After Two Games, the Mets Look Good

After two games, it’s obvious that this Mets team is different. In Buck Showalter, they have a manager who is both a leader and a good field general.

In Yardbarker’s 2021 ranking of Major League Baseball managers, then Mets manager Luis Rojas was 28th. In their 2022 ranking, Buck Showalter is 14th, much better than Rojas’s, but to me a mistake. Unfortunately, neither article starts with the criteria its author used to evaluate the managers. Therefore, a better way to judge a manager is by the number of games his team’s won. Using that criteria, Showalter ranks 24th among all managers from 1876 to 2020 with 1,551 wins.

Among those who have benefitted from Showalter’s leadership are the team’s hitters, who are showing more plate discipline, a noticeable problem in previous seasons.

One batter, in particular, Mark Canha, has impressed me with skills he brought to the Mets. He’s not going to win any awards for hard-hitting, but he can get on base. This season in nine plate appearances, he has gotten on base seven times (four hits and three walks), giving him an OBP of .778 and a wOBA of .636. Sure, that is based on just two games, but it shows what Canha is capable of doing.

Here are some of his Baseball Savant stats: his BB% is great (91st percentile), as are his Chase Rate (87th percentile), and his Whiff% (84th percentile.)

One potential problem is that two players are not good base runners: Pete Alonso and Robinson Cano. In 2021, Pete Alonso’s BsR (FanGraphs) of -5.1 was the lowest on the Mets with Cano’s 2020 BsR of -1.5 slightly better than Alonso’s of -2.0. (The BsR stat estimates a player’s base running skill.) Whenever they get on base in a later inning in a close game, Showalter needs to seriously consider either replacing them with a pinch runner or, if they are approaching third base with the possibility of a close play at the plate, hold them at third. That wasn’t done last night with Cano, who was thrown out trying to score, plus it didn’t help that his slide didn’t take him near the plate.

On the pitching side, both Megill and Scherzer pitched well as have the Mets relievers. In seven innings of relief, the seven pitchers gave up five hits and only one earned run, that run and three of the hits given up by the same pitcher, Seth Lugo, in the first game. Lugo was also the only reliever to appear in both games.

On a separate note, MLB must address the hit-by-pitch problem before a player gets seriously injured. In each of their first two games, a Mets player was hit in the head by a pitch. That’s unacceptable. In the second game, Nationals pitcher Steve Cishek threw a high and inside pitch to Francisco Lindor, who was set to bunt, in the head. Showalter rushed toward the field, the others in the dugout following his lead.

In the second game, an announcer blamed it on the ball, claiming pitchers cannot get a good-enough grip on it. I’ve seen tortoises move faster than the speed at which baseball is moving toward solving this problem. But then, Major League Baseball did not show any urgency in ending the lockout until the threat of the loss of games became acute.

And with regard to the hit batters in the two Mets games, after the second game, in reply to

“In a situation like this, where you had three batters for them hit last night, then you have this tonight, is there any consideration to issue any warnings before tomorrow’s game?”

the umpires’ crew chief, Mark Carlson, responded with

“That’s something the Commissioner’s Office will let us know. But going forward, we’re always aware of the situations. Obviously, we’ve been working these games, and we’re always aware of it. But as far as … that’ll be a decision the Commissioner’s Office has to make,”

shifting responsibility to the Commissioner’s Office.

Hopefully, Commissioner Manfred handles the “grip” problem better than the lockout.

On a more positive note, in a Forbes magazine article, Christian Red wrote:

“[Ron] Darling, as well as former slugger Luis Gonzalez — who played under Showalter for two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks — both think the Mets now have a field general who can take them deep into October, if not to the mountaintop.”

The Mets are now two games closer to that goal.

Mets Opening Day Facts

  1. Only once was the #Mets opening-day starter under 21. In 1985, in his second season with the Mets, Dwight Gooden left the game in the 7th inning. The Mets won the game, 6-5, in the bottom of the 10th, on a Gary Carter home run off ex-Mets pitcher Neil Allen.
  2. Whereas Dwight Gooden was the Mets youngest opening-day starter, Bartolo Colon and Tom Glavine were the oldest. Both were in their forties, Colon appearing once (2015) and Glavine twice (2006, 2007). In every game, they pitched six innings, gave up one earned run, and won the game. In Colon’s start, the losing pitcher was Max Scherzer.
  3. The Mets have played 60 opening games, winning 29. Jacob deGrom has been named the starter in the 2022 opener, his fourth consecutive opening-day start. In his previous three, he won two, the no-decision start in 2021. In all three games, in 17 IP, he did not give up a run.
  4. In the Mets 60-year history, on Opening Day the opposing starter has been left-handed 15 times. The last time, last year, the Mets lost 5-3. Before that, they had not lost on Opening Day against a left-handed starter since 1974. On April 7, the Nats expected starter is Patrick Corbin, a LHP.
  5. On Opening Day from 1962-2021, the Mets have played 14 teams. They have played the Phillies the most, nine times, winning six and losing three, and have never lost a home opener to the Phillies, winning all five games.
  6. The last time the Mets stole a base on Opening Day was in 2018. In the bottom of the fifth, Jay Bruce stole second base. The Mets won the game, 9-4, against the Cardinals. Travis Jankowski stole second in a season opener in 2020 with the Reds. View Stathead Results.
  7. Two Mets pitchers started almost one-third of the team’s Opening-Day games. Tom Seaver started in 11 of them, winning eight, and Dwight Gooden started in eight, winning seven. @baseball_ref
  8. Baseball Reference contains the Opening-Day lineups for all Mets opening games.

Updated April 5, 2022

Mets All-Time Top Catcher

The Mets have had a lot of players behind the plate, “the game’s most demanding position,” according to Jesse Yomtov, starting with Hobie Landrith who, on April 11, 1962, caught the first pitch thrown by a Mets’ starter (Roger Craig).

Five catchers have stood out.

To choose them, five statistics were primarily used: WAR, WPA, RE24, Total Bases, and Times on Base (excluding by error) with WAR and WPA the two dominant ones in that order. In addition, their selection was based solely on their time with the Mets, not on their overall career, as a player could have played for multiple teams

Among the Mets top five catchers, two are in the Hall of Fame: Mike Piazzaand Gary Carter. Piazza played eight seasons for the Mets after playing seven on the Dodgers, Carter five after playing 11 for Montreal. Filling out the list are Jerry Grote, who played 12 seasons in the Big Apple, John Stearns, who played 10, and Todd Hundley, who played nine.

Sources: Stathead Baseball and Baseball Reference

Grote came closest to Piazza in Times on Base, only 91 apart; however, as a Met, Grote played four more seasons than Piazza who averaged getting on base 183.6 times a season versus 114.8 for Grote.

Based only on their Mets WAR number, the top two are Piazza and Stearns; however, when WPA and RE24 are taken into account, the difference between the two becomes quite significant. And Piazza separates himself even more from the others in Total Bases, having 607 more than the second-most — Grote’s 1278. But then, in his Mets career, Piazza amassed a .542 SLG. No one else in the group came within 100 points of that number.

  • Piazza had the third-highest JAWS rating among all catchers.

Twitter Poll

I found the tweet below after I completed the above write-up and was not surprised by Piazza’s landslide victory. He was one of the Mets most popular players.

Another stat, TOB/TB, helps lengthen Piazza’s lead over the rest of the field. Written about in 2016 by Rob Mains, the TOB/TB Number is calculated using this formula:

  • Multiply Times on Base by Total Bases.
  • Double it.
  • Divide the result by the sum of Times on Base and Total Bases.

Piazza’s TOTtb number of 1,651 was 325 points ahead of Grote’s with the average for the top five catchers 1,170.

Others’ Views

Tim Boyle, in his catcher comparison, made this comment about Mike Piazza:

“Piazza didn’t have a reputation for playing well defensively. As the years went on, he got worse. I’m not so sure anyone holds this against him. Piazza was far too amazing at the plate for anyone to criticize him for his weaknesses behind it.”

In contrast, Jennifer Khedaroo viewed Piazza’s defensive skill differently, writing

“In terms of defense, Piazza played well year after year. He was consistently in the top five for putouts, assists, double plays turned and runners caught stealing.”

And though Harold Friend agreed that Piazza was a better hitter than Gary Carter, he still pushed Piazza into second place among the best Mets catchers, Carter’s defensive skill giving him the edge:

“Gary Carter was the most valuable Mets catcher. Piazza will always be rated as the greater player, but Carter was more valuable to the Mets. Gary Carter was (and is) a world champion.

Piazza was the greatest hitting catcher ever. Although he was a good defensive player his first few seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was a defensive liability during his tenure with the Mets.”

Overall, Friend wrote, “Carter provided great defense, handled an excellent pitching staff magnificently and was a timely clutch hitter.”

In response to Friend, in my opinion the best measure of clutch hitting is WPA. For that stat, Piazza’s score was more than 10 times higher than Carter’s.

With regard to Piazza’s ability behind the plate, in an article, its author, Brendan Kuty, wrote that Hall of Famer Tom Glavine “said Piazza’s reputation as a bad defensive catcher is undeserved.”

“He did a lot of things well behind the plate,” Glavine said. “Yeah, he wasn’t the greatest thrower. That unfortunately translated into people thinking that some of this other game wasn’t as good as it was. He called a good game. He received the ball fine. He blocked balls fine.

But so often catchers are defined defensively on how well they throw and there’s much more that goes into just being a good defensive catcher than being able to throw. That aspect of his game, for whatever reason, garnered the extra attention and overshadowed the other aspects of his game.” (from Kuty article)

Stathead School: Get Home Game Info

For this search, you need to use Stathead Baseball’s Split Finders tool. It can be used to get both player and team data for both batting and pitching. When used for team batting, you can search one or multiple seasons. As I just wanted the data for a single season, I did a single season search.

Here is how to use Stathead Baseball to get the results in the above tweet.

  1. Go to Split Finders > Team Batting.
  2. Set Sort By to Descending and OBP.
  3. Make Seasons “2021 to 2021”.
  4. For Choose Split Type, select Home or Away.
  5. For Choose A Split, select Home.
  6. Under Team Filters, click or tap Choose a Team Filter.
  7. Then, click or tap Team.
  8. Click or tap Any Team
  9. Select New York Mets.
  10. Click or tap Get Results.

Under Current Search, you should see this:
▶︎ In the Regular Season, in 2021, For NYM, In the AL or NL or FL, Home (within Home or Away), sorted by greatest On-Base%.

To get the away game data, repeat the above steps, making this one change:
5. For Choose A Split, select Away.

View the Stathead results for home games and away games..