The ‘Roster Effect Rating’ for the Mets and Dodgers

On Sunday we introduced the idea of the six-week hot streak and how we shouldn’t let that overly influence our view of a player. So, let’s flip that around a bit. Instead of looking at a player, let’s look at a team. And instead of a hot streak, let’s look at a cold stretch.

The 2018 Mets went 77-85. And as the old Bill Parcells quote goes, “You are what your record says you are.” No one is debating that in any way, shape or form.

But it’s not difficult to find a six-week stretch that was out of whack from the rest of the season. Here is the Mets’ season broken down by three consecutive stretches, with their winning percentage in parentheses:

Opening Day to May 21: 24-19 (.558)
May 22 – June 30: 8-29 (.216)
July 1 to end of season: 45-37 (.549)

For 125 games of the season, the Mets played at a 90-win pace. And for 37 games, they played at a 35-win pace. Now, it’s not quite this neat and tidy, as you can easily see the bad stretch starting earlier. But this is what we get with the six-week window.

So, why were they so bad these six weeks?

On May 21, the following players were already on the disabled list:
Travis d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki, Yoenis Cespedes, Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares, Anthony Swarzak, Hansel Robles.
They were joined by: Noah Syndergaard (5/26), AJ Ramos (5/27), Wilmer Flores (5/28), Jeurys Familia (6/7) and Jay Bruce (6/18)

And forgive me for being cruel but Jason Vargas was activated from the DL and was turning in stinkers on a regular basis. So, that’s four starting position players, the three relievers counted on to pitch the 8th and 9th innings and the club’s 1A ace not active for all or parts of this bad stretch.

Everyone is sick about hearing about injuries. But regardless of how tired you are about hearing about them, to pretend that they didn’t play a major part in sinking the season is not dealing in reality.

RosterResource.com tracks injuries for all teams. They have a proprietary method, which they label Roster Effect Rating, which shows which teams are hit hardest by injuries. The Mets placed second in their formula, behind only the Angels, despite having the fifth-most DL stints. The Mets had 28 total DL stints while the Angels had 32. The White Sox had the fewest DL stints with 16. But the team that was least impacted by injuries, according to the Roster Effect Rating, was the Rockies.

The Dodgers led the majors with 38 DL stints but they were able to overcome that big number because of three reasons: 1) Amazing depth, especially in pitching. 2) Max Muncy, who was released by the A’s, gets promoted early in the year and puts up a 5.2 fWAR. 3) The club pulled the trigger on a deal to acquire Manny Machado. Their financial clout allowed them to do 1) and 3) from the above list. But do they make the playoffs without Muncy?

Interestingly, the Dodgers also had (roughly) a six-week stretch that was out of whack, although theirs came at the beginning of the year. They started off 16-26 (.381) and then went 75-45 (.625) the rest of the season. LA began the year with Justin Turner and Julio Urias on the DL and then added Logan Forsythe (4/15), Rich Hill (4/15), Yasiel Puig (4/29), Corey Seager (4/30), Hyun-Jin Ryu (5/3), Clayton Kershaw (5/3) and Tony Cingrani (5/9) when the (roughly) six-week period was up after 5/16.

The Mets were hurt most in position players while the Dodgers’ rotation took a beating. But the Mets had more guys out and didn’t have the luxury of Muncy or Walker Buehler as injury replacements. Kudos to the Dodgers for having superior depth.

The Dodgers were the only team among the top five clubs in Roster Effect Rating to make the playoffs. The other two clubs at the top of the list were the Nationals (4th) and Cardinals (5th). The next playoff team on the list was the Indians, who placed eighth, but who had the advantage of playing in the weakest division in baseball.

You hear people say that since the Dodgers were able to overcome their injuries that there’s no reason for the Mets to use them as an excuse. But what about the Nationals? They were supposed to run away with the NL East this year and they finished eight games off the pace. What about the Cardinals? They’re supposed to be the model organization yet they finished 7.5 games behind. It seems more accurate to say that the Dodgers are the exception.

*****

Undoubtedly, some of you are going to insist that the six-week stretch that’s not indicative of the talent is the final six weeks of the season. The Mets went 25-16 (.610) while in the first 121 games they were 52-69 (.430).

But in this closing stretch, the team wasn’t decimated by injuries. They weren’t starting Jose Lobaton and Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Reyes in this span. To be sure, they still had injured guys – Cespedes, Lagares, Brandon Nimmo, Bruce and Swarzak, most notably. But Syndergaard was back and Zack Wheeler was dealing. Shoot, even Vargas wasn’t awful. And in this stretch, they had their own Muncy with Jeff McNeil.

In 2019, McNeil, Amed Rosario and Wheeler should all be on the team while Lobaton, Gonzalez and Reyes should all be elsewhere. With that first trio giving strong results down the stretch, the Mets played at a 99-win pace, even with normal to above-average injuries and some awfulness in that time frame from Frazier and Austin Jackson.

Perhaps what you think of McNeil, Rosario and Wheeler will be a litmus test for which six-week span you find more of an outlier.

16 comments for “The ‘Roster Effect Rating’ for the Mets and Dodgers

  1. Chris F
    October 17, 2018 at 11:13 am

    Its all how you look at the numbers. You can hang on to 11-2 for a long time as your first number shows.

    However, lets toss out the anomaly…11-2…and start ticking from there.

    From April 14 (11-2) to May 31 (27-27) the Mets played 41 games, and won 16 games, for a .390 winning percentage. That was consistent bad play, that was propped up by the initial, and wildly unrealistic .846 winning percentage for the first 2 weeks, the likes of which were never repeated in 2018.

    Lets play this out a little more. If you take the 2 month window from April 14 and go to June 15, a full 2 months and 53 games, the Mets went 17-36 for a stellar .320 winning percentage. But wait, lets play this out from April 14 to June 30, 10 weeks of baseball, and 67 games. In this stretch, the Mets went 21-46, for a .313 winning percentage, ending up with a full season record to that date of 32-48, 16 games under .500 for a .400 winning percentage.

    These carving the numbers games are well in the eye of the beholder. It is worth noting this rotten stretch also acts as a drag on when the Mets improved, namely the 67 games after the All Star Game.

    We all know that all wins are created equal. But the season is not created equal. By the all star game, 16 games under .500 the Mets were long out of the season. The pressure to perform changed. And sure, players came back from injury and performed above the previous near 100 games. I would maintain that you point out things that need consideration in making projections: 1. I believe it is very premature to imagine Jeff McNeil is anything more than a potential every day guy, if that. He has an injury history, he’s running on adrenaline, and he well out paced any reasonable expectation. We can hope he’s what we saw, but that would defy odds. 2. Then we move to the remainder of the folks like Wheeler and Conforto and Rosario all with their own Jeckyll and Hyde performances. Its easy to latch on to the last thing we saw, but the baseball cards show wild inconsistencies over a lot of games played. The most reasonable thing is to project inconsistency because thats what we have, knowing there will be good and bad stretches. 3. That inconsistency, and most unfortunately for the Mets overlapping slumps that paralyze the whole team for long stretches, has been a hallmark of this team for years. Every player (but Jake!) rides the waves, and one hopes that when that happens someone is on the crest and can carry the team. That has not been “The Mets Way” however.

  2. Pete from NJ
    October 17, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Two thoughts. The first was NY Times sports writer Tyler Kepner explaining the team was doomed because of bad defense and a long history of injuries. I suppose he was right on both counts. Part II and correct me if I’m off base wasn’t the team’s down stretch was caused by extremely poor hitting?

    So what I’m trying to say is the injuries to Cespedes/Bruce plus the bullpen injuries caused the disaster. The 2nd half resurgence was brought about by a healthy Conforto and surprising McNeil.

    • October 17, 2018 at 3:02 pm

      From May 22 to June 30, the Mets had a 4.73 ERA. And that’s with deGrom. While I’m sure the hitters were equally putrid, let’s not put all of the blame on them. It truly was a team effort.

  3. IDRAFT
    October 17, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Bad stretches are not an aberration over a 162 game schedule they are the result of a lack of quality depth. All teams have injures and when they hit the teams without needed depth go down hard.

    Whatever you think of Todd Frazier, when he gets hurt and the replacement is Zero Tools Guillorme (note: I’m using caps as it’s his name) your team is going to sink like a heavy stone. Same thing when you have someone like Swardzk or Vargas go on the DL and somehow do not have one major league caliber arm to replace the guy.

    This team needs a major infusion of talent or a lot of luck with injuries or it will be the same story next year. Since I don’t expect the infusion I will root for the luck and expect the worst again.

    • October 17, 2018 at 2:58 pm

      There’s no doubt that the Mets need better depth.

      But can you think of a team with better depth than the Dodgers? And they went 16-26 – with injuries not as bad as what the Mets would have. That’s a quarter of the season where they were considerably below average.

      I looked at the 2017 Nationals, who won 97 games. There’s not a 40-game stretch where they were below .500 much less 10 games below like this year’s Dodgers. And they had some injuries, too – The Roster Effect Rating had them hit the fifth hardest. Michael Taylor was part of the 2017 depth that performed so well – he had an .807 OPS when called on to fill in for Adam Eaton. But Eaton again missed a big chunk of time in 2018 and Taylor responded with a .644 OPS. And this year was Taylor’s age 27 season, so it’s not like an old guy who tailed off.

      What I’m trying to get at is it’s beyond depth. There’s a luck element in there, too. No one would have considered Max Muncy as part of the Dodger’s depth when the season started and then he turns in a 5-win season. Michael Taylor is considered a big part of the Nats’ lineup – on the fence between 3rd and 4th OF – and he turns in a lousy season. If we switched the numbers for Muncy and Taylor – would the Nats have made the playoffs instead of the Dodgers?

  4. TexasGusCC
    October 17, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    When I stop and take in that 77-85 record, I ask myself are the Mets even that good? Because if they do fix the bullpen, get rid of the crap on the roster that gave so many at bats to washed up veterans and infuse some offensive talent, they should be 90 wins at least!

    But, that’s assuming:
    -Wheeler is untouchable for a whole second half;
    -As Chris says, McNeil can keep hitting like Tony Gwynn while staying healthy, which has been a challenge for him in the past;
    -Conforto is the #9 hitter in the second half in oWAR, as per Fangraphs.

    If they can get repeat performances like that, keep all their starters healthy, find three good relievers, and add the talent that was missing last year, then heck yeah they can win 90, maybe 95! Just hard to expect that nothing will go wrong and the additions of Alonso, Lagares, and whatever catcher they add will all be everything we dream of.

    • TexasGusCC
      October 17, 2018 at 11:53 pm

      Conforto being the #9 hitter in MLB according to Fangraphs…

  5. Mike Walczak
    October 17, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Great article, as always. The division will be stronger next year with the Braves and upcoming Phillies. Baseball is a funny game. Watch Harper leave and the Nats have a better year.

    We are all asking for the same thing, a couple of good relievers, a catcher and another bat.

    I like the saying you are what your record says you are.

    Health will have a lot to do with our success next year.

  6. MattyMets
    October 17, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    While I agree that injuries were mostly to blame for the Mets and Angels underperforming, I think the Nationals need to look elsewhere for a culprit. Sure, they had a few DL stints, but none of their stars missed the whole season or close to it. They got bad performance out of some key players – Gonzalez, Zimmerman, Wieters, Madsen, et al and seemed to have a clubhouse chemistry problem.

    • October 17, 2018 at 10:39 pm

      Well, that’s not exactly fair. Here are DL days missed for important guys

      53 – Hellickson
      61 – Eaton
      61 – Fedde
      62 – Doolittle
      64 – Herrera
      69 – Wieters
      71 – Zimmerman
      72 – Strasburg
      75 – Murphy
      115 – Glover
      151 – Kendrick
      159 – Ross

      That’s essentially half their team that missed two months of the season.

  7. Metsense
    October 17, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    Again you taught me something new, Roster Effect Rating. Thanks!
    I am a positive Met fan and want to root my team to a Division Champion and this statistic and analysis gives me that positive feeling that the 125 games was the real Mets. Injuries sabotaged the season again. One of the solutions is to have better depth to weather the inevitable injuries.

  8. Nym6986
    October 18, 2018 at 7:54 am

    Injuries are certainly part of the game and the Mets always seem to have their share. Part of the issue is players in their 30’s are more susceptible to injury. I don’t believe they were often blown out during that awful month of June but it pointed to the absence of run producers. The strong finish by their big three starters and the maturity of the young position players has to have us all encouraged for 2019 especially considering the weak division where we reside. How hard can it be to pick up a star closer, a defensive minded catcher and a big right handed bat?? How scary would they be in the playoffs with Jake, Thor and Wheels making the starts? Can’t wait for SP.

  9. Chris F
    October 18, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Ive tried to understand this 6-week thing, but it makes no sense to me. There is no natural 6-week story to baseball, so this is arbitrary, consequently the results only represent some mixture of conditions, not any specific consistent performance window. One could do this for every 6 week window and make a moving average of each successive 6 week stretch, but again, I cannot see any baseball reason for that.

    The first 13 games the Mets were 11-2. The next 13 games they were 6-7. The difference is so great that lumping them together as a period of similar performance makes no sense. The third stretch of 13 games they went 3-10. Any 6 week stretch that include 2 weeks of 11-2 or 2 weeks of 3-10 will be highly biased by that, and not representative of consistent performance.

    In my initial response, I grouped windows by similar performance. The Mets had 4 seasons within the season. They had the 11-2 opening run of the first 2 weeks (137 win pace). From there, they were uniformly horrible for 10 straight weeks until July 1 (51 win pace) — I have often heard “the 1 bad month” hypothesis, which is incorrect. The third natural performance window is essentially the month of July where they played about .500 (81 win pace). The fourth stretch is August and September, where they played very well, essentially .610 baseball (99 win pace).

    Without question the longest, most consistent stretch of play was when they were the worst for 10 solid weeks, which is exactly thats how they got to the final record.

    The natural divisions of their play show one thing: inconsistency. I cannot see any justification for picking arbitrary 6-week windows of performance and using those results to make it seem like this was essentially a 90-win team.

    The deeper questions of course are why, and I think we all can envision. At first the team hit unreal…couldn’t lose even with starters only going 5. Then the relievers were over worked and no one could hit; add the injuries. Here comes McNeil…etc. the timeline of why’s is there to see. But clearly this team suffers from consistent above average performance.

    • October 18, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      This team article was an extension of the original article that focused on individual players.

      Off the top of my head, there’s nothing magical about six weeks. It just so happens that’s the rough time period that these individual streaks have lasted. If asked to guess, I’d say it was a coincidence. But I’m not completely ruling out something real. Someone smarter than me will have to find it, though.

      Six weeks doesn’t work as well on a team basis.

      All teams go through good and bad stretches and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to how long they’ll last. In 2015, we can point to the Mets trading for Cespedes, calling up Conforto from the minors and getting d’Arnaud and Wright back from the DL as the catalyst for an extended good stretch. I’m sure there are times when the good stretch is created largely due to the schedule. And there are times when it just … happens.

      We all want to know the “why” of these streaks. But maybe the “why” is less important than we make it out to be. If all teams have good and bad streaks, it seems the important thing is the “how long.” That the Mets’ bad streak lasted over two months was ultimately what mattered, at least in terms of the 2018 season. No matter how well they played before and after – and the before wasn’t long enough – they couldn’t overcome it.

      Maybe the thing to do is to find out the best and worst streaks for a team over a set period. Like best winning percentage that includes at least 20 wins or worst winning percentage that includes at least 20 losses.

      I just can’t imagine that many teams that won 92 games had a 16-26 stretch like the Dodgers did. And I’m betting that even fewer won 77 games after a 7-27 stretch like the Mets.

  10. October 18, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    During their low points, the Mets Rostered and Played non-major league players, and the Pitching was spotty. Healthy and productive pitching plus replacement or better MLB players usually puts you “pieces away” from participating in playoff baseball.

    This organization should aim for one too many rather than one too few MLB players for 2019. Wanted…baseball visionary to run this outfit!!!!

    • TJ
      October 18, 2018 at 7:42 pm

      I’m with you one this one, Eraff. Baseball seasons are full of peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows. Some are reflected in the Ws and Ls, some not so much. While the 11-1 start was fantastic, I recall feeling that is was due to a bit more luck than quality baseball. While there is some “good” luck in the winning streaks, and some “bad” luck in the losing streaks, six weeks of a brutal record is hard to blame on the baseball gods. The Mets have routinely been shallow in AAA depth, pre-dating Alderson. I am not read enough to find a root cause, be it drafting or dopey Wilpon meddling or whatever, but the good news is that to some degree it is correctable. Hopefully with the move to Syracuse, the ownership has some added incentive to have quality depth at the AAA level, and specifically at positions of risk relative to the MLB and 40 man roster.

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