The kingdoms of experience
In the precious wind they rot
While paupers change possessions
Each one wishing for what the other has got
And the princess and the prince
Discuss what’s real and what is not
It doesn’t matter inside the Gates of Eden
Lately I’ve been thinking about what’s real and what is not. When Robinson Cano had a six-game stretch with five two-hit games and a .955 OPS – that was real. It happened. But in the overall scheme of things, no one expects a .955 OPS – or anything close to that – from Cano moving forward. And in that sense, that six-game stretch wasn’t real.
It’s easier to dismiss a six-game stretch than what someone does over, say, three months or even a year. But even then we see things that aren’t “real.”
In his final 22 games last year, Todd Frazier had a .523 OPS and it sure looked like his days as a productive player were over. The Mets go out and get two guys to play 3B in the offseason. Frazier gets hurt in Spring Training and misses the early part of the season. His first three weeks in the majors are horrible. But here in his last 48 games, a span of 192 PA, Frazier is slashing .291/.391/.503 and that’s with a .302 BABIP.
Is the .523 OPS or the .894 OPS the “real” Frazier?
It all depends where your bias is. If you think Frazier’s a bum, you say what he’s done recently is a hot streak and he’ll soon come back to earth. If you think Frazier is a solid bat, you’d point to the BABIP and say the .894 is pretty close to the real guy.
To me, this is a great time to use the computer forecasts, to get a non-biased look at what the expectations were coming into the season. Let’s use ZiPS. Here are Mets’ hitters, with their actual OPS here at the break first and their preseason ZiPS forecast second:
The point is not that ZiPS – or any computer forecast – is gospel. Rather, it’s a systematic, non-biased expectation. My guess is most fans are disappointed with what Conforto and Rosario have given the club so far this season. But the non-biased forecasts tell us this was what was expected.
Now it’s the job of the GM (and armchair GMs) to determine if what we’ve seen is “real” or not. When Brodie Van Wagenen took over, his determination was that what McNeil did in 2018 wasn’t “real.” And that helped drive his stated opinion that second base was a primary need for the club. And we all know what happened next.
Right now, every Mets fan is convinced that what Alonso has done is “real.” My feelings on the subject are the dictionary definition of ambivalent.
What we’re seeing may very much be what to expect the next 10 years. That would be wonderful. But it may be that an .800 OPS is much more what to expect going forward.
And beyond the wasteland of the 2019 season, the Mets have to consider that what Alonso did in the first half wasn’t “real.” Now, the idea isn’t to scoff at an .800 OPS. Since 1988, the Mets have had only 12 seasons, by eight different players, from a 1B who qualified for the FanGraphs leaderboards to reach an .800 OPS.
Rather, the idea is that Alonso’s trade value will never be higher. With multiple holes and the expectation of very little money to fill them – this might be the team’s best way forward.
Sure, no one wants to hear this. But it should be on the table for discussion.