Yesterday I wrote a story about how the Mets should follow in the path of the 2013 A’s. Since there’s no game today, I thought it might be fun to follow up on that and try to do some non-vigorous number crunching. The idea is to throw some ideas about things out there and have the crowd weigh in on various things. Its aim is to be more fun than serious, so please point out all of the things that are wrong in the same spirit.
The article identified three ways that the A’s, a team not packed with stars, have succeeded this year. They are:
1. The health of their starting rotation, where only seven different players have started all year
2. The use of platooning to avoid sinkholes in the everyday lineup
3. Sensible bullpen usage with no LOOGY fascination
These and other figures are all inter-related, which makes separating them out and assigning a win value to them essentially impossible. But we’re just having fun here so we’re going to attempt to do that very thing.
Let’s start off with the starting rotation. The Mets’ best seven starters this year have been, in some order, Harvey, Wheeler, Gee, Niese, Mejia, Hefner and Torres. With the benefit of hindsight as these as our seven best – what if they started all of the games this year? In games started by that sextet the Mets have gone 60-68 (.469) while when the other five pitchers start, the Mets are 7-14 (.333). Without any extra benefit from an improved lineup or better bullpen management, we would expect the Mets to have gone 10-11 if their main seven guys had started those games, instead. So, give the Mets three more wins.
As for the lineup, the Mets have received the following fWAR:
That’s a (-0.8) level of production from two spots where a platoon would offer an immediate upgrade. Let’s say at those two positions, we instead put Lucas Duda/Josh Satin and Tejada/Qunitanilla platoons. Duda has an .853 OPS lifetime playing 1B and Satin has an .886 OPS lifetime against LHP. In limited action at first base, Duda has been about average (-0.1 UZR) while Satin has a 5.0 UZR. For grins and giggles, let’s say this platoon can put up an .850 OPS and be average defensively. Paul Goldschmidt had an .850 OPS and a (-1.2) UZR and put up a 2.9 fWAR. So, let’s say the Mets gain three more wins moving from Davis to the platoon.
At shortstop, Quintanilla and Tejada both suffered from playing nearly every day. The platoon should alleviate either one of them being driven into the ground and lifetime they essentially hit at league average rates for the position when they have the platoon advantage. While they are below average in the field, the two of them combined for a (-0.7) fWAR so far this year. So, let’s say the Mets gain two more wins by using the platoon.
Duda had a (-11.7) UZR in the outfield this year, meaning his defensive play there cost them over a win. We’ll give the Mets another win by removing Duda from the outfield mix.
Those are the easy ones. But if we platoon Matt den Dekker, how do we account for his value? Also, it seems reasonable to expect Lagares to play a full season. How do we account for his impact, especially from the defensive side of things? And will the Mets be able to replace Marlon Byrd’s production? We should also figure that Rick Ankiel and Jordany Valdespin won’t be providing 215 PA of sub-replacement level production, either.
I’m ready to throw my hands in the air and call those things a wash.
Now let’s address the bullpen fiasco. Tim Byrdak, Pedro Feliciano and Robert Carson combined to post a (-1.5) fWAR. For ease of calculation, let’s pretend we replace those with a slightly-above-replacement-level reliever – Gonzalez Germen already has a 0.5 fWAR, so it’s not far-fetched – to give the Mets two more wins by eliminating the LOOGY madness.
We’ve already identified 11 Wins that are there for the taking. And that’s not factoring in any interdependent factors. Hopefully with more offensive support, the SP win more games. Hopefully with a more sensible bullpen deployment, relievers won’t be overextended and can provide better support to the starters. And we’re not counting on any improvement from the rookies, either.
The Mets are a depressing 67-82 right now. But I think we would all feel a little better in the alternate universe where they were 78-71. It’s not as good as the 88 wins that the A’s have. But a little luck and a little common sense could get us comfortably above .500 this year.
Okay, your turn to spitball.