Mumbling the old adage “You’re never as good as you look when you’re winning, you’re never as bad as you look when you’re losing” to yourself while remember how the Mets have played over the last couple of weeks is small comfort, as true as it is. I promise you, they WILL score a boatload of runs again, they will start hammering the ball like they did early in the season and they will string good pitching performances into a winning streak.
No, really. They WILL score double digit runs again. Ike Davis WILL have a multi-hit game. Maybe the 11th outfielder is the charm. Lucas Duda WILL hit a home run with people actually on base.
It’s not that the Mets are a collection of bad players, because they’re not. If the Mets were to be disbanded tomorrow, most of the roster would find jobs in the majors on other teams. The problem is they don’t have enough talent across the board to balance out random bad luck and the ups and downs that all players experience. When you have a great player, a couple of good ones, and some decent ones you can win plenty of games..when most things go right. Most things don’t usually go right in baseball all at the same time, and when they don’t the team loses too many games to make up for when things are going good. A couple of players drift over the line from decent to bad for a week or two and the other mediocre players aren’t good enough to make up the deficit.
That’s where the Mets are now. Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada have been slumping fiercely, Ike Davis is mired in a ridiculous bad slump and while Duda’s managing to limit the outs he makes by walking a lot he’s not hitting much lately either. There’s only so much David Wright can do with that. Davis will eventually get hot, or someone else will, and the Mets will start scoring runs again. Perhaps they’ll have found another outfielder besides Duda and Baxter that can at least approximate positive value, or Travis d’Arnaud will be ready for the majors and the team will improve. The Mets considered signing Michael Bourn, and while many of us weren’t thrilled with the idea, there’s no doubt that another good hitter would have done wonders for this offense.
So that’s what we have in front of us; watching a struggling team flounder on offense. It’s not fun, not at all. It’s a long season though, and they will be watchable again. It could happen as soon as tonight or take another week, but they WILL draw us back in.
Ike Davis had barely a full seasons worth of games under his belt before he missed almost all of last season with an ankle injury. For someone that inexperienced maybe it’s not surprising he got off to such a poor start. His second half has been amazin’ though, so it definitely gives you hope for next year.
Across the first third of the season Ike Davis was playing very badly. He’d had a hot streak to end April and a couple of good games in a row to end May, but they didn’t last long. On June 8th he finished the day batting .158. This would represent the low point for Ike Davis on the season, and perhaps in his entire career. If you recall this was during the time period that more and more of the fans and media were calling for Davis to be sent down to the minors. The Mets had given him a vote of confidence to stave off the endless questions about demoting him, but even that was starting to wear off.
Then he had a nine game hitting streak including six RBI against the Rays, two home runs, and seven walks. He did not have another multi-strikeout game again, something he’d been doing frequently, until a June 25th game against the Cubs in which he was fanned twice. However, he also homered in that game for the Mets only run.
Since the start of that streak on June 9th (through September first when I’m writing this), Ike Davis has been awesome. Specifically he’s been smashing the baseball as hard as anyone in the game. He’s hitting .270/.336/.573 in those 71 games. If he’d put up that slugging percentage for the entire year, he’d be 6th in all of baseball. Granted this is picking and choosing endpoints, but 71 games is nearly half a season and represents a sizable chunk of Davis’ major league career. He’s hit 20 home runs in those games, something that equates to 46 home runs over a full 162. You’d like to see him walk a bit more, especially since as teams catch on that he’s hitting the ball as well as any slugger in the game the pitchers are going to make further adjustments to avoid giving him hittable pitches. If he can lay off these pitches he’ll end up with more walks. Hopefully it doesn’t take him two months to re-adjust next time.
Ronny Cedeno is the backup middle infielder and has gotten 140 plate appearances this season. He’d probably have more if he hadn’t had a brief DL stint. He’s got an .822 OPS with a .367 OBP. Of Mets with 100 at-bats, he’s 3rd in OBP behind David Wright and Mike Baxter, and Scott Hairston overtakes him in OPS due to his awesome slugging. Ignoring the obvious problem of having three part time players out-performing most of the regulars, Ronny Cedeno would be a really useful player for the Mets next year.
He’ll only be 30 next year and plays the middle infield positions pretty well. He hits right-handed which is useful for the Mets if they continue to have a pretty lefty-heavy team. He’s not really a stolen base guy (hasn’t attempted one all year) but he’s not slow. He’s not really a power guy, but you can live with that from the backup in the middle infield, and he does have three in limited time this season.
Certainly he’s having a career year, and it’s been so few at-bats that it’s hard to rule out it being anything but luck, but he has increased his walk rate by over 4% to a very good 10.7% and raised his extra base hit percentage. This seems to reflect the not swinging at bad pitches and waiting for ‘your pitch’ that has been Dave Hudgen’s philosophy. His swing percentages are down, also suggesting he’s laying off balls and unhittable pitches. So perhaps he really has learned something in New York, even if his .455 slugging percentage is probably unrealistic.
Given the option of believing Cedeno has made progress at the plate versus looking for another guy to fill that role that we hope can contribute, I’d definitely like to keep Ronny here next year.
There are very very few people that think Jason Bay should be in the plans for the 2013 Mets. I’m not even convinced Jason Bay thinks it. On the other hand, the Mets need outfielders and Jason Bay technically qualifies as such.
He hit a home run last night which I believe brings his SLG up to .297. Luis Castillo is a better slugger than that. I truly believe the concussions may have had a huge effect on Jason Bay and that he’s still not right. There’s so much we don’t know about concussions and the things you need to do to be a successful baseball player require a level of focus and reaction time that is based in the brain. Reasons and excuses aside, the question remains as to whether Jason Bay has any chance at returning to being a capable major league outfielder, and if he can do so by early 2013 for the next time the Mets expect to play games that matter.
The time remaining in this season is not substantial, but it’s just enough to plant the seed of hope. So I ask you, what can Jason Bay do in the remaining games on the schedule to make you believe their is a chance he can contribute next year. I’m not asking for you to be convinced the Mets should keep him around, just what it would take for you to think “Maybe he can be a Scott Hairston next year..” and believe it. 10 home runs? 20? An OPS of .900 the rest of the way? Watching him consistently identify and crush bad pitches?
Remember that the Mets currently have pretty much none of their outfield spots set in stone for 2013, so the floor to make this team is theoretically pretty low. Is it Jason Bay low? Answer in the comments or tweet @ceetar.
I don’t care. I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to throw out ridiculous information because it’s fun to look at projections of Lucas Duda hitting 120 home runs.
While three games is just three games, it’s still a lot more meaningful than Spring Training data. Frank Francisco nailed down three saves. The bullpen pitched well. Lucas Duda really does look like he can hit. Ruben Tejada’s looking good. The Mets are in first place. Even Jason Bay has an RBI, and leads the league in sacrifice flies.
Just enjoy it. Things will probably shake out differently the rest of the season. I doubt the Mets go 162-0. Still, I think as people see this team play they’re realizing that they actually do have talented players on it. Enjoy the ride. Is there something from this weekends games that opened your eyes involving this Mets team?
David Wright is on pace to … I don’t even want to say it. I’m afraid I’ll jinx it. There is a certain batter outcome that happens at the plate, and it’s one that’s been very prevalent in Wright’s game the past couple of years. Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn are experts at it. Wright hasn’t done it this year. He didn’t do it in Spring Training either. Keith Hernandez is practically drooling over his batting stance so far this season. We all know what David’s capable of. This is my biggest point of optimism this weekend.
The Mostly Mets Podcast discussed offense in the National League East in episode 33. The Mets scored the most runs in the division last year, and Toby, Patrick and Ted agreed that they’d probably lead again this year, although the Marlins have gotten real close.
Speaking in terms of runs scored the Mets scored 718, the Phillies 713, NL Average was 668, Braves had 641, Florida 625, and the Nationals 624. The Phillies offense is heavily influenced by the park they play in, and without Ryan Howard indefinitely plus another year of age for Rollins and Utley it doesn’t seem like the Phillies will score as many in 2012. Can the addition (And subtraction) of Jose Reyes account for 92 runs of difference between the two teams? The Marlins offense is heavily lopsided with Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton making up most of it.
The Mets drop off from Beltran to Duda shouldn’t be too great, and Andres Torres can probably give the Mets what Angel Pagan gave them last year. Replacing Jose Reyes’ production is a little tougher. Luckily most of his at bats will be made up with more at bats from Ike Davis and a little more Ruben Tejada. David Wright will get more at bats as well, and all of them with a healthy back. This will all keep the offense churning, even if Jason Bay exhibits no signs of life.
If I had to pinpoint one player to worry about, it’d be Tejada. He’s still young though, so there’s still plenty of hope he’ll improve. Last year’s OBP was partially BABIP/AVG fueled, but he did improve on his strikeout and walk rate. Keep improving there and even if he gets lucky he’ll still maintain a very helpful rate at getting on base.
One other factor to consider that makes the Mets clear-cut favorites: power. The Mets got on base more than anyone else in the National League except the Cardinals, but they had league average slugging. This translates to a lot of runners stranded that otherwise would’ve been runs. In 2012 the Mets will have more power. Duda is already impressing people with his power this spring, and Davis will join him to tattoo the Pepsi Porch all year long. Add a healthier Wright and even a 20% bounce back from Jason Bay towards his career norms and the Mets will be a very dangerous threat. This is all without even mentioning the walls. The Marlins addition of Jose Reyes will likely raise their on base percentage, but not enough to make up the difference.
I’m confident the Mets will have the best offense in the National League East this season. It’s one step towards a successful season, and it’s also a step that isn’t going anywhere. The Mets offense is controlled through 2013 at least, with prospects prepared to fill in at some of the weaker positions soon. The Mets offense is great and will stay that way.
Baseball players don’t have enough cool nicknames. So when Ted Berg suggested, via Ike Davis, that “Pure Chaos” would be a good nickname for Daniel Murphy I decided to run with it. It may not describe his hitting style, but I do think it applies to his general approach to the game. Before you say anything, The Irish Hammer does not count as a nickname.
Howie Rose: “Coming up in the bottom of the inning for the Mets: Niese, Tejada and Pure Chaos.”
Ted Berg over at Tedquarters.net is doing a four part series on “If absolutely everything falls right” and looking at the upward bounds of expectations for the Mets roster. It’s nice to know I’m not the only person looking at the optimistic avenue. I was beginning to feel a little like Highlander as an optimistic Mets fan.
I think this post on the infield is very reasonable, and it’s even possible that some of the players overshoot his proposed projections. The most unrealistic part is them all staying healthy all year. Still, health is not an unreasonable expectation. I’m not expecting Wright to break his back again, or Ike Davis managing to fall in exactly the wrong way to ruin his season.
His second part, on the outfield, seems a tad more pessimistic to me. Maybe Bay does rebound a little. I’ve mentioned that here in the past, but I think we’re doing a disservice to Duda in projecting his ceiling defensively as “not terrible”. His outfield experience in the minors was mostly in left, and he’s only got about half a season of time in the majors. Perhaps his hulking frame tends to make one believe he’ll never be good defensively, but I think he can hit “not terrible” just by having all of Spring Training to start at the position and build on it as the year goes on. He can clearly hit the baseball, and if he were to improve on what he did last year he could be our own version of Mike Stanton. In fact, their offensive WAR on baseball-reference were very similar factoring in playing time. Ralph Kiner and Keith Hernandez both love his swing, for whatever that’s worth.
Ted dreams of Jason Bay having a great first half and becoming a trade chip and Kirk Nieuwenhuis forcing his way up to the majors. Personally I think that’s unrealistic, because I don’t think a half season of good baseball is going to yield the type of return to make it worth trading him. He’s not Carlos Beltran and his trade would come along with 24 or so million dollars owed to him and a possible vesting option. More likely if Nieuwenhuis does warrant a call-up, Andres Torres will become a fourth outfielder. If this happens we’ll lose a little defensively, but gain a lot offensively, including some flexibility with defensive replacements.
So what’s the highest fWAR we can expect from the Mets offense? I’m going to say somewhere in the 28-30 range. This would’ve had them 4th in the NL last year and best in the NL East. I think this number represents of everything goes well. It’s certainly possible that if one or two things turn out to go extraordinarily well, they could shoot past it. Because fWAR heavily relies on fielding, if the pitching does better there will be less balls in play and less fielding damage to the values. I assume part three and four of Ted’s series will deal with the rotation and the bullpen.
There hasn’t been a lot of positives with Jason Bay, but barring something weird, he’ll be here next year. So are there any signs that he can have a season that we can even remotely describe as good? Before you jump all over me, I know I’m grasping at straws here. On the other hand, Jason Bay sneezes harder than he hit the ball the last two years, and you’d figure he could have a better year almost by accident.
Health would be a good start. He’s missed some time each of the two years, keeping him from getting a steady rhythm that often helps baseball players. He finished 2011 hot, but he also finished it injured.
He hit one home run in April and one in May.
He hit two home runs in June and two home runs in July.
He hit three home runs in August and three in September.
That’s a steady progression. It’s not a sign for 40 home runs, but three a month would at least give him 18. (Which is how many he has for the Mets now)
He had a hit in each of the last 15 games he started except two, a Tim Hudson 10K game and a clunker against the Nationals. That’s a .954 OPS in September. It was nice to see him avoid some of those prolonged 0-20 slumps he so frequently got himself into. However he did have a 2 for 45 slump in August just before getting hot.
His OPS jumped from a .656 in the first half to a .758 in the second half.
He was clearly hitting the ball with authority in September; In addition to his three home runs, he had seven doubles. 75 AB is hardly a representative sample, but we were beginning to doubt he was capable of being good even that long.
Even a modest 10% improvement from Bay would put him close to a .800 OPS with around 20 home runs. That’s still well below his career averages. 2011 was the bottom of the barrel for Bay, but his career trajectory doesn’t read as a straight down arrow, so there’s hope and even optimism that he’ll have a better year next year.
Jose Reyes won’t win it, he hasn’t played enough games. However, many voters will put Jose Reyes, deservedly, on their top 10 list when they vote. Where do you think he finishes overall?