Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:00 AM
Well, believe it or not the Mets are in a true playoff race. And, believe it or not, they now seem to have too many major league caliber hitters to go around. The Mets may have added 3 major league veteran bats to strengthen the lineup, but they seemed to have also at the same time added more drama for the citizens of Panic City with each and every posted lineup card online. So, what can be done to bring consistency to the order and improve the overall offense to include everyone?
Way back in April, it seemed as though Terry Collins and company had a plan. They were starting to put together a steady lineup. It included the captain batting second, and a hot start in the middle of the order from Travis d'Arnoud. There was even occasion I remember where Curtis Granderson was given the day off, and Terry decided to bat John Mayberry Jr. (I know, remember him?) in the leadoff spot. When asked about it, Terry simply stated that he was trying to maintain balance and consistency in the lineup, and that means plugging in a replacement exactly where the guy he is replacing would have been in the lineup. Well, numerous injuries, losses, new players and months later, everything had completely changed. Now it seems as if the Mets, while in first place, are lined up every night like a team in spring training or even like a version a little league team.
I understand where the coaching staff is coming from here. This team fielded the equivalent of a minor league lineup for a couple of months, and now the team would like to take full advantage of the extra assets and allow for competition and hot streaks to decide the lineup rather than just pencil in who they got regardless of talent and ability. But it just doesn't seem to truly be working at the moment. So, even though I've never been much good at being a numbers/stats guy, I figured I would throw out some old fashioned stats and see what it does to the lineup, and the guys in it.
As always, we start with the leadoff man, who should continue to be Curtis Granderson. At this point he is now starting to break franchise records in the spot with his power. It's not his fault this team can't get anyone on base when he's up. And it's not his fault that nobody behind him can consistently drive him in whenever he walks and/or build up those opposing starter pitch counts night in and night out. I say leave and let be. Granderson, when batting leadoff, has a .341 OBP and a .803 OPS on the year. Overall, Grandy's OPS when leading off an inning in general is at .860 to go along with a .277 BA. So again I say, if it isn't broke, don't fix it.
Now, the 2 hole has been an absolute mystery for this team ever since David Wright stopped hitting there back in April. Seems like every hitter on the roster has had a turn in this spot during the year. When batting second, Daniel Murphy is hitting a robust .370 BA, with a .429 OBP and a 1.034 OPS.....hello?!?!?!?!?!?
To put something else into prospective here, Murph, whom the organization has said time and time again that they would prefer to hit in the middle of the order, is hitting .229 with a .284 OBP and a .645 OPS when batting 5th, which by the way is the spot in the order he has been placed in the MOST this year. Again, these are just stats right?
I guess after that we then come to the decision on who bats 3rd and who bats cleanup between Cespedes and Duda. (of course, I'm simply going by these guys both being healthy and not yet factoring in the Lefty/Righty starter situation). During the course of this year, on the two different teams, Cespedes has pretty much played in every spot in the lineup except for leadoff, with only 1 at bat in the 8th hole.
And technically his most sexy stats and production overall seems to have come from him batting 2nd (even though some of us on Macks Mets seem to go a little crazy when we've seen him there with us). But here are the stats. He posts a .308 BA and his highest SLG and OPS (.582 & .912) are from this spot in the order. Using two of the more basic and familiar stats (at least to me) it shows that Cespedes and his next best spot in the order is hitting cleanup, where his BA and OBP are .313 and .353 respectively.
Then there is our man Lucas Duda(smash). Lucas has pretty much hit either 3rd or 4th the entire season. The most glaring differences come in the slugging and OPS statistics, where Duda is at .418 and .769 batting third, and .538 / .888 while hitting cleanup. Now of course there a million factors we can also consider here with both Duda and Cespedes that include who's hitting in front of them and behind them from a opposing team and pitcher prospective, but I've taken the time to check this stuff out and some of the numbers and differences between them are pretty interesting.
When it comes to the 5th spot in the order, im going more with gut feeling (and bias), and therefore throwing out the stats and putting my support behind Travis d'Arnaud being the guy here. He has shown flashes of his power, both in the gaps and over the wall. He also shown an ability to hit for average and make contact which is why he was given immediate placement in the 2 hole back in April. However, with things beginning to settle in, and of course based off of what kind of David Wright we will have, I'd prefer TDA in this spot during the stretch run as he now (God Willing) takes his place every day in the lineup.
For the bottom of the order, this is where things can start to really become mix and match. I think its time to talk about the one and only Wilmer Jesus Walks Flores. The man, the myth, the legend. He's also the 24 year old who has been penciled in EVERYWHERE in the lineup from 2 through 9. And, well, believe it not, his best statistical spots in the order have been cleanup and 8th......wait what? Yup, 4th and 8th. His highest batting average and OBP have come while hitting the pressure packed cleanup spot (.318 and .362)...... and yes, I'm not kidding, the kid with the overall OBP under .300 is at .362 when batting cleanup. Statistically Wilmer seems to be at his worst when hitting 6th, which includes sporting just a .216 batting average in that spot. Overall, his next most productive spot truly has been in the 8 hole, where he rocks a SLG and OPS of .512 and .868 respectively. So, even though at times when Wilmer has shown the power and knack for hits, it doesn't always necessarily mean that its being wasted way down in the 8th spot in the order, because he certainly doesn't put forth any less effort down there, and he obviously is not affected much by hitting in front of the pitcher.
Further regarding Flores and his stats are his Lefty/Righty splits this year. Wilmer has become a bit of a beast against left handed pitching this year, so much that when compared with these stats shown in the previous paragraph, I would be inclined to have no problem with Wilmer hitting cleanup against lefties ongoing. .293 BA, .341 OBP, .512 SLG and .853 OPS against southpaws this year.
Then there is Ruben Tejada. Tejada has his monster numbers coming out of the 7th spot, but it's only in 35 plate appearance, which strangely enough are 35 appearances in that spot without a walk. He has a ridiculous .371 batting average (OBP is the same) from this spot. Even though Ruben has had most of his plate appearances come from the 2 hole, his next best spot in the order has been hitting 8th, with an .803 OPS to go along with a .288 BA and .411 OBP (he knows how to walk in front of the pitcher).
Well, there's a bunch of stats. Now comes the hard part which is to go back and discuss the issues regarding the lineup changes daily which involve guys like K Johnson, Uribe and others. As some of us have already been noting lately, minus a few quality at bats and big time hits, these two new additions have done very little for the Mets organization overall. And yet Terry Collins mostly has these guys hitting 4th and 5th in the lineup based on the opposing Righty/Lefty matchups. Based purely on the status, Kelly Johnson seems to do his most damage while hitting 6th, going with a BA and OBP of .309 and .352 respectively in 2015. I'd love to say that this team, during his starts, should be batting this veteran 7th or 8th, but he's only done it for 24 plate appearances, and he has zero walks in those plate appearances, although obviously a small sample size.
As for Juan Uribe, he has unfortunately been pretty terrible offensively as a Met, hitting .162 with a .230 OBP since joining the team. For the year, he has hit everywhere in a lineup from 3 through 8, and his biggest power number and .803 OPS come while batting 5th. His highest batting average of .284 comes while hitting down in the 7th hole. After looking at the numbers I obviously now see the reasoning behind hitting him in the middle of the order against opposing lefties, due to his SLG and OPS at .493 and .826 respectively against southpaws.
I can't leave out Juan Lagares and Michael Cuddyer.......but I just did :)..........ok ok I'll simply state that Lagares has been mashing lefties all year with a high BA and has an OPS over .800. Lagares also statiscially seems best suited to bat 7th in the lineup. Hit lowly .255 OBP as leadoff guy says he shouldn't bat there, but against lefties this might still be a good option to try and utilize his speed especially if Grandy is not in the lineup that night.
As for Cuddyer......sigh......well it doesn't seem to matter whether its a righty or lefty on the mound.........although he definitely walks at a higher clip against lefties. Statistically, he has succeeded most while hitting 5th with a crazy .357 BA in 42 at bats with a few walks sprinkled in.
Well anyway there's a bunch of stats for ya. With everything, take it with a grain of salt. I do still just find them a little interesting myself. And, based on all the numbers, could I actually come up with a standard and consistent lineup. Perhaps.
I was hoping you guys would give it a shot.................what's the best set of CONSISTENT lineups this team can put out there on a nightly basis, counting whether its a righty or lefty ???????