Stats & Info: Mets

Anticipated seasons by "other" teams

December, 21, 2011

Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesWith Blake Griffin and Chris Paul leading the way, hopes are high for the Clippers
It was a tale of two offseasons for the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers. While Chris Paul joined Blake Griffin in what promises to be one of the most electric duos in the NBA, the Lakers traded away Lamar Odom and failed in bids to acquire either Paul and/or Dwight Howard.

Given the sudden relevance of the Clippers and the notion that the Lakers could be slipping, it’s worth asking if the Clippers – often perceived to be “the other team in L.A.” – have completely closed the gap between themselves and their Staples Center co-tenants.

Los Angeles has been a two-team NBA city for 27 seasons. Since the Clippers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles prior to the 1984-85 season, they have had a better record than the Lakers just four times. Might 2011-12 be the fifth?

Here are some other anticipated seasons by often overshadowed “other" teams:

“Other” team: New York Mets
Overshadowed by: New York Yankees
Anticipated Season: 2005

Prior the 2005 season, the Mets went on a free agent splurge session by spending over $170 million dollars for Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. The Mets were full of promise - Jose Reyes and David Wright were on the upswing, Mike Piazza was still an All-Star and Willie Randolph was brought in to replace Art Howe. The Mets failed to live up to the hype however, winning 83 games and missing the playoffs (although they did make it to the NLCS the following season).

“Other” team: Manchester City
Overshadowed by: Manchester United
Anticipated season: 2009-10

Forever in the shadow of Manchester United, Man City began to emerge as a major player in the summer of 2008 when they acquired Brazilian striker Robinho from Real Madrid for a $50.5 million transfer fee, which at the time was the fourth-most expensive transfer of all-time. As it turns out, they were just getting warmed up. The next summer they took spending to an unprecedented level, parting with more than $150 million dollars to bring in Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry, Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure among others. City went on to finish fifth in 2009-10, narrowly missing out on qualifying for the UEFA Champions League (and finishing behind Manchester United).

“Other” team: USC men’s basketball
Overshadowed by: UCLA
Anticipated season: 2000-01

Long in the shadow of UCLA, USC entered the 2000-01 season with high hopes. The Trojans were ranked 23rd in the preseason AP Poll, the first time since 1978-79 that they entered a season ranked in the preseason. Although USC lost both of its games against UCLA, it did manage to make it deeper into the NCAA Tournament. Both teams lost to eventual national champion Duke, with UCLA falling in the Sweet 16 and USC bowing out in the Elite 8.

Matt Garza pitches season’s 5th no-hitter

July, 26, 2010
Rays 5, Tigers 0
Matt Garza throws the first no-hitter in Rays history (leaving the Mets and Padres as the only active MLB franchises without a no-hitter) and the fifth no-hitter in MLB this season. The five no-hitters are the most in a season since 1991, when there were an all-time record seven no-nos. Garza faced the minimum 27 batters, becoming the sixth pitcher since 1954 to throw a no-hitter (not a perfect game) while facing the minimum. Garza had previously thrown a one-hitter in 2008, when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before losing it on a solo home run to Hanley Ramirez. Garza is the first-ever pitcher named Matt to throw a no-hitter. This is the first no-hitter ever thrown on July 26 of a season. The Rays' Matt Joyce hit a grand slam to break up Max Scherzer's no-hit bid in the sixth inning. It was Joyce's second grand slam of the season. The Tigers were no-hit for the first time since June 1990, when Randy Johnson (then a Mariner) did it to them. Their 19-year streak since then had been the longest no-hit streak among AL teams until Garza snapped it.

•The first no-hitter in Rays franchise history leaves only the Mets (established in 1962) and the Padres (1969) as the two current franchises not to toss one.

•The Tigers were last no-hit by Randy Johnson on June 2, 1990.

•The Oakland A's now have the longest streak without being no-hit at 19 seasons (AL teams only). The Tigers were at 19 before Monday night.

•There have been five no-hitters this season. The last season with more was 1991, when there were seven, matching the record-setting total in 1990.

•It's worth noting that the Rays entered Monday with the majors' best defense, according to two advanced defensive metrics. They had a defensive efficiency of .709, which means that they had converted 70.9 percent of all balls in play into outs, the highest rate in the majors. They had a plus-minus rating of +58, which estimates the number of plays above/below average made compared with the average fielder, also the highest in MLB.

•There had never been a no-hitter on July 26 prior to Monday.

•No pitcher named Matt or Max had ever thrown a no-hitter before Garza.

•From Elias Sports Bureau: The last team to be on the winning side of a no-hitter with as few as three hits: The 1988 Reds had three in a 1-0 win over the Dodgers in Tom Browning's perfect game.

Matt Garza threw 99 fastballs out of his 120 total pitches. He got 22 of his 27 outs with the fastball (including a 2nd-inning double play).

•This was the second no-hitter at Tropicana Field this year; Qualcomm Stadium in 2001 was the last ballpark to host two no-hitters.

•FROM ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: The Rays became the most recent team to be no-hit and throw a no-hitter in the same season; it happened three times in 1991, to the Orioles, White Sox and Expos.

•FROM ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU: The Rays are the third team to be involved in three no-hitters in a single season. The other two are the 1917 White Sox and the 1917 Browns (all three of those games were between the White Sox and Browns).

•Home plate ump Ed Hickox had never had the plate for a no-hitter.

•Matt Joyce hit the grand slam to break up Max Scherzer's no-hitter in the sixth. So this is the second time this year that a guy with the last name of Joyce "broke up" a no-hitter by the Tigers (after the fourth inning). Umpire Jim Joyce made the wrong call in Armando Galarraga's no-hit bid in June.

•More people are expected to see Penn State play FCS school Youngstown State on Sept. 4 (110,000+) than have seen the first FIVE no-hitters thrown in the major leagues this season (105,843).

How Rays starter Matt Garza no-hit the Tigers:
Challenged hitters:
- 82.5 pct fastballs (most in a start this season)
- 73.9 pct fastballs (season high) and 10.9 pct curveballs (season low) in 2-strike counts
- 49.5 pct of fastballs up in the zone (42.9 pct in starts entering Monday)
- 44.2 pct of pitches up in the zone (2nd-most in a start this season)
- 8 swings-and-misses up in the zone, 7 of them with his fastball (both season highs)
- 5 of those misses came on fastballs out of the zone (most in a start this season; had just 7 in his last 7 starts combined)
- Hitters chased 35.7 pct of fastballs up out of the strike zone (25.0 pct in starts entering Monday)

Wrapping up a long week on the diamond

July, 23, 2010
Since Monday, there have been 10 extra-inning games across the majors – including a game of at least 13 innings on each of the 4 days.

Rangers 8, Tigers 6 (14 innings)
Royals 5, Blue Jays 4 (10 innings)*

Orioles 11, Rays 10 (13 innings)*
Athletics 5, Red Sox 4 (10 innings)*

Astros 4, Cubs 3 (12 innings)
Padres 6, Braves 4 (12 innings)
Mariners 2, White Sox 1 (11 innings)*
Diamondbacks 4, Mets 3 (14 innings)*

Phillies 2, Cardinals 0 (11 innings)
Red Sox 8, Mariners 6 (13 innings)
*Walk-off win
The last time there were at least 4 straight days with a game that lasted at least 13 innings was September 22-26, 1992 (5 straight days). That was a Tuesday through Saturday, so it didn’t technically “start” the week the way the current streak has managed to do by beginning on a Monday.

September 22, 1992: Pedro Munoz drives in Kirby Puckett with the only run of the game in the 13th inning, as the Twins win at the Rangers at Arlington Stadium.

September 23, 1992: Moises Alou hits a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 14th inning to give the Expos a 5-1 win at Olympic Stadium.

September 24, 1992: The Mets scored 3 runs in the top of the 14th inning at Busch Stadium to take a 3-0 lead over the Cardinals – but St. Louis countered with 4 in the bottom of the inning, capped off by a Todd Zeile walk-off single.

September 25, 1992: Omar Vizquel of the Mariners had a go-ahead single in the top of the 16th inning at Arlington Stadium to give Seattle a 4-3 win over the Rangers.

September 26, 1992: The Red Sox explode for 4 runs in the top of the 14th inning at Camden Yards to beat the Orioles 7-3. This was a particularly long day in Baltimore, as that was the 1st game of a doubleheader.

FanGraphs: Can you win without power?

July, 6, 2010
After losing again last night, this time to the Kansas City Royals in a game in which Felix Hernandez took the mound, the Mariners now stand at 34-48. The biggest culprit in their disappointing season is clearly their offense, which is last in the AL in nearly everything related to producing runs. The Mariners' biggest problem on offense is a total lack of power; they are tied with Oakland for fewest home runs of any American League team, but the A’s have 24 more doubles and nine more triples.

Many people see Seattle’s lack of power and its overall failure as a cause and effect, suggesting that teams that don’t hit the ball out of the park are structurally flawed and can’t win. Rather than just taking this at face value, though, I thought we should look at whether other teams have won without having any real thump in their lineups, compensating by scoring runs in other ways. As it turns out, a number of punchless squads have ended up playing meaningful games in October.

The most recent example of a playoff team that won this way was the 1996 Dodgers. They won 90 games and the NL wild card despite finishing last in the league in slugging percentage with a .384 mark. They managed to score 703 runs on the back of Mike Piazza and a poor supporting cast, though two of the other guys in the lineup, Raul Mondesi (24 homers) and Eric Karros (34 homers), could at least hit the ball over the wall.

If we’re looking for a playoff club that really lacked power, we have to turn the clock back to 1987, when the St. Louis Cardinals won more games (95) than they hit home runs (94). With Vince Coleman, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee, it was a team built around speed and defense, but the Cards were able to finish second in the NL in runs scored because they got on base (No. 1 in OBP) and ran like the wind (No. 1 in steals). They did have one big-time power hitter, Jack Clark, who accounted for 37 percent of the team’s home run total by himself, but the rest of the lineup was a bunch of slap hitters who were on the team for their defense.

That squad is a good comparison for Seattle, because the M's were hoping to ride the speed-and-defense model to a division crown. However, their .309 team OBP ranks 13th in the AL. And though they are third in the AL with 75 swipes (and an 80 percent success rate), you can't steal first base. And unlike the '87 Cards, they don't have even one masher. Franklin Gutierrez leads the squad with just eight homers, and Ichiro Suzuki has the highest slugging percentage (.415) of any of their everyday players. Seattle's team slugging percentage of .349 is the lowest in the AL.

If we’re searching for a team that got to the playoffs without any real big-time power threat, though, we have to go back to the 1973 Mets. They slugged a ridiculous .338 as a team, which was bad even by the lower offensive standards of the time. Their leading home run guy, John Milner, hit 24 bombs but also hit just .239. Rusty Staub, the team’s best hitter, launched only 15 jacks, but he racked up a lot of doubles and walks.

Still, despite being power-starved, that Mets team was able to win the NL East and take the A’s to seven games in the World Series, showing that it is possible to contend without a big-time power bat in the middle of the lineup. However, considering that the Mets won just 83 games in the regular season, they don’t exactly inspire confidence that this plan will always work.

While some teams have been able to get away with a lack of power, it's rare. The Mariners needed more from Milton Bradley and Jose Lopez, who were being counted on to produce the offensive punch in the middle of the lineup. When they both decided to have the worst years of their careers, the Mariners' chances for contention went out the window.

Dave Cameron is a writer for FanGraphs.