Each year, before the massive flurry of baseball annuals start pouring in, the Bill James Handbook is the first to hit store shelves. Barely a week after the World Series ends I have the book in my hands and I'm thumbing through hundreds of pages of stats, some commonplace, others unique to this volume.
If you love looking at stats, this book is right in your wheelhouse, though be forewarned that this is Bill James's handbook in little more than name only. There's very little written material overall, and the small bits James contributed are hardly his most insightful. Mainly, they're springboards into the various numerical reams which fill the book.
My biggest gripe with the Handbook continues to be its insistence on including several hundred pages of career stats for every active player, an exercise which grows increasingly pointless with each passing year as all of these stats are readily — and freely — available on the internet. It's a small complaint, as I can easily skip over that half of the book, but it seems to needlessly waste paper, resources, and shipping costs for something that adds only negligible value (in my opinion) to the reader.
Nevertheless, the Handbook is an enormous collection of stats ranging from the mundane to the enlightening. My favorite part about cracking it open each year is in poring over the numbers in search of interesting — and often esoteric — stats on the Mets from the previous season. Here are a bunch of them, presented with (very little) editorial comment:
- The Mets had three of the top four batters in bases loaded situations (10 PA minimum): Angel Pagan (.571 AVG), Ruben Tejada (.545), and Jose Reyes (.500).
- Daniel Murphy was second in the NL with a .364 batting average with runners in scoring position.
- Jose Reyes's 84.8% stolen base success rate was the eighth-best in the NL.
- Carlos Beltran had the fifth-best OPS on fastballs at 1.005.
- Lucas Duda (.936) and Jose Reyes (.932) were both in the top ten in OPS on changeups.
- Jose Reyes had the lowest strikeout rate in the NL at .07 whiffs per plate appearance (approximately one strikeout per 14.3 trips to the plate).
- At 413 feet, Lucas Duda had the fourth-longest average home run in the NL.
- The Mets' bullpen ERA was 4.33, 28th in baseball, which is especially bad considering how hard it was to hit at Citi Field.
- Mike Pelfrey was seventh in the NL with thirteen no decisions.
- Dillon Gee was tenth (worst) with 71 walks allowed.
- Dillon Gee was second in the NL with fourteen hit batsmen.
- Chris Capuano was second in the NL with 51 doubles allowed.
- Chris Capuano was fifth in the NL with 27 home runs allowed.
- Chris Capuano was ninth in the NL in run support with 5.03 runs per start.
- R.A. Dickey, amazingly, was second in the NL with 51% of his pitches thrown in the strike zone.
- R.A. Dickey threw the fourth-fewest pitches per batter in the NL at 3.58.
- Mike Pelfrey was third in the NL (bad) with 29 stolen bases allowed.
- R.A. Dickey was third in the NL with five pick-offs.
- Bobby Parnell had the third-fastest average fastball in the NL at 97.2 MPH.
- R.A. Dickey had the second-slowest average fastball at 84.4 MPH. Chris Capuano had the seventh-slowest fastball at 87.9 MPH.
- Bobby Parnell threw 84 pitches over 100 MPH, third-most in the NL (Aroldis Chapman threw 158 such pitches).
- R.A. Dickey led the league with 2,063 pitches thrown under 80 MPH. The next closest was Wandy Rodriguez with 1,154 such pitches.
- R.A. Dickey threw the lowest percentage of fastballs in the NL at 22.4%.
- Chris Capuano threw the highest percentage of changeups in the NL at 27.7%.
- The Mets' defense was 36 runs below average, the third worst mark in baseball.
- The Mets were only above-average defensively at three positions: pitcher, first base, and center field.
- Daniel Murphy received eighteen points in the Fielding Bible Awards voting at first base.
- Jose Reyes received six points in the FBA voting at shortstop.
- Chris Capuano received two points in the FBA voting at pitcher.
- David Wright has -30 defensive runs saved over the past three seasons, the fourth-worst mark in baseball.
- Daniel Murphy had six defensive runs saved at first place last season, the third-best mark in baseball.
- R.A. Dickey had eight defensive runs saved in 2011 (third in basedball) and twelve over the past three seasons (seventh in baseball).
- Josh Thole had -5 defensive runs saved in 2011, the fourth-worst mark in baseball. Yadier Molina had -6.
- Using plus/minus, Jose Reyes was -13 runs and Justin Turner was -8 runs in 2011. Daniel Murphy was +6 (at 1B),
- Jason Bay was +16 in baserunning runs (stealing, 1st-to-3rd, 2nd-to-home, 1st-to-home, extra bases taken, advancing on outs, etc. etc.).
- Jose Reyes was +38.
- David Wright was +9.
- Angel Pagan was +27.
- Josh Thole was -18.
- Carlos Beltran was +8 (overall for both teams).
- Jason Pridie was +8.
- Daniel Murphy was -12.
- Justin Turner was neutral (0).
- Lucas Duda was -7.
- Overall the Mets were +72 on the basepaths, seventh in baseball.
- The Texas Rangers were the best (+113); the St. Louis Cardinals were the worst (-66).
- The Mets were second in the NL with 169 manufactured runs; they were fifteenth in the NL with 182 manufactured runs allowed.
- Jose Reyes was second in the NL with 35 manufactured runs; Angel Pagan had 23 and David Wright had 15.
- Citi Field had a park factor of 68 (32% below average) for home runs by right-handed batters, 80 for left-handed batters, and 73 overall.
- Right-handed batters hit fewer home runs at Citizens Bank Park (66) than at Citi Field (66).