Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Mets are keeping it pretty quiet these days, with the biggest Mets new of the week that we didn't sign Jonathan Broxton and that Jose Reyes took a trip to Philadelphia that had nothing to do with baseball or signing with the Phillies, seriously, this actually got reported. I don't know how many of you follow the MLB twitter feed, but it's pretty annoying. For instance today, this "breaking" news got reported.

5th place team signs outfielder who hit .240 last year. I mean, I suppose this is "breaking" in the context that it just happened, but it's just about the least interesting news I could possibly imagine. This one just makes me mad:

I can only imagine that a supervisor ran into the MLB social media office and screamed "Quick! I need a Gio Gonzalez pun in the next ten seconds or Bud Selig will lock me in his basement again!" and they ended up with this.

The other big news of the day is that HOF ballots came out. Like most baseball fans I think the Hall of Fame selection process is stupid but secretly hope my favorite players get in so we can receive the sweet sweet validation we desire for years of talking up our favorite players. Nothing too exciting here except for the inclusion of Minnie Miñoso on the Golden Age ballot, Minnie played over 5 decades in the MLB, 40's through 80's (although with retirements and stints in other leauges in between) and was nicknamed "El Charro Negro", The Black Cowboy while playing in the Mexican Leagues. Minnie should get in on bad assery alone.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stamford's favorite son, inventor of the wrap, Ralp Branca's son-in-law, master of disguise and my favorite Mets manager of all time, Bobby Valentine

Man do I love Bobby V.  I like Terry Collins just fine but I would much rather have an outgoing, opinionated manager like Valentine, its great to watch plus a fiery manager might be the kind of kick this team needs. After Steve Philips was out I was hoping they would immediately bring him back. After Willie was fired I thought he might come back and after Manuel was fired I was sure they would bring Bobby V home. Alas they never did and now the Sox have him.  Just as he once returned to the Chiba Lotte Marines after a long absence, I remain hopeful that one day he will return to the Mets.

Monday, November 28, 2011

As I often admit on this blog, I am a Mets homer. I tend to think the Mets are in contention long after they aren't, I make bold claims about Met's players that never come true and most of all I get hyped up about not so great players who have flashes of brilliance. In 2010 it was Rod Barajas, the Lord Rod himself. This year it was Willie Harris, here is what I wrote about sweet willy in a blog post after the first series with The Marlins:

Willie Harris is this seasons Rod Barajas : Yes I know he has only played three games but in  those games he broke up the Josh Johnson no no, hit a clutch double in extra innings and knocked a home run in Sundays score fest. Much like the beloved Rod, Willie could be the throw away signing whose early month success gets us through the doldrums of injury recoveries and the slow starts of some of our stars. Much like how R.A Dickey regained his baseball prowess through a wilderness vision quest, Willie sought the guidance of a sports psychologist in the off-season.

Man did I have high hopes for Willie Harris and man did he dash them. I decided today to see who had the worst WAR on the team of qualifying players and who was it? Why Mr. Replaceable himself, Willie Harris. Willie played 126 games in which he batted .246 and posted a hilariously low .668 OPS. He did all this with a .320 BABIP, the baseline for BABIP is .300 which means that Willie with his lucky bat still hit .246. Willie's WAR was a team low of -.3, that means that a triple A player you have never heard of who is average in every way would be worth .3 wins more than Willy Harris. Willie, you are Mr. Replaceable.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I have been thinking a lot about Citi Field's new dimensions lately and how it will affect the team. A lot has been said about how this will help Wright and Bay hot more home runs and frankly, I am not convinced. Specifically with Jason Bay. I am sure that a shorter fence will get him an extra homer or two but for the most part I don't think Citi Field has made a demonstrable difference to him at all. You can see this in his home/away HR splits:

Home HR
Away HR

As you can see his HR numbers are the exact same in Citi Field as they are in all other parks. Obviously he hit so few home runs that this could just be a coincidence but it does show that his problem lies with his swing, his health, his mind or something else but not with Citi Field's dimensions

Much has been said about the Citi Field, it's large dimensions and how that has factored into the teams failures in the late aughts, spefically how it has hurt the power numbers of sluggers like Jason Bay and David Wright. I generally agree with this premise but I sometimes worry that we use Citi Field as too easy a crutch too explain away problems with the Mets performance so from time to time I think it's useful to run little expirements and see what happens. All of these thought expirements are not scientific and generally have variables that could poke holes in the outcome, but I still think they can be telling and help to look at the team in different ways.

I looked at this issue of Citi Field and power numbers once . Today I want to look at how the Mets hit in another pitchers park. Petco Park, home of the San Diego Super Padres. Petco Park is widely considered to be the ultimate pitchers park, the ying to the offensive yang of Coors Field. Below is a basic comparison of the two parks (distances measured in feet) :


As you can see Petco is significantly longer in left and right and shorter by a smaller margin in center field.

The Mets played three games (August 15-17) in Petco this year and went 2-1. Overall they hit average. They collected 23 hits, 3 homeruns and 2 doubles taking 34 Total Bases. The Mets averaged 9.1 runs per game and .66 homers per game. In three games series they fell below their per game average twice scoring 7, 4 and 12 respectively and they exceeded their homerun average twice, hitting 1, 0 and 3 respectively. This would generally indicate that hitting in a different pitchers park didn't make the Mets significantly better or worse than hitting in their home pitchers park.

We should also look at the two players who stats are most often said to be affected by Citi Field, D Wright and Jason Bay.

Game 1
Game 2
Game 3

Bay was predictably awful here. This was smack in the middle of one his trademark long slumps. Wright was pretty weak also but he did manage a double and hit one of his 14 home runs here. So what does this prove? I guess it just makes me happy we don't play in Petco all that often.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Well Jose Reyes is the National League batting champ who everyone called a coward at the end of the season while Ryan Braun is the second best hitter but won the NL MVP and got to play baseball in October. Clearly Ryan Braun won the PR war but who wins the numbers game? According to the stats, who is a better hitter - Reyes or Braun?

The First and simplest stat to look at is Batting Average. As we all know Jose won here but its not much of a victory. Reyes hit .337 to Brauns .332 which is basically a push. You could argue that Braun was a better hitter because he accomplished his .332 over 24 more games however we don't have an easy to quantify that so I am comfortable saying that they had an equal batting average.

What about pure hitting ability? Actually putting the bat to the ball and getting it in play. Here Jose has the lead. Jose had a Contact % of 90.2% which means that every time he swung the bat he made contact 90.2% of the time. This outpaces Braun who had posted an 82.5 Contact %. Obviously this also lead to Reyes striking out less than Braun. Jose had a strikeout rate (K%) of 7 whereas Braun struck out 14.8% of the time, about twice as much as Jose. On basic hitting ability Reyes is the clear leader.

One place where Braun was a clear leader is power. In his best season Jose Reyes hit 19 home runs, last year he hit seven. Braun on the other hand hit 33 home runs in 2011.

The final stat we will examine to judge overall offensive efficency is Total Bases, this measures the number of singles, doubles, triples and home runs a player hits. Unfortunately, Braun pretty well owns Reyes here as well with 336 total bases to Jose 265. This is mostly a direct result of Brauns home run production, and shows that from a total offensive usefulness standpoint, Braun is a better pick than Jose.

Lastly lets take a quick look at the 2012 projections for both players (we are using the Bill James predictions found on ). Below are the basic numbers:

2012 Games Played
2012 AVG
2012 OBP
2012 OPS

According to the venerable oracle of sabrmetrics, Braun will be the more productive hitter in 2012. That being said, Jose still posts great 2012 numbers and will be a huge asset to the Mets or any other team that signs him. As for 2011 it appears that Reyes and Braun are fairly comparable players with Braun pulling ahead due to his power numbers. We didn't focus on Reyes speed and stolen base capacity or the value of having a leadoff hitter who gets on base as often as he does, which are all factors that increase Reyes value. While these are certainly important I don't think it means more than 26 additional home runs.

Recently on Clubhouse Confidential they offered a great explanation for what being MVP should mean. If you are a GM and you can add any one player to your roster knowing they will exactly repeat last years numbers, who would you pick? That player should be your MVP. As much as I love Reyes and what he brings to the Mets, Braun would be my clear choice.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Below is the breakdown of the voting for NL MVP:

Player Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Points
Ryan Braun Brewers 20 12

Matt Kemp Dodgers 10 16 6

Prince Fielder Brewers 1 4 11 9 1 3
1 229
Justin Upton D-backs 1
8 11 6 3 1 1
1 214
Albert Pujols Cardinals

1 6 11 6 4
Joey Votto Reds

4 3 2 8 3 3 4 1 135
Lance Berkman Cardinals

1 2 6 3 7 2 4 3 118
Troy Tulowitzki Rockies

3 4 8 5 4 69
Roy Halladay Phillies

1 1 6 2
3 52
Ryan Howard Phillies

1 3 1 1
1 3 39
Jose Reyes Mets

1 1
3 4 3 31
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers

1 1
2 5 2 29
Shane Victorino Phillies

3 3 3 18
Ian Kennedy D-backs

1 2 1

Cliff Lee Phillies

2 1
1 12
Hunter Pence Astros/Phillies

1 1
Pablo Sandoval Giants

1 1

John Axford Brewers

1 2
Michael Morse Nationals


1 5
Carlos Beltran Mets/Giants


Miguel Montero D-backs

Yadier Molina Cardinals

2 2
Starlin Castro Cubs

1 1
Craig Kimbrel Braves

1 1
Carlos Ruiz Phillies

1 1
Mike Stanton Marlins

1 1

So the good news is that 1 and a 1/2 Mets (Reyes and Beltran) got votes for NL MVP, although neither of them got any 1st place votes. The sad news it that one of those players is already gone and the other probably won't be on the 2012 roster.

Some other observations:

  • I am really surprised that Braun ran away with this. I thought this was going to be a really close race but Braun beat out Kemp by 56 points and Upton and Fielder were in another galaxy (1 1st place vote each, more than 100 points back).
  • Six Phillies? Really? I just hate seeing that.
  • Some of these guys are just totally unreasonable. Who voted for Carlos Ruiz? Also Stanton, Castro, Morse, Votto, Montero? John Axford? John Axford wasn't even the most valuable Brewers pitcher. Who gave these guys votes? At best some of these guys had pretty good years but I cant imagine anyone giving them MVP votes.
  • Six pitchers? Some of these guys didn't even get NL Cy Young nominations, yet they make it here.

Ryan Braun is the NL MVP (but still NOT the NL batting champion) and today we will look at how he did against the Mets, as might be expected the answer is : really really good. He pretty much owned the Mets, which makes Reyes beating him out a little bit sweeter. The below tables shows how the Mets compared to Braun's overall average:

Braun Stats

The Mets faced Braun in 6 games (going 2-4) and 21 AB. During that time he outperformed all of his already impressive stats. He racked up 8 hits (including 2 doubles and a homer), drew 3 walks and struck out 3 times. He recorded a completely deplorable over 1 OPS against Mets pitchers. I am sure their will be a debate about who should have been MVP between Matt Kemp and Braun, if they factor in who played better against the Mets, Braun is the easy winner (you can see the Mets v. Kemp comparison ).

Well Ryan Braun won the NL MVP. I thought it would be Kemp so I spent this morning looking at his stats and not Brauns. I will do a post later about Braun v. The Mets but for now, we will discuss the how the 2nd best player (according to often illogical and confusing standards) in the NL fared against our beloved Metropolitans.

The Mets actually did pretty well against Kemp. Kemp had a BA of .324, a ridiculous .399 OPB and an equally impressive OPS of .986. The Mets held him back pretty well, as you can see in the below chart:

Kemp Stats

As you can see the Mets held Kemp well below his season totals. We played seven games against the Dodgers (going 5-2) and Mets pitchers faced Kemp 26 times. So obviously based on the sample size these comparisons aren't perfect, but they still tell a compelling story. In those 26 AB Kemp got 7 hits, 4 walks and we struck him out 5 times.

The most important number about Kemp this season was his .380 BABIP. He had a ridiculously lucky bat and I have not heard a lot of people talking about it. I doubt this factored in at all into why he didn't win the MVP but I am interested to see if anybody talks about it in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Today I was going to try and examine how the Mets did against the AL MVP but since Justin Verlander already won and we already examined him , I decided to look at how the Mets did against NL rookie of the year, Craig Kimbrel.

Overall he was extremely effective against the Mets. The Mets faced Kimbrel in 9 innings over 9 games. During this time he had six save opportunities and he converted all 6. He fanned 12, walked 3 and gave up only six hits and one run (which came from a solo shot hit by Luca Duda, that snapped a 48 2/3 streak of not giving a home run up). He pitched the most innings against the Mets and the Nats (tied at 9) for some comparison, he was about as effective against Washington. He blew one save against them and gave up six hits, 2 runs and struck out 21.

Friday, November 18, 2011

With the news that the our 1962 pledge brother Astros have moved to the AL also comes the news that we will now have two wild cards per division. I am sure that some people will find reasons to hate this but it's a pretty great move in my opinion. It reinstates winning the division as a huge benefit, it introduces a one game playoff which means that no matter what, every years playoffs will have at least some great drama. The most important reason - according to Mike Silva of NY Baseball Digest in a post written today:

"The Mets would have made it every year from 1984-1990.  They also would have been in the postseason in 1997, 1999-2000, and 2007-2008."

What a wonderful alternate history this makes for? What a different world we would live in where the 07 and 08 Mets make the playoffs. Outside of the fact that we could have won a pennant or World Series by the very nature of the new system we could have at least avoided the collapse. Instead of being the 07 Mets who collapsed and lead to a franchise decline we could be the 07 Wild Card winners who had a shitty September. From a purely psychological stand point this would have been great.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

This was the point breakdown, anyone else think their was a San Fran homer in the voting pool? If we are giving Bumgarner votes then I think Dickey should get votes.

Pitcher, Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Points
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers 27 3 2

Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies 4 21 7

Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies
5 17 9 1 90
Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks 1 3 6 18 3 76
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

2 13 17
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

1 5 7
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers

1 3 5
Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

1 1 3
John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers

2 2
Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

2 2
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

1 1
Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants

1 1

A few moments ago Clayton Kershaw was named the NL Cy Young winner. As with Verlander, I thought it would be interesting to see how the Mets fared against the newly crowned king of NL pitching. The Mets faced Kershaw twice this year and lost both times. Below is Kershaw's lines for the two games:


As you can see, he pretty much buttered our bread. Over 14.2 innings he had a .61 ERA against the Mets and struck out 17. Compared to other team’s batting average against Kershaw in a similar number of innings, we fell close to the bottom, although only the Rockies really put up a decent number against him.


Between the two CY young award winners the Mets hit better against the AL’s Justin Verlander. What’s the take away here? The Mets are going to lose guys like this, most teams lose to them. No matter what we will always generally lose to elite pitchers, the Mets need to be able to consistently beat the beatable pitchers to be in contention.