Ike Davis Has Been Really Good

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.

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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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Where Are The Mets Going?

It’s Memorial Day, a day many baseball fans traditionally use to take their first real assessment of the team.  Now suddenly standings start really meaning something, it’s considered okay to scoreboard watch, and most batting averages and rate statistics have at least a reasonable sample in which to infer some judgement on the player beyond a hot or cold start.  (Jose Reyes is batting .335, is the best shortstop in the game and is just plain exciting to watch. Please extend his contract.)

So where are these Mets going?  Right now it certainly doesn’t feel like they’re going very far.  They faced the Phillies and the lesser two of their aces and their rotation filler and outpitched all three of them but lost the series.  The fielding got sloppy in close games and the bullpen picked the worst possible time to struggle.  Still, can you proclaim anything as over in May?  The Phillies were 1-3 against the Mets, one game over .500 and 7 games back on Memorial Day in 2007.  Sure, the Phillies look better than the Mets right now, but you would’ve said the opposite in 2007.  

There is no doubt that the Mets need to play better to have any hope at some sort of reverse 2007 season.  The latest news on Ike Davis and David Wright doesn’t exactly have them returning immediately, but it won’t be too much longer either.  The news on Johan Santana remains good.   If the Mets can find ways to win games without them, and that would include hitting better with RISP and fielding the ball cleanly to not force pitchers to have to get 4 or 5 outs too many times, then they can crawl back to .500 and be poised to add two big bats to help them chase the Phillies.  They still have nine games against them and won’t face them again for over a month.  The Mets play eight of the next 14 games against the Pirates.  It is not unreasonable to expect the Mets to slaughter them, and be able to be above .500 after those 14 games.  Minimize the losing stretches of baseball and maximize the winning ones.  I think two weeks of this losing is enough, it’s time to start another strong run. 

This was a rough weekend for the Mets, but it’s one they can look at and realize that maybe if they field the ball cleanly they win two or three of those games.  No excuses; fix the problems or find players that will. 

One thing that’s starting to concern me is  Terry Collins’ bullpen usage.  (#1 thing fans nipick about a manager right?)  I really like the Mets bullpen, but i do not like their situational guys, and I wish Collins would stop going to them like they’re gold.  These pitchers are not Pedro Feliciano and I would leave Capuano or even Pelfrey in those games.  A lot hinges on Buccholz and Beato.  Both showed a lot of promise and if they can be relied on in those fringe innings between Isringhausen and K-Rod and the starting pitching then Mets will have a lot of chances to win baseball games.

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Ceetar’s Mets Prop Bets: Make Your Picks

Here’s a list of some normal, and some abnormal, bets on the Mets this year.  Purely for fun, feel free to leave your picks in the comments. or suggest some other good over/unders.
Reyes
1. over/under .345 OBP (I suspect this may be over/under Met in 2012)
2. over/under 142 games played.
3. over/under 60 SB

Wright
4. over/under 30 HR
5. over/under 150 Ks

Bay
6. over/under 25 HR

Beltran
7. over/under 130 games played
8. over/under 25 HR
9. over/under 10 SB
10. Will Beltran or Chase Utley have more home runs this year?

K-Rod
11. over/under 55 games finished

Ike Davis
12. over/under .275 avg

13. over/under 23 HR

Jon Niese
14. over/under 200Ks

15. Who will start more games?
a. Johan Santana
b. Dillon Gee
c. Chris Young

16. Who has a better year, R.A. Dickey, or Cole Hamels?

17a. Will Emaus be the starting second baseman all year?
17b. If no, is his replacement
A. On the team
B. In the minors
C. on another team
D. Not currently playing baseball
E. Luis Castillo

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Did Wednesday’s Lost Cost the Mets Millions?

Animated Gif Money (18)How much money did Wednesday’s loss cost the Mets?  The different between 15-13 and 16-12 is huge, as is bouncing back from a bad series with the Phillies with a winning one against a lesser team.  The Mets after their awesome home stand had a ton of good will brewing in the fan base, but they threw it all away with a miserable road trip.

Even if the Mets split the road trip, I think most fans would still be feeling good about the team.  They’d buy tickets, they’d head out to Citi Field to see the Giants, and more importantly, to see the Mets.  The Nationals come in again next week, and who really wants to see the Nationals if the Mets are playing poorly?  (Besides die-hards like me, who’s probably going to two of those games)

So, how many fans are going to now stay home for this stretch of games? 5000 a game? 10000?  The Mets haven’t been drawing well, it’s not yet summer, and they’re coming off some bad play. Between ticket prices, parking, concessions, and souvenirs the Mets are going to end up missing out on a lot of money that they may have gotten just off one more win.

I’m sure the Mets are aware of this.  They know what the perception of the team is, and they have access to their own records and attendance figures.  While the answer isn’t as simple as a player move, or a bad lineup, you wonder where the Mets would be and how we’d feel about the team if they’d cut Gary Matthews Jr, Frank Catalanotto, or Fernando Tatis for Chris Carter, Nick Evans or Jason Pridie.  How much better would we feel if Jerry Manuel rested relievers better, didn’t rest Castillo for Cora one game in each of the last three series, or didn’t stick with guys like Gary Matthews or Mike Jacobs when everyone else realizes they have nothing to offer?

So the Mets are aware of the problem, and know some of the problem areas.  It seems unlikely they’ll wise up and get a decent manager in here, but I’d definitely bet on the roster being shaken up a bit.  I think the Mets trust a guy like Carter over some kind of center field replacement like Jason Pridie or Jesus Feliciano, but I’ve been wrong before.  Maybe the Mets are leaning towards sparking excitement through young players, such as they did with Ike Davis when Chris Carter may have done.  Could it be that Fernando Martinez could be the starting centerfielder on Friday against the Giants?

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Ike Davis’ First AB Probabilities

Some odds on what will happen in Ike Davis’ first major league AB.

ike
4-1 bloop single.
3-1 groundout.
3-1 flyout.
10-1 reach on error.
30-1 hit by pitch.
60-1 home run.
40-1 double.
75-1 triple.
5-1 hard single.
15-1 strikeout looking.
7-2 strikeout swinging.
85-1 grand slam.
15-1 walk.
25-2 Grounds into double play.
150-1 Lines into triple play.
100-1 Ground rule double.
400-1 Homers into the Apple canister.
70-1 Homers off/into the Pepsi Porch.

 

 

What do you think?

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More Pressure For a Quick Start

ike davisIt’s not just Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya that have to worry about fast starts to the season or their jobs being in jeopardy.  The same case could be made for Jeff Francoeur,perez Daniel Murphy, and Rod Barajas.  The way Ike Davis, Fernando Martinez, and Josh Thole have been playing in a way this spring that makes you suspect they’ll be knocking at the door to Citi Field sooner rather than later.

With Reyes possibly being out some, or all, of April the pressure on the starting pitching has just doubled.  The most recent report on April suggests that he may be back closer to mid April, but that’s still a rough estimate.

We’ve known for a while that the season was going to hinge on the starting pitching.  The offense was projected to be one of the top in the league, and surely would’ve won some games on it’s own even when the pitching struggled.  With Reyes and Beltran out, they may not have that cushion for a while, but this doesn’t mean the Mets are doomed to a 9-13 type record to start the season.

The fast start is more important than ever, and if Maine, Perez, and Pelfrey can have a good month of April the Mets will still win games.  We all know they’re each capable of pitching good games.  It was expected before the season that they could definitely pitch competitively and keep us in games, but now they may be pressured to actually win the games.  Instead of quality start performances and limiting the opponents to three runs over six innings, stepping up and going seven innings and occasionally limiting the other teams to merely one or two runs becomes important to the Mets early success.

This isn’t to say the Mets lineup is useless, and that they won’t occasionally put up a crooked number, but Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are two of the most irreplaceable players in the game today.  The season is never won and lost in April, but if the pitching can step up and win more games than they lose, not only will it minimize the damage caused by losing Reyes and Beltran, it will set them up nicely once they return.

This post, and vibrant discussion about it, also featured on The Real Dirty Mets Blog.

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