The Incredible Hitting Mets Pitchers

I’ve pretty much come around on DH for all over the years. I’d prefer pitcher’s bat but it just seems that no one really takes it seriously, so let’s get a batter that’s actually trying. It seems like a farce most of the time. Plus David Wright may have been able to extend his career if it was DH only a few years ago, and the juiced ball would’ve been kind to Wright’s hitting profile.

So it came as somewhat of a shock to see just how well the Mets are doing as pitchers at-bat this season. I don’t know if this is a quirk of the Mets pitchers just being really super athletic and good, or if there is some extra batting practice going on, but they’re really doing quite well. 

Mets pitchers as a group have 1.7 fWAR, which is way more than the second place Dodgers at 0.5 fWAR. That’s a not-insignificant contribution from the Mets pitchers at the plate. They are the only NL club with a positive wRC+, at 32, which means they are 32% of an average MLB hitter, which is probably way better than you think a typical pitcher is. Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler are at 0.6 fWAR each, or more than every other team’s entire rotation. 

The Diamondbacks have five home runs, though only a 0.1 fWAR overall, from their pitchers, the Brewers have two, and the Mets have six. This means that only one other team has more pitcher home runs than Noah Syndergaard or deGrom. 

Thor in particular is swinging for the fences. He’s got three singles, 1 double, and 2 home runs. The average distance of his contact is 225ft, which is 50 ft further than Jon Lester, who’s second, minimum 10 results. Lester and the Cubs do edge the Mets slightly in average exit velocity, 78.6 mph to 77.8.

There have been 23 plays by pitchers classified by Statcast as Barrels, or ideal contact, and the Mets have six of them. Syndergaard has three, Zack Greinke actually has five himself for the lead, and Madison Bumgartner is the other pitcher with more than one, with two. Greinke with three home runs is the only non-Mets pitcher with more than one. 

Mets pitchers can swing some wood! Who knew!

Special shoutout to Stephen Matz, the fourth guy who’s contributing value here. Stephen Matz also is the fastest pitcher in baseball, as far as Statcast can be trusted in measuring something that’s fairly small sample. 28.9 ft/s puts him in the top 8% of the league, or 53rd. That’s also 5th for 28 year olds. Statcast doesn’t really put the pitcher’s on the leaderboards, but of the Mets position players, only Amed Rosario at 29.2 ft/s is faster. 

Something to keep in mind if the Mets are looking for late-game pinch runners for the playoff run or postseason.

Share, Follow, Like, Enjoy

Time For The Mets To Extend Noah Syndergaard

Noah Syndergaard, if you’re still reading about the Mets at this point, is a hot topic of trade rumors these days. These seem to be real rumors too, and not the clickbait ones SNY was peddling in Spring Training. While turning pitchers into prospects if you can get excess value is usually a good bet given the fragile nature of pitchers, particularly hard throwing ones that haven’t had Tommy John surgery, I think the better play is to extend him, not trade him.

The Mets control Syndergaard for two more years after this one. He has a career 3.21 ERA and accumulated 17.1 fWAR so far. Speaking of WAR, it’s at 2.7 this season. That’s 21st in baseball. (Jacob deGrom is 7th and Zack Wheeler is 25th) The ERAs aren’t as sparkling as last year, but at least with Syndergaard, a lot of that can be chalked up to two things. The juiced ball, and defense.

Syndergaard’s HR rate has spiked, as has literally everyone’s with the way the ball is these days. He’s on record saying he’s struggled to get the same grip on it as he has in previous years. It’s something he knows to work on, and sometimes does seem to have better success, and it’s also something that might be corrected if there’s any correction to the ball in 2020. It’d be foolish to plan on that correcting, but Thor’s still providing a lot of value despite it, and a correction can only help pitchers. You’d also hate to pull a Daniel Murphy, and trade him only to have the ball change in his favor afterwards.

The other thing that’s hurt Syndergaard is LOB%, the percentage of baserunners he strands. This is a stat that’s mostly out of the pitcher’s control, though obviously higher strikeout pitchers will tend to strand more runners. Syndergaard is 31st of qualified pitchers with a 23.8 K%, which is above the starting pitcher league average 22.3. Thor has the 10th worst LOB% of qualified pitchers at 68.1%, and Zack Wheeler is 5th worse. League average is 72%. Defense can kill this, allowing a lower percentage of balls in play to become outs.

So Noah Syndergaard is a really good pitcher still, and could be even better. He’s under team control. This is only his age 26 season. That’s the kind of guy you want on your team. I don’t know what Thor would be looking for in a contract extension. He’s previously shown to be very cognizant of how underpaid MLB players are pre-free agency, so perhaps he’s not willing to give away any of that. Still, if you can pay him more for 2020 and 2021 to buy 2022 and possible more, it’d be hard to believe a trade package could be worth more than Syndergaard himself, barring a spring 2020 Tommy John surgery that cancels is 2020 and 2021 season, but that could just as easily happen to the pitcher the Mets would have to acquire to replace him.

The Mets should absolutely listen to offers on any player they have that can garner something big in return, and measure the odds of that making the team better both in 2020 and beyond, but it’s hard to see the Mets getting a return that has a high-probability of out-performing Noah Syndergaard himself. Keep him, extend him and enjoy him. 


Share, Follow, Like, Enjoy

The Beer I Saw At Citi Field in 2019

I went in through the center field gate, as I had been at Mikkeller, and headed out to center field. Big Apple Brews, the Anheuser-Busch/Inbev owned kiosk out in center field and behind home plate on the Promenade, has been going downhill for years.

Before we get to the good stuff, I actually went back and checked 2009, and perhaps saying it’s only gone downhill is overstating it a bit. Big Apple Brews was probably never good, just good as it compared to Shea Stadium. A giant island of coolers in the middle of the outfield is a pretty cool concept, and a nice addition to a stadium, but the actual beer inside appears to always have been a little lacking, even by 2009 standards, but hey, a dark beer!

Big Apple Brews in 2009

This is still just a broad listing of ABI, or ABI distributed, beers, complete with typos. Calling it Harbin Larger does seem prescient to 2019 where there are a lot of larger container beers. This picture was from April 16th, which was the third game of the opening series, not including the exhibition games against the Red Sox, so perhaps they got some editing later in the season.

Larger beers. That seems to be the theme here. Some token ABI craft, the Blue Point Mosaic IPA is not bad, and then a lot of 25oz offering. Obviously, beer geeks like myself are not the prime audience for this. For the rest of the population, being able to drink Blue Point Toasted Lager, or Kona Longboard, or Goose Island Urban Wheat is actually pretty nice.

Remember, just because you can order two 25oz Bud Light Lemon Teas at once, pound them, and come back, doesn’t mean you should.

Hang on a moment, Bud Light Lemon Tea? Do I even want to ask what that is? Moving on..I walked down to the Empire State Craft stand, in it’s usual spot. That’s the center field side of the left field corner. There’s also one just to the third base side of the Promenade plaza (or ‘Piazza’?) behind home plate.

These are the real options. These are the beers you’re going to gravitate to if you’re not just taking the best you can find within a bathroom break of your section. Baseball stadiums have really gotten on the New England Juicy IPA trend. I know Long Island City Beer Company’s Higher Burnin’ has been available in previous years, and it’s pretty good. This one’s fruity and nicely balanced. Interboro’s Premiere is an excellent beer, trending a little danker. Mikkeller’s Henry Hops is a happy baseball beer, and a real reliable IPA that you can get and drink all over the ballpark.

The new one to me was Five Boroughs Tiny Juicy IPA. I hadn’t heard much about them, but I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. It’s juicy, it’s got good mouthfeel, but also good flavor and enough bitterness to really round it out. It’s pretty much the definition of crushable at 4.2%. A great beer to just drink all day at the ballpark, provided you don’t mind paying nearly $12 for a small beer over and over again anyway.

There are some other tidbits around the park, there are actually a few taps if you search for them, but we’ll stop here. Get out to Citi Field and enjoy a beer or two. Overall there are some nice beers. There are some high-quality beers. There’s not a ton of variety though. Simple lagers, juicy IPAs, with maybe some slight variation here and there.

Share, Follow, Like, Enjoy

New York Mets 2019 In Beer

It seems 90% of my posts are about beer. Hey, it goes great with a ballgame!

I can’t give you an official accounting until I get out to the park for Opening Day tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that, and follow me on Twitter where I’ll be tweeting plenty tomorrow. If this interests you, also follow Barley Prose which is a beer blog I run with some fellow Mets fans.

This year we’ve got a real preview though. Sports Illustrated reached out directly to all 30 teams for a breakdown of the beers and they got actual replies, which speaks volumes about beer in 2019.

Standing out, to me, is Five Boroughs Brewery which has been open only a couple of years but I haven’t really heard much about them. Also new to the park seems to be Interboro, which I have heard of and enjoyed. They’ll both have New England Style IPAs available inside. LIC Beer Project also makes excellent IPAs that are available.

Of course there’s also Mikkeller NYC, attached to the park, of which I will stop by on my way in, as early as I can. I’m excited to try their new United We Cheer collaboration with The 7 Line, and the Henry Hops is also a solid choice when you’re inside.

The Mets didn’t provide pricing, which I suspect they might have if the price was the same as the $11.25 last year for craft beers. I’m hoping they only raised it to $11.50 and not a full $12, but stay tuned. It was $7.50 when Citi Field opened in 2009.

Beer at the ballpark only gets better and better, although I notice that there still seems to be no real push for darker beers.

Share, Follow, Like, Enjoy

The Mets Fan Who Has Consumed No News Since The World Series

In Episode 1344 of Effectively Wild, Ben, Sam, and Meg answered a listener email that was presumably addressed to Ben and Jeff, because the listener, Dario, had not consumed any current baseball news since the end of the World Series.

He does not know about the change in hosts of that podcast. He doesn’t know about Brodie Van Wagenen, or Robinson Cano, or where Bryce Harper went. He has no idea about 3-batter minimums or that the Long Island Ducks are going to move the mound back.

Until tomorrow, when he breaks his fast with the first Mets game of the year, which he just so happens to be live streaming.

I find this fascinating. All these dribbles of excitement we’ve gotten over the offseason will be piled on him at once. Gary will introduce the pitching matchup, which will probably not come as a huge surprise to Dario. Scherzer and deGrom. The news that deGrom is the Cy Young award winner will come as joy, but it’s unlikely that’s a huge surprise to anyone that watched him last year. That he’s been extended to a nice contract on the other hand–That will certainly amplify that joy.

I’m most interested in how good Dario thinks this team is. He hasn’t been watching the projections go up and down all offseason, or scrutinizing every fringe move from the four teams in the NL East. He’ll just have his impressions of the roster and how the players that are currently playing look.

I plan to ask Dario a couple of questions after Opening Day to get his impressions, so stay tuned for that.

Share, Follow, Like, Enjoy

Baseball Season Beer Of The Game

Mets Spring Training games are here! Let’s get excited!

Today’s beer of the game is a local jersey brewery, Carton. G.O.R.P. or Good Old Raisins and Peanuts isn’t quite peanuts and Cracker Jack, but it’ll do.

This beer is a solid brown ale with a nutty peanut butter taste and some dark fruit sweetness hidden underneath. It comes in rather strong, something we hope the Mets will do when the season rolls around.

Let’s drink some beer, watch some baseball, and get pumped!

Share, Follow, Like, Enjoy

2019 Mets Will Be A Blast

I’m excited for 2019 as it should be a fun year for the Mets. They’ve made a lot of changes this offseason, and while they could’ve done, and still could do, more they trimmed a lot of the bad players off the depth chart and continue to have one of the best rotations in baseball.

This division looks to be pretty competitive. The Braves surprised and won it last year, and while they’re projected for third you could reasonably expect that to be unfair based off last year’s results. The Phillies showed some promise, and while they’re projected for 4th, you could argue that they have a lot of potential there that faded in the second half last year. The Nationals are still on top by a few games, but they’ve shown themselves to be underperformers.

The Mets come in at 85-86 wins in Fangraphs projections right now. PECOTA says 88, with the Nationals at 89. Both have the Mets pitching staff as top flight.

Whichever way it breaks, it appears that all four teams have a reasonably similar shots of winning the division. That means a lot of head to head matchups. Lots of scoreboard watching. Lots of tweaking rotations to get favorable matchups. Lots of battles for first place. Lots of competing trade deadline machinations.  All that adds up to a rather fun season.

Share, Follow, Like, Enjoy

Forget Manny Machado, Sign Josh Donaldson

This headline is clickbait, there a ton of reasons to covet Manny Machado over virtually everyone else, but those are obvious, and less interesting to write about. Machado is awesome, he fits the Mets very well, and they should absolutely try to sign him. Alas, all 29 other teams are also aware of this guy, and the Mets could seriously pursue him and still not get him.

So what other infield help is there? Well, there’s Josh Donaldson.

The big risk with Donaldson is that he’ll be 33 and had a bad and injured season. You could read into that as the end of the line for him as a useful player, it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing. You definitely have to give him his physical, look at the underlying numbers, do your due diligence. If you find a red flag, balk, but if you don’t, he could be a huge addition.

Donaldson was a late bloomer, and floundered a bit his rookie year at age 26 in 2012, but after that he’s been among the best in baseball. Last season was hampered by injury, but he was traded to Cleveland and mashed much like he’s mashed in the past. It was a small 60 plate appearance sample, but all the peripheral stats seem to support him being much like himself.

He’s a great hitter, he’s got power, he walks a bunch, he makes a lot of solid contact. He’s not fast, but he’s not a base-clogger. He plays good defense. He’s not exclusively a pull-hitter, shifts don’t seem to hurt him too much. He’s a righty, which plays nicely with the Mets having a lot of lefties providing their power right now.

MLB Trade Rumors is predicting the Cardinals will sign him for $20 million, one year. That seems like a steal. Crowd-sourced predictions at Fangraphs have him signing for 3/58, which could still be a steal if Donaldson puts up even something less than his career line. If he’d simply stayed healthy and had an average year, he’d be getting mentioned with Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.

Steamer projections have him just a tick off his average, at 4.6 fWAR for 2019. Even if he continued to decline from there, getting 10 or so WAR from Donaldson over three years would be worth 60 million, easy.

Donaldson might want to try to have a healthy season and jump back into the fray, but Nolan Arenado will be a free agent next year and Donaldson would be a year older too. Perhaps Donaldson could be the right target while other teams are focused on Machado, and maybe Donaldson takes one option off the board for teams looking for shorter term 3B options, raising possible demand for a Todd Frazier trade.

Oh, and Donaldson’s twitter handle is BringerOfRain, which is cool.

 

Share, Follow, Like, Enjoy

Some Brodie Van Wagenen Quotes

I searched the internet so you didn’t have to, to find anything interesting about the new Mets GM, Brodie Van Wagenen.

 

Information has always been power in any industry and it is certainly true in baseball and contract negotiations,” says Van Wagenen. “The people that are capable of analyzing that data in a more sophisticated way are the people that have had the opportunity to succeed.

Seems fairly analytical to me?

Robbins and outfielder Brodie Van Wagenen, a self-described Los Angeles “Valley Boy” with meticulously gelled hair that earned him the nickname “Do Man,”

Do Man?  This was the team he was on with Astro’s manager AJ Hinch. The Tabloids could have a field day with this one.

Recently, we worked with a client who did not enter free agency after his best statistical season,” Van Wagenen says. “We used complex analysis to recreate the player’s statistical profile in order to more accurately demonstrate his future potential. This convinced two teams to enter the process that had not previously been engaged, resulting in more options for a client.

Another quote that certainly seems to suggest Van Wagenen is going to be open and eager to work with his analytics department and value Sabermetric thinkings.

 

I’m excited to see what Van Wagenen gets up to here. It should be an interesting offseason and I expect we’ll know a lot more about the new GM come Spring.

Share, Follow, Like, Enjoy