The new year is upon us, and the start of a new year always presents a time to reflect. It’s a time to look back on the past year, and think about all that you have (or haven’t) accomplished, achieved, and changed through the past year, and consider ways to continue improving over the next year. It also means reflecting on all the wonderfully fortunate events that have happened to you in the past year, and remembering just how lucky you are.
Unfortunately, the Mets didn’t experience a great deal of fortune in 2017. They had a season littered with unlucky injuries and poor performances. But even in the worst of times, it’s important to remember that good fortune does still happen. And for the Mets, even though it doesn’t seem like it, there were times when their players got extraordinarily lucky and did something they probably shouldn’t have done. Thanks to Statcast and Baseball Savant, we can identify these moments and quantify just how lucky and rare they are.
Michael Conforto’s 336-foot home run
On August 10, Conforto found perhaps one of the more advantageous corners in baseball, slicing this ball down the right field line in Citizens Bank Park, and banging it off the foul pole which reads “329.” The projected distance was just 336 feet, which is the shortest out-of-the-park home run that any Mets hitter has had in the Statcast era (since 2015).
The Mets’ 35 weak hits
Baseball Savant has a feature in which you can sort all recorded fair balls by the quality of contact they were hit. They sort this into six categories based on the speed and angle the ball was hit at: barrels, solid contact, flare/burner, poorly/under, poorly/tooped, and poorly/weak.
The worst category for a hit to be recorded in is the last one: “poorly/weak.” In 2017, the league hit just .168 with a .178 slugging percentage on this type of contact. The Mets were, unsurprisingly, worse than league average in this area, getting only 35 hits in 226 chances, which is a .153 batting average. Those 35 hits off poor/weak contact were just the 19th-most in baseball, but you could say the Mets were lucky just to not be dead-last in this category based on how the 2017 season went for them.
In shouldn’t come as a shock, either, that Juan Lagares led the team with six hits off poor/weak contact, and all of them were infield hits. The center fielder is arguably the fastest player on the Mets, so the fact that he can beat out poorly-hit ground balls better than anyone else on the team is to be expected.
Travis d’Arnaud’s 91 MPH home run
In 2017, the Mets were the benefactors of not only their shortest home run hit in the Statcast era, but also their weakest. d’Arnaud’s solo shot on September 22nd was recorded at 91.0 MPH; the slowest exit velocity by any out-of-the-stadium home run the Mets have hit since the start of 2015. And watching the video, it’s easy to see how. The ball just kind of floated over the left field fence, perhaps powered by the presence of Liev Schreiber on commentary?
To put it in perspective, there were 6,105 home runs measured by exit velocity in 2017, and this home run was the 6,076th hardest. To balance it out, though, d’Arnaud also hit the hardest home run of the Mets’ 2017 season, at 111.8 MPH on April 28.
Jamie Callahan gets the luckiest out in baseball
On September 18, Callahan faced Giancarlo Stanton for the first time in his career. Stanton is rather famous for lighting up the exit velocity readings, and the rookie fell victim to Stanton’s prowess. Stanton ripped a line drive to left at a scorching 117.7 MPH, the 17th-hardest hit ball in the league in 2017, and the 11th-hardest line drive or fly ball hit last season.
However, Brandon Nimmo caught the ball in left field. It was an out, and Callahan dodged a bullet. It was the second-hardest out recorded in 2017—only topped by a 118.0 MPH groundout by Eric Hosmer—and the 8th-hardest out ever measured by Statcast, and the hardest out ever recorded by a Mets pitcher. But as far as just line drives go, it was the hardest lineout in Statcast history. Callahan should really count his blessings this New Year.
Amed Rosario hits the worst triple ever
Okay, “worst triple ever” is a bit of hyperbole, but Rosario definitely got some help from the baseball gods on his first career extra-base hit on August 2 in Colorado.
This ball off the bat was recorded at just 60.0 MPH, which was the second-weakest hit triple in baseball during 2017, and the fourth-slowest in Statcast history. But that’s not all. The distance projected on this ball was just three feet, which is the shortest projected distance of any triple Statcast has recorded to date. Of course, this is somewhat cherry-picking, as there have been a number of extra-base hits in the last three seasons which have failed to go more than 10 feet off the bat, and the difference between a double and a triple is usually just the footspeed of the runner.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Rosario had no business getting extra bases on a ball banged directly into the ground this slowly, and in the direction of the best-fielding third baseman in the game. According to Baseball Savant, groundballs hit around 60 MPH go for a .116 slugging percentage, and groundballs that don’t go more than five feet off the bat average a slugging percentage of .113. And, of course, Nolan Arenado missing a ground ball to his right almost never happens. So that Rosario got three bags out of this is almost unfair.
So yes, while the 2017 season was an incredibly unlucky year for the New York Mets, they still had their lucky moments here and there. And if even the Mets can find ways in which 2017 was actually good to them in some way, then anybody can.