New York Mets: Bill James

Morning Briefing: Off to Jupiter

March, 22, 2014
Mar 22
6:21
AM ET
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.

FIRST PITCH: The Mets take a relatively short drive to Jupiter on Saturday to face the Miami Marlins.

Bartolo Colon, who appears lining up for the second game of the season, opposes Marlins left-hander Brad Hand at 1:05 p.m. at Roger Dean Stadium (WOR 710 AM).

Terry Collins expects Daniel Murphy to play in his first Grapefruit League game since Sunday, when Murphy injured his right calf.

Saturday’s news reports:

• A day after Ike Davis snapped an 18-day absence from Grapefruit League play, Lucas Duda snapped an absence of identical length. Duda belted a two-run homer and logged five innings at first base Friday against the Minnesota Twins. Duda also demonstrated that the left hamstring issue that hampered him for more than two weeks may truly be behind him. He hustled to score from first base on a first-inning double by Davis with no apparent ill effect. Collins said early season appearances for Duda in the outfield are pretty much off the table because the hamstring injury prevented Duda from getting work out there. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Star-Ledger, Record, Newsday and MLB.com.

• Expected Opening Day starter Dillon Gee limited the Twins to one run in 5 1/3 innings as the Mets beat Minnesota, 9-1, at Hammond Stadium. Gee still has yet to walk a batter this spring training. The Mets scored seven first-inning runs against ex-Marlin Ricky Nolasco, capped by a two-run homer from Taylor Teagarden. Read more in the Post, Star-Ledger, Record and MLB.com.

• Free-agent Stephen Drew is willing to sign a one-year, $14 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, who have lost shortstop Jose Iglesias to stress fractures in his shins, John Lowe writes in the Detroit Free Press. The Tigers nonetheless helped address their shortstop deficiency by acquiring Andrew Romine from the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. Romine is a former teammate of Ike Davis at Arizona State.

• The 7 Line, which produces Mets-themed T-shirts, is now an officially licensed MLB brand and will have a kiosk near Shake Shack at Citi Field, the company announced. Founder Darren Meenan launched the business in 2010 “printing T-shirts in my parents’ basement,” he wrote.

Bobby Parnell skipped the three-hour trip to Fort Myers and instead allowed one hit in two scoreless innings in a minor-league game in Port St. Lucie. Parnell reportedly topped out at 94 mph, a good sign since his velocity has been down this spring training. Jose Valverde, who also is ticketed for the Opening Day bullpen, had a perfect frame against minor leaguers.

• Jared Diamond in the Journal studies the Mets’ plan to bat the pitcher eighth on occasion. The conclusion: There may be a benefit, but it is negligible.

Diamond writes that teams averaged 4.51 runs per game when batting the pitcher eighth since 1980. Those same teams averaged 4.33 runs per game batting the pitcher ninth during that span.

“You just can’t create runs -- or lose them -- by moving hitters around in the lineup,” renowned statistician Bill James told Diamond. “… To the small extent that it may matter, I think it is extremely likely that you’re better off with the pitcher batting eighth, rather than the pitcher batting ninth.”

The Mets’ logic in batting the pitcher eighth is that the No. 9 batter, likely Juan Lagares, essentially becomes a leadoff hitter, with No. 3 David Wright batting cleanup, the second time through the order. That should give Wright more opportunities to drive in runs.

• Columnist Kevin Kernan writes in the Post that Curtis Granderson’s positive disposition should help the Mets.

From the bloggers … Blogging Mets predicts more losing for the Amazin’s in 2014.

BIRTHDAYS: Ike Davis turns 27 today. ... Former Mets reliever Joe Smith, now with the Angels, is 30.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: How should Terry Collins divide playing time between Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin in April?

Mets took fewest extra bases in majors

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
3:35
PM ET
The Bill James Handbook 2013 reveals the Mets took the fewest extra bases in the majors in 2012 and were the fourth-worst baserunning team.

Write the authors:

The New York Mets were the fourth worst baserunning team in baseball in 2012, with a net base gain of -5. This placed them between the Cleveland Indians (-48) and the Texas Rangers (-4). The Mets took the fewest extra bases last season at 122; the National League Champion San Francisco Giants took the most extra bases with 203.

The James/BIS system is based on a system of pluses and minuses that measures both success as a base stealer and the ability to move up an extra base or score on things like a hit, sac fly, passed ball, wild pitch, balk, or defensive indifference. [Mike] Trout, for example, has a +51 overall score as a baserunner, while [Carlos] Santana was a -45. James estimates the difference between the two baserunning scores resulted in about 20 more runs for Trout’s team than for Santana’s.

“You would have known without our data,” says James, “that Mike Trout was a better baserunner than Carlos Santana, but you cannot know, unless you actually study the data, how large the differences are; and you cannot know, unless you study the data, how many runs are gained and lost due to baserunning. You also cannot know, unless you study the data, how every player ranks as a baserunner.” ...

Jason Bay was the New York Mets’ best baserunner in 2012, with a net base gain of +9. The only other Mets regular to post a positive net base gain was Andres Torres, with +4. Bay did an exceptional job of avoiding the double play, grounding into a double play only 3 times in 47 chances, or 6 percent. (The league average is 11 percent.) He was also never thrown out on the basepaths, and never doubled-off.

10 things to know: Niese's one-hitter

June, 10, 2010
6/10/10
10:25
PM ET
A major cap-tip to Baseball-Reference.com for its assistance in this compilation.

1- Jonathon Niese's one-hitter marked the 23rd time a Mets pitcher has thrown a regular season complete game one-hitter of nine innings or more. The Mets also had one in Game 4 of the 2000 NLDS against the Giants from Bobby Jones.

2- Of those 23, only two other Mets pitchers threw accomplished the feat without allowing either a hit batsman or a walk -- Tom Seaver against the Cubs in 1969 (his near-perfect game of 8 1/3 innings) and Steve Trachsel against the Rockies.

Niese and Seaver are the only pitchers in Mets history to throw a one-baserunner one-hitter (Trachsel's game also included a Mets error).

3- Technically speaking, it was the 34th one-hitter (complete game or combined) in Mets history (including the Jones' effort in the postseason). But that list includes two losses in which the Mets pitched only eight innings, and two wins in which the Mets pitched fewer than nine innings.

4- This was Niese's 18th major league game pitched. That's the fewest games pitched by any Met to throw a complete game one-hitter (nine innings or more). Aaron Heilman held the previous mark, getting a one-hitter in his 21st game, against the Marlins in 2005.

5- Since the Mets came into existence in 1962, Niese is one of only six pitchers to throw a complete game (nine innings or more), yielding one baserunner of fewer, within the first 18 games of his career.

Incredibly, the most recent was by Mat Latos, who got the win for the Padres in the first game of the doubleheader. He pitched a one-hitter against the Giants on May 13th in his 17th big league game.

6- Niese is the sixth Mets pitcher, age 23 or younger to throw a complete game one-hitter. The youngest on the list was 19-year-old Dwight Gooden (1984 vs Cubs). Others on the list: Pete Schourek, Jon Matlack, Gary Gentry, and Nolan Ryan.

7- By the Bill James metric, Game Score (which measures starts based on innings, runs allowed, hits allowed, strikeouts and walks), Niese finished with a game score of 91.

It marked the 40th time that a Mets starter pitched to a game score of 91 or better in a regular season game, the first since Tom Glavine scored a 92 with a two-hit, 11-strikeout shutout in 2005.

8- Of a much more trivial nature: Niese drew two walks, marking the 39th time in Mets history that a pitcher had a multi-walk game (the team record is three, shared by Jay Hook in 1962 and Jon Matlack in 1975.

9- This was the third time in Mets history that they pitched a one-hitter against the Padres. The others were by Seaver in 1972 (a no-hitter broken up in the ninth inning) and David Cone in 1988.

10- Chris Denorfia, who had the Padres only hit, was born in Bristol, Connecticut, the home of ESPN.

Mark Simon is a researcher for Baseball Tonight. Follow him on Twitter at @msimonespn or e-mail him at webgemscoreboard@gmail.com.

The precedent for Takahashi

May, 21, 2010
5/21/10
11:58
AM ET
Going in to tonight's game against the Yankees, Mets' fan should not be nervous about Hisanori Takahashi making his first major league start against the Yankees tonight. Far from it. In fact, those who have followed the history of this Subway Series rivalry know that Takahashi could be just the right person to have a breakthrough effort in Flushing.

The Mets have had unlikely hitting heroes (Matt Franco’s two-run walk-off single vs Mariano Rivera at Shea in 1999 comes to mind), and baserunning stars (think Steve Bieser forcing a balk from David Cone in a key spot to tie a Yankees-Mets clash in 1997 at Yankee Stadium) in this rivalry. But starting pitching has been an area of high-volume and surprising performance.

Case in point the very first game of Mets-Yankees interleague play on June 16, 1997, when Dave Mlicki scattered nine hits in a 6-0 shutout win over Andy Pettitte and the defending World Series champions. Mlicki finished his career with Mets 24-30 and his major league career with a 66-80 mark. But he has earned a soft spot in the hearts of fans forever with that performance.

A year later (June 28, 1998), the Mets and Yankees engaged in perhaps their best pitchers duel among their 72 meetings. Orlando Hernandez would set the stage for some memorable performances in his Yankees career by striking out nine over eight innings of one-run, two-hit ball.

Hernandez was matched, and almost bettered by unheralded Japanese rookie Masato Yoshii, who whiffed 10 in seven innings and only gave up two hits. His shutout bid spoiled by a Scott Brosius home run. The Mets would win in bizarre fashion in the bottom of the ninth on Luis Lopez’s sacrifice fly, one nearly spoiled by Brian McRae aimlessly wandering off first base.

Put Baseball-Reference.com and the Bill James Game Score metric (which awards points based on innings, strikeouts, runs, hits, and walks allowed) to use, and you’ll discover the two best Mets' pitching performances belong not to Al Leiter, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine or Johan Santana (Santana and Glavine have three of the four-worst…Martinez does have the third-best), but to Kevin Appier and Shawn Estes.

Appier rates highest with a 79 for eight innings of scoreless baseball in Yankee Stadium on July 7, 2001. This was another great pitchers duel with Mike Mussina, though Appier scored higher for surrendering only four hits and striking out eight. The Mets would win, 3-0, in 10 innings when the unthinkable happened --five-straight batters reached base against Mariano Rivera, plating three runs to break the deadlock.

The James system doesn’t reward extra points for a pitchers offensive performance, but if it did, Estes would rank highest for his win on June 15, 2002. He finishes with a 77-point score for an 11-strikeout, five-hit , scoreless gem to beat Roger Clemens, 8-0.

This game is best remembered for Estes missing Clemens with an attempted brushback pitch (revenge for Clemens’ beaning of, and throwing the shard of a bat towards, Mike Piazza), though some forget that Estes also homered off Clemens in that contest. That made Estes both an unlikely pitching standout, and an unlikely offensive one as well. The only other pitcher who compares for what he did with his bat was reliever, Dae-Sung Koo (nicknamed “Mister”), for his double, and daring baserunning efforts to score a run against Yankees hurler Randy Johnson.

There’s one other unlikely star worth mentioning, though his victorious performance rates only 25th on the James scale. That would be current Mets reliever Fernando Nieve, who gave the Mets 6 2/3 innings of two-run, four-hit ball against the Yankees last June 13th.

That win came one day after the dropped popup by Luis Castillo that cost the Mets a win, a play that served as symbolic for a hopeless year. If we’re going to look for bonus points, Nieve should get many, for the emotional lift he provided the team and its fans in a season otherwise filled with dismal --memories.

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The most immediate concern for Takahashi today: How to pitch to Derek Jeter. The Yankees shortstop may be dealing with some offensive struggles, but the Mets southpaw may be just what’s needed to cure those.

No one has a better career batting average against the Mets (minimum 100 AB) than Jeter (.386 avg.), but dig a little deeper and the numbers get even more amazing.

Jeter made outs the first four times he faced a Mets lefty. That foreshadowed absolutely nothing. For his career, Jeter is 46-for-102 with five home runs and 11 walks against Mets' left-handed pitching. That’s a .451 batting average, a .504 on-base percentage, and a 1.151 OPS.

Jeter is 4-for-4 with a walk in his last five turns against Mets lefties. The last one to get him out? Oliver Perez in 2008.

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Three follow-ups to our David Wright piece from Thursday.

1- Regarding: the 0-for-46 since-the-beaning stat we presented regarding two-strike pitches out of the strike zone. Volume-wise, that’s almost entirely against right-handed pitchers (0-for-41), though it’s also worth noting that Wright was 5-for-11 from April to August of 2009 win at-bats against two-strike, out-of-the-zone pitches from lefties.

Since returning from being hit in the head, he’s 0-for-5 in those circumstances.

2- Wright’s bases-loaded double in the first inning statistically rectified another issue with which he’d been dealing. Wright, normally a devastating hitter with the bases loaded, was 1-for-7 with six strikeouts in his previous seven plate appearances vs right-handed pitchers before that hit against Luis Atilano.

3- We may have our next target for some video review analysis in Jose Reyes. Andrew Davis of ESPN Stats and Info pointed out last night that Reyes has had trouble all season in areas in which he’s previously been stellar: with two strikes (a .147 batting average, a more than 100-point drop from the well above-average .252 mark he posted in 2006 and 2007) and against offspeed/breaking pitches (.159 in 2010, after he hit .275 against them as recently as 2008). We’ll look closer as the sample-size accumulates.

Our leftover note of the night from Thursday’s win, via some Baseball-Reference investigation: Raul Valdes became the third Mets reliever to throw at least five innings AND earn a win, after entering the game in the first inning. The other two: Bill Wakefield in 1964 and Cal Koonce in 1969, which happened to be a pretty good season.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
15 4.09 151 202
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187