Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mets leadoff options

Their has been some chatter on blogs and on twitter about who the Mets should have in the leadoff spot this season. Terry Collins indicated that Andres Torres would be given the opportunity but most consensus is that the spot should or will eventually go to Tejada. Torres is a decent option, he has a career OBP of .318, which is solidly not terrible but certainly not good enough for a role that is largely centered on getting on base. The three highest OBP of guys who are still on the team and played a decent amount of time were:

Duda - .370
Murphy - .362
Tejada - .360

Any of these guys would make a fine lead off hitter with those numbers. That being said with his power potential, Duda should be batting a little farther back. Murphy makes an interesting case for a potential lead off, he has the lowest K% on the team at 9.9 but also one of the lowest BB% at 5.7. Tejada walks more (BB%- 9.3) but also strikes out more (K%- 13.3). At the end of the day I would probably put Tejada at #1 since Murph can hit better and will have more value in a deeper spot.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mets over/under odds

Right now the Mets over/under for the season is 70.5 games. I definitely like the over here. The Mets won 77 games (our Pythagorean wins was 79, so we actually got a little unlucky) in 2011, even subtracting Reyes WAR we would still have been over 70.5. I think that besides losing our best player, we are not much worse than last year, so any projection should have us over that number. This is a good bet for gambling Mets fans.

* Pythagorean win/loss is defined by as:
Pythagorean winning percentage is an estimate of a team's winning percentage given their runs scored and runs allowed. Developed by Bill James, it can tell you when teams were a bit lucky or unlucky. It is calculated by 

               (Runs Scored)^1.83
 (Runs Scored)^1.83 +  (Runs Allowed)^1.83

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bill James Citi Field Park Indices

As I make my way through the magical journey that is the Bill James 2012 Baseball Handbook I like to report out when I read interesting things about the Mets. The book offers stats on various ballparks and the difficulty or ease of offense in them. For any event the baseline of a park is 100, if the event in harder at said park it is below 100 and above if it is easier. For example Citi Field has a rating of 120 for triples, which means in 2011 it was 20% easier to hit a triple in Citi Field than in other NL parks. All comparisons are NL only. Make sense? Let's look at the numbers:

The moral of the story here is that it is really hard to hit homeruns at Citi Field, which we already knew but it's interesting to see it quantified. Citi Field's park rating for homeruns was a 73 (27% harder than other ballparks), making it the second hardest NL park to homer in behind only AT&T park. It is even tougher for lefties where the number was 68 (32% harder than other ballparks), the only park harder to hit a lefty homerun was Citizens Bank Park. For righties the rating was a little better at 80, putting us near the top as the 13th toughest park. For doubles we are close to the baseline with a 96 and our only positive category was triples at 120, which was certainly shown by Reyes, he of many triples.

What does all this mean? For one, maybe I am a little too hard on the Mets. I routinely argue that the Mets lack power everywhere they play and therefore Citi Field's dimensions aren't a big hurdle. If anything these numbers force us to accept that the deep fences of Citi Field have presented a hurdle for the Mets and is a factor in their lower power production. It is going to be great to compare these to the indices for next year and see just how much of a difference the short fence makes.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mets relievers WAR comparison

Today Terry Collins said it is not guranteed that Bobby Parnell will have a spot on the major league roster. While I like to believe that NOBODY is guranteed a spot and that everyone is earning it in PSL we all know that some guys are going up no matter what and Bobby should be one of those guys. Using fWAR to value our relievers, Parnell is our second best pitcher.

F. Francisco
R. Ramirez

Likely closer Frank Frank came in a 1/2 a win above replacement and Parnell edged him out at .6 wins above replacement level. The team leader was former Giant Ramon Ramirez who came the closest to cracking 1. At the bottom of the barrel was Brooklyn native Pedro Beato and Jon "Too Tall" Rauch, both below replacement level and therefore should be replaced.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How does Yahoo fantasy baseball rank the Mets?

As February turns to April so do a young mans mind turn to fantasy baseball. I play in three leagues, two of which are hosted by Yahoo fantasy sports, which I am sure most all of you have used before you. When the 2012 season became live last week the first thing I did was check how Yahoo had ranked the Mets. For those unfamiliar with their system Yahoo uses two ranks O-Rank - for preseason rankings based on their projections and Rank - which changes throughout the year and is based on actual performance. Below I have listed the Mets projected starters and listed both their ranks: O-Rank for the 2012 projection and Rank for how they finished up 2012. (Note: O-Rank is separate for offense and defense, so Wright is not the 27th best player but the 27th best position player)

No Rank
R. Ramirez

Woof. As expected the Mets did not rank high. Our average O-Rank was 349 and our average Rank was 512.Our highest rated O-Rank was Wright who came in at 27 and was the 4th best 3B according to Yahoo. To be honest this is probably a little too good for D- Wright, I would have a hard time saying that he is the 27th best offensive player in baseball. After Wright comes Ike, who came in at 115, very respectable for a guy who missed most of his sophomore season. Frank Frank got hit pretty hard at 190th, coming in well in the bottom half of potential starting relievers. Our highest ranked pitcher was Johan at 243rd, as you can see these ranks tend to benefit established stars over statistical strength.

On the 2011 side our highest ranked player was, of course, Dickey. R.A. came in at 203, on the opposite spectrum our "ace" Big Pelf came in a shameful 1011th. My biggest disappointment of the list was not seeing Dickey with a higher O-Rank, I very much believe he is a top 25 pitcher. That being said most Yahoo fantasy users agree these rankings are way off base, so I don't put much stock in them, but is interesting to see how one of the most popular fantasy sites ranks our squad.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mets looking at Kazmir Friday

The Mets will watch Scott Kazmir throw Friday but Sandy thinks a spot on the major league roster is unlikely. This is fine by me, assuming that we spend next to nothing on him. The possible upside is that he returns to his 2006-2007 (or somewhere near them adjusted for age) numbers and could serve as a middle to back of the rotation SP. It has the added bonus of being a mildly interesting story that the Mets might resign their once vanuted top pitching prospect (trading him before he was good and reacquiring him after he went downhill, in typical Metsian fashion).

In his hey day Kaz had some nice numbers, striking out over 10 guys per 9 in 06-07 and keeping a mid 3's xFIP. In more recent years he has either been injured or putting up comically large numbers, my favorite being his 17.02 ERA (15.1 IP) for the Angels AAA team and a so so brief MLB appearance, starting 1 game, going 1.2 innings and giving up 5 earned runs on 5 hits for an ERA of 27.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pitchers and Catchers Report, Manny to the A's.

Pitchers and catchers have reported to PSL and have their first workout on Wednesday. To be honest, their isn't much to talk about at this point until they start working out and playing some games. It just feels good to know that somewhere on a ball field today, in St. Lucie County, R.A. Dickey is throwing a ball to a catcher, life is good.

   This is how I felt this morning when I woke up to pitchers and catchers today.

On the A's side of things, Oakland signed free agent Manny Ramirez today. This seems like a great move for the A's. As we have discussed before, the A's are clearly out of contention this year and are focused on the future. That being said, they still need to put fans in seats and win some games. Signing Manny is a no risk move that will give them some offensive power and has enough name recognition and infamy that people might pay to come see him. He only cost half a million dollars, if he busts no one will be surprised and if he meets his projected .241/.342/.363, then he will be a good value.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"I'll always be grateful for the dream season of 1986. In a corner of my mind I will stand forever with my bat cocked, waiting for the two-one pitch from Calvin Schiraldi." - Gary Carter

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gary Carter, a statistical tribute.

             This Gary Carter starting lineup has been on every desk I have had since college.

This New York Times piece was the best article I have read yet about the kid amongst the scores of beatiful journalism that has been and will be written about Gary Carter over the next few days. This being a blog largely devoted to analytics, I thought the best tribute I could offer would be a quick look at some of the amazing numbers Gary put up over the years.

Looking at his numbers, the story of Gary Carter is consistency. Until his final years Carter put together one of the finest pieces of work I have ever seen. From 1977 to 1986 the lowest WAR he ever recorded was 3.9 with a high of 8.3. He was also durable, coming in at 4th all time among catchers in games played. He hit 324 career homeruns, tied for 6th all-time for catchers. He had a career slash of .262/.355/.439. My favorite part of all this, he never once had a BABIP over, at or near the baseline of .300. This guy was incredibly unlucky his entire career, posting a lifetime BABIP of .263. The fact that he was able to continually put up numbers like this with a consistently unlucky bat is a testament to the hard working, gritty reputation that Carter had.

His numbers are by no means flashy but they are in my opinion, brilliant. I can only imagine how things would be now if the Mets had guys on the team like # 8, who can come in year after year and post the same solid numbers. In an era for the Mets when the only thing one can count on is inconsistency a guy like Carter seems like a relic of the past.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A prince and a great man is fallen.

This poster hung in my brother's room growing up, it is how I shall remember # 8 always. Rest easy kid.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fox baseball schedule released.

Earlier today the MLB on Fox schedule was released and the Mets have 8 games. That is in the second tier of teams along with the Angels, Rangers and Braves. The maximum number of games is 9 which is held by the Red Sox, Cubs , Yankees and Giants. For those keeping score at home we have one more game on Fox than the Phillies, yes I keep track of stuff like this.

Considering we don't yet have an ESPN Sunday night game scheduled this is good news for out of market fans to see some games on TV. I used to be one and can say that those precious few TV games a year you get are always an event.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

R.A. Dickey is a top defensive pitcher.

Anybody who has read their Bill James 2012 Handbook will be happy to see that the Mets own R.A. Dickey came in 2nd place in the Fielding Bible awards, making him the 2nd best defensive pitcher in baseball after Miami's Mark Buehrle. The Fielding Bible Awards are established in a similar fashion to the MVP and Cy Young awards with a group of judges ranking players and receiving higher point totals for better ranks with the higest point total winning. Dickey received a total of 61 points from the panel comprised of fan polls, video replay, journalists and other baseball experts (including my personal fave, Strat-o-Matic creator Hal Richman).

Along with his fantastic pitching stats and now quantitatively superior defense make it clear Dickey is one of the top pitchers in the game. For more on the great R.A. check out The Dickey Report.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What manner of man once produced a 1.48 OPS and hit 33 homers in 392 at-bats?

       Look at this dude run, his feet are actually blurry, he is basically the Flash

When Mets news gets especially slow (or especially depressing) I like to take a look at my AL team the Oakland A's. Today is a particularly great day for A's baseball as they signed arguably the last interesting free agent (sorry Roy Oswalt) of the off-season, Yoenis Cespedes, he of insane video resume fame. At first this seems like kind of a weird move. The A's were clearly sellers this year shipping off their two best pitchers and closer, essentially giving up on 2012 baseball. Today they improbably became buyers dropping 36 million dollars over 4 years on a Cuban outfielder.

Cespedes is entering his age 26 season, so the timing might make sense here. His Cuban numbers are stratospheric and he is about two years away from a players typical prime age. Signing him to an Oakland club now that won't be in contention will give him time to further develop and adapt to American baseball without having unreasonable expectations. Let's take a look at some of his numbers, I don't really know how Cuban stats correlate to American ones but it's safe to say his stats show raw skills and basic baseball ability.


2010  342    22    42    45   67     5     .345 .426 .617
2011  354    33    49    40   99     11   .333 .424 .667
Clearly these numbers show a talented player. Four of out his eight seasons (including his last 3) he has recorded an OPS of over 1.0 and hit for a great average. He is also hitting a lot of homeruns in not many at bats. 33 homers would be an excellent MLB season and he did it in about half as many at-bats as most guy big league guys (for instance Ryan Howard and Ryan Braun both hit exactly 33 HR last year but did so in 644 and 629 at-bats respectively). His promo video is also very telling. While the over the top production makes it hilarious at points, it does showcase (see what I did there?) a guy with incredible athletic ability and the raw tools of strength, speed, coordination and baseball instinct to be a top MLB player. I will leave you with his WBC slash line to ponder and be in awe of until he reports to spring training: .458/.480/1.000.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Zack Wheeler numbers

The big Mets news of the week is that two Mets made Keith Law's top 100 prospects list. Zack Wheeler at number 27 and Matt Harvey at number 48 (you can read my analysis of Harvey here). Let's take a look at some numbers for the Wheel.

Zack is entering his age 22 season and his first full season for the Mets. He was drafted sixth overall by the Giants in 2009 out of East Paulding High School (home of the Raiders) and acquired by the Mets for Beltran, which in my opinion was a great trade. We should have done the exact same thing with Reyes, who we pretty much knew we couldn't get back, and have acquired another top level prospect like Wheeler.

Lets take a look at his numbers for his two pro seasons:

2010 (A)
2011 (Giants high A)
2011 (Mets high A)

I love his Mets numbers.I know he only pitched 27 innings but his ERA and FIP are subterranean, he is striking out better than a guy an inning and walking almost no one. His overall numbers are great too, just not as majestic as his Mets stats. He has kept his ERA under 4 and his much lower FIP leads me to believe that his ERA is unfairly boosted by team defensive factors.

His h/9 and bb/9 are an area for concern however. Before he got to the Mets he was walking about 5 guys a game and giving up 7-8 hits. Their is something to be said that stats like h/9 lose their meaning when it's only over 58 or 88 innings instead of 200 that a MLB pitcher might throw. So I wouldn't lose any sleep over it just yet, but it is something to monitor. At the end of the day he is a single A pitcher and has a lot of work to do before we will see him at Citi Field but he has massive potential and should be a part of the 2014-2016 Mets threepeat* World Series champs.

* Do you have to pay  royalties to Pat Riley for using this?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mets are a "2 tier" Sabermetric team

Very slow Mets news day. To pass the time read this article from Fangraphs about which teams use sabermetrics and see where the Mets fall (answer: in the middle, better than last!)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dan Murphy Projections

I was reading the CAIRO projections yesterday on Replacement Level Yankee Weblog and it got me thinking about the Mets. CAIRO is one of many performance prediction models (MARCEL, PECOTA etc.) that try to use data to predict how players will perform and further how teams will perform. They all have their strengths and flaws and are very often right (and occasionally outrageously wrong). The current CAIRO projection for the Mets is 5th place with 75 wins. While that may or may not come true, it is a perfectly reasonable prediction.

What got me thinking was, how does this not happen? What needs to happen for the Mets to win more than 75 games? A lot of this comes down to pitching, which is our biggest wild card, but also to some key offensive players. Daniel Murphy is one of the guys I think the fate of next season rests on. Dan can either be a huge offensive tool that hits for average and power or a slow, injury prone .260 hitter. Since we are on the topic of projections, let's look at Murph's. Fangraphs lists as many as three predictive models: Bill James, Rotochamps and the in house, crowd sourced FANS projection. All three had positive notes for Murph. He hits roughly 10 homeruns in each, his average slash line of the three is: .301/.353/.441. Great numbers all around. In addition Murph is often mocked for his poor defensive skills. He actually has decent infield numbers, he posted a positive UZR (as high as 8.9 for 1B) in all infield positions but negative for all outfield positions.

The moral of the story? A healthy Dan Murphy, playing 2nd base and meeting his projections, is a piece of the puzzle that is an above .500 season.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


The Mets announced uniform numbers for new players today and I was happy see among them, number 56 for Andres Torres. 56 was the number worn by one of my personal heroes, Jim Bouton. For those not in the know, Bouton wrote Ball Four, an account of his season pitching for the short lived Seattle Pilots. It is beyond just one of the best baseball books ever written but one of the finest pieces of literature I have ever read.

In an interview with Lichtfield County Sports, Jim said this about the number:

     "When Bouton was asked what number he wanted when he made the Yankees’ roster he said number 56. That was because it is number usually reserved for young players that come up for the minors for spring training and get sent back down. He said he wanted the number to remind him how close he was to not being in the Major Leagues. He wore it his entire career."

Torres, a mid 30's guy who has had some good seasons but is now struggling to re establish himself, could not be more perfect for number 56.

Mets deny Howard Megdal credentials.

Yesterday the Mets denied Howard Megdals press credentials for 2012 because they "don't like his reporting" which means "we didn't like Wilpon's Folly", the book Megdal wrote (which I reviewed here) that detailed the Mets financial issues over the last few years. Once again the Mets front office have managed to find a new way to alienate fans and make themselves look bad. Denying press credentials to a prominent baseball journalist and author because you don't like his reporting is simply, unamerican.

While the Mets have the right to allow or disallow whomever they wish access to the team, it goes against our expectations of how we expect institutions to act in this country. The 1st amendment only protects from government intervention with the press but as a society, I think we have to come expect that all institutions respect and allow freedom of the press. When faced with crisis I expect an organization to be more open, more honest and try harder to meet the needs and desires of its customers or fans. Trying to silence the people who are critical of you and who do nothing but report facts is never a a viable solution. I hope the Mets decide to reverse this decision, in the meantime I think any Mets fan who has not done so already, should buy Howard's Book and make a decision for themselves about the Mets reaction to it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Josh Lewin joins the booth.

Formers Rangers (and Cubs, Orioles, Chargers and Stars) play-by-play man will be joining Howie Rose to broadcast 2012 Mets games. I probably listen to more games on the radio then I do on TV so I am looking forward to checking him out. I am also posting a link here to an interesting article Lewin wrote about why he and the Rangers parted ways.


Last night was a big win for Giants fans and a Mets level disappointment for the Pats. Unfortunately for me, I am an Eagles fan, so while I got to enjoy what will no doubt be considered a classic Super Bowl, I didn't have an emotional stake in the game. It got me thinking though, seeing so many fellow New Yorkers get to watch a championship, how great it would be to see the same for the Mets. I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about how bad the Mets are, how poor are our numbers and how we have no chance of winning anything in 2012. While all that remains true, last night's Giant victory is making me want to embrace hope, more than WRC and UZR and everything else that tells us how bad the Mets are, hope tells us to screw it all and believe anyway and that's exactly what I plan to do in 2012.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mets Bench Bat Options

The Mets continue their ongoing search for a bench bat, this morning Metsblog mentioned Kosuke Fukodome, Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon and Rick Ankiel as possible options. We already looked at Ankiel here and pretty much established he isn't worth it. Frankly I would feel great about either Ibanez or Damon. They are both very old (39 and 38 respectively) but putting up good numbers for their age and great numbers for bench guys.

Damon put up .261/.326/.418 in 2011 and is projected to give similar production in 2012. He has a great reputation as a clubhouse guy and would probably be a good influence on the younger guys on the team and provide some leadership on a team that often lacks it.

Ibanez looks even better, his slash in 2011 was .245/.289/.419, which is low for him but good for his age. However his Bill James projection for 2012 is .260/.325/.431 with 17 homeruns (based on 505 PA). Frankly these are about as good numbers as you can ask for from a bench guy. To be honest even at his age, I might start him over Bay. They had fairly similar numbers last year except Ibanez outpaced Bay in SLG and HR. Their 2012 projections are similar but frankly I have more faith in Raul producing than Jay Bay.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mets Futures Odds

One of the best parts of sports is betting and for the past few years I have been really intersted in the futures betting market. A future bet allows you to bet on a team to win the champuionship either before or during the season, often times at ridiculous odds when the teams are looking pretty down. These types of bets have been in the news a lot lately especially with the guy who made $250,000 on a $100 bet on the Cardinals to win the World Series (and another $100,000 on the NL Pennant). It is also a big concern in Vegas with the Superbowl coming up as some people locked in the Giants at 80-1 odds when things were looking grim and are now potentially seeing huge payoffs. My favorite story of the season is one sports book that at a point during the year was offering 5000-1 odds (that's 100,000 dollars on a 20 dollar bet) on the Broncos winning the Superbowl, which came dangerously closer to happening than I am sure they ever expected.

I decided to check the odds the Mets are currently getting in the futures market. It's important to note that it is very early for these numbers and they will change drastically as the season gets closer and goes on. We will revisit them every few months to check in. Right now I think Vegas has a little too much faith in the Mets. Of the two sports book (Bovada and Vegas Insider) I looked at they were currently getting 100-1 odds and 75-1 odds to win the World Series. This is similar odds to the A's, Mariners and Royals and better odds than the Orioles, Padres and Astros (who came in as high as 300/1). Teams that were slightly ahead of us include the Twins, White Sox, Cubs and Indians. The favorite to win in both books was the Phillies (11/2 odds) followed by the Yankees and Angels.

I think these are probably the best odds the Mets will get all year. Once the season begins and gets underway I predict they will go up quite a bit, so if you are looking to make a bold, risky Mets bet, I would wait until the All Star break to lock in better odds.