Mets Merized Online » Connor O’Brien http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 01 May 2016 00:18:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 MMO Game Recap: Mets 8, Braves 2 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-game-recap-mets-8-braves-2-2.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-game-recap-mets-8-braves-2-2.html/#comments Sun, 24 Apr 2016 02:44:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210328 neil walker

The New York Mets (9-7) defeated the Atlanta Braves (4-13) tonight at Turner Field by a score of 8-2 in the second game of a the weekend series.

Offense:

The Mets got things started early off Braves starter Jhoulys Chacin, scratching out two runs in the first. Curtis Granderson led off the game with a single to center, followed two batters later by Michael Conforto, who knocked a single of his own. Lucas Duda hit his first sacrifice fly of the year, scoring Granderson from third.

Conforto proceeded to steal second, which was followed up by Neil Walker‘s first walk of the season. The next hitter was Asdrubal Cabrera, who reached on an error by Freddie Freeman that also scored Coforto, the Mets’ second run of the inning. Granderson and Conforto both had good nights at the plate, with Grandy going 2-for-5 with a double and Conforto going 2-for-3 with a walk and that stolen base.

Things were quiet again until the Mets put together a little rally in the fourth. Travis d’Arnaud got things started with a single, followed by a Granderson walk a few batters later. Then it was David Wright who came through, knocking a double to right that scored them both and gave the Mets a 4-1 lead.

The Mets put up one more in the seventh off Matt Marksberry when Asdrubal Cabrera drove in David Wright, who had led off the inning with another double. Wright went 2-for-6 on the night.

Piling on, the Mets put up a few more in the top of the ninth off Ryan Weber. In what now seems like a daily occurrence, the Mets hit back-to-back home runs to lead off the inning. This time it was Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, each hitting homers to right. Walker’s was his seventh of the year while Cabrera’s was his first. Both are hitting extremely well. With his performance tonight, Walker brought up his line to .288/.299/.606. Cabrera now sits at .322/.375/.441.

To top it all off Juan Lagares got in on the action later in the inning, knocking a triple to right field that scored Travis d’Arnaud. Both Lagares and d’Arnaud had good nights, each going 2-for-5 at the dish.

steven matz

Pitching:

Coming off seven shutout innings against the Indians on Sunday, Steven Matz pitched pretty well this evening, tossing 6.1 innings and allowing just two runs.

Matz ran into trouble in the third when he hit Nick Markakis, allowed a single to Daniel Castro, and then gave up an RBI-double to Freddie Freeman, the Braves’ first run of the game. He was, however, able to get two straight outs to get out of trouble.

In the seventh, with Matz’s pitch count getting up there, he allowed Drew Stubbs to single and steal second. Matz gave up one final run-scoring single to Markakis before being pulled by Terry Collins. Matz ended up getting the win, allowing two earned runs on nine hits, no walks (one HBP), and nine strikeouts in 6.1 innings.

The bullpen easily took care of the last 2.2 innings as Hansel Robles, Addison Reed, and Logan Verrett finished things off to close out the 8-2 victory.

On Deck:

The Mets finish off the series looking for a sweep tomorrow afternoon at Turner Field as Jacob deGrom (6 IP, 1.50 ERA) faces off against top Braves prospect Aaron Blair. First pitch is at 1:35 PM.

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Braves Players Complain Of Poor Conditions At Turner Field http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/braves-players-complain-of-poor-conditions-at-turner-field.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/braves-players-complain-of-poor-conditions-at-turner-field.html/#comments Fri, 22 Apr 2016 04:11:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210210 turner field night

The Mets will be headed to Atlanta this weekend to play on an apparently substandard Turner Field, according to Doug Padilla of ESPN.

The infield conditions at Turner Field as so bad, Padilla reports, that Braves players are mulling requesting an intervention by the players’ union.

The Dodgers, who played a three-game set at Turner Field this week, voiced concern over the conditions after making five errors in three games. “Behind home plate, I felt it was very soft,” said Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal. “But then again, it’s not our home field. It all depends on how the infielders like it here. We just have to adjust to every playing field we go to and make plays. Obviously it was a little hard for us the last two days, making a couple of errors, but that’s all right. Between the two teams, ten errors were made in the series.

This year is the Braves’ last at their current stadium before moving to SunTrust Park outside of Atlanta next April. Braves players say the team has neglected to take care of the field as well as in past years, perhaps because of the impending move.

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MMO Game Recap: Great Nights From Wright, Syndergaard Power Mets to 5-2 Win http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-game-recap-great-nights-from-wright-syndergaard-power-mets-to-5-2-win.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-game-recap-great-nights-from-wright-syndergaard-power-mets-to-5-2-win.html/#comments Tue, 19 Apr 2016 02:31:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=210025 wright homer

Another day, another game where the home run and great starting pitching power the Mets (6-6) to victory. Tonight in Philadelphia, they defeated the Phillies (6-8) by a score of 5-2.

Offense:

Did someone say David Wright was dead?

The third baseman had his best night of the year thus far, starting in the first when he hit an opposite field solo shot off Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff to give the Mets an early lead.

Eickhoff actually pitched quite well for the Phillies, who saw most of the damage come against the bullpen tonight. Eickhoff’s only other blemish came in the sixth inning when Lucas Duda, who is perhaps starting to heat up, doubled home Yoenis Cespedes to make it 2-1 Mets.

Duda and the offense struck again off David Hernandez in the top of the eighth. Duda hit an absolute bomb to right field, reaching the second deck. The homer was estimated at over 420 feet, which seems low when you actually see it. Not to be outdone, Neil Walker followed up with a solo shot of his own to make it 4-1 Mets.

The most exciting — or at least unexpected — moment of the game for the Mets came in the next inning with David Wright up at bat. Wright took another pitch deep to right field off Elvis Araujo, his second home run of the game. Wright showed tonight that he’s still got some power. especially given that both homers went to right field. With the two bombs, Wright brought his slash line for the year up to .289/.426/.526. I think it’s fair to say that he’s still going to be a force to be reckoned with at the plate this season. He even impressed on defense tonight, making an outstanding bare-handed play in the fourth. Tonight was vintage David all-around.

Another notable on the night was Asdrubal Cabrera who, although he didn’t hit any home runs, went 3-for-4 with a double, bringing his batting line for the year up to an impressive .349/.391/.419.

noah syndergaard

Pitching:

David Wright may have stolen the show tonight, but Noah Syndergaard wasn’t far behind. The young righty was dominant once again, allowing just one run over seven innings of work to collect his second victory of the season.

Syndergaard was  able to pound the strike zone with his blazing fastball, which was continually registering at 100 miles per hour or faster. He walked two batters and scattered five hits but was otherwise very efficient, throwing 64 of 94 pitches for strikes.

Overall, Syndergaard passed the torch to the bullpen after striking out eight batters and allowing just one run. He now has a 0.90 ERA.

Jeurys Familia ran into some trouble in the ninth trying to close it out for the Mets. Familia allowed a single to lead off the inning and then a double to David Lough, putting runners on second and third with no outs. He finally struck out Cesar Hernandez to get the first out of the inning, but then allowed an RBI groundout by Andres Blanco to cut the Mets lead to 5-2. But with two outs, Familia was able to punch out all-or-nothing Darin Ruff to end the game and put the Mets’ 5-2 win in the books.

Some notes on Syndergaard:

- His fastball averaged 99.2 MPH tonight
- His sinker averaged 100.1 MPH
- His fastball topped out at 102.1 MPH
- His sinker topped out at 102.3 MPH…

Oh and he also threw a friggin changeup at 93.9.

On Deck:

The Mets play their second game of this three-game series tomorrow night in Philadelphia as Logan Verrett (0-0, 1.29 ERA, 7 IP) faces off against Vince Velasquez (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 15 IP). First pitch is at 7:05.

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MMO Game Recap: Mets 6, Indians 0 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-game-recap-mets-6-indians-0.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-game-recap-mets-6-indians-0.html/#comments Sun, 17 Apr 2016 19:58:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=209941 asdrubal cabrera

Propelled by great pitching and another good day on offense, the Mets (5-6) defeated the Indians (5-5) this afternoon in Cleveland 6-0 to take the rubber game of their three-game series.

Offense:

The Mets saw early success this afternoon against Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, knocking in three runs in both the first and second innings.

Curtis Granderson led off the game with a walk, which was followed by an Asdrubal Cabrera single. Michael Conforto came through with a run-scoring double to deep center, giving the Mets an early lead.

Two batters later, Lucas Duda finally came through with a hard liner to right field that drove in Conforto and Cabrera to put the Mets up 3-0 for Steven Matz.

Granderson once again got things started in the second, although with some help from Rajai Davis. Granderson his a ball to deep center which Davis lost in the sun, allowing Grandy to go all the way to third. Davis lost a few balls in the sun today and was booed by the home crowd.

Asdrubal Cabrera shocked everyone on the field, bunting Granderson home from third and reaching first base safely, making it 4-0. The next batter was Michael Conforto, who smacked another run-scoring double. Conforto was 2-for-3 on the day with those two doubles, bringing his slash line on the season up to .313/.421/.563.

The Mets were able to capitalize once more on Rajai Davis’ poor play in the outfield, as he lost a Yoenis Cespedes fly ball in the sun, netting him a run-scoring double. The Mets were only able to scratch out two hits after the second inning, but the 6-0 lead was more than enough for the pitching staff today.

steven matz day

Pitching:

Coming off a horrendous season debut in which he couldn’t make it out of the second inning, Steven Matz looked incredible today. The left-hander gave up just three hits and two walks on the afternoon, tossing seven scoreless innings.

Matz struck out a career-high nine batters on the afternoon, and had no trouble pounding the strike zone. He threw 62 of his 94 pitches for strikes.

He had everything working for him today including great command and good movement from his curve. This start has to be a big morale boost for him.

Hansel Robles, Jerry Blevins, and Addison Reed made quick work of the Indians, finishing the last two innings on just 21 pitches to close out the win..

On Deck:

The Mets begin a three-game set in Philadelphia tomorrow night with Noah Syndergaard (1-0, 13 IP, 0.69 ERA) facing off against Jerad Eickhoff (1-1, 12 IP, 1.50 ERA). First pitch is at 7:05.

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MMO Game Recap: Phillies 1, Mets 0 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-game-recap-phillies-1-mets-0.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-game-recap-phillies-1-mets-0.html/#comments Sun, 10 Apr 2016 02:15:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=209322 USP MLB: PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES AT NEW YORK METS S BBN USA NY

Bats on both sides fell mostly silent tonight as the Mets (2-2) were shut out 1-0 by the Phillies (1-4), their first home loss of the season. 

Pitching:

Tonight was certainly a pitching duel, with both starters throwing pretty well.

For the Mets, Bartolo Colon allowed one run on five hits over six innings of work. He struck out seven batters. Colon’s only blunder came in the fifth when Ryan Howard hit a solo home run, his second of the year.

The rest of the bullpen was solid for the Mets. Hansel Robles and Antonio Bastardo each pitched perfect innings. In the top of the ninth, Jeurys Familia struggled in a non-save situation. He gave up three hits but thanks to a baserunning blunder by Cesar Hernandez, was able to hold Philadelphia scoreless.

asdrubal cabrera

Offense:

It was an incredibly frustrating night for the Mets offense, which was shut down by Vince Velasquez, who tossed six scoreless frames. The Mets were only able to scratch out three hits against Velasquez, which was all they would get on the night.

Asdrubal Cabrera had a decent night at the dish, going 2-for-4 with a double. He’s collected a hit in each of his first four games this season.

The middle of the order, in contrast to yesterday’s game, really struggled. Yoenis Cespedes, Lucas Duda, and Neil Walker combined to go 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts.

On Deck:

The Mets wrap up their three-game set with the Phillies tomorrow afternoon as Matt Harvey faces Jeremy Hellickson in a rubber game. First pitch is at 1:10.

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2016 Season Preview: Noah Syndergaard, RHP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/2016-season-preview-noah-syndergaard-rhp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/2016-season-preview-noah-syndergaard-rhp.html/#comments Sat, 02 Apr 2016 20:09:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208884 noah syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard

Bats/Throws: L/R

DOB: August 29, 1992 (23 on Opening Day)

Contract Status: Pre-Arb (Will make league minimum)

2015 Review

Noah Syndergaard burst onto the scene in a big way last season, at times pitching like an ace. The six-foot-six righty brought an incredible array of pitches that was at times even more impressive than those of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, or Jacob deGrom.

In 150 major league innings, Syndergaard put up a 3.24 ERA, 3.25 FIP, and 2.91 xFIP. His strikeout rate of 9.96 K/9 was sixth in baseball among pitchers with 150 or more innings while his 1.86 BB/9 rate was 17th. His fastball, according to Fangraphs, averaged 97.1 miles per hour. That was the best in baseball.

In the postseason, Syndergaard proved to be a force both as a starter and out of the bullpen. He kept his cool in the most high-pressure innings of his life, which bodes well for a club that will likely be in the playoffs a lot going forward.

Somehow, Syndergaard managed to only finish fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting, but he left no doubt that the Mets have something special on their hands.

2016 Projections

Steamer – 176 IP, 3.14 ERA, 9.90 K/9, 2.34 BB/9,  3.07 FIP, 4.1 fWAR

ZiPS – 172 IP, 3.09 ERA, 10.15 K/9, 2.25 BB/9, 2.99 FIP, 3.6 fWAR

The projection systems are optimistic that Syndergaard will make at least slight improvements this upcoming season. Given his peripherals, it’s easy to see why. Someone who strikes out that many, walks so few, and throws so hard isn’t going to have a 3+ ERA for too long.

The one area where Syndergaard needs to improve in order to really be on the level of a Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom is his efficiency. But that’s really just nitpicking. (Zack Wheeler is the guy who we should really be worried about in this area.)

There is nothing I can point to that says Syndergaard will be anything but great this season. The man misses bats at astounding rates. He has incredible command of his entire repertoire. He is perhaps the most intimidating starter in baseball. The improvements on his curveball have been promising and the killer slider he added last season will only give him more options late in at-bats.

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2016 Season Preview: Jeurys Familia, RP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-seaon-preview-jeurys-familia-rp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-seaon-preview-jeurys-familia-rp.html/#comments Sat, 02 Apr 2016 16:00:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208017 jeurys familia

Jeurys Familia, RP

Bats/Throws: R/R

DOB: October 10, 1989 (26 on Opening Day)

Contract Status: First year arbitration (Salary: $4.1 million)

2015 Recap

In 2015, Jeurys Familia was simply incredible.

After a very good 2014 season in which he served as the setup man for Jenrry Mejia, Familia stepped his game up even further, dropping his ERA from 2.21 to 1.85. He raised his strikeout rate (8.5 K/9 to 9.92) but most impressively cut back on his walks dramatically (from 3.72 BB/9 to 2.19).

He had no trouble taking over the role as closer when Mejia was suspended. In all, Familia recorded 43 saves and was outrageously good in high leverage situations, holding opponents to a .582 OPS.

In the postseason, Familia was pushed to the limit. He ended up blowing three save opportunities in the World Series, but I don’t think anyone can say they’d rather have had another guy on the mound.

2016 Projections

Steamer – 65 IP, 2.98 ERA, 9.91 K/9, 3.09 BB/9

ZiPS – 77 IP, 2.69 ERA, 9.70 K/9, 2.22 BB/9

Marcel – 72 IP, 2.88 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9

All of the projections are a tad pessimistic on Familia, and I can see why. His xFIP last year was 2.55, suggesting a significant jump in his ERA. Also, a 1.85 is just not sustainable for most pitchers.

However, there is something huge that is simply too complex to include in one of these projection systems: Familia has added a splitter. And not just any splitter. Familia’s instantly became one of the most nasty splitters in the sport, and he threw exactly zero before August. Think about it: he added a nasty pitch to a repertoire that was already making him incredibly successful.

Considering how few innings relievers actually throw, it’s difficult to accurately project a relief pitcher. That’s why I don’t really buy into the numbers here. Outside a bad week or two in July, Familia was outstanding and only became more dominant as the season moved along.

Having established himself an almost impeccable track record and with the addition of a nasty pitch last summer, I see no reason why Familia won’t continue to be one of the best relief pitchers in baseball.

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2016 Season Preview: Jacob deGrom, RHP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/2016-season-preview-jacob-degrom-rhp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/2016-season-preview-jacob-degrom-rhp.html/#comments Sat, 02 Apr 2016 11:00:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=206112 jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom, SP

Bats/Throws: L/R

DOB: June 19, 1988 (27 on Opening Day)

Contract Status: 3rd year pre-arbitration (Salary: $607,000)

2015 Recap

In a year when Mets starting pitching soared to heights not seen in a very long time, Jacob deGrom led the way. A year removed form a dominant 2014 season that earned him NL Rookie of the Year honors, deGrom improved on his performance in just about every respect.

Over 191 innings, deGrom put up a 2.54 ERA, 2.70 FIP, and a 2.92 xFIP. Overall, his 5.2 fWAR was the highest of any Met, position player or pitcher.

Already known for pinpoint control and the ability to strike out nearly anyone, deGrom saw his BB/9 rate drop from 2.76 to 1.79 and his K/9 rate rise from 9.24 to 9.66. His K/9, BB/9, and K/BB rates were all within the top ten in baseball. For the year, deGrom finished seventh in the very competitive NL Cy Young Award race.

DeGrom improved in just abut every category on the mound, giving up fewer line drives, fewer hard hit balls, and even got more swings on pitches outside the strike zone.

2016 Projections

Marcel – 169 IP, 2.93 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9

Steamer – 203 IP, 3.17 ERA, 9.29 K/9, 2.28 BB/9

ZiPS – 178.1 IP, 2.83 ERA, 9.39 K/9, 2.32 BB/9

Almost every one of deGrom’s various indicators and peripherals say that last season wasn’t a fluke. He now has two seasons under his belt of being one of the league’s best pitchers.

Watching him, I don’t see someone getting by with luck. Like the rest of the young pitchers on the staff, he is being carried by an awesome repertoire of nasty pitches and good command.

Fangraphs puts out a cool statistic that uses linear weights to measure the effectiveness of pitches, which points to deGrom having statistically nasty stuff as well. (For those who have never heard of wFB, wCH, etc: it is similar to wRAA.) Over the last two seasons, deGrom’s fastball ranks fifth in baseball at 33.5 runs above average. His changeup, meanwhile, comes in at a respectable 12th.

In terms of power, deGrom’s 95 mile per hour fastball ranked seventh among qualified pitchers this season. The biggest asset all the big guns on the Mets’ staff have is the ability to overpower hitters, which helps when they otherwise aren’t on their best game. There have been concerns about deGrom’s velocity so far this spring, where his fastball has been sitting at 91-93 miles per hour instead of in the mid-90s. However, deGrom chalks that up to taking more time off this past offseason because of how many innings he threw in 2015. That’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, so I won’t be too worried about deGrom unless this continues weeks into the season. I still think he is a prime candidate to compete for the Cy Young Award.

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2016 Season Preview: Juan Lagares, CF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/2016-season-preview-juan-lagares-cf.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/2016-season-preview-juan-lagares-cf.html/#comments Fri, 01 Apr 2016 16:10:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208799 juan lagares

Juan Lagares, CF
DOB: March 17, 1989 (27 on Opening Day)
Bats/Throws: R/R
Contract Status: First year of four-year, $23 million extension ($2.5 million salary)

2015 Recap

After showing the outrageous potential he had in 2014, Juan Lagares came back down to Earth in 2015 in a big way, seeing a decline in both offensive and defensive value.

The thought with Lagares has always been that if he can simply be a league average hitter, his defense will make starting him every day more than worth it. This past season exposed a big flaw in that idea, with Lagares seeing a big drop in defense. After being plus 28 Defensive Runs Saved and plus 18.6 in Ultimate Zone Rating in 2014, his numbers dropped to 2 and 3.5. His arm and range were both worse than what they were in 2013 and 2014, which was clear throughout the season as well.

Lagares also saw his batting line drop from .281/.321/.382 (101 wRC+) to .259/.289/.358 (80 wRC+), a very significant decline. All of this brought Lagares’ overall value down from an overall 4.0 fWAR in 116 games in 2014 to just 1.0 in 143 games this past season.

2016 Projections

Marcel – 478 PAs, .264/.305/.377, 7 HR, 9 SB

Steamer – 410 PAs, .257/.297/.366, 6 HR, 7 SB

ZiPS – 505 PAs, .261/.297/.369, 5 HR, 11 SB

It’s important to note that Lagares will likely be used very differently this season compared to previous ones The Mets will likely look to Lagares to be a capable platoon partner with Yoenis Cespedes in center field for the majority of his playing time. Cespedes will slide over to left field when Lagares is in the lineup, Terry Collins confirmed yesterday. As long as he continues to struggle against right-handed pitching, Lagares will likely get every at-bat possible against left-handed pitching and not very many against righties.

Even in a down year like 2015, Lagares hit left-handed pitching very well. He hit .273/.333/.438 (116 wRC+) against lefties compared to just .253/.271/.328 against right-handed pitching, a 65 wRC+.

For his career, Lagares has hit .279/.325/.427 (112 wRC+) against lefties, so it will really be about whether he can become adequate enough against right-handers to get more playing time. While I don’t think anyone expects Lagares to exclusively play against lefties, he will certainly get as many at-bats as possible against them. I doubt we’ll see a strict platoon in center field this year, especially if Lagares bounces back on defense. Expect Terry Collins to bring him in often late in games as we saw last postseason.

That being said, decreasing his exposure to righties will definitely help Lagares’ overall numbers. So while he won’t get 450 or 500 plate appearances like some of the projections say, he’ll probably hit somewhere around league average. With a bounce back season with the glove, that would make playing Lagares regularly more than worth it.

One last thing to note is how impressed the team was with Lagares at Mets camp, where he showed up in superb physical shape and showed off the defense he exhibited in his 2014 Gold Glove campaign. He also was no slouch at the plate and wrapped up a solid Spring Training, batting .318 with a .400 OBP and .832 OPS. The six walks and three stolen bases were notable as well. He’s still young, having only just turned 27 last week.

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2016 Season Preview: Matt Harvey, RHP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/2016-season-preview-matt-harvey-rhp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/2016-season-preview-matt-harvey-rhp.html/#comments Fri, 01 Apr 2016 10:18:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208786 matt harvey tall

Matt Harvey, SP
Bats/Throws: R/R
DOB: March 27, 1989 (27 on Opening Day)
Contract Status: First year arbitration eligible ($4.3 million salary)

2015 Recap

Matt Harvey was not at the level of dominance that he was before his elbow surgery in late 2013, but he wasn’t that far off either, he pitched as well as you could have hoped for a pitcher in his situation.

For the year, Harvey tossed 189.1 regular season innings, posting a 2.71 ERA, 3.05 FIP, and 3.24 xFIP. That was significantly worse than his 2.26 ERA in 2013, but still fantastic considering he hadn’t pitched in an MLB game in almost a year and a half. His walk rate remained incredibly low at 1.76 per nine innings while his strikeout rate of 8.94 remained quite good.

Harvey clearly lost a little something due to the surgery. There is no denying it. He simply wasn’t as sharp with his command as he was in 2013. But all things considered, his season could have gone a lot worse. Even with the massive layoff, he remained one of baseball’s most elite pitchers. He pitched an unprecedented number of innings for a Tommy John patient. You could not have asked for much more. Or as Ken Rosenthal put it, it was historically the greatest season ever for any pitcher coming back in his first year from Tommy John surgery.

2016 Projections

Steamer: 203 IP, 3.08 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 9.17 K/9, 1.94 BB/9

Marcel: 155 IP, 2.96 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9

ZiPS: 170 IP, 2.91 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 8.51 K/9, 2.17 BB/9

Look, none of these projection systems are nearly sophisticated enough to count on Harvey building arm strength from last season, which I think most of us expect he will do. Harvey was able to bring his ‘A’ game in some important postseason starts, but he was less successful as the season wound down. He pitched to a 3.99 ERA over the last month of the season (although his peripherals point to that as being bad luck). He seemed to tire more quickly and be more vulnerable in the seventh and eighth innings than he has been in the past.

Is it reasonable to expect Harvey to become one of the top three starters in baseball again? No. The only pitcher you can really expect that from is Clayton Kershaw. However, I do think that Harvey’s 2015 will be sort of the floor for him going forward. There were no glaring indicators that suggest Harvey over performed (or underperformed), but having over 200 innings behind him will only help him in not only avoiding another UCL tear but also in staying sharp later in games and seasons.

Expect another stellar year from the Mets’ ace.

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2016 Season Preview: David Wright, 3B http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-season-preview-david-wright-3b.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-season-preview-david-wright-3b.html/#comments Wed, 30 Mar 2016 14:00:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208629 david wright 2

David Wright, 3B
Bats/Throws: R/R
DOB: December 20, 1982 (33 on Opening Day)
Contract: Year four of eight-year, $138 million deal ($20 million salary)

2015 Recap

In just two short years, David Wright has gone from being a top ten position player in all of baseball to being arguably the biggest question mark for the Mets going into the 2016 season.

Wright, who just turned 33, is battling spinal stenosis, a degenerative back condition that can be managed with treatment, but will never really go away. Last year, a DL stint that was supposed to be a few weeks off to nurse a hamstring strain turned into a months-long rehab program for his back.

Despite the condition, however, Wright was very solid once coming off the disabled list in August. He finished out the regular season starting about five out of every six days. From his return to the end of the year, Wright slashed .277/.381/.437 with four home runs and seven doubles.

The postseason was very different for Wright, however. While I normally wouldn’t comment much on it since it is a very small sample size against the game’s best teams, Wright doesn’t have much to evaluate from 2015. Over 64 plate appearances, Wright slashed .185/.313/.278 with just one homer and two doubles, leaving questions about Wright’s health going into next season.

2016 Projections

Marcel – 346 PAs, .275/.343/.427, 9 HR

Steamer – 556 PAs, .267/.338/.410, 14 HR

Of all the players on the Mets roster right now, Wright has the most worthless projections. While I showed them above, they are very basic systems that don’t take into account the nature of Wright’s injury.

That being said, they have one thing in common for Wright: a decrease in power. With the diagnosis of spinal stenosis, this will almost certainly happen with Wright. Gone are the days where we will get a .500 slugging percentage or a .220 ISO from third base. Wright’s back will leave him less able to access the home run power in his legs. For a player like Wright, that’s where the home run power comes from.

I see Wright going from the perfect number three hitter that he’s been for most of his career to a number two hitter. His plate discipline will still be there, as will his ability to hit line drives to all fields. Even with the back injury, he could hit 15 home runs in a season.

Wright came back to the team in August ready to let it rip immediately. Whatever he was doing with his doctors and physical therapists in Los Angeles was clearly working. With a full offseason to develop a plan and Wright’s notorious devotion to pre-game exercises, therapies, and stretches to get him ready, I’m more optimistic that we will see the David Wright of the regular season rather than the postseason.

Managing Wright’s condition will be a challenge for Terry Collins, but the signing of Asdrubal Cabrera and the shift of Wilmer Floes to the bench make the job much easier. With a very capable backup, Collins and Wright should be more willing to take rest days when necessary. If it were Eric Campbell or Ruben Tejada backing up third, both Collins and Wright would likely hesitate to take days off, which can’t happen with an injury like this.

The big question for Wright (outside of how close to his old self will he be) is how much he will be able to stay on the field. The truth is I don’t know. None of us know. Not the beat writers, the doctors, or even the readers of this blog. I’m not going to sit here and declare that Wright is going to play a certain number of games because he simply hasn’t been tested with this condition over the course of a full season. He may continue to do seven hours of preparation before each game and be able to rack up 500 or 550 plate appearances. Or he might be on and off the disabled list constantly.

If he can stay reasonably healthy, a .270/.370/.430 slash line over however many games he plays would be outstanding given the circumstances. The major loss for Wright will be his power, but the rest of his approach at the plate should be more or less intact. An .800 OPS is nothing close to the Wright of 2012 and 2013, but it is still well above average even for third base. That would put him on par with the likes of Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier. Not bad for someone who we once doubted would ever play again.

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2016 Season Preview: Yoenis Cespedes, OF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-season-preview-yoenis-cespedes-of.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-season-preview-yoenis-cespedes-of.html/#comments Wed, 30 Mar 2016 11:00:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208620 cespedes yoenis

Yoenis Cespedes, OF
DOB: October 18, 1985 (30 years old on Opening Day)
Bats/Throws: R/R
Contract Status: First year of three-year, $75 million deal ($27.5 million salary)

2015 Recap

If I could sum up Yoenis Cespedes‘ 2015 season in one word, it would be this: thrilling. After being dealt to the Tigers during the 2014-2015 offseason, Cespedes got off to a very good start. He saw significant bumps to his batting average, slugging, and on-base percentage. Before being dealt again at the trade deadline, Cespedes had smacked 18 home runs and posted an impressive .293/.323/.506 line (123 wRC+). That line was his best since 2012.  A free agent to be, Cespedes fell victim to the Tigers’ fire sale, netting them Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

As we saw, Cespedes became a monster the minute he put on a Mets uniform. In just two months of play (57 games), Cespedes hit 17 home runs and slashed .287/.337/.604 (157 wRC+). While the Mets acquired Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson and added David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, and Michael Conforto to the roster, Cespedes was unquestionably one of the driving forces behind the Mets’ second half offensive turnaround.

For the year, Cespedes hit .291/.328/.542 (135 wRC+), finally matching what he did in his rookie campaign, at least offensively. All that, plus Gold Glove defense in left field, mostly with the Tigers, Cespedes earned himself 6.7 Wins Above Replacement from Fangraphs and 6.3 from Baseball-Reference.

2016 Projections

Marcel – 603 PA, .265/.309/.480, 26 HR

Steamer – 595 PA, .259/.305/.464 (112 wRC+), 26 HR

ZiPS – 629 PA, .270/.312/.498 (125 OPS+), 30 HR

Projecting what Cespedes will do is an incredibly difficult task. In 2012 and 2015, he was a monster of a hitter and a true multi-dimensional threat at the plate. However, in both 2013 and 2014, he wasn’t able to do much outside of hitting some home runs. In those years, he posted wRC+ ratings of 102 and 109, only a bit above average.

Here’s what’s perplexing in this situation: Cespedes did not undergo a major swing change from 2014 to 2015. Unlike with Curtis Granderson, there is nothing you can point to and say “here is why he turned things around.”

If Cespedes somehow manages to repeat what he did in 2015, he’s the best hitter on the team and will more than make up for his defense in center field, no matter how bad it is. However, if he reverts to the Cespedes of 2013 and 2014, he will likely only be the fourth or fifth best hitter on the team, which would be a real disappointment considering how much he’s getting paid.

Do I think Cespedes’ 2015 results are going to be the new norm? No. He isn’t going to be a dynamic, lineup-changing force going forward. In fact, he has never really been that player, outside a few months last year. But if he can just perform somewhere near his career averages (.271/.319/.486, 121 wRC+), he will make an already good lineup even deeper. It’s unfair to expect Cespedes to be the game-changing player he was in the final weeks of 2015, but he should be a solid hitter.

Cespedes’ defense in center field is also a concern of mine, given his -17 DRS and -17.6 UZR/150 at the position. Defensive statistics are far from perfect, so we won’t really know for sure what will happen this season. However, I would expect Terry Collins to often do what he did in quite a few postseason games: take out Conforto, move Cespedes to left field, and put Juan Lagares in center field for defensive purposes. While having Lagares in center for high leverage situations will help, it remains to be seen whether the Mets will be able to tolerate playing Cespedes there. If not, thankfully Cespedes’ deal is essentially a one-year contract.

I still maintain that Cespedes is a massive long-term risk, but for now he should be a net positive. If I had to predict what he’ll do, I’d say somewhere between ZiPS and Marcel. Neither are the out-of-this-world production that many people expect, but they would give the Mets average or above average offense at every single position. With our pitching staff, that’s a scary thought.

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2016 Season Preview: Bartolo Colon, SP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mmo-season-preview-bartolo-colon-sp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/mmo-season-preview-bartolo-colon-sp.html/#comments Tue, 29 Mar 2016 20:30:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=207470 bartolo colon nlds

Bartolo Colon, SP
Bats/Throws: R/R
DOB: May 24, 1973 (42 on Opening Day)
Contract: One-year, $7.25 million

2015 Recap

“Big Sexy” had another decent year on the mound in 2015, eating innings (and more) at the back of the rotation. The 42 year-old with a seemingly rubber arm posted a 4.16 ERA, 3.84 FIP, and 3.94 xFIP over 194.2 innings of work.

Bartolo Colon certainly had some bad nights on the mound. On four occasions, he allowed seven runs or more. Part of this (and this is just my theory) is that he doesn’t have the power that his younger counterparts do to bail him out on an off night. However, he has also shown he can dominate a game. His impeccable efficiency allows him to go deep when his stuff is on. He went six innings or more in 23 of 31 starts and went eight or more frames four times.

The way I look at it is this: Most of the time, he is as good as any back-end starter in baseball. But he’s also 42, so when he doesn’t have his best stuff, it can get incredibly ugly. That’s just the reality when you deal with a pitcher who relies almost exclusively on control of his pitches.

For a 42 year-old to pitch almost 200 innings and do basically whatever Terry Collins asked of him is a victory. His overall numbers weren’t great, but the Mets got their money’s worth.

 2016 Projections

Marcel – 176 IP, 4.09 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 1.6 BB/9

Steamer – 148 IP, 3.86 ERA, 6.35 K/9, 1.26 BB/9

ZiPS – 157.2 IP, 4.11 ERA, 5.94 K/9, 1.43 BB/9

This year should be a little bit different for Colon than the past two years. Hopefully sometime in June or July, Zack Wheeler will return from Tommy John surgery, pushing Colon out of the rotation and into the bullpen.

Colon has very little experience as a relief pitcher, but he showed he can be a change of pace in relief. Wedging him between hard throwing pitchers like Harvey and Familia could give hitters some trouble. And as we’ve seen, leadoff walks late in games can often be the difference between winning and losing. Colon almost never does that, keeping his cool in any situation. Colon has seen it all. Having someone like him on a young and inexperienced team is priceless.

Nothing was out of the ordinary last season for Colon. His HR/FB and BABIP were slightly elevated, so perhaps his 4.16 ERA was a little inflated, but not by much. His strikeout rate dropped a bit, but so did his walk rate. He continues to be a freak of nature and outside of his age, there is no reason to expect that not to continue.

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2016 Season Preview: Alejandro De Aza, OF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-alejandro-de-aza-of.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-alejandro-de-aza-of.html/#comments Wed, 23 Mar 2016 13:02:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208270 alejandro de aza

Alejandro De Aza, OF
DOB – April 11, 1984 (31 on Opening Day)
Bats/Throws: L/L
Contract Status: One-year, $5.75 million with $2M incentives

2015 Recap

Alejandro De Aza had his best season at the plate since 2012, posting a .262/.333/.422 line (104 wRC+) between three teams last year. The outfielder had a weak first month with the Orioles, hitting just .214/.277/.359 in 30 games, but had success in both Boston and San Francisco.

As a left-handed hitter, De Aza has had continued success against right-handed pitching throughout his career, and 2015 was no exception. De Aza hit .278/.351/.448 with seven homers in 314 plate appearances against right-handed pitching last year. That .799 OPS against righties was well above the league average of .723.

De Aza had a so-so year defensively, posting a -4 DRS and -1.1 UZR. Overall, he was worth about 1.2 Wins Above Replacement according to Fangraphs and 0.9 according to Baseball-Reference.

2016 Projections

Marcel – 435 PAs, .256/.319/.399, 9 HR

Steamer – 413 PAs, .241/.304/.364, 7 HR

ZiPS – 479 PAs, .257/.319/.401, 9 HR, 103 OPS+

The Mets signed Alejandro De Aza purely to face right-handed pitching which should immediately boost his numbers. I think you’ll see Juan Lagares get significant at-bats against right-handed pitching simply to have his glove on the field.

That being said, De Aza has been effective at what the Mets signed him for. Over his career, he has a .274/.338/.418 line against right-handed pitching, which is slightly above average.

In terms of indicators, there is nothing to point to that says De Aza’s 2015 season was a fluke. His BABIP was right around his career average, his line drive rate didn’t change very much, nor did his hard hit ball rate. And keep in mind he is still 31 years old, so he’s not old either.

The real question with De Aza is not how well he is going to hit right-handed pitching, because he is well-established as above average against them. The real question is whether or not he can handle center field. He hasn’t played much center field of late because he’s simply been on rosters with some great center fielders like Jackie Bradley, Adam Jones, and Adam Eaton.

However, the defensive stats are a bit strange for De Aza. UZR pegs him as a tick above average over his career in center while Defensive Runs Saved has him at -18 runs. Still, that DRS number was fueled by just one season. While he certainly isn’t an above average defender De Aza’s awful season in center a few years ago could have very well been a fluke or a flaw with the DRS statistic.

This is certainly not a Yoenis Cespedes situation where all the defensive metrics say the defense is bad. This is just an example of a situation where a defensive metric may not work perfectly for certain players. We’ll have to see how De Aza handles center field this year to know for sure.

If De Aza sticks around and actually gets significant playing time against righties, we can expect a slightly above average hitter (his career slash line against righties is .274/.338/.418). De Aza is by no means a flashy player, but he will do the job. Having Cespedes in center certainly makes the signing more palatable, no matter your opinion of him.

NOTE: This was written before the Cespedes signing, with slight modifications made.

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2016 Season Preview: Asdrubal Cabrera, SS http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-asdrubal-cabrera-ss.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-asdrubal-cabrera-ss.html/#comments Tue, 22 Mar 2016 00:00:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208135 asdrubal cabrera

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
Bats/Throws: S/R
DOB: November 13, 1985 (30 on Opening Day)
Contract: First year of two-year, $18.5 million deal

2015 Recap

Asdrubal Cabrera did not (and probably will never) regain his form that saw him hit 25 home runs with the Indians five seasons ago, but his 2015 season was undoubtedly solid. Over 143 games with the Rays, Cabrera smacked 15 home runs and slashed .265/.315/.430, which comes out to a 104 wRC+, well above the 85 league average for a shortstop.

Cabrera hit both righties and lefties equally well, unlike Neil Walker, who we previewed yesterday. This past season, Cabrera had a .752 OPS against righties and a .725 OPS against lefties. For his career, those numbers are .737 and .748.

Defensively, he was below average, coming in at -7 Defensive Runs Saved and a -6.0 UZR. That’s not good, but not terrible either.

All in all, the defensive numbers didn’t hurt his value too much. According to Fangraphs, he was worth 2.2 Wins Above Replacement, while Baseball-Reference pegged him at 1.7.

2016 Projections

Steamer – 530 PA, .243/.305/.394, 14 HR

Steamer600 – 600 PA, .243/.305/.394, 16 HR

Marcel – 537 PA, .251/.309/.412, 14 HR

First the good news. It looks like Asdrubal Cabrera is quickly recovering from a sore knee and by all accounts he should be ready for Opening Day,

With Cabrera hitting 16, 14, 14, and 15 home runs the last four seasons, he is just about as good a bet as anyone in the league to hit around 15 home runs. He won’t put up a 120 wRC+, but he’ll hit around league average, which again, is very good for a shortstop. Here are the shortstops who did it last year:

That’s it. Cabrera isn’t going to put up flashy numbers, but he’s quite a good hitter for his position. The Mets are getting a very good value here.

But there’s more. With Cabrera now on the roster, Wilmer Flores will move to the bench, where he will get playing time at second base, third base, and occasionally shortstop. Flores, who is a very similar hitter to Cabrera, will provide both power and flexibility for the Mets, and will serve as insurance in case of an injury.

In terms of Cabrera’s indicators, his .306 BABIP from 2015 was right in line with his .307 career mark. His home run per fly ball rate was basically the same as his career rate. However, there are somewhat concerning numbers from Cabrera that have me a little unsure about exactly where he will fall this season.

First up is his hard hit ball rate. According to Fangraphs, it dropped from 33.8 percent in 2014 to just 26.4 percent last year. Cabrera has had great success before with a similar hard hit ball rate (the season he hit 25 bombs, it was 26.8 percent). However, as players get older, you start to worry whether they are starting to lose precious bat speed. According to Brooks Baseball, his average exit velocity is average, but this is certainly something to keep an eye on.

The other concern is his elevated swing rate on pitches outside the strike zone. This past year, this rate rose to 37.4 percent, well above his 30.7 percent career averages. Especially if his bat speed really is deteriorating (which we don’t know it is), it will be all the more important for him to lay off pitches he can’t hit.

All that said, Cabrera is still a good bet to be a league average bat with some pop and not a total liability in the field. A season in the range of .245/.305/.410 is a solid bet for Cabrera with 15 or so home runs.

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2016 Season Preview: Curtis Granderson, RF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-curtis-granderson-rf.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-curtis-granderson-rf.html/#comments Mon, 21 Mar 2016 22:04:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208208 curtis granderson

Curtis Granderson, RF
Bats/Throws: L/R
DOB: March 16, 1981 (35 on Opening Day)
Contract status: Third year of 4yr/$60 million deal ($16 million salary)

2015 Recap

What a difference a year makes. After a very disappointing 2014 season, Curtis Granderson had his best year at the plate since 2011. After a dismal .227/.326/.388 from the slugger in 2014, Granderson hit .259/.364/.457 with 26 home runs, coming out to a 132 wRC+.

Granderson saw a significant increase in his power, with his ISO rising from .161 to .198, his best since 2012. He aso added six homers to his 2014 total of 20.

Defensively, Granderson had an excellent year as well. He ended the year with a positive 11 DRS and 5.9 UZR. Both are huge swings from the year before. In fact, he improved so much that he was named a Gold Glove Award finalist.

All in all, Granderson’s across the board improvements did wonders for his overall value. Both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference valued him at 5.1 Wins Above Replacement after giving him a 1.2 mark in 2014.

2016 Projections

Steamer – 682 PAs, .232/.329/.412, 24 HR

Marcel – 606 PAs, .240/.333/.414, 20 HR

It’s not reasonable to expect Granderson to match or exceed his 2015 numbers next season, but most signs indicate he has changed his approach for good. He will definitely exceed his projections.

Granderson has become a completely different hitter since leaving the Yankees a few years ago. At one point a free-swinger with incredible power, he has become a tactical, discipled hitter with a great eye. In his last year with the Yankees, Granderson swung at 44.8 percent of pitches. This past season, that number dropped to just 37.7 percent. Now, that’s not necessarily a good thing, but Granderson has been swinging at far fewer pitches outside the strike zone and missing on far fewer of his swings. His contact percentage is up over 12 percent from two years ago. He is hitting more pitches both inside and outside the strike zone.

What is the result of all this? Granderson saw his line drive rate jump from 18.9 percent to 27.1 percent. He significantly decreased his pull rate, hitting more balls up the middle and to left field. No longer is he the pull-happy slugger he was with the Yankees.

Ironically, the change has come under new hitting coach Kevin Long, who also coached him when he was a pull-happy Yankees slugger. Granderson and Long worked on simplifying his swing, and the difference is noticeable. There is far less movement in the loading stage of Grandy’s swing, and he’s keeping his hands much more still.

Check out what his swing looked like in 2014:

Of course he still hit a home run in this video, but he had a bit of a looping action going on with his hands. That’s fine for pulling an inside pitch over the right field fence, but can become a problem in other situations.

Now take a look at his swing in the World Series this year, where he hits a home run to dead center field. He still has a little hitch with his hands as a timing mechanism, but is otherwise quiet. Especially for someone like Granderson, limiting that pre-swing movement can really open up the middle and outer part of the plate.

2015 granderson gif

The results were clear: Granderson was able to access much more of the zone than he was in 2014. Check out his whiffs (miss) per swing by zone in 2014:

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.29.01 AM

Now compare that to 2015:

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.28.26 AM All of this leads me to believe that Granderson can put up numbers pretty close to what he did in 2015. Call it a mechanical change, call it a changed approach, or call it a combination of both. Granderson is simply a different hitter than he was in 2014. His numbers weren’t driven by an unreasonably-high BABIP nor was his power fueled by a high HR/FB rate (although both were elevated).

There is virtually no chance Granderson hits 30 or 40 home runs next season, but he’s probably all the better for it. Having a multi-dimensional hitter like 2015 Grandy is exactly what the Met lineup needs. Even with his advancing age, something along the lines of .250/.355/.450 for Granderson is not only plausible, but would provide tremendous value at the top of the Mets’ order.

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2016 Season Preview: Neil Walker, 2B http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-neil-walker-2b.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-neil-walker-2b.html/#comments Mon, 21 Mar 2016 14:00:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=208132 neil walker 2

Neil Walker, 2B
Bats/Throws: S/R
DOB: September 10, 1985 (30 on Opening Day)
Contract: 3rd-year arbitration eligible (Projected $10.7 million)

2015 Recap

After a career year in 2014, Neil Walker saw a big drop in offensive production with the Pirates. In 2014, Walker slashed .271/.341/.467 with 23 home runs in 137 games. He saw his power go up significantly with a career-high .195 ISO and 51 extra base hits.

However, Walker saw his batting line dip to .269/.328/.427 with 16 home runs in 151 games. Overall, his offensive production boiled down to a 108 wRC+, still very good for his position. Even in his down year, his 108 wRC+ was very close to Daniel Murphy‘s 109 career mark.

Defensively, Walker was a bit below average at second base, coming in at -2 Defensive Runs Saved and -6.8 UZR. All of that comes from a simple lack of range. However, he generally makes the play on anything he gets to, which we can’t really say about Murphy.

Take a look at how Murphy and Walker compare with Inside Edge Fielding. Put together by Baseball Info Solutions, Inside Edge Fielding rates each play as either Impossible (0%), Remote (1-10%), Unlikely (10-40%), About Even (40-60%), Likely (60-90%), or Certain (90-100%) and tracks the successes. Here’s how Murphy and Walker compare over the last four years at second base:

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.31.05 PM

This is obviously far from the perfect way to analyze a fielder, but it gives you a sense of what kind of second baseman Walker has been in comparison to Murphy. He is a definite upgrade.

It’s not all rosy for Walker. This past season, he struggled against left-handed pitching, slashing just .237/.284/.290 in 102 plate appearances. Walker has typically not hit lefties well despite being a switch hitter, owning a .656 OPS against the,. But even for him, 2015 was a bad year against the southpaws. I would expect Wilmer Flores to get some at-bats in these spots.

2016 Projections

Steamer – 526 PAs, .258/.329/.427, 17 HR

Steamer600 – 600 PAs, .258/.329/.427, 19 HR

Marcel – 559 PAs, .263/.330/.436, 18 HR

Unlike with Duda’s projections yesterday, I think these are right on the money. Walker will be hurt by the move to Citi Field, which is still arguably the toughest place in baseball to hit. Considering he hit 23 home runs in 2014, the possibility of a 20 home run season from Walker is very possible, which can’t really be said for Murphy. Despite a much lower batting average, a season like any of the three above would be more productive than a typical year from Murphy.

A .260/.330/.430 year would be a fine season for any second baseman. Combined with Walker’s average defense, we can expect an fWAR in the 2.5 to 3.5 range, a sure bargain at less than $11 million.

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2016 Season Preview: Lucas Duda, 1B http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-lucas-duda-1b.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-lucas-duda-1b.html/#comments Fri, 18 Mar 2016 17:49:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=207987 lucas duda

Lucas Duda, 1B
Bats/Throws: L/R
DOB: February 3, 1986 (30 on Opening Day)
Contract: 2nd-year arbitration eligible (Projected $6.8 million)

2015 Recap

Lucas Duda‘s 2014 season earned him almost universal acclaim among Mets fans, yet when he did virtually the same thing in 2015, he became one of the more criticized players on the team.

Duda ended the 2015 season with a fantastic .244/.352/.486 slash line, good for a 133 wRC+. In 135 games, Duda slugged 27 homers and a career-high 33 doubles. However, he also saw his strikeout rate rise from 22.7 percent in 2014 to 24.9 percent.

Defensively, it was more of the same for Duda. Defensive Runs Saved pegged Duda a few runs above average while UZR rated him around average. For such a big guy, Duda plays a good first base and continued to do so this year, even with his infamous throw in the World Series.

However, Duda’s season was overshadowed in many Mets’ fans minds by a long slump that lasted from around the beginning of June until the All-Star break in mid-July. In that span, Duda hit just .163/.278/.279 with three home runs over those 36 games. This was easily the worst slump of Duda’s career. Outside of those five weeks or so, however, Duda was unquestionably outstanding. Many Mets fans will complain (as they always do) about his home runs coming in bunches, but Duda brought a lot more to the table than just home runs.

Overall, Duda posted a very solid 3.1 fWAR in 2014 compared to 3.2 in 2015. Considering he also had a DL stint in there, his season was in many ways a repeat of 2014.

2016 Projections

Steamer – 581 PA, .238/.341/.435, 24 HR

Marcel – 537 PA, .245/.344/.466, 25 HR

I think both of these projections are unfair to Duda and how he’s been able to transform himself as a hitter over the past two seasons. Remember, most projection systems take into account the last three seasons. That would include 2013 which, for Duda, was ugly. In fact, it was so horrific at one point that he was sent down to Triple-A for a while. He hit .224/.352/.415 for the season which I think we can all agree will likely not happen again. Duda is a completely different hitter than he was back then, so 2013′s numbers are just an unnecessary weight.

Looking at his indicators, there is nothing glaring to be found. His BABIP last year was .285, compared to .283 in 2014. His home run per fly ball rate of 15.9 percent was virtually the same as his 16.0 percent rate in 2014. He’s hitting the ball hard at basically the same rates. His plate disciplined has remained as well. Mechanically speaking, there doesn’t appear to be anything that sticks out.

To me, all signs point to another season of 25 to 30 home runs and a batting line in the range of .245/.350/.480. If we get that, we should all be very happy.

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2016 Season Preview: Travis d’Arnaud, C http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-travis-darnaud-c.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-travis-darnaud-c.html/#comments Fri, 18 Mar 2016 15:08:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=207978 MLB: Spring Training-Detroit Tigers at New York Mets

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Travis d’Arnaud, C
Bats/Throws: R/R
DOB: February 10, 1989 (27 on Opening Day)
Contract: $550,000, Arb Eligible 2017, Free Agent 2020

2015 Recap

Travis d’Arnaud was probably the most under-appreciated player on the Mets roster this past season. Although he missed significant time due to another freak injury, he was fantastic when he was on the field.

d’Arnaud put up gaudy offensive numbers in his 268 trips to the plate last year. He slashed.268/.340/.485 with 12 home runs. Adjusting for park and league factors, that comes out to a 131 wRC+. Of all catchers who got 200 or more plate appearances, that was tied with Kyle Schwarber for second in baseball.

When healthy, d’Arnaud has shown that he is in the conversation of second-best catcher in baseball behind Buster Posey. In just 67 games last year, he posted a 2.3 fWAR, which would extrapolate out to over 4.0 in a full season. Additionally, he produced a .485 slugging percentage last season, which ranked No. 1 among catchers with 250+ plate appearances.

From the middle of 2014 onward, d’Arnaud has simply been on another level offensively. In 69 games after a brief stint in Triple-A, d’Arnaud slashes .272/.319/.486 with ten home runs. Over the last season’s worth of plate appearances, d’Arnaud has been an elite hitting catcher.

With the glove, d’Arnaud seemed to struggle a bit at times, mostly with throwing runners out. However, that belief was skewed by watching the masterful Salvador Perez in the World Series.

However, the truth is d’Arnaud threw out a higher percentage of base stealers than Perez at 33 percent, compared to Perez’s 32 percent. That’s not to say he’s better (perhaps more runners are opting not to steal against Perez), but d’Arnaud is no slouch. And we all know how good he is at pitch framing…

He may not have gotten much of the spotlight, but d’Arnaud had an outstanding 2015.

2016 Projections

Steamer – 343 PAs, .257/.320/.444, 13 HR

Marcel – 376 PAs, .254/.320/.434, 14 HR

Both of these projections have d’Arnaud playing a half season, but only because he’s been hurt a few times over the last couple of seasons.

As with Wright, I’m not going to predict how many games d’Arnaud will play. However, I will say this: I’m still not convinced d’Arnaud is injury prone. I know that sounds crazy considering how much time he has spent on the DL, but none of his injuries have been related or signal that he’s more prone to getting hurt than the average player.

D’Arnaud was hit by a pitch and broke his pinkie, which happens all the time when people are hit in the pinkie with a 90 mile per hour pitch. Then he was delayed by an unrelated bone bruise on his wrist, something that happens to catchers. He later hurt his elbow on a crazy slide at home plate. In 2013, he broke his foot. Before that, he partially tore a ligament in his knee while sliding.

Unlike Jose Reyes, who was constantly pulling quad and hamstring muscles, none of d’Arnaud’s injuries are related. Has he been frequently hurt? Yes. Are all of his bones, tendons, and muscles throughout his entire body more prone to breaking or tearing? Highly unlikely.

Now, on to the projections. Both Marcel and Steamer, of course, include the first half of 2014, which is why the slugging percentage is so low. Considering it’s been consistently in the .480 range since coming back up from the minors that season, it’s more likely he approaches that in 2016. If he hits for that much power, he should exceed or approach 20 home runs as well.

I think going into 2016 expecting d’Arnaud to put up his insane 2015 line over a full season is a little optimistic. I’d say something around .260/.320/.480 would be a reasonable expectation for our young catcher.

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2016 season Preview: Michael Conforto, LF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-michael-conforto-lf.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/03/2016-preview-michael-conforto-lf.html/#comments Wed, 16 Mar 2016 15:32:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=207854 michael conforto 2

Michael Conforto, LF

Bats/Throws: L/R

DOB: March 1, 1993 (23)

Contract Status: Pre-Arb Eligible (Free Agent after 2021)

2015 Recap

A little over a year after being drafted, Michael Conforto was called up with the expectations that he would turn around an ailing Mets lineup. What the Mets got in Conforto was a dynamic middle of the order hitter who many now think could become a star.

Despite playing a grand total of 133 minor league games, none of which came in Triple-A, Conforto saw immediate success and ended the season with a .270/.335/.506 batting line in 56 games. During that span, Conforto hit nine home runs in just 194 plate appearances. To give you some context on how good that was, over a full 600 plate appearances, that extrapolates out to about 28 home runs.

Conforto’s 134 wRC+ leaves a lot to be excited about. With all the inexperience, all the pressure he was under, and all the hype, Conforto had many reasons not to succeed, but he did anyway.

Even though Conforto only appeared in 56 games last season, he was worth 2.1 Wins Above Replacement according to both Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs. He far exceeded expectations both at the plate and on defense, giving us a Mets position player prospect to get excited about for the first time in a while.

2016 projections

Marcel – 297 PAs, .270/.333/.468, 11 HR

Steamer – 557 PAs, .260/.321/.435, 19 HR, 2.1 fWAR

ZiPS – 610 PAs, .255/.320/.466, 26 HR, 3.2 fWAR

It’s hard for these projection systems to try to project out someone who has played so little at both the major league level and in the minors. After all, he’s still only received 783 professional plate appearances.

Conforto’s success last season wasn’t BABIP-driven (.297), so he probably wasn’t just getting lucky with cheap hits. He also hit the ball hard over 40 percent of the time, well above the league average of 28.6 percent.

I don’t think there is any doubt after watching Conforto last season that he has a sky-high ceiling at the plate. He is still quite young and unseasoned, but he has the advanced approach of a hitter in his thirties. He really exemplifies exactly the type of hitters Sandy Alderson and his staff have been trying to develop the last few years.

Conforto is a very smart hitter, which I think makes him far less likely to fall victim to the so-called “sophomore slump.” A season like what the Marcel system projects (although over a full season) is the expectation from me. That’s a high bar to set, but a hitter like Conforto can do it.

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MMO Season Preview: Steven Matz, SP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mmo-season-preview-steven-matz-sp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/mmo-season-preview-steven-matz-sp.html/#comments Mon, 29 Feb 2016 15:00:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=206886 steven matz

Steven Matz, SP

Throws/Bats: L/R

DOB: Match 29, 1991 (25 on Opening Day)

Contract: Pre-Arb (Salary: league minimum)

2015 Recap

Believe it or not, Steven Matz made just nine major league starts last season. But listening to the hype, you’d have thought he’d won Rookie of the Year.

That being said, Matz was pretty excellent in his brief time with the Mets. In six regular season starts, he posted a 2.27 ERA over 35.2 innings. He also racked up 34 strikeouts (8.6 K/9) and 10 walks (2.5 BB/9). In the postseason, he pitched pretty well in three starts.

There were definitely some negatives with Matz, however. He missed significant time with lat issues, which kept him on the DL for much of the stretch run. He was also unable to go particularly deep into games. In September and October, he was never able to go further than six innings. Matz may have already had Tommy John Surgery, but he couldn’t shake the image of him as a fragile, injury-prone pitcher.

2016 Projections

Marcel – 78 IP, 3.46 ERA, 8.2 K.9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.244 WHIP

ZiPS – 142 IP, 3.34 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9

The projections and I are both cautiously optimistic on Matz. While we did see him get hitters out in the major leagues last season, the truth is we really didn’t see very much of him. I can see why Mets fans are so eager to tag him with the word “ace,” though. After all, we’ve had success developing Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob deGrom, right? Mets fans seem to have forgotten the slim odds even the best pitching prospects face. We need a little dose of realism here.

This isn’t meant to be a knock on Matz, however, because so far I like what I see. He commands an electric mid-90s fastball and the rest of his repertoire is nothing to scoff at either. He posted outrageous numbers in the minor leagues, better than any of the other top pitchers to come through the Mets system lately. The fact that he’s a lefty could help at times, too, not only in easing the stress of whichever lefties end up in the bullpen, but after two days of hard-throwing righties, Matz could throw opposing lineups off balance.

I don’t expect Matz to be quite on the level of a deGrom or Harvey, at least for now. His ERA predictors weren’t too bullish on his six starts last year. Granted, it was a small sample size, but he did leave over 90 percent of runners on base, which is not sustainable. He’s going to fall back down to Earth a bit, especially since he will be pitching later into games.

I’m certainly excited about Matz, but I’m not ready to jump on the “five aces” bandwagon quite yet.

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