11/10/15

DUDA AND CESPEDES: ANOTHER TAKE by Tom Brennan

17 comments


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.
Solutions?
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?

17 comments:

Mack Ade said...

Tom -

I never considered the decision whether or not Cesoedes stayed a Met was in their ballpark. This has always been a Cespedes decision and now that he's a FA, I don't expect much to be heart about this issue anymore either from their camp or Alderson.

As for Duda, when you get down on someone, you can really stay down on them.

I'm fine with Duda for 2016, especially if Murphy leaves. The Mets seem highly invested in Dominic Smith for the future of this position and I'd rather spend my 2016 dollars on... here I go again... better middle infield defense, one or two quality middle relievers, and a possible platoon partner for Lagares. Nothing sexy.

Thomas Brennan said...

Yep, I have been rough on Duda, Mack. I just want to see him be more aggressive and not waste first strikes. He'd hit with more power and hopefully fewer Ks.

I realize Cespedes may be gone, as Mets won't be willing to offer enough. Maybe the revision of his contract to allow the Mets equal chance to sign him as other clubs was just window dressing at the time.

If he could stop being so willing to take first pitch strikes, he might be the best guy available in OF, in terms of an acquistioncworth the cost. But, as you say, they may look to improve other areas than the outfield. Hopefully their plans are, whomever they acquire, to look to try to have a dominating team from day 1. With Mets pitching, they are already 75% of the way there.

bob gregory said...

All I can say is that as players approach the plate they are called 'Hitters".
They are not referred to as "Walkers". (totally different tv show)

Sure, be smart and don't swing at pitches that you are unable to make good contact on.
But,
The player should be going to the plate looking at each pitch as their opportunity to do damage.

Michael S. said...

Watching Duda continually let fat pitches go right by him and then wave at balls in the dirt like Tiger Woods was one of the most frustrating parts of the playoffs.

The fact that the Mets made a bid on the Korean 1B tells me that no matter what they say publicly, there's no real commitment to the Dude. I won't cry if they trade him and fill 1B with a RH slugger as part of their offseason plan.

Thomas Brennan said...

@ Bob and Michael:

More on Duda:

When his at bats in 2015 ended on less than 2 strike counts, he had 203 at bats and 43 HBP and walks. In those 203 at bats, he hit .355 with 23 doubles and 21 homers.

Once he got to 2 strikes, 268 official at bats, .175, 10 doubles and 6 homers.

Obviously, a guy can go from 1 strike to 2 strikes by swinging and missing, or fouling balls off, or taking nasty strikes. Hitting is not easy. But it shows how successful Duda is in early counts and how unsuccessful when he gets to 2 strikes. If he were a lot more aggressive, it is logical to think his overall results would really improve.

And I know that is what I'd want from him...expanded power hitting.

Mack Ade said...

Bob - well said, especially the 'walker' reference

Mack Ade said...

Tom -

every team has the same stats on Duda and know how much he sucks with 2 strikes on him. That's why they load up on secondary pitches at that point that wind up in the dirt.

I may be wrong, but I always thought that Duda was a little obsessed with this BB thing... I would hate to see him waste all this poweron another sub .250 season

Thomas Brennan said...

I agree with you 100%, Mack. Duda can be dealt with on 2 strikes. His job is to try to get to 2 strikes a lot less. Forget working the pitcher. Work the fences instead.

Michael S. said...

It always seemed to be the same routine with Duda. Work the count to 3-1, that one strike being a fat pitch down the middle, foul one off (strike 2), and then K on a ball at his feet. It was so sadly predictable.

eraff said...

Lucas Duda is not becoming something different--- He IS...accept the ISness!

I favor keeping Murh, dealing Duda---would love Cespee back

Thomas Brennan said...

Hey Eraff, I think Duda COULD change. Look at Grandy last year. But I don't think Duda wiil, to Michael's point. I 100% agree with keeping Murph, dealing Duda, bringing Cespedes back. He added a rare thrill to the Mets line up the last 2 months...OFFENSE!

Peter Hyatt said...

There is something we know with certainty about Cespedes:

he will not listen. '

He will not be coached and no one, no matter how well armed with statistics about pitches and counts, will tell him. His narcissism is narcissism on steroids, and as he ages, he gets worse with the bat. As he gets worse with the bat, his fielding suffers. The more he tries for ESPN shots, the more he fumbles the ball. It is a downward spiral.

He also will negatively impact young impressionable players. Sandy A is acutely aware of this.
He knows how the some of the young players imitated Cespedes in the celebration and even with the extra neon and mask self parading.

Had Sandy been around in the 80's, Doc and Dwight may have had hall of fame careers because, I think, Alderson may have taken to extreme measures to keep bad influences from them both.

It is just an opinion, but 5 teams in 2 years, and lots of quotes, innuendoes and Boston coaches' opinions, along with body language, golf, feigning injury, hot dogging inside the parkers, and an inability to even "lower" himself to directly communicate to the manager, all conspire to say:

Head case. Not worth it. Too much money; too much risk.

Peter Hyatt said...

Thoughts on Murph,

great guy, bone head intelligence, who may have found a power swing.

With Duda hot and cold, Herrera very young and Captain Wright needing EIGHT hours of therapy just to play in a single game, having a .280 hitter who can play third, first and second (Note I listen second base last), he is the best utility player in the game.

If you took his heart and put it in Cespedes, you might have met your next Hall of Fame candidate.

Murph makes sense for 3-4 years if it is reasonable. We are going to have lots of room at 3rd base this season.

He is also another great club house guy in a club house of a lot of good guys.

bob gregory said...

What is all of this based on??
I have never read or heard anything like this regarding Cespedes.

eraff said...

Bob G... this is Mets "Stepford Mets Fans"---- Big Swallow on nasty ownership leeks.

I will never ever Forget...forgive...Relent on my dislike for the terrible ownership in place. These are not Honorable People...These are NOT good people.

eraff said...

PS... established players are what they are.... tight ranges of output. You never can PERFECT a player---you just put them in the right situations. You accept some of the Warts...try to camouflage the weaknesses---and this goes back to the situations you place them in..

...and the players you choose for the situtaions.

Cespee is a FANTASTIC Player---he's not Ken Griffey JR....but he's a fantastic piece.

Thomas Brennan said...

Peter Hyatt, Bob G and eraff, great feedback. Thanks.

I will say that having strong hitting to support our pitchers is really important...check out my article at noon today.

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