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Friday, June 1, 2012
May's most valuable Mets

By Mark Simon, ESPN Stats & Information

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesWho would have thought at the start of the season that Mike Baxter would be such an important Met?
Who were May's most valuable Mets? Let's take a look.

#1 David Wright
.347 BA, 2 HR, 16 RBIs
For the first three weeks of May, Wright was arguably the best player in baseball.

My Stats & Info colleagues showed that in an article on Thursday that you can read here.

Wright hit a funk that started with a three-strikeout game in Pittsburgh on May 22, dipping his end-of-May batting average to .365. The thing to watch for him in June will be when he returns to hitting line drives.

Wright has hit just one line drive in his last six games after hitting 15 in the first 21 games of the month. Wright typically hits a line drive at a rate of once every five balls in play, but his last 20 balls in play have resulted in just one liner.

#2 R.A. Dickey
4-0, 1.83 ERA, 0.96 WHIP in five May starts

Dickey has now allowed three earned runs or fewer, pitching six innings or more in 21 of his last 22 starts. The last Met to do that was Tom Glavine over a stretch spanning 2005 and 2006.


Dickey showed a great touch with his knuckleball all month. He seemed to be able to put it wherever he wanted.

Dickey’s money pitch was the knuckleball on the outer-third of the plate. He got 36 outs with pitches to that spot and yielded only three hits.

Dickey also showed a keen ability for using his hardest knuckleball in two-strike counts.

Our pitch-trackers charted him hitting 80 miles-per-hour with a knuckleball 20 times in May. That netted him 14 strikes, nine outs, and no baserunners allowed.

#3 Johan Santana
2-0, 3.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in five May starts

The biggest difference for Santana this month was a change in his pitch profile. He dropped his fastball usage and upped the use of his slider, as noted in the chart on the right.

The Santana changeup also had a different characteristic in May than it did in April. His primary location with the pitch was away, rather than down. That worked most effectively in his last three starts of the month, netting him 21 outs and allowing only three hits.

#4 Mike Baxter
341 BA, .990 OPS, nine extra-base hits
Baxter packed a lot of punch into his 47 May plate appearances.

When Baxter made contact, he hit ropes. His batted ball breakdown was 12 line drives, 12 ground balls and seven fly balls.

His comfort zone is pitches belt high or below, over the middle of the plate, and he took advantage of what was thrown to that area.

Baxter did show a weakness to pitches over the inner-third of the plate and further inside, and that’s an area opponents may target in the coming months. He was hitless, with six outs made against those pitches (four strikeouts) in May.

#5 Tim Byrdak
.053 opp BA, 19 batters faced, 9 strikeouts

Byrdak earned his spot because he excelled at what he was supposed to -- situational performance. There were eight instances in May in which Byrdak was facing a hitter in the eighth inning or later, with the Mets either up by one run or up by two.

These are what the statistical world calls high-leverage situations. The Mets have a bunch of relievers who struggle through these spots. Byrdak’s success rate is good.

In those eight appearances, he faced 10 batters and retired nine of them. The Mets record in those eight games: 7-1.