Faking Position Battles on the Mets (With More ZiPs)

The roster is now set, but that doesn't mean we can't debate it retroactively. One of the more interesting threads in the coming year is the tension between looking to the future and competing now. With the benefit of Dan Szymborski's ZiPs projections that were just collated on FanGraphs, we can actually compare some higher-level prospects in the Mets organization with the veterans ahead of them. Let's see what we find.

Lucas Duda: 588 PAs, 9.5 BB%, 26.3 K%, .243/.323/.408, 16 HR, 62 R, 70 RBI, 1 SB, .319 wOBA
Carlos Beltran: 421 PAs, 11.6 BB%, 17.7 K%, .270/.354/.447, 13 HR, 52 R, 54 RBI, 10 SB, .346 wOBA

In this particular position, even a hobbled Voltran is probably better than an inexperienced Lucas Duda. With our corner outfielders, Duda will get his chance to show what he can do at the major league level even in a limited role. That new information will inform future decisions and projections. But there really doesn't look to be a pressing need to move a veteran to to get him a shot, even if his nicknames are top notch and he looks like he does have some power.

Fernando Martinez: 417 PAs, 5.0 BB%, 23.2 K%, .245/.300/.411, 13 HR, 52 R, 45 RBI, 4 SB, .309 wOBA
Nick Evans: 574 PAs, 7.5 BB%, 23.2 K%, .248/.305/.425, 17 HR, 70 R, 62 RBI, 0 SB, .316 wOBA
Scott Hairston: 374 PAs, 7.5 BB&, 21.6 K%, .254/.316/.423, 12 HR, 44 R, 44 RBI, 6 SB, .325 wOBA

What, you were expecting Jason Bay maybe? With all the money on that contract, he wasn't going anywhere. But a different team in a different time and a different place could have gone with a homegrown fourth/fifth outfielder rather than sign one off the street. Butt Hairston is not a bad player, and ZiPs seems to care naught how young Martinez was in Double-A when he put up those numbers and got us all excited. Hairston just does most things - including defense - better. And he's not very expensive either. If the team falls out of it, it won't hurt too bad to let Hairston go or trade him for a PTBNL so that Martinez can get some playing time. Evans? Who? He was probably hurt by his lack of ability to play center even in a pinch.

Reese Havens: 360 PAs, 9.2 BB%, 27.0 K%, .223/.306/.373, 10 HR, 36 R, 34 RBI, 0 SB, .299 wOBA
Ruben Tejada: 583 PAs, 6.5 BB%, 16.7 K%, .250/.315/.330, 4 HR, 63 R, 42 RBI, 10 SB, .289 wOBA
Brad Emaus: 630 PAs,, 9.7 BB%, 16.1 K%, .240/.315/.357, 10 HR, 67 R, 63 RBI, 9 SB, .300 wOBA
Justin Turner: 531 PAs, 6.4 BB%, 14.7 K%, .267/.320/.377, 8 HR, 68 R, 49 RBI, 6 SB, .308 wOBA
Daniel Murphy: 364 PAs, 7.1 BB%, 13.9 K%, .278/.329/.435, 8 HR, 42 R, 55 RBI, 5 SB, .330 wOBA

This one is complicated severely by defense, but it also is the closest competition. Murphy is the only one projected to have an above-average wOBA, but he'd also be the worst with the glove. Havens obviously has some upside, but his health is obviously a problem. Tejada would be the best with the glove - and the worst with the stick. With the administration stating their preference for offense at the position, this was a fait accompli. A team more focused on defense might have found room for Tejada, but if he proves he can play a slick shortstop, he still has a future in the organization. No option-less waiver losses here, and probably no players being stifled or held back. No great trajedies in other words. Justin Turner got stiffed by the Rule-Five-ness of Brad Emaus, perhaps, but those two lines are within spitting difference of each other, and he'll still be there if Emaus fails.

Jenrry Mejia: 98.3 IP, 6.68 K/9, 4.58 BB/9, 4.18 FIP, 4.30 ERA
Dillon Gee: 127.3 IP, 6.79 K/9, 2.76 BB/9, 4.43 FIP, 4.88 ERA
Chris Young: 51.7 IP, 7.31 K/9, 4.35 BB/9, 4.67 FIP, 4.53 ERA
Chris Capuano:110.7 IP, 7.24 K/9, 2.85 BB/9, 3.83 FIP, 4.15 ERA

Add all these innings up and you get 388 innings, or about two full starters' worth of pitching over the course of a year. With the injury risks inherent in the older dudes, it makes sense go seven or eight deep in the rotation anyway. While Gee doesn't really have much to learn in the minor leagues, he also doesn't have much upside and doesn't really deserve to push a capable veteran out of the way. Of course, ZiPs doesn't really think much of Young, but then we come back to rotational depth argument, and the fact that Gee has options. Mejia has something to develop in the minor leagues, so these decisions seemed to make sense, and we aren't missing out on too much it seems.

So there you have it. These weren't really position battles because they weren't really position battles. But it was kind of fun to play what if and see what we might be missing. As it stands now, that's not too much. But, give the young guys another year to show some nice work in the minor leagues, and the projections may like them more. We'll find them useful in the future in some capacity or another.

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