For those of us who believe that the efficient use of Sabermetrics can improve a team’s chance of winning the remarks by Mets’ manager Terry Collins last month were dismaying.
In a USA Today article he said this:
“I’m not sure how much an old-school guy can add to the game today. It’s become a young man’s game, especially with all of the technology stuff you’ve got to be involved in. I’m not very good at it. I don’t enjoy it like other people do.
“I’m not going to sit there today and look at all of these (expletive) numbers and try to predict this guy is going to be a great player. OPS this. OPS that. GPS. LCSs. DSDs. You know who has good numbers? Good (expletive) players….”
Personally I believe that Collins is overall a good major league manager but that his greatest strength is the respect and affection his players seem to have for him. As an on-field strategist, meh. His bullpen usage has often been questioned (in fairness every fan says that about his team’s manager). Collins’ lineup construction has also never been a strong point.
Let’s concede right here that studies indicate that poor lineup construction is a minimally damaging thing. If a team creates the most efficient lineups possible they may garner one or two more wins per season over a team that does a bad job of that. Of course, one or two games may be what separates the Mets from the Washington Nationals come season’s end. So we shouldn’t be punting away those one or two games.
The following graphic shows the players who are most likely to be in the Mets’ lineups against southpaw starters. The stats show only their AB’s and percentages against lefties.
Your first thought is, “I love that ‘A’ guy” and well you should. You also figure to know it is David Wright and that if his health allows he will and must bat 2nd, 3rd, or 4th whenever a lefty starts. That’s a no brainer.
Also let’s dismiss player K for now because that is Michael Conforto and we can not know what kind of hitter he is or will be against lefties until he has many many more at bats against that hand pitching. 14 AB’s tell us nothing. Certainly for the first half of the season the place to bat Conforto against lefties would be somewhere in the bottom third of the lineup.
But now the plot thickens.
Does that “G” guy impress you? Sight unseen where does he belong in a lineup what with a .224 batting average, and sub .300 on base percentage? Plus with 1500 ABs on his resume it is not like we can expect some dramatic change for the better. Kevin Long is good but he is no miracle worker.
In this case “G” is for Granderson and yes we have to expect that manager Collins will continue to bat him leadoff when he plays because of some supposed comfort zone/respect thy veterans reasoning.
In some spring training lineups we have already seen a top two of Granderson and Neil Walker. That seems very promising if the starting pitcher throws righty but looks feeble if the pitcher is a southpaw. Walker is the guy showing with code letter “J”. So a top two of Granderson and Walker is poor in the on base department and combine for an OPS below 700. This is bad.
So if they don’t belong near the top of the lineup then who does? That fellow “F” has a .363 on base percentage for his career against lefties. Maybe he should lead off or bat second. That’s Ruben Tejada. And he could be joined at the top of the lineup by player “C” who is Juan Lagares. Center fielder Juan has the added bonus of being a potential base stealer once he gets on.
The Mets will face a lefty starter something like 25% of the time. Getting Tejada and Lagares to the top of the order and dropping Granderson and Walker down near the bottom will only help the team score more runs.
But with word coming out on Tuesday that Tejada has been placed on waivers it looks like the club will miss out on his favorable OBP versus lefties. Let’s hope that whoever is the “next man up”, my guess is that it would be Matt Reynolds, will be capable at least against lefty pitching.
Player “D” is the injured Asdrubal Cabrera. His career numbers against the lefties are impressive and he is another guy who fits well in the two, five, or six holes. Let us hope that he can put his knee woes behind him ASAP because his bat is sorely needed.
Let’s finish this by revealing which player has which code letter.