and Darrell Ceciliani (75) to name a few. These players combined to hit .220/.287/.329 over 927 plate appearances, good for a wOBA of .273, a wRC+ of 74, or an OPS of 617 depending on what stat you prefer.

These players have been replaced directly by the Mets new additions (e.g. Wright for Campbell). The rest of season projections for Wright, Cespedes, and d’Arnaud are a staggering improvement, with a combined projected line of .270/.329/.467, good for a wOBA of .341, a wRC+ of 120 and an OPS of 796.

* Warning, gory mathematical details ahead *

In order to determine the approximate difference between the two lineups in terms of runs, I looked at Runs Created, a statistic which can be used to estimate how many runs a hitter contributes to his team. As the object of the game is to score runs, and there are a finite number of ways to do it (hits, walks, stolen bases, not striking out, etc.) you can get a pretty good idea of how many “runs” a player has added to your team’s output.

So far in 2015, the Cuddyer, Plawecki, Campbell, Mayberry and Ceciliani combination only managed to “create” 77 runs of offense over 865 at-bats, which is good for approximately 3.08 runs per game.  This is about in line with what we might “expect” from a full lineup if it performed as poorly as those five.

The Cespedes/Conforto/Wright/d’Arnaud group, on the other hand, with their 120 wRC+ projection, could be expected to produce similarly to what a Todd Frazier (121 wRC+), Justin Upton (121 wRC+) or Kole Calhoun (119 wRC+) have done this year. Those three players have produced a total of 209 runs created in 1380 at bats, which is good for about 5.54 runs per game.

* Gory mathematical details ended *

The analysis doesn’t end there, however, as only some of the spots in the Mets lineup have been improved, while the rest are holdovers from earlier in the year. Luckily, the remaining incumbents (primarily Granderson, Duda, Murphy, Flores, Tejada and Lagares) have performed well this year with a combined .263/.326/.422 line and a 108 wRC+. These players have combined for approximately 4.87 runs per game, which is an excellent figure when you consider it includes our shortstop, second baseman, and struggling centerfielder.

By replacing three of the weakest links in the lineup with three star-caliber players, the Mets are clearly much improved from what we saw at the start of the year. How improved? Well, accounting for the pitchers slot in the lineup (but not for pinch hitters, etc.) the Mets offense has improved by almost a full run per game, from 3.74 runs per game to 4.56 runs per game. For context, an average of 4.56 runs per game would be 2nd in the National League behind only the Arizona Diamondbacks.

This improvement in the lineup is even larger when you consider the better use of platoons and a deeper, more useful bench. That depth was on display last night against the Phillies — and may have won the Mets the game — as d’Arnaud worked a critical walk batting eighth and the Mets were able to pinch hit Cuddyer for the game’s decisive hit.

The Mets offense is suddenly for real, and is not just the result of luck or an easy schedule. If the Mets can continue to pitch like they have so far this season, they might be equipped to make a real run.

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