Sandy Alderson Has the Mets Swimming Upstream

The Mes won more games at home than away during every year Frank Cashen was GM, 1980 - 1991

The Mets won more games at home than away during every year Frank Cashen was GM, 1980 – 1991.

Mike:

One thing that our front office is purported to have a handle on is statistics. They are all over WAR and UZR, FIPS, BAPIP, and all other elements and permutations of the game of baseball. A lot of fans love tracking all of the above as well, and that is just great by me. Many times you can learn from it all. But all that work is not for me, I’d rather keep it simple. And so I looked up some very basic numbers for the New York Mets, Wins and Losses by year.

Now I picked this statistic for a reason. I know it’s unscientific, but it is still how the leagues determine the winners. You see, there is this thing called the playoffs, and to get into it you have to win more games than the other teams. I know, it’s not fair, but you can lead the league every year in ERA+, or OBP, and not make the playoffs. Crazy, right?

Jimmy:

Yeah, nutty. It’s like when people used to complain about teams that strikeout too much (that’s died down over the past 10 years, hasn’t it?). You’d have to reply, yeah, but look at runs scored. The big picture.

Mike:

Anyway, the first thing I looked at was all the years since Citi Field opened. Here is what I found.

  • 2009, Overall Record 70-92, Home 41-40, Away 29-52
  • 2010, Overall Record 79-83, Home 47-34, Away 32-49
  • 2011, Overall Record 77-85, Home 34-47, Away 43-38
  • 2012, Overall Record 74-88, Home 36-45, Away 38-43
  • 2013, Overall Record 38-48, Home 17-27, Away 21-21

Now, I know you are not Paul DePodesta, Jimmy, but can you spot a trend here? A hint — Sandy Alderson became general manager of the Mets on October 29, 2010.

Jimmy:

Um, the Mets are not playing to their park?

Mike:

Yep, we are not only worse at home, but much worse at home. In fact this is not a Sandy versus Omar thing, it’s more that Sandy Alderson is creating history. Negative history.

Here is the list of every General Manager in Mets history.

George Weiss

George Weiss

  • George Weiss
  • Bing Devine
  • Johnny Murphy
  • Bob Scheffing
  • Joe McDonald
  • Frank Cashen
  • Al Harazin
  • Joe McIllvaine
  • Steve Phillips
  • Jim Duquette
  • Omar Minaya
  • Sandy Alderson

Sandy Alderson is the first man on that list who has lost more games at home than on the road (note: Murphy is even at 128 wins at home and away.) I find that incredible. We have had good teams and awful ones. Before Sandy they had one thing in common. They won more at home. Weiss presided over what might have been the worst baseball ever played. In five seasons under his watch our road record exceeded our home record just once (1966.)

Jimmy:

I think the Rockies of the 90′s, in particular, really tried to figure out the park-effect stuff. They had an extreme park, so in many respects it made sense to field a team that played to those dimensions. Bashers and a deep pen, I guess. I don’t think they ever figured it out, and possibly concluded that it was best not to overthink it. Because I suspect they made themselves a little goofy there during the Dante Bichette Era, trying to figure out which pitchers would or wouldn’t succeed in that ridiculous environment.

Mike:

I think you have to win at your own park, period. But again, I want to see a Mets playoff game played before many more Mets fans die. Can you make the playoffs while ignoring the effects of your own stadium? Well, last year all ten playoff teams won more games at home than on the road. And if the issue is Citi Field itself, what about 2009 and 2010?

And I think these numbers are very important because they show a character flaw of Sandy’s, his absolute belief in constructing rosters for the Mets like it is still the 1990′s. When you look at how speed and defense is constantly overlooked by this front office, are these numbers really that surprising?

Jimmy:

Even when they spotted the value of a fly ball pitcher, they ignored the corresponding need for guys who could run down fly balls. Whitey Herzog’s Cardinals of the 80′s were a great example of a team constructed to maximize success in its own ballpark. With Citi Field, I think we can simply say that speed is necessary, because speed plays defense, and speed helps build runs. It’s not a home run park, and Sandy keeps talking about power.

Mike:

Jeff WilponExactly. I love three-run home runs but that’s not the park Fred and Jeff built. We can keep banging our heads on the wall, or we can adjust our mindset. But considering the problem is continuing this year for the third time, how can we be confident that our front office is adapting at all? Worse, can they? Sandy is 65, that’s pretty old to change gears.

Ignoring your park has another big negative associated with it. Even if you wanted to argue that it could be made up for by road wins (which is very hard for me to digest), paying customers keep seeing crappy losses. The attendance numbers at Citi Field have crashed and burned with each passing year since 2010. Sure, the overall record is the most important factor, but think about it. If you keep going to the park and seeing losses, wouldn’t that be a problem? Without running any of these numbers what many fans are instinctively feeling about going to Citi Field is; Why bother if they always lose? That hurts revenue, and therefore the overall product. Maybe Fred could have saved himself a front office hire if Sandy would pay attention to what works in our park.

Jimmy:

Absolutely. You have to show the fans a good time. Winning beats losing by a long shot. And, perhaps for another day, we could discuss “how” you win, because I do think that matters, too. I don’t want season tickets for “walk the ball up” basketball, for example, even if it works.

Mike:

Yes, another day perhaps. Let’s actually win some home games first, then worry about style points. Baseball teams are not salmon, it’s a tough chore when they are always being asked to swim upstream.

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7 comments

  1. IB says:

    I totally agree. When they built this park they took away from the strengths they had – the power numbers of Beltran, Wright, Delgado in the middle of the lineup. That was a headscratcher right there, but then they do nothing to change the dynamic of the team to fit what they built. The 80’s Cardinals should have been the model, as you say. Pitching, Speed, D. Eric Young is a good start.

    I must say, that relay from Brown to Q to Recker blocking the plate and making the tag at home last night was a fine thing to watch. Could this team, maybe, just maybe, be reaching a higher level of competence? Win another series before the ASB. That’s all I ask. For now.

    • Michael Geus says:

      That was a nice play last night, and a good job by Recker to deliver the hit and not wait to get smashed.

      With Duda gone the outfield defense improves a lot right there. Lagares is an excellent defensive center fielder. The team is playing well right now, and they certainly play until the last out. They have done that all along in 2013.

      As a fan that last point is huge to me.

  2. Michael Geus says:

    One last statistic to show how out of step we are. in all of the major leagues in 2013 there is no other team with a higher winning percentage on the road than at home.

    Our numbers – Home ..386, Away .511

    We are truly creating history.

  3. It makes you look at the decision to move in the fences a little differently. It was a move spearheaded by Sandy. One way of looking at it — and I’m not necessarily claiming this is correct, just a theory — is that the original dimensions of the park did not conform to the team that Sandy wanted to build. What might have been an asset, a really big park, got somewhat nullified, or at least diminished. Imagine if it stayed huge . . . and he built for speed, pitching, and defense. It could have been a true home field advantage.

    That said: I thought the original dimensions were dumb, stained by Jeff’s fingerprints, and needed correction.

  4. Eric says:

    The original dimensions could be described as Unfair. Some ballparks have unique aspects that make for targets or traps— virtually the entire ballpark as designed was a TRAP.

    What remains is a large park…mostly a pitcher’s park. The LF Power ally is still very tough….but it’s a FAIR large park. A Home Run is generally a Home Run.

    I attribute some of the Home Record to PRESSURE from media/fans/general atmosphere. It’s been pretty bad for the past 3 years.

    • Michael Geus says:

      More pressure than at any time in team history? I haven’t seen that at all. Mostly the last three years I think there has been less pressure on the team.

      Sadly, they are mostly ignored.

      • Eric says:

        More Pressure?….no. Look at the guys subject to the scrutiny—They’re not up to it.

        I attributed SOME of the result to that. Slow Bad Baserunners…slow bad fielders—that plays larger in big ball parks.

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