Mets Game 83: Win Over Dodgers
Mets Ø (sorry, 8) Dodgers 0
Much as it’s tempting to glance at the box score and assume the Mets played out a 0-0 draw over 20 innings before everyone passed out through sheer boredom, that isn’t a funky European Ø with a slash through it. It’s an eight. I had forgotten what they looked like.
After subjecting myself to the FOX coverage of the Mets game on Saturday, the dire mumbling and stumbling commentators did at least raise one point of value. The Mets were second to the Royals in hard hit balls in the major leagues. Second? I figured the Mets would only be second in errors.
Have we found the Twilight Zone? These numbers are baffling. And they raise another question. Have the Mets been unlucky this year on offense?
I can’t see it myself, and I’ve seen the vast majority of the Mets innings this season. But this game highlighted what a little luck can do. Out of the Mets 15 hits, only Wilmer Flores double in the 8th was a true liner (and even that narrowly shaded inside the left field line). Flores and Curtis Granderson’s other doubles were ripped grounders between Justin Turner and the line (six feet away from an out) and Juan Lagares “triple” (a.k.a. a laughable error by Yasiel Puig) would have been an out if not for that pesky sun in Los Angeles. L.A. rarely catches the sun so poor Puig’s shades couldn’t deal with the glare. We saw bloops (a couple from Murph), infield hits (nice cue shot from Grandy), and tricklers through vacated positions (Tejada’s grounder in the 4th).
On the pitching side, Stephen Matz got through six innings and Terry didn’t push him out there again in the seventh despite Matz being on just 101 pitches. Thank-you, Terry. Matz fell behind in the count throughout his outing, but he was able to pinpoint his fastball to catch up. His change was a little off – hence he didn’t use it much – but his curve was fine. He made Puig feel even more enigmatic/grumpy as he struck out on one. It’s impossible not to be impressed by the poise of Matz.
For the Mets to win two against the Dodgers in L.A. is a genuine achievement, despite the Dodgers not kicking on after their fast start to the season. Wilmer went 10 for 13 in the series, and his OPS has shuffled just above .700 again. Is being back at second making him feel more comfortable?
Lucas Duda and Michael Cuddyer continue to look lost at the plate, with a desperate Lucas swinging at curves way down and fastballs way up. Cuddyer also doesn’t see any pitches he doesn’t want to pop up. Meanwhile, Matz put in another professional AB to drive in a run on a slow grounder, so he could spell these guys in the Twilight Zone we’ve entered.
They’ll call this game a laugher. Well, I needed cheering up. So thank-you for this. The Mighty Morphin’ Power Mets will hopefully take down the Giants in the next three game set. I’m not banking on it, but then those guys are on a six game losing streak… including three against the Giancarlo Stanton-free Marlins. Huh?
The world doesn’t make any sense any more. But we are entering a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. I just hope the Mets exploit that and surprise us all.
The hard hit balls comment I believe refers to line drive rate on batted balls. The Mets have overtaken the Royals now as 1st in the majors at 22.7%. Now there does seem to be a correlation as more good teams are on the top of this list and more bad teams are near the bottom. However, there are outliers like the Phillies at number 3 and the Blue Jays 3rd from the bottom. Maybe the Mets and Phillies offense aren’t as bad as they seem and the Blue Jays offense isn’t as good as it seems. We can only hope.
Flores’ hot weekend was a good sign, although I think he got a couple of gift hits from the official scorer. It’s pretty obvious that he has to learn to go the other way since everyone is pitching him outside now. It’s good to see him do that this weekend. Yah, maybe the move to 2nd had something to do with it
The one thing that’s bugged me about Campbell at the plate is when he gets in funks where he takes too many fastball strikes. He doesn’t seem to deal well with the pitch low and away, even if it’s straight as a string.
– Duda and Granderson have certainly hit a lot of line drive outs into the shift… but is that “unlucky” or the new “normal”? When Lucas is ice cold, I really don’t know why he wouldn’t bunt at least once a game just to see if it’d deter the shift. Same for Grandy the next time he slumps.
– Cuddyer has had terrible ABs all year and is extremely lucky to be hitting .240.
– d’Arnaud’s hard-hit balls never seemed to be at anyone. He certainly wasn’t unlucky.
– It seems to me that Flores, Tejada, and Lagares have all been about as bad as their stats indicate. And Murph is Murph, of course.
– So if there’s bad luck outside the shift victims, it’s primarily Campbell and Kirk. Eric’s been through several phases this year where he lines it right at outfielders for a while and then starts hitting worse thereafter. Kirk, meanwhile, hasn’t been good, but he hasn’t been .100 bad either.
– As for Mayberry, Ceciliani and Herrera, I don’t have a particular recollection of their luck, but browsing their K rates makes me think their poor stats were earned.
The reason a stellar offensive team like the Blue Jays may score lower on certain component metrics is because they hit a ton of HRs — HRs aren’t counted as “balls in play”, and most HRs are counted as “fy balls” not “line drives”. It really depends on the metric, though.
Generally, the purpose of pointing out a team’s bad luck is to predict (or at least reasonably hope for) better results going forward. But with Kirk and Campbell likely to be used sparingly and other teams unlikely to stop shifting Duda and Grandy, I don’t see enough reasons to back up such a prediction.
If the Mets do get more hits, I think it’ll be because they actually hit better.
All the talk over these few years about whether the Mets are too patient or not aggressive enough I think is irrelevant. Button line is, the Mets swing at too many balls out of the zone or pitcher’s pitches. Some are more guilty than others. Even Cuddyer’s hit last night was a ball. Legares’ was a borderline strike so maybe he had to swing there. Unless they can get better pitch recognition, guys like Legares, it’s hard to see him develop more than what he is now offensively.
As for stats, I’m not guessing here, I know for a fact that BABIP excludes HRs. It’s because BABIP is a primarily a pitcher stat and most people who use it for batters do so incorrectly (thus Gary Cohen’s confusion and dislike).
There are hard-hit ball rate stats, on the other hand, which do not exclude HRs.
Every line-drive rate stat I’ve seen includes those very few HRs classified as line drives.
I’m happy to explain more about why BABIP is what it is if you’re interested. I have plenty of opinions on this stuff; I think the issue of whether HRs are treated as under a pitcher’s control (FIP) or as lucky fly balls (xFIP) or as under a hitter’s control (HR/fly) is crucial to modern analysis.