Is there anything Andres Torres can’t do?
Before we praise Torres, let’s take a minute to remember how he came to the Mets in the first place over the winter. Depending on your point of view, Torres was acquired:
A – Since the Mets were desperate to get rid of Angel Pagan
B – Since the Mets were eager to get Ramon Ramirez
But it’s been nothing but good things for the Mets and Torres, even if not in the traditional way. First, he got hurt in Spring Training, which allowed the club to take an extra long look at Jordany Valdespin, even getting him reps in the outfield. Then he re-injured himself on Opening Day, which forced the team to give a look to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. All Nieuwenhuis has done has been to hustle and excel on both sides of the ball.
Now, Nieuwenhuis and Torres are both in the lineup, as Jason Bay went down with an injury. And the Mets are learning they can survive quite nicely without their expensive 2014 option, uh, left fielder. Nieuwenhuis has continued to hit and Torres is off to a hot start. Bay was off to a respectable start and offered a RH threat in the lineup. But the reaction from fans has been pleas for Bay to take his time coming back and to make sure he is 100% healthy.
Torres went 2-for-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs. In 10 games with the Mets he has a .333/.429/.500 slash line. And this coming from a guy whose defense was supposed to be his main asset. But it’s not like Torres has been a disappointment in the field. While it’s easy to get fooled by defensive numbers in the best of times, Torres definitely passes the eye test out in CF.
For what it’s worth, Torres has already notched 3 DRS and his UZR checks in at 0.8 after 10 games, both indicative of strong defensive play. For giggles, let’s compare those to the departed Angel Pagan. First, let’s recall that DRS and UZR are both counting stats (like RBIs) rather than rate stats. Pagan, by virtue of a 165.1 innings played edge, should have better numbers.
But Pagan has a (-7) DRS and a (-2.4) UZR, numbers resembling his 2011 season with the Mets and not 2010 when he was above-average in the field. FanGraphs also lists a UZR/150 stat, which projects what a player would do at his current rate over 150 games. Pagan has a (-14.9) rate in this category while Torres checks in with a 38.3 mark.
There’s a long way between the second week of May and 150 games, so we certainly should not treat UZR/150 as gospel. Yet if the two players did end up with those defensive numbers, it would represent a difference of 53.2 runs or – as 10 runs equal a win – five wins, which is just huge.
Who would have ever guessed that with Ramirez being underwhelming and Torres limited to 10 games after five weeks that Mets fans would be *thrilled* with their offseason trade? It’s just another example of how baseball can surprise you. But there’s little doubt that the Pagan-Torres trade has played a key role in the Mets’ 18-13 start.
If the season ended today, the Mets would make the playoffs. While the season still has plenty of games remaining, the Mets are a combined 9-3 against the Braves and Phillies, the two teams expected to challenge for the division title. Additionally, the Mets are just 0.5 games out of first place. It leaves me wondering one thing:
Where are all the people who said in the preseason that the Mets were terrible and that they would challenge for 100 losses?