It has definitely been a rough stretch for our heroes. Awkward scheduling aside, losing a series to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016 is one brutal way to start of the season. Panic City references were abound and the worry is not necessarily without merit. Small sample size and all that, but the offense has been the worst and Harvey has had two up and down starts. Also the Mets are on pace to lose 97 games and that won't change until at least 10 o'clock tonight.
One might hope that a piece like this would reassure fans of the Mets greatness and of small sample sizes' futility. In a way, it does. But in another way, the Mets are on a closer pace to this nightmare scenario than they are to more "realistic" outcomes. Who's the real sabermagician now?
I made the gif after Noah Syndergaard's brilliant performance on Friday, but I feel the second picture is much more relevant to the current emotional climate of the fanbase
As you may recall from Part I, this is not an analysis of realistic outcomes and likely projections. Instead, this is a world where spring training statistics mean everything and everything else means nothing. Forget your peacoats and your zippers. Take your steamers and flush them down the toilet. Everything you thought you knew about sample size and sabermegatronics is dead and gone. As are, most likely, many of the Mets top contributors.
This is (the slightly more brief) Nightmare Fuel: The 2016 Mets If Spring Training Stats Really Mattered, Part II.
If you follow professional basketball, you might know a thing or two about "The ProcessTM"(RIP Sam Hinkie). If you are a "The ProcessTM" detractor, then know that the methodology used in this and Part I is equally as flawed. If you believe "The ProcessTM" could have worked but Hinkie was just unlucky (due to karmic justice brought on the City of Philadelphia because of Shane Victorino and Phillies fans), then know that the methodology used here is as flawed as opponents of "The ProcessTM" believe "The ProcessTM" to be.
Always called him one of my toughest teammates...Utley showing why I always called him a winner!!! #MLBPlayoffs— Shane Victorino (@ShaneVictorino) October 11, 2015
This is why Philadelphia sports are being punished
If you have no clue what "The ProcessTM" is and/or the above just confused you, know that the methodology used in this piece is flawed.
But that should be obvious. Taking spring training statistics and team records and using them as a perfect indicator for regular season production and team records does not make any sense. Because spring training statistics and team records is not indicative of regular season production and team records. Yes, good players and good teams will generally do better. And bad players and bad teams will generally do worse.
Yet, the quality of spring training performance should, at most, be a reflection of the quality of depth a team has on its 40-man roster and AAA level. There are too many things being done differently than the regular season.
- Exhibit A: The only player who got more plate appearances than Eric Campbell and Alejandro De Aza this spring was Wilmer Flores. And while Wilmer will likely see heavy playing time this season in his super-utility role, he is a bench guy. So are Campbell and De Aza. Yet they all got more or equal time at the plate than everyone else in the starting lineup.
- Exhibit B: Part I, in which Antonio Bastardo and Jerry Blevins become co-player managers and the New York Post goes meta.
Ah yes, the extremity of excessive extrapolation. That is both an excellent description of this experiment and also what I should have titled it in the first place. Its a lot of fun. For example, in this edition we look at the offense and defense of the 2016 New York Mets and see the emergence of Travis Tajieron as a dominant bat and legitimate rookie of the year contender. Oh, and Tony Bernazard returns.
The Mets 2016 Offense
|De Aza A||119||302||59||92||16||0||0||16||38||43||0.354||0.429||0.417||0.845||0||0||0||5||108||16||0||86||43||2||0||5||0||0.143||0.125||1.14|
Wow. Another big table! Just like the last one with the pitching statistics, I rounded (somewhat arbitrarily) and cut a category or two. The full data set can be found here.
Why does no one play in more than 125 games? How is there so much overlap between the playing time of Kevin Plawecki and Travis d'Arnaud? Why does Eric Campbell play so many real baseball games in this fake simulation? What did Mets fans do to deserve this?
- Games were calculated not unlike innings pitched (IP) were in Part I, using 162 games as opposed to 1445 innings. The Mets played a total of 30 spring training games this March.
(SpringTrainingPlayerGamesPlayed/30) x 162 games
- Then, plate appearances (PA) were calculated thusly
(SpringTrainingPlayerPAs/SpringTrainingPlayerGames) x 2016 games
- Or, plate appearances per game extrapolated over a full season of games.
- The rest of the stats were calculated using plate appearances as the base. So
(SpringTrainingStat/SpringTrainingPAs) x 2016 PAs
- AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, and the other rate/percentage stats were recalculated using the full season data, but they should be essentially identical to their spring training counterparts for obvious reasons.
- This Mets offense is not spectacular, but it would not exactly be horrific either. The team OBP of .331 would actually be top-10 in team history.
- As with the pitchers, due to the irregularities in spring play, there are a lot of odd records the Mets will set in this 2016 season. For example, the 76 sacrifice flies the Mets are set to hit would tie the 1979 Royals for the 2nd most all time. The 1984 Athletics hit 77.
- Mets batters were intentionally walked 0 times this spring. Over a 162 game span, that comes out to also 0 intentional walks. Which would shatter the record low of 10 set by the 1962 Athletics. As you may recall, the Mets pitching staff also set the record for intentional walks allowed. This may have something to do with the low number of intentional walks granted in March.
- If you were worried about organizational depth after all the 2015 promotions, wait until you see 2016. Players to make their major league debut for the 2016 Mets: Travis Taijeron, Matt Reynolds, T.J. Rivera, Ty Kelly, Dominic Smith, Kyle Johsnon, Partick Biondi, Gavin Cecchini, Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil, Derrik Gibson, John Mora, Wuilmer Becerra, Raywilly Gomez, L.J. Mazzilli, Colton Plaia, Jared King, Johnathon Johnson, Phillip Evans, Stefan Sabol, Kevin Kaczmarski, Jayce Boyd, Luis Guillorme, Champ Stuart, Chasen Bradford, Maikis De La Cruz, Paul Sewald, Zach Thorton, Beck Wheeler, Chase Huchingson, Rainy Lara, Jeff Walters, Josh Smoker, Gabriel Ynoa, Kyle Regnault, Seth Lugo
- That list didn't even include players like Akeel Morris and Dario Alvarez, players with brief sips of coffee for your 2015 Mets, who are actually likely to see some major league time later on this year. Many of the above list would fall under the categories of unrefined prospects and sub-AAAA talent, AKA guys who are extremely unlikely to play in the MLB during the 2016 season.
- Yet there they are. Eight will get exactly 5 plate appearances. Maikis De La Cruz, the 25-year-old outfielder who has never played higher than A-ball, will play a single inning in the outfield.
- It is clear now that organizational structure breaks down as the Bastardo-Blevins managerial regime rises to power. With the 54-108 record and all the apparent injuries, Sandy Alderson and the entire front office is ousted with no apparent successor in place. Jeff Wilpon takes over in the interim and unsuccessfully attempts to fill dozens of positions mid-season. Even in an industry with a finite number of positions, no one is willing to sign on with such a dysfunctional organization. Stressed and overworked, Jeffy turns to the only man willing to take a position: Tony Bernazard.
- Bernazard returns to his position as President of Player Development. He begins his shirtless tour of the Mets farm system, prompting minor league managers and the Bastardo-Blevins regime to coordinate a massive precautionary cycling of the Mets most valuable assets to the major league where they will be protected. This goes unnoticed by Jeff Wilpon who is busy unsuccessfully trying to cut salaries of players' pregnant wives and preparing to use the Mets' 19th overall pick to draft Bradley Wilpon, a right-handed pitcher out of the University of Pennsylvania.
- Danny Muno, Dominic Smith, and Dilson Herrera are set to play 65+ games each.This seems to be a little high, but all three could be deemed MLB ready if necessary (and with a sizable amount of squinting when examining the 20-year-old Smith). All three do rather poorly. Dilson Herrera hits five home runs and five triples, but only manages six hits otherwise over 173 plate appearances. Smith would have a .443 OPS and Muno a .573 OPS.
- Ruben Tejada! Tejada logged a decent bit of playing time this spring with the Mets which means he will also log a decent bit of playing time this season with the Mets! The triumphant return of the longtime Met infielder to the team would probably happen late season, when the injuries pile up and the younger players fail to step up. Also when Tejada's quad heals up. Things with Mets and Tejada ended as they existed, awkwardly. After years of front office and unsourced chatter, "lazy" Ruben Tejada was cut, a short few months after his inspiring heroics in the NLDS. Now he'll be back and slightly better than ever! Tejada's 2016 stint with the Mets comes with a .927 OPS and 15 extra base hits. Tejada, never known for his speed or power, will hit more homeruns (5) and more triples (5) than he has in any year of his career. Since his debut in 2010, Tejada has averaged 364 plate appearances a year. In 2016, he will accomplish all that he will in 103 plate appearances. Small sample size extrapolation is so much fun.
- Travis d'Arnaud is the Mets catcher of the present and future. However, if his career flounders, the Mets have a solid fall back in Kevin Plawecki. And there is organizational depth after all that in the form of Johnny Monell, Raywilly Gomez, Nevin Ashley, and the recently acquired Rene Rivera. None are particularly appealing long-term and if you were hoping to avoid seeing them play significant time, you're out of luck. Rivera, who was signed after the regular season started, will see no playing time at the major league level. Plawecki, d'Arnaud, and Johnny Monell will all record 360-430 innings behind the plate this season. Plawecki and d'Arnaud will average about 6 innings per appearance and Monell will average about 3 innings per appearance (and will also appear in more games than the other two). Some kind of experimental "relief catcher" game plan attempted by the new management.
The Opening Day Lineup
2015 Curtis Granderson: 157 GP, 682 PA, 98 R, 150 H, 33 2B, 2 3B, 26 HR, 70 RBI, 91 BB, 151 K, .259 AVG, .364 OBP, .457 SLG, 11-17 SB
2016 Curtis Granderson: 92 GP, 292 PA, 22 R, 76 H, 27 2B, 5 3B, 0 HR, 16 RBI, 11 BB, 59 K, .269 AVG, .296 OBP, .404 SLG, 0-5 SB
- Oi vey. After a comeback season in which Granderson was (arguably) the Mets MVP, Granderson follows up a poor spring with an equally as poor regular season. The strikeout drop is unexpected and a nice sign, but Granderson struggles to get on base and can't get a single ball out of the park in almost 300 PA.
2015 David Wright: 38 GP, 174 PA, 24 R, 44 H, 7 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 22 BB, 36 K, .289 AVG, .379 OBP, .434 SLG, 2-3 SB
2016 David Wright: 54 GP, 167 PA, 16 R, 38 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 11 BB, 38 K, .241 AVG, .290 OBP, .345 SLG, 0-0 SB
- Only two games into the season and this projection was already broken. David Wright, age 33 and yet again playing with a broken back, is tied for the National League stolen base lead at 2. Only Jose Altuve of the Astros has more (3). Why Wright is stealing bases with an existence as fragile as his own is a question only he can answer. But the bases have been stolen nevertheless, already matching his 2015 total.
2015 Yoenis Cespedes: (w/ DET & NY) 159 GP, 676 PA, 101 R, 184 H, 42 2B, 6 3B, 35 HR, 105 RBI , 33 BB, 141 K, .291 AVG, .328 OBP, .542 SLG, 7-12 SB
2016 Yoenis Cespedes: 97 GP, 286 PA, 11 R, 103 H, 16 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 16 BB, 32 K, .388 AVG, .434 OBP, .510 SLG, 5-5 SB
- The power is completely gone and Cespedes clearly only plays half a season, but he does damage. He gets on base and hits. A lot. That .388 batting average would be the best among players with 200+ PA since Tony Gwynn hit .392 in '94.
2015 Lucas Duda: 135 GP, 554 PA, 67 R, 115 H, 33 2B, 0 3B, 27 HR, 73 RBI, 66 BB, 138 K, .244 AVG, .352 OBP, .486 SLG, 0-2 SB
2016 Lucas Duda: 92 GP, 270 PA, 11 R, 59 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 22 BB, 54 K, .239 AVG, .300 OBP, .326 SLG, 0-0 SB
- If Lucas Duda is good in reality, it only makes sense he would be not-good in not-reality.
2015 Neil Walker: (w/ Pitt) 151 GP, 603 PA, 69 R, 146 H, 32 2B, 3 3B, 16 HR, 71 RBI, 44 BB, 110 K, .269 AVG, .328 OBP, .427 SLG, 4-5 SB
2016 Neil Walker: 103 GP, 302 PA, 22 R, 54 H, 11 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 22 BB, 65 K, .192 AVG, .250 OBP, .327 SLG, 5-5 SB
2015 Michael Conforto: 56 GP, 194 PA, 30 R, 47 H, 14 2B, 0 3B, 9 HR, 26 RBI, 17 BB, 39 K, .270 AVG, .335 OBP, .506 SLG, 0-1 SB
2016 Michael Conforto: 108 GP, 302 PA, 27 R, 54 H, 5 2B, 0 3B, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 22 BB, 76 K, .200 AVG, .268 OBP, .340 SLG, 0-0 SB
- There's only so many ways to say the Mets offense won't be good this season.
2015 Asdrubal Cabrera: (w/ TB) 143 GP, 551 PA, 66 R, 134 H, 28 2B, 5 3B, 15 HR, 58 RBI, 36 BB, 107 K, .265 AVG, .315 OBP, .430 SLG, 6-9 SB
2016 Asdrubal Cabrera: 49 GP, 124 PA, 0 R, 16 H, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 5 BB, 27 K, .136 AVG, .174 OBP, .136 SLG, 0-0 SB
- Asdrubal Cabrera will play particularly unproductively 49 games for the Mets before going down in June, leading the way for the much awaited return of Ruben Tejada.
- Cabrera's .310 OPS is the worst among players with at least 100 plate appearances in a season since Randy Johnson in 1999 (.289 OPS in 104 PAs).
2015 Travis d'Arnaud: 67 GP, 268 PA, 31 R, 64 H, 14 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 23 BB, 49 K, .268 AVG, .340 OBP, .485 SLG, 0-0 SB
2016 Travis d'Arnaud: 108 GP, 281 PA, 27 R, 43 H, 11 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 43 RBI, 32 BB, 22 K, .178 AVG, .269 OBP, .222 SLG, 0-0 SB
- ô d'Arnaud! d'Arnaud! pourquoi es-tu d'Arnaud? Poor d'Arnaud. The battery mate for the greatest rotation of all time and the poor guy can't avoid the injury bug.
2015 Juan Lagares: 143 GP, 465 PA, 47 R, 114 H, 16 2B, 5 3B, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 16 BB, 87 K, .259 AVG, .289 OBP, .358 SLG, 7-10 SB
2016 Juan Lagares: 113 GP, 286 PA, 27 R, 76 H, 0 2B, 5 3B, 5 HR, 38 RBI, 32 BB, 70 K, .298 AVG, .377 OBP, .404 SLG, 16-37 SB
- Juan has a nice little comeback season, but should probably stop trying to steal bases.
Other Key Contributors
2015 Wilmer Flores: 137 GP, 510 PA, 55 R, 127 H, 22 2B, 0 3B, 16 HR, 59 RBI, 19 BB, 63 K, .263 AVG, .295 OBP, .408 SLG, 0-1 SB
2016 Wilmer Flores: 124 GP, 351 PA, 32 R, 92 H, 22 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 16 RBI, 43 BB, 43 K, .304 AVG, .385 OBP, .375 SLG, 0-5 SB
- A very solid season for our tearful hero. Zero home run dramatics this season, but the new super-utility man will play 4 positions and have a MLB top-10 OBP.
2015 Eric Campbell: 71 GP, 206 PA, 28 R, 34 H, 8 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 26 BB, 37 K, .197 AVG, .312 OBP, .295 SLG, 5-8
2016 Eric Campbell: 124 GP, 324 PA, 65 R, 76 H, 11 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 5 RBI, 59 BB, 59 K, .292 AVG, .433 OBP, .396 SLG, 22-27 SB
- Eric Campbell, maestro of the basepaths and possible team MVP with an OBP that would have been top-5 in 2015 among players with 300+ PA.
2015 Kevin Plawecki: 73 GP, 258 PA, 18 R, 51 H, 8 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 17 BB, 60 K, .219 AVG, .280 OBP, .296 SLG, 0-0 SB
2016 Kevin Plawecki: 103 GP, 275 PA, 27 R, 59 H, 16 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 11 BB, 43 K, .244 AVG, .314 OBP, .378 SLG, 0-0 SB
- A poem about Plawecki in this alternate universe: Better than d'Arnaud, but worse than Monell. Our catchers are a mess. What the hell.
2015 Johnny Monell 27 GP, 52 PA, 5 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 13 K, .167 AVG, .231 OBP, .208 SLG, 0-0SB
2016 Johnny Monell 119 GP, 221 PA, 32 R, 65 H, 16 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 22 RBI, 27 BB, 22 K, .333 AVG, .415 OBP, .417 SLG, 5-5 SB
- Of all the catchers at the major league level, Monell will perform the best at the plate in limited plate appearances. Among players with a minimum of 200 plate appearances, his .415 OBP would have ranked 5th in 2015.
2015 Travis Tajieron: (AAA) 127 GP, 478 PA, 67 R, 108 H, 22 2B, 3 3B, 25 HR, 71 RBI, 65 BB, 147 K, .274 AVG, .393 OBP, .536 SLG, 2-2 SB
2016 Travis Tajieron: 108 GP, 254 PA, 43 R, 81 H, 16 2B, 5 3B, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 27 BB, 65 K, .366 AVG, .426 OBP, .634 SLG, 0-0 SB
- Travis Taijeron is the emergent star in this season of disappointments. A 1.060 OPS and the team lead in ribeye steaks (with shared leads in the HR and XBH categories) puts Taijeron squarely in the team MVP discussion, a meaningless follow up to his various meaningless "King of Spring Training" accolades.
- His AVG, OBP, and SLG would have lead all rookies in 2015. The last rookie with a higher AVG was Bob Hazle who earned the nickname "Hurricane Hazle" as he hit .403 in 155 plate appearances on the way to the 1957 World Series victory. He was out of baseball by 1960. The last rookie with as high an OBP was Luke Scott (.426 in 249 PAs) with the 2006 Houston Astros. The last rookie with as high a SLG was Ryan Braun (.634 in 432 PAs) with the 2007 Milwaukee Brewers.
2015 T.J Rivera: (AAA) 54 GP, 196 PA, 26 R, 56 H, 17 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 7 BB, 25 K, .306 AVG, .345 OBP, .443 SLG, 0-0 SB
2016 T.J. Rivera: 97 GP, 211 PA, 27 R, 59 H, 11 2B, 0 3B, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 0 BB, 27 K, .289 AVG, .308 OBP, .500 SLG, 0-0 SB
- Another inexplicable power burst from an unlikely source, Rivera would be right up there with Tajieron in offensive production for the Mets. The 27-year-old took forever to get to the AAA, but has endorsements from Mackey Sasser and JP Ricciardi. This line, while unlikely this season, is not an unreasonable outcome for the middle infielder.
2015 Matt Reynolds: (AAA) 115 GP, 490 PA, 70 R, 119 H, 32 2B, 5 3B, 6 HR, 65 RBI, 32 BB, 92 K, .267 AVG, .319 OBP, .402 SLG, 13-17 SB
2016 Matt Reynolds: 103 GP, 254 PA, 16 R, 54 H, 11 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 27 RBI, 27 BB, 54 K, .256 AVG, .340 OBP, .308 SLG, 11-11 SB
2015 Ty Kelly: (STL/TOR AAA) 117 GP, 429 PA, 39 R, 84 H, 9 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 33 RBI, 52 BB, 53 K, .226 AVG, .322 OBP, .296 SLG, 3-8 SB
2016 Ty Kelly: 113 GP, 216 PA, 32 R, 32 H, 11 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 49 RBI, 49 BB, 38 K, .207 AVG, .375 OBP, .379 SLG, 5-5 SB
- Kelly will walk a lot, but hit little on his way to placing 2nd in RBIs for the Miserable Mets.
2015 M Krauss: (w/ LAA/TB/DET) 27 GP, 81 PA, 3 R, 11 H, 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 3 BB, 31 K, .131 AVG, .173 OBP, .256 SLG, 0-0 SB
2016 M Krauss: 103 GP, 211 PA, 38 R, 43 H, 11 2B, 5 3B, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 32 BB, 49 K, .242 AVG, .359 OBP, .364 SLG, 0-0 SB
Alejandro De Aza
2015 Alejandro De Aza: (w/ BAL/BOS/SF), 114 GP, 365 PA, 51 R, 85 H, 17 2B, 7 3B, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 31 BB, 84 K, .262 AVG, .333 OBP, .422 SLG, 7-12 SB
2016 Alejandro De Aza: 119 GP, 302 PA, 59 R, 92 H, 16 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 16 RBI, 38 BB, 43 K, .354 AVG, .429 OBP, .417 SLG, 0-5 SB
The 2016 Mets Defense
|De Aza, A||CF||54||232.2||108||97.2||0||10.8||0||-||-||-||-||-||0.9|
|De Aza, A||LF||43.2||248.4||59.4||54||0||5.4||0||-||-||-||-||-||0.909|
|De Aza, A||RF||27||75.6||27||27||0||0||0||-||-||-||-||-||1|
|De La Cruz, M||LF||5.4||5.4||0||0||0||0||0||-||-||-||-||-||-|
- The full set of calculations can be found here.
- Games in the field were calculated just as games at the plate were calculated. 30 is the number of spring training games played this year.
- Innings in the field were then broken down by position, which is why you see players listed multiple times in succession (or at least they should be). Each position's innings were then calculated thusly:
(SpringTrainingPlayerGamesPlayed/30) x 162 games
(SpringTrainingPlayerInningsPlayed/SpringTrainingGamesPlayed) x Regular Season Games
- Then each stat was broken down to a per inning level and extrapolated over the number of regular season innings.
- Ruben Tejada will play every infield position but first base.
- T.J. Rivera will play every infield position but first base and also left field.
- Wilmer Flores will play all of the infield positions.
- d'Arnaud will see roughly 5 innings of first base over 5 games.
- The 178 stolen bases allowed by Mets catchers would be 2nd most all time (2007 Padres, 189)