The Z Files: Two Takeaways From Mets 5-3 Victory Over Reds

walker conforto

The New York Mets powered their way to another victory beating the Cincinnati Reds 5-3.  Logan Verrett snaked the win advancing his 2016 record to 2-0 after Antonio Bastardo allowed the tying run to score in the top of the seventh.

Here are the two takeaways from last night’s victory.

Michael Conforto:  3-for-3, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB

SNY did a great job during last night’s telecast showing Conforto’s swing in slow motion instant replay.  The instant replay helped show two important swing attributes:

  1. Conforto’s hands go directly from their load position (right behind and below his back shoulder) down into the strike zone.  We all learned in second grade math class the shortest way between two points is a straight line.  That’s essentially what Conforto is accomplishing, getting his hands to the baseball as quick as possible.  This allows Conforto to keep his swing quick and compact resulting in Conforto’s ability to allow the baseball to get as close to him as possible (also known as allowing the baseball to get deeper) to him before he needs to begin his swing.  This allows him more time to correctly recognize pitch type and pitch location resulting in a greater chance at making solid contact, drawing more walks and reducing strikeouts.
  2. As he begins his swing, Conforto’s hands and hips trigger in perfect sync.  Normally, Major League hitters begin their swing by triggering either their hands or hips first.  Hitters triggering their hips first are known as rotational hitters, normally hitting for more power and less contact.  Hitters triggering their hands first are known as linear hitters, normally hitting for higher batting average, higher contact rates but less power.  Traditionally, the players able to trigger their hips and hands in-sync are the best hitters in baseball (See Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Bonds).

Although this is a hot streak, Conforto will finish the year with a .315-.325 batting average, over 25 home runs and 45 to 50 doubles.

noah syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard:  6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 9 SO, 0 BB

Syndergaard’s continues attacking hitters with his full repertoire of pitches, going to a three ball count only three times.  He overpowered hitters with is 98.6 mph average fastball and baffled hitters with his sharp slider at 92.4 mph accounting for an extraordinary 30.8% miss/whiff rate.

However, Syndergaard struggled controlling the Reds running game, allowing five stolen bases.  Even if we give Syndergaard a pass on Billy Hamilton’s two stolen bases since he is the best base-stealer in MLB, the leads and jumps of the other Reds base runners were far too good.

Ron Darling noted in one of Syndergaard’s earlier starts that his full leg kick and longer stride makes it difficult for Syndergaard to keep faster base runner’s from stealing bases at a high rate.  This came to fruition on Monday night.

Syndergaard did well varying his timing between pitches and throwing over to make it tougher for Reds base runners to predict the exact moment Syndergaard will start his motion towards home plate.  This helps reduce Reds base runners gaining good jumps to steal bases and reduces the size of Reds base runners leads.  Even with that, the Reds base runners had little issue stealing bases.

Realistically, Syndergaard feeling comfortable with his motion from the stretch is more important than rushing his pitching motion to home plate which will compromise his pitching accuracy and overall success.

Hopefully Syndergaard continues to dominate so the number of overall base runners is low but this is something to pay attention to going forward.  In close games, the difference in the final score is often due to an additional 90 feet taken by a base runner to second or third base, allowing them to score on a sacrifice fly or single to the outfield when they would have otherwise been stranded on first or second base.

Stat of the Night:

Staying with the main theme of last week’s article “Mets Live & Die With the Long Ball”, the Mets were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, scoring all of their runs through home runs.  I love home runs but they won’t come every night.  The Mets need to get more timely singles and doubles to get their baserunners in.

Follow Chris Zaccherio on Twitter @ziography for more Mets insight going beyond statistics.

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About Christopher Zaccherio 58 Articles
Chris Zaccherio uses his passion and experience in baseball to educate Major League Baseball fans on the art of pitching through analysis that goes beyond statistics.