The new Bill James Gold Mine 2009 dropped on March 17 and it features unique stats and commentary on all 30 Major League teams as well as a ton of new essays by James. As with last year's edition, James sprinkles each chapter with "nuggets", which are short and often fascinating blurbs about a player on the team. Here are the nuggets from the Mets chapter, which will hopefully be enough to entice you to go buy this fine book.
- Through the first three innings, the Mets were baseball's best team, and it wasn't even close: They were 23.5 games over .500, 10 full games better than any other team. From that point onward, they did a long, slow fade, holding fewer leads and facing more deficits each inning, ultimately finishing eight games over .500 and just short of making the postseason.
- Jose Reyes led off 317 innings for the Mets in 2008 -- by far the largest number of leadoff innings in the majors. He was the Mets leadoff man, of course, and then if just happened that a lot of innings ended with Reyes due up next. Reyes also led the majors in times reached base leading off an inning (118), although not by such a wide margin.
The Santana twins (Ervin and Johan) both finished 16-7, and had nearly identical batting averages, on-base percentages, slugging percentages and OPS allowed:
Batting averages: .237 and .232
On-Base Percentages: .283 and .286
Slugging Percentages: .362 and .368
They allowed 23 homers apiece, struck out about the same number of batters. Johan's ERA was almost a run better (2.53 vs 3.49), but that doesn't track with any other category.
- Johan Santana pitched a brilliant, must-win game on the penultimate day of the Mets' season, but he's always pitched well against the best. His ERA against teams that are better than .600 is almost as good as his ERA against teams that are worse than .400 (2.29 vs 2.24).
- David Wright drove in Jose Reyes 42 times last year, the second-highest figure for a pair of teammates in the last six years. Only Gary Sheffield and Rafael Furcal reached a higher total -- Sheffield drove in Furcal 49 times in 2003.
There are more than a dozen featured articles throughout the book, including one called "The Ten Commandments of Sabermetrics". Here are a few of my favorites:
I. Thou shalt not bunt.
V. Thou shalt make no idol of the light-hitting middle infielder.
IX. Place thy faith not in veterans, when youth be available to ye.
Buy the book if you want the rest. You'll be glad you did.