A group of fellow Mets fans this week started a debate about the state of the team and the manner in which it has evolved over the past several seasons. In the one camp you heard, “We’re way better off today than we were back in 2010!” In the other camp were cries about the Wilpons and Sandy Alderson being disingenuous by duping the fans on the basis of being competitive, spending on free agents, opening up to the international pools of talent and acquiring necessary players through increased payroll flexibility. As I usually do, I figured the best way was to look at the teams and the numbers since, coincidentally, the 2010 team and the 2014 team finished with identical 79-83 records.
After the failed Mike Jacobs experiment, the Mets inserted rookie Ike Davis and he never looked back, turning in a respectable 19 HRs, 71 RBIs while batting .264. He was good for a .351 OBP, .440 SLG and .791 OPS. Lucas Duda in his first full year playing primarily 1st base took advantage of his comfort there and slugged 30 HRs, 92 RBIs while batting .253. His achieve a .349 OBP, .481 SLG and .830 SLG. Clearly Duda had the better year. Edge to the 2014 team.
Luis Castillo did his best Ruben Tejada impression, turning in 0 HRs, 17 RBIs and batting .235 in about 299 ABs which represented the majority of time at the position. The man himself, Ruben Tejada, contributed 1 HR, 15 RBIs and an even lower .213 AVG. Daniel Murphy was an All Star. Clear edge to the 2014 team.
Remember when no one utter the phrase, “Who’s going to play shortstop?” with respect to the Mets? It was because they had one Jose Antonio Reyes firmly entrenched there as their leadoff hitter. What did he do in 2010? He batted .282, stole 30 bases, homered 11 times and drove in 54. I’m not even going to look up the numbers from 2014. Major edge to the 2010 team.
It seems like an old Mad Magazine Spy Vs. Spy routine, but here we have David Wright (healthy) vs. David Wright (unhealthy). To remind you of what he used to be capable of doing, 2010 was a banner year for him with 29 HRs, 103 RBIs, 19 SBs while hitting .283. Suffice to say that season is far more than double what Wright produced in 2014. Huge edge to 2010.
Remember Rod Barajas? He had a John Buck-like short rally showing home run power, finishing the 2010 year with 12 HRs, 34 RBIs and a .225 AVG. He was joined by Josh Thole who hit 3 HRs, 17 RBIs and .277. That’s a combined 15/51/.248. If we extrapolated Travis d’Arnaud’s stats for the same number of ABs he would have 15/48/.241. That’s a push (though the argument can be made that d’Arnaud’s hot finish was more indicative of his capabilities).
People with sensitive stomachs should take their antacid now before I utter the name Jason Bay. His 6 HRs and 44 RBIs to go along with a .259 average were NOT what the team had in mind when they forked over big bucks to the Type A free agent. As pitiful as this output was, it still exceeds what the Mets got from their Bobby Abreu, Andrew Brown, Eric Young, Eric Campbell, etc. black hole last season. Edge, believe it or not, 2010.
Once upon a time Sandy Alderson made a trade. He looked at the centerfielder the Mets had who just finished a brilliant season in which he slugged 11 HRs, drove in 69 Runs, stole 37 bases and hit a robust .290. He thought to himself, “We can do better!” and brought in an older career .242 hitter named Andres Torres who had one competent year in which he produced a 16 HRs, 63 RBIs, 26 SBs while hitting .263. Well, that perhaps is why there have been so few major league talent for major league talent trades made during this current regime, but that’s not the point today. We’re here to see how Angel Pagan stacked up against Juan Lagares. Sorry, but despite his defensive superiority, there was no comparison at the bat as to who was more productive. Edge 2010.
Well, in 2010 the Mets had some scrub named Bel-something who in his last full year in a Mets uniform was hurt for much of the year and combined with Atlanta Braves castoff Jeff Francoeur to deliver 18 HRs, 81 RBIs and a .243 AVG. Curtis Granderson put up 20 HRs but his 60 RBIs and .227 AVG fall short before we even get into defense. Edge 2010.
Mike Pelfrey, Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese combined to win more than they lost, with 3.66, 2.98, 2.84 and 4.20 ERAs respectively. The 5th starter slot was a revolving door that included the likes of John Maine, Oliver Perez, Pat Misch, Hisanori Takahashi and Dillon Gee. The 2014 team had Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Dillon Gee and Jacob de Grom for the majority of the year. The ERAs ranged from 4.09, 3.40, 3.54, 4.00 and 2.69 for this group. The top four were superior in 2010 but the 5th starter was a horror show until Takahashi and Gee came along. While everyone certainly likes where the current staff is headed, on the basis of numbers alone the 2010 group seemed slightly better. I’d call it a push.
Here’s the truly surprising one. Everyone is impressed with where the bullpen is now with Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Vic Black, Carlos Torres, Josh Edgin and eventually Bobby Parnell. However, back in 2010 they might have been even better with Frankie Rodriguez posting 25 saves with a 2.20 ERA, Elmer Dessens and Manny Acosta below 3.00 and perpetual Pedro Feliciano holding his own with a 3.30. I’ll call this one a push, too.
Here’s perhaps the toughest call. The only way Terry Collins or Jerry Manuel get into the Hall of Fame is by buying a ticket. They were both in the lower tier of managerial strategy compared to their peers. However, only the Jenrry Mejia mess stands out in my mind as particularly notable blotch on an otherwise undistinguished resume for Manuel whereas I could write a book about the things Collins has said and done wrong since that sad day late in 2010 when he was named manager. Slight edge to 2010, though it’s really like picking between bedding down with a rattlesnake or a copperhead. They’re both going to bite you eventually.
The Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the 2010 squad was 81-81 and they underachieved at 79-83. The Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the 2014 squad was 82-80, so they underachieved more. We have two clear edges for the 2014 team on the right side of the infield. We have two HUGE edges for the 2010 team on the left side of the infield. You have pushes at catcher, starting pitching and bullpen with just slight edges to 2010 for the entire outfield and the manager. It seems to me the 2010 team was indeed better than the 2014 squad, though I am far more optimistic going into 2015 than I was going into 2011. The payroll is certainly a lot more palatable to the owners. Perhaps someday they’ll pump some of those savings into the on-the-field product.