Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Morning Mets Prospectus

I don't want to jinx it but my Mets to win over 72.5 wins bet might just come true. We are 3 wins away and still by no means a sure thing but I am feeling a little better about it. Let's do some quick hits.

Last week I wrote that if Dickey had a good start Saturday he would bring his career ERA under four, which he did. R.A. now sits at a respectable 3.98, still not low enough to reflect his current level of dominance. On the triple crown front R.A. maintains a healthy lead in K's and ERA and should win both easily. He is one win behind Gio and both have two starts left (unless Gio gets sat to rest for the playoffs, which might happen) so we might need some luck to make that happen.

Ike Davis is now tied for 6th most home runs in the league. Who would have thought after the Spring that Ike had he would have turned it around so much? 30 homers ties him future hall of famer Albert Pujols, home run champion Robinson Cano and fellow young slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Looking at the list he is only one behind Alfonso Soriano... Soriano is still playing baseball? And had thirty homers this year? Where have I been? If you asked me I would guessed Soriano had like 12 homers this season, man the Cubs are under the radar right now.

David Wright is currently the 4th best player in baseball according to fWAR. We have been tracking his status all year where he spent most of the season in second. He is now very much in danger of falling behind Buster Posey and has been totally blown out of the water by first place Mike Trout. Want to know what David Wright is also dangerously close to losing? A .300 season. He sits at .304 right now and has pretty much been slumping since July. Remember when we were having totally serious talks about whether or not he might have finish the season over .400? Oh, May. You were a good month full of great expectations and winning baseball, you faded so quick.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Milestone

Believe it or not, Dickey's start Saturday against the Marlins could be a pretty big milestone. The day his career ERA finally falls below the ever important 4.00 threshold. Before coming to the Mets Dickey was a pretty bad pitcher, arriving with a 5.43 ERA. Even as he tacked up good seasons in New York it was always painful to have to cite career statistics which were constantly driven down due to his poor years.

With a decent start this weekend R.A. finally, after three seasons of great pitching, can have a career ERA to be proud of.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dickey Cy Young Stats

Wow did the loss last night hurt. I can't even tell you why, the 2012 Mets are long past relevancy but there is still something that smarts about losing to the Phillies in the 9th inning. One of the FEW bright spots this year was how well we had played the Sillies and to have that end in September is just no fun.

Today I wanted to take a quick look at how Dickey's stats looked compared to last years Cy Young winners so we can get a feel about what we need to see from his last three starts to seal the deal. Below are the season ending stats of last years Cy Young winners, I focused on basic stats as that is what the Cy Young voters presumably would consider the most.


Here is where Dickey and the other contyenders are now


We can safely assume that Kershaw is out of the running at this point due to injury, leaving us with a two man race. Frankly I think it is nearly impossible for any of these guys to match the 2011 award winners numbers at this point, if anyone has a chance to come close, it's Dickey. Verlander is already uncatchable in wins, Dickey would need to go for 3-3 to match Clayton, which I don't expect. Strike outs are also nearly out of hand. I think an absolute dream scenario would be for Dickey to have 3 more 10 K outing, which would still put him 13 short of Kershaw. Really the only stat here Dickey or anybody could conceivably reach is passing Kershaw in IP.

I think this activity shows us two things. One that last years Cy Young winners were a good portion better than this years. More importantly that Dickey is the only pitcher even close on most levels to be as good as last years crop. From a statistical standpoint, the award is really Dickey's to lose. Also for once in my life, I am happy for the intangibles that sports writers use in judging players because Dickey has them in droves. He is an all around class act, great ambassador for baseball, hard working, gritty player and all time great come back under dog story. If Dickey loses this I will be absolutely shocked.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ike Davis Trade Thoughts

Where did bad guy Ike Davis come from? Admittedly I don't know much about the Mets personal lives but I do follow the team as closely as anyone and I have never heard of the issues with Ike that are accompanying this mornings news that the Mets are open to trading to him. Maybe they are trying to soften the press and fan outrage that may accompany it by telling us in advance that he doesn't take coaching advice and parties too hard. Frankly I am OK with the Mets trading anyone but I would prefer not to hear stuff like this. If it is true, I don't care and don't like to think the Mets are the kind of team that talks negatively about each other in public. Secondly if Ike is out too late after games, I think historical evidence shows that won't really affect his play. The '86 Mets are considered to be one of the rowdiest, hard partying teams of all time and they look how they turned out.

An Ike Davis trade will be a real crossroads for the Mets. Having watched Ike play and develop I get the sense that he is either going to break through his issues, figure out how to hit lefties and stay healthy OR not develop and be out of the league in five years. Ike just hasn't shown me anything that says he can will continue on as a serviceable, average 1st basemen, he has either been great or downright awful.

Earl Weaver would have liked Ike Davis. He famously said that "defense wins game, defense and three run home runs". My biggest reason for wanting to hold onto Ike is his power. Power hitting is one thing the Mets need more than anything right now. We are extreme singles hitting team which just makes scoring runs very, very difficult. The Mets are the 5th worst home run hitting team in baseball with only 122 homers (27 of which come from Ike) and are 20th in the league in slugging percentage (Ike has the second highest SLG. on the team with .44). If we trade Ike it would need to be for someone who can provide this team some much needed power.

At the end of the day I am for trading any Met (except Dickey). The current Mets have put together a string of bad seasons, the same team with the same guys will keep producing the same results, so why not move them all and try for something better.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Brewers Preview

I made a futures bet that the Mets would win more than 72 and a half games this year. When I made it the bet seemed reasonable but not sure a thing. At the all star break it seemed inevitable, even last week it seemed like a lock. The we dropped six games in a row and all of a sudden it seems like a long shot. C'mon Mets, eight more wins, we can do it. The Mets head to Milwaukee this weekend, let's see what we are up against.

Tonight the Mets take on the rookie Mike Fiers. I didn't know much about Miek Fiers until I was researching this article and it turns out he is pretty good. Why aren't we talking about Mike Fiers more? In 109 innings he has amassed a respectable 9-7 record. He has pitched a ERA/xFIP of 3.05/3.55 with a dominant k/9 of 9.14. His minor league numbers are all in line with how he has pitched so far and his arsenal contains 4 pitches, all around someone to watch and be afraid of. Why isn't this guy on my fantasy teams?

The Mets never play on Saturday afternoon. What is with that? I seriously can't remember a single 1 o'clock Saturday game all year. This week is no different. Saturday night the Mets take on Shaun Marcum. I feel like Shaun Marcum is getting no respect this year. Last year he was talked about so highly as part of a dominant Brewers rotation and now he is kind of forgotten despite having a good year (when he was healthy, he was injured for a good portion of the season.) Marcum has a 3.71 ERA and only a slightly higher 4.05 xFIP. He has struck out a good number of batters (94 over 100 innings). He does however give up a lot of homers, with a hr/9 of 1.24 which is solidly in the bottom 25 of all pitchers.

On Sunday we face Wily Perlata, who from what I can tell is not related to Johnny Peralta. Is Peralta a common name in the Dominican Republic? According to Wikipedia Peralta learned to pitch by throwing lemons. Is this a valid way to learn pitching? Lemons and baseballs are nothing alike, even less alike than apples and oranges (which are two very alike things for the record), maybe the phrase should be "that's like comparing baseballs and lemons." Probably not. Anyway Peralta is pitching in his third game ever. He pitched pretty well in the first two games but that is basically meaningless. He was a slightly above average AAA player but realistically even the terrible offense Mets should be able to get to him.

On the offensive side the Brewers feature Ryan Braun who is my favorite for an easy NL MVP win. He is currently the second best player in baseball according to fWAR (7.1) and is hitting an amazing .310/.385/.593 with 38 dingers and 23 stolen bags. Seriously, someone make a case to me that he shouldn't be the MVP.

As a team the Brewers are 72-71, they have scored 686 runs and allowed 647 runs. The Vegas series price  is Mets +200.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Mets Prospectus

I honestly can't wait for the season to end at this point. Blogging about meaningless September baseball is not easy and there is only so much I can talk about Dickey's triple crown numbers. Once the season ends the real fun begins, statistically at least. Once we have a full regular season of data we can really get into analysis, comparisons and the nitty gritty of what 2012 meant. Until then all we can do is cheer against the Sillies.

Some random thoughts:

Why not leave Dickey in last night? At this point in the season the teams wins and losses are essentially meaningless. The only thing we have to work towards now is securing Dickey's Cy Young. Why not leave him in and try to get the win for him? I understand he needs rest but we also know he is not a typical pitcher and the extra two innings would have made no discernible effect on his next start. Also a slightly tired Dickey is better than any of our relievers. It would basically be the opposite of Reyes leaving last year. We did something that hurt our chances of winning a game to help an individual. Why not let Dickey keep going to try for the W, especially when it probably improves our chances of winning.

Who wants to resign David Wright? This will be a longer topic for discussion during the off-season but can anyone explain to me a rational argument for bringing Wright back? He is going to be 32 next year, entering the age where players typically decline. His power and speed seem to be waning, he still strikes out a lot and he has always been very streaky. The odds are that David Wright's best days are behind him, so why resign him to what will inevitably be a 4+ year minimum contract when we could move him anywhere for just about anyone after this season ends?

Should we be worried about Clayton Kershaw? Frankly I think Dickey has the Cy Young locked up but a few guys are nipping at his heels. Mostly we talk about Gio but besides the difference in wins, the player most likely to contend and the player most similar to Dickey is Clayton Kershaw. Dickey and Kershaw are essentially identical in WHIP, ERA, IP and Kershaw has a slight lead in K's while Dickey has a big leads in wins. Kershaw is also playing meaningful baseball, which the judges tend to consider. While we keep our eyes on Gio, we should watching for Clayton as well.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a huge A's fan and I could not be more excited to see them having such a great season. However I got to thinking about what makes the A's so good this year. Today on Metsblog, Matt Cerrone wrote a great post that basically said that Mets fans spend a lot of time focusing on minutiae that might make the team play better when the simpler answer is, we just need better players. This is a simple but also shocking truth. As a Mets fan I spend all season thinking up scenarios in which Andres Torres skill set is going to lead to a winning season when in all likelihood he is just going to continue to be himself and give us the same results he always has. Despite all the what-ifs and just maybe's of the preseason, this Mets team has produced exactly the kind of season logic dictated it would.

The thing that got me thinking was, sometimes this doesn't happen. The Oakland A's are currently second in their division and first in the AL wildcard race. Before the season all statistics and logic would indicate they would be about as good as the Mets. They spent the off season trading away two top pitchers, over spending on fringe Cuban prospects and generally acting like a time that planned to contend in 2015, maybe. Yet here we stand, 19 games above .500. So what's the trick?

Any stat head would be able to guess the solution, the reason for the A's success is the most elusive stat of all: luck. Basically the A's pitchers are pitching a lot better than they should be. The A's have a team ERA of 3.42, 3rd best in baseball but an xFIP of 4.19 good for 21st baseball. They have a BABIP of .278, second lowest in baseball. How about their HR/FB ratio? I am sure you can guess at this point, it is the lowest in baseball at a measly 8.6%.  Balls that should fall for hits are being caught, home runs are turning into pop flies.

So the question is, what will happen to the A's? All that really depends on how long their luck lasts. Eventually the shooter will seven out and the streak will come to and end. As all things must, these stats will regress to the mean and that team ERA will rise. It could happen tomorrow or next year. As a fan I am hoping it lasts until November.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Standings similarities and the homer effect

I have been thinking a lot about homerism lately. I often battle with a desire to judge baseball teams objectively and by numbers only and my base nature to believe the Mets are wildly better or wildly worse than they actually are. Take for instance comparing the Mets to other teams around the league this year. If you asked me to choose a team the Mets were similar too I would probably say the Pirates. A team that is in transition but still struggled sometimes. They showed a lot of promise, had some good wins and while they likely won't make the playoffs they should be a contender soon. While that is an accurate description of Pittsburgh, it simply isn't for the Mets. Pitt is a solid 7 games ahead of us and dealing with a tougher division. The Bucs at 72 wins are much closer in performance to the Dodgers and Tigers. So who are the Mets close to.

At 65 and 72 the teams we are closer to are the Phillies (66-71) and the Padres (64-74). The Padres! Tell me when you think about the season you don't think about the Padres as a low end team that performed as poorly as we expected them to while the Mets exceeded expectations and played well for the most part. I know I would, but in reality they are both equally bad teams. The Mariners are at 67 wins now and they play in what turned out to be one of the toughest divisions in baseball. If you were to make a snap a judgement about the Mariners and the Mets and pick which team was better, I think the average Mets fan would say the Mets, even though the numbers and strength of schedule would indicate otherwise.

What is it about the 2012 Mets that make me feel better about them than previous years. Last year at this time the Mets were actually better at 68 wins and I had already written them off. Is it the fact that we got some great individual performances this year? Is it that we can start to see a light at the end of the mediocrity tunnel? I don't know but the homer effect is stronger right now than in times past. Look out Mariners, here we come.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dickey needs strike outs

For the first time since May, R.A. Dickey is an underdog in today's matchup, going off at +130 on the Vegas line. No matter the talent level of the team he was facing or the skill of the Mets you always had to pay for a Dickey start. Get your bets in now, this is a good value.

More important than money however is the ongoing quest for Dickey to win the triple crown which is now his to lose. Looking at the numbers of the top NL pitchers, he is the only hurler who can win it at this point. See the below table.


Dickey is currently first in wins, second in ERA and third in K's. No one else is close enough in all three categories at this point to make a serious run at the title. Right now the serious concern is K's. Dickey is 11 behind the leader which is a fairly substantial number. Dickey's last three starts have been on the lower end for him this year punching out only 6,2,7 respectively compared to his three before that where he K'ed 9,10 and 9. In order for Dickey to pull this off we will need at least 2 more 10+ games and pretty good K performances in all the rest. With luck Strasburg will get shut down soon which would take him out of the equation. We can't expect such luck from Kershaw whose Dodgers are locked in a close playoff race and will be expecting big things from him. Today at 1:45 Dickey gets one step closer.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On hope.

What a ride being a Mets fan is. Two weeks ago we dropped a series to the Rockies and I pretty much wrote the team off as quitters, two weeks later we win a few series and all of a sudden I find myself spending my days contemplating improbable September wild card scenarios. I like to think of myself as a pretty objective fan and readers of this blog will know that I heavily favor statistics and historical context in my analysis but at the end of the day we are all just fans who get mad when our team loses and irrationally exuberant when we win. As much as I love sabrmetrics, baseball teams aren't quarterly earnings reports. When the Mets lose, I get mad. All that is to say that I am believing the Mets can make a playoff run. Despite the numbers and the history and the shame this post will bring me when reread in October, I think they can do it.

It isn't unreasonable to think that every Dickey start between now and the end of the season will be a win. Nor is it crazy to believe that Niese and Big Bad Harv can keep up the consistent seasons they have been having. And the bullpen? Lo the bullpen that once spelt nothing but doom for us have been surprisingly consistent, pulling a 2.43 ERA over the last two weeks. Let's not forgot that David Wright is third best player in baseball, Ike Davis is a 25 home run hitter and Ruben Tejada might finish the year over .300. Kelly Shoppach and Josh Thole have combined Voltron style into one catcher who can hit from both sides of the plate. This is team that can go places. They might not, they might fail, statistically it is all but certain. But in that 1 percentage point where hope still exists is where September basic magic lives. It's what gives hope to fans of 65 win teams on September 4th, it's what makes me believe in these Mets, its what makes believe that September is a time for heroes and that Mets might just have a few.

 Say it loud, I'm and homer and proud.