Mets Merized Online » OBP http://metsmerizedonline.com Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:32:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Mets’ Farm System Has A Bumper Crop At Second Base http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mets-farm-system-has-a-bumper-crop-at-second-base.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mets-farm-system-has-a-bumper-crop-at-second-base.html/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 19:44:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=160385 Much has been made of the Met organization’s penchant for accumulating shortstop prospects in recent years, a strategy that has paid dividends for many teams in the past. Generally speaking, players capable of handling what is considered the most demanding defensive slot on the fair territory side of the field are usually judged to be able to make the move to any other non-battery position if needed at a later time. If their bat looks to be enough of an asset to justify a starting role, it is assumed that they will find a place on the field where their glove will play effectively enough to hide any shortcomings that may have emerged over time.

Second base, interestingly enough, often seems to be a position in professional ball that is the repository for players who possess those shortcomings, either defensively, as with suspect range or a “fringy” arm, or if their bat won’t play at a more offensively oriented position such as corner infield or outfield. Naturally, there are many examples of second sackers who play brilliantly on both sides of the ball such as Chase Utley, but for every one of these there are a passel of “good glove-no stick” utility types or error-prone keystoners whose power (it is hoped) can offset their deficiencies in the field, a la Dan Uggla. Factors such as the tendencies of the pitching staff (flyball vs. groundball), the team’s home park (bandbox vs. pitcher’s haven), and the makeup of the rest of a team’s active roster can influence what type of players draw the 4 position assignment as well.

Second base has not been a storied position in Met team history. Clearly, Edgardo Alfonzo ranks as the best all-around player on the list, and some past-their-prime luminaries have filled the slot for a time as well (Carlos Baerga, Roberto Alomar), but generally, the Mets have run out a group of players there who could do something offensively and provide enough in the way of defense to keep the word “liability” from being mentioned in the same sentence with their name on a too-regular basis. Of course, the greatest offensive powerhouse to have played second in a Met uniform was Jeff Kent, but he saved his MVP-level performances for his future employers.

Interestingly, now that Daniel Murphy has established himself as one of the better offensive options in the league at the position, many are looking for him to be traded. While the merits of this idea can and have been debated, I thought it would prove insightful to look at the backlog of candidates to replace him that the team appears to be accumulating throughout its farm system.

wilmer-flores-2013-bm

Triple-A Las Vegas

Wilmer Flores continues to make it known that his time has arrived. Yes, his prodigious recent power display has come in the hitter-friendly parks of the PCL, but at age 22 (turning 23 next month), his apprenticeship looks to be overlong. He needs a spot in the big club’s lineup. Murphy’s bat has necessitated his reclassification as a shortstop, but his future appears to be elsewhere in the infield. His minor league numbers may be enhanced by the rarified air of Las Vegas, but he still profiles as at least a .270+ hitter with 15+ HR potential. If that type of production comes with passable defense, most clubs would be thrilled.

Matt Reynolds, while not a name that has been listed among the team’s top prospects, has nonetheless hit his way into consideration over the past season and a half. Another ostensible shortstop, no scouting report projects him there as a regular. He lacks power or elite speed, but having hit above the .350 mark across two levels over half a season and posted a combined OBP of .424, he at least merits some consideration as at least a candidate for a spring training tryout in the leadoff spot.

dilson-herrera-in-the-cage

Double-A Binghamton 

Dilson Herrera, who arrived last season from the Pittsburgh organization as part of the Marlon Byrd/John Buck deal that also netted current bullpen component Vic Black, may be relatively small in stature at 5’10” and 150 lb, but has also hit at every level, tallying a .312 career mark across rookie, low A, high A, and now AA levels. At only 20 years of age, his stroke is precocious enough (along with a hint of occasional pop) to intrigue.

T.J. Rivera, another “non-prospect” who went undrafted and signed as a free agent out of college, has done nothing but hit since joining the organization in 2011. In stints at Kingsport, Brooklyn, Savanna, St. Lucie, and now Binghamton, he has batted a composite .346 with an OBP of .392. Like Reynolds, he lacks the added dimension of plus power or speed, and at age 25 is older than is typical for his level, but his numbers demand consideration as a utility player if nothing else. Anyway, even Mike Piazza was only drafted as a “courtesy.”

mazzilli

Advanced-A St. Lucie 

L.J. Mazzilli, he of the pedigree, has shown a bit of his Dad’s hard-nosed style and a tad more power than the typical middle infielder in the Met organization. The 23-year old is in his second year of pro ball, now manning second for St. Lucie after a mid-season promotion from low A Savannah. Drafted in the fourth round last year out of the University of Connecticut, he had a respectable showing with short-season Brooklyn last year and has improved across the board this year with better numbers in average, slugging, and OBP. Definitely one to watch.

Single-A Savannah

Jeff McNeil, taken 8 rounds after Mazzilli out of Long Beach State, was assigned to Kingsport of the Appalachian League and hit .329 over the course of 164 AB while showing some base-stealing ability with 11 bags in 13 attempts. After showing similar numbers at Savannah this year (.332 with 15 steals in 18 tries over 232 AB) and making the Sally league All-Star team, he was promoted to St. Lucie where so far, he is demonstrating a need to adjust to elevated level of play.

While we all may find ourselves waiting a bit for Messrs. Evans, Cecchini, or Rosario to lay a claim to the shortstop position in Citifield, it appears that at least with the other half of the middle infield combo, a plethora of candidates may thrust themselves into the picture relatively soon. Competition at positions is said to be a good thing. In any event, it appears that the Mets should have no lack of supply of it at second base for years to come.

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Featured Post: Is Alderson Gaming The System… Again? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/featured-post-is-alderson-gaming-the-system-again.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/featured-post-is-alderson-gaming-the-system-again.html/#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 18:44:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=154027 sandy alderson by Jeff Roberson AP

Sandy Alderson was never a professional baseball player. He never donned a major league uniform, he never stood in a box facing major league pitching, he never even coached.  He ascended the ranks of Oakland’s front office through a business partnership with Roy Eisenhardt (whose father-in-law owned the team), though admittedly Alderson had shown a remarkable aptitude as an organizer and was already a consummate administrator. Under Alderson the A’s made it to three straight world series appearances and four division titles in 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1992.

Sandy Alderson is, on the other hand, a Vietnam veteran, an ex-Marine, a graduate of Dartmouth and then Harvard Law. Not a bad resume. His claim to fame in baseball circles revolves around his accomplishments in Oakland in the late 80’s when he overhauled their farm system propelling the team into contention, then switched his emphasis to “sabermetric principles” after being ordered to slash payroll in the 90’s. A precursor (and by some considered a mentor) to Billy Beane of Moneyball fame.

In October of 2010 when Alderson was introduced as the new Mets GM, he was asked whether he knew about Jose Canseco juicing. As reported at the time by Dan Martin of the NY Post (and others), he responded with the following:

“It’s hard to avoid it in light of Jose Canseco’s book. In a nutshell, I suspected Jose Canseco of doing steroids, but I never suspected Mark McGwire. It was a time as an organization we actually had begun to emphasize weight training as a part of a regimen that is now widespread, but at the time may have inadvertently gotten us involved with the steroid aspect.”

He added that the team looked into testing its own players, but was unable to as it would have been illegal in California at the time.

“If you go back and put all that in perspective, do I wish we had done more? I think that’s almost always true in retrospect.”

basg brothers canseco mcgwire

Under Alderson the A’s drafted players like Mark McGuire and Walt Weiss as Jose Canseco bulked up in the Minors. In that same introductory press conference he went on to say:

“We actually had a very active minor league drug policy at the time that included the prohibition of amphetamines. But you’re talking about a time in the late ’80s when this issue was emergent in a general sense and there was a personal sense of a lack of awareness, lack of knowledge and ultimately a lack of tools to deal with the problem.”

With this, it appeared the book was closed on the issue of Alderson’s complicity in PED abuse. I believe he was aware of what was happening in his newly outfitted weight rooms (every major league team was in some shape or form bulking up by then), but his hands were tied. So, in a “if you can’t beat em join em” kind of way he went about drafting big framed power hitters.

In the end he was an employee like any other of the Oakland Athletics, and if anyone should be complicit in PED abuse, you might argue it is the owners who are more responsible (the juicing was happening in their workplaces, with their knowledge) and even then they’d only (legally) be on the hook for lost wages in suits brought against them by minor leaguers who did not juice. Players of comparable talent who got passed over. These lawsuits never got off the ground due to questionable legal merits, the lack of credible plaintiffs, and the difficulty proving someone did not use while projecting performance (and future salary) based on minor league promise … But that’s not what this story is about. This story is about whether Sandy Alderson is gaming the system … again.

It occurred to me recently that those early 90’s Oakland teams sure were stacked offensively … I say this because I was thinking about how woefully lacking our current Met offense appears to be.  What gives? Where are our “Bash Brothers” ?? Where are our three consecutive Rookie of the Years (all power laden position players)?

Strange isn’t it, or, maybe not.

I’m not sure “gaming the system” is the right term for what I believe Alderson is doing. It’s more like opportunism with a side of exploitation. And just to be clear, I am not bashing Alderson … in fact I’m sort of praising him. I think he’s outsmarted a lot of people all the while persisting in an approach that has been assailed as only an approach can be assailed (in NY), ruthlessly.

Forget about OBP, forget about plate discipline, forget about power hitters. That is so very “1990’s.” The steroid era went out with wallet chains and the Backstreet Boys. We’re ALL missing the point, the offense sucks, yeah, so what? It’s not about offense, it’s about pitching.

“What?” You say, incredulous. “But we’ve assembled a Moneyball dream team, they’re all about OBP, getting on base, taking walks.” That perception is not only wrong now, for reasons I will illustrate shortly, it’s not even an accurate description of Moneyball back then. I think people who think Moneyball is about OBP simply haven’t read the book. In a nutshell the approach is about finding hidden value and stockpiling talent in the aggregate as a commodity.

In the late 80’s the “target skill” was getting on-base because at the time it was undervalued. So a process was implemented system-wide whereby the ability to get on base was stockpiled (in the aggregate – which is to say the skill was spread out over entire rosters instead of focused on one or two players who might walk when their contract is up).

noah syndergaard

Now lets fast forward to 2010. Sandy has just returned from the Dominican Republic where he’d spent time cleaning up rampant institutional corruption involving agents and team employees exploiting 16-year olds. He is offered a job in NY. He is an MLB insider and has cooperated extensively with the Mitchell report. He has voluminous knowledge of MLB’s plans to continue to come down hard on PED’s. His understanding of these proceedings was probably more intimate than any other GM at the time.

So what do you think he’s going to tell his big-brained minions? Go after hulking body builders who crack tape measure home runs and take lots of walks? I think not. The approach is going to focus on securing big durable pitchers with fluid repeatable deliveries, because as MLB rosters are weaned off the juice, pitching will become an even more valuable commodity than it ever was before. Simple as that.

Say hello to Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, Michael Fulmer, and Robert Whalen, not to mention holdovers Harvey, Matz, deGrom and Mejia … the list is deep and rich in talent.

Whatever happens in the coming seasons, we know one thing, the Mets, thanks to Alderson and his braintrust, will have some pitching, and if offensive stats across the league over the past few seasons are any indication, this team will be uniquely positioned to remain competitive. And that’s a good thing Mets fans, that’s a very good thing.

mmo

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Mets Are 5-0 When Eric Young Jr. Steals A Base http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mets-are-5-0-when-eric-young-jr-steals-a-base.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/mets-are-5-0-when-eric-young-jr-steals-a-base.html/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:17:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=153551 USATSI eric young jr

There have been a lot of complaints about Eric Young. He doesn’t get on base enough. His batting average is too low. He shouldn’t be an everyday player. He should be the 4th outfielder.

Guess what? Speed Kills.

Stolen bases don’t produce runs?

Last year, I went through the Mets top stolen base seasons and wrote a post about how often runs were scored when both a stolen base was attempted and when an attempt was successful.

Who’s currently 4th in the Major Leagues in Runs Scored? Eric Young. Who’s currently 2nd in the Majors in stolen bases? Eric Young.

Eric Young is only 110th in batting average among qualifiers at .255 and 89th in on-base percentage – yet when he’s getting on base, he’s scoring. Why? Because he gets on first base and proceeds to get himself into scoring position. When runners get into scoring position, they score at a higher clip than when they stay stationary on first base.

On the young season (pun intended), EY has stolen 9 bases and has yet to be caught. He has scored 5 times after attempting a steal.

When Eric Young has made/attempted a steal, he has scored 56% of the time. In other words, if EY makes it to first base and attempts to steal… there’s a better than 50/50 chance he will score.

The Mets are 5-0 when Eric Young steals a base this season.

Roger Cedeno stole 66 bases in 1999 and scored 58% of the time after a successful steal.

Mookie Wilson had a career .314 OBP and his three best OBP seasons with the Mets were 1986-88 when he had OBP’s of .345, .359, and .345. He scored 90 and 91 runs on weak hitting Mets teams in 1982 and 1983 when he had OBP’s of .314 and .300.

Eric Young has a .344 OBP through April 16th.

If EY is at the top of the lineup and runs, he will score. Even with a lower OBP, he will score. If he continues to get on base at the clip he currently is and runs, we have a top flight run scorer right under our noses.

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The Underwhelming Mets First Base Battle http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/the-underwhelming-mets-first-base-battle.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/the-underwhelming-mets-first-base-battle.html/#comments Sat, 08 Mar 2014 16:33:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149473 duda davis

We’re a week into spring training games and the big position battle we’ve been anticipating all winter has thus far been, shall we say…. underwhelming?

Ike Davis has calf tightness. Lucas Duda has leg stiffness. Pardon the pun, but are we dealing with a couple of stiffs?

In a battle for their Major League lives with millions of dollars in future earnings at stake for both players, neither one of them has taken the bull by the horns and said, “This job is mine!”

Sounds a lot like the last couple of seasons, doesn’t it?

So in their limited action thus far, how have the two lefty sluggers fared?

Ike Davis (2 Games) – .167 BA (1 for 6), 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K, 0 BB, .167 OBP, .667 SLG

Lucas Duda (3 Games) – .286 BA (2 for 7), 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 BB, .375 OBP, .857 SLG

Ladies and gentlemen – your first basemen.

Neither of the two are in today’s lineup and remain sidelined.

Eric Campbell, who has been playing first base predominantly in their absence, is batting .429/.467/.500 over 14 at-bats in six games.

(Photo Credit: Alejandra Villa, Newsday)

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Featured Post: Can Eric Young Have a .350 OBP If He Bunts More? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/featured-post-can-eric-young-have-a-350-obp-if-he-bunts-more.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/featured-post-can-eric-young-have-a-350-obp-if-he-bunts-more.html/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 14:54:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148521 eric young

“Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It’s 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? There’s 6 months in a season, that’s about 25 weeks. That means if you get just one extra flare a week – just one – a gorp… you get a groundball, you get a groundball with eyes… you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week… and you’re in Yankee Stadium.” Crash Davis, Bull Durham

That’s all it takes. One hit per week to turn a .250 hitter into a .300 hitter. It just so happens that Eric Young Jr. hit .249 last year. That would mean that if he could manage one more hit per week…just one more ground ball with eyes…just one more bunt base hit…he could be a .300 hitter and probably get his OBP up in the .350 range.

Terry Collins advised the media yesterday that Young could have a .350 OBP if he bunted more. It sounds like they want Young to play more of a Willie Mays Hayes style of baseball in 2014.

Here is what Metsblog contributor, Maggie Wiggin, tweeted in response to the Collins quote yesterday:

This tweet is accurate. Gaining an additional 20 bunt hits seems highly unlikely, but it leaves out one important fact—Young’s speed puts added pressure on the defense. That means if he bunts, the defense has to field the ball cleanly, and make a strong accurate throw in order to get the speedy Young out. Odds are, while he may not be able to accumulate 22-25 extra hits from bunts, he may be able to accumulate 10-15 more hits and get on base an additional 5-10 times due to errors made.

That’s hypothetical, but possible.

If Young added 15 more hits (less than one per week), that’s a .276 average and .330 OBP (based on his 539 at-bats in 2013). That is more realistic than saying Young can have a .350 OBP simply by bunting more.

While reaching base on an error is helping the team, it isn’t factored into OBP because it is looked at as luck. However, when your speed is causing fielders to rush, that isn’t luck, it’s skill. Even if it’s not reflected in his actual OBP, Young is impacting the offense by getting on base more often where the Mets can take advantage of his speed. So if he bunts more, hypothetically he will get on base more, even if it’s not reflected in his stats.

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Spring Training Battles: Will Consistency be Rewarded at First Base? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/spring-training-battles-will-consistency-be-rewarded-at-first-base.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/spring-training-battles-will-consistency-be-rewarded-at-first-base.html/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 14:52:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147796 lucas duda ike davis

In an article written Monday for the New York Post, Ken Davidoff asked 30 questions, one for each major league team as they head to spring training. Of the Mets, Davidoff asked the following.

“Who is the starting first baseman, and does the loser of the Ike Davis/Lucas Duda competition stick around?”

The answer to the first part of this question is still very much up in the air and will come down to pure production come springtime, but if overall consistency can serve as a projector, Josh Satin may win at least part of that starting job. We all want facts and stats to determine 2014’s starting First Baseman, and for those we will need to hang on a bit longer and wait for spring training to start. But until then, why not have a little fun? Here are Josh Satin’s slash lines (AVG/OBP/SLG) in each level of pro ball.

satin stats

Satin, through each tour in the Mets’ organization rarely faltered. His numbers dipped a bit when he joined the Mets’ midseason in 2013 but that was to be expected. It doesn’t appear that his numbers fell enough to suggest banishment to the minors forever. What is a bit worrisome is Satin’s K% of 25.3% that he posted once he joined the the big league team. This clip was the highest he had every posted. However, Satin accompanied that percentage with a 13.6 BB%, which in his first year of pro ball is a pretty nice mark. For a player who does not rely on raw power but on sharp, well-placed line drives a high BB% would be key in his overall success. Satin’s tremendous On Base Percentages throughout his minor league career offer encouragement that he may be able to bring those to the Majors.

This is not to suggest that Davis and Duda did not enjoy similar success in the Minors, they did. But we have seen both men prove less than successful in the Major Leagues. With Davis’ batting average hovering around .216 in his last two seasons and Duda posting a career -0.8 Wins Above Replacement, it is hard to figure that it will take a phenomenal spring for Satin to slide into that starting job. Ironically, the fact that Satin has played the least in the Major Leagues is what may prove to benefit him most significantly in the competition. Satin, with a strong spring could spark Collins to opt with the “lets try this guy” approach.

As for the second question offered by Davidoff, will the loser of the Davis/Duda competition stick around? I can’t imagine so and Sandy Alderson sounded like the loser could very well go to Triple-A, in his interview on WFAN on Tuesday, even adding that both still have minor league options.

Both Davis and Duda bat left-handed while Satin bats Righty. Joe DeCaro of MetsMerized offered an insightful article on the possibility of a platoon situation involving Satin and Davis with Duda falling by the wayside. The “winner” of this competition should prove to be the second piece of a platoon with Satin at First Base, while the loser heads back to AAA.

addicted to mets button

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Should The Best Hitter In The Lineup Bat Leadoff? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/should-the-best-hitter-in-the-lineup-bat-leadoff.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/should-the-best-hitter-in-the-lineup-bat-leadoff.html/#comments Fri, 07 Feb 2014 01:32:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147405 david wright

The question posed in the title has been a hot topic in the MMO comment thread lately. I decided to take a look at this idea from a little different perspective and compare two players — Mike Trout and David Wright.

I remember the first time I heard about this idea of the best hitter in the lineup batting leadoff. The year was 1988, and I was 10 years old when one of my Little League coaches explained to us how the lineups worked in Japan. He explained that they bat their best hitter (the hitter we would consider a No. 3 hitter in America) in the leadoff spot. We asked him why, since it made zero sense to us. He said it was because they want their best hitter in the lineup getting up the most times in the game.

We were only 10 years old, so that was about as deep as the conversation went. But I always remembered it. I don’t remember where I was exactly, or the people that were with me, but I remember not knowing anything about Japanese baseball and taking it at face value. I never found out if what that coach told us was true, but with the rise of advanced statistics, there is tons of evidence that now backs this up as a feasible option.

It goes against everything we have grown up learning, but the fundamental reasoning behind it makes perfect sense. The leadoff hitter gets the most plate appearances in a game and is only guaranteed to hit leadoff once in a game, so why not have my best hitter there? The more opportunities my best player has to hit, the better the team’s chances of winning — seems simple enough.

I mentioned earlier I was going to compare two hitters — Trout and Wright. Wright has been the Mets No. 3 hitter for the majority of his nine year career. Trout spent most of his time in the two-hole last year, but has been one of the best leadoff hitters (when used in that capacity) in baseball over the past two seasons. The question is why is Trout sometimes used as the leadoff hitter when he puts up numbers that are better than most three-hole hitters? Wouldn’t he be better served in the three-hole? If he were on a different team, would he be the best option to hit third, or would that team have him hit leadoff? And one more question — if Trout can hit leadoff, why not Wright?

Let’s look at some statistics. Here are Trout’s career numbers when he leads off a game and when he leads off an inning:

I Split G PA AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1st Batter G 157 157 143 35 40 9 5 5 10 40 .280 .344 .476 .819
Leadoff Inn. 252 403 355 88 120 25 14 14 44 84 .338 .417 .544 .961

When Trout leads off a game his numbers drop way below his career marks. However, when he leads off an inning, all of his statistics are on par with his career numbers. About one-third of his homeruns have come when he led off an inning. The majority of his homeruns have come in the leadoff hole, but oddly enough, his highest OPS comes out of the two-hole.

In fact, one can argue that Trout is a better hitter when he hits second. By the way, Trout has zero career stolen bases after leading off the game or an inning and getting on base.

Now let’s look at Wright’s statistics. Here are Wright’s career numbers when he leads of an inning:

I Split G PA AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Leadoff Inn. 847 1153 1033 229 307 64 48 48 114 207 .297 .370 .512 .882

When leading off an inning, Wright has hit .297 with a .370 on base percentage. His career OBP is .382, so it’s slightly lower when he leads off an inning. His power numbers also drop off drastically. Could this be because he is being pitched differently when he is leading off an inning? Is it a comfort level? Whatever it is, Wright’s numbers are much better when he hits out of the three-hole.

Is it worth it to get Wright approximately 100 more plate appearances in a season if his production will drop off?

Here’s a brief story about my experience of hitting leadoff. I was finishing up an outstanding freshman year of college where I spent most of the time hitting out of the 3-4-5 hole in the lineup. Going into my sophomore year, the team lacked a leadoff hitter. I volunteered to move out of the middle of the order and hit leadoff — the coach agreed it was a great idea. Unfortunately things didn’t go as smoothly as we planned. I started the season in a 1-for-20 slump, and it wasn’t long before I was moved back to the middle of the lineup.

Obviously, it was all mental for me. Hitting leadoff should have given me more fastballs, and there is nothing I liked more than seeing fastballs. My numbers should have improved hitting leadoff, but they didn’t improve until the coach moved me back to the middle of the lineup.

Oddly enough, when I was looking up Trout’s numbers on BaseballReference.com for this piece, I stumbled onto a post on Peter Gammons’ blog. In this post he covers a sabermetric book entitled The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. This book highlights the optimal lineup and states the best hitters should be in the one, two and four-hole. Wait, what happened to the three-hitter? I’m not sure because I haven’t read the book yet. But here is a brief breakdown of the book from Gammons:

Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman, and Andrew Dolphin analyze the data and conclude that the optimal lineup has a team’s three best hitters in the #1, #2, and #4 slots in the batting order. They outline the skill set that determines how these players are positioned. The leadoff hitter should reach base most often and less home run power is preferred. Meanwhile, the #2 hitter should walk more than the #4 hitter, who ideally has the most extra-base hits.
The number two batter comes to the plate more frequently than any batter other than the leadoff batter, often with the bases empty, so think of him as having the characteristics of a second number one in the lineup.

Again, the logic behind having your best hitters hitting as high in the order to get them more plate appearances is sound. Unfortunately, this is looking at it based on their performance of where they currently hit in the lineup. A large chunk of baseball, and hitting especially, is mental.

The stats won’t reflect the change that can happen to a hitter similar to what happened to me when I was moved to the leadoff spot. There is just no telling what can happen when a player is taken out of their comfort zone. There is a better chance that a player who is considered your best hitter hits just as good out of the leadoff spot, but there is also a chance it turns out to be the worst decision you ever made.

Long story short, you cannot assume your best hitter will still be your best hitter if you start putting them into positions they are not comfortable in.

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Hits & Misses: Mets Going Dutch, Still Searching For Reyes’ Replacement http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/hits-misses-mets-going-dutch-still-searching-for-reyes-replacement.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/hits-misses-mets-going-dutch-still-searching-for-reyes-replacement.html/#comments Mon, 03 Feb 2014 15:03:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147051 tejada Joshua Lott

On Saturday, we posted something about the article in the New York Times by Tim Rohan about some of the Mets players that were going to the strength and conditioning camp in Michigan run by Mets adviser, Mike Barwis.

The training program was voluntary, but it was the Mets who suggested to Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores that they go before the end of last season. Juan Lagares, Lucas Duda and prospects Dominic SmithPatrick Biondi and Phillip Evans also ended up attending once they heard about it.

What I thought was very odd, was this part of the article:

The program was voluntary, the cost split between the organization and each player.

Now maybe this is common practice, but I found it odd that the Mets didn’t completely fund this for each player. Especially in the cases of Tejada and Flores who probably knew if they declined to go that the media would have been leaked some negative info and before you know it they would make a hail storm out of it. You know it’s true…

alderson-on-reyes

The Mets’ lack of an ideal leadoff candidate has everyone in a tizzy lately, the least of which is the Mets’ own manager Terry Collins who recently said over the weekend that Eric Young is his primary leadoff candidate.

Of course that’s code for Eric Young will play everyday and Juan Lagares will likely be hitting the pine in Flushing or the sand in Vegas.

What I find odd is how quickly this front office has run from their Moneyball roots, especially when it comes to how they viewed hitters with high strikeout totals and low on-base percentages. Once thought of as a bad thing, they’ve become less important, while home runs and stolen bases are back on the featured menu.

Four Winters ago, I became hooked on the concept that at it’s most rudimentary level, the game depended on avoiding outs. I never looked at it that way before, but it made complete sense. As did having your best OBP guys at the top of your lineup. The reason being that you want those who are the best at getting on base to get the most playing time AKA at-bats. That made a lot of sense to me too.

But apparently, those things are not so important anymore. Young may not excel at getting on base, but he can steal bases, so…

Four Winters ago, Sandy Alderson downplayed Jose Reyes‘ speed saying that a stolen base was just a footnote when it comes to winning games.

Boy, how things have changed…

The truth is that this team has not been able to find anyone to replace Reyes both at the shortstop position or at the top of the order. I guess some players are irreplaceable after all…

Presented By Diehards

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Mets Sign 1B Matt Clark To Minor League Contract http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mets-sign-1b-matt-clark-to-minor-league-contract.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mets-sign-1b-matt-clark-to-minor-league-contract.html/#comments Sat, 01 Feb 2014 04:11:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=146837 Matt-Clark-300x226The Mets announced they have signed first baseman Matt Clark to a minor league contract and have invited him to big league camp.

A career minor leaguer, Clark played for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan last season and batted .238 with 25 home runs, 70 RBI, and a .785 OPS.

Clark, 27, was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 12th round of the 2008 draft. He last played for them in 2012 when he batted .290/.367/.506 for the Triple-A Tucson Padres in the Pacific Coast League. The lefthanded slugger belted 22 home runs and drove in 77 runs that season.

Clark has hit for power at every level of his six year pro career, averaging 24 homeruns and 90 RBI over his four full seasons in the Padres system. But with Ike Davis and Lucas Duda already on the roster, he will certainly be assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas when camp breaks.

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Tackling 4 Main Arguments Against Signing Stephen Drew http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/tackling-the-four-main-arguments-against-signing-stephen-drew.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/tackling-the-four-main-arguments-against-signing-stephen-drew.html/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 22:34:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=140711 stephen drew

Why should the Mets sign Stephen Drew?  I mean, 3 years and $30-36 million is crazy for Drew, right?  Here are some of the arguments flying around this offseason regarding Drew.

“He’s not worth it, he’s just barely average.”  

“Drew is hurt all the time. He is way too injury prone.”

“Drew costs too much, not worth it.” 

“Give Tejada another shot.”

Let’s tackle all four issues one by one and take an in depth look at Drew, and then decide.

1. Drew Is Just Barely Average

Let’s compare Drew to some of the other SS in the league.

rWAR
1. A. Simmons – 6.8
2. H. Ramirez – 5.4
3. T. Tulowitzki – 5.3
4. E. Andrus – 4.3
5. J.Segura – 3.9
6. I.Desmond – 3.7
7. J. Hardy – 3.7
8. J. Peralta – 3.3
9. Y. Escobar – 3.3
10. S. Drew – 3.1

fWAR
1. T. Tulowitzki – 5.6
2. H. Ramirez – 5.1
3. I. Desmond – 5.0
4. A. Simmons – 4.7
5. Y.Escobar – 3.9
6. J.Peralta – 3.6
7. J.Lowrie – 3.6
8. S. Drew – 3.4
9. J. Segura – 3.4
10. J. Hardy – 3.4

If you like sabermetrics, Drew was Top 10 among all SS last season in wins above replacement in both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.

He was also 2nd in BB% (10.8) behind only Tulowitzki (11.1), 3rd in ISO right behind Tulo and Hanley at .190, and 9th in wRC+ 109.

Sabermetrics not your cup of tea?  Let’s look at some standard statistics.  Drew finished in the Top 8 among all shortstops in 2013.

He also finished in the Top 10 in:
- SLG% – 6th
- OBP – 9th
- Doubles – 10th

He finished Top 5* in:
- RBI – 5th
- Triples – 2nd
- Walks – 4th

*Despite playing in only 124 games last season.

All standard statistics guys like the HR

NAME HR
T. Tulowitzki 25
J. Hardy 25
H. Ramirez 20
I. Desmond 20
A. Simmons 17
J. Lowrie 15
A. Cabrera 14
S. Drew 13

Conclusion: Drew was definitely not average in 2013.  He was a top 10 SS.

2. Drew Is Hurt All The Time

Is Drew injury prone?

Years played by year:

  • 2006 – 59
  • 2007 – 150
  • 2008 – 152
  • 2009 – 135
  • 2010 – 151
  • 2011 – 86
  • 2012 – 79
  • 2013 – 124

Drew averaged 147 games per season from 2007, his first full year, through 2010.

In July of 2011 Drew fractured his ankle sliding into home plate that required surgery. You can view the video online simply by searching “Drew injures ankle”.  It is gruesome. He was out for the rest of the season after playing in almost every game up to that point.

The injury required surgery that cost Drew the first 74 games of the 2012 season. He played 79 of 89 games upon his return and that includes being traded to Oakland from Arizona at the deadline.  It comes as no surprise that, after missing a full year from a serious injury, 2012 was by far his worst season with a .657 OPS

If you take out 2011-2012 during which he was recovering from surgery, Drew has averaged 142 games per season throughout his career, and looks to be fully recovered after his stellar 2013 campaign. If someone ask me the question “Is Stephen Drew injury prone?” my answer would have to be, NO. He just had one really bad injury.

Let’s look at Drew’s 162 and then converted 142 game average

162 Games: .264/.329/.435 – 160 H –  82 R – 36 2B – 10 3B – 16 HR – 72 RBI

142 Games: .264/.329/.435 – 140 H – 72 R – 31 2B – 9 3B – 14 HR – 63 RBI

Pretty nice numbers for a shortstop.  Especially one that is so good defensively.  Keep in mind that these numbers include his 2012 season in which he was returning from a year away from baseball. The numbers above should translate very well to Citi Field. Even if he does miss some time, he was still a top 10 shortstop last season in 124 games.  I would imagine he might be top 5 over the course of a full season.

Conclusion: Drew is not injury prone.

3. Drew Costs Too Much

Jhonny Peralta just got a 4-Year, $53 Million deal on the open market coming off a suspension for PEDs and is almost two years older than Drew. Peralta didn’t cost a draft pick, but Drew will only cost the Mets a 3rd round pick, and he is much better defensively than Peralta. 

Consider their 162 Game Averages

Peralta – .268/.330/.425 – 160 H – 82 R –  35 2B – 3 3B – 18 HR – 82 RBI – .755 OPS

Drew – .264/.329/.435 – 160 H – 82 R – 36 2B – 10 3B – 16 HR – 72 RBI – .764 OPS

Surprisingly close.  Almost identical, and I like Drew’s intangibles by a mile.  It will be interesting to see how Peralta performs with no juice, from age 32-35 while switching leagues.  I’ll take Stephen Drew in his 31-33 season all day long, and it will only cost $30 million for three years at the most. as opposed to $53 million for the PED guy.  Whether you like Drew or not, the current market rate for comparable shortstops is 4/$53.

Conclusion: Drew’s asking price is a bargain relative to the market. 

4. Forget Drew and Give Tejada Another Shot

Personally, I’m not a big Ruben Tejada fan.  I don’t like his work ethic, at all.  Maybe he will grow out of it, but for the most part, as it pertains to work ethic, you either have a strong one, and it drives you all the time, or you don’t.  It’s not something you learn.  A burning desire to get better every single day, is not something you can pick up from a trainer in the offseason. It’s clear to me that Tejada has no fire.  On top of that, he has no tools in his tool box.  It’s possible a different manager might be able to motivate Tejada to obtain better results, but its pretty clear Terry Collins isn’t that guy.

The one thing that I do like about Tejada is that he can hit left-handed pitching.  Coincidentally, the one down side of Drew’s resume is that he doesn’t hit LHP very well.  I don’t hold it against him though, as very few lefties in baseball fair well against their pitching counterparts these days. The LOOGY spot on the roster has changed the game.  Thanks LaRussa.  Choo just received $150 million dollars, and he can’t hit lefties either.

Tejada would make a very nice backup middle infielder if we signed Drew.  Those 20 games per season that Drew misses, can be days off against a LHP, which should not only boost Drew’s numbers, but Tejada’s as well.  Tejada can also give Murphy a day off or be a late defensive replacement, as Murphy hits RHP much better than he hits LHP. Tejada has a place on the team, it’s just not as the starting shortstop.

           Vs RHP               Vs LHP   
Drew    .284/.377/.498      .196/.246/.340
Murphy  .292/.331/.459      .273/.292/.324
Tejada  .171/.219/.212      .274/.348/.371

Conclusion:  Drew renders Tejada a valuable backup.

The bottom line is the Mets are a much better team with Stephen Drew.  I understand Alderson waiting out the market, but even getting Drew for three years is a bargain at this point, though he likely signs for two.

You could argue that next year’s free agent class is stronger, but you could also argue that several of those SS will cost  a First Round Pick + much more money than Drew is currently asking for.  You could also argue that Drew is just as good, if not better, than any of the free agent SS on the market next season, with the exception of Hanley.  And I’ll be surprised if Hanley reaches free agency.

I’m not saying that Drew will make the Mets a playoff team, but crazier things have happened.  Cleveland added Swisher & Bourn and made the playoffs after a terrible 2012.  Is that much different than adding Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon, Chris Young and Drew?   Let’s put the glass slipper on CinDREWella’s foot.  It’s almost midnight.  Time is running out.

mmo

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Daniel Murphy Can Be The Key To Improved Run Production http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/daniel-murphy-can-be-the-key-to-improved-mets-run-production.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/daniel-murphy-can-be-the-key-to-improved-mets-run-production.html/#comments Tue, 14 Jan 2014 13:00:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=136662 daniel murphy

The New York Mets ranked eleventh out of fifteen National league teams in runs scored with 619.  Ironically enough, they also ranked eleventh in home runs.  Hitting the long ball has been a struggle the past few seasons for players not named David Wright.  Some may point to David’s 18 home runs last season as a disappointment and I’m not going to argue with those people but he did accomplish this in 430 AB’s; a very respectable feat for being completely exposed in a lineup without legitimate protection.  With the Mets’ lack of quality hitters, they must rely on home runs to aid their dismal run production, which is something they have struggled with in recent years.

Sandy Alderson addressed both the power and lineup protection problem by signing free agents Chris Young and Curtis Granderson.  Before Granderson’s injury plagued 2013 season, he had clubbed 84 home runs the two seasons prior.  Even though age and ballpark dimensions will likely see the Grandyman’s power output decrease as a Metropolitan, his $60 million salary spread out over four years was given to him on the basis he would provide adequate protection for David as well as give Gary Cohen more opportunities to use his signature line, “AND IT’S OUTTA HERE!!!”  Likewise, Chris Young was signed to a one year deal worth $7.25 million to, hopefully, improve on an unimpressive season in Oakland where he barely cleared the Mendoza line with a meager 12 home runs.

While both of these players should put up respectable power numbers throughout the season, they will have their fair share of swings and misses.  In order to capitalize on the one thing both new additions Granderson and Young do well, the Mets must be able to get quality on base production out of the top of the order.  More opportunities with runners on base for hitters capable of the long ball yields more run production.

Right now, the leadoff spot for the Mets is a mystery that has yet to be solved.  It’s anyone’s guess who could be leading off when the Mets square up with the Nationals on opening day.  It could be a player who is not on the team yet, it could be Eric Young Jr., it could be Ruben Tejada, and hell, there’s buzz around Twitter that Duda should get a look (#DudaForLeadoff).  Daniel Murphy is also another candidate.  Even if Murph is not destined to lead off, he’ll certainly be in the two spot.

Murphy has stated that he would like to work on a more patient approach at the dish in order to get better pitches to hit and increase his power output.  This is a fantastic idea and if anyone could accomplish this, it’s Murph.  This is the same guy who had multiple blunders in left field appear on a Sportscenter’s “Not Top 10” strictly dedicated to the Mets a few years ago and is now playing a solid average second base.  Loosely put, he works his tail off to reach his goals.

If Murphy could learn how to show an ounce of patience at the plate, not only could he increase his power output to 15-20 home runs a season, but he could, theoretically draw more walks and boost his OBP.  If Murphy could get on base at a higher clip, he could become an extremely effective leadoff hitter.  Although, he might see a slight decline in batting average because he is swinging at less pitches, he probably still bottoms out at .270 at the worst but if he has a .350 OBP, 15 homers, and 25 steals with that average then I won’t complain for one second.

He may not be one of the fastest players on the Mets, but he certainly is one of the best baserunners.  His 23 stolen bases last season were very impressive for a guy with only average speed.  He picks his spots and succeeds.  If his efforts to improve pitch selectivity result in a higher on base percentage, that means more stolen base and run scoring opportunities for him along with more RBI opportunities for the heart of the order.  A heart of the order which is now comprised of legitimate power threats Wright, Granderson, and Young.  Daniel Murphy scored 92 runs last season with a .319 OBP and Ike Davis/Lucas Duda in the heart of the order for most of the season.  Imagine how many runs he’d score, in theory, if he got on base more often with actual threats in the middle of the lineup.

The Mets have been searching far and wide for a leadoff options both in house and through the trade market when the answer could very well be in front of their eyes.  This is all just optimistic speculation of course, but if I had to bet on any Met succeeding in accomplishing their desired goals, it’s Murphy.  Even if he is not the answer for the leadoff spot, the more production out of the two hole he could provide, the better because with a fresh heart of the order ready to launch some baseballs into the New York skyline, the frequency with which Murphy gets on base in front of them is key for optimization of run production in a questionable lineup.

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The Best and Worst Hitting Pitchers in Mets History http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/the-best-and-worst-hitting-pitchers-in-mets-history.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/the-best-and-worst-hitting-pitchers-in-mets-history.html/#comments Sat, 04 Jan 2014 15:00:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=134881 In the National League, the pitcher’s spot comes up to the plate once every nine batters. A good hitting pitcher can help himself out with the bat. So who are the best hitting pitchers the Mets have seen in their history? Let’s take a look at the 10 Best Hitting Pitchers in Mets History (minimum 100 at bats).

dwight-gooden

10. Jonathon Niese – .167 batting average – 35 hits with 2 doubles, 1 triple and 10 RBI. He also has 22 walks and a .246 OBP.

9. Tug McGraw – .172 batting average as a Met – in the Orange and Blue, Tug had 27 hits with 6 doubles, 1 HR and 15 RBI with a .216 OBP.

8. Rick Reed – .173 batting average as a Met. He had 44 hits with 8 doubles, 2 HR and 21 RBI, and a .201 OBP.

7. R.A. Dickey – .176 average as a Met. He had 32 hits with 2 doubles and 10 RBI to go with a .198 OBP.

6. Tom Glavine – .189 as a Met. 53 Mets hits with 5 doubles, 20 RBI and a .265 OBP.

5. Sid Fernandez – .190 as a Met. 94 Mets hits with 14 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 31 RBI and a .211 OBP.

4. Dwight Gooden – .197 as a Met. 144 Mets hits with 15 doubles, 5 triples, 7 HR, 65 RBI and a .213 OBP.

3. Rick Aguilera – .203 as a Met. 28 Mets hits with 3 doubles, 3 HR, 11 RBI and a .236 OBP.

2. Jay Hook – .209 as a Met. 23 Mets hits with 1 double, 6 RBI and a .273 OBP.

1. Ray Sadecki – .213 as a Met. 34 hits as a Met with 2 doubles, 9 RBI and a .236 OBP.

On the flip side, who are the pitchers with the lowest batting averages in Mets history?

glendon-rusch

10. Mike Scott – .100 as a Met. 11 Mets hits with 4 doubles, 5 RBI and 52 K’s in 110 AB.

9. Pat Zachry – .099 as a Met. 22 Mets hits with 4 RBI and 89 K’s in 223 AB.

7. Mike Pelfrey – .098 as a Met. 26 hits with 5 doubles, 12 RBI and 70 K’s in 264 AB.

7. Jim McAndrew – .098 as a Met. 19 Mets hits with 6 doubles, 9 RBI and 82 K’s in 194 AB.

6. John Maine – .096 as a Met. 16 Mets hits with 1 double, 1 HR, 8 RBI and 84 K’s in 166 AB.

5. Gary Gentry – .090 as a Met. 20 Mets hits with 4 doubles, 9 RBI and 155 K’s in 249 AB.

4. Al Leiter – .084 as a Met. 33 Mets hits with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 14 RBI and 208 K’s in 394 AB.

3. Roger Craig – .069 as a Met. 10 Mets hits with 2 RBI with 72 K’s in 145 AB.

2. Glendon Rusch – .058 as a Met. 6 Mets hits with 6 RBI and 42 K’s in 104 AB.

1. Mark Clark – .045 as a Met. 5 Mets hits with 1 double, 1 HR, 4 RBI and 45 K’s in 112 AB.

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When Is A Good OBP Not So Good http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/when-is-a-good-obp-not-so-good.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/when-is-a-good-obp-not-so-good.html/#comments Sun, 29 Dec 2013 23:11:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=137126 luis castillo

Egads… What’s that picture of Luis Castillo doing up there? I bet you didn’t think you’d see him again, right? While I was reading through some comments, I came across an interesting exchange I serendipitously started when I wrote that signing Stephen Drew could end up being as bad as the Luis Castillo signing.

Then our own Connor O’Brien really kicked things off when he wrote, “Castillo had about the emptiest on-base percentage possible. Absolutely no power.”

I never really heard anyone say that before about a player with a .380+ on-base, but here is how the rest of the exchange that ensued unfolded. I thought it was pretty interesting…

BadBadLeroyBrown – He was a table setter his job wasn’t POWER it was to get ON BASE. Period. Nothing empty about that.

Connor O’Brien – But you want to – leadoff hitter or not – get on base in high quantities and with quality, meaning more extra-base hits as well. Would the team not have been better off had Castillo been on second instead of first ten more times?

There is really a certain balance that needs to be struck between the two, and Castillo didn’t necessarily have that balance. Having guys on second instead of first makes your team more likely to score, meaning you have done your job more effectively than someone who just hit a single.

For this reason, while Castillo was a good leadoff hitter, he wasn’t as good as someone like Jose Reyes or Jacoby Ellsbury. You want players that get quality hits everywhere in the lineup, not just in the middle of the order.

Not Alex68 – Can you explain and show evidence of empty OBP? Is Empty OBP an actual stat (eOBP)? Pray tell.

Kabeetz – You’re either on base or you’re not. There is no such thing as a “full” or “empty” OBP.

Connor O’Brien – Sorry, I have to disagree with you on that.

If two players get on base 40% of the time (.400 OBP), one can be much more effective than another.

Take a look at these two players from this year in batting average and OBP.

Player 1: .298 BA .374 OBP
Player 2: .286 BA .370 OBP

If all On-Base Percentages were created equal, each of these two players would be of roughly the same skill level, right? Well, see who they are.

Player 1: Billy Butler – .298/.374/.412 15 HR .345 wOBA

Player 2: Chris Davis – .286/.370/.634 53 HR .421 wOBA

While Billy Butler is a nice player (and I believe even an All-Star), he was nowhere close to Chris Davis this season, despite getting on base at roughly the same rate. Davis did more on average each time he got on base, making Butler’s OBP “emptier” (just an expression) than that of Davis.

Sean-Connery-The-Untouchables-Norfolk-Jacket

“Here Endeth The Lesson”

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Around the Diamond – What’s on Second? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/around-the-diamond-whats-on-second.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/around-the-diamond-whats-on-second.html/#comments Sat, 28 Dec 2013 18:53:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=136088 edgardo alfonzo

Going around the Diamond – there have been 24 different players in the Mets 52 year history that would could be classified as the “everyday” second baseman.

So who has played there the most? (seasons classified as the main second baseman in parenthesis)

10. Tim Teufel (1987). Tim played in 325 games (251 starts) at second for the Mets as the other half of the platoon with Wally Backman. He played in 93 games (72 starts) at second in 1987 to classify him as the “main” second baseman that season (although Wally Backman actually started 76 games, but appeared in 87 games at second that year – fewer than Teufel). In his 6 seasons as a Met, Tim hit .256 with 35 HR and 164 RBI.

9. Gregg Jefferies (1989-1991). Gregg played 328 games at second (308 starts). With the Mets, he was a .276 hitter with 42 HR, 205 RBI, 96 doubles, and 63 SB. He led the National League with 40 doubles in 1990.

8. Luis Castillo (2007-2010). Luis played in 342 games at second (325 starts). As a Met, he hit .274 with 5 HR, 105 RBI, and 55 SB.

7. Jeff Kent (1993-95). Jeff appeared in 390 games at second (383 starts). With the Mets, he hit .279 with 67 HR, 267 RBI and 98 doubles.

6. Ron Hunt (1963-64, 1966). Ron played 420 games at second (411 starts). As a Mets, he hit .282 with 20 HR and 127 RBI. He was an All-Star in 1964 & 1966.

5. Ken Boswell (1969-72). Ken played 506 games at second (472 starts). With the Mets, he hit .250 with 31 HR and 193 RBI.

4. Edgardo Alfonzo (1999-2001). Fonzie was the primary second baseman for the two back-to-back playoff teams and was also the Mets primary third baseman in 4 other seasons. As a Met, he hit .292 with 120 HR and 538 RBI. In 1999, he hit .304 with 27 HR, 108 RBI, scored 123 runs and hit 41 doubles with a .384 OBP. In 2000, he hit .324 with 25 HR, 94 RBI, scored 109 runs and hit 40 doubles with a .425 OBP. He was an All-Star in 2000 and the won the Silver Slugger award in 1999. Fonzie was, in my opinion, the best second baseman in franchise history.

3. Doug Flynn (1978-1981). Doug came to the Mets in the June 15, 1977 trade that banished Tom Seaver to the Reds. Doug appeared in 530 games at second (496 starts). In the Orange and Blue, he hit .234 with 5 HR and 155 RBI. In 1980, he won a Gold Glove.

2. Felix Millan (1973-77). Felix appeared in 674 games at second (657 starts) and in 1975, he started 162 games. With the Mets, he hit .278 with 8 HR and 182 RBI.

1. Wally Backman (1982, 1984-86, 1988). Wally played in more games at second than any other Met, appearing in 680 games at second (577 starts). He hit .283 with 7 HR and 165 RBI and 106 RBI.

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MMO Fan Shot: Duda Not Perfect, But Best Option For Mets Right Now http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/mmo-fan-shot-dudas-not-perfect-but-clearly-the-best-option-for-now.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/mmo-fan-shot-dudas-not-perfect-but-clearly-the-best-option-for-now.html/#comments Mon, 23 Dec 2013 13:00:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=136161 davis-duda

An MMO Fan Shot by Michael Mandelkern

Lucas Duda could be the New York Mets’ best option to start at first base next year. Even though he has not played a full season, his OBP and OPS statistics look promising. He has raw power too. But most importantly to General Manager Sandy Alderson, he comes cheap.

Duda, 27, made his Mets debut in September 2010 and is set to make roughly $2 million next season. This is nearly $3.5 million below the average salary of a Major League Baseball first baseman. His ceiling is lower than fellow first baseman Ike Davis, but the front office is pushing to trade Davis.

2014 is an opportunity for Duda to shine. At 6’4” and 255 pounds, he is a lumbering presence at the plate, yet his confidence has come into question throughout his career. Duda has said that he is most comfortable on offense when playing first base but he was underwhelming at that position this past season. He batted .223/.352/.415 in 2013 with 15 HR and 33 RBI through 384 plate appearances.

His best stretch of baseball was in 2011 when he posted a .292/.370/.482 slash line with 10 home runs and 50 runs batted in through 347 plate appearances. The low average he has had over the past two seasons would be more acceptable if he were a 30 home run hitter.

Duda needs to find a balance between taking pitches and being aggressive in favorable counts. He is a soft-spoken man of few words who tends to take pitches when he should be swinging. Thirteen of his 15 home runs were solo shots aside from one two-run homer and a three-run blast in September, which means that he only drove in 15 runs without the long ball.

Plate discipline is his Duda’s upside. His career on-base percentage is .342 with a .352 OBP and .767 on-base plus percentage last season. However, his OBP was only .329 in 2012 through 121 games, the most he has played in one season.

A walk only drives in a run when the bases are loaded, and his running game is slower than molasses. The Mets sent Duda down to the minor leagues in 2012 after a prolonged slump. He is seldom clutch in key situations; he had an anemic .145 batting average with runners in scoring position last season. That is worse than 566 other hitters in 2013.

Alderson must be decisive next season about whether Duda is a full-time first baseman or just a stopgap until they are able to make an upgrade. He needs to play as close to 162 games in 2014 as possible in order for the front office to truly assess his value. Some of his statistics are impressive on paper but he has not shown the gumption to thrive under pressure.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Michael Mandelkern. 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 GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Who do YOU think are the best Mets First Basemen? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/who-do-you-think-are-the-best-mets-first-basemen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/who-do-you-think-are-the-best-mets-first-basemen.html/#comments Sat, 21 Dec 2013 16:59:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=136042 Over the Mets 52 seasons, there have been 23 different players who could be classified as “primary” starting First Baseman. With first base being a big question mark going into the upcoming season, it’s hard to believe that Ike Davis has already played more games (426) at first than all but four other men in the history of the franchise.

Marv_Throneberry-1962c

Some of these starters didn’t play a tremendous amount of games at the position – the 5 starters with the fewest games played at first base as a Met were:

1 – Mike Piazza – the primary first baseman in 2004. 69 games at first, 68 in 2004 with 66 starts.

2 – Doug Mientkiewicz – our 2005 starter. 83 games at first with 79 starts.

3 – David Segui – our 1994 starter. 85 games at first. In 1994, he appeared in 78 games at first with 70 starts.

4 – Butch Huskey – our 1996 first baseman. 97 games at first. 75 in 2004 with 69 starts.

5 – Marv Throneberry – Marvelous Marv was the 1962 first bagger. 100 games at first with the Mets. 97 were in 1962 with 89 starts.

But who were the best First Basemen in the history of the Mets? I’ve assembled a list of the top 10 contenders – they were all starters in at least two seasons and appeared in the most games at first base for the Mets.

I thought it would be fun to throw the vote out to you, the fans – and see how we’d rank the Best of the Mets.

ed kranepool

The contenders – the years they were the primary starter are in parenthesis:

10 – Eddie Murray – (1992-1993). He played in 308 games at first with 306 starts. In 1993, the Hall of Famer hit .285 with 27 HR and 100 RBI.

9 – Dave Kingman – (1981-1982). He played 340 games at first with 314 starts. 191 of his starts came in 1981-1982. In 1982, Kingman led the NL with 37 HR to go with 99 RBI while batting .204.

8 – John Milner – (1973-74, 1977). He played in 366 games at first with 342 starts (305 in 1973-74 & 1977). In 1973 for the Ya Gotta Believe! team, he hit .239 with 23 HR and 72 RBI.

7 – Todd Zeile – (2000-2001). Todd played in 367 games at first with 327 starts (293 coming in 2000-01). For the 2000 World Series team, Todd hit .268 with 22 HR and 79 RBI and 36 doubles.

6 – Dave Magadan (1989-91). Dave played in 417 games at first with 354 starts (288 coming in 1989-91). For the 1990 team, he hit .328 with 6 HR, 72 RBI and a .417 OBP. In 1990, he was 3rd in the NL in hitting and 2nd in OBP.

5 – Ike Davis (2010, 2012-13). Ike has played in 426 games at first with 401 starts (365 in 2010, 2012-13). In 2012, he hit .227 with 32 HR and 90 RBI.

4 – Carlos Delgado (2006-08) Carlos played 458 games at first – all starts (433 in 2006-08). In 2006, he hit 265 with 38 HR and 114 RBI.

3 – John Olerud (1997-99) John played 463 games at first with 449 starts. In 1998, he hit .354 with 22 HR, 93 RBI, 36 doubles and a .447 OBP. In 1998, he was 2nd in the NL in hitting and 2nd on OBP.

2 – Keith Hernandez (1983-1988). Keith played 854 games at first with 835 starts (780 from 1983-88). In 1986, Keith hit .310 with 13 HR, 83 RBI, 34 doubles, 94 walks, and an OBP of .413. Keith won 6 consecutive gold gloves as a Met from 1983-1988.

1 – Ed Kranepool (1964-69, 71-72, 75-76). Ed played 1,302 games at first with 1,165 starts (1,019 in his 10 seasons as the primary first baseman). He had a career high 138 starts in 1965 when he hit .253 with 10 HR and 53 RBI.

So how would you rank these top 10 First Basemen in Mets History? Email me your votes at metsfanontwitter@aol.com and we’ll see how the fan base decides Who’s on First?

Presented By Diehards

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Talkin’ Baseball: Tim Raines Should Be In The Hall of Fame http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/talkin-baseball-tim-raines-should-be-in-the-hall-of-fame.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/talkin-baseball-tim-raines-should-be-in-the-hall-of-fame.html/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 05:05:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=135620 We’re all hoping that Mike Piazza will get the call when the Hall of Fame voting results are announced on January 8th. This year is a very crowded field with newcomers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Kent among the top first timers along with strong holdovers Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Lee Smith, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, and Fred McGriff. There are also the steroid guys that have the numbers to get in, but never may – Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro. That’s already 18 guys (and only 10 votes can be cast by a single writer) before this one player that should be in the Hall.

While he was not a Met, he was a fierce competitor of the Mets that I’ve been in favor of his enshrinement ever since he was first eligible in 2008.

His name is Tim Raines.

Tim-RainesHe’s on the ballot this year for the 7th time. Last year he managed to achieve 52% of the vote and he may eventually get there. However, will the crowded field hurt his chances and the momentum he’s gained the last few years?

Raines played 23 seasons in the majors. While he spent the last several years of his career as a role player and after 1993, he was not the same player that in my opinion made him a Hall of Famer, he did have a dominant 10 year stretch where he was one of the most feared players in the game.

He wasn’t a slugger, but he was the player you didn’t want to beat you. He played his best seasons in Montreal, so most of his greatness wasn’t in the spotlight. He also was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson. Raines game was speed. He got on base and he ran. He did it better than almost anybody else. He was Rickey Henderson in the National League.

During his 10 year stretch as a full time player in Montreal from 1981-1990 (1981 being a strike shortened year), he stole 627 bases, had 1,597 hits, scored 926 runs, had 81 triples, and had 769 walks. During this 10 year stretch in Montreal, he hit .302 and had an OBP of .391.

He was a dangerous player. By the time he left Montreal, he was a Hall of Fame player, and had already put in the 10 years needed for the Hall. Maybe he wasn’t in the Big Room, but he was in the hall. For that 10 year stretch, he wasn’t a compiler – he was someone you were scared of. Mets fans know that well.

Before that 10 year stretch, he had cups of coffee in two other seasons with the Expos and played for an additional 9 years with the White Sox, Yankees, A’s, Orioles, Expos, and Marlins. He had a few productive years as a full time player with the White Sox – in his 5 full seasons with the Sox, he scored 100 runs twice, hit .300 once, and had two seasons with over 80 walks. He stole 51 bases in 1991 and 1992 (which were the two seasons he walked over 80 times). His .306 season occured in 1993 at the age of 33, but saw his stolen base production drop to 21 and he was never the same player after that. He aged after that the way players naturally do. His last season as a full time player came in 1995 with the White Sox where he hit .285 and stole just 13 bases.

By the time he started to play in big media markets, Tim Raines was already a player on the decline. He began to diminish in Chicago and he was only a role player by the time he came to the Yankees. He played well in his 3 seasons in New York, batting .299 with a .398 OBP in part time duty, but by then, he was far removed from his Hall of Fame level.

Had Raines retired earlier, he would probably be in the Hall by now. He stuck around long after his prime as a good, but not great, role player which may have watered down memories of how great he was in his prime. The cocaine usage also may not have helped him either.

Tim Raines deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

mmo

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Mets Would Be Smart To Avoid Stephen Drew http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/mets-would-be-smart-to-avoid-stephen-drew.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/mets-would-be-smart-to-avoid-stephen-drew.html/#comments Sun, 15 Dec 2013 17:58:14 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=135599 MLB: Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers

As the Mets continue to try and address the shortstop position, they reportedly still have interest in signing former Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew. The Red Sox remain interested as well.

Drew, who was a key to the Red Sox title run with his stellar defense, batted .253 this past season with 12 home runs and 67 RBI.

When comparing Drew to Ruben Tejada, its obvious that he is an upgrade over Tejada and acquiring him would bring the Mets one step closer to becoming a playoff-contending team.  His range at short plus his great defensive play is something that the Mets haven’t had since Jose Reyes.

While Drew would certainly improve the Mets defensively up the middle, the Mets might be a lot better off without the former first rounder (15th overall in 2004 draft).

Over the last several years, Drew has not been swinging the bat on a consistent basis. Even in 2013, Drew had his fair share of prolonged slumps at the plate. The postseason was a time where his inconsistency at the plate really showed, as Drew went onto batting a dismal .111 with a .140 on-base in 54 at-bats with 19 strikeouts. And speaking of strikeouts, Drew whiffed 124 last season in 442 at-bats – a total that would have led the Mets.

While he can be inconsistent at the plate, injuries have also been a problem for Drew over the last several years.  In 2013, he suffered a concussion in Spring Training, and during the season, he also logged time on the DL with a strained hamstring.  Looking at his last three seasons (2011-2013), Drew has averaged only 96 games or just a little more than a half season worth of play.

Right now, the Red Sox appear to be the front-runner for Drew because they have reportedly offered him a two-year deal and he did enjoy his time in Bean Town.

While I’m sure the Mets would be keen to acquire him on a two-year deal, its probably going to take three years from Sandy Alderson to even consider getting a deal done.  For three years and (just speculating) $10+ million per season, I believe that money should be spent elsewhere.

For a player with this many flaws and concerns, a three-year deal or even a two-year deal seems like too big a risk for the Mets to take. I pass.

Presented By Diehards

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The Curtis Granderson Story: Have We Seen This Movie Before? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/the-curtis-granderson-story-have-we-seen-this-movie-before.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/the-curtis-granderson-story-have-we-seen-this-movie-before.html/#comments Sat, 07 Dec 2013 16:32:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=134706 We’ve been waiting all winter for our team to do something. Yesterday, our inactive front office became active by signing Curtis Granderson for 4 years/$60 million. But is the waiting over? Will this be our only major move or will it be the first of several? Is this the first baby step in bringing a winner back to Flushing or purely window-dressing?

I’ve been a vocal outspoken critic of Sandy Alderson since his arrival. However, when Alderson does something positive, such as re-signing David Wright — something I never thought he’d pull off — I tip my hat to him.

With the Granderson signing, however, it’s different. I applaud Alderson and the Wilpon’s for bringing him over. No matter what, we’re a better team now than we were 48 hours ago. However, Granderson alone will not turn us into instant champions. But I still have concerns, many concerns.

ap-granderson-hurtjpg-6284dac22f1ef341_large

Back in 1985, Paramount Pictures turned the board game Clue into a motion picture. When they distributed it to theatres, there were three different endings. I feel that the acquisition of Granderson is a movie I’ve already seen. I’m just unsure of the ending. Will it be a Pedro Martinez ending or a Jason Bay ending?

In 2005, the Mets signed Pedro Martinez. It was a “statement.” Omar Minaya laid down the gauntlet to the NL that the Mets were serious. One month later, he added Carlos Beltran, awarding him the most lucrative contract in team history.

Martinez was our ace that first year. He was the team leader in wins (15), IP (217), K’s (208) and ERA (2.82.) Yet, most fans look back and view this signing as a bust. Over the remaining three years of his contract, Pedro would only win 17 more games, average 90 IP while compiling a 4.22 ERA. Minaya’s “statement” was, for all intents and purposes, window-dressing. We generally regard the Martinez-Mets relationship as a failure.

Five years later our fan base and the NY media was itching for Minaya to do something else, something big. The 2009 Mets stumbled and stumbled badly. It was the first time in half a decade we finished below .500 (70-92). And while the Mets christened their new stadium, fans in the Bronx were treated to yet another Championship. The pressure mounted, Minaya caved and made a move because he felt he needed to do something. That something was named Jason Bay.

Jason+Bay+New+York+Mets+Announce+Jason+Bay+aky-B7YqwDOl

I’m not really going out on a limb here when I say Bay won’t ever join Keith or Rusty or Piazza as one of the most beloved Mets of all time. Almost immediately he caught the ire of the fans and became the poster boy for everything wrong with the Minaya regime. Seemingly from day one, we were biding our time to be free of his salary.

Hindsight, however, is 20/20. Bay arrived in Flushing a top run producer in the game. He was one of the most sought after Free Agents that winter. Yet, he quickly learned that Citi Field is the place where power hitters go to die. Just look at the decreased power production of David Wright since ‘09.

What’s worrisome is the fact that Bay’s numbers in the 4 years prior to coming to New York are far better than Granderson’s over his previous 4 years. It’s doubly worrisome due to the fact Granderson played those 4 years in the launching pad known as Yankee Stadium.

stats

Bay was 31 when he donned a Mets jersey for the first time. Granderson will be 33.

I can’t help but feel that Alderson made this move due to the pressure to do something. I hope I’m wrong. I hope there will be a few more transactions to make this club relevant again. But I don’t see it. What I do see, however, is a double standard.

In 2011, Jose Reyes stated he wanted to stay in NY, the team he came up with. Negotiations dragged on and on. In spite of Reyes being one of the most beloved players in team history and already being near or at the top of numerous offensive categories, after eight seasons Alderson wanted to see more. Reyes went out and became the first Mets player to win a batting title. His .337 BA is third highest since 1962. Yet, Alderson made jokes about sending chocolates while Reyes packed up his batting title and headed south. Here we are two years later, still without a suitable replacement.

JOSE REYES EN LO MARLINS 2012

I alluded to it being a double standard. One concern that Alderson expressed (and understandably so) was Reyes’ history of injuries. However, with the acquisition of Granderson, that is apparently no longer a concern. In the 7 year span from 2005-2011, Reyes played in 928 games. In the 7 year period of 2007-2013 Granderson played in 972 games—a difference of only 44 games over 7 seasons. If Alderson had concerns about Reyes’ health, Granderson isn’t exactly Cal Ripken. Although Granderson averaged only six more games per year than Reyes, suddenly Alderson is NOT concerned about health.

Sarah Palin

When Jose Reyes batted .337 with 181 hits, an OBP of .384 and slugging percentage of .493 in 126 games, Alderson morphed into Sarah Palin: Thanks, but no thanks. When Granderson plays in 61 games, batting .229 with 49 hits, an OBP of .317 and a slugging percentage of .407, Alderson has no qualms about handing over $60 million. Alderson refused to sign a 28 year-old Reyes for 5-6 years. Yet, he signs a 33-year old Granderson for four years and coming off a season where he missed 100 games.

robert_plant-led_zeppelin

I can’t help but think of Robert Plant: Ooh, and it makes me wonder.

I applaud Alderson for doing… something.

The Mets are a better team than we were just a couple of days ago. And even though we’ve been waiting all winter… even though we’ve been waiting nearly 30 years for a championship…  even though we’re going on a decade since our last post-season… we’ll still have to wait some more to see how the Granderson signing plays out.

Hopefully this movie will have a good ending.

mmo

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Juan Lagares Heading To New York (Knee) http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/juan-lagares-heading-to-new-york-knee.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/juan-lagares-heading-to-new-york-knee.html/#comments Thu, 05 Dec 2013 22:03:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=134581 juan lagares

Juan Lagares told followers via Twitter that he is flying to New York to have his knee looked at by team doctors.

No word yet as to how he incurred the injury or it’s severity, but Lagares says “he’s putting it all in God’s hands.”

He followed up with a tweet that reads, “Everything is good my people.”

The defensively talented centerfielder has been tearing it up in the DWL for Las Aguilas and is hitting .342 with a .379 on-base in 28 games played including five doubles, a home run, 17 runs scored, and 16 runs batted in 114 at-bats.

But he only has seven walks… Just kidding…

Fingers crossed for good news…

 

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