Jeremy Hefner’s value, David Wright’s resurgence, Daniel Murphy’s errors

On September 20th, Jeremy Hefner made his first start in 12 days and was obliterated. He gave up 7 ER and did not record an out. The start was so discouraging that it called into question his usefulness going forward. But in his very next start, Hefner rebounded with seven shutout innings. He now has 12 starts for the Mets this year and in seven of those games, Hefner has delivered a Quality Start. On the flip side, four times he has put the Mets behind the 8-ball by giving up a bunch of runs early. His other remaining start falls in the middle, as he allowed 4 ER in 5.2 IP. Not great but not quite disastrous, either.

So, what do we make of Hefner going forward? His ERA here in 2012 is 5.32 which is hardly anything to get excited about. Yet we have seen that more often than not, Hefner has delivered a start which has kept his team in the game. But overall how does that rate among other pitchers? Among National League hurlers, there are 92 pitchers who have 75 or more innings. Hefner ranks 84th in ERA with his 5.32 mark.

But some of those pitchers are relievers and Hefner has appeared out of the pen this season, too. If we limit our sample to pitchers who have made at least 10 starts, there are 95 pitchers in the NL who fit this requirement and Hefner ranks 84th in ERA.

With 16 teams in the NL, this puts Hefner as one of the best “sixth starters” in the league, if you figure that the top 80 starters would be the five-man rotations for each club (a total of 80 pitchers). And that’s just based on raw ERA, neglecting that for the most part, Hefner has bunched his runs in a handful of awful starts. Hefner has provided much more value with 7 QS than if he had delivered his 5.32 ERA equally among all of his performances.

Hefner was a giant question mark coming into the season, especially as he was counted on along with Chris Schwinden to be one of the club’s top options as a fill-in starter. While Schwinden stumbled when he got his shot, Hefner has filled in admirably. He’s likely to open 2013 as the long man in the pen and will be the first one counted on to pick up the slack should one of the starters get hurt.

WRIGHT’S RESURGENCE – After going 194 PA with just 1 HR, David Wright has hit 4 HR in his last nine games. In addition to his power surge, Wright has also cut down on his whiffs in this span. He has 4 Ks in 36 PA for an 11.11 K%, an excellent rate. Not surprisingly, Wright has a .934 OPS in this stretch. Another thing that likely will not surprise you is that the Mets are 6-3 in these games. In the first half when Wright was hot, the Mets were winning. When he went into the tank in July and August, the Mets followed him down the drain. There’s no way to sugar coat it – the Mets need a productive Wright to be a good team.

RAUCH’S GOPHER BALL TROUBLES – After a rough patch from mid-May to early-June, Jon Rauch turned in over three months of outstanding pitching, as he posted a 1.21 ERA over a 40-game span. But here recently, things have turned for Rauch, as he’s allowed HR in three consecutive games. Rauch still has a slightly below-average HR/FB rate but there’s no doubt he’s experienced some regression the past two-plus weeks – as he also gave up a homer on 9/12. Last year Rauch had a 12.9 HR/FB mark which led to a 4.85 ERA. Keep that in mind before you get too eager for Sandy Alderson to re-sign Rauch for 2013.

MURPHY GETS THE JOB DONE AT 2B – Since making an error on September 8th, Daniel Murphy has gone 17 games without committing an “E” in the field. Now errors are not the end-all, be-all of fielding performance but it’s good to see Murphy go through this stretch. He looks more and more comfortable turning the double play and surprisingly, the advanced defensive metrics define his range as his biggest problem in the field. Murphy previously has exhibited plus range in the field. Murphy is playing too deep in the field and once he moves back to normal depth, we should see his range improve. We’ve already seen him move in to just a few steps on the grass. When he actually plays on the dirt, it will be a good sign.

YOUNG REBOUNDS IN SEPTEMBER – Like all Mets pitchers, Chris Young struggled in July. However, while the rest of the staff straightened out in August, Young continued his poor pitching. In his first nine games after the All-Star break, going through August 28th, Young had a 5.59 ERA and the Mets lost seven of his starts. But once the calendar turned to September, Young shook off his slump. He’s hurled a QS in three of his four games this month and he has a 2.66 ERA in 23.2 IP.

TEJADA HAS 9-GAME HITTING STREAK – Early in September, Ruben Tejada could not buy a hit. His AVG had been in a steady freefall and not only did it appear that he would fail to hit .300 it looked like he might not even maintain a .280 mark. But Tejada now has 15 hits in his last nine games and has his AVG back up to .295 for the year.

RUNS SPLITS – Thanks in part to scoring six runs in each of their last four games, the Mets have scored 85 runs in the month of September, an average of 3.54 runs per game. In games where the Mets top their average and score four or more runs, they are 9-3 this month. However, when they score three or fewer runs their record is 1-11.

7 comments for “Jeremy Hefner’s value, David Wright’s resurgence, Daniel Murphy’s errors

  1. Metsense
    September 28, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Heffner as the long man/emergency starter in 2013 should have a short life. Mejia or McHugh may dislodge him from the emergency starter role, and hopefully by July, Wheeler will be pressing for a starters spot. Hefner is 26 years old, with room to improve, and seems to have mastered AAA so to be the long man may be his niche for awhile. Nice problem to have.
    At 3.5M+ Rauch with his balky knees is to much of a risk to re sign. There appears to be some cheaper options. (I appreciate his 2012 season).
    Heffner’s line just proves that there is no need to bring Chris Young back under any circumstances.
    Murphy’s defense doesn’t appear to be a liability (unlike Duda in the OF) and has only increased his value if the Mets decide to trade him. He is a serviceable second baseman or first baseman or third baseman defensively. I apprecaiate his work ethic.
    Keith mentioned the other day that Wright isn’t upswinging which is a good sign. Wright needs some help in this lineup and shouldn’t be expected to carry the total load, much of it, but not the total.
    Finally, Ruben Tejada has been better than I expected in 2012 (but what I expected him to achieve a little later). He is smarter than his years.

  2. Name
    September 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    The main thing that I have taken from Jeremy Hefner’s season is that he doesn’t fare that well when you keep shifting his roles. That is why i think that you either keep him at Triple-A for starting pitching depth or you just keep him in the bullpen because once he gets shifted around, he doesn’t produce good results. Now, if i remember correctly, Hefner’s best two performances came against the Astros(8IP, 1ER), and Pittsburg(7IP, 0ER). If you take out his starting stats against those two feeble clubs, he has posted a 7.27 ERA. Ugly and can’t be counted upon for next year(even as a 6th man).

    Wright’s recent hot streak has pretty much guaranteed a .300 season average. Since there are 6 games left for the Mets and he plays all of them, he will get around 22 AB’s left. As long as he gets 2 hits in those 22 AB’s he will get .300

    Murphy has certainly held his ground at 2B. One of the main storylines going into 2012 was whether Murph could handle 2nd. I don’t think i’ve seen any article written specifically critisizing his defense so he certainly has been an OK option.

    As recently as a month ago, i was ready to bid Young adieu, but after the troubling performances by McHugh and Hefner, i think that we may have to try to convince to either take a minor league contract again or give him a very low major league contract.

    • 7train
      September 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm

      Murphy is the last thing to worry about on this team. His offense is necessary as a the only LH hitter who can actually hit LHP and he doesn’t strike out much and 15th in the Majors in doubles? I’ll take it. Gladly.

      When we have a fully formed team and well conceived roster he’ll be a great spot starter at 1B, 2B and 3B as well as a strong LH pinch hitter you can’t neutralize with a LOOGY.

      He’ll help us now and he’ll help us later.

      • Name
        September 28, 2012 at 7:51 pm

        We were really discussing Murphy’s defense, because we thought that his offense would be no problem(although this year he has been really streaky as opposed to 2011 when he was remarkably consistant but still he has posted an average near .300). He is a great 2-hitter in my mind because he doesn’t strike out much and gets hits.

    • September 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm

      His two worst starts came against the Phillies (0 IP, 7 ER) and the Padres (3.2 IP, 6 ER). Take away those two starts against non-playoff teams and Hefner has a 4.14 ERA. There’s more reason to take away those starts — the Padres game was his first start of the year after being used out of the pen and the Phillies game was his first start in 12 days — then there is a reason to take away the Astros and Pirates.

      Not every team is going to be a playoff contender. I see what you’re saying about the Astros but there’s no reason to be down about the Pirates game. Pirates are a league-average offensive team that does better against RHP and they had just scored 10 runs against the Mets the game before Hefner pitched.

      • Name
        September 28, 2012 at 8:55 pm

        Your 2 examples when he struggled are when he transitions from the bullpen back to the starting rotation. That is why i’m saying he shouldn’t be constantly jerked around next year and should just be a given a role for the whole year unless it is an emergency(or option him down the AAA for him to get that 1 bad start out of his system before letting him start in the majors)

  3. billy bob
    October 5, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Hefner has been jerked so bad this season that’s why he struggled some, his first appearance in the majors was three days after he started in AAA and after he drove all the way to the game when they called him up four hours before the game started. He drove himself to his game! they sent him down and up down and up and expected him to pitch on either two to three days rest or have him wait for nearly two weeks before he pitched again. it was insane and the padres game was after a rain delay that no other pitcher would have went back out to finish with that long of a delay they should have replaced him there. so what they gave him this season Hefner has done tremendous!!

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