Thoughts on Left on Base and GDPs for the Mets

Sunday the Mets left 10 runners on base and lost, 5-2. The story of the game is they had their chances but could not cash in. It stood in stark contrast to Saturday’s contest, where the Mets left only three runners on base but won the game. It’s easy to view Left On Base (LOB) as a negative thing but if you are ever asked to lead the league in a negative category, make sure you pick LOB.

The Cardinals lead the National League with a 4.84 runs per game average. They also lead the league on LOB with a 7.39 mark. On the flip side, the Cubs are 15th with a 3.73 runs per game mark and 15th in LOB with a 6.25 mark. The Mets are eighth with a 4.32 runs per game mark and are third with a 7.01 LOB.

For teams without a lot of power, the mantra has always been: “Get them on, get them over, get them in.” There’s no way to get them in without getting them on in the first place. And the sad reality is that there is always going to be “waste” in this equation. Not every runner who gets on, gets in. Think of it as a cost of doing business.

It’s frustrating to have a game with double-digit LOB totals because it’s easy to see a path to victory. When you lose a game and only have a couple of LOB – it becomes easy for the mind to say that the team just ran into a good pitcher. And no doubt there is some truth to that belief. But when the team only has two LOB against pitchers like Jason Marquis and Mike Leake, as the Mets have done recently, that seems like an indictment of the offense.

Since the All-Star break, the Mets have had eight games where they left four or fewer runners on base. They have a 1-7 mark in those games.

Another way that the offense is not producing here in the second half is by how many double plays they have hit. Here it is important to distinguish between a line drive double play, where the batter hit the ball good but had the misfortune of hitting it right at someone, and a ground ball double play, which is typically a ball not hit particularly hard.

In the first half of the season, the Mets hit 57 GDPs in 86 games, an average of two every three games. That is slightly below average and overall a pretty normal mark. The National League averages .71 GDP per game.

Since the All-Star break, the Mets have hit 32 GDPs in 35 games, an average of .91 GDP per game. For the season, the Dodgers have the highest GDP rate in the NL, with an averaged of .89 GDP per game.

In the second half of the season the Mets have had a bunch of games like Sunday, where they get runners on but cannot get them home. They’ve also had a fair share of games like Saturday, where they don’t even get runners on base. And when they do get runners on, they are hitting into more rally-killing GDPs than they did in the first half.

It’s not easy to play at a .314 winning percentage over a 35-game stretch, especially for a team that played at a .535 clip over the first 86 games. In a 162-game season, a .314 winning percentage would mean a record of 51-111 and I refuse to believe that is indicative of the talent on hand.

If asked to guess what happened, I would say that part of it was regression, part of it bullpen issues, part of it bad luck and part of it poor managing, both on and off the field. It’s impossible to say what percentage to put into each category and where you put the blame for the second half skid probably says a lot about how you view the game in general.

All I know is that I would rather watch a game where the Mets leave 12 men on base rather than one in which they strand two. In games where the Mets leave 12 or more batters on base, they are 5-3. In games where they strand two batters, they are 1-5.

9 comments for “Thoughts on Left on Base and GDPs for the Mets

  1. Name
    August 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    While in theory you would want your LOB to be high, because that means you have more chances to score, it can be incredibly frustrating for the fan at times, especially when the team is struggling.

    As for the double plays, it’s just hard to explain how many of those rally-killers they have hit into since the break. Take yesterday for example. 1st and 3rd one out. Scott Hairston was 2-2. But he GDP and no runs across. It seems like we have seen that situation too many times and i hope that ends.

  2. steevy
    August 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    The Mets slowed down drastically in their 2 out production,hence fewer runs and more left on base.Jason Bay alone must account for large numbers of runners left on and Josh Thole(play Shoppach EVERY DAY!) is another who never seems to get anyone in.

  3. NormE
    August 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    The bullpen has been an issue all season. The outfield has been unstable all season. The manager has been the same all season. Wilpon and Alderson are the same. Injuries happen to all teams. As Ike has seemingly become more productive the team has been losing more. Wright has come back from his over-the-top start.
    Thus, we’re left with regression. The old saying that “a team is never quite as good as it looks when it is winning, and never quite as bad as it looks when it is losing,” holds true. It’s an old-fasioned way of saying “regression.”

    • August 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      I don’t think it’s that easy – just to say that things have been an issue all season. The bullpen just threw 7.2 scoreless innings in the Washington series and has been okay since Manny Acosta was recalled in late July. But they were horrific up until that point.

      There was a 30-game or so stretch in April/May when both Duda and Nieuwenhuis were hitting about .300 and posting .800 OPS marks and the outfield was productive.

      I do think it’s quite fair to chalk up a bunch of the slide to regression. But has regression already kicked in – making the Mets a true-talent .471 squad, which would be a 76-win team over a full season? Or is there still more regression to come?

    • CoolGramps
      August 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      the manager needs to take his head out of the sand and play best players for the rest of the season if player can hit lefty or righty he can hit years ago they did not do play right against lefty or lefty vs righty

      • steevy
        August 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm

        Platooning goes back to the 40’s I think.Casey Stengel platooned almost every position with his great Yankees teams.I have no problem with platooning if it an effective platoon.Both players need to be productive in their roles.Backman,Teufel was a good example of a good platoon.Backman flat out could not hit lefties(despite being listed switch hitter).

        • NormE
          August 20, 2012 at 7:08 pm

          Steevy, if I remember correctly, in Casey’s early years with the Yankees his righty/lefty platooning mostly involved 3B (Billy Johnson/Bobby Brown) and LF (Hank Bauer/Gene Woodling). Except for 1B his regulars (Yogi, Coleman, Scooter, Joe D. and Henrich) were not really platooned. At 1B he used Collins, Mize and Hopp—all left-handed hitters.
          In later years he platooned Yogi with Howard (though he used both behind the plate and in LF). Boyer and Carey were oftened platooned at 3B and Siebern was often used as a platooned OF, possibly with Cerv.
          Not as much platooning as we remember.

  4. steevy
    August 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I am so tired of the Mets making every stiff pitcher look good.Now the damn Rockies are settin em down!!Moscoso?!You kiddin me?!

  5. Chris F
    August 21, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Our pitching and hitting is so terrible we can make a hack like Moscoso look like Clemens. I think a complete dumping of the coaching staff except for Tuff and TC is warranted, but primarily Warthen and Hudgens who clearly are not getting the work done. Its maddening.

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