Mets’ hitting system is not the issue, Carig writes

Hudgens DavisYesterday at Newsday, Marc Carig – one of the top Mets beat writers – had a very lengthy and comprehensive analysis of the Mets organizational hitting philosophy. It was excellent.

Carig talked to people at every level of the organization and ended up dispelling just about every myth about the system.

The fact of the matter is simple – while Dave Hudgens became the sacrificial lamb last week when he was relieved of his duties as the Mets hitting coach, his philosophy was not the reason for the Mets’ offensive woes.

The system was – and still is – not about being passive at the plate and just going to the plate looking to draw a walk.  It is about swinging at pitches that you know that you can handle, and laying off those you can’t.

Don’t take my word, take Paul DePodestas.

“Walks are going to happen if you’re being selective,” said DePodesta to Carig. “But what we really want to happen is guys driving balls, hitting balls into gaps, hitting balls off of walls or over walls.  These are even better than walks, you know?”

But often when the results are not there, the philosophy gets confused with one of passivity, and fans grow annoyed.

Part of this stems from the disconnect between the way most fans view the game, and the way that the front office does.  Like Carig says, fans speak the language of results – home runs and RBIs – while the front office is more about the approach and the process.

To be sure there are fans who are more approach and process-minded, but they are the minority, even if they are an expanding one.

Two hitters with very different approaches at the plate – Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda – can both thrive, relatively speaking, within the system, even if one is aggressive early in the count and the other prefers to take a pitch or two.

Those who say that Murphy’s success is a byproduct of not adhering to the Mets organizational hitting philosophy either don’t understand the philosophy, or are looking for excuses to criticize it because they don’t like it.

Murphy rarely swings at a pitch that he can’t make contact with.  He consistently posts well below average swinging strike rates, and makes contact with an impressively high percentage of pitches he swings at both in and out of the strike zone.

He swings at the pitches that he can handle – sounds a lot like the Mets organizational philosophy to me.

On the other hand, there are many pitches that Duda can’t handle that Murphy can, so he lays off of them.  If Duda tried to swing at some of the balls that Murphy collects singles off of, he’d miss.  Murphy is a better contact hitter than Duda, plain and simple.

But few hitters in the lineup are as proficient with the bat as Murphy is, and that is the real problem.  The lack of talent on the team is what is really responsible for the team’s offensive woes – not the system.  Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan have been replaced by the likes of Scott Hairston, Ruben Tejada and Andres Torres.

Don’t confuse the process with the results.

Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville SwampDogs.

30 comments for “Mets’ hitting system is not the issue, Carig writes

  1. eraff
    June 2, 2014 at 8:51 am

    This may all come down to how this is focused toward players. “Loosing the forest for the trees” is symptomatic when there’s an over focus on minute details–tracking and rewarding/penalizing hitters based on pitch counts in at bats could be an instance where the focus on *Hitting* is diverted to the point that it’s demolished.

    There’s also an error in Logic when observing what great hitters do/can do—hitting in 2 strike counts— seeing limited hittable pitches and making great contact. These “situations” are not necessarily the design of great hitters, and they are not necessarily driven by the hitter.

    A great hitter sees lots of pitches because a pitcher avoids him. The great hitter recognizes hittable pitches to a greater extent—and the Contact and Hard Contact rates are much higher. It’s because of the abilities and skills to a great degree.

    All said…tough to make Silk Purses from Sows Ears.

  2. Fireman488
    June 2, 2014 at 9:00 am

    I had to agree with the Dave Hudgens about the negative comments from the TV booth. They sometimes get carried away with negativity.

    Especially Ron Darling and his comments about “the baseball.”
    Does he think we don’t know that it’s a baseball.

    I’ve been around baseball all my life and never heard anyone constantly refer to it as a “baseball.” “Ball” yes. “Baseball” no.

  3. Name
    June 2, 2014 at 9:15 am

    There is really only one philosophy for hitting and it’s the same one we were all taught when we were young: Swing at what you can and try to make hard contact. That’s the main fundamental of baseball and all other “philosophies” are just minor variations of that.

    Yes, there are certain situations where you take or swing pitches on purpose or certain pitchers where you might alter your hitting style, but in general, that’s the only one.

    • Joe Vasile
      June 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      Bingo.

  4. Chris F
    June 2, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Unfortunately rewarding/penalizing people for ABs that follow the system or do not makes coming to the plate about the system, and instead of thinking like a hitter, it’s thinking about the philosophy. Great news at the plate when you see 96 cheese followed by an 82 wipe out slider. In the heat of the moment, not having a clue what is coming at you, it’s comes down see ball hit ball, or see ball take ball. Eraff is spot on.

    I’m also a bit lost in the idea that somehow there can be a detailed philosophy based on magical sophisticated metrics if really it can be boiled down to “swing the ball you can drive hard” — I mean really, what batter swings at a ball they “don’t” think they can drive hard.

    In any event it seems to be more a less a failure no matter how well intended it’s meant to be. I only care about batting average with risp. It’s the only metric that means anything in the end IMO.

    • Chris F
      June 2, 2014 at 10:06 am

      I would also add, quality of adherence to the “process” does not get brownie point to get in the playoffs. The only thing that does is wins. The difference between Mex and his audible sighs at seeing yet another Met batter down 0-1 after watching a center cut fastball at pitch 1 and whatever mess Alderson is preaching is simple: Keith has been in the box and seen it all. He has the hardware to prove he did it on his own; by contrast, Sandy, DePo etc have no game experience. They preach a system on numbers that have no meaning when the pitcher toes the rubber, and for which they have no elite-level first-hand experience.

      Drink the kool-aid, follow the charts, drink the kool-aid, follow the charts…repeat.

      Who cares how many win we have as long as every player is brainwashed? How many wins have we had under SA regime? How many runs have we scored? What has been our team offensive production? By any measure, there’s very little evidence that the philosophy is working.

      • June 2, 2014 at 10:26 am

        Thank you Chris!! Great philosophy the Mets FO has? But what about results?

    • Patrick Albanesius
      June 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      This last paragraph is beautiful. I’m going to frame it and put it on my wall. Thanks Chris!

  5. June 2, 2014 at 9:36 am

    So who is at fault Joe? Who signs the players? Only one person to place the blame. Unfortunately he’s getting a free pass because the beat writers are using the Wilpons lack of $ as an excuse for SA.

    • Joe Vasile
      June 2, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      Only writer I see make mention of anything Wilpon-money related is Howard Megdal. I see quite a bit of Alderson-bashing from other beat writers.

  6. Jerry Grote
    June 2, 2014 at 11:10 am

    If Sandy’s philosophy works, then four things should happen:

    A higher ISO – because frankly, you are “crushing” the ball more. The Mets have very nearly the worst ISO.

    A higher BABIP – because good things happen. Ours is 11th in the NL – perhaps this can be seen as a positive, a net effect that we are overachieving, relative to our abilities. .Maybe

    A higher OBP/higher BB%. #9 in OBP, #1 in BB%. My only question here is … are we taking BBs, or are we being given the BBs? A critical, and fine differential.

    A higher K%. Nearly highest in the league, but clearly not offset by an improved SLG or ISO.

    The league reacts pretty quickly to things like this. I would offer that the rest of the league knows our strategy, is not afraid of our ability to “crush” the ball, and has simply expanded the strike zone knowing how our players will react.

    That said, another intriguing component of this is that the amount of runs scored should be a reflection of the talent on the team. Our “team WAR” is 4.7, good for 11th in the league. But our runs scored amounts to a tie for 8th.

    So – is our strategy accumulating a net positive effect? Not in the way Sandy would hope. I think the additional runs scored is an offshoot of aggressive behavior on the basepaths, and ultimately a low ISO reflects the net impact of what we’re doing.

    • Jerry Grote
      June 2, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Just a side note:

      The juxtaposition of having the highest BB% and the nearly worst ISO indicates that the strategy is completely flawed – just in case that wasn’t clear.

      The former statistic makes it clear that the players are executing the strategy perfectly. The latter statistic indicates the strategy, at least with the players on the field, is failing wholly.

    • Name
      June 2, 2014 at 11:28 am

      The question people should be asking is, “What about Sandy’s philosophy is different from everyone else’s?” rather than analyzing what he is saying.

      Also, talent does factor into the results. You and I could be 100% faithful to this philosophy, but against Major League pitching, we’d get zero results.

      • Jerry Grote
        June 2, 2014 at 12:24 pm

        In which case, Sandy Alderson would be still holding the bag insofar as he’s the architect of the roster.

        If you employ swift, nimble offensive lineman to achieve a power blocking scheme then you are a knucklehead.

        There is a clear cause-and-effect relationship going on between output and strategy, as shown by the ISO/BB%. Whether or not the players (or any players, for that matter) are capable of achieving it is open for question.

        But I will say again – the strategy is flatly failing and Marc Carig is incorrect.

        • Chris F
          June 2, 2014 at 2:46 pm

          I agree, the Carig article is certainly an opinion piece, and to me comes to inaccurate conclusions as well. As presently and historically viewed, no part of the hitting story advocated by SA will be viewed positively. Interestingly enough, neither, so it seems, is the Farm System Ubber Alles. Joel Sherman’s article the other day in the Post takes a more realistic look at the farm system only approach for the future. And it’s a damn good read, if you haven’t looked it over yet. The article is entitled “Mets’ long rebuild may be more like long con” and was published on 31 May.

      • Jerry Grote
        June 2, 2014 at 12:27 pm

        why do I care a fart about what anyone else is doing?

        I am concerned about this team and how it is performing the tasks at hand.

        Whether or not the hitting approach taken by the Oakland Athletics would work is here is completely theoretical and of no functional use to this team or its fans.

      • Joe Vasile
        June 2, 2014 at 12:50 pm

        “What about Sandy’s philosophy is different from everyone else’s?”

        Nothing. The rest of the league copied what he developed while with Oakland. Other teams are a lot less militaristic in their application of it.

        • Chris F
          June 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm

          Borrowed, sure. Copied? Hardly. In any event, Alderson is so in lock step with the theory he can’t see that real winners like the A’s also understand how to get great FA pickups or international signings that yield fruit immediately. In hiding under the “farm system” Alderson has done nothing except kick the can of failure down Roosevelt Ave. but since you’ve brought up the A’s let’s look at them in the same window since alderson has been in charge

          2010 — A’s 81-81 Mets 79-83
          2011 — A’s 74-88 Mets 77-85
          2012 — A’s 94-68 Mets 74-88
          2013 — A’s 96-66 Mets 74-88
          2014 — A’s 35-22 Mets 27-29

          Basically on all fronts by comparison the Alderson led Mets have been far worse than the A’s, who have been in the post season the last 2 years and have the best AL record presently. So with less money but a better run ship, the A’s have far outsmarted the old fox. The As are dynamic, and have figured out how to put an mlb average (or better) player at about every position. We have what? Wright, Lagares, Murph, and…never mind. None of them are Alderson regime players.

          Alderson controls the message and the talent. In my books strict adherence to a philosophy that requires more than the bad news bears to execute is a failure. I for one can’t want to put this new dark era in the rear view mirror.

          • Jerry Grote
            June 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm

            nicely stated.

          • Joe Vasile
            June 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm

            You forgot to mention that Billy Beane has had 17 years to build a farm system that consistently churns out quality major leaguers, while Alderson has had 4 and started off with Omar Minaya’s ruins (Matt Harvey and little else).

            • Chris F
              June 2, 2014 at 4:38 pm

              The best years correlate with acquisition of Yoenis Cespidis and Bartolo Colon, both of whom produced huge for the A’s. Coco Crisp great acquisition. Derek Norris (and others) comes over for Gio and he’s killing it. Josh Reddick was a trade. Sure the As have a farm, but the plain fact is they have bought and traded for live time improvement. It’s a myth to think the As are a home grown team. Even Josh Donaldson was a trade. Just looking over a recent line up, hardly anyone came through the Oak farm. What it tells me is that Beane is great with the draft, trade, and international scouting. Alderson is 1 dimensional, unable to produce a winner and build a farm. The two are not separate entities. Going with extremely young draftees like Nimmo and Smith leaves it a dream for someone else to realize if they ever make the show.

              • Chris F
                June 2, 2014 at 5:28 pm

                Remember Sonny Gray, Kolton Wong, Jose Fernandez were all passed over by Alderson, and all are producing in the bigs already. Where is Nimmo? A+

                • Name
                  June 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm

                  In all fairness, i don’t think it’s right to judge the success of a draft by whoever makes it to the majors the earliest.

  7. Eraff
    June 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    The “hitting philosophy” must be supported by a fully featured player acquisition “philosophy”.

    They have been short of the mark on both ability/decision making in the FA arena, and with a trade strategy that has little urgency or impact on the MLB team.

    The team is actually “close” in my opinion… a well place trade and greater activity and success in the FA arena would place them in solid contention. I don’t sense the Urgency or the Ability to execute on the part of This Front Office/Ownership Team.

    • Joe Vasile
      June 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      Considering the budget, hasn’t done a bad job in FA.

      • Jerry Grote
        June 2, 2014 at 1:50 pm

        Taking issue with the idea of budget; it fails to include talent level on hand when he arrived (not to mention, how he’s deployed ongoing resources such as draft picks).

        To say it again – three first baseman that had an OPS+ in excess of 126. He retains them all, and whoa, it bites him in the a$$. What a surprise.

        Draft picks aplenty. Not a single SA draft pick will be on this team, nor will one be, possibly until 2015 or even 2016.

        If you continually trade away your major league talent for magic beans, some day you better be climbing that beanstalk.

      • eraff
        June 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm

        Wow— the FA moves have been Inadequate, at best . A Lack of participation + a Lack of Success= Lousy.

        17 million dollars of Old Fat Pitcher and Chris Young????? Those are two particularly “strange” moves—- 17 million dollars that could have dramatically moved the “Wins Needle”.

        4 years in—I don’t see “The Smart”.

  8. Metsense
    June 2, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    “The lack of talent on the team is what is really responsible for the team’s offensive woes – not the system.  Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan have been replaced by the likes of Scott Hairston, Ruben Tejada and Andres Torres.”
    It is the lack of talent and the lack of talent in the GM’s office. Sandy is methodic, indecisive, and has difficulty appraising the dollar value of the players in the market. Sandy, in four years, has not brought in anyone who has had a big impact on this team and the record shows it.

    • Eraff
      June 2, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Yes!..Lack of talent in the GM’s office…Exactly!!!!!!

  9. Jim OMalley
    June 2, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Look … It’s very clear. Sterling Equities recently bought a multi-million dollar property in Brooklyn. They have money. They want the Mets fans to go to CitiField, spend money, and then use that money to buy more real estate. They also want the city to help them move forward on the Willets Point renovation project which is (if you dont know) an enormous real estate project.That project will take 15 years or so to complete and with NYC government funding, Sterling Equities will be firmly entrenched within this initiative and firmly entrenched in Mets baseball for the two decades.

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