Walk The Line (Drive)

After struggling offensively early on, the Mets' bats have come alive of late -- thanks much to a thoroughgoing decimation of the Pirates last week and high-scoring efforts against the Giants this past weekend -- and are now among the National League's best in a number of important categories. They're third in wOBA at .353 (Dodgers, .355), third in BB% at 11.3% (Brewers, 11.9%) and fifth in line drive rate at 19.9% (Dodgers, 22.0%). They might be scoring even more runs if their HR/FB rate weren't so low (7.1%, third worst in the NL).

Walk rate (BB%) is a fairly obvious indicator of plate discipline and patience and correlates well -- again, obviously -- with on-base percentage and wOBA, et al. Line drive rate (LD%) correlates very strongly with BABIP (batting average on balls in play), which is kind of important if you want to get base hits. LD% also correlates well with slugging percentage: the harder you hit the ball, the more likely a resulting hit will go for extra bases.

So, given that BB% and LD% are important, and also given that the Mets have been offensively potent this season, it follows that individual Mets should be performing pretty well in these metrics.

Player BB%
Gary Sheffield 15.9%
Alex Cora 13.6%
Carlos Beltran 11.4%
David Wright 11.0%
Jose Reyes 10.8%
Luis Castillo 10.6%
Carlos Delgado 10.0%
Ramon Castro 10.0%
Daniel Murphy 9.2%
Joe Average 8.0%
Jeremy Reed 6.7%
Ryan Church 5.6%
Omir Santos 3.3%
Fernando Tatis 2.7%

The walk rates are phenomenal. The average walk rate is around 8%, and almost every Met regular is above that mark, in many cases significantly so. Even when Gary Sheffield wasn't getting hits he was drawing plenty of walks, further distinguishing himself from the Marlon Andersons of the world. Fernando Tatis is somehow walking even less than Omir Santos, a fact I wouldn't have thought possible if I hadn't seen it with mine own eyes. When your "core" is walking 25% more than the league (or better), the only antidote is to accuse them of lacking grission and conconct harebrained schemes to ostracize and dispose of them.

Player LD%
Omir Santos 33.3%
David Wright 25.7%
Carlos Beltran 22.9%
Jose Reyes 22.1%
Alex Cora 21.6%
Ryan Church 21.4%
Luis Castillo 19.4%
Joe Average 18.9%
Carlos Delgado 18.7%
Fernando Tatis 17.7%
Daniel Murphy 17.2%
Ramon Castro 16.3%
Jeremy Reed 14.3%
Gary Sheffield 11.1%

Line drive rate doesn't correlate from year to year as well as walk rate, so you're far more likely to see anomalies here than in the first table. Case in point: Mr. Santos, who is hitting liners at a clip some 80% above the league average. His 33.3% rate is going to drop quickly, and if his walk rate doesn't improve (it won't) he's going to be useless before too long. If OmirOmar Minaya had any sense he would ship Santos elsewhere for a B prospect.

Sheffield's line drive rate is embarassingly low, more than 50% below his career mark of 17.3%. I suspect his LD% is actually on the rise, as his bat looked sluggish early on but has looked quite a bit livelier in recent weeks. Again, we see the "core" outperforming the league.

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