Mike Francesa: Stop While You’re Ahead

For most of Monday afternoon, Mike Francesa had well-placed criticism for the New York Mets. However, he was way off the mark in his analysis of David Wright vs. Carlos Beltran.

Francesa had this to say about Wright, who he sees as a guy who is “not clutch” and who cannot take the Mets to the playoffs:

“He did not hit down the stretch … he did not come up with the big hits in the last week of the season.”

WHAT ??????????

Check the stats, Mikey boy. Wright hit .417 in the last seven games of the season, with 6 RBI, 4 runs scored, and a 1.307 OPS. Beltran wasn’t quite as good, but not bad either — .346 / 4 RBI / 3 runs / .913 OPS. Looks to me that in the last week of the season, Wright outperformed Beltran. My eyes told me the same thing. Could Wright have been more clutch? Could he have driven in a few more runs? Of course he could have — but so could have Beltran.

Francesa went on to claim that

“year after year, Wright and Reyes fail down the stretch”

WHAT ??????????

For the record, Mr. Francesa, you’re correct on Reyes but again COMPLETELY WRONG about Wright. David Wright was the ONLY batter performing down the stretch in 2007, hitting .394 with 6 HR and 20 RBI in August and then .352 / 6 HR / 21 RBI in September. This September was nearly identical: .340 with 6 homers and 21 RBI.

It’s crystal clear that Francesa watched ONE Mets game all season — the last one. Because he kept harping on the fact that Carlos Beltran hit a homerun in game 162, and Wright didn’t. He then gushed and gushed about how Beltran is such a “big time player” and such a “clutch” guy. Further, every time Francesa criticized the Mets players and their choking, he made certain to absolve Beltran from responsibility.

Francesa just can’t understand the Mets fans who “pour on Beltran” but continually “defend Wright”. Perhaps that misunderstanding is due to the fact that Mets fans watch every game, while Francesa only watches Mets games when the Yankees aren’t on. Because Mets fans know that, #1, Beltran cannot hit unless he has someone like Carlos Delgado batting behind him, because he doesn’t have the psychological acuity to be “the guy” in the middle of the lineup. Secondly, we have seen that Beltran is a remarkably streaky hitter — he’s either hot, or he’s not. Despite the nonsense Keith Hernandez speaks about Wright being a “streak hitter”, the fact is, Wright has been the most consistent hitter from wire to wire, whereas Beltran has been maddeningly inconsistent. All an outsider such as Francesa needs to do is check the stats (if he’s not going to watch the games):


As anyone can see, Wright’s average does fluctuate from month to month, but he never hit under .270, and was usually .280 and above. He’s no George Brett, but he’s pretty solid from games one through 162. Beltran, on the other hand, has a 140-point difference between his highest and lowest points. If that’s not streak hitting, I don’t know what is. What Francesa missed were those consistent failures by Beltran in April when the Mets were floundering near the NL East basement. Beltran’s slump in July was unnoticeable because Carlos Delgado and Fernando Tatis were unconscious.

This isn’t to say that Beltran is a bad player — not by any means. He is what he is, and that is a guy with a lot of talent that we generally see perform offensively in spurts. I don’t think Beltran is a “money” player; rather, I think that he is a guy who just happened to get hot this September, and just happened to catch fire at the end of September 2004, and Mike Francesa just happened to be watching a team other than the Yankees both times.

I realize Francesa takes these idiotic points of view to make Mets fans crazy, and more importantly, to keep people listening. But he should at least pick topics and sides that can be logically defended.

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. Andrew Vazzano September 29, 2008 at 4:28 pm
    Francesa is an airhead. It’s amazing he’s still on the radio.
  2. isuzudude September 29, 2008 at 5:11 pm
    Agreed, Andrew. Pointing out flaws in Francesa’s arguments is like finding holes is a peice of swiss cheese. Not that Russo was any better at providing a steady stream of facts or Mets defense, but I’d like to know what the Fan’s afternoon ratings are now that the fatboy is going it alone. The only thing Francesa is good at is making the Mets look like the class clown compared to the Yankees’ validictorian. Of course, it doesn’t help matters when the Mets, themselves, supply him and the fellow Met haters with plenty of material. But, though the Mets deserve all the criticism they’re getting, Wright doesn’t deserve to be dragged under the “choke” bus. That’s nothing but blatant propaganda and piss-poor preparation. But Francesa, we should come to expect nothing less.
  3. Micalpalyn September 29, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Sorry i could not participate earlier, but joe u know we are in the trenches with you.That said u know all too well your regulars differ in opinions.

    I read the Post. the bigotry and diatribe was despicable. Not just francesca, but sherman and the rest.

    1. If Billy had a tendn in his elbow for 1-2 games we’d have won. As it is the loss of Maine was another hurdle too high to jump over.
    2 2008 had Pedro doing an El-duque/glavine. Yes he was good but not as good as we needed him to be.
    3. Essentially there was a 1 man rotation, with passable performances by petey, ollie and Pel.
    4. beltran, reyes and wright ALL had MVP caliber years. del almost. otherwise it was $%$##. Look at philly they won with ROLE players Pedro Feliz, Bruntlet, Werth, Victorino.
    5. Bigotry one article blasts Omar for holding onto parnall yet trading Lindstrom. Parnall could be the future closer
    6. Would we win a playoff game?…..no not unless Santana pitched.
    7. I tiraded in may and June when we GAVE away games in SD and SF…to philly and florida saying hose would come back to haunt us.
    Bottom line Sanchez, feliciano Scho, Heilman COULD not shorten our games and PLAYED the compteition into games mentally and physically where they did not belong.

  4. Taylor September 30, 2008 at 11:35 am
    I don’t have the numbers to prove it but my sense is that David Wright doesn’t hit as well in higher leverage situations. That is in situations where a hit will really turn the game around. I wouldn’t exactly call him a choker, he’s not that but he does seem to press in big spots and misses some really good pitches that he would crush in lower pressure spots.

    He did hit will in the last 2 Septembers but my sense is that in both cases he did much better in the less important ABs.

  5. joe September 30, 2008 at 11:50 am
    Taylor – interesting that you feel that way. Of course I remember many times that Wright didn’t come through, but then, I remember the same thing with just about everyone. After all, even the best players fail 7 times out of 10.

    What I also remember is Wright consistently knocking in Reyes with the first run of a ballgame — which to me is just as important as driving in a key run later in the game, because the stats tell us that the team that scores first, wins much more often than it loses. It may not be defined as “clutch” by the pundits, but it’s certainly an extremely valuable execution.

    The “clutch stats” for David in 2008 on Baseball Reference look pretty good — .286 “late and close”, .308 with 9 HR in tie games. His .246 with 2 out RISP isn’t great, but all the other numbers are over .310. In comparison, Beltran was .282 “late and close” and .189 with 2 out RISP, and he also had 9 HR in tie games. Ryan Howard, .158 “late and close”. Chase Utley, .221 “late and close”.

    If there isn’t already something on Baseball Think Factory or one of those other geek sites, maybe I’ll do a post comparing David to other “clutch” players.

  6. Taylor September 30, 2008 at 12:13 pm
    WPA is an interesting stat. I’ll check how David did in that one.
  7. Taylor September 30, 2008 at 12:16 pm
    Very high as it turns out. Surprisingly Beltran ranked even higher :


    You can also do it by month. I didn’t check that.

  8. Taylor September 30, 2008 at 12:20 pm
    Whooah! I just checked WPA for Sep and Beltran was 3rd in the majors. Delgado was 11th and Wright was 32nd (which is not bad, I mean that’s 32nd among all hitters in the majors).
  9. joe September 30, 2008 at 12:23 pm
    I’m too old skool to understand WPA fully … so does David’s ranking prove Francesa right or wrong re: “clutchness” ?

    By the way I noticed that Manny was far and away better than everyone else on the planet in WPA. Does that mean if the Mets had him, they’d be playing this week?

    Not that I need any sabermetrics to give me the answer to that question, but it’s nice when the stats support the opinion.

  10. Taylor September 30, 2008 at 12:33 pm
    WPA is pretty intuitive to understand. Its very complicated to compute but pretty easy to understand. It’s ‘Win Probabiltiy Added’. The probability of winning a game is computed based on the situation and all of the games in the major leagues in the past so many years (maybe 30 or something like that). So with the score tied to start out the top of the 9th inning the probability is about 50% (probably not excactly because it favors the home team slightly). If the leadoff batter hits a home run then the road team is up 1 run with no outs and nobody on. The probability of them winning has just gone way up. I don’t know the exact number but its probably about 80%. The batter who hit the home run then gets 0.3 WPA. He increased his teams probability of winning by 0.3 with the outcome of his AB.

    You compare the probability before and after every at bat and add them all up. So you can see logic behind it.

    If the score had been tied in the 4th inning and he hit a home run it wouldn’t add nearly as much to the teams probability of winning the game because there are 5 innings left so he might get 0.05 WPA for leading off the top of 4th with a HR in a tie game.

  11. Taylor September 30, 2008 at 12:35 pm
    It does support Francessa’s argument with regard to the month of September.
  12. Taylor September 30, 2008 at 12:37 pm
    Manny’s WPA is crazy. I’d have to say that ‘Yes’ we’d probably still be playing if we had Manny.
  13. joe September 30, 2008 at 2:41 pm
    Interesting notes on WPA, though I don’t quite understand the rationale …. I guess it just works off probabilities, which I had a really hard time understanding in college (which is why I was an English major).

    I mean, I thought there was some kind of stat that said the first team to score, wins the game about 65% of the time? Or something like that. Anyone have a source to support / dispute that?

    Kind of goes along with the fact that batting averages drop if a batter starts 0-1.

  14. Taylor September 30, 2008 at 3:16 pm
    It pretty simple. You don’t need to think about the math of probabilities at all. The probabilities are just based on all of the games that have been played in major league baseball in the past 30 yrs. For example if there have been 1000 games where the home team went into the 9th inning leading by 1 run and the home team went on to win 950 of those games then the probability of the home team winning a game where they enter the 9th with a 1 run lead is 95%. Its just based on the historical record of what percent of the time the team will go on to win the game in that base/out/inning/lead situation.

    For batters you take the probability before their plate appearance and then the probability after their plate appearance. You just add up all the probability changes for all their ABs. It gives the batter more credit for doing something in a situation where it has a greater impact on his team’s chance of winning the game.

    So a grand slam in bottom of the 9th with 2 outs and down three runs will give the batter a lot more WPA than a grand slam up 5 runs in the 9th. If you are down 3 runs in the 9th with 2 outs, even if the bases are loaded you are probably going to lose, probably about 90% of the time. So your probability of winning in that situation is about 0.10. If the batter hits the grand slam the team wins and the probability goes to 1.0, ie they win. He get 0.9 WPA for that hit. The grand slam up 5 runs probably takes the probability from 0.98 to 0.99 or 0.01 so the batter gets 0.01 WPA. So it gives credit based on how much the outcome if his PA effects the likelihood of winning.

  15. Taylor September 30, 2008 at 3:18 pm
    By the way it has nothing to do with the probability of the batter getting a hit. It has to do only with how much the outcome of the batter’s PA effects the probability of his team’s winning the game.
  16. Walnutz15 September 30, 2008 at 5:06 pm
    Speaking of The Rotund One:

    I had Francesa on, during my drive home — which is only because Jon Heyman comes on to do his spot at the same time every day — and both, Francesa and Heyman seem to think that Ryan Church hates it in New York.

    They both stated that the Mets believe “he’s not a fit” here.

    Based on this train of thought, you’d have to think that maybe the Mets look into moving him over the winter…..but then again, who knows anymore?

    “I know for a fact” — Francesa

    What that amounts to…..?

    But it was said during the drive.

  17. Walnutz15 September 30, 2008 at 5:08 pm
    Idunno what’s up, here…..but Church is a California boy, with a track record of playing in lesser-scrutinized environments throughout his career.

    In the beginning, when all was well — we didn’t hear a peep about anything.

    As time went on, and the organization botched the handling of his injuries — coupled with some struggles down the stretch…..maybe he turned a bit sour?

    If this is the case, then you seriously start to wonder about last year’s trade. Along with them likely looking into another catcher over the winter — Church could’ve been putting up MVP-type numbers all year….and he still may not have been a “NY guy”.

    Right now, everyone’s dumping on the Mets in the media — no matter who the player, or what the circumstance……but this could become paramount, in putting together some sort of package deal over the winter for help.

    As usual, stay tuned for the next “major story”.

  18. Taylor September 30, 2008 at 5:16 pm
    Church doesn’t like NY? Too GD bad for him. He’s under contract and we need a right fielder. He’d better learn to like it.
  19. isuzudude September 30, 2008 at 5:53 pm
    Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. Remember Francesa’s #1 goal is to create chaos for the Mets, so why not start a rumor that Church hates NY and wants out. Francesa saying “I know it for a fact” means nothing to me. And when Church denies the rumor, it’ll be Francesa’s word against Church’s and no one will be the wiser. So all I say is don’t buy into the propaganda until you hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.
  20. Walnutz15 September 30, 2008 at 6:37 pm
    Oh, believe me — until there’s a direct quote from Church himself — every one of us should take this with a grain of salt, but really…..I wouldn’t blame him one bit if he didn’t enjoy the constant Ringling Brothers-type atmosphere that surrounds this organization.

    The constant mishandling of roster transactions and player injuries has been noted by all through the years — players, writers, hell — even casual fans.

    It’s not something that’s completely absurd (like this “BREAK UP THE CORE” crappola being spewed).

    Guess we’ll see if it actually has to be dealt with over the winter.

  21. joe September 30, 2008 at 9:37 pm
    Church probably doesn’t like NY, but how could it be an issue? I mean, how many times did Church actually provide a quote to a tabloid? How many times did we see him in a postgame interview?

    The fact is — and I know this for a fact as much or more than Francesa — there are several Mets who would prefer to play in a less stressful city. But they like taking the money more, and deal with it.

    Doesn’t anyone notice that NO ONE other than D-Wright is consistently quoted after games, and in the papers? It’s not a coincidence that the only time you hear from the Carloses, for example, is after a win. This team missed Wagner as much for his willingness to talk to writers after losses AND wins as for his ability to close games.

    This is why Manuel was the right choice after Randolph — he was the lightning rod for the media that didn’t exist. I’ll go into this in more detail in a post, but the NY media issue is definitely an issue, and definitely part of the problem with this team.

  22. RockStar78 October 1, 2008 at 6:58 am
    Good point about the media issue Joe. Willie was never honest with the media and gave them absolutely nothing other than the same “no big deal, it’s just another game, go getem tomorrow” junk, so they had to go to the players for things to write about. That empty canned answer schpiel even annoyed a lot of fans. But Jerry has been great in that regard, which probably eased some pressure off the players. His handling of the media is probably a big reason why everyone wants to bring him back.
  23. isuzudude October 1, 2008 at 12:22 pm
    Dispelling the “Church hates NY” rumors:
    Church revealed that his wife Tina was driven to tears by the standing ovation the Shea faithful gave before his first at-bat in Friday’s 1-for-3 return. The hard-nosed Church said the fans’ embrace cemented his desire to spend the rest of his career in Flushing. He’s even open to signing a long-term contract now to wipe away his arbitration years. Church won’t be a free agent until after the 2011 season.

    Another Fatboy Farce defeated. Oh, but I’m sure Francesa knows Church hates NY for a fact. Everyone knows the two play golf on the weekends and swap recipes. Why wouldn’t Church confide in the biggest (literally and figuratively) Met-hater in New York?

  24. Schmidtxc October 1, 2008 at 12:35 pm
    Francesa is an idiot, the only reason he generates any buzz is when he says ridiculous things to get people to talk about him. While there are plenty of good radio personalities on the air whose shows are informative, francesa creates a buzz by sounding off with ridiculous comments. The sad fact is that there is a market for it, and it does generate listeners. Just ask Jim Rome of Skip Bayliss who have made careers out of saying the most controversial thing that pops into their head.
  25. Walnutz15 October 1, 2008 at 1:14 pm
    In case anyone needed any further evidence that Francesa’s just another Anti-Met asshole:

    (From Adam Rubin’s chat on Daily News blog)

    Ryan Church really enjoyed playing in New York. How do I know? We talked several times during the year about it. Not with a notepad and tape recorder out.

    Just casual one-on-one conversations,when he talked about how much more he liked New York than Washington. Did he love all his teammates? No. Does anyone?

    I probably should have written it at the time, but it was the day Johan Santana pitched a complete game and would have seemed meanspirited.

    The report time for players for Saturday’s game was 11:15 a.m. Duaner Sanchez strolled in at 11:45 a.m. Ricardo Rincon strolled in at 12:05 p.m. I don’t know if they had something family-related that caused them to be late, and Jerry Manuel almost made it sound like players might have had permission to be late, but that’s the kind of stuff that irked Church.

    Church is a gamer, the kind of player the Mets need. He had a right hip injury the final week of the season. Doctors told him to take a week off. He instead played, and struggled, through it while taking daily injections.

    Citing these examples? I’d be pissed with certain guys — too.

    You see this kind of stuff all the time, especially if you’ve ever actually played team sports — or have a job where your co-workers stroll in whenever they please.

    It’s annoying…..and does irk.


  26. Schmidtxc October 1, 2008 at 1:19 pm
    Great post walnutz…and just another reason to let duaner walk. He’s been out of shape reporting to camp before, and he doesn’t pitch well enough to justify his behavior. Get rid of him please.
  27. isuzudude November 5, 2008 at 1:26 pm
    More evidence to debunk Francesa’s baseless rumors: http://www.metsblog.com/2008/11/05/quote-ryan-church-on-francesas-comments/

    Church ain’t going anywhere, bottom line. He obviously likes NY, unless you choose to believe Mike Francesa over the actual source. Omar loves Church, going back to his days as Montreal’s GM, and went out on a limb to trade a top prospect for him last offseason, regardless of what type of baggage that prospect was carrying. Church has great tools and is making peanuts compared to similar players. With a hole already to potentially fill in LF, it doesn’t make sense to me why the Mets would trade another one of their starting OF.

  28. joe November 5, 2008 at 1:31 pm
    Nearly everything Francesa says is baseless. I’m surprised he didn’t go after Church for the anti-semitic thing. That story at least has some teeth.