Mets Merized Online » Fan Shots http://metsmerizedonline.com Fri, 27 Feb 2015 23:52:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 MMO Fan Shot: An Evening With Sandy Alderson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mmo-fan-shot-an-evening-with-sandy-alderson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mmo-fan-shot-an-evening-with-sandy-alderson.html/#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 06:36:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174325 sandy alderson

An MMO Fan Shot by Matt Stephens

In 2013 the Mets hosted an event where you could ask Sandy Alderson questions. It was pretty lame. It was right in the midst of the Michael Bourn saga, and every question was about that. It wasn’t fun. This time around I think things went a little better. Sandy was definitely more insightful, and though he reiterated his usual points, it was more sincere than he’s been in a while.

Tonight I spent the night at that same event at Citi Field where all four GMs answered questions from the fans. I don’t think Ricciardi or DePodesta was asked one thing though. Alderson received the bulk of the questions and Ricco chimed in on occasion.

I recorded the event and transcribed the most interesting questions and answers to the best of my ability. They aren’t all exact word for word, but I did not put words in anyone’s mouth. The questions and answers are shortened and paraphrased to make this article an appropriate length. Below are these questions and answers along with some commentary. A indicates Alderson.

Met Fan: I was pretty optimistic going into this off-season but I don’t see a lot of improvement. We finished 17 games out of first place, and the Nationals, Marlins, and Padres all improved substantially while we’re just adding Cuddyer and Harvey. You made the statement ‘I’m expecting to improve by 10 games, but I don’t think we have the numbers to support that. It’s been 30 years since the World Series, and I’d like to get back there.

Alderson: “”Let me clarify what I said. I didn’t say that we expect to improve by 10 games, I said that we have the capacity to improve by 10 games, and that I believe. The question boils down to what the hell have you been doing the last two months and that’s a fair question. We signed Cuddyer almost immediately, and the timing on that was solely based on Colorado’s qualifying offer. We knew it was going to be a short-term contract and wanted an outfielder that could hit left-handed pitching.”

“The question became, will Wilmer Flores play shortstop for the Mets? The short answer is yes. In the last two months, we’ve considered a lot of things, but we aren’t in Miami’s position. They had obvious holes and third base and first base and filled them. Though we don’t have an All-Star at every position, we don’t have gaping holes either.”

“Travis d’Arnaud may not be an outstanding player right now, but it doesn’t mean we need to chase someone better. We admittedly looked into 8-10 shortstop possibilities but as far as what it would cost, in terms of prospects and money, we weren’t willing to make those deals. We spend a lot of time looking at things, and it isn’t because I’m overly cautious. I’m very comfortable with what we have.”

Note: After this Howie Rose, the event’s moderator, brought up the topic of Amed Rosario and asked if his future impacts current decisions at the shortstop position. Alderson said that for prospects who are that far away, their impact is not even considered. There is more focus put on Matt Reynolds who is close to the major leagues and is ready to contribute.

Met Fan: Can we expect a double play combination of Amed Rosario and Dilson Herrera and where will they begin this season?

Alderson: “Dilson will start at Las Vegas and Amed will be at Savannah. It is possible that he reaches Port St. Lucie by the season’s end. That combination is something we can project, but it also leaves out a lot of prospects and current players when you plan on something like that. Amed is far away, and we can make projections like that as we prepare to build a sustainable model for the future. We don’t want to be a one -year wonder. The goal is building a team that will continue to compete for multiple years.”

Note: This was followed by a guy who praised Sandy for keeping Flores and begged him not to trade him. The fan said he saw Melvin Mora when he watched Wilmer Flores, and he advocated not making any moves. After that, Sandy smiled and said, “Good night everyone!” Best quote of the night.

Met Fan: With the first 26 games against the NL East and the Yankees, how important is the start to the season?

Alderson: “We played very well against the NL East last year, with one obvious exception. When they signed Max Scherzer, my response was, how much worse can we be? It’s extremely important to establish a fighting posture against these newly constructed teams, and I think the first impression is critical, as is the last impression. We hope it goes reasonably well. We started off well last year but things tailed off. The beginning of the season is important.”

Note: Howie then asked Alderson if Matt Harvey is going to be the Opening Day starter, and Alderson rambled on about how he’ll be 16 months removed from surgery, he should be ready to go… and things like that. He added that though Harvey’s innings will be team controlled, he doesn’t want to use the term limit. Sandy added that both sides are satisfied with the number that has been agreed on, but he refused to share that magic number. The expectation is that he’ll be ready for the postseason, but a decision has not been made as to whether or not Matt will start Opening Day or the home opener.

Met Fan: Congratulations, you’ve established one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, but you can’t deny that you have more pitchers than you have spots. How can you make sure that you are getting enough value for the players that you want to give up?

Alderson: “Let’s assume we want to make a trade. We have a player and an assumed value and our negotiations start from there. We constantly keep in mind during any negotiation, what is our escape route, our best alternative. Yes we have 6 for 5, but at the same time we don’t know what might happen in Spring Training. We have to be prepared in the event of an injury. We think about if we’re going to be happier standing pat. The market changes, and our evaluation of players changes with it. You can’t manufacture a deal that easily if you really focus on getting value in return. We can always use excess pitching. It won’t go to waste.”

Note: Ricco reminded everyone that we don’t have to make a deal now, and cited the Byrd deal as an example of how waiting out sometimes proves to be a good move.

Metsmerized Online: When you look back at your internal team meetings after the season, and the offseason strategy and goals that came out of it, how do you grade the job you did this Winter, and do you have any regrets? Did you accomplish what you hoped to accomplish?

Alderson: “I’m not going to grade myself. I’m more of a pass/fail kind of guy. That test will come starting Opening Day. We signed a couple of players early and spent the rest of the time evaluating what we had against what we could acquire. We’ve done a lot of monitoring but we haven’t made a lot of moves.”

“The rotation is absolutely set. There isn’t a need there besides monitoring our current players. We have plenty of bullpen guys though there isn’t an established veteran. People talk about a left-handed reliever, but it is very difficult to predict relief pitchers. We felt better going in with guys on minor league deals or players we have options on.”

“Looking at position players, we are reasonably happy with where we are. You fans can issue the grades, you aren’t shy, but we’re ultimately excited for the beginning of Spring Training.”

Note: Ricco added that when the season started we’ll be able to judge the team better, and he also said that Kevin Long was a more important addition than fans think he was. I guess we’ll have to see about that.

The last question was my favorite. A young kid stood up and said this…

Met Fan: Would you call this a failed season if the Mets don’t make the playoffs?

Alderson: That’s a very good question. We have higher expectations than we ever had for this season. Let’s see how things go over the course of the season. If we don’t make the playoffs, we’ll absolutely be disappointed, but depending on what happens, that isn’t the only definition of success or failure.

Final Thought: I liked what he was saying until that last answer. It is a failed season if the Mets don’t make the playoffs. I realize he can’t say that, but it is true. Until he admits that, the message is that mediocrity is okay and that must change. How many more of these events will I have to go to and be told that we’re going to be competitive?

An MMO Fan Shot by Matt Stephens

mmo footer

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/mmo-fan-shot-an-evening-with-sandy-alderson.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: Big Market Hickory http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-big-market-hickory.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-big-market-hickory.html/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:28:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173639 HoosiersTeam

An MMO Fan Shot by Dezzy S.

To state the painfully obvious, Mets fans have not been given many gifts from the Baseball Gods over the years. Disasters, yes. Collapses, for sure. Heartbreaks, more than we care to count. But with the signing of Max Scherzer, we might have been given the greatest gift we could ever ask for…

Unquestionable underdog status.

Here me out for a second, as this article is light on metrics and WAR and long on gut feel.

Let’s face it, the Mets don’t do a particularly good job of meeting lofty expectations, and they have a comical track record of signing formerly respectable free agents who disintegrate before our eyes under the New York spotlight (I won’t list them here so your salty tears don’t interfere with your ability to read on).

We win — with one rare exception in 1986 — when no one expects it. The Nationals, on the other hand, cannot seem to win when everyone expects it. How many years has the press talked about Bryce Harper’s projectable awesomeness, which somehow always seems to translate into a .270 and 55 RBI season? The Nationals have been a favored team to win it all for several years running now, and how many times have they made it out of the first round of the playoffs?

The way I look at the Scherzer deal is that it adds enormous pressure on a team that has yet to prove it can handle it. Bryce Harper, Matt Williams, Stephen Strasburg, and the whole crew can thank the $210 million dollar Boras monster contract for exponentially increasing the pressure on the Nats to win right now.

To me, the Scherzer signing makes 2015 a make-or-break year for the Nationals’ collective psyche. If they choke again, how will they exorcise what will become The Curse of Stephen Strasburg’s innings limit? How can you not win it all with far and away the best pitching staff in baseball and a lineup stocked with stars? The Nats’ core group won’t be the same, psychologically, or, for that matter, from a personnel standpoint due to impending free agent departures of key players.

If they don’t win it all this year I think they are done.

pg2_hoosiers_576

The Mets have a perfect opportunity to thrive as the underdog here. Crappy ownership. Small market budget in a big market city. A bunch of kids looking to make their mark, older guys looking to return to glory, and major contributors returning from injury. Who would have thought a New York City team could actually become the Hickory of MLB.

The Baseball Gods are lining things up for Mets fans to truly embrace our real heritage and identity – and why we love the team so dearly. We love the fighter and the underdog and the disrespected. This is who we are and now the Mets have the absolute perfect opportunity to embody everything that we love. We have always been more Rocky than Drago, more David than Goliath, more Hickory than South Bend.

Here’s how you can bring some light to what feels like a very dark Mets’ winter:

Think Ed Pinckney and Patrick Ewing, Villanova versus Georgetown. The 1985 National Championship game that stunned the sports world just one year before the Mets won it all.

Who’s gonna be our Harold Jansen or Jimmy Chitwood? Who’s gonna stand up and say, “I’ll make it.”

My bet, Matt Harvey, whether he is 100% back or 50% back from his injury.

He’s the one that will stand up and say, “Bring it on Nats. Let’s see what you got, Beltway Evil Empire. We cannot wait to see you wilt under the heat of the spotlight. And when you do, we’ll be there to snatch that NL East title right out of your grasp.”

Lets Go Mets! Opening Day can’t come fast enough.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Dezzy S.. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at  FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-big-market-hickory.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: 2015 Mets Projections Using Career Splits http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-2015-mets-projections-using-career-splits.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-2015-mets-projections-using-career-splits.html/#comments Sun, 18 Jan 2015 05:00:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173413 juan lagares scores

An MMO Fan Shot by Chris Maloney

I can’t believe some of the negativity I’m seeing this offseason from some Mets fans who lack confidence in our team. This one sucks, that one sucks, ad nauseam. So I decided to share some analysis just to show how good the Mets offense can be in 2015.

The charts below were created using most players’ career averages. Here’s a brief explanation.

1. I used career averages for batting splits for each player.

2. I adjusted to show as 162 games or 650 plate appearances.

3. I copied results for players vs RHP and LHP (Career splits based 650 PA)

4. I adjusted results using a 70/30 split, 70% of totals below weighted for RHP and 30% weighted for LHP.

The following example shows Murphy’s career averages vs both lefties and righties based on a total of 650 PA, 455 vs RHP and 195 vs LHP. So in his Career Average year his slash line would be .274/.306/.374/.681 vs LHP and .295/.342/.435/.777 vs RHP.

stat 1

NY METS 2015 LINEUP VS RHP

I repeated the process above for each position player for the 2015 Mets 25 man roster. The below shows IMO the best possible lineup for the Mets against RHP. The batting order can be tweaked but this is how it should shake out. The average slash line as a team reads .271/.331/.442/.774. These are based on all players having an average year not a career year vs RHP.

stat 2

BENCH VS RHP

The bench’s numbers are how they would perform given an equal number of AB vs RHP. Granted MDD is an incomplete for lack of AB, but I included him anyway for his 2014 numbers projected over 455 PA.

stat 3

NY METS 2015 LINEUP VS LHP

Here is what the career average numbers look like against LHP. What, no Duda? What, no Flores? Look at the numbers. Tejada’s numbers against LHP are great .285/.368/.347/.715, Flores’ numbers are not very good vs LHP. So Tejada starts 30% of games and is a defensive replacement in late innings of close games. Bottom line for 2015 Mets .277/.340/.447/.787, is a killer lineup vs LHP.

stat 4

BENCH VS LHP

The bench numbers are how they would perform given an equal number of AB vs LHP. Granted MDD and Flores are incomplete for lack of AB, but I included with 2014 numbers projected over 195 PA.

stat 5

NY METS 2015 PLATOON LINEUP

Finally, the 2015 Platoon lineup uses aggregate career numbers for the six non platoon player’s vs both LHP and RHP. The Duda / Mayberry platoon I will get to that below. The Flores / Tejada is the best surprise for the nay-Sayers, .285/.336/.391/.727 which are great numbers for SS and with the rest of the 2015 offense you can sacrifice a little defense. Duda, same thing but maybe not as a straight platoon even though numbers strongly suggests it.

stat 6

Platoon Duda?

The case to platoon Duda might be sacrilege to some because everybody loved what he accomplished in 2014. But as you can see below all the damage was done vs RHP. He leaves the Mets very vulnerable when he starts vs LHP. The Duda / Mayberry platoon career splits project a .265/.343/.509/.852 with 32 HR and 93 RBI. I realize these numbers are similar to what Duda put up in 2014 by himself in 596 PA.

stat 7

Now if you were to combine Duda’s 2014 numbers vs RHP with Mayberry’s career numbers vs LHP you get the monster numbers below. Duda still starts over 70% of games and is a Huge Bat off the bench in late innings in games he doesn’t start. What other team can potentially get 39 HR and 110 RBI production from First Base.

stat 8

Many are saying there are a lot of ifs and there are, but this outlook is based on players having an average year. Bottom line Team numbers of .274/.336/.445/.781 are awesome. Combine this with our pitching and the Mets should challenge the Nats for the NL East. I actually think we beat them head-to-head this year, the LaRoche numbers alone IMO won them 3-4 games last season and now he’s gone.

The numbers for the 2015 Mets reserves included above can be used to plug in if and when injuries occur and they look very good to hold down the fort if used correctly.

Let’s say for example Wright goes down with his shoulder. One choice would be to move Cuddyer to 3B and have a new RF platoon, choosing one of the below. If you go with MDD you now have a speedier lead-off hitter with much improved contact in second half of 2014, which is not included in his stats below. In any case these are not bad options if Wright is injured. So In the event of injuries we have the depth to Platoon are way forward.

stat 9

So look at the numbers and you might change your mind about the team we have going into the 2015 season. Even if all the players have an average year this season, expect the team to be making some noise. Be positive and Lets Go Mets!

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Chris Maloney. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at  FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-2015-mets-projections-using-career-splits.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: What Run Differential Doesn’t Tell You http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-what-run-differential-doesnt-tell-you.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-what-run-differential-doesnt-tell-you.html/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 14:25:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=173008 MLB Opening Day at Citi Field

An MMO Fan Shot by Joey D.

While I expect the Mets to take a significant step forward this season, I have to disagree with the case many make for the Mets based on their run differential last season.

Run differential numbers are useless because of the missing nuts and bolts that are hidden behind it. I will refer to the St. Louis Cardinals who put up equivalent marks as we did in run scoring, runs allowed and fielding. They won 90 games playing a tougher schedule, eleven more wins than we had. Why was that?

It’s because tallying accumulated runs mean very little. I’ve been saying this often of late but it needs to be repeated. Bobby Ojeda said he doesn’t care about the total amounts of runs scored/allowed, it’s the how and when that’s important.

The Mets’ run production was not consistent. They would bunch many of their runs into a few games. They were not reliable to score enough on a day-in and day-out basis, and to churn out runs against tough pitching. Do we forget all the times we were cursing because they lost a tough low scoring game? How often they stranded runners in scoring position? How many times a starter would walk off the mound after a fine performance with either a no decision or being on the losing end to show for it? All those one run losses?

The Cardinals did not have that type of problem. That’s why one has to look beyond the numbers. They had what it took to produce runs proficiently throughout the long 162 game schedule. They would put the ball in play to make things happen, not take pitches hoping to get a better one later in the count. They would move runners along, make productive outs, get the runners in when they needed them.

That run differential had it where the Cardinals should have been an 83 game winner this past year and the Mets an 82 game winner. The Cardinals won 90 and we won just 79 because of what was behind those numbers, or lacking in the Mets’ case.

A Pythagorean explanation would be that the Cardinals got too many breaks and were too lucky and the Mets weren’t lucky at all. But is that really the case and were the Mets really on par with the Cardinals offensively last season? The Cardinals had seven regulars who had a 2.0 WAR or better last season. The Mets had four. The Cardinals had five everyday players with a 110 OPS+ or higher last season. The Mets had Duda and Murphy.

This is why there is such a divide between the saber supporters and those like me who could be called traditionalists. It’s not so much the numbers or the stats, it’s the misuse of that information to make a case for something that isn’t.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Joey D. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at  FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-what-run-differential-doesnt-tell-you.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: Mets Stack Up Well Against Last Season’s San Francisco Giants http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-mets-stack-up-well-against-last-seasons-san-francisco-giants.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-mets-stack-up-well-against-last-seasons-san-francisco-giants.html/#comments Sun, 11 Jan 2015 15:21:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172930 giants walkoff

An MMO Fan Shot by Chuck M.

ESPN posted articles January 8th on AL and NL team defenses. In terms of DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), the Mets team defense last year outperformed the Giants by a good amount.

screenshot-espn go com 2015-01-10 22-04-05

The top two were the Cards and Reds with 76 and 71 DRS, respectively. As you can see in the chart to the right, the Mets were tied with the Braves with 22 DRS.

Surprisingly, the World Champion Giants were tied with the Nationals with only 9 DRS. Washington, of course was also a playoff team and won more games last season than any other team in the league.

The Marlins, Cubs, and Phillies all went negative, at -11, -20, and -29, respectively.

So nine teams outperformed the Giants in terms of DRS, including the Mets.

What drove the Giants’ 2014 championship season? Great hitting? No, it was decent, and better than the Mets, but not great. Great pitching? Again, other than Bumgarner, decent overall and again better than the Mets, but not great. It was the combination of somewhat better hitting (particularly more hits instead of walks) combined with somewhat better pitching that allowed fewer baserunners. It overcame their poor defense throughout the season. Once the postseason arrived, they just got hot and rose to the occasion.

Here is a sampling of some stats comparing the Giants and Mets regular season results in 2014:

Standard Slash Line for Team

stats 1

So SF had a little better BA and a little more power.

Slash Line Breakdown Down Per Team

stats 2

They had nearly the exact number of baserunners 1,834 for SF and 1,822 for the Mets. SF had 101 more hits than the Mets and 36 more runs scored. Additionally, SF had 56 SB while the Mets had 101, yet the Mets still scored 36 less runs.  Those 101 additional hits for the Giants clearly outweighed the 89 additional walks the Mets had, and that’s even with 45 less SB.

Key Standard Pitching Values

stats 3

In the pitching department, SF gave up 8 less HR’s, 120 less BB’s, and 65 less hits. So even with 185 less base runners, SF still gave up almost as many runs as the Mets did, as you can see below.  It’s a good thing for them that their pitching kept men off the bases.

Run Differential

SFG: 665 Runs Scored – 614 Runs Allowed

NYM: 629 Runs Scored – 618 Runs Allowed

I do believe that our pitching can rise to their level this year, and maybe even exceed it.  Combine better pitching with an improved offense, and the Mets should turn that into a winning season and a good shot at a Wild Card, even with a less than stellar defense.

Lucas+Duda

Improved Offense:

Hopefully an offense that provides more hits over walks this year.

Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr. are a definite improvement over last year’s Chris Young and Eric Young Jr. as a starting outfielder and a fourth outfielder bench role. Cuddyer’s health and games played should be better when not playing half the year in the high elevations of Colorado.

Further improvement from Travis d’Arnaud on both sides of the plate. Some kind of bounce back for David Wright. He should be at least 50 percent closer to his career norms this year than he was last year, which will be a decent gain, even if he doesn’t hit like an All Star.

Wilmer Flores hitting well, and with some power, combined with roughly adequate defense. Lucas Duda continuing to hit well (and maybe better against LHP this year). Daniel Murphy being Murphy as long as he remains on the team.

The hope of a little more balanced output from Grandy, plus a little more power; and finally, I expect Juan Lagares to show some improvement at the plate, to go along with his incredible defense.

Quality Depth:

I am favoring Cesar Puello over Eric Campbell for the bench this year. Looking at Campbell’s splits last year, he was miserable the second half after the pitchers figured him out.  As far as infield depth, Ruben Tejada can sub at 2B and SS; Flores can play 2B; Murphy and Flores can both play 3B if needed; Cuddyer can play 1B; and we also have Herrera for 2B as well as Matt Reynolds who can play both 2B and SS waiting in the wings.  We really do need to find out now if Puello is ever going to fly.

New York Mets Matt Harvey

Improved Starting Rotation:

With Matt Harvey coming back, a huge boost is expected as he essentially replaces last season’s fifth starter production. It’s good to have a five man rotation where no one is looked at as a number five. If Harvey bursts out of the gate pitching like a number one or two, watch out. Assuming Jacob deGrom proves last year was not a fluke, and adding in further maturation from Zack Wheeler, we could have a killer rotation, even without the rise of Syndergaard or Montero or Matz.

An Improved Bullpen:

This year we start the season with a emerging bullpen weapons Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia in established roles instead of a bunch of aging retreads. The pen will probably get stronger still as the year goes on, with Bobby Parnell coming back, and maybe even a solid MiLB graduation from someone else, whether Montero or Leathersich or Alvarez, etc.

Adequate Defense: Even if it’s incrementally less than last year.

This leads me to think there’s a chance the Mets can be last season’s San Francisco Giants. So color me optimistic. Let’s Go Mets!

P.S. Yes I know we have a weak spot at manager, but I’m hoping even TC can have a career year.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Chuck M. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at  FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-mets-stack-up-well-against-last-seasons-san-francisco-giants.html/feed/ 0
Featured Post: 5 Reasons for Mets Optimism in 2015 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/featured-post-5-reasons-for-mets-optimism-in-2015.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/featured-post-5-reasons-for-mets-optimism-in-2015.html/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 20:41:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172700 lucas duda david wright daniel murphy

An MMO Fan Shot by Marc M. (Not4)

On the heels of a 79 win season, the big question on everyone’s mind is whether the Mets, as constructed, can win enough to compete for a playoff spot. I agree with many on this site that David Wright’s health could be a huge determining factor on the ultimate success or failure of this team. It is tantalizing to imagine his returning to some facsimile of his former self where he has averaged through his career a line of .298/.377/.494/.871, wRC+ of 134, compared to the pretty feeble .269/.324/.374/.698, wRC+ of 100 that he posted last year – production that I believe was significantly impacted by a bum shoulder that he battled throughout the year.

While Wright’s performance, or lack thereof, can have a dramatic impact on this team, I do not subscribe to the notion that the 2015 season is lost without a bounce back year from Wright. In fact, I remain concerned enough about the health of his shoulder that I am preparing for the worst and assuming that we will not be able to provide solid production out of 3B in 2015, though I am obviously hoping for the best. Big picture, if the 2014 Mets team could win 79 games, I believe there are at least five reasons to really be optimistic about the 2015 Mets, even if Wright is not healthy enough to play or produce as he has in the past:

1. Outfield Production

Even assuming that Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson put up similar production as they did in 2014 (though I am expecting more out of Lagares), the big difference obviously is the addition of Michael Cuddyer in lieu of Chris Young and Eric Young, Jr. The Youngs combined for 603 PAs last year, which is roughly a full year’s worth of plate appearances and gave us the following production:

  • Chris Young had 287 PAs (63 starts) for the Mets, hitting .205/.283/.346/.629 with a wRC+ of 81;
  • Eric Young had 316 PAs (67 starts) for the Mets, hitting .229/.299/.311/.610 with a wRC+ of 77.

By contrast, over the past 4 seasons, Cuddyer has hit .299/.356/.503/.859 with a wRC+ of 124. Expanding it to 6 seasons, it is .288/.349/.488/.837 with a wRC+ of 120 and over 9 seasons it is .283/.350/.475/.825 with a wRC+ of 117 – so we are not talking about a fluke here. The increased production from this one OF slot, coupled with the impact of simply having another legitimate bat in the lineup instead of the Youngs, is likely very meaningful.

2. Shortstop Production

Ruben Tejada had 419 PAs (101 starts) for the Mets, hitting .237/.342/.310/.652 with a wRC+ of 89, 5 HR and 34 RBI. There is no meaningful sample size to go on with Wilmer Flores. His performance in the minors is promising, but not particularly germane. I’d argue that his 101 PA in 2013 are similarly not particularly germane because he was playing on a bad ankle and it was a small sample size. His overall line last year in a whopping 274 PAs (another SSS) is nothing special, but certainly an upgrade over Tejada. If we break it down further, though, and focus on his production when Flores was regularly starting beginning with August 2nd, his production looks a lot more promising. Again, although this accounted for 2/3 of

Flores total PAs last year with the Mets, it is still a very small sample size of 181 PAs, in which he hit .266/.306/.426/.732 with an wRC+ of 106. I believe that is more indicative of what we will see from him (and perhaps even better), which translates to 15+ HR and 65+ RBI and a very meaningful improvement over what we got from the SS position last year.

3. Catcher Production:

A tale of two halves with Travis d’Arnaud. If he can simply continue what he did in the 2nd half of 2014, for the full year 2015, that is also a meaningful upgrade at the C position. He was that putrid the first half before getting sent down and seemingly figuring it all out – 1st half: 145 PA, .180/.271/.273/.544 with a wRC+ of 53!, 3 HR and 9 RBI; 2nd half (after being recalled on June 24th): 276 PA, .272/.319/.486/.805, with a wRC+ of 128!, 10 HR and 32 RBI.

4. Starting Pitching Production

Obviously, the addition of Matt Harvey is potentially huge and the same thinking that applies to d’Arnaud also applies to Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom.

zack wheeler strikeoutsWheeler was actually interesting in that his standard stats took a huge jump forward, but the more advanced stats do not bear out the improvement as much. In the first half, Wheeler was 3-8 with an ERA of 4.25 in 17 starts; whereas in the second half, was 8-3 with a 2.80 ERA in 15 starts. Wheeler’s K% and BB% slightly improved in the 2nd half, but the big drivers to his improvement were a 44 drop to his BABIP and stranding a higher percentage of men on base, plus going a little deeper into games which allowed him to see a couple more batters each game. I’d also argue that the “eye test” showed a pitcher that was much improved in the 2nd half, with a real need for him to still become more efficient so he can go deeper into games.

DeGrom did not get called up until mid-May, and following his promotion his first 7 starts were a bit of a mixed bag – some very good, mixed in with some good and average and a real clunker. Overall he logged 7 starts, 41 IP, 0-4 record with 4.39 ERA (his actual pitching was better than these numbers look). But starting with his June 21st start, he was pretty dominant over his final 15 starts, with 99.1 IP, a 9-2 record, a 1.99 ERA and solid improvement in his K% and BB%. While it is hard to count on him to be as dominant for an entire year (though I am hopeful he will be as he seems to really understand the art of pitching), a full year of a somewhat regressed deGrom is another pretty big boost to this team (compared to the production we got from that spot from Jenrry Mejia, Dillon Gee, Jon Niese and deGrom’s first 5 starts).

Harvey is obviously another big boost, though it is probably unrealistic to count on him to pick up where he left off (although, again, I am hopeful that he’ll be better than expected as a full 18 months will have passed since his surgery by the time he picks up a ball in ST and almost 20 months by the time he throws his first regular season pitch.) Either way, the improvement over Gee/Niese will be meaningful and potentially really meaningful.

5 Bullpen Performance

jenrry mejiaThe back end of the bullpen was just brutal during the early part of last season, as Terry Collins relied on washed up veterans (who could have been useful as middle relievers but were out of their depth closing out games). But once Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Vic Black stepped in, the back end of the pen suddenly became a true asset. In addition to the actual blown saves and losses early in the year, it is impossible to fully account for the impact that a bad bullpen can have on a teams’ collective confidence and performance. Having a back-end of a pen you can actually rely upon for a full season will be another big boost for this team.

Of course, implicit in this optimism is the assumption that several players will produce at or around last year’s levels, including the aforementioned Lagares, Granderson, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Bartolo Colon, Gee and Niese (or their eventual replacements, which could include Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz and Matt Bowman). Like all assumptions, this assumption carries some risk but in each case, it seems that those assumptions are pretty reasonable and have a good chance of occurring – some will no doubt underperform and some will likely outperform last year. But on the whole, assuming a repeat of repeatable years (as opposed to career years, other than Duda, but given his age and progression, did not feel like a one-time occurrence) does not seem out of line. Most importantly, even assuming no upgrade in third base production compared to last year, it is not hard to believe that the above five reasons for optimism could easily generate an additional 5-10 wins in 2015.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Marc M. (Not4). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at  FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/featured-post-5-reasons-for-mets-optimism-in-2015.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: Why We Need to Stop Worrying About Wilmer Flores http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-why-we-need-to-stop-worrying-about-wilmer-flores.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-why-we-need-to-stop-worrying-about-wilmer-flores.html/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 02:17:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172870 flores wilmer

An MMO Fan Shot by Nick Johnson

While it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the Mets will be heading to spring training with “former” top prospect Wilmer Flores manning shortstop, there are signs to suggest that Mets fans should be excited rather than disappointed.

Flores is about as polarizing a prospect as it gets for the Mets. He’s a guy that could hit 15-20 home runs and 40 doubles a year. Yet he is generally accepted by scouts as being a first baseman in waiting, wherein such numbers play with drastically less value at first than shortstop or second base.

Despite his many detractors, Flores has showed last season that he can play a league average defensive shortstop at least. FanGraphs rates him as being slightly above average in Ultimate Zone Rating (4.0) and slightly below average in Defensive Runs Saved (-3.0). According to Inside Edge, he managed to convert 98.6% of all routine plays, making only 4 errors on the season. Of course, this is all small sample size, but it’s reasonable to believe that fielding ability is less volatile in terms of fluctuation than hitting or pitching.

According to Sky Andrecheck at Baseball Analytics, “From an individual player’s standpoint, he is prone to make about 5 or so more or 5 or so less plays in a season than his true talent would usually call for.”

Typically, fielding quality doesn’t sharply increase or decrease from year to year unless it’s influenced either by aging or injury. With Flores being both young and healthy, increased reps at shortstop should only improve his play in the field.

In terms of Wilmer’s bat, examining Flores’ 2014 season at the plate paints an exciting picture in terms of his development for 2015. His counting stats were relatively low, slashing at a poor .251/.286/.378, ranking 23rd among shortstops (min 200 PA).

However, a deeper look into the metrics reveals room for improvement. Flores is a contact driven hitter, and he walks at a low percentage. This points to him being extremely BABIP-reliant. His weak average can then be explained by his low .265 batting average on balls in play through the 2014 season.

Throughout the minors Flores averaged a BABIP of .316, leading me to believe that Flores may have suffered from a bit of bad luck in 2014. Adjusting his BABIP for the season to .300 (considering some regression), Flores’ average and on base percentage rise to .293 and .321 respectively. Then adjusting his extra base hits accordingly, his slugging rises to .440. His new slash line of .293/.321/.440 would give him a wOBA of .337 ranking him 6th among all shortstops last year (min. 200 PA), just behind Starlin Castro and ahead of Ian Desmond.

To answer whether or not such a BABIP is attainable for Flores, look at his line drive rate (since well hit balls have a higher likelihood of falling). Flores had a line drive rate of 20.1%, sharing that number with eight other major league players. The average BABIP of that group, excluding Flores, is .304.

Combine his batted ball profile with his elite contact rate (87.6%) and his elite strikeout rate (11.3%), and he could easily attain my projected .293 average, should his BABIP normalize.

I still haven’t even considered that Flores has a wealth of untapped power potential. Looking over the course of the season, Wilmer spent his first two months with the team only managing a handful of extra base hits. Then in September he started belting extra base hits left and right, with most of his power going to left field.

Flores finished out his 2014 season with a bang, mashing the ball to the tune of 9 extra base hits and a .278 average for a slash line of .278/.313/.500. Pro-rating that slash into a whole season (550 PAs) would give him about 37 doubles and 24 home runs. While he may not show that much power, that slash is right in line with what he’s been doing throughout the minor leagues for the last three years.

Even with some power regression, he would still be mashing the ball by shortstop standards. Add that into the BABIP projections I’ve made and he projects to be an extremely dangerous hitter. That’s not to say Flores is absolutely going to start crushing the ball next season, but the ability is there.

Based on my projections we should expect him to at least be a good offensive minded shortstop, with the potential to be great. And sure, Flores doesn’t look very smooth in the field, and he isn’t going to make many highlight reel plays, but there’s value in being sure handed. No one is expecting him to light the world on fire with his glove, but he should do well enough to be held up by his quality bat. That’s a trade off the Mets should be happy with.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Nick Johnson. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to us at  FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/01/mmo-fan-shot-why-we-need-to-stop-worrying-about-wilmer-flores.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: Why This Offseason Has Been Incredibly Disappointing http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-why-this-offseason-has-been-incredibly-disappointing.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-why-this-offseason-has-been-incredibly-disappointing.html/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 17:16:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172203 sandy alderson terry collins

An MMO Fan Shot by Harry S.

Let me state that I have been a Mets fan for over 50 years. I remember going to my first game in 1964, and I still remember my teacher in elementary school allowing us to keep a radio on for the clinching game of the 1969 World Series (all WS games were day games back then).

I have followed this team through thick and thin (mostly thin) and have attended too many games to even count. Even during the last few lean years, I try to watch the games on TV as much as possible. Like most fans, I have suffered through the Sandy Alderson era of cutting payroll and watching a substandard team night after night. At this point, a lot of Mets fans are extremely enthusiastic about our chances for next year. Unfortunately, I am going to put a damper on this.

All along, we kept hearing that the Mets have “payroll flexibility”. All along, we were told, “Don’t worry, we will spend when we need to”. Year after year, I believed it less and less. Now, I know this is nonsense. The team finished 2014 strongly, ending up with 79 wins to tie for second. Yes, we were miles behind Washington, but Harvey is back, TDA should improve and Granderson and Wright will surely bounce back. Things looked bright. And then came the offseason. While teams like Chicago and Miami made substantial moves to improve their team, we have stood pat. Right now, our acquisitions include

  1. A  33 year old reliever with a career negative WAR who just came off surgery.
  2. A fifth outfielder who hit .212 last year (2014’s Chris Young?).
  3. Michael Cuddyer, who has decent stats but will be 36 on opening day and has averaged playing 93 games/year for the past three years.

Look at it this way: We finished 19 games behind Washington, so it’s pretty unrealistic that we will make up this difference. Miami finished only 2 games behind us last year, but has added Dee Gordon,  Dan Haren, Mat Latos and Michael Morse. to a team stacked with three young stars in the outfield. Our lineup is, at best, average. Our overall team defense is also probably average. Lagares is a star, but Duda, Murphy, Flores and TDA are all probably below average defensively. But, people say, “Look at our pitching!”

OK, let’s look at it. Right now, I don’t believe our starting rotation from top to bottom is better than Miami’s. Harvey and deGrom are great, but even highly touted Zack Wheeler has not put up anything but average statistics in his 2 MLB seasons. Gee, Colon and Niese are all just average pitchers. Our bullpen is OK, not great. It’s still unclear who our closer will be.

Like every year, our bench is still relatively weak. In order to even get into the playoffs (which in our case, would probably start with a one game do or die scenario), we would have to win 88-90 games. I think while it’s certainly possible for us to improve that many games, it’s also unlikely.

The team just hasn’t improved very much since last year, and you have to realize Miami really has. I don’t even want to talk about Chicago. It’s very disconcerting to see other contenders finally making the moves to win while the Mets basically sit on their hands. Now, could the Mets actually open the purse strings around mid-year if we were close? Sure. However, based on our past history, I wouldn’t bet on it. As a lifelong Met fan, I am hoping for the best but mentally preparing for another disappointing offseason.  I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Harry S.. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-why-this-offseason-has-been-incredibly-disappointing.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: Should Kevin Plawecki Be Traded? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-should-kevin-plawecki-be-traded.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-should-kevin-plawecki-be-traded.html/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 20:27:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=172018 kevin plawecki

An MMO Fan Shot by Bill Tourjee

The Mets #1 position player prospect in MLB’s rankings, catcher Kevin Plawecki, continues to be mentioned as a possible trade chip. But should he be made available, even if the trade returns a high-end SS or prospect?

It would be safe to say that most GMs prefer to trade from positions where they have the most depth. In the Mets’ case, that would probably be pitching, 2nd basemen (Murphy, Flores, Herrera, Mazzilli), shortstops (oddly enough, they’re down there:: Reynolds, Cecchini, Rosario, Ramos) and outfielders (Nimmo, Conforto, den Dekker, Puello, Nieuwenhuis). But catchers? When Juan Centeno was claimed off waivers by the A’s, and Cam Maron was selected in the Rule 5 draft, it pretty much wiped out any positional depth we had at catcher and left Plawecki as the only prospect who may be ready to step onto the big stage.

Look for one other notable catcher in the Mets system. When you finally reach Kingsport – keep going. Imagine a season where the team is in the hunt and Travis d’Arnaud goes on a long DL stint. You want to replace him with a catcher who can both call a game and hit better than his weight? In the middle of the season, that will cost you two of your top 20 prospects, and maybe a starter, too.

The Mets are obviously pleased with Anthony Recker’s performance and he’s expected to return as the team’s primary back-up catcher. Most Mets fans remember Recker’s memorable home runs this past season, which always seemed to come at critical moments. What wasn’t as memorable was his 36.6% strikeout rate, and the fact that he couldn’t lay claim to the starting job even when d’Arnaud was demoted mid-season. Or, to press the issue, his .197 lifetime average. Despite these shortcomings, Recker is a quality back-up receiver, deserves his contract and comes across like a good guy to have in the clubhouse – but he may still not be the Mets’ best option.

D’Arnaud’s injury history is well-documented and won’t be recounted here, but only the most optimistic would bank on his giving the Mets 140 games a year for the next several years. If (or when) he has another injury, should his potent bat go on the DL with him?

Enter Plawecki, whose skill-set is very close to d’Arnaud’s. He’s a contact-first, linedrive hitter with a low strikeout rate (12% in minors) who, unlike Recker, can consistently advance runners when not driving them in. His defense seems comparable to what’s projected for d’Arnaud, giving the Mets two young, good-hitting receivers who will be under team control for many years. What more could a team ask for? What other MLB team currently has such a double threat behind the plate? Would the Cards have liked a good hitting catcher when Molina went down in the postseason?

There is even a possibility that Plawecki could play 1st base as a right-handed complement to Lucas Duda. Think of the flexibility it would give a manager in late innings. Would egos collide if two young stud catchers competed for innings? Plawecki has already stated he‘d be fine sharing the catching duties with d’Arnaud, and d’Arnaud has the security of being the GM’s prized acquisition (a “difference maker”) in the R.A. Dickey trade. Besides, what’s wrong with competition? If one is going to fold under the pressure it’s better to find out during the regular season than in the middle of the playoffs.

Finally, even a good catching prospect like Plawecki is not going to bring a Starlin Castro or Addison Russell to Citi Field unless a Syndergaard or a Montero disappear along with him. That’s a huge gamble for the Mets when they don’t know whether their prized new shortstop can thrive in a pressure cooker like the Big Apple. Too many players perform best with the type of laid back fan base and press corps you’ll find in most other baseball cities.

Given their depth at the position at every minor league level, the Mets are capable of bringing up a new promising shortstop prospect every year for the next four years. In the meantime, they could very well lay claim to the best catching tandem in the majors – IF they don’t trade Kevin Plawecki.

I was born and raised in Upstate NY and now reside in CT. My folks were from Brooklyn and we adopted the Mets when they arrived in 1962. They have been one of my life’s greatest passions. Even in their darkest days they always give us a sliver of hope.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Bill Tourjee. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-should-kevin-plawecki-be-traded.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: All I Want For Christmas Is My Tulowitzki http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-my-tulowitzki.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-my-tulowitzki.html/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 15:12:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171675 tulowitzki

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported this weekend that one of the worst kept secrets in the game is just how badly Troy Tulowitzki wants out of Colorado, and how he might get what he wishes for.

An MMO Fan Shot by Steve Surdez

The Winter Meetings have been a major disappointment thus far. Scott Rice? Really? This is New York, right? One of the biggest markets in the world?

The Cincinnati Reds have a payroll hovering around $120 million. Cincinnati! It seems we Mets fans are stuck in an unending nightmare. We are so close, but the faster we try to run, the slower we move, and we just can’t grasp that brass ring.

We Mets fans have been waiting…and waiting…and waiting. And it’s time to move, to take a risk and to trade for Troy Tulowitzki. This is our time to be bold and to retake New York from the Yankees and give the loyal Mets fan-base a fighting chance and a real reason to believe that 2015 will be the year our beloved Mets return to the playoffs.

Yes, yes, I know all of the risks, and I’m sure all Mets fans have run them through their minds a million times so far this winter—injury history, the rarefied air of Colorado, no way to judge how he has recovered from his most recent hip surgery, that Yankees-Jeter thing. But picture this lineup:

  1. Juan Lagares
  2. Daniel Murphy
  3. Troy Tulowitzki
  4. Lucas Duda
  5. David Wright
  6. Curtis Granderson
  7. Michael Cuddyer
  8. Kevin Plawecki

You keep Flores and bring him in to spell Wright, Tulo and Murphy and to be a big right-handed bat off the bench. If you really believe, as Sandy Alderson does, that Flores can be good, keep him as a super-utility player—this scenario will give him 350 to 400 at bats, minimum.

That lineup is the real deal and far superior to any of the the lineups that the Giants or Royals ran out there every day. How’d that turn out for them? I’d venture to say the Mets bullpen and pitching is right there with those two teams. A reasonably productive Tulo undeniably puts the Mets on every baseball pundit’s World Series contender list.

troy-tulowitzki-colorado-rockies

Now, what do you give up in talent and treasure? Let’s say the Rockies take back $14 million, so the Wilpons are on the hook for a cool and even $100 million over six years, or an AAV of $16 million or so a year, which, given today’s market is not that insane for a player of Tulo’s talent, even with the concerns about injuries and durability. We are paying Granderson $15 million a year to hit .220 and barely crack the 20 home run plateau. And, guess what, he’s three years older than Tulo.

A trade might have the Mets giving up Travis d’Arnaud, Rafael Montero, Jon Niese and Jacob deGrom. Since the Rockies are not paying a significant portion of his salary moving forward, they don’t get to choose between Harvey, Wheeler and deGrom, but they do get an every day catcher, a young top of the rotation righthander and a a solid lefty starter, plus a nice but not great future bullpen arm or back of the rotation starter.

Tulo immediately adds the potent bat this team is lacking and behind the plate we gain better defense in Plawecki and more consistent contact and plate discipline.

That leaves us with a rotation of Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard, Gee and Colon with Matz waiting in the wings as your lefty rotation piece. What you’re really banking on here is that Thor is every bit as good as he’s been advertised and that hard-throwing righty can step in and hit the ground running like Harvey and deGrom before him. After all, scouts swear Syndergaard has the most lethal arsenal of the three.

And what if Tulo tanks? Then he tanks. For goodness sake we are a team that owns its own cable network in the largest sports market in the world, and whose ownership is on the verge of building and completing an $8 billion dollar cash-dynamo in Willets Point.

Tulo and the Mets -- a match made in heaven?

And what if he is terrific and does what he’s been doing his entire career, delivering a .295, 30 HR, and 100 RBI seasons at shortstop with excellent defense? You just can’t find that anymore. A string of 6.0, 7.0, 8.0 WAR seasons? Are you kidding me? Sign me up.

And what if he’s mediocre? A..275-18-80 season far exceeds anything else out there, including Flores, all free agent options and trade possibilities, including Starlin Castro.

And what if he never plays more than 50 games a year and is done in two? Well, we pick ourselves back up, hope that Cecchini or Rosario is a stud, and move forward. Just like we always do as Mets fans.

Wilpons: Take on the money.

Alderson: Give up some of that hard to let-go-of talent.

Number-Crunchers: Go with your gut, not your algorithms. We will not win a World Series playing it safe or by data analysis alone.

I hate to see deGrom go as much as anyone, but is it any guarantee that he won’t regress and become less spectacular and more like the 3 or 4 starter his ceiling was projected to be? There are no guarantees in baseball.

There just simply has got to be a way Alderson and his number-crunchers can make this happen after doing their due diligence and ensuring that Tulo is healthy. Alderson needs to make the argument to the Wilpons that if Tulo works out, the rewards of increased attendance, merchandise sales and overall revenue will be huge.

The Wilpons, of all people, should understand this is a good risk with tremendous upside across the board for the Mets brand. No risk, no reward, as they say.

I am becoming more and more convinced that acquiring Tulo could have the same impact as when the Mets added Gary Carter and Mike Piazza.

Forget the calculated risk. This team’s brass over-think everything too damn much. Go with a gut feel. Roll the dice. Trade for Tulo. And help my two young boys stop wondering why their dad always roots for a hopeless and hapless team.

Give them a real chance to enjoy what the 86’ Mets gave me—an undying loyalty for a team that breaks my heart every year. Quell this growing distaste for an ownership and front office that seems to forget that even the most loyal Mets fans—like me—have a breaking point.

Put Tulo under my kids’ tree. Make this the best Christmas ever.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Steve Surdez. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-my-tulowitzki.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: Do The Mets Have A Shot? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-do-the-mets-have-a-shot.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-do-the-mets-have-a-shot.html/#comments Sat, 13 Dec 2014 15:16:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171753 juan lagares

An MMO Fan Shot by Bobby Beneventano

As is normally case with the New York Mets, one can find him or herself looking at the roster going into the season saying, ‘this team could actually be pretty good’. Of course, we’re all too familiar with finding ourselves singing an entirely different tune come late spring, early summer time. So will this year be any different? It’s far too early to know for sure, but let’s look at how it may be different this time around.

First, let’s consider the new additions to the roster. Michael Cuddyer, the veteran outfielder will be locked into the starting right fielder role for the next two years. The Mets brought in Cuddyer to be someone who can produce immediately and help them win now, while not tying up excessive capital long term ($8.5M in 2015 and $12.5M in 2016). It’s hard to know what to expect from Cuddyer, who will be 36 by the time the season starts, but the Mets hope he can be a solid middle of the order presence who will not hurt them too badly defensively in right field.

The next addition is John Mayberry Jr., who was signed to be the 5th outfielder and a righty bat off the bench. It doesn’t appear that anyone is all too high on Mayberry, who is a high strikeout guy with some power, but hasn’t ever produced consistently throughout his career. It would’ve been nice to see the Mets pick up someone with more speed and a higher contact rate, but it looks like Mayberry is going to be the guy to round out the bench.

The Mets have two big arms coming back in Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell. Their returns will provide huge boosts to the starting rotation and bullpen. The Mets have also been aggressively trying to move a starting pitcher, namely Dillon Gee, Jon Niese, or Bartolo Colon. So far, it appears they haven’t been offered anything substantial in return for any of them, so we’ll have to wait and see on that front.

Now let’s look at what we have returning. The starting rotation is comprised of young, power arms such as Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Jacob deGrom. Add in another two out of the Gee, Niese, and Colon trio, and that’s a pretty solid rotation. The bullpen also looks stronger than it has in previous years, with guys such as Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, and Vic Black becoming more polished, reliable relievers.

The batting lineup, however, is marred with question marks. In particular, the Mets have three young, unproven players that will be in their everyday lineup that I think a lot of people aren’t 100 percent sold on offensively: Wilmer Flores, Travis d’Arnaud, and Juan Lagares. Each of these players has shown flashes of potential and all could end up being decent major league hitters. However, the Mets want to win now, and many would like to see these positions provide more offense than they did in 2014.

The slash lines for Flores, d’Arnaud and Lagares last year were 251/286/378; 242/302/416; and 281/321/382, respectively. That’s nothing to write home about, but let’s remember that these are developing players and most importantly, they’re all due to make the major league minimum. That’s approximately $1.5 million between the three of them combined.

curtis granderson homers

The rest of the Met’s starting lineup with their salaries is as follows: David Wright $20M, Curtis Granderson $16M, Michael Cuddyer $8.5M, Daniel Murphy $8M (projected) and Lucas Duda $4M (projected). So even though the three aforementioned players make up 3/8ths (37.5%) of the lineup, they only make up $1.5M (2.59%) of the lineup’s $58M salary.

So to me, while these three players represent the biggest unknowns for the Mets, I don’t think that this season’s success or failure rests on their shoulders nor do I view them as weak spots. In fact I view them as the players that have the potential to outperform their expectations. Murphy and Duda will likely produce at a level on par with their salaries. And that leaves Wright and Granderson as the weak spots in this line of thinking because after all, it is their large salaries preventing the Mets from upgrading at the other positions

Consequently, the responsibility should be placed at the top. The guys that are getting paid to produce need to actually produce. The reality is that if Wright and Granderson repeat what they did last season, then the Mets as a whole will likely produce the same results in their won-loss record . It would be nice if Flores, d’Arnaud, and Lagares can really step up their performances, but if they produce at last year’s levels,  I think this team can still win provided that the big money guys do what they’re supposed to.

That being said, we all know it doesn’t always work out accordingly. So everyone would feel better if the Mets were able to acquire a proven shortstop that could provide some offense, preferably a leadoff type. It’s unclear who they could reasonably acquire to fill that role, so it’s possible that they’re going to have to roll with their current lineup going into spring training. It’ll be interesting to see how these situations play out, but I’m optimistic and excited for this upcoming season. Let’s Go Mets!

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Bobby Beneventano. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-do-the-mets-have-a-shot.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: It’s Time To Embrace Our Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-its-time-to-embrace-our-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-its-time-to-embrace-our-team.html/#comments Sun, 07 Dec 2014 18:22:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171168 lucas duda david wright

An MMO Fan Shot by James “Master of Papas” Davison

I’ll admit to being a lurker on these boards for awhile. The thing that brings me back to this site, again and again, is the civil and intelligent discourse that takes place here. So in the vein of “Fan Shots”, I offer this short take on the Mets’ current situation to act as my introduction into the community.

There’s a good team brewing here—one that has the potential to see postseason play for the first time in a long time. We’re no longer talking about 5 holes that need to be filled. Instead, we’re parsing the specifics about a couple of positions at most. And isn’t that great?

We’re all not sold as Wilmer Flores as our starting shortstop. We’re certainly not sold on a defensive combination of Daniel Murphy and Flores up the middle. In a vacuum, devoid of the payroll constraints handed down to the organization from Fred and Jeff Wilpon, Troy Tulowitzki would have a first class ticket here with his name on it. Unfortunately, that is not the reality in which we live. So we’re forced to speculate upon other teams’ thus far failed experiments. Gregorius, Miller, Bogaerts. Put their value up against Flores’ and there isn’t a whole lot of difference outside of hype and the allure of something new.

Cuddyer isn’t an everyday outfielder. Duda isn’t an everyday first baseman. But used in the right way, each of them has quite a bit of value to a properly managed ballclub. Granderson strikes out too much and Wright will probably never be the player he once was. If they could reach 80% of their potential, however, we’d cheer them and appreciate them as the players they currently are.

wheeler harvey

Our pitching is enviable. How many teams are going into Spring Training with 5 starting spots for 8 guys? Not many. Harvey is our Gooden. Wheeler is our Darling. Niese, Colon, Gee, Montero, Syndergaard, Matz…the depth is incredible. And our bullpen is quickly evolving into one of the best in the game. Take note of the Royals’ run this year. We’ve got the power arms that can carry us into October. Mejia, despite his histrionics, has the ‘cojones’ to walk to the mound in the 9th. Familia, Black, Parnell and Edgin complete a formidable bridge.

In the annals of Mets’ history, Terry Collins’ name will never sit alongside Hodges, Johnson or even Valentine, for that matter. Sometimes a team’s talent overrides a manager’s best intentions. But for a wicked 12-6 curveball, Willie Randolph might still be at the helm of our squad. Fate was not on our side that year, nor at Willie’s.

In my humblest of opinions, we are but one big offensive player away from challenging the league for ultimate supremacy. There was no talk of WAR or pitch framing when Carter was brought here. What he brought was a bat and leadership. Hernandez didn’t worry himself with his spray charts and an ineffectual batting coach. He saw the ball, hit the ball and knew when he needed to do it. The Mets don’t have that player right now. The closest thing we have is Daniel Murphy, and half of our fans are ready to run him out on a rail because he’s going to make $9 million dollars and isn’t Roberto Alomar at his peak defensively.

We are in for a very exciting season my friends, even if another move isn’t made. Of course there will certainly be a couple, both to appease the fan base and give a challenged strategical manager some options, but the days of buying a new squad are behind us. It is time to appreciate the team that is ours. It is time to start taking care of business.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader James Davison. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-its-time-to-embrace-our-team.html/feed/ 0
Jon Niese: Damaged Goods or Different Goods? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/jon-niese-damaged-goods-or-different-goods.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/jon-niese-damaged-goods-or-different-goods.html/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 16:02:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171103 jon niese

An MMO Fan Shot by Chris Malia (CJM)

Regarding fan opinion, Jon Niese is perhaps the most divisive player on the Mets. Scrolling through a comment thread about Niese, you can find opinions ranging from soft and overrated to gritty and extremely valuable. While value can be measured in terms of his stats and contract, his toughness or lack thereof is harder to determine. While heated arguments will produce opinions layered with stats and anecdotes, there is something yet to be explored regarding Jon Niese, happening beneath the surface of these stat and anecdote laden arguments. Jon Niese is evolving rapidly and substantially as a pitcher.

The secret is out—the Mets are concerned about Niese’s health. Nobody should be surprised. What is surprising—however—is that nobody’s really picked up on how significantly Jon Niese’s shoulder has actually affected his throwing. Not his performance, just his throwing. Take a look at the pictures.

jon niese

All three of these pictures are screenshots of Niese throwing a fastball. The first picture is from 2010. Niese is delivering the ball almost directly over the top. The second picture is from 2012. You can see an obvious drop in arm slot as he’s gone to a more comfortable three-quarter release. The final picture is from 2014, and his arm slot has dropped even lower than in 2012. He seems to be getting closer and closer to a sidearm delivery.

Why is the arm slot dropping? His shoulder hurts. Obviously, anyone who’s played baseball or has been a fan of baseball understands that throwing over the top is unnatural. Three-quarter and sidearm deliveries put less stress on the arm, especially the shoulder. It’s not unusual to see pitchers’ arm slots drop as they age. Years and years of abuse will do that. When Pedro was with the Mets, his arm slot was significantly lower than it was during his glory years. In Niese’s case, we know with certainty that he’s dealt with shoulder issues. What we don’t know is whether the drop in arm slot has been implemented by Niese intentionally to try to preserve his shoulder’s health, or whether it’s been done because Niese simply can’t throw over the top without pain anymore. The reason behind the drop in arm slot—intentional or not—doesn’t have much bearing on the analysis to follow.

For Jon Niese, a drop in arm slot has forced him to change the way he pitches. When he came up, his most talked about weapon was the 12-6 curve. And it was a good pitch, unquestionably. However, the 12-6 curve relies on an over-the-top delivery. The over-the-top release allows the curve to have its sharp, off the table drop. Releasing the same pitch from the three-quarter slot will not produce as sharp a break. So if Niese is unable to produce the necessary over-the-top release, it stands to reason that he’d be less inclined to use his curveball and that his curveball would lose effectiveness. The numbers support that hypothesis. Here’s a look at his pitch selection from 2011 (his peak curve usage year) through 2014.

Fastball Curveball Cutter Changeup
2011 54.9 22.7 17.2 5.1
2012 49 19.4 27.8 3.8
2013 48.6 17.5 25.2 8.8
2014 49.6 16.9 24.2 9.2

The curveball column has been marked in bold. The data coincides with the drop in arm slot—Jon Niese has been using his curveball less and less over time, as usage has dropped nearly 6 percent since 2011. Jon Niese’s well documented shoulder issues seem likely to have caused this drop in arm slot, and subsequently a drop in curveball use.

Is it just pain that has caused Niese to use the curveball less? Earlier in the article, I mentioned 12-6 curveball effectiveness pertaining to arm slot. Not surprisingly, Niese’s effectiveness with the curve also appears to be waning. Here is a look at his groundball, line drive, and flyball rates using the curve from 2011 through 2014.

Groundball % Line Drive % Flyball %
2011 66.7 19.2 14.1
2012 63.4 16.1 20.5
2013 56.3 18.4 25.3
2014 46.3 28.8 25

In 2011, two thirds of the curveballs put in play against Jon Niese were hit on the ground. Groundball rate has dropped 20% over 4 years. What was once a pitch Niese could pretty safely throw for a groundball is now a pitch that results in line drives and flyballs over half the time. I/t doesn’t take a Sandy Alderson computer manipulation to understand that grounders are preferable to line drives and flyballs.

What we’re left with is a pitcher who has lost his most effective weapon—perhaps his only true weapon as a pitcher. Niese has been forced to evolve. When looking at the pitch selection table, we see that fastball and cutter use have remained pretty consistent. But neither pitch is particularly fear-inducing. Niese was previously a pitcher who could rely on his curveball’s effectiveness to throw batters off-balance. Without that pitch, he has begun to turn to the changeup as an off-speed offering. His changeup usage has jumped from 3.8% in 2012 to 9.2% in 2014. The problem is, his changeup has failed to be as effective as his curveball once was. In 2013, his curveball produced grounders at a 55.9% rate and in 2014, that rate dropped to 47.4%–over half his changeups put in play in 2014 resulted in line drives or flyballs. Jon Niese is still searching for a way to throw batters off-balance without his curve.

Where does Niese go from here? A quick glance at Niese’s arm-slot drop and his curveball usage makes one think Niese is damaged goods. I’m not so sure that’s a fair assessment. Niese’s 2014 season was by no means bad. It was actually good. He threw 187 innings with a 3.40 ERA and a 3.67 FIP. Those are fine numbers for a mid-rotation starter, especially one getting paid what Niese is receiving. Somehow Niese managed to remain effective as a starter in 2014 with both his off-speed offerings producing the most ineffective results in his career. I don’t want to delve too much into Niese’s psyche, but it’s not a stretch to believe that this forced evolution in his pitching style has made pitching games more mentally rigorous than it once was.

Jon Niese is battling his way through the fire right now. To be successful, he needs to be a different pitcher than he was when he first came up. From that perspective, his 2014 season could be looked at as promising, because he was able to pitch effectively while adapting to new tools. Instead of lingering on what could’ve been with Niese and his curveball, lamenting the fact that he’s now damaged goods, I think I prefer to look at Niese as different goods. He’s not the same pitcher he was, but he has the potential to be as effective or more effective as he adjusts.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Chris Malia (CJM). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/jon-niese-damaged-goods-or-different-goods.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: Why Mets Should Trade For Didi Gregorious http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-why-mets-should-trade-for-didi-gregorious.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-why-mets-should-trade-for-didi-gregorious.html/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=171014 digi gregorius

An MMO Fan Shot by CyYout

Flexibility in a roster is important, as recently pointed out in a Fan Shot by WillyWater88. As he pointed out, flexibility not only protects against losing a player to injury or regression in performance, but it allows the manager to be creative in mixing and matching based on match-ups.  The ability to minimize weaknesses and maximize strengths is often what separates the Wild Card teams from the average ones.

Trading for Didi Gregorius would create this kind of flexibility for the Mets in 2015 and perhaps beyond.  If the Mets can acquire him without paying a steep price, it would work.

Gregorius is not the defense-first shortstop with the weak bat and no speed that some people believe him to be. Although he has slashed only .243/.313/.316 with 13 home runs and only 3 stolen bases in his career (compared to Tejada: .254/.328/.317) there are several reasons, once you dig down a little deeper, why a platoon with Ruben Tejada could work for the Mets.

Splits: 

Didi has an enormous platoon split.  As a left handed hitter, he has hit only .184/.257/.233 against lefties, amounting to a .490 OPS in 180 plate appearances. Against right-handed pitchers, however, over 544 plate appearances, his numbers are: .262/.332/.411 amounting to a .743 OPS.  This OPS would have tied him for 5th with Ian Desmond among all major league shortstops in 2014.

Ruben, as a right-handed hitter has good splits the other way, albeit not as dramatic of a difference as Didi. For his career, across 497 plate appearances, Tejada has been quite good against lefties: .285/.368/.347 amounting to a .715 OPS.

A platoon of these two otherwise replacement-level players would get the Mets an OPS of approximately .729 for the position.  That would have ranked 6th among all major league shortstops in 2014 ahead of noted stars Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Alexei Ramirez, and way ahead of Elvis Andrus.  And that OPS is assuming they get an even number of at-bats, but in reality Gregorius would see more action as most starters are right-handed.

gregorius didi

Cost & Control: 

This acquisition only works if the asking price does not diminish an area of strength for the Mets, which means keeping deGrom, Wheeler, and Syndergaard.

As noted in an article two weeks ago by Joe D., Arizona GM Dave Stewart explicitly said he was not interested in dealing his shortstops for Niese, Gee, or Colon.  Earlier in the offseason, MLB Trade Rumors, in evaluating the Diamondbacks’ needs, wrote that “with a bevy of young pitching talent and a limited budget, the D’backs could look to sign veteran arms to short, affordable deals.”  They went on to mention Aaron Harang, Kyle Kendrick, and Roberto Hernandez as possible candidates that could be flipped in the summer “when their staff should be back to full health.”

However, in a division with the Dodgers and Giants, trekking out the likes of those pitchers will put them behind the 8-ball by the time their starters come back.  Corbin and Arroyo are unlikely to start the season as they are both recovering from Tommy John surgery and are looking at a June and July return, respectively.  So that leaves Wade Miley, Chase Anderson, and Vidal Nuno to head their rotation with the likes of Collmenter, a bullpen arm, and Trevor Cahill, a disappointment in 2013 to round out the starting five. Archie Bradley is a good prospect, but it is unclear whether they think he’s ready to start the season in the majors.

If Stewart’s words about our veterans are not just posturing to attain leverage and he really wants a young starter for his shortstops, then a package with Montero as a centerpiece could be attractive.  Even better, an offer of Colon and Montero would give them the innings-eater they seek that could be flipped at the trade deadline, and a young controllable talent.  MLBTR also speculates the D’Backs are looking for a bullpen piece.  A last-ditch deal sweetener could be someone like Mejia.

Ruben Tejada made $1.1M in 2013 and will cost approximately $1.7M if tendered arbitration.  Didi Gregorius was near the league-minimum of $500K.  Gregorius is not arbitration eligible until 2016 and under team control through 2020.  So the Mets would not be taking on any additional salary.  They could take on $2M of Colon saving them money this year and down the line.

Didi+Gregorius

Roster Construction: 

This is where the strength of this deal can be found.  Instead of signing Ryan Ludwick, you have much better in-house cost-effective options for your bench.

You might be saying that the math in terms of splits and cost-control works, but what about the two roster spots?  If these two guys play short, what happens to Flores and Murph?  Good questions, for sure, so the only answer outside of trading them is, as discussed at the beginning of this Fan Shot, flexibility.

With Wright coming off a shoulder injury and Duda showing poor splits against quality lefties, a quality back-up corner infielder might be necessary.  Flores can cover those positions without giving up much in performance.

If Wright is healthy and Duda progresses against southpaws so there is no need for a longer term fill-in, Flores could spell any infield spot and be a feared bat off the bench.  Ditto for Murph.

As for defense, you have an upgrade at shortstop, which should alleviate recurring nightmares of a Flores-Murphy double play combo, and a late-inning defensive replacement option no matter who starts.  Lastly, it allows the Mets a real DH in American League parks.

The depth chart would look as follows:

C:  d’Arnaud, Recker

1B:  Duda, Flores, Cuddyer, Murphy

2B:  Murphy, Flores, Tejada, Gregorius

SS:  Gregorius, Tejada, Flores

3B:  Wright, Flores, Murphy

LF:  Granderson, den Dekker, Cuddyer, Kirk

CF:  Lagares, den Dekker, Granderson, Kirk

RF:  Cuddyer, Granderson, den Dekker, Kirk

Despite what their GM has said, I believe Didi is available in a trade, and if the Mets can find the right price, it’s a move that makes a lot of sense for this team.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by CyYout. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo fan shot

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/12/mmo-fan-shot-why-mets-should-trade-for-didi-gregorious.html/feed/ 0
Ambiguity, Interpretations, and Assumptions in Sabermetrics http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/ambiguity-interpretations-and-assumptions-in-sabermetrics.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/ambiguity-interpretations-and-assumptions-in-sabermetrics.html/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:54:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170351 simpsons sabermetrics

An MMO Fan Shot by DerpyMets

Two seasons ago I set forth on a somewhat insane, ambitious project to calculate all of the Mets pitching stats by hand for an entire season. This included watching every game, carefully marking down everything that happened (balls, strikes, fly balls, ground balls, line drives, bunts, blah blah blah, every little aspect of everything) for every Met pitcher. After every game I would painstakingly input this data into a spreadsheet, then double, triple, and quadruple check it. This was an obnoxiously tedious process, but it gave me an appreciation for a lot of aspects of baseball that a lot of fans take for granted.

For instance, when you’re calculating these stats, it is vitally important to mark down ground balls, fly balls, line drives, and pop ups. Sit back and think about what that entails. What is a fly ball? What is a line drive? At what point does a line drive turn into a fly ball? Where is the line between a pop up and a fly ball?

So I looked at the stats that would end up using these numbers for clues. Lets look at xFIP as a starting point. A lot of people quote xFIP pretty regularly, and I’m sure most of you know what it is: e(x)pected (F)ielding (I)ndependent (P)itching. Fielding independent means fielding isn’t counted, which is a subtle point I missed the first time I heard this jargon. I would have called it Pitching independent fielding, but maybe that would be confusing in the other direction. Whatever.

Here is the formula for calculating xFIP (and I’ll explain it):

xFIP = ( ( (13(Flyballs * lgHR/FB%)) + (3(BB+HBP)) – (2K) ) /(IP) ) + FIP constant

xFIP = ( 13(Flyballs lgHRFB%) ) + ( 3(BB + HBP) ) – (2K)IP+ FIP constant

Breaking that down a little, the numerator is made up of three parts.

First, you have 13 (a constant) multiplied by the total number of fly balls times the league average home run to fly ball rate. This estimates how many home runs an average pitcher would have given up in an average park to an average batter given this total number of fly balls surrendered.

Second, you have 3 (a constant) multiplied by the total number of free baserunners surrendered, aka walks plus hit by pitch.

Third, you have 2 (a constant) multiplied by the total number of strike outs.

The denominator is total innings pitched.

Then you add on the FIP constant at the end. The FIP constant is calculated by calculating the previous fraction for the entire league, then subtracting that from the league ERA. Essentially, the FIP constant makes these numbers resemble ERA. You generally use the same constant for FIP and xFIP, but you can manually calculate the FIP and xFIP constants if you want ever so slightly more accuracy (which I will be doing for the numbers coming up).

OKAY! Most of this seems straight forward, right? Not much interpretation. Walks, hit by pitch, strike outs, innings pitched, that’s all easy. Even the part about subtracting from the league ERA is pretty easy. But wait a second, that fly ball part, what’s that about? And what is a home run to fly ball ratio? What is a fly ball in the first place?

Well, in the case of xFIP, you’re trying to predict the total number of home runs. So, I presume the fly balls we’re talking about are fly balls that have a chance of becoming a home run, right? Is an infield pop up a fly ball? Well, there is a small amount of data to suggest that inducing a pop up is a pitching skill that may actually negatively correlate with home runs. So eliminating those from your fly ball total might make sense, or it might not. It depends who you talk to. What about infield line drives? Do those count? Line drives turn into home runs, but an infield line drive can’t possibly do that. But what if it is hit really, really hard, but on the wrong angle to leave the park? Maybe those infield line drives should count, but the really soft infield line drives shouldn’t. But what about really hard hit ground balls? Those are pretty much the same thing as hard hit infield line drives, but hit on an even more downward trajectory. Surely, if the batter had only hit the ball a tiny of a fraction of an inch lower, he could have elevated it to line drive to the outfield, right? He hammered the pitch, so the pitch was hittable, he just barely missed it.

There are so many factors to consider, where do you draw the line?

Alright, that is all well and good, but maybe if you calculate the league HR/FB% using the same interpretations as the pitcher FB total it will all just sort itself out in the end.

Let’s look at an example:

Dillon Gee’s 2013 stats: 172 FB, 139 LD, 42 PU, 47 BB, 7 HBP, 142 K, 199 IP.

I’ll note at this point, the league average xFIP is defined as, for this particular season, 3.76.

For Fly balls only, HR/FB = .1013, xFIP Constant = 3.01

Fly balls + Line drives, HR/FB = .0615, xFIP Constant = 3.54

Fly balls + Line Drives + Pop ups, HR/FB = .0583, xFIP Constant = 3.58

You can do the math along yourself, Gee’s xFIPs, respectively, are: 3.54, 4.18, 4.33.

Lg HR/FB

xFIP Constant

xFIP

For Fly balls only

.1013

3.01

3.54

Fly balls + Line drives

.0615

3.54

4.18

Fly balls + Line Drives + Pop ups

.0583

3.58

4.33

That is a rather large range, from this data we can determine Gee was anywhere from above average to significantly below average, not exactly helpful.

Clearly each interpretation of flyball is giving us a different number. From now on, I’m going to refer to them in the following way:

    flyballs only = xFIPf

    flyballs + line drives = xFIPfl

    flyballs + line drives + pop ups = xFIPflp

Okay, so those numbers come in a broad range, what does fangraphs say? 4.07.

Admittedly, I used different FB, LD, and PU numbers, since I took all this stuff by hand, using my own judgment while watching the games using my own eyes. Let me plug in FanGraphs own values and surely they must lineup with that 4.07 number, right? Respectively: 3.98, 4.38, 4.40.

Wait, what?

So this leaves us with a question, where did 4.07 that FanGraphs listed as Gee’s xFIP come from? I used FanGraphs own stats and their own equation, using three different methods, and none of them match up.

Looking closer into FanGraphs, specifically, into their guts, I see a listed FIP constant for 2013: 3.048, so plugging that number into the formula I get:

My Gee Stats: xFIPf = 3.57, xFIPfl = 3.69, xFIPflp = 3.79

FanGraphs Gee Stats: xFIPf = 4.01, xFIPfl = 3.89, xFIPflp = 3.87

xFIPf

xFIPfl

xFIPflp

My Gee Stats

3.57

3.69

3.79

Fangraphs Gee Stats

4.01

3.89

3.87

Note how none of these numbers are 4.07. Clearly FanGraphs is doing something behind the scenes that they aren’t telling us about. Either they are changing the formula’s slightly, using different stats, weighting stats differently, or using a different constant.

Alright, I admit this may be a bit of a nerdy, rambling sort of example, but I really want all baseball fans to understand this one thing: Advanced stats have inherent assumptions and interpretations that can dramatically change the look and feel of the stats. You have to question these underlying assumptions, you have to dig deeper into the stats, and, above all else, you must always explicitly state which version of the stat you’re quoting. I hope I have shown you at least four different versions of xFIP right now: xFIPf, xFIPfl, xFIPflp, and xFIPfg. Each of these gives you a different result, and you have to make sure to always compare like results to like results.

At the moment, FanGraphs largely holds a monopoly on advanced statistics consumed by average fans like you and me, but that will not always be the case, and more importantly, you should recognize their stats come with these inherent assumptions that may dramatically color your perception of certain types of players. Keep an open mind, and always question the numbers.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by DerpyMets. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/ambiguity-interpretations-and-assumptions-in-sabermetrics.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: A Case For Pursuing Cubs SS Addison Russell http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-for-pursuing-cubs-ss-addison-russell.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-for-pursuing-cubs-ss-addison-russell.html/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:48:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170183 addison russell

An MMO Fan Shot by Marc M. (Not4)

There has been much discussion and debate about whether the Cubs and Mets will match up for a deal this winter.  Many say it would be a natural fit as each team’s strength is the other team’s weakness, which seems to make for a good match.

Early reports have been that a deal between the teams is unlikely because of substantially differing views of the value of each team’s prospects and most likely trade candidates.  That begs the question of whether those reports are accurate, or if they are just part of the negotiating dance.

I have no inside knowledge one way or the other, but as someone that feels that with the right moves (albeit risky), this Mets team could compete for a title this year, I thought it was worthwhile to delve a little deeper into whether the Cubs and Mets will indeed make solid trade partners.

Most on this site, focus more on the Mets side of things.  While I am far from an expert on the Cubs, I will try my best to see things from their point of view.  One overarching, big-picture, point that gives me hope that a deal could be had between the teams is that over the past few weeks, Theo Epstein  has publicly acknowledged two critical things:

  • First, he stated that the Cubs are looking for veterans this winter to complement the young players to take the Cubs to the next level.  This is not surprising as having a good mixture of youth and veterans is an outstanding way to win championships.  “We sort of need some more gray hair around here. Guys that have been around the league that know how to play understand the grind of the season, know how to withstand the emotional roller-coaster, get through the losing streaks and not get too high on the winning streaks. There is something to be said for veterans who know the ropes.”
  • Second, Epstein made it clear that while the Cubs plan to be in the mix for one of the elite starting pitchers, they won’t do mega deals with two pitchers. “It’s hard to acquire pitching. Period,” Epstein said Wednesday. “It’s hard to acquire top-of-the-rotation pitching. I’ve seen us linked. People predict that we’re going to sign two top-of-the-rotation starters who both require nine-figure contracts. That’s not happening.”  “Look at the history of nine-figure starting-pitching contracts and it’s a huge risk. So to put an organization in the position to have two such deals immediately in the course of the same offseason, I couldn’t imagine something like that occurring.” ()

Starting Pitchers.  So, just how good or how needy are the Cubs for starting pitching.  They have a host of youngish arms who showed varying degrees of promise last year, but a deeper look shows a team that desperately needs to add a young potential Ace to the mix, even assuming that they sign one of the big three SP free agents.

I am basing this not just on an analysis of the Cubs current roster of SPs, but also based upon a recently rumored deal between the Nats and the Cubs, which now appears dead, but apparently got to the point that names were exchanged.  The key takeaway from that deal is that it involved Jordan Zimmerman for at least one of the Cubs top young middle infielders likely to be part of the package; with Cubs needing to ink Zimmerman to an extension for any deal to go forward.  (As a further point of interest, Zimmerman rejected a five year, $85mm extension last year and his value has only risen).

As noted, the deal looks unlikely now, but clearly for the right top of the rotation pitcher, whom the Cubs can control for a meaningfully number of years, Theo is wiling to include one of his prized middle infielders.

So lets look at the Cubs current starting pitchers:

  • Jake Arrieta.  After 4 years of mediocre results, the 28 year old Arrieta seemed to have a breakthrough year last year, albeit it, he only pitched 170 innings and will play next season as a 29 year old.  He will be a free agent in 2018 and is represented by Boras, so still a big question mark surrounding what to expect from him this year and how long he will be with the team even assuming 2014 is a harbinger of things to come.  As for a comp, think Niese (who is actually 6 months younger than Arrieta), except Niese has had far more success over his career.  So realistically, if all falls right, he’s probably a mid-rotation starter who can pitch like a No. 2 for parts of a season.
  • Kyle Hendricks had a good ½ year, but is thought of as more of a back of the rotation starter at best.  Travis Wood is another back of the rotation starter who could even be non-tendered.  Edwin Jackson has been a train wreck in Chicago and is on his way out one way or another, likely swapped for another bad contract.  The Cubs have a handful of other arms that could fill out a rotation, but nothing special on the immediate horizon.
  • Even adding a guy like Lester, Scherzer or Shields, they still have an immediate need for a stud, young and controlled pitcher if they are truly going to contend.

It is not hard to see a swap where the two key pieces are Addison Russell and Noah Syndergaard.  There will most likely be some extraneous pieces added to the mix (maybe a Cory Mazzoni), but Russell and Syndergaard are the headliners here. This is a swap of two mega-prospects.

Russell came over to the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija deal with the Oakland A’s on July 4 and hit .294 with 12 homers and 36 RBI in 50 games at Double-A Tennessee. He was ranked the No. 7 prospect in the game before the 2014 season by Baseball Prospectus. Syndergaard was right behind him at No. 11.

Sure, I hate seeing Syndergaard go, but for a talent like Russell, I’m more than willing to take that chance. Like Thor, Russell will start the year in Triple-A, but could be forcing his way onto the big league team by mid-season. Not the immediate impact we were hoping for, but talk about adding a potential cornerstone player to the team, who plays plus defense and is a plus offensive player.

The point here is, if you’re going to trade the number one prospect in your system, Russell is the player you go after, not the Alexei Ramirezes and Brad Millers of the world.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by Marc M. (Not4). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo presented

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-for-pursuing-cubs-ss-addison-russell.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: A Case For Pursuing Pirates Prospect Josh Bell http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-to-trade-for-josh-bell.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-to-trade-for-josh-bell.html/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 18:02:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169531 Josh_Bell_qvrhw676_mdesbg6a

An MMO Fan Shot by Jason Bay

The case for Josh Bell as I see it is threefold.

1) The longstanding belief that it is having many good players together for as much of their careers as possible, all at the same time that is the critical difference in how high a team can rise. (Think Rollins, Utley, Howard)

2) Combining Bell with Brandon Nimmo is a perfect fit as they compliment each other very well whether it be in the lineup together or splitting time in certain circumstances .

3) It’s an opportunity of being able to acquire Bell without having to move any of our young high end pitching, namely Harvey, deGrom, Wheeler, Syndergaard and Matz. The immediate needs of the Pirates are such that we can add Bell without worrying about raising payroll or moving any of our prized arms.

Platoon splits for left-handed hitters in the minors do not always hold up when reaching the majors and in Nimmo’s case there is some cause for concern.

Nimmo vs. LHP

Career – .220/.331/.298, 24.2 K/9, 11.8 BB/9

2014 AA – .152/.278/.239, 22.0 K/9, 13.8 BB/9

2014 A+ – .333/.435/.417, 16.5 K/9, 12.9 BB/9

Let’s see how the switch-hitting Bell compares…

Bell vs. LHP

Career – .300/.343/.450, 11.2 K/9, 6.0 BB/9

2014 AA – .295/.354/.341, 8.3 K/9, 8.3 BB/9

2014 A+ – .320/.333/.495, 10.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9

What this tells me is that if Nimmo does not hit LHP in the majors, Bell’s presence allows us to get the production we need from one outfield spot the 30-40 times a year we face a left-handed starting pitcher.

When we face a righthander however, is where the benefit of adding Bell really kicks in because in this case we would have both in the lineup together (Approx.120-130 starts)

Bell vs. RHP

Career – .298/.363/.449, 17.5 K/9, 9.1 BB/9
2014 AA – .280/.333/.280, 14.8 K/9, 17.4 BB/9
2014 A+ – .341/.396/.504, 12.1 K/9, 8.6 BB/9

As you can see in limited play (94 AB) the power did not show up for Bell in AA but here is where Nimmo compliments Bell if his weaker side power doesn’t develop.

Nimmo vs. RHP

Career – .287/.409/.440, 23.3 K/9, 16.1 BB/9
2014 AA – .291/.379/.493, 17.6 K/9, 12.4 BB/9
2014 A+ – .316/.454/.477, 19.1 K/9, 20.1 BB/9

What you have in Bell and Nimmo are two players who together can be a real force in the lineup and who individually cover the others potential flaws. An outfield with Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto (plus a RH compliment to Conforto) would afford the opportunity to start three right-handed hitters or three left-handed hitters in the outfield anytime we wanted with the ability to double switch and strategize later in the game, utilizing all five outfielders in situations that accentuate their strengths and bypass their potential weaknesses.

Bell also has the arm for right field, something we do not currently have in-house unless Cesar Puello somehow comes through. And If we did execute a trade for Bell, Cesar could get his shot this year as a platoon right fielder while Bell continues to develop.

Having at the least Lagares, Bell, Nimmo and Granderson followed by Conforto does give us four outfielders which in case of injury to one wouldn’t hurt and would be a godsend in the event Conforto does not have the range to play the outfield.

The reason I think this is potentially doable is pure opportunity. Pittsburgh has Edinson Volquez and Francisco Liriano most likely departing the starting rotation as free agents and Russell Martin leaving a void behind the plate as well. They also have outfielders in abundance in Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco and Austin Meadows on the way.

Here’s one possible suggestion. We can offer Jon Niese, Dillon Gee (or Bartolo Colon), Kevin Plawecki and Wilmer Flores (or Daniel Murphy) in exchange for Josh Bell and RF Keon Broxton (ETA 2015),  C Reese McGuire (ETA 2017) and CF/LF Harold Ramirez (ETA 2017).

Flores or Murphy can takeover at 3B and allow Pedro Alvarez to move to 1B, and we can kick in some money to help cover part of Niese’s or Colon’s salary if necessary.

It does leave us a little bare behind the plate in case of injury, and of course means SS comes down to a competition between Tejada, Tovar and Reynolds while we await Cecchini or Rosario. But the deal would certainly accomplish the Pirates’ offseason goals and pretty much solidifies the Mets outfield for many years to come in the most impactful way possible.

It also gets us a top notch catching prospect who hits left-handed to boot, and more importantly, maintains all of our elite young pitching.

The OF in 2016 at some point would be:

LF Grandy, Nimmo
CF Lagares, Nimmo
RF Bell, Nimmo

What do you think?

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by Jason Bay. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo presented

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-a-case-to-trade-for-josh-bell.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: Don’t Be Shy Sandy… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-dont-be-shy-sandy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-dont-be-shy-sandy.html/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 03:58:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169449 sandy alderson

An MMO Fan Shot by Matt Stephens

It has become evident at this early stage in the off-season that the Mets will not be major players in the free agent market. For the first year in many, that choice isn’t simply because of funds, but simply out of who is available, or better yet who is not available. I agree with the assessment that Michael Cuddyer is not worth our draft pick. Hanley is not much of a shortstop anymore, and all the top players available are starting pitchers, just what we don’t need.

With the possible exception of Yasmani Tomas, the Mets cannot and should not look for answers in the free agent pool. There is no need to pay Asdrubal Cabrera or Stephen Drew a ton of money to provide production close to what Wilmer Flores will give us over a full season for minimum wage. We can all agree that Michael Morse and Alex Rios are not the bats that fit into the middle of our lineup. Rios’ power seems to have dried up, and Morse is a poor defender and struggles to stay on the field. As much as I like Tomas, we can’t go all waste our limited money on a player that hasn’t touched a major league field yet. There are proven commodities all over the place, on the trade market.

Sandy Alderson’s experience in trades as Mets GM has been limited. His trades have been from the standpoint of a struggling team selling off top pieces and building for the future. He knew he was getting top prospects in return, but the question was just which prospect. Admittedly he has proven to be very savvy in these negotiations. I recall conversations where the Giants claimed that Zack Wheeler was absolutely untouchable. We were preparing to settle for Gary Brown, who has played in just seven major league games. Syndergaard was a throw-in piece in the deal for R.A. Dickey. We were really excited about Travis d’Arnaud, but Sandy got us Syndergaard as well. A steal for sure, especially after proposals regarding Mike Olt were considered. However, when dealing with a situation from the opposite perspective, he has not had any experience, at least as Mets general manager. Now is the off-season where that should change.

Alderson’s notable deal for a big name player came when Sandy ran the Oakland Athletics. He flipped three prospects who never reached the majors in exchange for Dennis Eckersley. Eck changed the role of the closer forever and won a Cy Young award as an Athletic. Alderson’s re-acquisition of Rickey Henderson in 1989 also came at a low cost, as he gave up on players who would not become anything special. It has been a long time since Alderson traded for the big name, the star, the player that changed the team. But after years of rebuilding and reconstruction, the Mets have reached a time where it is time for them to make a trade. Otherwise, they are giving up on all the progress they have made and just hoping for the best. I wouldn’t be shocked, but they can’t do it. Of course the question is, what do the Mets have, and what can they get back?

It is no secret that the Mets have a glut of Major League quality pitchers. Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard, and Rafael Montero could all be found in MLB rotations come next spring. I have understood the over-protection of our pitchers in the past, but now with 8 ready starters, the time has come to let some of the horses free. I’d venture to say that the only “untouchables”, (I hate that word but…) are deGrom and Harvey. Those two have years of team control left and have proven that they are top quality MLB pitchers. Sure I like Zack Wheeler, but he was very streaky in 2014, and if teams are going to ask for him, I’d be willing to give him up, just as I would Gee, Colon, Niese, Syndergaard, or Montero. The Mets don’t need all those pitchers, we also have our catcher in d’Arnaud and can trade Plawecki. Daniel Murphy is likely to walk after the season and we’d be foolish not to trade him now. What they need is a hitter, an impact hitter.

There are bats all around the majors that could help right now. I could offer up phantom proposals regarding Yoenis Cespedes, Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Upton, Jose Bautista, Alex Gordon, hell, I could tell you how the Mets could land Giancarlo Stanton, but that isn’t my job. You can play with what-ifs all you want, but it means absolutely nothing until something happens. The responsibility falls on our lovely owners and old Sandy Alderson. I am absolutely positive that there are packages that can be put together that will bring that missing impact hitter to New York, and help us reach the playoffs, and maybe even win a title. At some point dream scenarios and possibilities have to end, and reality and risk-taking has to begin. I simply don’t want management to wimp out when they have a real chance to change the fate of our franchise.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by Matt Stephens. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo presented

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-fan-shot-dont-be-shy-sandy.html/feed/ 0
Gil Hodges Up For Hall of Fame Consideration In December http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/gil-hodges-up-for-hall-of-fame-consideration-in-december.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/gil-hodges-up-for-hall-of-fame-consideration-in-december.html/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:37:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168992 gil hodges bklyn

An MMO Fan Shot by Bill Hall

Gil Hodges is one of ten names on this year’s Golden Era Ballot the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced today.Players will be reviewed and voted on December 8 during the Baseball Winter Meetings in San Diego.

We support the election of Gil Hodges to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is fully qualified under every one of the criteria set forth in the Hall’s own rules:

“Voting shall be based on player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Gil Hodges was the premier first baseman in the National League during the Golden Era. He was an outstanding fielder, winning the first three Gold Gloves ever awarded in his final three seasons as a full-time regular. He was a dominant power hitter, topping twenty home runs for eleven consecutive seasons, and he totaled thirty or more homers in six of those years. He was an eight-time All Star. His on-the-field performance was a major factor in seven pennants and two World Championships during his fourteen seasons with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was second in both home runs and runs batted in for the National League during the 1950s, was tenth on the all-time home run list at his retirement, and in third place among right-handed batters.

gil hodges aims

His career totals might have been even more impressive had he not spent three years in the Pacific with the U.S. Marines during World War II, where he earned the Bronze Star, which is awarded for acts of heroism or meritorious service in a combat zone.

Integrity, sportsmanship and character may be hard to quantify, but Hodges displayed these qualities in abundance. As both a player and manager, he won the universal respect of his teammates, the players he managed, opponents and fans. He was widely recognized as the only player never to be booed in Brooklyn. Hodges made his home in the heart of the community where he played and he was extremely generous with his time, showing a special dedication to youth. Jackie Robinson credited him as a key figure in easing his difficult role as the first African-American in the major leagues in the 20th century. As a first-time manager, Hodges dramatically improved the performance of the expansion Washington Senators. When he returned to New York as manager of the Mets, he brought 25 young men together as a unit that accomplished one of the most improbable and best remembered feats in baseball history: the 1969 World Series title.

gil hodges place 1969 Mets parade

His untimely death at age 47 in 1972 robbed baseball and its fans of many more years of his great skills and character. His reputation had endured and grown in the decades since that loss. He has earned one distinction his generations of admirers would dearly love to see become a historic footnote–accumulating more votes than any candidate not yet enshrined in the Hall. His achievements during the quarter-century he did spend in the game have richly earned him a place in baseball’s shrine.

Once more, Hodges boosters are hopeful that his time has finally come. Although whoever is chosen by the Golden Era Committee will be a member of the Hall’s class of 2015, the election and announcement will take place in December, so the campaigners have adopted a hashtag to help publicize their cause: #14in14.

Sign our petition now.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by Bill Hall. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/gil-hodges-up-for-hall-of-fame-consideration-in-december.html/feed/ 0
MMO Fan Shot: Could Juan Lagares Become the Mets Version of Lorenzo Cain? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-could-juan-lagares-become-the-mets-version-of-lorenzo-cain.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-could-juan-lagares-become-the-mets-version-of-lorenzo-cain.html/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:42:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168957 lorenzo cain

An MMO Fan Shot by yfern328

Fresh off an ALCS MVP where he batted .533 (8 for 15) with two doubles, two walks, and a stolen base, Lorenzo Cain has catapulted himself from “that-guy-who-plays-baseball-for-the-Royals” to an oft mentioned name in the national spotlight of the World Series. In addition to his sound batting, Cain has not disappointed with the glove either as he’s played spectacularly in the outfield tracking down balls in the gaps while making highlight-reel catches. Simply put, watching Lorenzo Cain during this postseason has been a treat, and if anything, it affirms my belief that stars can be born with organizational patience and commitment. As a Mets fan, I couldn’t help but wonder how awesome it would be to have a player like Cain leading off for the Mets. And then suddenly it dawned on me—perhaps the Mets already have a similar breakout candidate on the roster? Maybe that player is Juan Lagares?

Considering that Cain broke out big time in 2014 with a line of .301/.339/.412, I figured that maybe Lagares had a shot to best his STEAMER projections for 2015 if he too could take a similar step forward. When I began comparing Lagares and Cain, the first thing I was drawn to was Cain’s 2013 season and Lagares’ in 2014.

In 2013, Lorenzo Cain posted a triple slash line of .251/.310/.348 along with a wRC+ of 80 in 115 games. In many ways, Lagares had a better season in 2014. Lagares posted a triple slash line of .281/.321/.382 with a wRC+ of 101 in 116 games. Going back just another year, I found that in 61 games in 2012, Cain posted a line of .266/.316/.419 which was slightly better, but roughly just as bad as the .242/.281/.352 line Lagares had in 2013 over 121 games. Looking at just the stats from the past couple of years, it was clear that Cain had a slight edge in his ability to get on base, so I wondered if Cain had that reputation in the minors as well.

Turns out that was true. When I compared the cumulative minor league stats of Cain and Lagares, I found that Cain had a .294/.366/.430 line over 728 games which was just a notch better than Lagares’ .281/.322/.403 in 633 games. The interesting thing to note however was that while Cain performed pretty well at all the levels he played in the minors, Lagares seemed to show improvement over time. For instance in all levels below A+, Cain posted a .311/.387/.446 line in 206 games while Lagares only had a .255/.297/.372 line in 327 games.

However, Lagares showed marked improvement in the minor leagues from A+ onwards as compared to Cain who continued to produce stats in a similar fashion—in 728 games Cain hit .294/.366/.430 as compared to Lagares’ line of .308/.347/.435 over 306 games. If we consider these numbers, Lagares and Cain actually have a lot in common. Considering that Lagares improved over the course of his minor league career to eventually be comparable to Cain at the high minor league levels, is it that unreasonable to believe that Lagares could continue to make improvements at the plate in 2015 like Cain did this past year? It’s certainly reasonable to speculate that with Lagares’ steady improvement over the years, maybe he starts to trend more towards the hitter he was in the high minor leagues moving forward.

Again comparing Cain’s 2013 to Lagares’ 2014, what can be noted is that the two had nearly identical strikeout rates (20.4% vs 19.2%) and isolated power (.098 vs .101) while posting the same line drive rates (21.9%).

While Lagares did have a slightly higher BABIP compared to Cain (.341 vs .309), overall Lagares’ numbers were slightly better as a whole, so even if his stats regressed a little bit, the point is that Cain still ended up breaking out in 2014 with slightly worse numbers in 2013. One thing to note is that Cain had a much higher walk rate in 2013 (7.5%) compared to Lagares in 2014 (4.4%). Oddly enough though, in Cain’s breakout year he ended posting a 4.8% walk rate, so maybe there is hope for Lagares after all.

juan lagares claps

Additionally on the base paths, Lagares compares quite favorably. In 2013 and 2014 Juan Lagares stole 6 and 13 bases respectively. In 2012 and 2013 Cain respectively stole 10 and 14 bases, and in his breakout season Cain managed to steal 28 bases.It’s not crazy to think that Lagares could be a mid-20’s steal candidate in 2014 considering the ability he showed late in 2014 when he was given the green light. In fact, Lagares was no slouch in the minors either. Over his minor league career Lagares managed to steal 100 bases compared to Cain who stole 140.

Lastly there’s defense: both players are quite adept defensively, but Lagares is arguably the best centerfielder in baseball. Among qualified players, Lagares was the only one in baseball to be in the top 5 in DRS, UZR, and UZR/150 besides Alex Gordon. So assuming his defensive value remains constant, I don’t think it’s too lofty to believe that Lagares can have the same impact as Cain next year if his bat improves. In 2014 Cain was a 4.9 fWAR player while Lagares was pretty good himself at 3.8 fWAR. But what exactly does Lagares need to work on?

To me the big thing that stuck out was Lagares’ performance versus RHP. In 2014 Lagares hit a whopping .349 against LHP but only .264 against righties. While he showed improvement from his 2013 numbers where he hit .241 against LHP and .243 against RHP, Lagares has got to improve against RHP to even out his splits.

In 2013 Lorenzo Cain hit .238 against LHP and .256 against RHP but drastically improved on those figures this year by hitting .313 against LHP and .297 against RHP. If Lagares could hit righties with more authority, there’s every reason to believe that he can post similar numbers to Cain considering he already hits southpaws better. Outside of June and July, Lagares had a pretty solid year, but he’s got to build on this past season to really break out.

What is encouraging is that Lagares had pretty even Home/Away splits, so I’d continue to hope that Lagares can be a consistent player for the Mets in 2015. Another thing I do like about Lagares is that he had slightly better numbers with men in scoring position this past year, and that has been a trademark for Cain this postseason. That said, Lagares has got to improve upon hitting off-speed pitches. With more exposure to the league, and with more experience, I think Juan can greatly improve in this facet of his game as well. Moving into 2015, if Lagares continues to make steady improvements, he could be a very valuable hitter at the top of the Mets lineup.

Overall, do I project Lagares to become the next Lorenzo Cain? No. But what I am saying is that it isn’t out of the realm of possibility to assume that Lagares can breakout like Cain did this past year. Currently STEAMER projects Lagares to hit .256/.298/.360 with a 2.6 fWAR in 2015. I think those figures are shockingly low. Lagares has the potential to put up that level of fWAR defensively alone. He’s a good bet to approach the 4.8 fWAR Cain posted this year, or at least get into 4.0 fWAR territory with some moderate improvement.

In closing, Lagares has always shown steady improvement at the minor league level, and has made adjustments while continually improving at the major league level as well. Everything points to a player that’s gaining experience and continuing to develop and evolve as time passes. Nothing would make me happier than to see Juan Lagares take that next step and become every bit as good as Lorenzo Cain – and that he can pull it off as soon as next season.  Let’s Go Mets.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader yfern328. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

mmo presented

]]>
http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mmo-fan-shot-could-juan-lagares-become-the-mets-version-of-lorenzo-cain.html/feed/ 0