Have Sandy Alderson’s moves aided the success of the pitching staff?

Sandy AldersonThrought the first 100 games of the season, the Mets pitching staff has a nearly identical Fielding Independent Pitching (3.77) as it did last year (3.79), but it’s ERA has greatly improved (3.53 vs. 3.78). So with peripherals that indicate similar outcomes, the results have been much better this year.  That 0.25 difference translates to 42 fewer earned runs over the course of a season, or roughly four wins, assuming the same number of unearned runs.

The gloves behind the pitching staff usually are the reason why a pitching staff is able to outperform their FIP, so it stands to reason that the transactions made this offseason and beginning of the regular season by Mets GM Sandy Alderson are part of the reason for the bump.  But does that assertion hold water?

So let’s start by establishing exactly what those moves are.  The signings of Chris Young, Curtis Granderson and Bobby Abreu in the outfield, and the trade of Ike Davis in April.  Other things, like sticking with Ruben Tejada at shortstop will not be included because that is not a transaction.

For the benefit of making the comparisons easier, we will use Defensive Runs Saved/Year as our metric of choice, even though it does come with the problem of extrapolating data.  The easiest position to start is at first base, so let’s begin there.

In 2013, Mets first basemen had a collective DRS/yr of 2.  Ike Davis had 1, Lucas Duda had -1, and the rest of Josh Satin, Daniel Murphy, Andrew Brown, Justin Turner and Zach Lutz made up the other 2.

So far in 2014, Mets first basemen have 4 DRS/yr, all of that coming from Duda.  Combined in his work the the Mets and Pirates this year, Davis has -12 DRS/yr.  That is a shift of 16 runs in the favor of the Mets, equating to roughly an additional win and a half this year for the Mets just in terms of the upgrade that Duda provides defensively.  That’s a sentence that I’m sure has never been written before.

But of course, we’re looking at the upgrade this year in terms of better than last year, so the real impact of the move has been 2 DRS/yr, which is minimal.

At least at first base, it seems as if Alderson’s decision to trade Davis and keep Duda has been of some benefit to the pitchers, but what about in the outfield?

Last year, Mets left fielders had -5 DRS/yr.  Most of that was owing to Duda’s ugly -29 mark, but was brought up by Eric Young Jr.’s 6 number.  This year, the Mets left fielders have put up a 10 mark, good for a 15 run swing courtesy of similar production from Eric Young, and 13 DRS/yr from Chris Young.  Once again, this provides a win and a half upgrade over 2013.

So at two positions, Alderson’s moves have resulted in 17 runs saved.

Then there’s right field.  Last year, Marlon Byrd was stellar, leading the Mets right field corps to posting 9 DRS/yr.  This year has been a bit of a different story.  Curtis Granderson and Bobby Abreu have been, bad, to say the least, part of the reason Mets right fielders in 2014 have -10 DRS/yr, a one-year difference of -19.

Combining the differences at the three positions that receiving the biggest changes this year for the Mets shows a net “gain” of -2 DRS/yr.

So it seems as if Alderson’s upgrades haven’t been much of a help in aiding the pitching staff in terms of FIP-ERA.  The biggest bumps have come at shortstop, where much better play from Ruben Tejada and a lack of Omar Quintanilla have given the Mets a 10-run bump, and in center, where a full season of Juan Lagares has given the Mets an 8-run bump.

The Mets defense has improved this year, and it is helping out the pitching to a certain extent, but the net impact of Alderson’s transactions has been largely moot – helping out greatly in some areas, and falling short in others, so no, he does not deserve all of the credit for the lower staff ERA despite the same peripherals.

Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville SwampDogs.

16 comments for “Have Sandy Alderson’s moves aided the success of the pitching staff?

  1. July 21, 2014 at 9:27 am

    But it was Alderson who allowed TC to put Duda in right field.to begin with last year.

  2. Name
    July 21, 2014 at 10:45 am

    It’s the bullpen.

    Starters this year: 3.71 ERA, 3.77 FIP
    Starters last year: 3.68 ERA, 3.67 FIP

    Bullpen this year: 3.13 ERA, 3.78 FIP
    Bullpen last year: 3.98 ERA, 4.02 FIP

    • Steve L
      July 21, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Lucas Duda is not a good fielder at any position, but 1B is the best place to hide your bad defenders, so moving him there from the OF helped. Campbell seems like he’s a solid fielder, but he hasn’t played enough innings at any position to really evaluate his defense.

      Young & Young provide plus defensive in LF, and Lagares is fantastic in CF (he’d lead NL OFs in UZR/150 if he had played enough innings to qualify, currently he’s about 20 short). Granderson is sub-par, but he looks a lot better by fielding metrics other than DSR.

      The biggest defensive upgrade seems to be from Murphy, who seems to have developed from a terrible fielder at 2B to an average one.

    • Sean Flattery
      July 21, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Agreed. Bullpen has been a godsend this year…and I think they’ll only get better with more seasoning.

    • Metsense
      July 22, 2014 at 10:08 am

      If you asked the casual fan, What is the strength of the Mets, they would answer their starting pitch staff. Isn’t that what the media tells us? The Mets are ranked 8th in the NL in ERA and 9th in FIP. Name correctly points out that it is actually the bullpen that has improved. 8th and 9th ranking is below average, so I don’t consider this “success”. What was Alderson’s moves in this “success story”?
      Was it because he immediately recognized that Duda could not play the OF and quickly took action and made a decision between Duda and Davis? No.
      Did he realize that Mejia was going to fail as a starter and he began to groom him for a relief role? No, he learned that on the fly this spring.
      I don’t agree that the pitching is a “success” and I don’t think Alderson made any positive moves that contibuted to the actual mediocrity.

      • July 22, 2014 at 10:39 am

        Problem is Alderson after how many years doesn’t have a clue when it comes to the bull pen. At what price is his bargain shopping costing the Mets ?. Is he proactive? I don’t think so. Otherwise you have someone in spring training ready to go in case Parnell coming back from neck surgery isn’t ready. How many games do the Mets lose every year because of an incompetent bull pen based on Alderson’s reject signings? Enough already with the Farnsworths and Valverdes of the world.

  3. DDavis
    July 21, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Folks, please: trades and signings are not all that a General Manager does. Quite possibly the single most important aspect of his job is player development, that of taking a young man with potential and turning him into a valuable major league player; and at that Sandy Alderson and co have done a great job.

    Anyone who remembers the days when the Mets would run Reid Cornelius or Jason Jacome out there, or pray for Jae Seo’s recovery from surgury, or look forward to Grant Roberts getting promoted, should appreciate that. What the Mets used to be depressingly inept at doing, they now do very, very well, and it is because of Alderson’s approach.

    But short memories seem to prevail.

    • Chris F
      July 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      Quite possibly the single most important aspect of his job is player development, that of taking a young man with potential and turning him into a valuable major league player; and at that Sandy Alderson and co have done a great job.

      I wonder if these folks would say “great job”?:

      Jordany Valdespin
      Josh Edgin
      Wilmer Flores
      Kirk Nieuwenhuis
      Josh Satin
      Lucas Duda
      Juan Lagares
      Ruben Tejada

      This list of crimes in player development is lengthy. I think they have been pretty rotten all things considered.

      • July 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm

        The only one on this list that I think has a complaint is Wilmer Flores.

        Odds are against any draft pick drafted after the supplemental round to ever make the majors. The chances of a third-round pick just making the majors is 1-in-3 and I’m betting from a small school like Nieuwenhuis is significantly smaller. It’s about 1-in-5 for where Satin and Duda were picked and 1-in-14 where Edgin was selected. That Duda and Edgin are poised to be multi-year contributors at the major league level is a victory for the player development team, not anything deserving scorn.

        It’s a little trickier with the international players but I think we can use signing bonus as a proxy for draft round. Only Flores got a premium bonus. But I think the player development staff has to take a hit on this one because Flores was allowed to progress to the majors with no clue as to where he would play. And they didn’t do him any favors by not overhauling his swing.

      • DDavis
        July 22, 2014 at 8:35 am

        Well, from your list, I see one fellow, Valdespin, who did all he could to sabatoge his own career, one player who found tremendous success after the team switched him from shortstop to center field (and the team allowed him to develop as a hitter); four guys, Edgin, Duda, Kirk and Tejada, who also managed not to fall off the table despite some real poor play, as again the organization allowed them to figure things out. Then there is Satin, a tweener who valued a college diploma more than a high draft selection, and has paid a price for it, and of course Wilmer.

        I don’t love the way things have played out with Flores, but at this point I am more than willing to give Sandy the benefit of the doubt, because I believe it is demonstrable with all of those other guys, that Alderson’s approach was a good approach. And the book on Wilmer Flores is not closed.

      • John
        July 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm

        How quickly everyone forgets the disaster that was Tony Bernazard. Alderson’s group has turned that disaster around 180 degrees.
        The previous regime only saw prospects as chips to trade for a downward sloping major leaguer. Would Manaya ever have given Lagares a shot in center? History says probably not.
        Also most of the players on this list have learned to maximize their potential the last couple of years. None were grade A prospects but all look like they have found a niche in the majors with the Mets or with another team at some point.
        The biggest problem with the Manaya organization was that the minor leaguers never learned the fundamentals of the game. What has made the team so frustrating in the past was the constant poor fundemental plays that inevitably cost them games. I don’t see those glaring mistakes from the younger guys. And as good as Murphy has been, he still has little league baseball instincts. Even Reyes had trouble with instincts, it was just less noticeable since he could outrun the mistakes most of the time.
        As to Flores; he is 22 years old and is just reaching his time. And a lot of different circumstances will determine where he spends his career.
        One final point on many of Alderson’s moves over the last few years. Most were just place holders so that he didn’t have to rush guys too soon and didn’t saddle the team with long term commitments that would block the young guys. And from that point of view he suceeded.

    • Tommy2cat
      July 21, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      Awesome. Agree totally. Alderson has exercised a level of patience the Wilpons never had, but are forced into due to their financial constraints.

  4. July 22, 2014 at 1:04 am

    DDavis. Cannot give the GM credit for player development. That credit should be given to the minor league instructors who put in the long hours and dedication for these kids. AS and his approach is to maintain control as long as possible for all potential players.

  5. Steve L
    July 22, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I think the GM gets some credit for player development, in the same way a CEO should get credit for a part of a company that succeeds. SA isn’t doing the day-in, day-out work with young players, or even directly overseeing it, but he’s ultimately responsible for putting the right people in charge of player development.

    I do think they’ve succeeded in that regard, as Flores is the only highly regarded prospect that’s flopped in recent years (and he’s a few weeks away from his 23rd birthday, so there’s still time for him to develop).

  6. July 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I don’t think Flores has flopped. By the way I do believe he was signed by Minaya so doesn’t apply to an SA draft pick. Need to play Flores every day at one position. If the Mets were serious about him playing SS this year they should of had him play the position in Winter Ball.

  7. Chris F
    July 22, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Is it just me, or is the Niese shoulder issue really looking to be a scary thing for the future. I think he’s untradeable right now. Good thing he’s cost friendly, because I suspect hes gonna spend a lot of time in St Lucie in the next couple years.

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