Mets Merized Online » Royals http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 13 Feb 2016 18:41:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.13 2015 Mets Contact Rates: A Tale Of Quality vs. Quantity http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/2015-mets-contact-rates-a-tale-of-quality-vs-quantity.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/02/2015-mets-contact-rates-a-tale-of-quality-vs-quantity.html/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 14:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=205605

It used to be you could tell when a ball was hit hard because it made a loud noise and it moved quickly through the air. Now, according to Baseball Information Solutions, you need an algorithm

“BIS now records certain hard data (duration of hang time and landing location) with the observed hit type — liner, grounder, etc. — and then an algorithm decides if the ball is hard hit.” Neil Weinberg via Hardball Times.  The actual algorithm is proprietary, so we have to take their word for what constitutes “hard contact,” but, generally speaking, the calculation is based on hang time, location, and trajectory.

I see it playing out something like this, David Wright lines out to Dee Gordon and as he’s taking his batting gloves off in the dugout he complains to Kevin Long, “Dagnabbit Mr. Long, I really thought I tattooed that one,” at which point Kevin Long pulls out a handy printout, “Sorry son, the algorithm says it was medium – see, right there.”

The truth is that the almost infinite diversity of statistics is one of the things that makes baseball so fascinating for so many. There was a time when a kid who saw [∂∂pβ(λ)∂∂λ+2(1−γ(λ))] G(2)(p)=0 in his head, when told to put a bunt down the first base line, would have no place on a baseball diamond. Now, the same kid can turn a soft blooper into a screaming liner with the right algorithm.

It’s amazing what data can tell you. For instance, it was recently discovered that guys like Giancarlo Stanton who routinely hit the ball hard, tend to be good hitters. A shocker, I know – there’s even proof in the form of a correlation study between wOBA and exit velocity.

It’s not the biggest of correlations, but it’s there.

Ultimately BIS modified their approach with hang time and landing to presumably make it less of an abstraction. Previously hard/soft hit% data involved some guy who would watch the games and decide whether balls were hit hard, medium, or soft … I mean, if he drops a melted cheese Dorito on his vintage Jethro Tull jersey, it can skew the results. So the algorithm is a good thing in spite of my incessant persiflage.

But technology is only good if you can use it, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why StatCast exit velocities have yet to be employed quantifying hard and soft hit%. There are limitations (StatCast has trouble with weak contact) but the potential to disambiguate contact rates at the initial judgment level is tremendous. There is in fact some preliminary data showing that StatCast exit velocity correlates closely with hard% contact, which I’m sure brought a sigh of relief from the guy with the stained Jethro Tull shirt — who may want to keep his job options open nonetheless (I hear UZR is hiring).

Over the past few seasons, indications are that soft and medium contact rates have risen in MLB while hard contact has fallen. Teams have increasingly delved into contact rates in an effort to improve, and for good reason. A top 10 leaderboard for hard% contact features dignitaries such as Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, and Miguel Cabrera (by the way Lucas Duda comes in at #11).

The Mets had a 31.5% hard contact rate in 2015, good for best in the game. The Mets are also tied for the fourth lowest hard% contact rate allowed (27.5%). Now there are lots of reasons teams succeed, but you have to think that the ability to make solid contact while preventing the opposition from doing the same gives you quite the advantage.

Sure enough the 2015 Mets made it to the World Series where they faced … the Royals with their 22nd in the league hard% contact rate and their 19th in the league hard% contact allowed … nothing to write Dorothy about. The Royals also had the lowest line drive percentage (19%) in all of baseball, while the Mets were third (22%).

The 2015 Mets hit the ball with authority more than just about anyone, which is very much in line with their selective philosophy – wait for your pitch, square it, clobber it. Yet they were beaten by a team who threw quality contact out the window in favor of plain old ordinary contact. The Royals led the league in contact% with an 81.9% mark.

KC also gave up quite a lot of hard contact (29.3%) but compensated with a top-notch defense. For the Mets, on the other hand, it didn’t make much sense to spend a lot of time or money on defense, given their high-K pitching staff and relatively low hard% contact rate (27.5%). The Mets looked like the better team, yet the Royals, a catch and throw outfit designed to spray the ball around, beat them in 5.

It’s doubtful that Dayton Moore, knowing his Royals were destined to play the Mets in the fall classic, specifically designed a team that would act as their ultimate foil … but it felt that way. The Mets vs. the Royals in the World Series was a tale of quantity trumping quality. In the end, the Royals were able to scrape enough runs together by putting the ball in play, while many a Met line drive ended up in a Royal mitt.

Still, the ability to hit the ball hard has to count for something, and, given the correlations (below) between that skill and other offensive indicators, (not to mention the wOBA / EV chart above), I’d hesitate to scrap the pursuit of quality contact in favor of increasing overall contact.

Correlations:
R2 with ISO: 0.70
R2 with SLG: 0.63
R2 with wRC+: 0.57

(Courtesy of Hardball Times)

From the Mets perspective it’s hard to find fault. Chances are they won’t have to face this same Royals team again in a World Series, and there’s a good chance that if they do, they could just as easily beat them. I’m also not sure there’s an overarching lesson here … for instance, in spite of the fact that the Mets lost to the Royals, I’d take hard contact over more “general” contact, because, again, according to the correlations above, it means you have better hitters. Furthermore, if you’re facing a team that can field, that’s all the more reason to hit the ball hard – anybody can make the routine play.

If there’s a caveat it’s that defense has to be more than an afterthought. The most ambiguous and unwieldy of all the branches of Sabermetrics, defense it turns out was the Mets’ Achilles heel all along. Hard contact will play as will power pitching, but if you are going up against a team who puts the bat to the ball, you’d best be able to field.

The Royals had an insane 59.6 dWAR in 2015, easily tops in the game (26.7 points ahead of the second place team). The Mets? 17th, with a 2.3 dWAR. In 2015, the Royals had 24.4 more defensive wins above replacement than the Mets.

If I’m Sandy Alderson, I am all of a sudden very interested in recalibrating the value of defense in a seven game series and I’m checking to see whether StatCast velocity data comes in a dry aerosol.

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Who Will Be The Next Mets Hall of Famer http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/who-will-be-the-next-mets-hall-of-famer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/who-will-be-the-next-mets-hall-of-famer.html/#comments Sun, 10 Jan 2016 17:53:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203942

There was a long 23 year wait between the induction of Tom Seaver and the induction of Mike Piazza to the Hall of Fame.  While I’m still overjoyed at Piazza entering the Hall of Fame as a Met, I’m curious if the Mets will have to wait another 23 years for another one of their players to go in as a Met.

Looking over the future years’ ballots, there are some former Met players like Jason Isringhausen who are eligible. However, it’s not likely any of them will be elected. Furthermore, if they are elected, they will most likely not be inducted as a Met. Therefore, if we don’t want to wait another 23 years, we’re going to have to look at active players; preferably those towards the end of their careers.

As it so happens, it has been reported that Carlos Beltran may retire at the end of the 2016 season. That would mean he could be inducted anywhere between 2022 – 2032. Could Beltran be the next Mets Hall of Famer within the next six to 16 years?

I’m getting ahead of myself here, first let’s determine whether or not Beltran has a legitimate case for being a Hall of Famer. I’d argue he is.

For his career, Beltran has hit .280/.355/.490 with 392 homers and 311 stolen bases while playing the majority of his career at a premium defensive position. In an average season, he hits 28 homers and 101 RBI. He’s part of the 300/300 club. He’s won the Rookie of the Year, been an eight time All Star, and won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. He’ should surpass 1,500 RBI and 1,500 runs scored this season. All of this is indicative of a Hall of Fame career.

The advanced stats also suggest he has a good case. On average, a Hall of Fame Center Fielder has a 70.4 WAR, 44.0 WAR7 (best seven seasons WAR combined), and a 57.2 JAWS score.

Beltran right now is at a 68.4 WAR, 44.3 WAR7, and a 56.4. JAWS. Essentially, his peak years were Hall of Fame worthy, and he’s right on the cusp of playing his entire career at a Hall of Fame level.

Even if he falls short in a few areas, he’s bound to get credit for being an incredible postseason player. He has hit .332/.441/.674 in the postseason with 16 home runs, 45 RBI, 11 stolen bases and 41 runs scored. Strikeout or not, he’s amongst the greatest postseason performers in major league history. If he retires without playing a game this season, he’s a Hall of Famer.

The next question is what hat will he wear. That’s not as clear cut. Essentially, Beltran will have three options: (1) Royals; (2) Mets; or (3) no affiliation. It’s a tough decision. He played seven years for the Royals and seven with the Mets, playing only 44 games more with the Mets. Overall, he was a better player with the Mets.

He hit .280/.369/.500 with 149 homers as a Met as opposed to .287/.352/.483 with 123 homers as a Royal. He won all of his Gold Gloves as a Met, and he appeared in five of his eight All Star Games as a Met. He accumulated 31.3 WAR with the Mets and 24.7 WAR with the Royals. However, you can’t discount the potential emotional tug he may feel towards the team that drafted him. A place he won his Rookie of the Year Award.

It all got me thinking. Piazza chose the Mets, in part, due to his relationship with the fans. Like Piazza, Beltran initially had a rocky relationship with Mets fans getting booed in 2005. However, even with the strikeout, I believe things got better. He received cheers and standing ovations in his last home game as a Met. He noticed them too. He was cheered loudly at the 2013 All Star Game during introductions, and that was while wearing a Cardinals uniform. Lastly, but more importantly, Beltran said he could see himself entering the Hall of Fame as a Met.

Like Piazza, Beltran was a great Met. A very under-appreciated Met. Like Piazza, Beltran deserves induction into the Hall of Fame. When that day comes, my hope is that Beltran, like Piazza, enters the Hall of Fame as a New York Met.

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When last we checked, free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes not only had appeared on the radar of the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, but both teams had emerged as the frontrunners to sign the former New York Met juggernaut. That was three days ago.

However, we have a little more clarity on the Cespedes front as the calendar flips to 2016, and none of it is particularly good news for the free agent who bellowed his demands for a six-year deal three months ago.

To begin, it turns out that the Orioles – while interested – never had any intentions of coming close to the \$150 million Cespedes and his representatives at Roc Nation had set their sights on. The two sides are reportedly not even in the same zip code.

And as for the other frontrunner on the south side of Chicago, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported today that their interest in Cespedes is limited to a deal for no more than three years.

Sound familiar? It should. Three years was the most Sandy Alderson and the Mets were willing to offer Cespedes according to what team sources told Jon Heyman, and that firm stance ultimately led to the end of any negotiations with Roc Nation. In fact, the conversation between the two sides never even advanced to the point of discussing dollars.

Now, I’m never one to defend the Mets’ frugal ways, however last week I raised the possibility that perhaps this was not a case of the Mets being cheap, but simply a smart baseball decision by a general manager who has never taken kindly to handing out second generation contracts to players on the wrong side of thirty. It’s possible isn’t it?

Those of you who have followed this site since its inception 12 years ago, know all too well that I am not the least bit squeamish about hammering the Wilpons every chance I get. But this feels different to me.

Oh. I’m sure there’s no doubt Fred and Jeff were doing Ralph Kramden’s version of the Watusi when they heard about Sandy’s stance on Cespedes. I’m just saying that this wasn’t a case of them pressuring their GM to back off, or applying those well-polished fiscal handcuffs. Maybe giving Cespedes a six year deal is just a terrible baseball decision for the Mets or any other MLB team.

Still, our poor Mets took a lot of flak upon the news of their three-year or nothing posture, with most of the incoming fire coming from their own fan base itself. Perhaps the Mets front office was being judged a little too harshly based on today’s rumblings on the Cespedes front. Perhaps the Mets may have even been a little ahead of the curve?

In an offseason fraught with spending madness and vast ungodly sums of dollars being thrown about with such reckless abandon, maybe on this one occasion Sandy Alderson and John Ricco were being the adults in the room? It’s possible, isn’t it?

Anyway, there it is… My first article of 2016 is in the books and whether you agree or not, I hope I gave you something to think about. Happy New Year, my friends.

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2015 Magic Moments: Conforto Explodes With Two Huge Blasts http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/2015-magic-moments-conforto-explodes-with-two-huge-blasts.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/2015-magic-moments-conforto-explodes-with-two-huge-blasts.html/#comments Thu, 31 Dec 2015 20:21:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203332 This was one heck of an exciting year for our New York Mets, my friends. Right from the word go it was an unpredictable and thrilling roller-coaster ride filled with so many loops and turns. But all in all it was so exhilarating and incredible to experience. And the best is yet to come! There were plenty of Magic Moments that none of us will soon forget and I wanted to share with you some of my favorite amazing memories of the Mets’ 2015 season.

Despite how things ended up, when rookie left fielder Michael Conforto blasted those two home runs in game four of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals I was gloriously delirious with raw and unbound emotion. I was happy for the moment but also ecstatic for the years that lie ahead with Conforto batting third and becoming our most exciting homegrown position player since… Well since David Wright.

Conforto’s first home run came in the third inning and was a towering shot into the Pepsi Porch against Royals right-hander Chris Young.  It was a no-doubter that was absolutely crushed and left the park at 107 miles per hour.

His second blast was just as impressive but different, a screaming laser in the fifth inning over the right field wall against a tough lefty in Danny Duffy. It was the first home run Duffy has given up to a left-handed batter since Jim Thome in 2011. Wow…

The last time a rookie homered twice in a World Series game was in 1996 when Atlanta Braves outfielder  Andruw Jones did so against the New York Yankees. Conforto also became the first player to do it since Pablo Sandoval in 2012 and the first Met since Gary Carter in 1986.

“He’s going to be a very, very good player,” Terry Collins said after the game. “He’s dangerous, and tonight he showed that. This guy is going to be an outstanding offensive player. I mean this is a great experience for him to get a lot better fast.”

It’s still amazing to think that he was only drafted in 2014 and started this season in Single-A. Blessed with a fluid line drive swing and a great eye at the plate, Conforto has handled the adjustments so well, and he was even one of the team’s best hitters down the stretch of the regular season.

In 56 games, the 22-year old wunderkind batted .270 this season, with 14 doubles, 9 home runs, an .841 OPS and a .506 slugging percentage. But it was on that night – game four – that Conforto gave us that glimpse of the greatness to come.

“It’s humbling, and it’s exciting. I’ll definitely remember those moments. The feelings I got on those two home runs were indescribable,” Conforto said. “But it’s a bit conflicting. You want to get that win tonight.”

Here’s the video, go ahead and experience it again. Goosebumps Guaranteed.

To read more about Michael Conforto and why I believe he will post a 6.0 WAR season in 2016, check this out.

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Giants Sign Johnny Cueto To Six Year, \$130 Million Deal http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/giants-sign-johnny-cueto-to-six-year-130-million-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/giants-sign-johnny-cueto-to-six-year-130-million-deal.html/#comments Tue, 15 Dec 2015 01:03:28 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=202546

The Giants bolstered their starting rotation today, by signing Johnny Cueto to a six year deal worth \$130 million with an opt-out clause after two years, according to Buster Olney of ESPN on Twitter, as well as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com on Twitter, who reported the length and value of the deal.

After signing Jeff Samardzija earlier this month to a five year deal worth \$90 million, the Giants rounded out their rotation by signing the recent World Series champion and all-star Johnny Cueto today.

Cueto, 30 in February, pitched to an 11-13 record, with a 3.44 ERA and 7.5 K/9 last season between the Reds and the Royals.

For his career, Cueto owns a 96-70 record with a 3.30 ERA over the span of eight seasons, mostly with Cincinnati before the Royals made a trade for him for their World Series run at the end of this past season.

Cueto pitched game two of the World Series against the Mets, and tossed a complete game, allowing just one run on two hits.

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Royals Sign Joakim Soria To Three-Year Deal http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/royals-sign-joakim-soria-to-three-year-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/12/royals-sign-joakim-soria-to-three-year-deal.html/#comments Mon, 07 Dec 2015 08:29:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=201809

According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick via Twitterthe Kansas City Royals and free agent reliever Joakim Soria have agreed to a three-year, \$25 million deal, with a mutual option for a fourth season.

Soria, 31, split last season between the Tigers and Pirates appearing in 72 games overall, recording 24 saves and posting a 2.53 ERA with a 8.5 K/9.

The Mets had preliminary interest in Soria, but were not looking to spend big dollars for the setup reliever they are looking to add this offseason. The Mets will focus instead on sifting through the second-tier relief market.

With the losses this offseason of Ryan Madson and Greg Holland from their bullpen, the Royals patched things up quite nicely with Soria, an established veteran who will now reunite with the team he started his career with in 2007.

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Mets Season Opener Against Royals Moved to ESPN Sunday Night Baseball http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mets-season-opener-against-royals-moved-to-espn-sunday-night-baseball.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/11/mets-season-opener-against-royals-moved-to-espn-sunday-night-baseball.html/#comments Thu, 19 Nov 2015 21:05:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=200470

The Mets’ first game of the 2016 season against the Royals in Kansas City, has been moved from Monday, April 4 to Sunday, April 3.

ESPN will televise the Mets vs Royals rematch at 8:30 PM in the finale of their Opening Day Triple-Header that will begin with the Cardinals vs. Pirates at 1 PM and the Blue Jays vs. Rays at 4 PM.

After playing on Sunday night, the Mets will have Monday off before playing the Royals again on Tuesday, April 5. Then they will have two days off before playing their home opener Friday, April 8 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Matt Harvey for the Opening Day grudge match?

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The New York Mets fell to the Kansas City Royals in heartbreaking fashion on Halloween night by a score of 5-3. The Metropolitans now find themselves on the brink of elimination as they head into Game 5 of the World Series down 3-1.

Pitching:

Steven Matz started for the Mets and went 5+ innings and was impressive in the first World Series start of career. Matz looked dominant through the first 4 innings of the game before finding himself and getting himself out of some trouble in the fifth. The Long Islander started off the sixth before giving up a lead-off double to Ben Zobrist, followed by a single by Lorenzo Cain to make it a 3-2 ballgame.

The final line on Matz was mostly positive with 5+ innings pitched while allowing seven hits, while allowing two runs and striking out five. Not a bad showing for a guy who started his season in the minor leagues and just months later is pitching in the World Series.

Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon relieved the Mets rookie starter and did tremendous work retiring the three Royals they saw and preserving a 3-2 lead for the time being. Addison Reed came on to pitch the seventh and continued his hot streak of dominance by retiring the Royals in order.

The dreaded eighth. Tyler Clippard started off the inning in nice fashion with a quick out of Alcides Escobar. The Mets set-up man then went onto walk his next two batters. Terry Collins taking no chances turned to closer, Jeurys Familia. Eric Hosmer chopped a ball to second basemen Daniel Murphy, who watched the ball go under his glove and tying the game at 3-3. Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez each followed up with singles staking the Royals to a 5-3 lead which was all they would need.

Hansel Robles pitched the ninth and struck out two of the three batters he faced.

Offense:

There is only one thing to talk about with the Mets offense in Game 4 and that is rookie, Michael Conforto. The left-fielder mashed two home-runs on the night, both solo shots that were crushed. A great showing for Conforto on a big stage. His hits accounted for two of the four Mets hits on the night. This kid is going to be one heck of a player.

The Royals bullpen did what they did best and shut down the opposition from the sixth inning on. The Mets were not able to muster any offense against what has been an unstoppable force in the 2015 postseason.

Wade Davis came on for the final six outs of the game, and had a smooth eighth but found himself into some trouble in the ninth. After David Wright led off the inning with a strike-out, Daniel Murphy “singled” to get a rally started. Yoenis Cespedes followed up with his own single, bringing Lucas Duda to the plate as the winning run. Duda floated one to Mike Moustakas in what seemed like the second out of the inning but Cespedes broke for second on the play and was doubled off to end the game on a mental base-running error.

Notes:

The Mets need to find a way and dig down deep now as they find themselves in quite the hole to crawl out of. Coming off another heart breaking loss in the series this team needs to be the resilient team we have all come to love this year and battle back.

This team needs to scratch and claw, score runs and keep the Royals off the board. It seems each came Matt Harvey has pitched in the postseason its been more and more magnified and none will be more looked at than tomorrow night, as the pressure will never be higher.

On Deck:

The Mets look to stave off elimination tomorrow in Game 5 of the World Series. The Dark Knight, Matt Harvey will take the mound for the Mets in the biggest game in the history of Citi Field. Harvey will be opposed by Edinson Volquez for the 8:00 PM EST start.

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Thor Looks To Bring The Thunder In Pivotal Game 3 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/thor-looks-to-bring-the-thunder-in-pivotal-game-3.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/thor-looks-to-bring-the-thunder-in-pivotal-game-3.html/#comments Fri, 30 Oct 2015 15:48:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198464

The Mets turn to their flame-throwing, God of Thunder for Game 3 of the World Series tonight at Citi Field. Noah Syndergaard, 23, becomes the third youngest pitcher to start a World Series game for the Mets behind Dwight Gooden and Gary Gentry.

You would think that with all the weight of an antsy fan base and the pressure of overcoming a two-game hole in the Series, that Syndergaard would be somewhat nervous, but that’s not the case at all.

“Yeah, you can’t be too focused on it’s a World Series game. When I started in L.A. I thought it was going to be a totally and completely different game,” Syndergaard said.

“But in reality it’s the same game, a little louder, a little bit different atmosphere. Travis is still sixty feet, six inches away and you still have to execute every single pitch.”

Just another game he says, but you can’t knock his approach as he has been electric this postseason. So far Thor has tossed 13.0 innings with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.071 WHIP to go with 20 strikeouts.

The Royals is certainly a team who have a knack for not striking out, but Syndergaard is up for that challenge and says he’s sticking with heat.

“I mean, obviously they’re going against us with their strengths and their strength is how aggressive they are. I can’t be too focused on that, because I still have to be able to pitch to my strengths. I was able to watch Matt, deGrom and see how they approach their hitters, and I saw how aggressive they were, and devised a game plan for myself.”

Tonight is sure to be one heck of a thrilling and nerve-wracking night for Mets fans as we look to pick up the first win of the World Series. And there isn’t another pitcher on this team I would like to see in this spot than Syndergaard.

“That’s my main focus tomorrow night is being able to pitch to my strengths and be able to execute all my pitches and just focus on winning one pitch at a time.”

Something Mets starters have not done yet is pitch to their strengths. They switched things up based on scouting reports on the Royals. However, Noah will look to be in attack mode tonight and unleashing his 100 MPH heat to the plate.

“It’s something else being able to watch Escobar walk up there and swing at the first pitch almost every single game. I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I’ll be able to break out tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to it.”

With all the confidence in the world, Syndergaard understands their backs are against the wall and that this is “a must win” ball game for the Mets.

“I mean obviously we didn’t plan to be down 0-2. But coming back home is a big thing for us. Having the Mets faithful behind us and the greatest fans in baseball is nice.”

“Part of the reason our team has had so much success this year is being to handle the resiliency and come together as a team, overcome and win some ballgames.”

It will be fun to watch him out there tonight. First pitch is at 8:07 PM EST as the Mets play their very first World Series game ever at Citi Field. Let’s Go Mets!

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Ojeda Criticizes Mets Game Plan Against Royals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/ojeda-criticizes-mets-game-plan-against-royals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/ojeda-criticizes-mets-game-plan-against-royals.html/#comments Fri, 30 Oct 2015 13:00:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198433

After watching both Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom struggle against the Royals, former Met and SNY analyst Bob Ojeda is fed up. He says the Mets have been pitching to scouting reports instead of trusting their own talent and ability.

“I’m watching two outstanding Mets’ pitchers pitch to a scouting report rather than be who they are,” Ojeda said by phone on Thursday. “It’s been pretty frustrating to watch.”

“I love scouting reports but I am not going to go away from who I am because of them. Especially those guys, with the fastballs they have, they should make the Royals prove they can hit it before they go to Plan B. ” (John Harper, NY Daily News)

In Game 1, Harvey wasn’t his usual self as he allowed three runs in six innings while only striking out two batters. And on Wednesday, deGrom fared even worse as he surrendered four runs during five innings while walking three batters. He only got three swings and misses in his outing, a season low.

In order for the Mets to take Game 3, Ojeda believes that Noah Syndergaard has to pitch to his strengths and not be afraid to challenge the Royals.

“You throw 100 mph, and I know everybody needs to throw the off-speed stuff, but be who you are, pitch to your strengths. Be ready to go to Plan B, even Plan C if they force you to. But don’t start with Plan B.”

Despite his criticisms, Ojeda can serve as an inspiration for the Mets and Syndergaard. When the 1986 Mets also dropped the first two games in the World Series, he pitched a gem at Fenway park which helped bring the team back in the series. He allowed just one run and five hits over seven outstanding innings.

“It’s an old saying but it’s true: the best pitch in baseball is a well-located fastball. That worked for me in that Game 3. I only threw 89 mph but I knew I had to pitch inside with my fastball, and make them respect that I’d throw it in there, and that’s what I did.”

Ojeda was a tremendous pitcher for the Mets in the 80′s, and he was also a great analyst for SNY. He was never afraid to tell it like it is, which was refreshing to hear during the dark days of 2009-2014. It’s really a shame that he was let go and couldn’t continue his role this season

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DeGrom Wasn’t Fooling Anyone, Royals Were Locked In Against Him http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/degrom-wasnt-fooling-anyone-royals-were-locked-in-against-him.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/degrom-wasnt-fooling-anyone-royals-were-locked-in-against-him.html/#comments Thu, 29 Oct 2015 11:00:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198311

After three incredible postseason starts (3-0, 1.80 ERA), Jacob deGrom wasn’t able to continue his playoff dominance last night against the Royals. He allowed four runs and six hits while walking three batters during five innings pitched.

“There are a lot of good hitters over there,” deGrom said after the game. “The walks hurt me, and in the fifth I couldn’t stop the bleeding. I felt fine. I don’t know what the difference was. I just wasn’t making pitches.”

While he  started the night off strong, the game slipped away from deGrom in that fatal fifth inning. He allowed all four of his runs during the inning as he gave up three RBI hits to  Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas.

“We gave Jake some extra rest and he came out and was looking good and all of a sudden balls were in the middle of the plate,” Terry Collins said.

“And I don’t know why but we just aren’t making the pitches we need to make. And we can sit here and it’s easy to make excuses that, hey, it’s the workload, it’s the days off, it’s the youth, on the big stage. I’m not going to say that.”

There was also a report by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York  that deGrom,may have been tipping his pitches according to a former Mets player.

“I can’t figure it out yet, but they have something on deGrom out of the stretch,” the retired player indicated. “They better figure it out or they can’t win this series.”

Whatever the reason may be, deGrom clearly wasn’t at his best and the Royals made him pay for it. They were locked in against him, and according to USA Today, they only had three swings and misses all night:

Royals Swings vs deGrom: 43  - Total Misses: 3

Royals Swings vs deGrom fastball: 30  - Misses: 0

“Again, they did exactly what people said, and they put the ball in play,” Collins said. “I told Jake not everything has to be a strike. You’ve got to move it around. You’ve got to change speeds, give them something to look at. If you continue to pound the strike zone, they’re going to put it in play, and that’s what they did.”

It’s been very disappointing to see both Matt Harvey and now deGrom under-preform in the World Series, especially since they were so locked in during the NLCS. For all the talk they were going to dominate the Royals, the two have only combined for four strikeouts.

The Mets desperately need rookie Noah Syndergaard to come up big on Friday night or else they will be on the verge of elimination. The Mets are not out of this, and keep in mind that in 1986 the Mets lost the first two games of the World Series at HOME. And well you know the rest. LGM

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World Series Game 2: Mets vs Royals, 8:07 PM http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/world-series-game-2-mets-vs-royals-lagares-in-cf-conforto-at-dh.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/world-series-game-2-mets-vs-royals-lagares-in-cf-conforto-at-dh.html/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2015 23:18:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198212

After a frustrating extra-innings loss in Game 1, the New York Mets will look to rebound tonight with Jacob deGrom taking the mound against right-hander Johnny Cueto for the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. First pitch is at 8:07 PM.

DeGrom has been very effective this postseason, and brings his 3-0 record and 1.80 ERA into what many are calling a must-win game for the Mets.

The Mets have now lost Game 1 in all five World Series in which they have appeared including 1969 and 1986 when they won their World Series titles.

Juan Lagares – who should have started in Game 1 – is in center field and batting ninth tonight.  Rookie Michael Conforto will be the DH and bat seventh.

World Series Tickets

Mets Starting Lineup

1. Curtis Granderson – RF
2. David Wright – 3B
3. Daniel Murphy – 2B
4. Yoenis Cespedes – LF
5. Lucas Duda – 1B
6. Travis d’Arnaud – C
7. Michael Conforto – DH
8. Wilmer Flores – SS
9. Juan Lagares – CF

The Mets will try to move past last night’s heartbreaking loss and even the series to 1-1 behind Jacob deGrom tonight. Yesterday the Royals jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a first pitch inside the park homer. The Mets would later tie the game and then in two more single run innings, would lead the game 3-1. At this point it became a back and forth affair with the Royals evening the score to 3-3, the Mets taking advantage of an error to make it 4-3 and the Royals hitting a solo homer off Familia in the ninth to make it 4-4. Eventually the Royals would score off of a bases loaded sac fly in the 14th to win the game 5-4. The Mets pitching in extra innings was great but after the 9th inning the bats fell flat.

Jacob deGrom is 3-0 in the post-season pitching a total of 20.0 innings, allowing a total of 4 ER, an ERA of 1.80, while striking out 27 batters. Not surprisingly, tonight will be deGrom’s first night facing the Royals in a major league game and the only person on the Royals to see him in a game is Drew Butera who was 0-3 with a K.

The Mets get Johnny Cueto tonight who has been all over the place this year. When he was with the Reds he was 7-6 over 19 starts with a 2.62 ERA. With the Royals he has gone 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA over 13 starts. Things are even more pronounced in the postseason. In game 1 against Houston he allowed 4 ER over 6.0 innings. In game 5 against Houston, he held the Astros to just 2 ER over 8.0 innings while striking out 8. He followed that up with a 8 ER over 2 inning performance against Toronto. His one start against the Mets this year was while he was with the Reds and he held the Mets to 2 ER over 6.0 innings. The Mets have the following numbers against Johnny:

• Wright 6-25, HR
• Murphy 3-17
• Duda 3-15, HR
• Granderson 3-12, 2 HR
• Lagares 2-12
• K Johnson 1-6, HR
• Cuddyer 1-6, 2B
• d’Arnaud 3-5, 2 2B
• Flores 1-6, 2B

Let’s Go Mets!

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During last night’s telecast, Royals’ catcher Salvador Perez was spotted with a mysterious substance on his shinguard. Kansas City’s manager Ned Yost defended his catcher and told reporters after the game that it was not illegal.

“It’s not illegal,” Yost said. “I don’t know what it was. It was brown. It’s not illegal for a catcher to have it on his shinguard. It’s illegal for a pitcher.” (Zach, Braziller, NY Post)

Surprisingly, the Mets did not bring this to the attention of the umpires, and David Wright provided no comment when asked about it. The substance looked like pine tar, which could have given Perez and starting pitcher Edinson Volquez an advantage.

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Five Takeaways From Mets Game 1 Loss http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/five-takeaways-from-the-mets-game-1-loss.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/five-takeaways-from-the-mets-game-1-loss.html/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2015 15:49:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198233 The Mets lost last night in what felt like a grueling 14-round prize fight with each team suffering body blows before the Royals delivered the knock out punch against Bartolo Colon. Here are five things you should take away from Game 1:

1. The Royals bullpen was as good as advertised, allowing only one unearned run in eight innings of work topped off by Game 4 starter Chris Young who now has 15 strikeouts in 11.2 IP this postseason. I said yesterday the key for the Mets to win this series is to get to the Kansas City starting pitchers early before the battle of the pens. This isn’t to disregard the solid effort of the Mets bullpen that gave up only two runs in eight innings, spark-plugged by the birthday boy Jon Niese. I can’t be the only one that is still utterly shocked that Jeurys Familia gave up that home run, last thing I expected last night.

2. Both defenses made some key misplays last night and a few rally-squashing plays as well. Ultimately two big defensive miscues cost the Mets two runs last night while Eric Hosmers‘ play at first cost the Royals one. The Mets also got a couple of fine plays from Wilmer Flores at shortstop, an absolute gem by Curtis Granderson in right, and a great leaping grab by David Wright. I think the big difference in Game 1 was the defensive play of Mike Moustakas at third for the Royals, who stole two hits and limited the damage on another. New York was also able to take advantage of the shift on numerous occasions, hitting through it and being aggressive on the base paths against it.

3. Juan Lagares showed that he is ready to return to a key role on this team and should be in center field tonight to start the game. He had one of the best at-bats of the entire night against Royals setup man Kelvin Herrera and scored what would have been the winning run if not for Alex Gordon and his heroics. He stole a bag leading up to that run and had a bunt single as well later in the game. You have to wonder what would have happened on that deep fly by Alcides Escobar to the start the bottom of the first if Lagares was patrolling center field.

4. The Mets struggled with runners in scoring position last night going 1 for 10 leaving eleven runners on base. Two of those missed opportunities came on strikeouts from Michael Cuddyer who at this point has become completely useless and Terry Collins needs to stay away from him. Which brings up another curious decision by Collins to bunt Flores in front of Cuddyer, a move I will never understand.

5. For all the talk about the new additions to the Mets and the streak of Daniel Murphy where the heck would this team be without the play of Granderson. He had just one hit on the night but it was a huge one with a blast to right field giving the Mets a lead in the 5th inning. He also saved the game in the 11th inning with a spectacular catch against Jarrod Dyson that could have ended the game had it gotten past him. While everyone else on the team was chasing stuff all night he worked two of the teams three walks as well. How about that throw on the game-winner too? Obviously didn’t get him but that was possibly the best throw he has had in a Mets uniform.

That was a great game last night that unfortunately didn’t end the way we all hoped, the good news is we have our ace Jacob deGrom going tonight to even out the series.

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It took David Wright 12 years to get to the World Series and in his first game in the Fall Classic he’d be the first to tell you he had a pretty rough night.

Sure, Wright went 2-for-7 with two singles at the plate, but those other at-bats were pretty ugly and two in particular were painful to watch as well.

The Mets captain struck out looking against Edinson Volquez with two runners on to end the third, and then struck out swinging against Ryan Madson with two runners on to end the 11th. Ouch.

The Mets stranded 11 runners on base last night and Wright accounted for four of them.

Additionally, he erased one of his two singles by attempting a steal of second against the cannon-armed catcher Salvador Perez, who easily gunned him down in the ninth.

However, it was his crucial throwing error in the 14th inning of Game 1 that would prove to be the back-breaker for the Mets as the Royals took advantage and won the contest 5-4.

After clumsily fielding a hot grounder by leadoff man Alcides Escobar, his throw pulled Lucas Duda off first base and put the speedster on for the Royals. Escobar eventually came racing home on an Eric Hosmer walk-off sac fly to end the grueling extra-inning affair.

“I just got an in-between hop,” Wright later said. “The ball kind of came up on me, and I just couldn’t put the glove on it. It hit my wrist and then got me in the midsection. I know he can run, so I rushed the throw a little bit.”

To be fair, Wright also had a couple of sparkling defensive gems in the game. But it was his final defensive play in the 14th that would prove to be the fatal flaw in last night’s Game 1 loss for the Mets.

“It’s obviously a tough one to swallow. But once we leave the ballpark tonight, we need to forget about it and start focusing on tomorrow’s game, because coming into this we knew these guys are an excellent opponent. And we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. So these are the types of hurdles we’re going to have to clear if we expect to win this thing.”

“If we can take some positives out of today,” Wright said. “We were one hit away or one play away from winning that game.”

He’s absolutely right about that, it was a very tight, hard fought battle from the first pitch to the last. But as we pointed out before the game, the keys to beating the Kansas City Royals was going to be not giving them any extra outs, and playing clean, crisp baseball on our end. That didn’t happen… Let’s get them tonight.

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Jacob deGrom Talks Royals, Excitement, Confidence http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/jacob-degrom-talks-royals-excitement-confidence.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/jacob-degrom-talks-royals-excitement-confidence.html/#comments Tue, 27 Oct 2015 20:32:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198149

Jacob deGrom spoke to reporters this evening at Kauffman Stadium. Here is some of what he had to say.

Terry said maybe you were a little fatigued the last couple of starts.

I didn’t feel fatigued out there. I just felt I was having trouble locating, which happened to me early on this year. I don’t know if it was fatigue. I feel good now, so I don’t think the rest hurt me.

What do you know about the Royals lineup?

Honestly, I haven’t looked at it that much. I know they put the ball in play a lot. A team that strikes out a whole bunch. So it’s kind of what we’ve been doing before in the past couple of series, try not to make — look at it too early and kind of mess yourself up. So we’re going to do the same thing that we’ve done, look at them the day before, and come up with a good game plan before I go out there.

Compared to the Dodgers, when you had seven scoreless, were the last two more satisfying because you had to battle?

I think so. They’re not as much fun when you’re out there, but after you look back on them, to be able to get a team out whenever you are kind of struggling definitely is a little more impressive than when you go out there with your best stuff.

They’re going to battle you. They’re not going to strike out a lot and they’re going to put the ball in play. I think my job is to keep the ball down. I always say I try to go out there and get early contact, and strikeouts just seem to happen. That’s going to be my same game plan going into this.

I think you just have to see what’s going on when you’re out there, kind of like the start I had against the Cubs. I noticed they were hitting the fastball. And I had to adjust my game plan from there during the game. And I threw a lot more off speed than I normally threw. There’s going to be adjustments to be made like there is in every game. I think it’s just seeing what’s going on out there.

What’s the excitement level in pitching a World Series game.

Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s kind of hard to explain. I don’t know if it’s really set in for me. It might set in tomorrow when I get out there. But I think more in the offseason when I look back at it. This is what we play for, we play to come here, and just to get the chance to make a start in the World Series, it’s really awesome.

With Ruben hurt, Matt off the roster, Kelly DH’ing tonight, can Terry get an inning out of you at shortstop if he needs it?

Sure, I’d like to go out there. This would be a fun place to make your infield debut in the World Series, wouldn’t it?

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Rain Could Be Factor, But Game 1 Will Go On http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/rain-could-be-factor-but-game-1-will-go-on.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/rain-could-be-factor-but-game-1-will-go-on.html/#comments Tue, 27 Oct 2015 16:29:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198121

It has been pouring rain all morning in Kansas City and it’s expected to continue through the afternoon and early evening.

However, according to the latest forecasts the chances that it will cancel Game 1 of the World Series between the Mets and the Royals are very remote and everyone believes it may get delayed an hour, but the game will be played in its entirety.

The weather.com hourly forecast now shows showers decreasing from 68 percent at 6:00 PM eastern time, to 35 percent at 8:00 PM when the game is scheduled to start, and then drops down to a 20 percent chance of rain by 9:00 PM. By 10:00 PM it diminishes completely.

So it looks like maybe we’ll get a short rain delay, but the game will go on as planned.

But for argument’s sake, let’s assume the game would get rained out and the two teams would play Game 1 on Wednesday, Game 2 on Thursday, and the series would continue Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Citi Field with no travel day off. Can someone explain the following quote from a prominent Mets Blogger?

“The rain helps the Royals, there is no way around it. If tonight is rained out, it will mean Games 1 through 4 are played four consecutive days, with a Game 5 coming on a fifth-straight day. The Mets bullpen is already a question mark. The lack of an off day will mean over-exposing it more than it already will be in a short series. A rainout also means the potential for a five-man rotation, because there is no off day to break it up.”

I have a few questions with this, chief among them – How would playing five straight games give the Royals an advantage over the Mets? Try as I can, I can’t make any sense out of that statement. It just doesn’t compute…

1. Why would the Royals bullpen be any more or less taxed than the Mets?

2. Isn’t the Mets bullpen more rested than the Royals who were still playing in the ALCS two days after we clinched?

3. Which four starters will likely pitch into the seventh inning, ours or theirs? The answer is a no-brainer if you look at average innings per start. We wipe the floor with them.

4. And if we did need a 5th starter who would you rather have the seasoned veteran Bartolo Colon or whatever the Royals end up throwing at us? Colon outpitched both Medlen or Duffy.

So I go back to this statement: “The rain helps the Royals, there is no way around it.”

Can someone please explain it to me?

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Kelly Johnson to DH Game 1 of World Series http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/kelly-johnson-to-dh-game-1-of-world-series.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/kelly-johnson-to-dh-game-1-of-world-series.html/#comments Tue, 27 Oct 2015 13:18:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198103

Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that Mets utility infielder, Kelly Johnson will be the DH for the Game 1 of the 2015 World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Johnson will look to provide some pop to the DH position where the Mets have had trouble finding the right guy.

“Kelly is going to DH tomorrow,” manager Terry Collins said. “We’ll worry about Wednesday when it comes.”

Johnson, who has some history against game one starter, Edinson Volquez could be part of the reason for that decision. He has gone 4-for-14 against the Royals right hander with a double and two RBI’s. Johnson has had sparse postseason play thus far, in a pinch hitting role only appearing six times while hitting one single. Kelly sees no qualms though of getting dialed in for the biggest game of his career.

“I think the adrenaline of this World Series is going to be enough,” Johnson said. “I’ll obviously be able to have an at-bat to build on to the next one, rather than just to pinch-hit where you have to just throw it away. We’ll see what happens. The game will play out, whether there’s guys on when I come up or a situation to be had, I’ll be ready.”

He had had considerable time as a DH in his career as he played for every AL East team sans the Boston Red Sox. He is 19-for-91 with three home-runs as a designated hitter. The experience against Volquez may have contributed a bit to the decision to use him in this spot, but Johnson doesn’t see that as having a huge impact.

“To me, that makes it a little bit irrelevant,” he said. “I guess if there’s anything, there’s going to be some comfort there in having seen him if I look at some video. At least I’ll be able to see how he throws and how he attacked me. It’s been a while, but there will be something there.”

Many had thought that the Mets may look to fortify the outfield defense in a series where errors could mean a ball game by utilizing both Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares. But the Mets and Terry Collins are content with how things shake out with their lineup and defense.

“We’re pretty happy with our outfield defense,” Collins said. “This is a big park, like ours. I think Yoenis has shown that he can play center field. And if we need to make moves, we’ll make moves later in the game.”

Tonight’s the night. Game one of the World Series starts at 8:07 PM EST with Matt Harvey taking the mound for the New York Mets as they look for their first championship since 1986.

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Mets Pitchers Won’t Change Approach Against Royals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mets-pitchers-wont-change-approach-against-royals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mets-pitchers-wont-change-approach-against-royals.html/#comments Tue, 27 Oct 2015 12:00:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198082

Despite the Royals success against power pitching this season, Terry Collins and the Mets aren’t concerned. They won’t alter their game plan, and they will continue to do what’s made them successful all year.

“Successful pitchers pitch to their strength,” manager Terry Collins said. “If that’s your main pitch, that’s what you’re throwing. What you’ve got to do is make good pitches with it.” (Jared Diamond, Wall Street Journal)

Collins has insisted that “we’ve still got to pitch to our strength, and our strength is power.”

The Royals are a team that attacks fastballs early in the count and struggles against pitches with low velocity. As Diamond points out in his article, the Royals only bat .209 on pitches 85 mph or slower, which the worst mark in the American League.

However, bench coach Bob Geren believes the Mets can use their aggressiveness against them. The Royals lineup is full of free swingers, and he believes the Mets pitchers can get them to chase pitches outside the zone.

“Sometimes to get the bat going to get to 95, you end up swinging at some marginal pitches,” Geren said. “So if they’re not walking but they’re getting hits, the total overall offensive output might not be any greater than a team that hits .240 on that pitch but tends to walk more.”

While the Royals may be a tougher matchup than the Cubs or Dodgers, the Mets’ staff can handle them just fine. They don’t only rely on power and high velocity as the Mets’ big three of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard are each polished pitchers with exceptional command.

Pitchers with this kind of ability will make it difficult for any lineup to have success, including Kansas City’s.

“It’s mixing our pitches and not relying on our effective velocity,” Harvey said Monday about taking on the Royals. “We’ve done our homework here, and we know what Kansas City is about.”

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Mets Will Be More Cautious Running On Royals http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mets-will-be-more-cautious-running-on-royals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/mets-will-be-more-cautious-running-on-royals.html/#comments Mon, 26 Oct 2015 17:02:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=197995

The Mets so far this postseason seem to be running almost at free will. The team has swiped a total of nine bases thus far and have shown themselves to be much more aggressive on the basepaths than we saw in the regular season.

It is worth noting that seven out of those nine stolen bases have come against the Chicago Cubs. According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, the Mets will not pursue the same aggressive strategy against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.

“We went in there knowing that teams stole bases against the Chicago Cubs,” manager Terry Collins said. “So we picked out three or four guys that have the ability to steal bases, that if you get on, you get a green light.”

Curtis Granderson has swiped four bases so far this postseason, three of which came against the Chicago Cubs. The Grandy Man led the team overall in stolen bases over the course of the season with just 11.

There was a telling stat as to why the Mets attempted to take so many extra bases against the Cubs, as they ranked 29th in the league in caught-stealing percentage. On the other hand though, the Mets ranked 29th this year in stolen bases.

The Royals ranked 14th in caught-stealing percentage. Not elite, writes DiComo, but certainly good enough to give a team that runs as rarely as the Mets pause.

We now head to Kansas City where the Mets are going to need to play near perfect fundamental baseball. This team can not give up outs. The Royals play almost perfect fundamental baseball and don’t seem to cheat themselves in anyway.

That being said though, Royals catcher, Salvador Perez had allowed the second most stolen bases in the American League this year with 66. But he was also second in the league with the amount of runners he caught stealing at 29.

This is sure to be one great Fall Classic, and we only have one more day to go. First pitch is Tuesday night at 8:07 PM.

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