Look At What They’re Saying About the Mets in “Baseball Prospectus 2014″

Baseball-Prospectus-2014-Fifth-Edition-Paperback-by-Baseball-ProspectusI’ve been buying various baseball annuals since the mid-1980′s. Beginning in 2000, I’ve picked up Baseball Prospectus every year. I have a love/hate relationship with those good folks — the condescending, dogmatic attitudes sometimes make me want to hurl, but overall they are well-informed, insightful, and funny. BP is the heir-apparant to the old Bill James Abstracts.

It’s worth keeping in mind that today’s glut of “advanced statistics” is driven, in large part, by the billion-dollar fantasy market. Those are the consumers who are buying the magazines and the annuals and subscribing to the websites, the poor schlubs who are desperate to win the office league. It’s why we now see half a dozen different “projection systems” — ZIPS and Steamer and Oliver and PECOTA and so on — all with incomprehensible math, each one of them proprietary. Killer info you can get nowhere else! There’s huge money to be made out there.

That’s the beauty of capitalism, right? The brainiacs have been incentivized; there’s money in coming up with the best, smartest analysis and forecast system. And for the most part, baseball fans benefit from it. And perhaps the game itself benefits by virtue of having better informed fans. That’s the idea with democracy, after all. The smarter the voters, the better the government. Oy.

Today two different research organizations have entirely different ways of calculating WAR, for example. You can go to FanGraphs or Baseball Reference and get two totally different numbers! (Juan Lagares gets a WAR of 3.7 at BR, and 2.9 at FanGraphs: Yes, I know, that’s crazy.) Why is that so? Two reasons: 1) They are making this shit up, it’s valid, but the all-in-one stat is not objective in a way that can be witnessed by the naked eye; 2) There’s profit in having your own fancy-dancy system, a motivation that has nothing to do with baseball. In other words, everybody is incentivized to come up with their own wacky, new-fangled shit.

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My take is that these sabermetricians are very, very good at explaining what just happened. I like it, I learn from it. But when it comes to predicting the future, shrug, they get a lot of things wrong, just like everybody else. That’s the beauty of the game, the math majors can’t take it over. At the same time, I’m genuinely grateful to the math majors for doing all that heavy lifting. All those computer calculations have shed some light. And, yes, contributed mightily to the plethora of noise and the loss, at times, of true signal.

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Anyway, nobody brings the snark quite like BP. Here’s some comments from the new annual, which arrived at my door a couple of days ago. First, from the team overview:

“There is a tendency, whenever things go wrong with the Mets, to just chalk it up to their inherent Metsness. Mets gonna Mets!”

“To be more than an afterthought in the National League, the Mets are going to have to spend.”

“Meanwhile they need several more solid bats before their lineup causes opposing pitchers to lose sleep, even with Granderson on board. Can they afford to acquire those bats? Not this year, it seems. And what will have changed by next year?”

“Do bankers dream of electric corner outfield bats?”

“Fans will be back when the team earns them back.”

And because I’m a fast typist, some highlights from the player profiles:

On Lucas Duda: “The plate discipline and walks are a real weapon, but until further notice, Duda’s greatest skill is the idea that he might hit the ball.”

On Allan Dykstra: “Dykstra had a phenomenal season at Double-A, featuring that perfectly time-consuming combination of a discerning eye and a swing too long to get to the pitches he likes.”

On Juan Lagares: “The Mets didn’t consider him a minor-league center fielder until 2012 . . . If he keeps up the defense, his bat won’t need to improve all that much.”

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On Josh Satin: “The team willing to play him full time at first base probably won’t be very good, but hey, it only takes one.”

On Ruben Tejada: “When Tejeda and Ike Davis were sent down following terrible starts, the organization wasn’t subtle about which player it wanted to succeed, and which was persona non grata.”

On David Wright: “The Mets need to engender trust somewhere, and with Wright cynical fans know there’s at least one professional in the organization.”

On Chris Young: “Contact has always been the gap in Young’s game, and the problem grew to canyon dimensions last eason. The offensive sinkhole was all-encompassing, including his worst walk and strikeout rates since 2008 and 2009, respectively, and the lowest power numbers since he was a rookie. Young’s season was a lemon no matter how you slice it — versus lefties or righties, home or away, in the first half or the second. Young could rebuild his value with the Mets, or this could be the first of a series of short deals leading to the inevitable “minor-league contract or retirement?” phase.

On Eric Young: “He’s ultimately a fourth outfielder.”

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On Victor Black: “He’s battled control problems his entire career, but when the ball is down, he’s close to unhittable.”

On Dillon Gee: “He’ll always captain the “How the hell does this guy get anyone out?” All-Stars.”

On Frank Francisco: “And when the Mets do dip some money into the free agent pitcher game, this is what they get.”

On Steven Matz: “More worrisome is his funky, high-effort delivery, which — though it hides the ball well — may suit him best in the bullpen.”

On Jenrry Mejia: “There’s a great pitcher in here, we swear — try as the Mets and Mother Nature might to keep him down.”

On Scott Rice: “He is batting practice against righties (.507 OBP), but his low-effort sinker-slider arsenal is a weapon. Seriously, though, no righties.”

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On Scott Atchison: “Let his epitaph read: He gutted out 50 appearances for a lousy team with a partially torn UCL, and he pitched pretty well, considering everyone thought he was 63 years old the entire time.”

On Terry Collins: “On Opening Day, Terry Collins will be the oldest manager in baseball.”

 

 

 

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13 comments

  1. It is a such a danger line, I want the Mets to do well, because another boring listless baseball summer is well, another summer of baseball utterly forgotten.

    Still, if they over achieve and say win 85-88 games, does anyone think that the Three Amigos with the support of Dumb and Dumber in the owners box will add pieces to the mix in 2015, or just say, well with Harvey coming back this is great.

    Terry Collins says it all. The Mets are not bringing in players or ideas. They are shuffling the deck and hoping.

  2. Alan K. says:

    No book does it better than BP. And as Patrick is correct. They’re treading water and betting heavily on the kids. Also right about Collins. For all his flaws, I can see Backman overachieving with this group, at least in the short term. But Wally doesn’t fit Sandy’s view of a manager, nor does any manager with a strong personality or leadership skills.

  3. Michael Geus says:

    I’m rooting hard for the over in 2014. I do not believe there is anything negative that can happen that would change the current pace and direction. Sure, if they tank Collins probably does not survive, but other than that we are now in annual wishing and hoping territory. Considering the ages of Granderson, Colon, and Wright, and how little talent we have in the high minors, 2015 does not look any better to me than 2014.

    Let’s Go Mets!

    • I disagree, MIke.

      In 2015, Harvey is back. Syndergaard is in place. Wheeler is a year better. Plus pieces such as Mejia, Montero, Gee, Colon and Niese are all there. Sandy has to make a deal or two — and it really should be able to bring back a player. A number of pitchers should be in Triple-A at the start of ’15, including Matz and Fulmer. Obviously, we know that injuries happen. But I’ve talked about this from the beginning, that trading some of these guys didn’t make sense until they reached at least Double-A status. To me, 2015 looks significantly better. The question will be about the goals of the Wilpon/Alderson Mets. Are they happy to compete for a playoff spot? Or do they want to be really good?

      • Michael Geus says:

        This sounds like what people were preaching a year ago, hang in there until 2014, and things would be significantly better. Just be patient. And of course Sandy would make a deal – he didn’t. Other than dumping talented veterans to save money he never does. Thinking otherwise at this point is like waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear.

        In 2015 Harvey is coming off serious surgery, for many pitchers if they do come back they struggle for a year. And just like Harvey went down, it is highly likely that one of our other pitchers will get injured. I seriously doubt they will all still be useful.

        So sure, Syndergaard might be up in 2015, and effective. Wheeler might be still improving. Might is the key word for that stuff, it’s just wishing and hoping. It seems simpler to wish that Ike figures it out and Colon can give us one big year before he combusts. That Wheeler comes fast, like Harvey did before him.

        The Plan is to cobble a bunch of guys together every year and get lucky someday.

        Let’s get lucky now!

        Let’s Go Mets

      • Agreed, and lets face it, the Wilpons are constantly hoping they can recreate the mid 1980s and not screw it up this time.

  4. Michael Geus says:

    I haven’t read the book yet, but did look at the list of Top 101 prospects. Zero on the list that were signed or drafted by the current regime. Scary stuff considering that we have supposedly been focusing on drafting and developing talent.

    Organizational depth can create some role players here and there, but to win you need a core of impact players. To date the current front office is unable to produce any.

    • James Preller says:

      Three years is not enough time for a draft strategy to bear fruit. Smith at 1B will be on that list soon, others to come. The best pitching prospects need time to develop in order to net a significant return. Hey, I’ve been critical too, but spending was supposed to help. Anyway, I do believe more pieces will be in place a year from now.

      • Michael Geus says:

        Players as young as 17 years old are on this list, half the list is players 21 or younger. It’s not a list of just guys close to the majors. Three years is plenty of time to have some impact prospects (that you didn’t trade Stars for) somewhere in your system.

        But sure, maybe our prospects will begin leapfrogging everyone else’s. Sounds great to me. If that happens I will give these guys credit.

      • True, three years is not enough, but this season considerable momentum should be seen. Nimmo goes to A+ ball, he needs to do well there. Fulmer returns ideally healthy for a full season. Matz should be pitching A+, and possibly advancing to AA if things go well for him.

        Then there are the likes of Plawecki, Boyd (guys who are fringe but showing signs of possibility, need to continue) very make or break this year to me for Evans and Cecchini, guys who have been over matched thus far as pros.

        2014 is a bell ringer for this front office on player development. Credit for acquiring Wheeler, Syndergaard and d’Arnaud. But they did not develop any of them in any real sense.

  5. ERAFF says:

    I did see Nimmo and Smith on “another” top 100 list— that’s 2 of their 3 Drafts…hey, who knows?

  6. RAFF says:

    We’ve got to be hoping that guys like Nimmo “skip a grade”- maybe show enough to get him (and other recent draft picks) to Double-A within the year . As critical as I have been with Sandy, in the past — I’m actually now OK with him plugging in some of the short-term signings as placeholders for the young talent which is making its way through the system.

  7. Bob B says:

    My favorite baseball preview quote of all time was in the Sport magazine preview before the 1984 season: “Picking the NY Mets for last place is the safest bet in baseball”.

    Ya gotta believe!

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