Mets Game 130: Loss To Dodgers

Dodgers 7 Mets 4

Mets swallowed by Chavez Ravine as they drop to ten games below .500.

Mets Game Notes

Once again, Zack Greinke did not have his “A-game” against the Mets, and the Mets again made him pay. Unfortunately, Jacob deGrom didn’t have his “A-game,” either, and the Dodgers made him pay a little more. While deGrom flashed great velocity — he hit 97 MPH a few times — he left a few too many pitches up in the zone and over the middle of the plate. He also didn’t get any help from the gloves behind him. He did, though, help himself with the bat, swatting a double and a single in his first two at-bats. Interestingly, deGrom’s worst at-bat came when he was asked to sacrifice bunt, and instead bunted into a fielder’s choice that did not advance the runner. I would’ve let him swing the bat in that situation — he was one of the best-looking Mets hitters of the night.

One of the worst-looking Mets hitters of the night? David Wright. Wright failed every time he came to the plate, and he came up in big spots with runners in scoring position. He was one of the main reasons the Mets were 2-for-12 with RISP and left 8 runners on base.

Juan Lagares has been one of the bright spots of a dismal Mets season, and I enjoy watching him play center field. I also find his hitting progress encouraging — he may not one day be a batting or home run champion, but he looks like he’ll be a positive offensive contributor with more experience. And again: I enjoy watching him in the field. However, unlike those in the SNY booth, I don’t think Lagares is a shoo-in for a Gold Glove this year, nor do I think he’s “head and shoulders above all other center fielders” in the big leagues. He’s really, really good — better than most. Is he the best? Maybe, but I think watching him every day makes us appreciate him more than outfielders we don’t get to see every day, and it influences our perception. Someone in the SNY booth talks about Lagares like he’s on another planet all by himself, and that’s simply not the case — he’s elite, for sure, but others are “in his league,” so to speak. Carlos Gomez, for one. Peter Bourjos — who in many ways is very similar to Lagares. Denard Span. Ben Revere is up there. Billy Hamilton has been damn impressive, especially for someone who has never been in the outfield before. Yasiel Puig may not look as polished, but his raw tools put him in the conversation. And when he’s paying attention, B.J. Upton makes it easy getting to the long flies in the same way as Lagares. When and if A.J. Pollock gets back to the big leagues, he’s in that same elite class. If you extend the discussion to the Adulterated League, there’s Jacoby Ellsbury, Leonys Martin, Lorenzo Cain, and Austin Jackson. Look, I’m not trying to belittle Lagares’ skills, and I absolutely, positively believe he is among the elite. Rather, I’m trying to make clear that it’s not THAT unusual to be a fantastic-fielding center fielder in the big leagues right now. Will he get the Gold Glove this year? It would be nice, but I doubt it, mainly because he’s going to finish the year with somewhere around 120-130 games played, while others in his defensive class will likely play 150+. Yes, Juan Lagares is an outstanding fielder. Assuming he keeps up his pace and stays in the lineup, he should win a Gold Glove some day. But to say that there’s no one better, and to suggest that it will be “a crime” if he doesn’t get a Gold Gloe this year, is being both ignorant and disrespectful to some of the other elite fly chasers in the league. There’s an entire universe playing baseball outside of Planet Mets.

Lagares, by the way, not only played his usual outstanding defense, but also went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer.

Nice to see Matt den Dekker finally break out of his slump with hustling double. I was beginning to worry that his first week back in MLB was a mirage.

There was an ironic discussion by Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez regarding Jenrry Mejia‘s initial displeasure with pitching out of the bullpen. Mejia felt that he became injured because he pitched in a relief role, rather than considering the possibility that his mechanics were dangerous (they are). Here’s the irony: as a starting pitcher, Mejia would be more likely to find himself back on a surgeon’s table at an earlier point, in part because of the volume of pitches but mainly because of the illogical MLB habit of starters throwing bullpen sessions on the second day after a start. Mejia likely will still injure his arm again, but, an injury would probably happen a bit quicker if he remained in the rotation. I’m glad Keith mentioned the risk of Mejia’s “herky jerky” motion.

Also nice to hear Keith say about Don Mattingly, “he’s got my vote for the Hall of Fame.” If you’re old enough to remember, there was something of a fan-induced rivalry between Keith and Don when both played in New York. Many a heated debate occurred on bar stools around the NY-Metro area between Mets and Yankees fans over who was the better all-around first baseman, and who was the better fielder. I’m sure Keith and Don never considered themselves rivals — they never played against each other in those pre-interleague-play days — yet it still seemed awkward to hear Keith hold Donnie Baseball in such high regard. Oh, and as far as I’m concerned, Donnie in the HoF is a no-brainer — as is Dale Murphy. Keith? I’m not sure, but he’s closer than the voters have judged him. And for the record, neither Keith nor Don was the best first baseman I ever saw — that would be Mike Squires. No kidding.

Next Mets Game

Mets and Dodgers do it one more time on Sunday afternoon at 4:10 PM. Bartolo Colon is scheduled to make the start against Kevin Correia.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Kent August 25, 2014 at 3:37 pm
    If we limit our field to NL, the only outfielder right now fielding better than Lagares this season (using defensive runs saved, or UZR, or UZR/150) is Jason Heyward, and after Lagares, the only outfielder come close to him is Billy Hamilton. So yes, there are other outfielders “in the league” (or even better than) of Lagares, but there are really, really few. So it’s arguable that Lagares really should win a gold glove this year. Then again, Lagares had just as good year fielding wise last season and won nothing, so I definitely wouldn’t be shocked if it’s the case again

    Here are the UZR (you can find DSR and UZR/150 in here too) statistics for NL outfielders this season:
    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=of&stats=fld&lg=nl&qual=y&type=1&season=2014&month=0&season1=2014&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=23,d

  2. Kent August 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm
    On the subject of Hall of Fame, I believe a player should had sustained excellence through long periods of time in order to get elected, 5 or 6 seasons (as in the case of Mattingly) is not enough in my opinion. If a player was to be elected based on the greatness in 5 or 6 seasons, then those seasons better be all-time, historically good (for example Ralph Kiner or Sandy Koufax), Mattingly doesn’t quite do that either, so he’s not a hall of famed in my opinion. Speaking of Kiner, he put up more career WAR in 10 seasons than Mattingly in 14 and Murphy in 18, which suggests they might not be as great as you think.
    • Joe Janish August 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm
      Well, that’s your opinion — and it’s shared by most of those in the BBWAA holding ballots. My opinion is that a player is either great, or not, and that can be established in 5-6 seasons of awesomeness. In 5 of the 6 seasons from 1982-1987, there wasn’t a more feared hitter in the NL than Murphy (though, Mike Schmidt was right there with him for most of those years); he was arguably the best power hitter in the league over that time. As for Mattingly, he had a similar 6-year run in which he was outstanding in 5, and arguably the best or in the top 3 of all hitters in baseball. That’s the piece that makes greatness, to me — when someone is considered “the best” or among the best in baseball over a few years.

      Kiner is in the Hall, and he should be, because I’ve heard from enough people that he was one of the best, and his numbers are unbelievable. I don’t know enough about WAR to use it as a comparison, and I don’t care to know about it for this conversation — I trust my eyes and basic stats in judging who is the best among his peers. I didn’t get to see Kiner play, but I saw Murphy and Mattingly and they were, without a doubt, among the best during those brief time frames.

      As for Koufax — that is EXACTLY my point. Koufax was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball for an extremely brief period — four years. That reign was not even as long as Murphy/Mattingly, and his dominance came at a time when ALL pitchers dominated. Not that what he did wasn’t special, but it needs to be taken into consideration when looking at his numbers.

      There’s a fine line between sustained excellence and compiling. Compiling has its place in the HoF, but I don’t think there’s enough weight given to greatness.

      • Kent August 25, 2014 at 6:11 pm
        Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, obviously we have different opinion on what should a hall of famer be (or what does “greatness” means).

        Sandy Koufax’s numbers during those 4 years were still amazing even after taking account into the pitching-dominant era he’s in, while Mattingly’s number was not as special (though obviously still very good) after taking account of era he’s in. It’s true he (and Murphy) are both “among the best” in their era, but that phrase beg interpretation. Mattingly was without the doubt the best hitter during 1982-84, after that it’s murkier. Even if you use basic statistic, Mattingly only get to top 5 once in average and on base percentage, and never on slugging percentage, does that still make him “among the best”? I’m not so sure.

        By the way, just for fun (and to better understand your thought process) do you think Scott Rolen or Chase Utley is a hall of famer?

        • Joe Janish August 25, 2014 at 11:01 pm
          I’m not sure what you mean about Mattingly’s “era,” because in the years he was putting up huge numbers, not many others were. Jose Canseco was just introducing guys to steroids in 1986, and while anything’s possible, I’d like to believe that Don didn’t go down that road. Also, not sure what stats you’re looking at, because Mattingly led MLB in SLG, OBP, and OPS in 1986, was third in MLB in OPS in ’85, and fourth in MLB in OPS in ’84. If you saw him play, and don’t agree that he was “among the best” in the 1980s, then we’ll have to just agree to disagree.

          Take another look at Koufax’s peers. What he was doing was certainly extraordinary, but, again, it was only four years, and it was at a time of pitching dominance. The league-average ERAs were in the 3.30 – 3.60 range.

          How old are you, by the way? Did you see any of these guys play? Because you sound like you may be judging these players purely on paper. I’m not being critical, I’m simply curious.

          Not sure about Rolen, because — unlike Mattingly — most of his career occurred when the PEDs era was in full force and we had 100+ guys a year hitting 20+ HRs.

          Utley, to me, is a HoFer, because to me and my eyes, he’s been one of the best all-around second basemen in baseball during his entire career. And he passes the completely illogical “stop and see” test for me: when he’s at the plate, I stop everything and watch intently.

  3. Kent August 25, 2014 at 11:19 pm
    Hi Joe, thanks for replying

    When I said “1982-1984”, I was meant to say “1984-1986”, I apologize for the confusion I created.

    I mentioned Utley because in a lot of ways Utley is very similiar to Mattingly, in 2006-2010 stretch he was absolutely by far the best second basemen in the game, but then injuries set in, so he is one of those “great for 5 years” type of guy. Rolen was a rookie of the year in 1997, and up until 2006, only Chipper Jones out-hit him in this time frame as a 3B (there is A-Rod too, but he was a SS first), so using your standard he has quite a case for HOF as well. Anyway, I guess we have different standard on this point, agree to disagree indeed.

    And yes, I’m quite young, current college students major in statistics, part of the reason of my fascination in the baseball statistics.

    • Joe Janish August 26, 2014 at 12:33 pm
      a-HA! Stats major … that explains everything! 🙂

      I rely more on my eyes than anything else when comparing peers. I also value all-around players — those who are good at every aspect of the game, including parts that are not measured or not measured well (i.e., defense, baserunning). Mattingly and Utley did/do everything well. Utley is one of my favorite current MLBers.

      Do you ever do your own baseball stats projects, for fun?

      • Kent August 26, 2014 at 2:49 pm
        Hi Joe, yes I absolutely understand, different people have different approaches to different things, and “should player X be elected to hall of fame” is an opinion-based question, so naturally people will have different opinions, no hard feeling here. Eyes will definitely tell you something that stats won’t tell you, like if a pitcher has bad mechanics or if a batter has holes in their swings, etc. Also, in the high school, colleges, and low minors where stats are somewhat meaningless scouting is invaluable, you definitely get a better picture if you combine stats and scouting together.

        On fielding, yeah that’s an area that stats is a little bit shortcoming, but UZR is a pretty good one given a large sample (by the way, UZR love Chase Utley too), and with other than few noted cases (Jeter or Asdrubal Cabrera for example), stats and eyes don’t usually gave out completely different verdict on how good a player is on fielding. Hopefully, with the new MLBAM fielding tracking technology that MLB is implementing, we’ll have an even better idea–scouting wise or stats wise–how good a player is at fielding