Best and worst Mets pitching performances by advanced stats

Some numbers roll off the tongue. Even though they may no longer be records, 714, 61, 511 and 56 all mean something specific to baseball fans. There’s an aura and mystique there unlike in any other sport. For the Mets, .340 is probably the number that stands out for me. I’m sure others will have different ones that immediately come to mind.

One of the problems with newer numbers is that they quite simply do not have the same aura. But that’s okay. Any kind of aura that can be created in a week probably isn’t worth having. At the same time, there’s no way to even begin building aura until we familiarize ourselves with what the best and worst of the new numbers are,

Here I’m going to start the ball rolling, trying to create a touch of aura – at least as it pertains to the Mets. Here are the yearly best and worst in club history in some newer pitcher metrics (minimum 100 IP), most of which they began tracking in 2002. So, do not expect to see Seaver, Koosman or Matlack here because we simply do not have the data available from when they roamed the pitching mound at Shea Stadium.

Category

Best Performance

Worst Performance

LOB%

82.6 – Johan Santana, ‘08

65.2 – Pedro Martinez, ‘06

HR/FB

5.6 – Tom Glavine, ‘05

15.6 – Martinez, ‘08

xFIP

3.27 – R.A. Dickey, ‘12

5.62 – Steve Trachsel, ‘06

O-Swing%

36.0 – Dillon Gee, ‘12

13.6 – Trachsel, ‘04

Z-Swing%

59.4 – Jonathon Niese, ‘11

71.7 – Trachsel, ‘02

Z-Contact%

78.9 – Dickey, ‘12

93.3 – Trachsel, ‘06

F-Strike%

66.0 – Santana, ‘10

44.8 – Glavine, ‘04

SwStr%

13.7 – Aaron Heilman, ‘05

5.0 – Livan Hernandez, ‘09

GB%

55.1 – Dickey, ‘12

22.3 – Chris Young, ‘12

GB/FB

1.97 – Dickey, ‘10

0.38 – Young, ‘12

LD%

11.8 – Orlando Hernandez
, ’07

24.0 – Santana, ‘12

IFFB%

19.3 – Santana, ‘12

4.5 – Victor Zambrano, ‘05

WPA

4.08 – Santana, ‘08

(-1.78) – Mike Pelfrey, 09 & Chris Capuano, ‘11

FBv

92.7 – Pelfrey ‘08

83.4 – Dickey ‘12

LOB% – Left On Base percentage – How many baserunners a pitcher strands. A normal rate is around 72%. However, a pitcher’s career rate is a better barometer than this rough estimate. For example, Santana has a lifetime 77% LOB while Pelfrey checks in at 70.9%.
HR/FB – Home Runs per Fly Ball – The number of HR a pitcher allows is directly proportional to how many fly balls he gives up, with a normal rate in today’s game around 10%.
xFIP – Expected Fielding Independent Pitching – An ERA estimator based on HR. BB and Ks, giving the pitcher a “normal” HR rate.
O-Swing% – The percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone.
Z-Swing% – The percentage of pitches a batter swings at inside the strike zone.
Z-Contact% – The percentage of pitches a batter makes contact with inside the strike zone when swinging the bat.
F-Strike% – The percentage of first pitch strikes.
SwStr% – The percentage of total pitches a batter swings and misses on.
GB% – The percentage of ground balls, with a league average around 44%
LD% – The percentage of line drives, with a league average around 20%
IFFB – The percentage of pop ups a batter hits out of the number of fly balls, with a league average around 10%
GB/FB – ground ball/fly ball ratio. On a runs-per-out basis, balls hit into the air created almost 7.5 times as much offense as balls kept on the ground did. Generally, you want pitchers to get grounders.
WPA – how individual players affect their team’s win expectancy on a per-play basis. A season-long WPA of 3.0 or above is considered excellent.
FBv – Average fastball velocity.

*****

Oh, earlier it was mentioned that most of these stats are available only back to 2002. The numbers in the chart above are from that date forward. But two of these stats – LOB% and WPA – can be calculated from when there is play-by-play data, which we have throughout the team’s history.

The best LOB% in team history is the 86.9 rate posted by Dwight Gooden in 1985. The worst was the 57.1 mark recorded by Craig Anderson in 1962.

The best WPA was again Gooden in ’85, when he posted an other-worldly 9.46 mark. The worst came from Pete Schourek, who had a (-3.56) rate in 1993, which is as terrible as Gooden’s mark is awesome.

9 comments for “Best and worst Mets pitching performances by advanced stats

  1. NormE
    February 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Great work, Brian.
    The number that jumps out at me is the ’05 SwStr% for Heilman. I could never understand how a guy could look so good one pitch and look so bad the next. From what I recall, some blamed it on his inability to be consistent in his mechanics. Next to Pelfrey and Maine, he was probably the biggest headcase on the mound in recent Mets memory.

    • February 13, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      The incredibly low LD% from Orlando Hernandez is the one that leaps out to me. Among pitchers with 100 IP in 2012, the lowest LD% was the 16.1 posted by Trevor Cahill. Hernandez’ mark just blows that away.

  2. steevy
    February 13, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    I can’t read part of the “worst” column it is cut off.Maybe it’s just me?

    • February 13, 2013 at 6:48 pm

      Potentially a browser issue. I’m using Firefox and it comes across fine.

  3. Joe Vasile
    February 14, 2013 at 12:58 am

    No surprise to see Chris Young as the worst in GB% and GB:FB ratio. Guy was a dead flyball pitcher.

    • February 14, 2013 at 10:53 am

      Indeed.

      Even if we had numbers going back to 1962, it wouldn’t surprise me if Young would still hold the team records in these categories. And that’s a partial reason for doing this — so we at some level appreciate the unique performances, in this case how Young was able to (relatively) succeed despite being terrible at things that are generally regarded as key pitching metrics.

      There’s more than one way to skin a cat and Young’s method was to hold him with his feet and to reach behind his back to do it. Unorthodox, to be sure, but impressive in its own way.

  4. AJ
    February 14, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Surprises: That the names Heilman, Hernandez and Pelfrey turn up anywhere on the “Best Performance” side of the list, or that the names Martinez and Santana appear on the “Worst Performance” list.

    Not Surprised At All: That the names Santana and Dickey dominate the “Best” list, and that the “Worst” list includes the names Zambrano, Pelfrey and Young.

    Kind of Surprising, But Not When I Stop and Remember: That the name Trachsel dominates the “Worst” list. Probably a combination of his being a guy who gave a lot of innings while not actually being a very good pitcher. But in Trachsel’s defense, what he lacked in effectiveness he made up for by being a really, really slow worker!

  5. February 14, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Another good reason to do this – to remember that El Duque was really good. Despite the fact that he pitched for the Mets during his age 40 and 41 seasons, he went 18-12 with a 112 ERA+. Things might have been a lot different if he were able to pitch in the postseason in 2006. He was going to start Game 1 of the NLDS after his strong finish (1.69 ERA, 1.071 WHIP with 42 Ks in 37.1 IP) but he got hurt running sprints and missed the entire playoffs.

    Things might have been different in 2007 if he could have stayed in the rotation but bunions on his feet did him in.

    • February 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      I had underestimated El Duque until he came to the Mets and I saw him on a regular basis. He was an artist, an absolute joy to watch. And I agree, his injury really hurt us in 2007.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *