MLB trends younger and the Mets need to do likewise

As we near the end of the second decade of the 21st Century, the game is different than it was back in Y2K. Everyone focuses on the increase of strikeouts, especially as it compares to hits. But one thing that doesn’t get nearly enough attention is how the game is trending younger. Baseball-Reference includes age-related numbers, breaking down into four age groups. Here are the PA for batters in each of those groups, in the year 2000 and 2018:

Ages 2000 2018
25- 38,683 51,175
26-30 81,171 85,758
31-35 58,493 43,054
36+ 11,914 5,152

MLB today has fewer than half the PA by guys age 36 and older than it did 18 years ago. There’s also more than 15,000 fewer PA by guys in the next highest age bracket. The majority of these lost PA by baseball senior citizens are going to guys 25 and younger, although there’s been an uptick in the 26-30 class, too. Overall, there are over 5,000 fewer PA here in 2018 than there was in 2000.

Percentage wise, the 2018 numbers break down as follows:

25-: 27.6
26-30: 46.3
31-35: 23.3
36+: 2.8

With the National League not using the DH for the vast majority of their games, the expectation is that there are fewer guys age 36+ in the senior circuit. Overall this year, there were 92,885 PA in the NL and 1,890 of those came by guys 36 and older. That’s 2.0 percent or fewer than the 2.8 MLB number for this age bracket.

Furthermore, players in the age 36+ bracket had the lowest OPS (.711) of any of the four age groups. The league OPS was .722 in the NL this season. So, the overall trend is for fewer players at this age, there are fewer guys in this age bracket in the NL than in the AL and the baseball senior citizens are the least productive as a whole.

Now let’s look at the Mets. Here is their PA breakdown by age:
Youngest – 2,216
Prime – 1,521
Older – 1,951
Senior – 489

The Cubs led the National League with 520 PA by players age 36 and up. The Mets were second and the Brewers were third with 273. The reason the Cubs had so many is because 37-year-old Ben Zobrist – a one-time Mets target in free agency – is still very good. Zobrist posted an .817 OPS in 520 PA this year. Zobrist was the only senior player used by the Cubs.

The Mets had a lot of PA in the first category thanks to Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Amed Rosario. And with their emphasis on adding guys on the wrong side of 30 through free agency the past few seasons, the older grouping was well-represented, too. But the senior category was what was so frustrating.

In the first two-plus months of the season, Adrian Gonzalez was in the lineup nearly every day. And shortly after they cut ties with him, Jose Bautista became a regular until he was dealt to the Phillies. Bautista gave the club six good weeks but unfortunately he played over twice that long with the Mets. These two combined for a .701 OPS.

The Mets gave more opportunities to baseball senior citizens and they responded with worse production than league average. And the only reason the numbers weren’t even worse is because Jose Reyes and his .580 OPS just missed the cutoff at age 35.

The five oldest players on the Mets – Bautista, Gonzalez, Reyes, David Wright and Jose Lobaton – combined for 799 PA and put up a .202/.303/.342 line. Bautista really saves this group but even that comes with an asterisk. After a great start, he put up a .585 OPS over his final 177 PA with the Mets. If there’s any justice in the world, not one of these five guys will be back next season.

The hope is that the new GM will not have the same allegiance to older players that the previous GM did. It would be a step forward if the oldest guys to get a PA for the Mets in 2019 were Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier, who will both be in their age 33 season.

It’s unknown what the Mets’ budget will be next year. COO Jeff Wilpon intimated the other day that it will be up to the new GM if the Mets are active players in the free agent market this offseason. Generally, if you want to avoid adding guys on the wrong side of 30 to your team, then free agency isn’t the place to shop. But the new GM will have the option – if not necessarily the financial resources – to go after Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, who both will be in their age 26 season in 2019.

Steven Matz and his gopher ball issues

It’s been reported that Steven Matz feels sharper since he returned from the disabled list in mid-August. He’s made five starts since being activated and two of those he was really good and the other three he was forgettable or worse. Given that he allowed 16 ER in 11.2 IP in his last three starts before hitting the DL, it’s not a huge surprise that he feels sharper. That’s nice but the pertinent questions remain: What kind of pitcher can the Mets expect Matz to be and is there anything they can do to help him improve?

After 26 starts this year, Matz has a 4.17 ERA, a 4.57 FIP and 4.05 xFIP. It’s a marked improvement over what he gave the club last year but a far cry from the strong pitcher he was when he first came up to the Mets. Looking at his IP and ERA, Matz has been a low-end SP3 this season. That’s not a bad thing but it still feels disappointing. With three pitches that he can throw for strikes, it seems like Matz should be better than he is.

My theory is that Matz gets hurt by leaving offspeed pitches in the middle of the strike zone that opposing batters tee off on. He’s got enough stuff to pitch both inside and upstairs but when he throws pitches below 85 miles per hour and leaves them middle-middle, the other team punishes him. Matz has allowed 22 HR this year, tied for 32nd in the majors with Corey Kluber. But the Indians’ ace has 59.2 IP more than Matz. While Matz has a 1.48 HR/9, Kluber has a 1.02 rate.

The homers are even more exasperating because Matz has a solid K.9 (8.89) and his GB% (48.9) is the 24th-best mark in the majors among starters with at least 100 innings. But when batters do hit the ball in the air, they have a 16.9 HR/FB rate, which is tied with Bartolo Colon for the 12th-worst mark in the majors. Even worse is that Matz gives up more homers with men on base than average. Typically, about 60 percent of homers in the majors are solo shots. In the NL this year, 59.6% of the homers came with no one on base. But 12 of Matz’ 22 HR allowed came with runners aboard.

Through games of Friday in the NL, 3,616 of the 9,214 runs allowed by pitchers came via the gopher ball. The average NL pitcher allows 39 percent of his runs to score via the home run. For Matz, 37 of his 71 runs allowed scored on homers. That’s 52 percent of his runs. It seems safe to say that curbing the HR ball should be his top priority.

Let’s take a look at Matz’ 22 HR allowed this year.

Date Park Height Section Strike? Speed Type
9/7/2018 Citi Middle Inside Corner Yes 94.33 Sinker
9/1/2018 SF Middle Inner 1/3 Yes 94.07 Sinker
8/21/2018 Citi Top Middle Yes 94.14 Sinker
8/16/2018 CBP Top Middle Yes 85.91 Change
8/16/2018 CBP Middle Middle Yes 86.36 Change
7/26/2018 PNC Middle In Yes 94.34 Sinker
7/26/2018 PNC Lower In Yes 78.65 Curve
7/12/2018 Citi Middle Middle Yes 94.34 Sinker
7/12/2018 Citi Middle Middle Yes 79.88 Curve
6/26/2018 Citi Lower Outer 1/3 Yes 78.37 Curve
6/21/2018 Coors Middle Inner 1/3 Yes 82.9 Change
6/9/2018 Citi Middle Inner 1/3 Yes 94.19 Sinker
6/9/2018 Citi Middle Middle Yes 78.35 Curve
5/19/2018 Citi Middle Inside No 93.72 Sinker
5/19/2018 Citi Middle Middle Yes 83.37 Change
5/11/2018 CBP Middle Middle Yes 78.83 Curve
5/5/2018 Citi Lower Middle Yes 94.87 Sinker
4/18/2018 Citi Middle Middle Yes 83.9 Change
4/13/2018 Citi Middle Middle Yes 92.47 Sinker
4/13/2018 Citi Upper Inner 1/3 No 93.28 Sinker
4/1/2018 Citi Middle Middle Yes 93.38 Sinker
4/1/2018 Citi Middle Inner 1/3 Yes 93.33 Sinker

This information comes from the PITCHf/x Tool at Brooks Baseball. The “Height” and “Section” information is from me eyeballing the info from Brooks while mentally dividing the strike zone into a 3×3 grid. This is subjective and if you went back and looked at all of these, you might very well come up with different labels here.

By my subjective classifications, 19 of Matz’ 22 homers came on pitches that were somehow in the middle of the zone, with nine of those being middle-middle offerings. Six of those nine middle-middle came on either a change or curve.

Before putting this together, my guess would have been even more.

According to the Brooks Baseball classifications, 12 of Matz’ 22 homers have come off his sinker. It’s important to note that Brooks classifies virtually all of Matz’ fastballs as sinkers, even those up in the zone. Five homers have come on the change and five have come off his curve.

My theory was partly wrong. It’s not the offspeed pitches that are the main source of the gopher balls. But it is pitches in the middle of the zone that are getting knocked out of the park. Sometimes they’re middle in, rather than middle-middle. But it’s rare to see Matz get beat upstairs (3X) or downstairs (3X).

Matz may feel sharper since returning from the DL but he’s allowed 5 HR in 26 IP in that time frame. That’s not good. He’s doing well in virtually every other department, though. He’s limited opposing hitters to a .188 AVG, he has a 0.923 WHIP and he sports a 5.5 K/BB ratio in his last five starts.

Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland have done some good work with the starting pitchers this year, most notably Zack Wheeler. It will be interesting to see if they can come up with a solution to Matz’ gopher ball problem. A small improvement in this area could pay big dividends.

Post-deadline Zack Wheeler has gone from good to great

After starting the season in the minors, Zack Wheeler places right now in the top 10 in the National League in both IP (160.1) and ERA (3.37) and he has career-best numbers in WHIP (1.185) and K/BB ratio (3.18). But there are at least as many people still dubious about his ability to continue this pitching going forward as there are backers who feel like he has a spot among the best hurlers in the league. And that split seemingly extends to people inside the game and not only fans watching from the bleachers.

At the trade deadline this year, there was a lot of interest around Wheeler. After seeing the offers for Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, the Mets decided to pull those two guys off the trading block and put Wheeler there, instead. But according to Andy Martino, other clubs were valuing Wheeler on his historical numbers and not the pitcher that he was this year. The Mets declined the chance to sell low and now have another dominating pitcher that other clubs have to dread facing.

We have no idea what offers the Mets received for Wheeler or what they were asking for in return. It certainly makes sense that clubs were trying to pay as little as possible to get a guy who missed two seasons recovering from TJ surgery and who had looked bad before shutting things down in 2017. But did clubs miss the forest because they were staring at the trees? When claiming to want to value Wheeler based on his career-long numbers, did they forget to actually look at his pitching throughout his career?

Let’s start with the bottom line. Through the 2017 season, Wheeler made 66 starts and had a 3.90 ERA. And after throwing six shutout innings on July 29, he had a 4.11 ERA in 2018 in 20 games. That certainly looks like a guy with an established level of performance. Why should clubs have been willing, if not eager, to pay more than that to get Wheeler at the deadline?

Wheeler has the pedigree, the stuff and the results of a top-flight starter. He was the sixth overall pick in the 2009 Draft, he throws in the upper 90s and in his last 13 starts before the deadline Wheeler had a 3.28 ERA. You may sign off on all those things but still be hesitant because of his career numbers mentioned above. But Wheeler’s career numbers are being dragged down because of two times when he was pitching while he was likely hurt.

The two time frames were the end of the 2014 season, before he had the TJ surgery, and the end of his 2017 campaign, before he was shut down with a stress reaction in his right arm. His final five starts of 2014 he had a 4.21 ERA (compared to a 2.78 ERA in the 18 starts before that) and his final six starts of 2017 he had a 9.89 ERA (compared to a 2.91 ERA in the 10 starts prior.)

Through this year’s trade deadline, Wheeler had made 86 starts in the majors. In 75 of those, he had a 3.62 ERA. That’s the equivalent of an SP2 this season. If Wheeler’s last 13 starts of 2018 before the trade deadline wasn’t supposed to define him as a pitcher, why should 11 starts when he was pitching with an injury effectively do the same?

When you’re forecasting players, what they’ve done most recently carries more weight. In his 13 starts before the trade deadline, Wheeler was pitching like a bottom tier SP1 and through the vast majority of his career he had been pitching like a bottom tier SP2. It’s my belief that GMs of other clubs who tried to acquire him as a top tier SP4 got greedy. The important thing for teams acquiring talent at the deadline is to win the pennant, not win the trade.

*****

We’ve had six more starts by Wheeler since the non-waiver trade deadline and in that span, he has a 1.13 ERA in 40 IP. It’s hard to believe that a team like the Brewers wouldn’t want a chance to turn back the clock and pull the trigger on a deal. Of course, all of this comes with the caveat that we don’t know what deals were proposed by either the Mets or potential suitors. All we have to go on is the snippets posted by the mainstream media guys.

A healthy Wheeler here in 2018 is posting numbers that would feel right at home among deGrom’s numbers in his healthy years before this season. Wheeler has a 3.37 ERA and a 1.185 WHIP so far this season. Compare that to deGrom’s 3.53 ERA and 1.187 WHIP in 2017. Another way to look at it would be through Game Scores. If you’re not familiar with that, here’s the Wikipedia article for a definition. It’s weighted so a score of 50 is an average start. Wheeler has had an average or better start 19 times this season, compared to seven times where he’s been below average. Stated in win/loss terms, Wheeler is 19-7. Here are deGrom’s numbers in healthy seasons prior to this year:

2014: 16-6
2015: 23-7
2017: 22-9

In those three seasons, deGrom turned in an average or better start 73 percent of the time. In his career to date, Wheeler has turned in an average or better start 66 percent (61-92) of the time and if you take away those 11 starts from the two time periods detailed above, he has a 69 percent career rate.

Of course it should be pointed out that deGrom’s Game Score record this year is 26-1. Also, prior to this year Wheeler had many more outings in the 50s and 60s than he did 70 and above. Six of Wheeler’s 10 career outings where he produced a Game Score of at least 70 have come here in the 2018 season. Prior to this year, Wheeler has been good. In his last 12 starts here in 2018, he’s been great. Wheeler has a 1.83 ERA in that span, covering 78.2 IP. He has nine Quality Starts in that span and he has an 11-1 Game Score record with four scores in the 70s.

Wheeler is pitching better right now than he has ever before in his career in the majors. His last 12 outings have more than made up for his poor start for the season. Prior to this year, a healthy Wheeler had been a strong pitcher, albeit a frustrating one who nibbled too much and too often saw his night end after six innings due to a high pitch count.

The pre-2018 Wheeler was not a fun guy to watch pitch on most nights. Even his supporters were frustrated by his ability to turn 0-2 counts into 3-2 counts by trying to throw a perfect pitch. But it seems like this, along with the injuries, clouded the issue for too many fans. Regardless, things are different now. Perhaps it’s because he’s finally healthy. Perhaps it’s because he’s matured as a pitcher. Perhaps it’s something that the new pitching brain trust was able to impart that the old regime was unable. Or maybe it’s a combination of all three.

For the purposes of this piece, the “why” is not as important as the “what.” And the what is the development of a pitcher into SP1 territory. At the deadline, it would have been reasonable for a GM to think of Wheeler as an SP2, if he remained healthy. And if a GM had paid for him at that rate, my reading of the tea leaves is that the Mets would have pulled the trigger and no one would have been upset.

And the GM who made that deal would have been rewarded much like the Astros were last year when they picked up Justin Verlander. After passing through waivers, Verlander made five regular season starts for Houston and was 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA. And he continued that domination the first two rounds of the playoffs and was solid in the World Series.

The Astros gambled on Verlander’s age, a gamble magnified by the additional $50 million they would owe him in 2018 and 2019. Of course, it’s easier to gamble on a guy with a Cy Young Award on his resume.

The Phillies gave Franklyn Kilome to acquire Asdrubal Cabrera for the remainder of the year. Kilome had fallen some in the team’s estimation but had been a top 10 guy entering the season. How much better of a prospect would it have taken to grab Wheeler at the deadline? To continue to pick on the Brewers, would CF Tristen Lutz, their #5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, have gotten it done?

The risk was Wheeler’s health. And while that was a legitimate risk, he also came with virtually no salary obligation. He was making $1.9 million for the entire year, so the cost for the final two months would be less than $700K. And he was arbitration-eligible next year. So, in a worst-case scenario where he suffered a horrific accident, they could have non-tendered him and not cost any additional money.

To be sure, Wheeler’s performance since the trade deadline has been better than expected. But this was an outcome on the table, one that advance scouts certainly had the possibility of seeing. There’s the 13 starts before the deadline where he had pitched quite well, which strongly hinted at a top-flight pitcher. The guy from those 13 starts wasn’t worth the risk of $700K and your #5 prospect when you’re in contention for a playoff spot with a shaky back end of the rotation?

It’s always easy to bash someone else in hindsight. But hopefully you view this “bashing” of mine for not paying the freight for an SP2 and not for the failure to predict Wheeler would put up six straight starts from the September 2017 Verlander or 2018 deGrom playbook. Teams that needed pitching should have viewed Wheeler as someone to put up an ERA in the mid 3s. That’s essentially what a healthy Wheeler has done throughout his career and he was better than that the last 13 starts of 2018 before the trade deadline. And he’s been at a superior level the past six outings.

Answering Gary Cohen’s query on Noah Syndergaard’s stolen bases

On Friday night, Noah Syndergaard allowed five stolen bases. At some point during the telecast, Gary Cohen wondered aloud how many of those runners came around to score. In Friday’s game, not one of the five did. But that doesn’t mean that it happened that way earlier. Cohen seemed to think that it was a big part of the runs allowed by Syndergaard this year. So, let’s look at all 25 steals that have happened with Syndergaard on the mound so far here in 2018.

Date Player Situation Result
4-Apr R. Hoskins 1 O, R 2 Does not score
4-Apr A. Altherr 2 O, R 1,3 Steals home, next batter grounds out to end inning
9-Apr S.Castro 1 O, R 1 Steals second, scores on double, next batter grounded out to third and guy who doubled went to third
15-Apr H. Perez 1 O, R 2 Does not score
20-Apr R. Flaherty 2 O, R 1 Does not score
20-Apr E. Inciarte 2 O, R 2 Does not score
6-May D. Dahl 0 O, R 1,3 Dahl steals second, next two batters walk. Inning ends with only one run scored – not guy who stole
6-May T. Wolters 2 O, R 1 Does not score
15-May C. Granderson 2 O, R 1 Granderson steals second, single, HBP, 2 RBI single
20-May C. Owings 1 O, R 1 Does not score
25-May L. Cain 1 O, R 1 Cain steals second, Yelich singles to score him
25-May C. Yelich 1 O, R 1 Yelich steals second, out, single scores him
13-Jul A. Eaton 0 O, R 1 Does not score
1-Aug T. Turner 1 O, R 1 Turner steals second, out, RBI single by Harper
1-Aug B. Harper 2 O, R 1 Does not score
1-Aug T. Turner 0 O, R 2 Turner steals third, scores on HR by Rendon
1-Aug W. Difo 0 O, R 1 Does not score
12-Aug R. Ortega 0 O, R 1 Ortega steals second, groundout, RBI single
12-Aug R. Ortega 1 O, R 1 Does not score
12-Aug M. Prado 2 O, R 1 Prado steals second, RBI single, error
17-Aug M. Franco 2 O, R 1 Does not score
17-Aug C. Hernandez 2 O, R 1 Does not score
17-Aug J. Alfaro 0 O, R1 Does not score
17-Aug C. Santana 2 O, R 1 Does not score
17-Aug J. Alfaro 1 O, R 1 Does not score

All told, 16 of the 25 runners who stole this year against Syndergaard did not score. In the chart above, there are 15 instances where no runs scored in the inning and one instance where there were runners on first and third, the guy on first stole second – likely without a throw – and the guy on third held, but later scored the only run of the inning.

Let’s take a look at the nine innings where a run scored when there was a stolen base. When determining earned runs, you reconstruct the inning without the error to see whether the runs should be counted as earned or unearned. In these nine innings, let’s reconstruct the inning without the stolen base to see what it would be like.

April 4 – Runner steals home, next batter grounds out. Run would not have scored without the stolen base
April 9 – Castro has good speed so he may have scored from first on the double. Even if he didn’t, he likely scores on the groundout, as the runner on second moved to third. Run likely would have scored without the steal
May 6 – After the steal one walk loaded the bases and the next walk drove in the guy who did not steal. Run would have scored without the steal.
May 15 – Guy singles after the steal and that guy comes around to score as well as the player who stole the base. Granderson – the player who stole the base – would have scored without the steal.
May 25 – Cain would have scored without the stolen base. Yelich does not score without stealing.
August 1 (1st inning) – Turner does not score without the steal.
August 1 (3rd inning) – Batter after steal hit a homer, so run would have scored without the steal.
August 12 (1st inning) – After batter steals second, there’s a groundout to pitcher where the runner held, an RBI single to LF, a groundout and a popup. Without the steal, would the runner have advanced to second base or would they have gotten the lead runner (or a DP) instead. Could go back and look but in the interest of expediency, will make the command decision that the runner would not have scored without the steal.
August 12 (6th inning) – After the steal, there’s an RBI single and the next batter reaches on a throwing error by the pitcher. Run likely would have scored without the stolen base.

By this earned run type of accounting, four runs scored that would not have scored without the stolen base. Syndergaard has allowed 41 runs this season.

Let’s do another chart. This time, let’s also look at things from the Run Expectancy (RE) matrix from FanGraphs. Here’s how they describe RE:

A run expectancy matrix presents the expected number of runs scored between a given point and the end of an inning based on the overall run environment, the number of outs, and the placement of the baserunners. For example, in the RE matrix below (run environment set at 4.15 runs per game), the expected number of runs given a runner on first and no outs is 0.831 runs.

The column labeled “Situation” tells you the number of outs and the position of runner(s) on base at the time of the steal. So, 1 O, R 2 means there was one out and a runner on second. The first RE column is for the situation before the steal, the second column is for the situation after the steal and the third column is the increase in RE with the steal. The final column is the actual total number of runs that scored in the inning after the steal.

Date Situation RE before RE after Difference Actual
4-Apr 1 O, R 2 0.644 0.865 0.221 0
4-Apr 2 O, R 1,3 0.471 1.214 0.743 1
9-Apr 1 O, R 1 0.489 0.644 0.155 1
15-Apr 1 O, R 2 0.644 0.865 0.221 0
20-Apr 2 O, R 1 0.214 0.305 0.091 0
20-Apr 2 O, R 2 0.305 0.413 0.108 0
6-May 0 O, R 1,3 1.798 1.92 0.122 1
6-May 2 O, R 1 0.214 0.305 0.091 0
15-May 2 O, R 1 0.214 0.305 0.091 2
20-May 1 O, R 1 0.489 0.644 0.155 0
25-May 1 O, R 1 0.489 0.644 0.155 1
25-May 1 O, R 1 0.489 0.644 0.155 1
13-Jul 0 O, R 1 0.831 1.068 0.237 0
1-Aug 1 O, R 1 0.489 0.644 0.155 1
1-Aug 2 O, R 1 0.214 0.305 0.091 0
1-Aug 0 O, R 2 1.068 1.426 0.358 2
1-Aug 0 O, R 1 0.831 1.068 0.237 0
12-Aug 0 O, R 1 0.831 1.068 0.237 1
12-Aug 1 O, R 1 0.489 0.644 0.155 0
12-Aug 2 O, R 1 0.214 0.305 0.091 1
17-Aug 2 O, R 1 0.214 0.305 0.091 0
17-Aug 2 O, R 1 0.214 0.305 0.091 0
17-Aug 0 O, R1 0.831 1.068 0.237 0
17-Aug 2 O, R 1 0.214 0.305 0.091 0
17-Aug 1 O, R 1 0.489 0.644 0.155 0
Totals   13.389 17.923 4.534 12

The row of the second stolen base needs a tiny bit of explanation. With two outs and runners on first and third, the expectancy was .0458 or less than half a run. The opponent stole home with the lead runner but the trail runner did not advance. So, the situation is now two outs and a runner on first, which has a 0.214 RE. I added the actual run scored to give it a 1.214 RE.

Before the steal attempts, the opposing team had a composite RE of 13.389 runs. After the stolen base, they had a RE of 17.923 runs. The steals made a RE difference of slightly over 4.5 – which coincides nicely with our earned run accounting of four runs earlier. And in the actual games, Syndergaard gave up 12 runs, which is not only lower than the RE after the steals, it’s lower than the RE before the steals.

There are a few other points to discuss. First, the RE chart utilized is for 4.15 runs per game. Through games of Friday, the National League had an average of 4.41 runs per game. Therefore, the REs used are probably a tiny bit lower than they should be for each state. Second, these are averages and the results certainly can be different if you have Trea Turner running or Jorge Alfaro. They can also be different if Bryce Harper is batting or Jett Bandy. All four of those guys played a factor, either batting or running, in the stolen bases and future results against Syndergaard. Some were better than average and some were worse. That’s pretty much the concept of averages. Finally, Syndergaard is not your average pitcher – he’s pretty good.

Without a doubt, the stolen bases are a problem. But the extent of the problem has been massively overrated. Much more troublesome has been the number of hits that Syndergaard has allowed this year. His H/9 has increased every year from 7.6 to 8.2 to 8.6 to 9.4 this season. For a comparison, Steven Matz has an 8.9 H/9, Corey Oswalt has an 8.3, Zack Wheeler has an 8.1 and Jacob deGrom has a 6.7 mark.

In his last full season in 2016, Syndergaard averaged 1.55 SB per game and this year the number sits at 1.47, even with allowing 12 steals in his last four outings. But while his SB per game have gone down, his runs per game have gone up, from 2.99 to 3.67 – pretty much the exact opposite of what you would expect if the steals were a big problem.

Again, the steals are a problem; let there be no doubt about that.

If I get into a fight with two guys and one of them breaks my arm in three places and the other one sticks a knife in my back – I have two problems. But the primary problem is the knife in my back and that’s the one that should be fixed first. My arm dangling from unnatural angles with bones sticking out may be the more visible item at first glance but it doesn’t make it the most serious threat. And it’s the same thing with the stolen bases.

How do you fix a guy with great stuff who’s giving up way more hits than he should? If you know that answer please get the info to the Mets’ brass ASAP. Meanwhile, someone can give the stolen base information in this article to Gary Cohen, since he asked for it.

The run support for Jacob deGrom

Due to the dreaded three I’s – injured, ineffective and inefficient – the Mets’ offense hasn’t been close to what was expected coming into the season. While the NL average runs per game is 4.43, the Mets are 13th with a 3.92 mark. And as bad as they’ve been overall, they’ve been worse when Jacob deGrom has been on the mound as the starting pitcher.

How bad have they been? Let’s look at it a couple of different ways. The reality is that deGrom has a 1.71 ERA but his record is 5-5 and the team is just 8-12 in that span. Baseball-Reference posted a factoid yesterday that if deGrom finishes with his current numbers, he’ll be the first pitcher to have an ERA+ of 200 or more and finish with a .500 record (or worse) since the 1880s. It’s difficult to truly wrap your head around that information.

If the Mets were magical and ultra-efficient and scored 3.92 runs in the first inning of every deGrom start – and then took the rest of the night off – he would have a 10-1 record, with the lone loss coming on April 10 when he allowed four runs in six innings pitched. If this below-average offensive team could just produce their average run support while deGrom was in the game, he would have a .909 winning percentage. And that’s with holding their less than stellar defense and terrible bullpen results constant.

Of course, deGrom doesn’t always pitch nine innings. In fact he hasn’t done it once in his 20 starts. He’s pitched eight innings five times. We’ve seen two games recently where deGrom pitched great but the team waited until after he left the game to score the majority of their runs. On July 6, he had 8 IP and 1 R and got a no decision in a game the Mets won, 5-1. On July 11, he had 8 IP and 0 R and got a no decision in a game the Mets won, 3-0. In those two contests, deGrom pitched 16 innings and the team scored eight runs, but only one of them when he was the beneficiary. It’s sort of mind blowing; yet it’s just another in a long list of bizarre things that have happened.

Let’s do an even more granular approach to dissecting deGrom’s run support. Instead of giving him the team average run support – of this below-average offensive team – for an entire game, let’s give him the average run support for when he’s actually in the game. Below is a chart of the runs scored by inning for the Mets this year to date. So, the Mets have played 98 games and in the first inning they’ve scored 54 runs. That’s an average of 0.55 runs per game. Here’s the entire chart:

Runs Scored
Inning # 0 Any 1 2 3 4 ≥5 Most Total Avg Avg/9inn
1 98 64 34 20 8 6 0 0 3 54 0.55 4.96
2 98 73 25 18 4 2 1 0 4 36 0.37 3.31
3 98 69 29 20 7 1 1 0 4 41 0.42 3.77
4 98 79 19 17 1 0 0 1 5 24 0.24 2.20
5 98 73 25 11 6 4 2 2 5 53 0.54 4.87
6 98 75 23 14 9 0 0 0 2 32 0.33 2.94
7 98 76 22 12 4 3 2 1 5 42 0.43 3.86
8 98 74 24 11 6 4 1 2 9 53 0.54 4.87
9 84 64 20 12 2 3 2 1 6 39 0.47 4.25
10 11 6 5 4 0 1 0 0 3 7 0.78 7.00
11 5 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
12 4 2 2 1 1 0 0 0 2 3 0.75 6.75
13 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
14 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Total 891 663 228 140 48 24 9 7 9 384 0.43 3.89
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/25/2018.

So, if deGrom is the home pitcher and goes seven innings, let’s give him 2.88 runs and see how he does. Here’s the info for each start:

IP Actual Runs Average Runs Actual Result Average Result
5.2 4 2.12 W W
6.0 8 2.88 W W
6.0 4 2.88 ND ND
7.1 6 2.88 ND L
7.0 0 2.88 ND ND
7.1 5 3.37 W W
4.0 0 1.58 ND ND
1.0 0 0.55 ND ND
7.0 3 2.88 W W
7.0 1 2.88 ND ND
7.0 2 3.37 ND ND
7.0 1 2.88 ND W
8.0 1 3.37 L ND
7.0 0 3.37 L W
8.0 12 3.94 W W
6.0 1 2.45 L L
6.0 2 2.88 L L
8.0 1 3.37 ND W
8.0 0 3.37 ND W
8.0 2 3.37 L ND

Even if we give deGrom the below-average run support the Mets should have scored when he was in the game, his record would be 9-3. And that’s with rounding, too. So, even though they should have won his last game, 3.37-3, here it was rounded down to 3 and he got a no-decision instead of a Win.

It’s striking to see his lack of run support in 13 of his last 14 games. After getting good run support in five of his first six games, the offense has gone into hibernation. Ignoring his start on 6/18 in Colorado, deGrom has received 14 runs while he was in the game in 84 IP since the beginning of May.

There’s league average offense, there’s what the Mets have done overall and there’s what the Mets have done when deGrom pitches. And there are a handful of outings that are distorting those numbers. B-R shows deGrom receiving an average of 3.63 runs per game, compared to their 3.92 mark overall. But in his 20 starts, the Mets have scored two or fewer runs 13 times while he’s been in the game, including 12 of his last 14 starts.

Every year, there are pitchers who have the misfortune of being on the mound when the offense takes the game off. Once, we complained about the lack of run support for Matt Harvey. This year, it’s deGrom’s turn. But it’s a fluke and we shouldn’t overreact. If we go all the way back to 2017, the Mets scored an average of 5.13 runs per game when deGrom pitched, compared to a 4.54 team average runs per game. Luck can change on a dime.

Jarred Kelenic and Sandy Alderson’s draft history

If you follow amateur baseball at all, you know more about the players selected in the draft than me. The best I can do is tell you that a guy who hit a triple and a homer for the Copperheads was taken by the Giants – in the 15th round. But hopefully what I’m lacking in knowledge of these particular players at this particular moment in time can be made up for with a willingness to listen to experts along with some historical perspective.

There was some back-and-forth discussion on the draft between me and Chris F in the comments section of the Monday open thread. Here’s a comment from Chris:

Im disappointed in the Alderson/Tannous draft. Flat out, its not clear to me these guys know anything about personnel and talent assessment.

Im happy for Kelenic and hope for nothing but the best for his arrival in 2023. Was all that losing and getting the 6th pick for a guy mocked outside the top 10 worth it? With all the College and short-time-to-the-bigs talent available, it surprises me to take *another* flyer on a lefty outfielder that never even did more that travel teams and showcases. I hope it turns out to be a surprise for some new FO.

Tommy Tanous is a scouting veteran, who joined the Mets in 2011. Previously, he worked as a national cross checker for the Blue Jays for seven seasons. Prior to that he was a scout for the Rangers and Brewers. After a season as a scout, he was elevated to Director of Amateur Scouting following the 2011 season. After the 2016 season, Tanous was promoted to VP of Scouting.

Here’s how many draft picks of the Mets have made the majors the first five years under Alderson/Tanous. There hasn’t been enough time for draft picks more recent than that to advance through the system. The numbers in parentheses are, in order, the same for the Phillies, Braves, Nationals and Marlins:

2011 – 15 (9) (8) (7) (5)
2012 – 10 (4) (3) (3) (5)
2013 – 3 (4) (3) (1) (5)
2014 – 1 (2) (1) (2) (2)
2015 – 1 (1) (2) (2) (0)

Here are the totals – Mets 30, Phillies 20, Braves 17, Nationals 15, Marlins 17

The Mets are drafting better than their division rivals in terms of guys good enough to climb through the system and make the majors. But what about star power? Here are all of the guys drafted by teams that went on to accumulate at least 3.0 bWAR in this time period:

Nationals – Anthony Rendon (#6 overall pick) 17.3
Braves – Alex Wood (2nd round), 10.5
Phillies – Ken Giles (7th round pick) 5.2; Kyle Freeland (35th round) 5.7; Aaron Nola (#7 overall pick) 9.2
Mets – Michael Conforto (#10 overall) 6.9; Michael Fulmer (#44 overall) 9.0; Seth Lugo (34th round) 3.9
Marlins – Jose Fernandez (#14 overall) 14.0, Kendall Graveman (36th round) 5.4

Again, it’s hard to see these division rivals making the Mets look ridiculous. Plus, the Mets are likely to add Brandon Nimmo to this list by the end of the year, as he currently sits with a 2.6 bWAR. Additionally, we’re counting Freeland and Graveman here, even though they did not sign with the NL East club that drafted them. I mean, the Mets drafted Roger Clemens back in 1981 too; do they get credit for that?

As for the specific case of Jarred Kelenic, the more I read about him, the more I like him. Like Chris, my initial reaction was disappointment that they didn’t take a college guy like Travis Swaggerty, who went 10th overall to the Pirates. But 2080 Baseball had Kelenic as number two overall on their board, saying this:

A true five-tool talent, Kelenic boasts plus speed, plus arm strength (98 mph from the outfield) and impact potential at the plate, including exit velos of up to 104 mph this spring

And here’s what Keith Law said about him: “The Mets took the first prep player of the 2018 draft in high-ceiling Wisconsin outfielder Jarred Kelenic (1), who clearly established himself as the best high school position player in the class and had been in consideration at pick No. 1. Kelenic has All-Star center-fielder upside with power, speed and a plus-plus arm, and his swing is certainly geared toward driving the ball to all fields.”

One of the criticisms of the 21st Century Mets is that they are too reliant on the HR offense and one-dimensional sluggers. Here’s a guy who’s noted for speed and a plus-plus arm and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Seems like the athletic player that we have all asked the Mets to target.

When you have a top 10 pick in the draft, you’ve got to hit on that selection. You want to do what the Nats did with Rendon or the Phillies with Nola or the Mets with Conforto. Will Kelenic be that type of pick? None of us can say for sure one way or the other. But you have to like your odds with “the best high school position player in the class,” and “a true five-tool talent.”

Go ahead and bash Sandy Alderson for signing old guys or believing too much in injured pitchers or being curt with his answers. But it seems misguided to claim he doesn’t know what he’s doing in the amateur draft. Maybe the best thing to knock him for with the draft is not believing more in the guys that he and his minions selected. Most of us would rather see Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso at first base than Adrian Gonzalez and Gavin Cecchini than Jose Reyes as backup infielder.

How Mets pitchers fare at 0-2 and 1-2 counts

Back in the early 80s, when Dale Murphy was one of the best players in the game, my brother had him on his fantasy team and thought he was the greatest. Looking to take him down a peg, I told him – you get to 0-2 on Murphy and throw him a curve out of the strike zone and it’s a guaranteed strikeout. His reply was – okay, good luck getting to 0-2.

My theory in 2018 is that Mets pitchers don’t have a ton of problem getting to 0-2 (or 1-2) but struggle to put hitters away. And the reason they struggle is that they throw pitches that never appear to be strikes. It’s okay to throw pitches out of the zone. But at some point they have to look like a strike in order to get a hitter to chase. So, instead of being out of the AB in three or four pitches, those consistently last six or more, driving up pitch counts and leading to early exits and unsatisfying results.

So let’s go ahead and test this theory. Baseball-Reference shows that when the PA ends immediately after the 0-2 pitch NL hitters post a .141/.147/.210 triple slash line for a .357 OPS. At 1-2, those numbers are .148/.155/.223 and .379, respectively. Clearly, you want to end the PA when you get that far ahead. The longer the batter stays alive, the higher his OPS gets. With a full count, NL batters have an .800 OPS.

Over at TexasLeaguers.com they have the ability to look at pitch locations by counts. We’ll examine what pitchers do at 0-2 and 1-2. Let’s start by looking at Max Scherzer, arguably the best pitcher in the NL right now. In the month of May, Scherzer has gotten to an 0-2 count 28 times and thrown pitches in the zone 12 times and ones outside the zone 16 times. That doesn’t sound all that impressive. But, the key is that those pitches outside the zone are ones that the batters think might be strikes. Of those 28 pitches, batters have swung at 21 of them. Meanwhile, Scherzer has thrown a 1-2 pitch 26 times this month. Of those, 16 have been out of the strike zone but batters have swung 15 times.

The majority of pitches Scherzer throws in these counts when he’s way ahead with two strikes are out of the strike zone. But batters are still swinging the majority of the time. Now let’s compare that to Mets pitchers.

Jacob deGrom has been on the DL, left one start early and had another last just one inning this month. So he has just eight pitches with an 0-2 count. Seven of those have been out of the strike zone yet batters have swung at five of them. He’s thrown 16 pitches this month with the count 1-2 with seven of those out of the zone. Batters have swung at 13 of those pitches, with one of those that they took being a called strike three.

Noah Syndergaard has 16 pitches at 0-2, seven out of the strike zone and batters swung at 11 pitches. He’s thrown 19 1-2 pitches and 11 of those have been out of the zone. Batters have swung at 12 of those.

Steven Matz has nine pitches this month at 0-2 and six of those have been outside the strike zone. Batters have swung at four pitches in this count. At 1-2, Matz has thrown 13 pitches and five of those have been outside the zone. Batters have swung at eight of them.

Zack Wheeler has thrown 20 0-2 pitches so far this month and 13 of them have been outside the strike zone. Batters have swung at 10 pitches in this count. Wheeler has 26 pitches at 1-2 and has thrown 15 outside of the zone. Batters have swung at 16 of these offerings.

Jason Vargas somehow has gotten to 0-2 eight times and has thrown five balls outside the zone. Batters have swung three times against him at this count. At 1-2, Vargas has 13 pitches, of which five have been outside the zone. Batters have swung nine times.

Let’s put this into chart form:

Player 0-2 Counts Balls/Strikes/Swings % Balls % Strikes % Swings
Scherzer 28 16/12/21 57 43 75
deGrom 8 7/1/5 88 12 63
Syndergaard 16 7/9/11 44 56 69
Matz 9 6/3/4 67 33 44
Wheeler 20 13/7/10 65 35 50
Vargas 8 5/3/3 63 37 37

And here’s the same chart for 1-2 counts:

Player 1-2 Counts Balls/Strikes/Swings % Balls % Strikes % Swings
Scherzer 26 16/10/15 62 38 58
deGrom 16 7/9/13 44 56 81
Syndergaard 19 11/8/12 58 42 63
Matz 13 5/8/8 38 62 62
Wheeler 26 15/11/16 58 42 62
Vargas 13 5/8/9 38 62 69

At an 0-2 count, the difference between Scherzer and Wheeler/Matz is striking. While Scherzer throws more pitches outside the zone than in the box at this count, Matz and Wheeler throw roughly twice as many pitches outside the zone. And they’re not getting batters to chase as many of these as Scherzer. And that’s not even taking into account pitches that get fouled off in these situations. The end result is fewer outs and more pitches.

Scherzer has not been as efficient with 1-2 pitches this month. For the year as a whole, batters have a .162 OPS against Scherzer with an 0-2 count, less than half the league average of .357 mentioned above. Hitters have managed a .330 OPS against Scherzer at 1-2, much closer to the .379 league average.

Let’s do one more chart. This time let’s track how many swings and misses our pitches get at 0-2 and 1-2 counts:

Player 0-2 Counts Whiffs W% 1-2 Counts Whiffs W%
Scherzer 28 9 35 26 6 23
deGrom 8 1 13 16 3 19
Syndergaard 16 4 25 19 1 5
Matz 9 0 0 13 3 23
Wheeler 20 5 25 26 6 23
Vargas 8 0 0 13 1 8

The lefties fare the worst in this regard, not getting a single whiff on an 0-2 count. For the year, opposing batters have a .692 OPS against Matz when the PA ends after the 0-2 pitch. And Vargas has a .500 OPS against in this situation – both of those significantly higher than league average. And they’re the worst in 1-2 counts in whiffs, too. And the OPS follows suit, with Matz surrendering a .538 OPS and Vargas’ mark is at .700, again both considerably worse than league average.

While Wheeler does quite well getting strikeouts, it’s not like he’s cleaning up in the OPS category, either. Opposing batters have a .619 OPS against him with an 0-2 count and a .419 mark at 1-2, even with the strikeouts he’s getting. Syndergaard is much better, at .310 and .285, respectively.

There’s no one size fits all approach here for the Mets’ pitchers. Maybe Syndergaard needs to throw a fastball to make hitters move their feet when he gets far ahead. Perhaps Wheeler needs to quit trying to strike guys out with a breaking ball. And whatever Matz and Vargas are doing, they should try the exact opposite. But deGrom should just keep doing what he’s doing. And all of the other pitchers should take notes.

J.T. Realmuto and good but not great catchers

It’s midnight in Manhattan, this is no time to get cute
It’s a mad dog’s promenade
So walk tall, or baby, don’t walk at all

Walk tall is to stand up and show pride and self-respect. It’s my opinion that the way you walk tall as a blogger is to give people information or opinions or stories that they’re not getting anywhere else. And it’s not an easy thing to do when there are a hundred different sites out there writing about the Mets.

That’s why generally we don’t do trade articles even though they’re popular with readers. Do you want to be the 75th person this week to write about the Mets trading for a catcher? We violated that tenet on Monday when David spoke about what kind of a farm system package it might take to land J.T. Realmuto. It was worthwhile because it wasn’t what these devolve into too often – hey let’s package our trash and get something good! Instead, he put together guys that my preseason top 50 list had rated 3rd, 12th and 22nd.

Some felt that this was not enough and they’re probably right, at least from the Marlins’ point of view. They have a desirable asset and no reason to squander it. Miami should not make a trade unless it clearly wins the deal.

But this is a blog about the Mets, not the Marlins.

Sometimes it’s okay to overpay in a trade. But when you do that, you have to determine if this is the right time and if this is the right player. In those 75 other articles about trading for Realmuto, most have addressed the former. But no one’s really addressed the latter. Instead it’s just been assumed. Not wanting to make an ass out of either one of us, let’s take a minute to examine whether this is true. Let’s start off with what we know:

1. Mets need a catcher
2. The state of catching is pretty sorry and not a ton of quality backstops are on the market
3. Realmuto has combined for 7.1 fWAR the past two seasons
4. He doesn’t want to be in Miami and new ownership there isn’t opposed to trading

OK, let’s do a little history on Realmuto. He was a third-round pick of the Marlins in 2010 and he made his MLB debut in 2014. Prior to the ’14 season, Chris St. John of Beyond the Box Score did a compilation of the Marlins’ top 28 prospects, combining lists from 19 different sources. Realmuto ranked 10/11 on these lists. After a cup of coffee in ’14, he was solid in ’15 and very good the past two seasons. He began 2018 on the DL but has been back for six games and is off to a very hot start.

This is all positive. But it’s important to note that this is not Buster Posey we’re talking about. This was a third-round pick who the year of his debut was at the back of the club’s top 10 list. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that – amateur evaluators and minor league mavens are far from perfect. But this is not someone who was projected to be an All-Star from either the moment he signed his first professional contract or when he made his major league debut.

Realmuto’s first big year came at age 25 when he posted a 3.5 fWAR. That’s young, but it’s not elite. Posey had a 4.0 fWAR season at 23, Joe Mauer had a 3.4 fWAR at 22 and Brian McCann had a 4.3 fWAR at the same age as Mauer. The best catchers in major league history since World War II were all established in the majors by age 24.

To be clear, this is not meant to knock Realmuto. It’s just to establish that he’s someone who worked himself from being a solid amateur to a good minor leaguer to an above-average major leaguer at his position. At no point was he a can’t miss prospect, he’s yet to make an All-Star team and it’s incredibly unlikely that he’ll be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Hopefully we can all agree that Realmuto is a good but not great catcher. If we can all agree to that, the question becomes what’s an appropriate value to place on a good but not great catcher in his age 27 season?

Coming into this season, Realmuto had played in 415 games, amassed 1,621 PA and accumulated 9.0 fWAR. Let’s look at the good catchers since World War II who have amassed at least 1,000 PA thru their age 26 season. The top catcher in this time frame is Johnny Bench, with 43.6 fWAR. But again, we’re looking at good but not great catchers. Carlton Fisk had 13.5 fWAR thru his age 26 season, so let’s use that as our cutoff point. Remember Realmuto had 9.0 fWAR, so we’ll look at his peers, some who were slightly better and some who were slightly worse. Oh, and we’ll ignore Craig Biggio, who started as a catcher but then moved to two different positions. Here’s our list. The first number after the name is his fWAR thru age 26 and the second number is his combined fWAR in his age 25 and 26 seasons:

Rich Gedman – 13.1, 8.8
Played six additional years, never exceeding 332 PA or 1.3 fWAR in a single season

Mike Scioscia – 12.5, 9.0
Played seven more seasons, ranging from 2.0-3.2 fWAR in the first six of those

Jim Sundberg – 11.7, 7.3
Played 12 more seasons with a personal-best 5.2 fWAR in his age 27 season. He also tacked on four additional fWAR seasons of 3.0 or better and one at 2.9

Matt Wieters – 11.6, 8.3
Still active and this is his sixth year after his age 26 season. He had a 2.5 fWAR in his age 27 season and has not cracked 2.0 since, although there have been injury problems, too.

Charles Johnson – 11.6, 6.5
Was very good the next three seasons – putting up a combined 11.5 fWAR. Played four additional seasons but was no longer a good player.

John Stearns – 10.8, 9.3
Played six more seasons, with a combined 7.9 fWAR, although injuries were a problem. He posted a 3.3 fWAR in 392 PA in his age 30 season.

Earl Williams – 10.2, 1.0
Played just two seasons after age26 and did not distinguish himself in either.

Del Crandall – 12.1, 4.9
Played 10 more seasons, including three straight years with at least a 4.0 fWAR. Five of those 10 seasons had a mark under 1.0, including two that were in negative numbers.

Ed Bailey – 9.8, 8.8
Played nine more years, with a 9.3 combined fWAR over his age 27-29 seasons.

Jim Pagliaroni – 9.8, 5.6
Played five more seasons and was very good at age 27 but forgettable after that

Rick Wilkins – 9.7, 8.7
Played eight more seasons, never topping a 1.7 fWAR

Ray Fosse – 9.6, 4.3
Played five more years, never topping a 1.6 fWAR

Earl Battey – 9.2, 7.5
Played six more seasons, three where he was close to his age 25-26 production and three where he wasn’t.

Realmuto – 9.0, 7.1

Tony Pena – 9.1, 7.5
Played 15 more seasons and was good in four of those, including a career-best 5.0 fWAR in his age 27 season.

Milt May – 9.0, 1.4
Played seven more seasons, putting up a 2.3 fWAR in his age 31 season, the only time in those seven seasons where he topped a 2.0 mark.

Kurt Suzuki – 8.9, 4.5
Still active and this is his eighth year since his age 26 season. Last year at age 33 was his first time cracking a 2.0 fWAR since he was 25.

Clay Dalrymple – 8.7, 7.0
Played eight more seasons and was not very distinguished in seven of those. Put up a 2.7 fWAR at age 29, though.

John Romano – 8.7, 7.5
Played six more seasons and was very good in four of those, including a 4.9 fWAR in his age 27 season

Gene Tenace – 8.6, 5.2
Played 10 more seasons and was very good in seven of those and excellent in a part-time role for two of the other three.

Yadier Molina – 8.5, 5.8
Still active and this is his ninth season after age 26. He was solid at age 27 and excellent from age 28-31. He’s still good but his reputation has been cemented.

Alex Avila – 8.3, 2.8
Still active but has never come close to his 4.6 fWAR from his age 24 season.

Javy Lopez – 8.3, 5.7
Played nine additional seasons, sprinkling in four good years, including a 6.8 fWAR in his age 32 season.

*****

There’s no clear pattern and whatever bias you come in here with, you can find something that fits your point of view. Think Realmuto is a must-get? Point to Scioscia, Sandberg or Tenace to support that opinion. Think he’s overrated? Point to Gedman or Wieters or Wilkins to buttress that position. But there was more here than I was expecting. Entering this, my opinion was that Realmuto was not worth getting. Now my position has changed in that they should look to make a deal that makes sense. They don’t have to “win” the trade. But they shouldn’t get held up, either.

The last big trade the Mets made for a position player was when they acquired impending free agent Yoenis Cespedes at the 2015 trade deadline. In that deal, the Mets gave up two upper level arms who’ve both gone on to reach the majors. Michael Fulmer was considered the big piece and he won Rookie of the Year in 2016 and made the All-Star team last year. Luis Cessa has pitched in 30 games in the majors, including 14 starts and has been essentially a league average pitcher in that stretch with a 98 ERA+. Both players have probably exceeded expectations that existed when the trade was made.

Cespedes was in the middle of a very strong year when the Mets got him. But Realmuto is younger, plays a more premium defensive position, comes with a much cheaper current contract and also has two additional years of control. The wild card in here is how you view the volatility of catchers who are Realmuto’s peers as listed above. Even though he was older and more expensive, Cespedes was more likely to give strong production.

My take is that Realmuto’s worth acquiring so long as you’re ready, willing and able to let him walk once he becomes a free agent. There are enough success stories on the above list to make this a worthwhile gamble but nearly all of them have just three or four productive seasons left. It’s better to let a guy leave a year too soon rather than a year too late.

When he was dealt, Fulmer was a 22 year old having a very nice season in Double-A after a so-so season in Hi-A the year before. That’s pretty close to the definition of Corey Oswalt, or more precisely Oswalt last season. Let’s say Fulmer’s the better prospect because he was drafted higher and is a year younger. So, how much more do you have to add to Oswalt to equal Fulmer? And what’s the equivalent of Cessa? And what’s a realistic sweetener to make the deal worthwhile for the Marlins? It’s probably easy to answer the first two questions. But the deal will hinge on the third one.

To me, Chris Flexen is the equivalent of Cessa. And I look to answer the other two questions in one swoop. My offer to the Marlins would be Oswalt, Flexen and their choice of any player in the org. There are several players I’d hate to lose – Oswalt among them – but this is the cost of doing business. And if the Marlins want more then walk away.

Miami should be asking for the moon. But just because someone asks something, doesn’t mean that you have to give it. There’s room for negotiation. If the Marlins want two additional players then perhaps you designate a couple of prospects as off-limits, say Andres Gimenez and David Peterson. Maybe it’s Oswalt, Flexen, Peter Alonso and Kevin Plawecki.

No doubt some of you are exasperated and feel that the Marlins wouldn’t even consider my proposals. Perhaps you’re right. But giving more than that from the Mets’ side is my belief where the Mets should say thanks but no thanks and walk away. Prospects are risky but so are good but not great catchers. And the Mets shouldn’t pretend otherwise, even if they need a catcher right now.

Mets360 Draft series: Draft winners of the 2000s

Taking the next step in our quest to accurately evaluate drafting from the opening decade of the 21st century, I used the ranking system Brian unveiled and assigned values for every first-round pick arranged by team.  The goal is to assess which teams got the most out of their first-rounders over a 10-year period.

To refresh your memory on Brian’s ranking system, it is as follows:

0 Star – Failed to reach the majors

1 Star – Reached the majors but did not reach 500 PA for hitters or 50 games or 150 IP for pitchers

2 Stars – Amassed between 500 and 1499 PA for hitters or 50-149 games or 150-449 IP for pitchers

3 Stars – Topped 1500 PA for hitters or 150 games or 450 IP for pitchers

4 Stars – Amassed 10-19.9 bWAR

5 Stars – Amassed at least 20 bWAR

Accumulating the star values for each franchise over the course of a decade of drafting and dividing by their number of selections yields the below ranking list.  Numbers in italics denote multiple draft picks in a given year.

Team 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Total stars Total picks Avg stars/pick
ARI   2 3 7 4 5 5 2 2 4 34 11 3.09
SF 2 6 5 3     5 5 5 2 33 11 3.00
TB 4 1 4 3 3 0 5 5 2 0 27 10 2.70
LAD 1   4 4 4   8 2 1   24 9 2.67
NYM 2 3 5 3 2 3     3   21 8 2.63
PIT 3 1 1 4 5 5 2 1 3 1 26 10 2.60
LAA 1 3 3 2 5   2     7 23 9 2.56
MIN 1 5 5 0 7 4 2 3 3 3 33 13 2.54
KC 0 0 5 2 4 5 3 4 4 3 30 12 2.50
MIL 1 0 5 4 1 5 3 2 4 0 25 10 2.50
PHI 5 4 5   1   1 1 0   17 7 2.43
ATL 6 2 3     2 0 5   3 21 9 2.33
CIN 0 2 0 2 3 4 3 2 3 4 23 10 2.30
SEA     3     1 3 1 3 5 16 7 2.29
BOS 2     4   7 3   1 1 18 8 2.25
MON/WAS 1 0 0 3 3 5 1 3 3 8 27 12 2.25
TOR 0 3 2 5 2 3 3 3 1 1 23 11 2.09
DET 0 0 1 0 5 4 3 4 1 2 20 10 2.00
COL 0   3 3 2 5 1 0 2 1 17 9 1.89
TEX 0 5 1 5 2 3 0 2 3 1 22 12 1.83
STL 0 0   3 1 6 3 2 2 3 20 11 1.82
FLA/MIA 5   3 0 3 4 1 2 1 0 19 11 1.73
NYY 0 1   0 4 0 4 1 4 1 15 9 1.67
OAK   6 9 0 1 4   0 2 1 23 14 1.64
BAL 0 3 2 5 0 1 0 4 3 0 18 11 1.64
CHC 1 4 0 0   0 2 1 3   11 8 1.38
CHW 2 0 2 2 2 1 0 1 3 0 13 10 1.30
CLE 0 0 4 2 2 2   0 3 1 14 11 1.27
HOU 0 2 0     2 0   4 0 8 7 1.14
SD 0 0 3 3 2 1 1 0 1 0 11 10 1.10

Using this ranking method, the Arizona Diamondbacks should be declared the biggest drafting achiever of the 2000s.

The Diamondbacks had each of their first nine first-round picks not only make the majors but also reach the next threshold of major league service.  That streak ended with the selection of Bobby Borchering in the 16th slot of the 2009 draft.  Arizona rebounded nicely with the very next pick that year, however, nabbing A.J. Pollock at No. 17.  Concluding with Pollock, the Diamondbacks had five of their 11 first-rounders in the decade contribute double-digit bWAR.

Arizona’s chances at draft success were buoyed by having the top pick in 2005, when it selected Justin Upton.  However, the organization only had one other top-10 pick in the decade, and seven of their 11 choices came in the second half of the first round.  Their best selection in terms of bWAR was Max Scherzer, who went 11th overall in 2006.  To date, Scherzer has accumulated 45.5 bWAR and is coming off back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards.

Ranking closely behind the Diamondbacks is the Giants, who are the only other franchise to post at least a 3-star average.  San Francisco did better in terms of top-end talent, selecting four players that have generated a 5-star rating to Arizona’s two.  What hurt the Giants’ average were its second and third first-round choices from the 2007 draft not making the majors.   It was far from a regrettable first round that year however for San Francisco, which nabbed Madison Bumgarner with the 10th pick.

Beginning with Tim Lincecum in 2006, the Giants had a three-year run in which their initial draft choice churned out at least 20 bWAR.  San Francisco’s best pick of the decade in terms of bWAR was Buster Posey, who has produced a value of 37.5 since going fifth overall in 2008.

Tampa Bay checks in at third on the list, but it probably should have been higher considering the team’s annual draft position.  The (Devil) Rays selected no later than eighth overall in each of the decade’s first nine drafts.  In that span, they had three No. 1 overall picks – choosing Delmon Young in 2003, David Price in 2007 and Tim Beckham in 2008.  Their best first-rounder in terms of bWAR was Evan Longoria, who has produced 50 bWAR since going third overall in 2006.

Thanks in large part to the guy who went four picks after Longoria in 2006, the Dodgers landed at No. 4 on the draft ranking list.  Still in his prime, Clayton Kershaw owns  59.4 career bWAR and has finished in the top five in NL Cy Young Award balloting each of the last seven years.  The three-time Cy Young Award winner was the only Dodger first-round pick to produce at least 20 bWAR in the 2000s, but the organization did have two others with double-digit bWAR in that period.

Each of the top four teams in average stars per pick rating had a player from the 2006 draft surpass 20 bWAR.  That streak ended with the Mets, who ranked fifth despite not missing out on the first round of the 2006 draft entirely.  In fact, New York also did not have first-round picks in 2007 or 2009 either.

The Mets had only eight players selected within the top 30 of the 2000s drafts.  The first seven of those choices reached the two-star plateau before Reese Havens ended the string as the organization’s second first-rounder in 2008.  New York’s high ranking on this list largely was inflated by players achieving playing time plateaus on the star scale.  Scott Kazmir (22.8) was the only Met first-rounder from the decade to surpass 5.0 bWAR, and half of their first-round picks managed less than 1 bWAR.

If we extended to the supplemental first round, the Mets would have cashed in with David Wright at No. 38 in 2001.  However, the Mets’ position on this list points out a potential need to more accurately reward quality over quantity in terms of major league appearances.  Even so, we are making good progress in determining draft report cards from earlier decades.

 

Mets360 Draft series: Analysis of the top 10 picks from 2000-09

Over the past few weeks, Joe Barbieri and I have presented the first 100 picks of the drafts from 2000-2009. While we made some comments and provided some context on the picks from those individual drafts, now it’s time to put it all together and look at our 10-year sample with the idea of looking for big picture takeaways.

Too many times you hear fans lament, “Why did we draft Player X when they could have had Player Y instead!” Everyone’s a genius with the benefit of hindsight. One of the things we hope to achieve here is to get away from the idea of looking at individual names and instead look at production. Complaining that the Mets took Brandon Nimmo instead of Jose Fernandez is less helpful than looking at the production of Nimmo and determining if that was acceptable for where the Mets picked.

So, we’re not going to list names here. All the names have already been presented and it’s easy enough to go back and look if you’re curious.

The challenge is how to accurately rate things, especially when we’re dealing with guys who are still producing at the major league level. There’s no easy answer for that, at least not one that has occurred to us. What we’re going to do is utilize a star rating. And we do this knowing that it’s guaranteed that there will be movement in the categories as draft picks complete their careers. There’s no way around that if you want to look at recent drafts. It’s our belief that the benefits of using more recent drafts outweigh this particular negative.

The rating system is as follows:

0 Star –- Failed to reach the majors
1 Star –- Reached the majors but did not reach 500 PA for hitters or 50 games or 150 IP for pitchers
2 Stars – Amassed between 500 and 1499 PA for hitters or 50-149 games or 150-449 IP for pitchers
3 Stars – Topped 1500 PA for hitters or 150 games or 450 IP for pitchers
4 Stars – Amassed 10-19.9 bWAR
5 Stars – Amassed at least 20 bWAR

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total
’00 5* 1* 1*   1* 4*         12
’01 5* 4* 2* 4* 5*     1*   2* 23
’02 1* 4*   2*   5* 5* 1* 3* 1* 22
’03 3* 4*   3*     5* 4* 5* 3* 27
’04 2* 5* 2* 3* 1* 2* 3*   3* 1* 22
’05 5* 5* 1* 5* 5* 3* 5*   3* 4* 36
’06 3* 1* 5* 2* 3* 3* 5* 3*   5* 30
’07 5* 4* 1* 1* 4* 3* 2*   2* 5* 27
’08 2* 3* 4* 3* 5* 1* 3* 3* 3* 4* 31
’09 5* 3*   1*   2* 3* 4* 2* 3* 23
Total 36 34 16 24 24 23 31 16 21 28

So, what can we glean from this?

In rough terms, here’s what the stars mean. A 1-Star guy made the majors and not much else; A 2-Star guy hung around long enough to amass at least one year of full-time play, even if it was spread over multiple years; A 3-Star guy amassed the equivalent of at least three years of full-time play; A 4-Star guy was likely a multi-year starter and a 5-Star guy was likely an All-Star caliber player. Here was the breakdown:

0 Stars – 19
1 Star – 15
2 Stars – 12
3 Stars – 22
4 Stars – 12
5 Stars – 20

In our sample, if you had a top 10 pick, you were just about equally likely to draft a guy who didn’t make the majors as you were to draft a 20 bWAR guy. Now, it’s possible that some of the guys currently rated as 4 Stars might finish their careers with enough to bump up to 5 Stars. But it’s close to a lock if a guy drafted with the first 10 picks hasn’t made the majors yet, he’s not going to appear in 2018 or later. So, our bust-to-20 bWAR ratio might end up 19-23 or so rather than at its current 19-20 ledger.

Each of the 10 drafts in the sample had at least one 5-Star guy drafted in the first 10 picks. Additionally, nine of the first 10 draft slots saw a 5-Star guy selected, with only pick #8 failing to produce a 20 bWAR selection in our sample, at least so far. The first two slots in the draft have provided the most value. However, the third slot is tied with the eighth slot for the least value returned.

Our working hypothesis is that teams have gotten better drafting throughout the years. We want to examine that to see how true it is, that is if it’s true at all. As judged by our 2018 eyes, the first 10 picks of the 2000 Draft were not good. But the star value accumulated in 2001 was equal to that of 2009. The apex was in 2005. The drafts in 2006-2008 were a step below 2005 but consistently better than the 2001-2004 crowd.

Of course, it’s only 10 picks each year and it’s hard to tell if it’s improved drafting or just the quality of players available in a given year, since we know that not all drafts are created equally. We also have to acknowledge that signability plays in here. A handful of players were selected in the top 10 because they were willing to sign for fewer dollars. Did five players in the first 10 selected in 2000 not reach the majors because of poor drafting or because teams were looking to save money?

As we move forward in our analysis, we’ll be able to determine more about the relative quality and depth of a particular draft class. This should help us reach better conclusions, although our information will always be imperfect. The drafts are always filled with guys who get hurt and never recover. Is it fair to call a pick a bust if a guy with a golden arm got hurt and was never able to return to former glory?

If you have anything you’d like to see us consider, just let us know.

Mets360 Draft series: The 2009 MLB Draft

Headlined by the best player of a generation, the 2009 draft has emerged as one of the best draft classes in the 21st century.

One of the most recognized faces in baseball today, Mike Trout already is a two-time MVP and five-time Silver Slugger. In six full seasons in the majors, Trout has finished no lower than fourth in AL MVP balloting while producing a career .976 OPS. His 55.2 career bWAR, which includes a pair of 10-win seasons, represents a value more than twice as high as the next guy drafted among 2009’s top 100. And that next guy is no slouch!

Curiously, however, Trout lasted until the 25th pick in 2009. Including the one who ultimately selected him, 22 teams pulled the trigger on other players. The Angels landed Trout only after they selected fellow high school outfielder Randall Grichuk with their first pick of the opening round. Grichuk, who was traded to the Cardinals before ascending to the major leagues, has a respectable 7.1 bWAR but probably himself wonders how he was off the board before Trout.

It’s hard to quibble with the Nationals selecting Stephen Strasburg with the first pick in the 2009 draft. Under the wing of boyhood idol and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn at San Diego State University, Strasburg dominated in a junior season that featured a 13-1 record, 1.32 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 109 innings. It was a foregone conclusion that he would go No. 1.

Despite some injury problems, including “Tommy John” surgery early in his major league career, Strasburg has posted the best bWAR (24.8) among pitchers selected in 2009’s top 100. The Nationals were up again nine picks later and selected fellow college hurler Drew Storen, who has spent his entire career as a reliever and managed a 5.3 bWAR. He likely will miss the 2018 season following a “Tommy John” surgery of his own.

The Nationals were not the only franchise to pass on Trout multiple times, however. The Diamondbacks had back-to-back picks beginning with No. 16 and chose Bobby Borchering and A.J. Pollock. The latter has turned into a quality major leaguer, posting a career 18.2 bWAR to rank sixth among the draft’s top 100.

The last team who had a crack at Trout before the Angels’ consecutive picks was the White Sox, who went the outfielder route with Jared Mitchell at pick No. 23. Mitchell was one of two outfielders drafted ahead of Trout to never make the majors. The other was Donovan Tate, who was selected with the dreaded third overall pick by the Padres.

Here is a look at the top 100 picks from 2009 in chronological order:

OvPck Team Signed Name WAR Type
1 Nationals Y Stephen Strasburg 24.8 4Yr
2 Mariners Y Dustin Ackley 8.1 4Yr
3 Padres Y Donovan Tate HS
4 Pirates Y Tony Sanchez 0.4 4Yr
5 Orioles Y Matt Hobgood HS
6 Giants Y Zack Wheeler 2.1 HS
7 Braves Y Mike Minor 6.7 4Yr
8 Reds Y Mike Leake 14.9 4Yr
9 Tigers Y Jacob Turner -1.8 HS
10 Nationals Y *Drew Storen 5.3 4Yr
11 Rockies Y Tyler Matzek 2.8 HS
12 Royals Y Aaron Crow 2.4
13 Athletics Y Grant Green -1.6 4Yr
14 Rangers N Matt Purke -0.1 HS
15 Indians Y Alex White -0.4 4Yr
16 Diamondbacks Y Bobby Borchering HS
17 Diamondbacks via Dodgers Y *A.J. Pollock 18.2 4Yr
18 Marlins Y Chad James HS
19 Cardinals Y Shelby Miller 8.9 HS
20 Blue Jays Y Chad Jenkins 1.4 4Yr
21 Astros Y Jiovanni Mier HS
22 Twins Y Kyle Gibson 5.3 4Yr
23 White Sox Y Jared Mitchell 4Yr
24 Angels via Mets Y *Randal Grichuk 7.1 HS
25 Angels via Yankees Y *Mike Trout 55.2 HS
26 Brewers Y Eric Arnett 4Yr
27 Mariners via Phillies Y *Nick Franklin 1.2 HS
28 Red Sox Y Rey Fuentes -0.3 HS
29 Yankees Y *Slade Heathcott 0.4 HS
30 Rays N LeVon Washington HS
31 Cubs Y *Brett Jackson 0.1 4Yr
32 Rockies via Angels Y *Tim Wheeler 4Yr
33 Mariners Y *Steve Baron -0.3 HS
34 Rockies Y *Rex Brothers 4.6 4Yr
35 Diamondbacks Y *Matt Davidson -0.6 HS
36 Dodgers Y *Aaron Miller 4Yr
37 Blue Jays N *James Paxton 8.1 4Yr
38 White Sox Y *Josh Phegley 1.7 4Yr
39 Brewers Y *Kentrail Davis 4Yr
40 Angels Y *Tyler Skaggs 0.8 HS
41 Diamondbacks Y *Chris Owings 3.7 HS
42 Angels Y *Garrett Richards 7 4Yr
43 Reds Y *Brad Boxberger 2.5 4Yr
44 Rangers Y *Tanner Scheppers 1.1
45 Diamondbacks Y *Mike Belfiore -0.1 4Yr
46 Twins Y *Matt Bashore 4Yr
47 Brewers Y *Kyle Heckathorn 4Yr
48 Angels Y *Tyler Kehrer 4Yr
49 Pirates Y *Vic Black 0.5 4Yr
50 Nationals Y Jeff Kobernus -0.3 4Yr
51 Mariners Y Rich Poythress 4Yr
52 Padres Y Everett Williams HS
53 Pirates Y Brooks Pounders -1 HS
54 Orioles Y Mychal Givens 4.9 HS
55 Giants Y Tommy Joseph -0.8 HS
56 Dodgers via Braves Y *Blake Smith 0 4Yr
57 Reds Y Billy Hamilton 8 HS
58 Tigers Y Andy Oliver -0.8 4Yr
59 Rockies Y Nolan Arenado 27.4 HS
60 Diamondbacks via Royals Y *Eric Smith 4Yr
61 White Sox via Athletics Y *Trayce Thompson 2 HS
62 Rangers Y Tommy Mendonca 4Yr
63 Indians Y Jason Kipnis 20.5 4Yr
64 Diamondbacks Y Marc Krauss -1.8 4Yr
65 Dodgers Y Garrett Gould HS
66 Marlins Y Bryan Berglund HS
67 Cardinals Y Robert Stock 4Yr
68 Blue Jays N Jake Eliopoulos HS
69 Astros Y Tanner Bushue HS
70 Twins Y Billy Bullock 4Yr
71 White Sox Y David Holmberg -1.1 HS
72 Mets Y Steven Matz 4 HS
73 Brewers via NYA Y *Max Walla HS
74 Brewers Y Cameron Garfield HS
75 Phillies Y Kelly Dugan HS
76 Yankees Y *John Ryan Murphy 0.3 HS
77 Red Sox Y Alex Wilson 4.2 4Yr
78 Rays N Kenny Diekroeger HS
79 Cubs Y DJ LeMahieu 14.4 4Yr
80 Angels Y Patrick Corbin 7.7 JC
81 Nationals Y Trevor Holder 4Yr
82 Mariners Y Kyle Seager 26.8 4Yr
83 Padres Y Jerry Sullivan 4Yr
84 Pirates Y Evan Chambers JC
85 Orioles Y Tyler Townsend   4Yr
86 Giants Y Chris Dominguez -0.2 4Yr
87 Braves Y David Hale 0.7 4Yr
88 Reds Y Donnie Joseph 0.2 4Yr
89 Tigers Y Wade Gaynor 4Yr
90 Rockies Y Ben Paulsen 0.1 4Yr
91 Royals Y Wil Myers 7.4 HS
92 Athletics Y Justin Marks 0.2 4Yr
93 Rangers Y Robbie Erlin -0.1 HS
94 Indians Y Joe Gardner 4Yr
95 Diamondbacks Y Keon Broxton 2.3 JC
96 Dodgers Y Brett Wallach JC
97 Marlins Y Marquise Cooper HS
98 Cardinals Y Joe Kelly 6 4Yr
99 Blue Jays N Jake Barrett 0.9 HS
100 Astros Y Telvin Nash HS

Of first 15 picks, 13 have made the majors and nine have produced a positive bWAR. It turned out to be a trend for this draft as a whopping 63 percent of players drafted in the top 100 have appeared in the major leagues with 46 posting a bWAR greater than zero.

The best of the group not named Trout is third baseman Nolan Arenado, who lasted until the Rockies at the 59th pick. One of the game’s most well-rounded players, Arenado has three campaigns with at least 130 RBI and five Gold Gloves in as many major league seasons.
Another steal beyond the first round was fellow third baseman Kyle Seager, who has produced 26.8 bWAR since being the 82nd overall pick by the Mariners. With Seager and Dustin Ackley, who went second overall, Seattle drafted two of the top 10 players in terms of bWAR in 2009’s top 100.
Here’s a look at the top 100 sorted by bWAR:

OvPck Team Signed Name WAR Type
25 Angels via Yankees Y *Mike Trout 55.2 HS
59 Rockies Y Nolan Arenado 27.4 HS
82 Mariners Y Kyle Seager 26.8 4Yr
1 Nationals Y Stephen Strasburg 24.8 4Yr
63 Indians Y Jason Kipnis 20.5 4Yr
17 Diamondbacks via Dodgers Y *A.J. Pollock 18.2 4Yr
8 Reds Y Mike Leake 14.9 4Yr
79 Cubs Y DJ LeMahieu 14.4 4Yr
19 Cardinals Y Shelby Miller 8.9 HS
2 Mariners Y Dustin Ackley 8.1 4Yr
37 Blue Jays N *James Paxton 8.1 4Yr
57 Reds Y Billy Hamilton 8 HS
80 Angels Y Patrick Corbin 7.7 JC
91 Royals Y Wil Myers 7.4 HS
24 Angels via Mets Y *Randal Grichuk 7.1 HS
42 Angels Y *Garrett Richards 7 4Yr
7 Braves Y Mike Minor 6.7 4Yr
98 Cardinals Y Joe Kelly 6 4Yr
10 Nationals Y *Drew Storen 5.3 4Yr
22 Twins Y Kyle Gibson 5.3 4Yr
54 Orioles Y Mychal Givens 4.9 HS
34 Rockies Y *Rex Brothers 4.6 4Yr
77 Red Sox Y Alex Wilson 4.2 4Yr
72 Mets Y Steven Matz 4 HS
41 Diamondbacks Y *Chris Owings 3.7 HS
11 Rockies Y Tyler Matzek 2.8 HS
43 Reds Y *Brad Boxberger 2.5 4Yr
12 Royals Y Aaron Crow 2.4
95 Diamondbacks Y Keon Broxton 2.3 JC
6 Giants Y Zack Wheeler 2.1 HS
61 White Sox via Athletics Y *Trayce Thompson 2 HS
38 White Sox Y *Josh Phegley 1.7 4Yr
20 Blue Jays Y Chad Jenkins 1.4 4Yr
27 Mariners via Phillies Y *Nick Franklin 1.2 HS
44 Rangers Y *Tanner Scheppers 1.1
99 Blue Jays N Jake Barrett 0.9 HS
40 Angels Y *Tyler Skaggs 0.8 HS
87 Braves Y David Hale 0.7 4Yr
49 Pirates Y *Vic Black 0.5 4Yr
4 Pirates Y Tony Sanchez 0.4 4Yr
29 Yankees Y *Slade Heathcott 0.4 HS
76 Yankees Y *John Ryan Murphy 0.3 HS
88 Reds Y Donnie Joseph 0.2 4Yr
92 Athletics Y Justin Marks 0.2 4Yr
31 Cubs Y *Brett Jackson 0.1 4Yr
90 Rockies Y Ben Paulsen 0.1 4Yr
56 Dodgers via Braves Y *Blake Smith 0 4Yr
14 Rangers N Matt Purke -0.1 HS
45 Diamondbacks Y *Mike Belfiore -0.1 4Yr
93 Rangers Y Robbie Erlin -0.1 HS
86 Giants Y Chris Dominguez -0.2 4Yr
28 Red Sox Y Rey Fuentes -0.3 HS
33 Mariners Y *Steve Baron -0.3 HS
50 Nationals Y Jeff Kobernus -0.3 4Yr
15 Indians Y Alex White -0.4 4Yr
35 Diamondbacks Y *Matt Davidson -0.6 HS
55 Giants Y Tommy Joseph -0.8 HS
58 Tigers Y Andy Oliver -0.8 4Yr
53 Pirates Y Brooks Pounders -1 HS
71 White Sox Y David Holmberg -1.1 HS
13 Athletics Y Grant Green -1.6 4Yr
9 Tigers Y Jacob Turner -1.8 HS
64 Diamondbacks Y Marc Krauss -1.8 4Yr
85 Orioles Y Tyler Townsend   4Yr
3 Padres Y Donovan Tate HS
5 Orioles Y Matt Hobgood HS
16 Diamondbacks Y Bobby Borchering HS
18 Marlins Y Chad James HS
21 Astros Y Jiovanni Mier HS
23 White Sox Y Jared Mitchell 4Yr
26 Brewers Y Eric Arnett 4Yr
30 Rays N LeVon Washington HS
32 Rockies via Angels Y *Tim Wheeler 4Yr
36 Dodgers Y *Aaron Miller 4Yr
39 Brewers Y *Kentrail Davis 4Yr
46 Twins Y *Matt Bashore 4Yr
47 Brewers Y *Kyle Heckathorn 4Yr
48 Angels Y *Tyler Kehrer 4Yr
51 Mariners Y Rich Poythress 4Yr
52 Padres Y Everett Williams HS
60 Diamondbacks via Royals Y *Eric Smith 4Yr
62 Rangers Y Tommy Mendonca 4Yr
65 Dodgers Y Garrett Gould HS
66 Marlins Y Bryan Berglund HS
67 Cardinals Y Robert Stock 4Yr
68 Blue Jays N Jake Eliopoulos HS
69 Astros Y Tanner Bushue HS
70 Twins Y Billy Bullock 4Yr
73 Brewers via NYA Y *Max Walla HS
74 Brewers Y Cameron Garfield HS
75 Phillies Y Kelly Dugan HS
78 Rays N Kenny Diekroeger HS
81 Nationals Y Trevor Holder 4Yr
83 Padres Y Jerry Sullivan 4Yr
84 Pirates Y Evan Chambers JC
89 Tigers Y Wade Gaynor 4Yr
94 Indians Y Joe Gardner 4Yr
96 Dodgers Y Brett Wallach JC
97 Marlins Y Marquise Cooper HS
100 Astros Y Telvin Nash HS

The Mets only had one pick in the top 100 and chose Steven Matz at No. 72 out of nearby Stony Brook University. Matz has shown glimpses of being a front-line starter but had a 2017 to forget, posting a 6.08 ERA in 13 starts before undergoing elbow surgery.

Including Matz, the 2009 draft has produced 24 players to record a career bWAR of at least 4.0. The only draft in this series with more players at 4.0 bWAR or higher was 2008 with 27. Considering the series began with a 2000 draft that had only 11 players manage at least 4.0 bWAR, it could be perceived that scouting dramatically improved as the decade drew to a close. Of course, the 22 organizations that passed on Mike Trout might disagree.

Mets360 Draft series: The 2008 MLB Draft

The top of the 2008 Draft was defined by signability. Buster Posey was in the running for top overall pick until it was suggested that he was going to ask for $12 million, which took him out of the running. Scott Boras was advising several of the top talents, including Pedro Alvarez, Gerrit Cole and Eric Hosmer, who were all seeking big contracts. That helped the Rays select Tim Beckham, who ended up signing for over $6 million. Posey fell to the Giants at five and barely got half of the rumored $12 million.

Beckham has had anything but a smooth ride to the majors. He was unspectacular his first three years in pro ball. Then when it looked like he was turning the corner, he got a 50-game suspension for a drug of choice. He finally established himself in the majors last year, only to get traded to the Orioles. In 50 games for Baltimore, he put up an .871 OPS and appeared to be set for years to come. But there’s still uncertainty in his situation, as the Orioles have announced that Manny Machado will play shortstop this year, with Beckham moving to third base. Meanwhile, Beckham has played a total of nine games at the hot corner in the majors.

Posey has easily been the class of this draft, although there are solid major league performers throughout the first round. Here is the chronological list of the top 100 players. All WAR totals throughout the piece are from Baseball-Reference:

OvPck Tm Signed Name WAR Type
1 Rays Y Tim Beckham 4.5 HS
2 Pirates Y Pedro Alvarez 6 4Yr
3 Royals Y Eric Hosmer 14.1 HS
4 Orioles Y Brian Matusz 2.7 4Yr
5 Giants Y Buster Posey 37.5 4Yr
6 Marlins Y Kyle Skipworth -0.1 HS
7 Reds Y Yonder Alonso 7.9 4Yr
8 White Sox Y Gordon Beckham 5.7 4Yr
9 Nationals N Aaron Crow 2.4 4Yr
10 Astros Y Jason Castro 12.1 4Yr
11 Rangers Y Justin Smoak 4.7 4Yr
12 Athletics Y Jemile Weeks 1.1 4Yr
13 Cardinals Y Brett Wallace -0.6 4Yr
14 Twins Y Aaron Hicks 5.7 HS
15 Dodgers Y Ethan Martin -0.5 HS
16 Brewers Y Brett Lawrie 15.2 HS
17 Blue Jays Y David Cooper 0.1 4Yr
18 Mets via Braves Y *Ike Davis 4.9 4Yr
19 Cubs Y Andrew Cashner 8.7 4Yr
20 Mariners Y Josh Fields 1 4Yr
21 Tigers Y Ryan Perry 0.3 4Yr
22 Mets Y Reese Havens   4Yr
23 Padres Y Allan Dykstra -0.5 4Yr
24 Phillies Y Anthony Hewitt   HS
25 Rockies Y Christian Friedrich -0.4 4Yr
26 Diamondbacks Y Daniel Schlereth 0 4Yr
27 Twins via Angels Y *Carlos Gutierrez   4Yr
28 Yankees N Gerrit Cole 12.2 HS
29 Indians Y Lonnie Chisenhall 8.8 JC
30 Red Sox Y Casey Kelly -1.5 HS
31 Twins Y *Shooter Hunt   4Yr
32 Brewers Y *Jake Odorizzi 8 HS
33 Mets Y Bradley Holt   4Yr
34 Phillies Y *Zach Collier   HS
35 Brewers Y *Evan Frederickson   4Yr
36 Royals Y Mike Montgomery 5 HS
37 Giants Y *Conor Gillaspie 1 4Yr
38 Astros Y *Jordan Lyles -3.5 HS
39 Cardinals Y *Lance Lynn 14.1 4Yr
40 Braves Y *Brett DeVall   HS
41 Cubs Y *Ryan Flaherty 1.6 4Yr
42 Padres Y Jaff Decker -1.5 HS
43 Diamondbacks Y *Wade Miley 8.3 4Yr
44 Yankees Y *Jeremy Bleich   4Yr
45 Red Sox Y *Bryan Price -0.2 4Yr
46 Padres Y *Logan Forsythe 12.5 4Yr
47 Rays Y Kyle Lobstein 0.2 HS
48 Pirates N Tanner Scheppers 1.1 4Yr
49 Royals Y Johnny Giavotella 0.8 4Yr
50 Orioles Y Xavier Avery -0.3 HS
51 Phillies via Giants Y *Anthony Gose 1.9 HS
52 Marlins Y Brad Hand 4.4 HS
53 Brewers Y Seth Lintz   HS
54 Brewers Y Cutter Dykstra   HS
55 Nationals Y Destin Hood -0.2 HS
56 Astros Y Jay Austin   HS
57 Rangers Y Robbie Ross 2.8 HS
58 Athletics Y Tyson Ross 6 4Yr
59 Cardinals Y Shane Peterson 0.9 4Yr
60 Twins Y Tyler Ladendorf -0.4 JC
61 Dodgers Y Josh Lindblom 1 4Yr
62 Brewers Y Cody Adams   4Yr
63 Blue Jays Y Kenny Wilson   HS
64 Braves Y Tyler Stovall   HS
65 Cubs Y Aaron Shafer   4Yr
66 Mariners Y Dennis Raben   4Yr
67 Tigers Y Cody Satterwhite   4Yr
68 Mets Y Javier Rodriguez   HS
69 Padres Y James Darnell -0.6 4Yr
70 Braves Y Zeke Spruill -0.4 HS
71 Phillies Y Jason Knapp   HS
72 Rockies Y Charlie Blackmon 15.2 4Yr
73 Diamondbacks Y Bryan Shaw 6.4 4Yr
74 Angels Y Tyler Chatwood 10.2 HS
75 Yankees N Scott Bittle   4Yr
76 Indians Y Trey Haley   HS
77 Red Sox Y Derrik Gibson   HS
78 Rays Y Jake Jefferies   4Yr
79 Pirates Y Jordy Mercer 7.3 4Yr
80 Royals Y Tyler Sample   HS
81 Orioles Y L.J. Hoes 0.1 HS
82 Giants Y Roger Kieschnick -1 4Yr
83 Marlins Y Edgar Olmos -0.5 HS
84 Reds Y Zach Stewart -1.6 4Yr
85 Red Sox Y *Stephen Fife 0.7 4Yr
86 White Sox Y Brent Morel 0.5 4Yr
87 Nationals Y Danny Espinosa 7.5 4Yr
88 Astros Y Chase Davidson   HS
89 Rangers Y Tim Murphy   4Yr
90 Athletics Y Petey Paramore   4Yr
91 Cardinals Y Niko Vasquez   HS
92 Twins Y Bobby Lanigan   4Yr
93 Dodgers Y Kyle Russell   4Yr
94 Brewers Y Logan Schafer 0.7 4Yr
95 Blue Jays Y Andrew Liebel   4Yr
96 Braves Y Craig Kimbrel 18.2 JC
97 Cubs Y Chris Carpenter 0 4Yr
98 Mariners Y Aaron Pribanic   4Yr
99 Tigers Y Scott Green   4Yr
100 Mets Y Kirk Nieuwenhuis 2.8 4Yr

As Joe noted last time out, we’ve reached the stage where players haven’t been around long enough to accumulate large sums of WAR. Still, it’s impressive that the top 21 picks all made the majors and that 18 of those have accumulated a positive WAR. But before you think that GMs have figured this drafting thing out, notice that Kimbrel has the second-highest WAR total to date from the top 100 and he lasted until the 96th pick.

The Mets had three of the top 33 picks in this draft and five of the top 100. Their first pick was Davis at 18 and for a while it looked like he was going to be a solid MLB player. But some odd injuries and the inability to lay off the curve five feet off the plate ultimately did him in. Now he’s in the low minors with the Dodgers, trying to reinvent himself as a pitcher. Unfortunately, they had the 22nd pick, also known as the first guy in the ’08 Draft not to reach the majors. Havens seemed to have all of the skills necessary but he was consistently injured. The next two picks didn’t reach the majors, either. But the Mets made a nice choice at 100, going the small school route and picking up NAIA product Nieuwenhuis, who’s already amassed 1,146 PA in the majors.

Here’s the top 100, sorted by WAR:

OvPck Tm Signed Name WAR Type
5 Giants Y Buster Posey 37.5 4Yr
96 Braves Y Craig Kimbrel 18.2 JC
16 Brewers Y Brett Lawrie 15.2 HS
72 Rockies Y Charlie Blackmon 15.2 4Yr
3 Royals Y Eric Hosmer 14.1 HS
39 Cardinals Y *Lance Lynn 14.1 4Yr
46 Padres Y *Logan Forsythe 12.5 4Yr
28 Yankees N Gerrit Cole 12.2 HS
10 Astros Y Jason Castro 12.1 4Yr
74 Angels Y Tyler Chatwood 10.2 HS
29 Indians Y Lonnie Chisenhall 8.8 JC
19 Cubs Y Andrew Cashner 8.7 4Yr
43 Diamondbacks Y *Wade Miley 8.3 4Yr
32 Brewers Y *Jake Odorizzi 8 HS
7 Reds Y Yonder Alonso 7.9 4Yr
87 Nationals Y Danny Espinosa 7.5 4Yr
79 Pirates Y Jordy Mercer 7.3 4Yr
73 Diamondbacks Y Bryan Shaw 6.4 4Yr
2 Pirates Y Pedro Alvarez 6 4Yr
58 Athletics Y Tyson Ross 6 4Yr
8 White Sox Y Gordon Beckham 5.7 4Yr
14 Twins Y Aaron Hicks 5.7 HS
36 Royals Y Mike Montgomery 5 HS
18 Mets via Braves Y *Ike Davis 4.9 4Yr
11 Rangers Y Justin Smoak 4.7 4Yr
1 Rays Y Tim Beckham 4.5 HS
52 Marlins Y Brad Hand 4.4 HS
57 Rangers Y Robbie Ross 2.8 HS
100 Mets Y Kirk Nieuwenhuis 2.8 4Yr
4 Orioles Y Brian Matusz 2.7 4Yr
9 Nationals N Aaron Crow 2.4 4Yr
51 Phillies via Giants Y *Anthony Gose 1.9 HS
41 Cubs Y *Ryan Flaherty 1.6 4Yr
12 Athletics Y Jemile Weeks 1.1 4Yr
48 Pirates N Tanner Scheppers 1.1 4Yr
20 Mariners Y Josh Fields 1 4Yr
37 Giants Y *Conor Gillaspie 1 4Yr
61 Dodgers Y Josh Lindblom 1 4Yr
59 Cardinals Y Shane Peterson 0.9 4Yr
49 Royals Y Johnny Giavotella 0.8 4Yr
85 Red Sox Y *Stephen Fife 0.7 4Yr
94 Brewers Y Logan Schafer 0.7 4Yr
86 White Sox Y Brent Morel 0.5 4Yr
21 Tigers Y Ryan Perry 0.3 4Yr
47 Rays Y Kyle Lobstein 0.2 HS
17 Blue Jays Y David Cooper 0.1 4Yr
81 Orioles Y L.J. Hoes 0.1 HS
26 Diamondbacks Y Daniel Schlereth 0 4Yr
97 Cubs Y Chris Carpenter 0 4Yr
6 Marlins Y Kyle Skipworth -0.1 HS
45 Red Sox Y *Bryan Price -0.2 4Yr
55 Nationals Y Destin Hood -0.2 HS
50 Orioles Y Xavier Avery -0.3 HS
25 Rockies Y Christian Friedrich -0.4 4Yr
60 Twins Y Tyler Ladendorf -0.4 JC
70 Braves Y Zeke Spruill -0.4 HS
15 Dodgers Y Ethan Martin -0.5 HS
23 Padres Y Allan Dykstra -0.5 4Yr
83 Marlins Y Edgar Olmos -0.5 HS
13 Cardinals Y Brett Wallace -0.6 4Yr
69 Padres Y James Darnell -0.6 4Yr
82 Giants Y Roger Kieschnick -1 4Yr
30 Red Sox Y Casey Kelly -1.5 HS
42 Padres Y Jaff Decker -1.5 HS
84 Reds Y Zach Stewart -1.6 4Yr
38 Astros Y *Jordan Lyles -3.5 HS
22 Mets Y Reese Havens   4Yr
24 Phillies Y Anthony Hewitt   HS
27 Twins via Angels Y *Carlos Gutierrez   4Yr
31 Twins Y *Shooter Hunt   4Yr
33 Mets Y Bradley Holt   4Yr
34 Phillies Y *Zach Collier   HS
35 Brewers Y *Evan Frederickson   4Yr
40 Braves Y *Brett DeVall   HS
44 Yankees Y *Jeremy Bleich   4Yr
53 Brewers Y Seth Lintz   HS
54 Brewers Y Cutter Dykstra   HS
56 Astros Y Jay Austin   HS
62 Brewers Y Cody Adams   4Yr
63 Blue Jays Y Kenny Wilson   HS
64 Braves Y Tyler Stovall   HS
65 Cubs Y Aaron Shafer   4Yr
66 Mariners Y Dennis Raben   4Yr
67 Tigers Y Cody Satterwhite   4Yr
68 Mets Y Javier Rodriguez   HS
71 Phillies Y Jason Knapp   HS
75 Yankees N Scott Bittle   4Yr
76 Indians Y Trey Haley   HS
77 Red Sox Y Derrik Gibson   HS
78 Rays Y Jake Jefferies   4Yr
80 Royals Y Tyler Sample   HS
88 Astros Y Chase Davidson   HS
89 Rangers Y Tim Murphy   4Yr
90 Athletics Y Petey Paramore   4Yr
91 Cardinals Y Niko Vasquez   HS
92 Twins Y Bobby Lanigan   4Yr
93 Dodgers Y Kyle Russell   4Yr
95 Blue Jays Y Andrew Liebel   4Yr
98 Mariners Y Aaron Pribanic   4Yr
99 Tigers Y Scott Green   4Yr

Posey has accumulated twice as much WAR as Kimbrel. We already see 10 players have reached a double digit WAR total and we’re likely to add a few more before all is said and done. Currently, 48 players have recorded a positive WAR and 67 have made the majors. Interestingly, we see several high draft picks from 2008 hit free agency following the 2017 season. Hosmer, Lynn and Cashner are all available right now, while Alonso signed with Cleveland.