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It’s great to have Lagares back, but he could walk a little more. May 5, 2014

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Juan Lagares spent the last couple of weeks of April on the disabled list. He rejoined the team for the series against the Rockies and promptly showed us why he’s so valuable in the lineup.

Although Lucas Duda leads the team in OBP with a .361 mark on the season, Lagares is right there with him at .360 on the season. Lagares gets on base around the same amount, but his team-leading .507 SLG outpaces Duda’s .447 mark considerably. That’s because in 22 fewer plate appearances, Lagares has three more doubles and one more triple than Dude; only Daniel Murphy, with 129 plate appearances to Lagares’ 75, has more doubles (8 to Juan’s 7), and Eric Young has two triples to Lagares and Murphy’s one. In fewer plate appearances, Lagares has more total bases than Murphy, Duda, and David Wright – 38% of his hits are for extra bases.

Strikeout-to-Walk ratio appears to contain a strong random element.

Strikeout-to-Walk ratio appears to contain a strong random element.

In fact, Lagares had a great series in Colorado, hitting four singles and four doubles but striking out six times in 20 plate appearances. He does, however, lead the team in KBB – he averages about 6.33 strikeouts for every walk he takes, more than double the league average of 2.72. On the other end of the scale you have players like Travis d’Arnaud and Ruben Tejada (whose plate discipline has been mentioned before on the World’s Worst Sports Blog), who average 1.33 and 1.5 strikeouts per walk, respectively. Moneyball seemed to indicate that it’s tough to teach plate discipline, and taking a look at Murphy and Wright’s numbers seems to indicate a substantial random element in KBB ratio. Angel Pagan and Curtis Granderson also round out the graph at left, which tracks strikeout-to-walk ratio over the past ten years.

Is there much hope of improving Lagares’ KBB ratio? Perhaps. Granderson’s spiked up and was on a downward trend for a while; on the other hand, Murphy’s has climbed steadily as he’s improved as a hitter. There are definitely some deeper relationships that merit further investigation.

Cueto sits on bench, sobs April 6, 2014

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Johnny Cueto is having a tough year so far. In yesterday’s game against the Mets, he pitched to a game score of 65, allowing two earned runs in seven innings; he left with a lead, followed quickly with a hold by Sam LeCure and a blown save by J.J. Hoover, who surrendered a pinch-hit grand slam to professional pinch hitter Ike Davis1. 65 is a solid game score; the sabermetric definition of a quality start is a pitcher who adds value to his team by pitching to a game score above 50. In his first start of the year, Cueto threw seven innings of three-hit ball and struck out eight, pitching to a 74 game score and surrendering only one run. Unfortunately, that day, Adam Wainwright threw seven innings of three-hit ball and struck out nine, pitching to a 76 game score and surrendering no runs. Neither bullpen surrendered much, and so Wainwright took the win and dealt Cueto one of the toughest losses we’re likely to see this year.

Let’s give the devil their due – although it’s been easy to criticize the Mets’ bullpen, Scott Rice and Carlos Torres combined for a perfect inning and two thirds yesterday, keeping the score close enough that Ike was able to knock in the winning home run.

Meanwhile, Juan Lagares‘ slugging percentage is still up at .765, and with 13 total bases on 21 plate appearances he’s averaging about .62 bases every time he steps to the plate. Lagares’ slide into second yesterday was important for Ike’s hit to be a grand slam; if he’d been out, Ruben Tejada could easily have grounded into a double play and kept Ike out of the batter’s box. Still, Tejada’s OBP is at .389, and if he can keep that up, a shortstop who gets on base almost eight out of every 20 plate appearances is a valuable person to have on your roster.

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1Davis’s first pinch-hit home run, and, according to Greg Prince via Twitter, the first come-from-behind walk-off grand slam in the history of the Mets.

Quickie: Lagares’ SLG and bases per at-bat April 4, 2014

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Through the Mets’ third game of this season, Juan Lagares and David Wright have been the core of the team’s offense. Lagares played in 121 games last season, putting up a near-replacement-level .242/.281/.352 line and hitting only 4 home runs but providing incredible value defensively.

This year, Lagares has thus far been a nice surprise. In three games and 13 plate appearances, Lagares has hit one home run, one triple, two doubles, and a single, for 12 total bases. He’s also walked once. His slugging percentage – total bases/at-bats – gives us 12/11, or 1.091. If you just take total bases and plate appearances, counting his walk as one base, he has 12 bases in 13 plate appearances. In other words, Lagares is averaging .92 bases per trip to the plate.

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

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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.