R.A. Dickey When It’s Not Raining

R.A. Dickey had one really bad start this year. It was against the Atlanta Braves in the rain.   Normally I’d say you can’t throw out bad starts, because they still count.  That’s true; that bad start will always be on his record, will always count in the standings, and will always have cost the Mets a chance to win that day.


In evaluating Dickey’s performance, and in looking forward to when he next takes the mound, it’s a little bit more unfair to factor that game in.  The rain played a huge factor in the outcome and in his ability to command his pitches.  If it’s not raining Dickey isn’t going to pitch like he did in Atlanta.  The biggest cause of his bad game was the rain affecting the break of the pitch, not Dickey himself.


So that said, what does R.A. Dickey’s pitching line look like without that start?


10-0 record in 85.2 IP

1.47 ERA via 14 earned runs.

.875 WHIP.

17BB and 85 K for a 5 K/BB and an 8.93 K/9.



That seems pretty good.




Run Differential and the Mets

A lot has been made about the Mets run differential so far this year, and how it suggests that the Mets should have lost a lot more games than they have.  They’re 32-29, but the Pythagorean formula says that with 262 runs scored and 281 runs allowed they should be 29-32.   They’re at a point where winning a 3-2 game may get them a win, but will hurt their Pythagorean record.


Math does not have a memory.  If the Mets play well enough to win a one run game, then they get a victory which suggests a .6774 winning percentage (110 wins) via Pythagorean.  However if they get blown out 14-5, they get one loss but Pythagorean suggests a .1319 winning percentage (21 wins).  Combined that’s a .2195 winning percentage (36 wins).  Take the Mets record over the last 10 games.  They are 4-6, but their 42:37 runs scored to runs allowed ratio suggests they should be 6-4.


This is all nonsense really, because I’m just cherry-picking games.  The logic to it all is that overall you need to score more runs than you allow to win baseball games.  There is no inherent talent (besides things like using mop-up relievers that make blowouts bigger blowouts) or ability that allows teams to scatter those runs in a way that groups all of the runs allowed into a couple of games and spread the runs scored more evenly so that they win a lot more games than they lose.  That’s simply luck.  A team that scores 3.5 runs a game but allows 4 runs a game should lose more often that it will win.  For the entire season.  Runs do group though through luck and randomness and late inning replacements in out of reach games, and a near even run differential rarely means a team loses or wins mostly close games.


Manny Acosta has given up 29 runs this season.  Last season he gave up only 21 runs all year (although he started in June) to a rate of .4468 runs given up per inning.   If we’d have had that Manny Acosta so far, he’d only have given up nine runs, rounded up.  Acosta is pitching to a 11.86 ERA, which has accounted for a ton of those runs allowed.  This is why run differential is not predictive of how the Mets will do going forward.  The Mets removed a key input, Manny Acosta, from the equation and he won’t be around to give up more runs.  If he does return, it’ll be because he’s pitching better and won’t be giving up runs at the same rate.


Let’s compare the run differential if we’d had the 2011 version of Manny Acosta.  Instead of 262 runs scored and 281 allows the Mets would have scored 262 runs and allowed 261.  Aha! A positive run differential.  As I’m sure you can guess, that comes out to a .502 winning percentage via Pythagorean and 81 wins.  The Mets are only three games above that, which isn’t an unreasonable deviation.


What run differential predictions forget is that teams and managers make changes.  Manny Acosta is only one example of that.  The Mets will make, and have made, other bullpen changes.  They’ll make offense changes to to try to score more runs.  Ike Davis will hopefully learn how to play baseball again, Daniel Murphy is almost a lock to score more runs than he has been.  The Mets current run differential has roughly zero correlation to what we can expect from this team going forward; it only tells us about what they’ve done so far.

You Want To Play Like the 2003 Mets?

Then I’ll blog about you like the 2003 Mets. (spoiler: I didn’t have a blog in 2003)  2003 was the last time they were swept at Yankee Stadium before this weekend’s mess.


Turn the page.  Make the adjustments, to roster, coaches, approach, attitude or all of the above, and bounce back.  But for now, you’ve given the ammunition to all the critics and doubters that believe the 2012 Mets were playing over your heads.  Are they right?

R. A. Dickey: The King In The North!

Saw this post in The Academy of Sports Management about R.A. Dickey.  He’s a big fan of the Game Of Thrones, and since we know he’s a reader, perhaps the entire Song of Ice and Fire series.   Dickey has changed his intro music to the theme song from the HBO show.


That’s pretty cool.  The post mentions that some Mets fans have taken to calling him “The King In The North!”, which is what Rob Stark’s followers use to hail their new king.  This is the first time I’ve heard it, but I’m always a fan of the Mets playing along with popular trends.  They should play the “The King In The North!” clip after every Dickey strikeout at Citi Field.  Before you inquire about rights to do so, remember plenty of teams already play clips of movies and shows and songs.  The Mets frequently play that clip from the movie Network about opening your window and shouting.


Maybe some fans could find a nice corner to make a Dickey K-corner,  but instead of K’s, the Stark’s dire wolf sigil from the show.  Or we could shout “The King In The North!” ourselves after strikeouts or strong innings but that might be harder to get going.  We could probably get it going on Twitter though.

Mets Universe Realigned

The Mets lost a heartbreaker to the Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS, but we all assumed that that was a hiccup on the way to bigger and better things.  The Mets came out swinging in 2007; After watching the Cardinals hoist the World Series banner they promptly swept the defending World Series Champions in three games to open the season.   This result only strengthened the argument for the NLCS being a hiccup; clearly the Mets were better.


Well they did end up being much better than the Cardinals, but not better enough.  A lot went wrong after that, even if 2007 and 2008 were pretty decent seasons most of the way through.  Everything felt out of whack, tumbling out of control and into disaster.  The universe was clearly askew.


Five years later the Mets beat the Cardinals in three straight games, starting off with their first no-hitter.  Perhaps the course has been corrected and the Mets are now on the dynasty path we suspected they might’ve been on in early 2007.   Perhaps this is the start of a playoff run that will launch the Mets back to the top of the league.   Perhaps we’re stronger for having struggled through those years to get where we are today.


Or maybe we should just enjoy the ride and stop worrying about how to define the season before it’s over.  Let’s Go Mets!

Believe It: Other Its.

The wave of optimism coming from the Mets fanbase this weekend has been refreshing.  Welcome to the club.  (Guest euphoria welcome) It’s impossible not to be giddy about how this team played this weekend.  Finally, a Mets pitcher has pitched a no-hitter.  Believe it.

Believe It!

What else can you believe?  An MVP? Playoff berth?  The World Series?


Why not?  Many of us would’ve put the odds of those above a no-hitter, and we’ve beaten those odds.  David Wright has to be one of the favorites for the MVP a third of the way through the season.  You could make a case for both Johan Santana AND R.A. Dickey as Cy Young candidates.  According to ESPN’s Cy Young predictor, R.A. Dickey is the early favorite.


The Playoffs?  Well, the Mets are now tied for first place in the division.  They’ve been in “If the season ended today” position to make the playoffs most of the season.  Winning in the playoffs? I’ll take my chances with R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, and David Wright, that’s for sure.


Greg from Faith and Fear in Flushing has this to say on those “We’ve never had XXX” lists:


“And what’s left of a never-got-one nature to ache for anyway? Put aside a World Series championship even if you’ve never seen one before, because the Mets have two of those. They have cycles, triple plays, a 6-for-6 night, 10 consecutive strikeouts, a batting title and now a no-hitter. What is left hanging out there on the vine that can be attained on the field? An MVP has to be voted on, so that’s not it. A perfect game would be something, but that’s like waiting for the clouds to rain candy. Not everybody has one of those, so it’s not as if the Mets are being left out. Ditto for a four-homer performance. We’ll love if it happens, but it’s rare enough to advise against holding breath for.”


What can’t the Mets do this season? Nothing.  There is nothing the Mets can’t achieve.  Believe It.

Does It Get Any Better Than This?

Congrats JohanDon’t answer that. I don’t care.  Because this is awesome.  It’s perfect despite it not being a perfect game.  It’s simply Amazin’.


The first truly great moment, of many to come, at Citi Field.  The first Mets moment in history in a while that instantly became a “Where were you when?” moment.  The last one was probably also Johan Santana‘s.  His amazin’ domination of the Florida Marlins on the second to last game of 2008.


I was at a restaurant for my mother-in-law’s birthday.  A Hibachi steakhouse in Valley Stream, NY.   Much like Johan Santana, this restaurant had recently been damaged and shut-down, only recently reopening.  My wife, among others, joke that I’m addicted to my phone and this bit of positive reinforcement certainly won’t help with that.  I fully intended to detach from baseball for a night.  I’d seen Carlos Beltran‘s first at-bat before we went to dinner, and figured I’d read the recap and watch the highlights later.   I didn’t.  I finished my onion soup and peeked at the score.  After all, Johan Santana was pitching and we’d been there to see his last dominating start as a mere mortal last Saturday.  Game day told me of Duda’s 3-run home run and I smiled.  I did notice that there were no hits.  Of course I noticed. We always noticed.  It was early though, and we’ve seen that before.  My salad came and I started eating, and I drank my beer and ate some edamame.  All the while that nagging feeling in the back of my brain was tingling.  Internet addiction? Mets magic?  I checked the score.  I checked the pitch count.  I got worried.  These checks got more and more frequent, with a brief reprieve while the Mets were coming to bat.  They had a big lead and I was just hoping they wouldn’t prolong the time Santana had to sit and wait to continue.   I fretted briefly over the ‘injury delay’.   As we got to the 7th inning I started seriously checking the pace of dinner.


Would the guy behind the bar flip the tiny screen to the game instead of whatever race they were showing?  Was anyone really watching that? Maybe I would step out to the parking lot and use MLB’s At-Bat app for a live look-in.  Would 3G service be enough for that? Probably not.  The audio feed would probably be the way to go.  We’d finished ice cream and our waiter had disappeared.  Where was he? Run my credit card already!  Bottom of the 8th.  Someone finally showed up and processed it, and we could leave.  I got to the car in time for the 9th.  Instantly I was transported into the game.  It’s amazing how these events manage to do that.  I’d mentally pushed baseball down on my list of important things for the night, but it wasn’t having any of that.  Tonight was about Mets baseball.  I turned on the radio and Howie’s voice instantly filled me with all the jitters and emotions that we all know so well.  He called the game while I drove, which I don’t recommend in such situations..not that there will ever be a situation quite like that, and he called each ball in play with the urgency it demanded but also with a hint of terror that it was going to fall in.  Your brains, like mine, like Howie’s, probably ran through each of the billion ways it could’ve gone wrong.  It didn’t.  It so didn’t.


I parked, and everyone else went in.  I listened to the recap and interviews, grateful that they didn’t go to commercial and say “Back to talk about it in a moment”.  It was a great night.  It was a Mets night.  Baseball took over, and it was glorious.


Congratulations to Johan Santana, and Happy National Donut Day everyone!

Upcoming Mets Schedule Is Not A Big Deal

Supposedly the Mets have a difficult schedule coming up.  To think this is some make or break period though is a little silly.  All games count, but there is still so much time left after these games that they don’t quite mean that much in the grand course of the schedule, unless they did something crazy like win 25, or 75, percent of them.  I suspect what people are really saying when they tell you about the difficult schedule is that if the Mets can get through another stretch of games and stay in the playoff picture, they’ll start believing.


I say you believe now.  It’s more fun.  Still, let’s take a look at this so-called difficult schedule. (The New York Football Giants laugh at your strength of schedule arguments btw)  Carlos Beltran and the St. Louis Cardinal are next.  They’re pretty good, although one game worse than the Mets so far.  Nationals up after that, who are leading the division right now but merely 1.5 games up.  This is the biggest series of the bunch, for obvious reason.


Then it’s interleague play, which always matters less because the opposing team is not competing for the same playoff spot.  The Yankees are currently 1.5 games worse than the Mets and the Rays are only one better. The Reds have one less loss than the Mets and the Mets have already split two with them, and the Orioles are a team picked to finish last like the Mets. (that should be a fun one if they’re both in first)


Not to say this isn’t a tough stretch, but these teams are not teams that are playing better than the Mets, they’re teams playing much like the Mets. Equal competition, not better, unless you’re a non-believer.  The only teams truly dominating right now are the Rangers in the AL West, and the Dodgers who the Mets will play at the end of June.


The Mets have actually played well against good teams.  In fact they lead the league with 18 wins against teams above .500.  Their worst showing of the year was against the hapless Houston Astros.  Clearly the Mets have proved they can pretty much play with anyone.  Anything could happen going forward but to expect the Mets to falter based on opponent is to have not been paying attention to the first 50 games.


50 seems like a fairly substantial sample size and the Mets have the third most wins in the National League.  They have two top flight pitchers at the top of their rotation, one of the best players in baseball at third base, and an offense that seemingly manages to have good at-bat after good at-bat, even when dealing with slumping players and injuries.  The bullpen is streaky, but Bobby Parnell and Ramon Ramirez are pretty good, and Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco get the job done more often that not.  That’s more than you can say about most bullpens.  They’ve been in the money for a playoff berth for most of season and there is no reason to think that’s going to change in the immediate future.