You Better Believe We’re Going To Overreact

Mets snag an Opening Day WinThree games is a very small sample of data.  It’s still early.

 

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.

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The Best Offense In The NL East

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.

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Daniel Murphy is Pure Chaos

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.”

 

Sports Radio Update Guy: “It was all Pure Chaos at Citi Field last night, as the Mets walloped the Phillies eight to one.”
Daniel Murphy's Nickname is Pure Chaos

 

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Apparently Optimism Is Not A Sin

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.

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Some Optimism For Jason Bay

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.

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Poll: Where Does Reyes Finish In MVP Race?

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?

 

Where Does Jose Reyes Finish in the MVP Awards?
First
Second
Third
Fourth
Fifth
Sixth
Seventh
Eighth
Lower Than Eigtht
Doesn’t Place
pollcode.com free polls
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Wall Adjustments Do Not Make Mets Better

I’ve never really cared about the walls at Citi Field.  They are what they are for both teams, and the height and distance have both positives and negatives. My biggest concern is that if they were to change them, that they would do something stupid like just draw another orange line, or construct a makeshift fence in front of it and mess with the aesthetics.  Sandy Alderson’s comments on the broadcast last night seem to suggest that they’ll put a lot of thought into how to meld the chances into the structure if they do make changes.  Alderson mentioned that they’ve done a lot of research on it, and with three years worth of data to look at they’re a little more confident in the decisions they’re reaching off the data.  Opinions about home runs and wall height are one thing, but I’m happy any decision that’s made will be based off hard data. 

Personally, I like the changes Randy over at The Apple suggested.  A row of seating in front of the wall in left, and a fence in right that turns the Mo’s Zone from a forgotten group area to a cool place to watch the game.  Being able to watch the game from what would literally be field level would be a lot of fun.  San Francisco has a similar type area out in right field of their ballpark. 

Still, the changes do not make the Mets better.  If the Mets move the fences in, they’ll move the fences in for the opponent as well.  Jason Bay will still need to hit the ball hard consistently, and his failure to do so for much of his Mets tenure is not because of the walls.  The Mets still have some work to do to make the 2012 team a contending team, and all moving in the walls does is change the configuration of the boxscore.  David Wright and the Mets still need to hit the ball over them more often than their opponents to win a lot of games.

A side effect of this is that we can no longer call it the Great Wall of Flushing if it’s changed, and I was starting to really like that nickname.  I thought it was a fun inside joke.

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What Do You Need To See From Jason Bay?

Last week I posed a tongue-in-cheek relationship between how many home runs Jason Bay hits this season, and what record the Mets will be predicted to finish with next year.  He’s up to 12, good for an even 81-81 prediction.


He’s on another hot streak, where he’s actually driving the ball.  It’s good to see, but we’ve also seen it before.  He still seems to find ways to go into 0-30 stretches after getting hot, although the length of time between hot streaks seems to be lessening.  I can’t help but wonder if there were lingering effects of the concussion that even he wasn’t, or isn’t, aware of.


Regardless, the Mets could really use Jason Bay to be at least a contributing power threat next year.  I think if he can reach 15 home runs, and finish out September with numbers approaching his career averages on the month, that we can at least have some faith he’ll be useful next year.  His career line stands at

Year G PA AB H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
9 Seasons 1127 4758 4065 1113 227 202 705 583 1086 .274 .368 .493 .862 125
and his September numbers so far.
 
Split G GS PA AB H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
Sept/Oct 7 6 25 24 7 2 2 4 1 5 .292 .320 .625 .945 15 .294 175 150


What do you need to see from him to not go into 2012 feeling he’s a black hole in the lineup? Is it completely hopeless?  Do you need him to rack up a couple more doubles? Five more home runs?  Less strikeouts? Avoid any double-digit o’fers?
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Some Random Math About Bay and 2012

The Mets offense has the potential to be pretty excellent next year.  That next level to ‘really excellent’ depends a lot on Jason Bay.  He’s shown some improvement lately, perhaps there were lingering effects of the concussion that he didn’t even realize.  Still, he’s been pretty bad overall.   I think how well Jason Bay plays the rest of 2011 will go a long way towards how the media feels about the Mets in 2012. I’m proposing a direct relationship between Jason Bay’s home run total through the rest of the season, and the Mets predicted win total in 2012.

 

He’s got 9 right now.  11 seems a stretch, but if he got to 20 I feel like people would proclaim him ‘back’.  I’ll set that as the absolute ceiling, and say it equates to 89 wins.   Each home run less than that will be worth 1 win.  If he doesn’t hit another, the Mets will be predicted to win 78.  If he hits 5 to finish with 14, 83 wins.

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Time To Put Lucas Duda in Right Field

Just last week I suggested the Mets bring up Fernando Martinez to get some playing time at the major league level.  This week he’s returned to the DL.   Maybe the guy will eventually stay healthy, but right now he’s not an option. 

Terry Collins mentioned getting Lucas Duda some playing time in right field, and now seems like the time.   One of the Mets other almost ready prospects,  Kirk Nieuwenhuis, is also on the Dl rendering another RF option unavailable.  These are two of the probable candidates for Duda to compete with in Spring Training for a job in 2012 ,and right now it looks like he’s got the leg up having been successful at the major league level, and having stayed healthy. 

I don’t really care to see a ton of Scott Hairston, Jason Pridie or Mike Baxter.  Nick Evans is another guy that seems like he’d like to compete for that 2012 RF job but probably won’t be a real candidate.  Evans can play first at least, and I’d rather Evans get those AB than the other bench guys, but the Mets might as well give Duda an extra month or reps in the outfield with an eye on 2012.   He’s definitely starting to look like a solid hitter that will need a position for the future.

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