Let’s focus on two Mets relievers whose contracts are up and the team will have to make a decision about re-signing. In this “what have you done for me lately” world, let’s concentrate on what they did down the stretch. To avoid preconceived notions, let’s call one of them “Smith” and the other one “Jones.” Here are their numbers the final months:
Smith – 25.1 IP, 13 H, 5 ER, 10 BB, 23 Ks, 1 HR, 1.78 ERA, .148/.242/.182
Jones – 28.2 IP, 17 H, 9 ER, 6 BB, 22 Ks, 4 HR, 2.83 ERA, .172/222/.323
Both Smith and Jones were very good down the stretch. Smith did a slightly better job with strikeouts and HR allowed while Jones threw more innings and did a better job with walks. If this was the only information you had on which pitcher to sign, which one would you choose? You could make a case for either one.
What if you then learned that Smith was two years younger than Jones? What if you learned that in 2012 Jones cost four times more than Smith and was likely to get a pay raise while Smith could potentially get a pay cut – would that change your mind?
This “game” was presented to make Smith look as good as possible but it also included a time span where Jones was very good, too. Of course by now you’ve probably figured out that Smith is Manny Acosta and Jones is Jon Rauch. This is just something to think about for those who lobby to re-sign Rauch while also advocating that the team part ways with Acosta.
HAIRSTON’S YEAR IN PERSEPCTIVE – Not many of us predicted Scott Hairston to turn in the year that he did in 2012. But how good was it in team history? Among players with between 200 and 400 PA, Hairston’s 117 OPS+ ranked tied for 34th-best in franchise history. Here are the top three:
#3 – Willie Mays, 1972 (145 OPS+) – Yep, Mays did nothing but embarrass himself when he was with the Mets.
#2 – Tim Teufel, 1987 (153 OPS+) – If only the pitchers could have stayed healthy in 1987 …
#1 – Bobby Bonilla, 1995 (160 OPS+) – This list was designed for part-time players but Bonilla makes it because he was traded at the deadline. Remember who the Mets received in return? The haul was Damon Buford and Alex Ochoa, with Ochoa being the key piece. Ochoa was ranked as the 35th-best prospect in the majors by Baseball America prior to the 1995 season. For a point of reference, the same publication had Matt Harvey ranked 54th coming into 2012.
NIESE BETTER THAN NICE DOWN THE STRETCH – The knock on Jonathon Niese coming into the season was that he fell apart at the end of the season. In 2010, he started out with an 8-5 record and a 3.33 ERA in his first 23 games but finished with a 1-5 mark and a 7.57 ERA in his final seven games. In 2011, it was a 9-7, 3.53 start and a 2-4, 6.46 finish.
But 2012 saw him go 6-4 with a 2.57 ERA down the stretch. Three of his four losses were Quality Starts, including one where he allowed just 1 ER in 6 IP. Yet you read elsewhere about how Niese still needs to turn the corner…
JORDANY BETANCOURT – Many people wanted the Mets to give Jordany Valdespin more playing time down the stretch in what was a lost season. But it’s hard to blame Terry Collins for not bestowing more starts on a guy who got exposed with additional playing time. In 135 P A as a starter, Valdespin had a .254/.288/.373 line. That .661 OPS would look right at home on the back of Yuniesky Betancourt’s baseball card. Now, Betancourt played eight years in the majors but looks like he’s reached the end of the line, as even the Royals gave up on him last year. When Dayton Moore’s organization sours of the toolsy player, where is there left to go?
AN UNHERALDED LEFTY? – We all know how Collins loves his lefty relievers. So it’s a little surprising that Justin Hampson did not get more love for his performance in 2012. In 23 PA versus LHB this year in the majors, Hampson posted a .150/.227/.150 line. As long as you ignore the .883 OPS posted by RHB, that looks outstanding. While Robert Carson and Josh Edgin received all of the accolades, Hampson showed the makings of a fine LOOGY for those who enjoy that kind of thing.
WHAT MET DO YOU WANT TO SEE UP WITH RUNNERS ON BASE? – I’ll give you five guesses to name the guy you think led the team in driving home available runners on base when he came to the plate. Go ahead, pick your guys.
OK, here’s the chart of the top Others Batted In (OBI%) among Mets players in 2012 who came to bat with 100 runners on base.
17.21 Ronny Cedeno
16.90 David Wright
15.82 Daniel Murphy
15.00 Jordany Valdespin
14.99 Ike Davis
14.19 Lucas Duda
14.02 Scott Hairston
13.60 Justin Turner
13.28 Andres Torres
12.73 Mike Baxter
12.07 Kirk Nieuwenhuis
10.81 Ruben Tejada
9.26 Josh Thole
9.02 Jason Bay
You didn’t guess Bay or Thole, did you?