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Don’t Knock Curtis, Even if He Isn’t Knocking It Out of the Park July 8, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Curtis Granderson has, for some reason, developed a reputation as a streaky hitter. For example, Adam Rubin opened this article from June 27 commenting on it, although the thrust of the article was Granderson’s defensive issues. Amazin’ Avenue was justifiably a bit more nuanced, describing Curtis’s change of approach at the plate as a favorable influence on Mets scoring. What’s surprising to me is that Granderson’s hitting has been described as a ‘streak.’

2015-07-08 Granderson’s hitting was unpredictable at the beginning of the season, certainly, but those sorts of fluctuations are natural with a small sample size. What’s visible from the time-series chart of Granderson’s first 85 games should be two things: his batting average has improved, and his hitting has been consistent if not trending upward.

Some rudimentary data analysis bears that out. A time-series regression of batting average on game number shows an intercept of .148 and an increase of .0016 per game, both significant at the 99% level (showing a bad start and a slow but steady increase). However, Granderson’s hitting is coming at the expense of his OBP, which showed a 99%-significant .360 intercept and a 95%-significant decrease of .0002 each game. The fluctuation of OBP, which is almost certainly due to his high proportion of walks at the beginning of the season, is about an eighth of the increase in batting average; Curtis’ consistent production can be counted on, whether the rest of the team contributes or not.

One pitcher and two guys on the disabled list July 4, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
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This season, the Mets have been fighting against a pernicious series of injuries, mainly focused on the offense. Although we lost Jenrry Mejia, Zack Wheeler, and Jerry Blevins, we’ve also lost David Wright for much of the season and missed Daniel Murphy, Michael Cuddyer, and Juan Lagares for smaller pieces. Let’s take a look at some interesting statistics:

Steven Matz leads the team in OBP (1.000) and total bases per game (4). Second to Matz in OBP is David Wright (.371); Travis d’Arnaud is second in total bases per game (2) and fifth in OBP (.338). Wright follows up with 1.75 total bases per game. In order to get to active position players, we have to go 3 deep to Lucas Duda (OBP of .358 and 1.56 TB/G) and Curtis Granderson (OBP of .348, 1.54 TB/G). In other words, of the Mets’ top 5 hitters, one is a pitcher who’s played one game, and two have spent more time on the disabled list than on the field. Argue with the choice of metric, but our best active hitter can’t touch Andrew McCutchen‘s 10th-best OBP (.370) or the total bases mark (Duda has 122, Granderson 125, and the bottom of the top 10 is a three way tie with 162 total bases involving Prince Fielder, J.D. Martinez, and Manny Machado).

Of course, it could be worse: we could have Ike Davis (.322 OBP, 1.3 TB/G). (But I still like Ike.)

So here’s the problem: When the Mets started off the season, they were hitting incredibly – during the first 25 games, they averaged 4.04 runs per game and allowed only 3.28. The league average this season is 4.01 runs scored to 4.11 allowed, so that was a pretty nice set of stats. But during games 26-50, those stats slid to 3.84 runs scored and 4.04 runs allowed, and in games 51-75, the Mets averaged only 3.16 runs scored to still 4.04 runs allowed. Our pitching, despite being at times inconsistent, is still better than the league, by average.

Although the Mets have made some interesting moves in the bullpen, and Terry Collins‘ insistence on using Alex Torres as a left-handed specialist is maddening at times, the pitching side of the equation is okay. All the team needs is a break on the offensive side – Duda could break out. Cuddyer could stay healthy. Murphy can keep up his hitting and Wilmer Flores can continue developing. This season has been a comedy of errors offensively, but SOMETHING has to go right soon.

What can the Mets do with Lucas Duda? January 22, 2014

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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As MetsBlog reported the other day, Lucas Duda is likely to be an outfielder this year. (In fact, he’s listed there on the current Mets roster.) For a number of good reasons, this probably isn’t a great idea. MetsMerized pointed out that this is probably a flailing attempt to find a good home for Duda, so let’s consider a few options.

They appear to be considering leaving him in the outfield, but this isn’t a great idea. Curtis Granderson is probably going to play every day, with Eric Young, Juan Lagares, and Chris Young rounding out the outfield. Lagares and Chris Young each hit righty, but Eric Young is a switch hitter and Granderson is a lefty, so Duda’s left-handed bat doesn’t offer a huge upgrade. Duda’s OPS is much better versus right-handers than Lagares’ (.831 vs .620), so that might present a decent platoon split, but starting Duda against right-handers would put Duda’s significantly worse defense in the field. Duda isn’t comfortable in the outfield, and his numbers bear this out – Duda’s 2013 defensive WAR is -2.1, including his time at first base (his natural position), whereas Lagares’ is 3.5. Duda’s further time on-base is useful, but his defense is too rough to count on. Eric Young hovers around the 0 dWAR mark and has a .647 OPS mark, still representing a defensive upgrade.

The Mets will probably start Ike Davis, keeping Duda from his natural position. Though Davis has struggled offensively, he’s been defensively quite good.

Probably the best thing the Mets could do with Duda is to try to shop him around. Don’t get me wrong, I like Duda, but he’s best shipped off to a team that can use him as a platoon first baseman or DH. We don’t even need to get much for him in return – picking up a few young, cheap bullpen arms might be a viable option. I’m not an expert on the trade market this year, but someone can make more use of Duda than we can, even if arbitration finds him worth $1.9 million.