Mets Game 82: Loss To Pirates

Pirates 5 Mets 2

Mets drop three of four against a .500 club, falling to 8 games below .500 themselves.

Mets Game Notes

What to say? The Bucs beat up on Bartolo Colon early, and the anemic Mets offense couldn’t make up the ground — despite collecting 13 hits.

Mets struck out “only” 9 times, and seeming every K came at just the wrong moment. The team was 2-for-15 with RISP, leaving 11 stranded. In contrast, Pittsburgh was 2-for-4 with RISP, and had 4 LOB.

Edinson Volquez reached his season high in strikeouts (7) in the fifth inning.

It was mentioned that the Mets hit a number of long fly balls that died and/or were caught on the warning track in this series. Looking at MLB Park Factors on ESPN, I learned that PNC Park is #5 in MLB in runs scored, suggesting that it’s a hitters’ park. However, it’s also #29 this year in home runs — meaning, it’s very difficult for players to hit homers in PNC. This, of course, piqued my curiosity regarding Citi Field, which everyone is always touting as a place that’s too big for homerun hitters. Well, not exactly, at least not according to the stats — Citi Field is #18 thus far this year in home runs at .954, sandwiched between two beers — Miller Park in Milwaukee and Busch Stadium in St. Louis. A bit more research uncovered something more intriguing. Last year, Citi Field was #10 in home run frequency at 1.120, sitting JUST A HAIR BEHIND that “other” ballpark in New York City — Yankee Stadium, which was at 1.128. Uh-oh, does that mean Citi Field might NOT be so difficult a place to hit homers? Could it be that Yankee Stadium is NOT so different from Citi Field, in terms of homerun hitting? Hmmm …

As you know, I’m not so great at understanding advanced metrics (I’m angry at numbers), so if you can elaborate on what these stats mean, please do so in the comments. It seems strange that Citi Field could be ranked so high in 2013 when the home team was 25th in all of baseball in homeruns last year.

Lucas Duda rapped a couple of base hits, including a double. It occurred to me that he seems to get a lot of hits — and extra-base hits in particular — when the score of the game is a wide gap. Checking out the splits on Baseball-Reference, I saw that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. When the margin of a game is more than four runs, Duda has a .364 AVG, .391 OBP, .545 SLG (.937 OPS). It’s a small sample size (only 23 plate appearances), so not sure what it means in the long run, but if you were thinking similarly — that Duda has been hitting the ball well when the score is out of hand — you’re right. For all I know, that could be the case with most hitters, I haven’t done the research to find out.

For what it’s worth, Ruben Tejada has a .842 OPS when the Mets are ahead, .425 when the Mets are behind, and .692 in tie ballgames. Hmm … He did, however, drive in the Mets final run of the day — again, for whatever it’s worth.

Next Mets Game

Mets move down to Atlanta for a three-game set hosted by the Braves. Game one begins at 7:05 PM on Monday night, with Zack Wheeler facing Alex Wood.

Next Mets Game

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. DanB June 29, 2014 at 6:41 pm
    I have been thinking about Duda lately. I have been criticizing him for being the wrong hitter for Citi Field. I think it more appropriate to have good fielding, fast running, gap hitters in Citi Field that can move runners more then one base at a time. However, Duda has been getting a lot of doubles in addition to his HRs. Also, at the half way point he has 12 HRs and 41 RBI. If he was a number seven hitter, this would be great. Maybe his problem is that he is being asked too much of. Also, maybe in 2014 we have to lower our expectations for hitters. Maybe a 24 HR, 82 RBI, .251 stat line is all we can expect out of a number five hitter lately. Does anyone believe this? Should we lower our expectations of hitters in general since nobody is htting well across the league? Or is having Duda hitting four, five, and six hurting the Mets?
  2. Tommy2cat June 29, 2014 at 9:43 pm
    This June – Lucas Duda is hitting .293 with 10 doubles and 5 home runs with a .983 OPS. Coincides with FT work at 1st base, Ike’s departure and Lamar’s arrival. Basically, he’s smacking the crap out of the ball.

    I’ve fully adjusted my expectations for this year – its 1983, not 1984. Hopefully, Colon can string together a few good outings and we can find a willing buyer to obtain more young talent and add even greater depth to a fertile farm system. We haven’t been able to say that in a very long time.

    It’s coming together. Our bench is deeper – Kirk appears to be more polished, as does Eric Campbell. Recker & Abreu are worthy contributors. Our bullpen is certainly rounding into a cohesive unit and our rotation will be fortified upon Gee’s upcoming return.

    Soon enough, the names Herrera, Syndergaard & Plawecki will become relevant, and soon thereafter so will Matz, Nimmo and possibly Michael Fulmer.

    Sorry, but TC is a great guy & all, but he’s got to go. He knows baseball, he knows talent, but his in-game decisions (or non-decisions) yield result such as 2 runs on 13 hits. He plays station-to-station, which is why last week’s squeeze play was so, so… so rare.

    Wally knows what to do. We’re steadily moving forward… it’ll come.

    • friend June 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm
      “fortified upon Gee’s upcoming return”

      Vitamin G(ee). Got it.

  3. argonbunnies June 30, 2014 at 12:00 am
    Park factors are generally considered to mean nothing in 1-year sample sizes. Most statisticians go with a 3-year period. Even with a 3-year period, an extreme home team can skew the results — a team that never hits HRs regardless of where they play will cause a park’s HR impact to appear minimal. This is one of those areas where I trust the eye test first, and then look to see if the stats back it up.

    Citi Field is basically a totally fair park, except for the area in right center where David Wright used to hit HRs in Shea.

    Yankees Stadium is a huge boon for anyone who can loft fly balls to right, but many hitters don’t tend to do that and can’t simply start to do it when they play there. In left field, it’s a fair-to-deep park, so the numbers balance out a bit.

  4. argonbunnies June 30, 2014 at 12:03 am
    Joe, didja catch the mechanics discussions in this game? Darling had some observations on Niese that made sense to me, but the more interesting part was the story about deGrom spotting his own mechanical flaw in a TV rebroadcast. When Cohen asked Darling, “Is that hard to fix?” Ronnie concurred with what you and Dr. Borreli have said — “If you know the correct way to do it, then no, it isn’t hard to move your landing foot, and it feels good once it’s fixed.”
    • Joe Janish June 30, 2014 at 12:04 pm
      Hmm … how did I miss that? I didn’t hear any of it, and am interested. Do you remember, roughly, when they were talking about mechanics, about either Niese or deGrom?

      I’m especially interested since Niese has yet to fix his flaw and his velocity continues to dwindle.

      I did hear Ron — AGAIN — say that a pitcher (Volquez in this case) had a “long arm action” and “that’s the reason he has so much movement on his fastball,” which makes Ron sound unlike someone with an Ivy League degree. As I’ve pointed out before, ball movement is entirely and directly dependent on how the ball is released by the fingers — I can’t even comprehend how or why Ron would think the length of the “arm action” has anything to do with ball movement. There’s no logic connecting the two.

      • argonbunnies June 30, 2014 at 11:40 pm
        Oh, wait, wrong thread. The discussion was during Niese’s start, Game 81.

        I think talk about Jon’s mechanics was during his walk-filled inning (bottom of the 4th), and the deGrom discussion preceded it — so either sometime in the top of the 4th, or early in the bottom of the 4th.

        • Joe Janish July 1, 2014 at 1:11 am
          Damn you! I zipped through the game twice looking for it!


          thanks for clarifying

    • Joe Janish July 1, 2014 at 1:30 am
      OK, so I caught it, and it was during the fourth inning, thanks.

      So unbelievably IRONIC that deGrom’s issue is more or less Niese’s issue — a problem with the landing leg. In deGrom’s case, it was, apparently, deGrom landing too open. Niese has been landing too closed for a long, long time — it was exactly the reason for his rotator cuff tear last year, and is exactly the reason he’s still having problems with his shoulder (that he’s not talking about publicly) and is what is preventing him from reaching the 93-94+ MPH velocity he used to reach.

      Further ironic is the flowery nonsense spouted by Ron Darling regarding “beautiful rhythm” and “not throwing at maximum effort” blah blah blah blah. Darling has an Ivy League degree but he has zero qualifications in regard to body movement, and like all other former MLB pitchers-turned-commentators, has no idea what he’s talking about — and that’s THE problem in baseball when it comes to the rash of injuries. Everyone in baseball thinks they know everything about pitching mechanics, when in fact they know next to nothing.

      The continuous diatribe this year on how Niese is “dialing back” and “throwing with less effort to throw with more command” is such a huge, tall pile of bovine defecation I can’t stomach it any more. Pitchers whose velocity drops at the age of 27 is a bright red flag that something major is wrong. Baseball pitcher are the only athletes on the planet who get slower and worse as they move into their peak physical years, and no one questions it. It makes me crazy thinking about how incredibly rock-headed everyone is in MLB.

      • argonbunnies July 1, 2014 at 2:55 pm
        Agreed on Niese.

        Re: deGrom, I thought it was interesting that HE was the one to catch the mechanical flaw, and that he saw the tape by LUCK. With the amount of “video work” that goes on in baseball, is there seriously no review of pitchers’ mechanics by anyone qualified to notice simple things like landing position? Is deGrom one of the few pitchers aware that landing foot position matters? Or do they all know it matters, but they’re leaving it up to coaches in the dugout to notice it?

  5. DaveSchneck June 30, 2014 at 9:45 am
    Agree with Argon that park factor is better judged over a wider period of time, and that only right center is significantly pitcher-friendly (and David Wright unfriendly).

    DanB brings up good questions about the Dude, questions that need to be answered by the end of this 2014 exhibition season in Sept, if the Mets are every serious about ranking their talent and projecting win totals. For whatever reason, I like the OPS stat, but no stat on its own can fairly represent the player. But, for simplicity, if Duda can OPS at .850 or above in a full time role, or mostly full-time roll, and not embarrass himself in the field (which looks like how he plays 1B), he can be a asset to the team as a mid-lineup bat. I’d like to see him hit 4, at least vs. RHP. He is showing a little more aggression lately early in the AB, which I think helps him overall. He did hit a HR to left, and if he drops a few hits to LF in situations that call for baserunners or an RBI, I think his numbers will look even better. He is not the biggest Met problem at this point in time, and may be the easiest one to solve going forward if he shows he can’t be trusted as a mid-lineup power bat over the balance of 2014. To date, he has outperformed Ike at a lower price, for whatever that is worth.

  6. DanB June 30, 2014 at 5:34 pm
    Dave, if Duda is hitting fourth and the Mets are winning,then I worry about the state of MLB offense. If Duda is hitting seventh, (which would require major upgrades at some the Mets’ worst positions), then I expect the Mets to contend.