Saturday, September 03, 2005

By Ben Valentine

I knew this would happen. The moment I start to really think playoffs for the Mets, the bottom nearly falls out. There’s still time for the team to recover from three straight losses to the Phillies and Marlins but the season is on the brink. I personally would like to apologize for the Mets collapse, since my post no doubt was the black cat which is killed this season.

Okay, now that’s done, we can put the blame on where it squarely belongs: the players. This two week stretch has proven two things: the Mets have 2 solid offensive options in their lineup and the Arizona Dimondbacks have a AAA pitching staff. It’s hard to come down on the pitchers as the Mets slide; it’s purely offensive. Let me just put some numbers out there for you:

1. .277/.302/.395
2. .246/.295/.328
3. .265/.327/.421
4. .280/.359/.508
5. .313/.394/.527
6. .247/.332/.428
7. .260/.348/.500
8. .263/.337/.487

Notice some problems here? How about the fact there’s a guy with a .295 on base in the lineup? That’s Christian Guzman territory. Why is he playing and WHY is he batting SECOND?? This starting nine’s splits look like a collection of soft hitting middle infielders. Yet the best player in the lineup bats 5th. Why?

Well let me put names where the numbers were:

1. Jose Reyes - .277/.302/.395
2. Miguel Cairo - .246/.295/.328
3. Carlos Beltran - .265/.327/.421
4. Cliff Floyd - .280/.359/.508
5. David Wright - .313/.394/.527
6. Doug Mientkiewicz- .247/.332/.428
7. Victor Diaz - .260/.348/.500
8. Ramon Castro - .263/.337/.487

You see the Mets have a fascination with placating Carlos Beltran, so he bats three instead of David Wright. Willie Randolph must love what Miguel Cairo brought from the Bronx because a random AAA second baseman could probably give you those splits. (By the way the Mets have a kid, Anderson Hernandez who is currently .315/.369/.395. It’s not great but he can’t be worse) Victor Diaz, as unpolished as he is, should be batting fifth. Hot streak or not, Ramon Castro should be hitting sixth. Jose Reyes shouldn’t be leading off, but the Mets don’t have much of a choice there. Here’s how I would be running things:

1. Jose Reyes
2. Carlos Beltran
3. David Wright
4. Cliff Floyd
5. Victor Diaz
6. Ramon Castro
7. Mike Jacobs
8. Anderson Hernandez

I don’t know if that lineup is good enough to make the postseason. If Carlos Beltran doesn’t hit and Jacobs and Hernandez hit like their predecessors, probably not. If just one of those players could make a significant impact, then with this pitching the Mets might stand a chance.

It’s time to forget about names. Teams already put too much emphasis on them. If the Mets want to win they’ll put the right players in the right places, because what they have now just isn’t working.


Blogger David Arnott said...

It's been argued before, mathematically, that lineup construction doesn't particularly matter that much, that what matters is getting the correct people in the lineup at all as opposed to getting a "correct" order. For real-life example, note that in 1993, most baseball people would have batted their 3-4-5 as Bonds, Williams, Clark, or Bonds, Clark, Williams. However, because Bonds dislikes hitting third and because Clark's ego had to be placated, the order was Clark, Williams, Bonds most of the season. 103 wins. Also, mathematical evidence for that theory is available on Retrosheet.
Blame George Steinbrenner for warping Randolph's mind into undervaluing youngsters.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

I've heard the argument before but never actually seen it in numbers before. It's pretty intimidating to look at so many numbers...

I also wonder if it would have been different if the Giants had spread those three hitters out. Like Bonds bats one, Clark five and Williams 8th. Would they have been as productive? The numbers might say so, but it doesn't seem to make much sense as to why.

Ultimately, the Mets offense is just not good enough and you're probably right in that no lineup change is saving this team. But I'd at least like to have Victor Diaz and his decent 800+ OPS batting after David Wright rather than Doug Mientkiewicz and his 750 OPS. I mean Willie had Diaz batting 8th again tonight!

This team isn't making the playoffs. I'm annoyed, frustrated and getting ready to call for the Mets to sign Paul Konerko in the offseason. But knowing Willie, he'd probably bat him 9th. Tom Glavine is a more seasoned veteran, after all.

2:25 AM  

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