DUDA AND CESPEDES: ANOTHER TAKE by Tom Brennan
Decision time is soon to come regarding outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, as it concerns the Mets. It seems the early chatter has him not coming back to the Mets – too expensive.
On the other hand, playoffs force Daniel Murphy was given a qualifying offer, which probably leads him to sign elsewhere, and the Mets will get a sandwich pick. My thoughts of signing Murphy for 1B and trading Duda would then become null and void.
So how would a Duda/Cespedes combo for the Mets make sense in 2016? The answer would be 4 listening ears between the two men, and those two men listening to a persuasive Kevin Long. And what would Kevin tell them, to turn them into a feared combo in the middle of the Mets’ line up?
STOP TAKING FIRST OR SECOND PITCH MEATBALLS
Of course, I will take it one step further. Stop taking meatballs, period.
As an example, I recall in the Series, vs. KC, that Chris Young had just retired the first two hitters in a 4-4 game on the road in extra innings. Once the count went 3-0 to Duda, he should have, in the oft-repeated words of Keith Hernandez, been looking for a pitch he could drive. Instead he took two 90 MPH very hittable fastballs down the center of the plate, and then struck out on a pitcher’s pitch. Aargh!
But forget about 3-0 counts for a minute. Both Cespedes and Duda take a lot of down-the-middle fastballs on 0-0 and 1-0 counts. If you are like me, you probably have often exclaimed, “why did you not swing at THAT pitch?”
What do they do when they end their at bats on 0-0 and 1-0 counts in their careers? They dazzle:
- Duda is hitting about .350 in 358 such at bats, with 29 doubles and 29 homers.
- Cespedes is hitting .355 in 366 such at bats, with 24 doubles and 23 homers.
Terrific. But both only end their at bats on those counts about:
a paltry 15% of the time. TOO LOW!!
Daniel Murphy, by comparison? In his career, he goes 21.5%, with similar .345 hitting and lots of extra base hits in at bats ending on those 0-0, 1-0 counts. And 21.5% vs. 15% means about 40 more of those favorable at bats over a full season.
What about at bats ending later than on 0-0, 1-0 counts?
Once Duda and Cespedes are past such favorable counts, they both still do very well in at bat ending on counts of 0-1, 1-1, 2-1, and 3-1.
But both really stink when the at bat ends with the count having reached 2 strikes (0-2, 1-2, 2-2, 3-2), Duda even more than Cespedes. But in both cases, they make outs, after being in some version of a 2 strike count, a real lot: Cespedes around 50%, and Duda nearly 54% of the time (Murphy just 42%). It is counter productive for both Cespedes and Duds to get into 2 strike counts with such great frequency – but they do, in part, due to staring at early-in-the-count meatballs.
1) For both of them, if the pitcher throws a first pitch fastball that catches the sweet part of the plate, swing, swing, swing…and swing. Naps are encouraged but not while hitting.
2) If they do #1, pitchers will be more apt to nibble on the first pitch, leading to more first pitch balls and thus more 1-0 counts.
3) If 1-0 is reached and the pitcher throws a pitch that catches the sweet part of the plate, swing, swing, swing…and swing.
4) If they could get their 15% ratio of 0-0 and 1-0 counts up to 25% to 30%, their #s would greatly improve.
5) If they get 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1 meatball pitches, don’t take them, swing, swing, swing…and swing.
Consider the Royals. They took very few meatballs. Result? Less strikeouts, more offense.
SO...I still say sign Cespedes, and then convince these 2 hitters of the aforementioned more aggressive hitting philosophy, and I think we’d see them combine for 70-80 homers, or more, and a real step up in overall production.
Consider when the Mets’ radio broadcast starts. The adrenaline highlight sound clips are of…homers. To hit homers, one must swing at favorable, hittable pitches.
These 2 guys are capable of more offensively…just stop taking meatballs…and we will get into another World Series in 2016 – and the Mets will sell a LOT of tickets.
I rest my case. What do you think?