My eyes nearly popped out after reading this earlier today over at MetsBlog:
Collins said he is not concerned about having Abreu in the outfield on a day when Bartolo Colon is pitching.
“He is 40 years old, so I’m sure he doesn’t move as he used to,” Collins said of Abreu’s defensive abilities. However, “Colon is a groundball pitcher, so it just added up.”
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the Mets’ manager. Let’s add this as another reason to be skeptical of his being the right guy for the job. It would be one thing if Terry Collins said this in Spring Training, as Colon has been pitching in the American League since Collins was hired in New York. He could be forgiven for not knowing that in 2013, Colon had a 41.5 GB%.
But Collins had watched Colon pitch in Florida and he watched him over four starts in the regular season. It may be unrealistic to expect Collins to know Colon’s ground ball rate off the top of his head. But it doesn’t seem too much to ask if he allowed more grounders or fly outs, especially since coming into Thursday’s game, Colon had a 36.0 GB%.
According to Baseball-Reference, through Wednesday’s games, there was the following breakdown on batted balls, excluding bunts:
GB – 4,000
FB – 2,366
LD – 2,091
Of those 8,457 batted balls, 47.3% were ground balls. If we were to include bunts, the percentage would only go up.
Back to Colon, he’s never had a GB% as high as 47.3% since they started keeping track in 2002. Twice he’s been over 45% but seven times prior to this year he’s been under 42%. There’s pretty much no way to justify thinking that Colon is a ground ball pitcher and that today would be a good day to use Bobby Abreu.
FanGraphs has Colon’s GB% in Thursday’s start at 33.3%.
The Mets won today and Abreu did not muff any fly balls so no doubt some people will think what Collins did/said was of no significance. But the end doesn’t justify the means and my preference would be for a manager not to have basic facts completely wrong – whether he relied on intuition or a stat sheet.
If Collins is looking for a ground ball pitcher to get a start for Abreu – he should target Jenrry Mejia. Through four games this year, Mejia has a 50.0 GB% and in his MLB career, Mejia has a 59.3 rate.
Or if he just wanted to get Abreu a start, he could simply say that and not try to justify it with a remark that made no sense.