8/22/15

Reese Kaplan -- Are You Experienced?

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There are a great many long held beliefs in baseball that are rooted probably more in tradition than in numbers that people accept on face value without questioning the metrics behind the fallacies.  One of these oft-repeated chestnuts is the value of post-season experience and how the presence of veteran players gives an edge to a playoff-bound team.  You’d like to think that this situation is true, but the numbers simply fail to back it up. 

Back in 2013 Baseball Prospectus ran an interesting article by Russell A. Carleton in which he examined the empirical data from 1995 through 2012 (when the Wildcard system originated) to look at the question of whether or not players who have been to the post-season in the past performed markedly better than those individuals who had not.  In the case of the New York Mets, they had better hope the results dictate that post-season experience is not a predictive factor for success as they have relatively few players on the roster who have logged significant time playing October baseball:

Position
Name
Years of Post-Season Experience
C
Anthony Recker
0
C
Travis d'Arnaud
0
IF
Juan Uribe
5
IF
Ruben Tejada
0
IF
Daniel Murphy
0
IF
Wilmer Flores
0
IF
Lucas Duda
0
OF
Juan Lagares
0
OF
Kelly Johnson
3
OF
Curtis Granderson
4
OF
Michael Cuddyer
6
OF
Michael Conforto
0
OF
Yoenis Cespedes
2
P
Logan Verrett
0
P
Carlos Torres
0
P
Noah Syndergaard
0
P
Hansel Robles
0
P
Eric O'Flaherty
1
P
Jon Niese
0
P
Matt Harvey
0
P
Sean Gilmartin
0
P
Jeurys Familia
0
P
Jacob deGrom
0
P
Bartolo Colon
6
P
Tyler Clippard
2
IF
David Wright
1
P
Erik Goeddel
0

So what did Mr. Carleton find?  

Hitters who are experienced strike out less in post-season situations but they also hit fewer home runs.  Pitchers who’ve been there before give up more singles but not as many extra-base hits.  After compiling the numbers it became clear that neophytes to October baseball fared just as well overall as the ones whose resume included many innings and games of post season experience.

That analysis should come as good news for the Mets since the projected starting lineup and rotation includes 3 position players – Curtis Granderson, Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright – who have had playoff experience.  The starting rotation will likely include none, with the bullpen featuring just Tyler Clippard and the expected conversion of Bartolo Colon to reliever with the “young guns” rotation likely to get the starting duties.  

Like a great many “conventional wisdom” beliefs in baseball such as not talking about a no-hitter while it’s taking place, this one has no basis in fact.  It’s good to see there is no decided disadvantage simply because the majority of the Mets players have never been to the playoffs. 

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