In a further look into the foundations of success, after a team has found a manager, which I wrote about yesterday, that knows the game, can pull the correct strings and can really make things happen with both his direction and his decisions, he then needs to rely in his players. Those players consist of the offensive players, who for the sake of this article we’ll call hitters, his pitching (both bullpen and rotation) and his offensive bench. In this part of the foundations of success, I will analyze the hitters. The hitters will encompass both aspects of the field, just for the sake of fairness.
The best pitchers in baseball still rely on their offense to score runs and play good defense, especially when up against pitchers who are of the same caliber. No matter how many strikeouts a pitcher gets, K’s don’t put runs on the board, and someone has to catch those strikeouts. As short-sighted as it is to call them hitters, in the simplification of baseball, they are the other side of the equation. A group of quality hitters who can also defend is an essential foundation towards playing consistently good baseball.
The Mets may not have the greatest group of hitters, but they are assembling a good group of hitters who operate well within the fundamentals. They play hard, within their means and with the team in mind. As people, they are great influences for children, caring and intelligent individuals. As much as that is an intangible, it can still be factored into the overall play. This, is what can separate a good team for years from a flash-in-the-pan.
The Mets, even in this early season have 12 walks to 19 strikeouts. Angel Pagan has 3 walks to 0 strikeouts. The hitters are drawing counts, trying to see more pitches and aiming to wear pitchers down. Although the batting average doesn’t reflect it, based on past performance, the team is comprised of starters who hit over .270. Brad Emaus, was a Rule 5 draft pick who remained on the MLB roster and was named the starting second baseman because he has the potential to be a good hitter who will work counts. Josh Thole, who may never be confused for a home run champion or Gold Glove catcher, but he has shown he will be patient, work counts and isn’t going to swing from the heels. Ike Davis, despite his growing pains and 138 strikeouts, also walked 72 times last year. That put Ike in first place on the team in walks, ahead of David Wright, who had roughly 60 more at-bats. As the wise-man said, patience is a virtue.
These Mets don’t only hit and draw some walks. Anyone from 1-7 is capable of hitting a home run, whether it be with their legs after sending a ball into right center or in the air after squaring up a fat pitch. The Mets have the chance this year to possibly have 3 players hit 30 home runs in a year, and a shot at having 4 hit 20 or more. These Mets can run the bases, taking the extra base, stealing bases to open up situations and playing the hit and run. All the aspects of baseball that are overlooked, these Mets seem invigorated to play.
When it comes to fielding, effort is the name of the game. Whether its an infielder throwing himself to the ground to try and stop a ground ball, even if he misses it, it is effort. Ike Davis has all of the makings of a long line of Gold Gloves, with his penchant for highlight plays and his steady defense at first base. The John Olerud comparisons seem to be looking not too off – Ike can pick it at first. David Wright and Jose Reyes make a strong left side of the infield, with Wright having won 2 Gold Gloves. Hopefully Wright can recover that same skill that won him those awards. The outfield is strong, with Jason Bay (at some point), Angel Pagan and Carlos Beltran patrolling the vastness known as Citi Field. The effort is even shown on defense by the fill ins, with Lucas Duda, all 6’4″, 230 of himself throwing himself to the grass in Florida on Sunday – and he isn’t even considered a good defender, and he made a play some right fielders fail to make 9 out of 10 times. The effort is there both on the bat side, and the glove side.
So now the ideologies of the manager have allowed the players to go out their and play with fire, and push their bodies to the limit, executing a plan as a team. If hard-nosed, grinding players aren’t a good foundation for success, then what else could be?
Check in tomorrow, when the third article in this series is spoken about.