Tuesday, November 1, 2011

B-Ref Blog is Dead, Long Live A Successor?

The entertaining blog that has over the past few years sat on the front page at baseball-reference.com is no longer being kept active by the Baseball-Reference folks. However, the B-Ref data is always a fertile source for on-going discussion and if those who have posted and commented there would like to keep that discussion going here or elsewhere, I'm happy to help. Feel free to post comments here on that prospect.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Santo Cause

Ron Santo, who just passed away, surely had a career deserving of the Hall of Fame. Wins Above Replacement suggests he was the most valuable everyday player in the majors in the last half of the 1960s, and was one of the greatest third basemen of all-time.

But 1969 he probably preferred to forget. After the games of August 6 that season, the Cubs had a superb 71-41 record, and led the NL East by nine full games over the second place Mets. Santo was playing like an MVP, with a BA of .314, OBP of .409, SLG of .543 and OPS of .952. But from then on, through September 24, the day the Mets clinched the NL East, Santo managed only a BA of .231, OBP of .315, SLG of .333 and OPS of .648. The Cubs over that stretch went 19-26 and went from 9 games ahead ahead of the Mets on August 6 to six games behind the Mets with five to play. Over the five games remaining after the Cubs were out of it, Santo's OPS was .900.

Ron had health problems most of his life, and he could not have enjoyed repeatedly being denied a deserved induction into the Hall of Fame. But the final seven weeks of the 1969 season could not have been one of his better memories either. Cruel game, baseball, as recent Mets fans know. Perhaps the last few seasons for the Mets could be thought of as Santo's Revenge.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Tender Trap

John Maine, Chris Carter and Sean Green were "non-tendered". That is, the Mets chose not to offer them the minimum one-year contract salary required to keep exclusive negotiating rights to their services. So the three are now free agents. The Mets could re-sign them, presumably at an amount less than the minimum amounts that would have been required to retain exclusive rights, but to do so the Mets now have to compete with potential offers from all other clubs.

Maine is two Wins short of being in the franchise top 10 for Wins by righty Mets pitchers, and Carter fell two hits short of leading the majors in pinch hits in 2010.

Most Regular Season Wins by a Right-Handed Mets Pitcher:

Most Pinch Hits by a Major Leaguer in 2010:
1. Joe Inglett (MIL) 20
2. Chris Carter (NYM) 19
3. Delwyn Young (PIT) 16
T4. Ross Gload (PH), Nick Stavinoha (STL) ands and Travis Ishikawa (SFG) 15

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Snow More Nieve

Nieve is Spanish for snow, and and Fernando Nieve is "snow more" a Met, having signed a minor league deal with the Pirates. (That is not a phrase describing 21st century stardom: "minor league deal with the Pirates").

Most Games Pitched in a Season By A Met With a Season ERA of 6 or higher:
1. Mel Rojas (1998): 50 Games Pitched, 6.05 ERA
2. Fernando Nieve (2010): 40 Games Pitched, 6.00 ERA
3. Ray Daviault (1962): 36 Games Pitched, 6.22 ERA
4. Ryota Igarashi (2010): 34 Games Pitched, 7.12 ERA
5. Rich Rodriguez (2000): 32 Games Pitched, 7.78 ERA

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Feeling Left Out

Pedro Feliciano declined the Mets' offer of arbitration, making him a free agent. He could still sign with the Mets, but they no longer control him contractually.

We can divide Feliciano's career into two pieces. Part 1 ran from from Pedro's MLB debut in 2002 through the end of 2007. Part 2 consists of the last three seasons, 2008 through 2010.

Pedro has been equally superb against lefties in both these parts of his career. Lefty hitters against him had a .575 OPS through 2007, and have had a .579 OPS against him from 2008 on. So no decline whatsoever against lefties.

Bu then we turn to Pedro against right-handed batters. In Part 1 of Feliciano's career, righty hitters had only a .727 OPS against him, a very good number for a lefty pitcher facing righties. However, from 2008 through the just-completed 2010 season, right-handed batters put up a .907 OPS against Feliciano. That is, the numbers indicate dramatic disintegration in his ability against righty hitter, albeit as with any relief pitcher's splits, we are not talking about huge samples, so it's possible Pedro's true talent against righties was not as good as the numbers suggest in Part 1 of his career and not as bad as the last three years' numbers indicate.

But if indeed the split numbers do reflect a real change in Pedro's true talent level against righties, and reflect the real magnitude of that change, Pedro can no longer be used to any significant degree against right-handed hitters. It would be sad to conclude that a fellow who was a full-service relief pitcher, and a famously prolific one, has declined into a pure "Left-Handed One-Out Guy". Unfortunately that may be where Pedro is at this point in his career.

Smashing Success

The obituaries for Gil McDougald tended to focus on a couple of freak injuries: the ball he hit that struck Herb Score in the eye, and the injury McDougald himself suffered when hit by a batted ball in the ear. That's classic press coverage -- look for the human interest angle. But that sort of focus tends to underplay just how splendid, and unusual, McDougald was as a baseball talent.

Gil could and would start at second base, or third base, or short, whatever the Yankees most needed that season, or indeed that day, and he was a wonderful fielder at all three positions. Baseball-reference's Fielding Runs (based on Sean Smith's Total Zone fielding evaluation system) gives McDougald the fourth highest total among Yankee infielders all-time, behind only Clete Boyer, Phil Rizzuto,and Joe Gordon. But Boyer, Rizzuto and Gordon each played only one infield position (third, short and second, respectively), while McDougald mastered all three of their positions and thus gave the Yankees an extraordinary amount of flexibility to deploy their infield talent effectively throughout the 1950s.

And McDougald was a legitimate offensive force as well. Clete Boyer was one of the great defensive third basemen of all time, but had a career OPS+ of only 86, and Rizzuto's career OPS+ was 93, good for a shortstop of his (or any) era, but not what you call a big hitter. McDougald was nearly as valuable a fielder as either Clete or Phil, but Gil's career OPS+ was a quite substantial 111 (comparable to, say, Alfonso Soriano's career 113 OPS+), making him an important part of the Yankee lineup wherever he played in the infield.

Truly one of the great all-around talents the majors has seen. He retired early, playing only until he was 32, retiring as a Yankee rather than leave in the expansion draft to go play for the brand new Los Angeles Angels. As a result his career numbers don't stack up with the greatest. But he was enormously valuable to the Yankees. McDougald's nickname among his teammates, according to Don Larsen's book The Perfect Yankee, was "Smash", and he was indeed a smashing success.

The Matter of Size

Rumors bounced around the InterMet (that's the Mets subsection of the Internet) yesterday that free agent pitcher Chris Young might be signing with the Mets. Chris is 6 feet 10 inches tall. As such, he would tie Eric Hillman for tallest Met ever.

Eric Hillman started 36 games in his MLB career (all for the Mets) and ended up with only 4 career Wins, which is one of the worst ratios of starts needed per Win in MLB history. The Mets' Pat Misch is right up there with Hillman, though as an active player, Pat still has a chance to win some more games and cut his ratio to a more normal level.

Over the past 100 years of Major League Baseball, among all pitchers who had at least 20 career starts, the pitchers who required the most starts per Win:

Jack Nabors (1915-1917) 37 career starts, one career Win

Mike Thompson (1971-1975) 29 career starts, one career Win

Eric Hillman (1992-1994) 36 career starts, four career Wins

Pat Misch (2006-2010) 24 career starts, three career Wins

Hal Griggs (1956-1959) 45 career starts, six career Wins

Jo-Jo Reyes (2007-2010) 37 career starts, five career Wins

Josh Geer (2008-2009) 22 career starts, three career Wins

Ken Reynolds (1970-1976) 51 career starts, seven career Wins

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yankee Failure Returns Again

Javier Vasquez pitched well for the Expos, and then spent a year with the Yankees and was a disappointment there. Eventually he returned to the NL East and pitched well with the Braves, and then spent another year with the Yankees, only to disappoint there again. So naturally, he now takes a third spin in the NL East, signing with the Marlins. From 1999 through 2010, Vasquez has been credited with ten Wins against the Mets. Over that period, only four pitchers have more Wins against the Mets: Greg Maddux and Tim Hudson (13 Wins each), Randy Wolf (12 Wins) and Dontrelle Willis (11 Wins).

Iron Age

Harvey Araton in today's New York Times:
"In the past seven years, Jeter has missed a combined 51 games, or 7.3 per season, which in modern baseball is about as Iron Horsey as one gets."
Over the past seven seasons, 2004-2010, Derek Jeter has played in 1,083 regular season games. Over the seven seasons from 1926 to 1932, Lou Gehrig played in 1,083 regular season games, exactly the same number as Jeter played in over 2004-2010. For each guy, that was the seven-season sequence in which they played the most regular season games of their respective careers.

Derek played in 48 post-season games over 2004-2010, for a total of 1,131 major league games. over the past seven seasons. Gehrig played in 19 post-season games over the 1926-1932 period, for a total of 1,102 major league contests over that seven-season span -- 29 fewer than Jeter played over 2004-2010.

Top 10, Most MLB Games Played, 2004-2010, Regular and Post-Season Combined:

1. Derek Jeter 1,131
2. Albert Pujols 1,126
3. Ichiro Suzuki 1,115
4. Bobby Abreu 1,114
5. Adam Dunn 1,108
6. Miguel Cabrera 1,103
7. Mike Young 1,100
8. Mark Teixeira 1,098
T9. Miguel Tejada 1,091
T9. Orlando Cabrera 1,091

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Manhattan's Last Game

The man who threw the final major league pitch in Brooklyn just passed away: Danny McDevitt, who pitched a complete game victory for the Dodgers in their last home game of the 1957 season, before the franchise relocated to Los Angeles. But a Met fan might ask, what about the last major league pitch in Manhattan?

The very fine Phillies' pitcher Chris Short threw a complete game victory over the Mets in the last major league game at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan on September 18, 1963, at the end of an era (Beatles songs were first heard in the US about the same time, and President Kennedy was assassinated two months later). The box score and play-by-play for this game are here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYN/NYN196309180.shtml

Short's last pitch was a line drive double-play ball to end the game, off the bat of Mets' pinch-hitter Ted Schreiber. Schreiber (whose only major league experience was his 11 starts as an infielder, and 28 other games in which he appeared briefly, with the Mets that season) was a New York City guy, born in Brooklyn and a graduate of that borough's James Madison High School, where he would have been a few years behind my mother. He went to college at St. John's in Queens, and after his baseball career taught for many years at a public school in Brooklyn, while living in Staten Island. Seems somehow appropriate that a Brooklyn/Queens/Staten Island guy brought the curtain down on major league baseball in Manhattan. For Ted's biography, check here: http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=2467&pid=12666.

As for Chris Short, the only pitchers with more career Wins (or Wins Above Replacement, if you prefer the more sophisticated sabermetric measure) as a Phillie are three core Hall-of-Famers Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts and Pete Alexander.

Managing Homers

Here's a list I've put together, with a bit of original research using both baseball-reference and baseball musings' Day-By-Day Database, that shows the top 10 most regular season homers hit by a Met under a single Mets manager:

1. Darryl Strawberry, 196 homers under Davey Johnson
2. Mike Piazza, 170 homers under Bobby Valentine
3. Howard Johnson, 125 homers under Davey Johnson
4. Edgardo Alfonzo, 114 homers under Bobby Valentine
5. Carlos Beltran, 100 homers under Willie Randolph
6. David Wright, 95 homers under Willie Randolph
7. Gary Carter, 89 homers under Davey Johnson
8. Kevin McReynolds, 84 homers under Davey Johnson
9. Robin Ventura, 77 homers under Bobby Valentine
10. Todd Hundley 76 homers under Dallas Green

Now here's a list (in chronological order) of each of the Mets' 19 managers, along with the guy who hit the most homers for each manager and the number of those homers:

Casey Stengel: Frank Thomas 52
Wes Westrum: Ed Kranepool 27
Salty Parker: Jerry Buchek 3
Gil Hodges: Tommie Agee 69
Yogi Berra: John Milner 67
Roy McMillan: Dave Kingman 12
Joe Frazier: Dave Kingman 45
Joe Torre: Lee Mazzilli 59
George Bamberger: Dave Kingman 47
Frank Howard: Darryl Strawberry 23
Davey Johnson: Darryl Strawberry 196
Bud Harrelson: Howard Johnson 52
Mike Cubbage: Kevin McReynolds 2
Jeff Torborg: Bobby Bonilla 28
Dallas Green: Todd Hundley 76
Bobby Valentine: Mike Piazza 170
Art Howe: Cliff Floyd 36
Willie Randolph: Carlos Beltran 100
Jerry Manuel: David Wright 60

Research note: Why did I need to use David Pinto's Day-by-Day Database over at baseball musings for this particular research? One of the few things left that one can do at baseball musings that can't be done at b-ref, either with b-ref's free data or its Play Index data, is run stat searches that key off of mid-season dates. Because managers often come and go mid-season, accurate lists of this type require Day-by-Day Database searches. I did however, first use b-ref's wonderfully helpful data to track the dates of the various mid-season managerial changes. B-ref prominently displays, on each team-season page, the win-loss record of each manager who managed that team that season. By taking that information and then jumping directly to the schedule/results page for that team-season, it is quite easy to track the dates on which those win-loss records for each manager were accumulated. I then had the exact dates of each mid-season managerial change, giving me exact start and end dates for each managerial tenure. It was then just a matter of putting those dates into David Pinto's search form at baseball musings to get homers hit for each manager.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Managing to Win

Terry Collins has won 444 regular season MLB games as a manager. That puts him 141st all-time in career wins as a major league manager. To squeeze into the top 100, Collins will likely need to win close to 190 more.

444 current wins, plus 180 more would put him at 624 career wins. Today that would be good for a tie for 96th among MLB managers all-time. But other managers will be winning games at the same time as Terry and will race him to the top 100. Currently employed managers with between 400 and 624 career wins:

Jim Riggleman 624 (Nationals)

Ozzie Guillen 600 (White Sox)

Eric Wedge 561 (new manager of the Mariners)

Clint Hurdle 534 (new manager of the Pirates)

Ned Yost 512 (Royals)

Joe Maddon 431 (Rays)

If all these guys get past 624 wins before Collins, and they each seem likely to do so, that would leave Terry reaching 624 wins when it would be merely the 101st highest total all-time, no longer in "top 100" territory. Collins can more safely assume he will cross over to the top-100 side if he gets to 630 wins or so, matching Harry "the Hat" Walker's career total. From Terry's current 444 to 630 wins would require 186 more wins. If Terry Collins can get 186 more wins over the course of his new two-year contract (93 win per season average), he will probably have earned a contract extension, as well as a spot in the top 100 winning-est managers.

Houston, No Problem

Terry Collins had a .532 winning percentage as Astros manager. Of the 16 non-interim managers that the Houston franchise has had, only Larry Dierker (.556) has led the team to a better winning percentage. Similarly, Collins finished 27 games over .500 as Astros manager, and again only Dierker ended up with a higher number of games above .500 as Astros manager.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


If a "cycle" is at least one each of a single, double, triple and homer in the same game, a "tricycle" is a baby cycle, one with three wheels -- only three of the required four events. There are four types of tricycles: a cycle that's missing a homer, one missing a triple, one missing a double, and the hardest tricycle of all, the one missing a single.

Jose Reyes has 5 homerless tricycles in Mets history, three of them in 2008. No other Mets has more than three homerless tricycles in his Mets career. In fact Reyes had three homerless tricycles in 2008 alone. The players with the most homerless tricycles in the major leagues since 1962, when the Mets began play, are Paul Molitor and Wade Boggs with 13 each, followed by George Brett and Willie Davis with 12 each.

David Wright has more triple-less tricycles as a Met than any player, with 13 (Mike Piazza had 12 and Carlos Beltran has 10). A-Rod and Barry Bonds lead the majors in triple-less tricycles since 1962, each has 35 in his career, ahead of Billy Williams and Juan Gonzalez with 32 each.

Double-less tricycles are unusual. Darryl Strawberry has the most in Mets history with 3, while Frank Thomas of the original '62 Mets had two within a week of each other in May of 1962. No other Mets has more than one, and there have only been 28 such games in Mets history. Across the majors since 1962, the most doubleless tricycles by any player has been 6, accomplished by Roberto Clemente, Andy Van Slyke and Ron Gant.

Finally, there have been only 6 single-less tricycles in Mets history. Amazingly enough, Gregg Jefferies has three of the six, two of them within a few weeks of each other in late August/early September 1988. The other three single-less tricycles in Mets history have been by Darryl Strawberry, Ron Swoboda and Joe Christopher. No player in the majors since 1962 has more single-less tricycles than the three by Jefferies -- Manny Trillo and Ellis Burks also had three and Brian Giles, who is still active, also has had three in his career.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Run of Runs

Most Consecutive Games by a Met with at least 1 Run Scored

David Wright, 13 games (July 13-July 29, 2008)
Carlos Beltran, 12 games (August 17-August 30, 2006)
Derek Bell, 11 games (June 21-July 1, 2000)
Melvin Mora, 10 games (June 22-July 1, 2000)

(source: baseball-reference.com's Play Index)

Truly odd that Bell's and Mora's streaks were over the same games. In terms of the progression of this record, Frank Thomas had a six game streak in May of 1962, which was tied but not suprassed until Tommie Davis had a seven game streak in 1967, which was tied but not surpassed until Tommie Agee's 8 game streak in May of 1969, which in turn was quickly broken by Art Shamsky's 9 game streak in June/July, 1969, which was tied over the years by Mackey Sasser, Bernard Gilkey and John Olerud but not surpassed until Mora and Bell reached 10 and 11 respectively over that one sequence of games in 2000. Wright's record streak in 2008, by the way, started with the last game before the All-Star break and then proceeded with 12 straight games after the break.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Minor Adjustments

The Mets have signed Freddy Garcia and Rob Mackowiak to minor league deals, each with a chance to make more money if he makes the major league team.

Most Wins in the American League over the past 10 seasons:
1. Mike Mussina 152
2. Roy Halladay 130
3/4. Mark Buehrle/Bartolo Colon 122
5. Freddy Garcia 117


MLB players in the Expansion Era (1961-current) who have at least 150 career games played in LF, and at least 150 career games played in CF, and at least 150 career games played in RF, and at least 150 career games played at 3B (in order of career OPS+):

Tommy Harper 101 OPS+
Cesar Tovar 100 OPS+
Rob Mackowiak 91 OPS+

That's the whole list.

If you drop down to 100 career games at each of LF, CF, RF and third base you add three more guys:

Pedro Guerrero 137 OPS+
Bill Robinson 104 OPS+
Joel Youngblood 103 OPS+

Dropping down again to a 75 game mimimum at each postion you add six more guys: Tony Phillips, Jim Hickman, Woody Held, Elliot Maddox, Mickey Hatcher and Bob Bailor. Of the 12 guys we now have in total, 5 played for the Mets during their careers -- Mackowiak if he makes the team will make it six, an even 50% of the group.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hard Hitting Coverage

The Mets' offense is now second in the NL in run scoring in 2008. The last time the Mets finished a full season that high in the league in run scoring was 1990, when they led the NL in runs. The Mets also led the NL in runs for three years in a row, 1986 through 1988. Those were the only other times in franchise history that the team fininshed higher than third in the league in run scoring.

Part of the reason for the Mets' limited number of times near the top of the NL in runs is the constraining effect Shea has long had on run scoring. By way of example, the Mets are way behind the Cubs this season in overall run scoring. The Cubs as the top run scoring team in the NL are averaging 5.34 runs per game to the Mets second place number of 4.99 runs per game. But the Mets are actually outscoring the Cubs in road games, 5.08 runs per game to 5.00 runs per game. At Wrigley, the Cubs have scored an average of 5.65 runs per game, compared to the Mets' average of 4.90 runs per game at Shea.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Looking For Mo

How much is "momentum" worth after a ten-game winning streak? I looked at the seven winning streaks (before the most recent one) in Mets history that lasted 10 or more games -- four eleven-game win streaks (May/June 1969, May 1972, April 1986 and June 1990) and three ten-game win streaks (September 1969, June/July 1976 and July 1991). Obviously the game immediately after a win streak is always a loss, by defintion. But then I looked at what happened in the 10 games after that streak-breaking loss. In the 10 games immediately after the loss that ended the Mets' four 11-game win streaks, the Mets went 6-4, 6-4, 8-2 and 7-3, for a very impressive 27-13 record. In the ten games following the the loss tthat ended the Mets three streaks of exactly 10 wins, the Mets went 7-3, 4-6 and 4-6, for an exactly .500 record of 15-15. Adding those two groups together you get a 42-28 record in the applicable 70 games immediately following the seven double digit streak-enders.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Home Improvement

There's been a lot of discussion the last few days on the net and in the mainstream press about the unusually large home field advantage that has shown up this season across the majors. The Mets have been no exception. Going into tonight's game, the Mets have a .607 winning percentage at home and .382 away, which sounds more like a football or basketball differential than a baseball one. The Mets current 2008 differential comes out to a difference of .225 home over away. If extended over a full season, that would be the largest home/away differential in Mets history, topping the previous high of .210 in 1963 (.420 home, .210 away).

Last year the Mets had a home park disadvantage, .580 on the road and only .506 at home.Overall since 1962 the Mets have had an .069 home/road differential. Since 1962, the largest home/road differentials by a single team over one full season have been by the 1996 Rockies and 1987 Twins, who each had win percentages a full .333 greater at home than on the road. This season so far, two teams, Atlanta and Boston, have larger differentials than that. The biggest road advantage by any team since 1962 has been the 1994 Cubs, who were .339 at home and .537 on the road.

Since 1962, on average 15% of teams end up the season with a higher road percentage than home percentage and about 2 to 3% complete a season with identical home and road percentages, while the other 82% or so win more at home than on the road. This season so far (going into tonight's games), only the Giants and Angels among the 30 MLB clubs have a road over home advantage. The Mets, despite having a home over road differential that would be the highest in team history over a full season, have only the seventh highest home/road differential in the majors so far in 2008.

Friday, June 6, 2008

NL East Hall of Fame

The National League East division began in its current form with the 1994 season, so the current season is the division's 15th season. The most Win Shares accumulated, 1994-current, by players playing for teams in the NL East (Mets in bold; players active in the NL East in 2008 in italics):

1. Chipper Jones 342
2. Andruw Jones 256
3. Bobby Abreu 241
4. Tom Glavine 229
5. Greg Maddux 221
6. John Smoltz 211
7. Cliff Floyd 174
8. Edgardo Alfonzo 169
9. Vlad Guerrero 166
10. Jimmy Rollins 165
11. Javy Lopez 157
12/13. Gary Sheffield/Pat Burrell 153
14. Mike Piazza 149
15. Luis Castillo 146
16. Jose Vidro 141
17. Scott Rolen 139
18/19. Miguel Cabrera/Mike Lowell 127
20/21. Al Leiter/Mike Lieberthal 121

David Wright, at 113, and Chase Utley, at 111, should break onto this list this summer.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Happier Days

Over the 3+ seasons that Willie Randolph has been manager of the Mets, the team has the best win/loss record in the National League. Top NL regular season records, 2005-current:
Mets 295 -245 (.546)
Cards 294-248 (.542)
Phils 294-249 (.541)
Braves 282-260 (.520)

Over the 3 seasons immediately preceding Randolph becoming manager, the Mets were 15th of the 16 NL teams in winning percentage. Worst NL regular season records, 2002-2004:
Brewers 191-294 (.394)
Mets 212-272 (.438)
Rockies 215-271 (.442)
Padres 217--269 (.447)

From The Top

With an on-base streak of thirty-one games as a leadoff man throgh yesterday's game, Jose Reyes has broken Benny Agbayani's team record in that (highly specialized!) category. Over the 2000 and 2001 seasons, Bobby Valentine used Benny as his leadoff man intermittently, but if you count only those games in which Agbayani was the leadoff batter, you find he was on base the last three games in which he batted leadoff in 2000 and the first 27 times he batted leadoff in 2001.

The longest streak of this type anywhere in the majors since 1962 has been by Alfonso Soriano, who was on base at least once in 58 consecutive games in which he was the leadoff hitter, spanning his last leadoff appearances for the Nationals in 2006 and his first for the Cubs in 2007. The longest such streak for one team in one season since 1962 is Craig Biggio's 51 game streak in 1998. Biggio's 51-game streak stretched across 52 games played -- 51 games in the leadoff spot in each of which he got on base, plus one game in the middle of that leadoff spot streak in which he pinch hit in the ninth spot and failed to get on.

Pitch and Win

The Mets have lost only 4 games this season in which they have held the opposition to fewer than 5 runs. They are now 25-4 in such games, an .862 winning percentage. The average winning percentage in the majors this season in games a team holds its oppostion under 5 runs is .729 -- on average, teams in the majors have lost 8 or 9 games when holding the opposition below 5 runs. Only the two Florida clubs, the Rays and Marlins, have a better record in such games than the Mets.

The Mets were also third best in the majors in this category last season, with an .828 winning percentage for the full 2007 season, behind only the Brewers (.848) and Mariners (.859). The overall average for all teams last season in games in which they held the opposition below 5 runs was .749. Last year over the full season, teams averaged about 21 to 22 losses per team in such games (the Mets lost only 16).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tea for Two

In their win over the Yankees in the Bronx yesterday, the Mets won while using only two pitchers in the game. That has become an unusual event.

In 1984, the Mets had 44 wins in which they used exactly two pitchers. In 2006 the Mets had only 3 such wins and last year it was 7. The Cubs led the NL in two-pitcher wins last season with 16, while the Cardinals trailed the league in this category with just 2 two-pitcher games all season in 2007.

In 1974, the Dodgers had 52 two-pitcher wins -- that season Mike Marshall, their "closer", pitched in 106 games, all in relief, with an astounding 208 IP.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bronx Cheers

With the Mets playing at Yankee Stadium this weekend, a few Yankee-related facts:

In 32 regular season and post-season games at the current Yankee Stadium, the Mets are an unhappy 10 wins and 22 losses, a .313 winning percentage, with (barring a Subway Series in October) three games left to play. The Mets have averaged 4.5 runs a game and the Yankees 5.5 (the Mets' pythagorean expectation based on their runs scored and surrendered in these games is a bit better than their actual performance: 13-19 instead of 10-22).

Al Leiter has 4 wins for the Mets in the Bronx, no one else has more than one. Leiter, Trachsel and El Duque have each lost 2 games pitching for the Mets at Yankee Stadium -- they are the only multiple losers. Mike Piazza has 13 runs scored for the Mets in the Yankees home park, Reyes has 10 and is thus within reach of getting by Piazza in the remaining three scheduled games at the current Yankee Stadium . Piazza has 14 RBIs as a Met at Yankee Stadium, Reyes is right behind with 13 RBIs.

Over the last three years, 2005 to 2007, the Mets have been more competitive at Yankee Stadium: 4 wins, 5 losses (.444), compared to 6-17 (.261) in the early years of interleague play (1997-2004). Compare the Mets .444 percentage in the Bronx over the past three seasons to the .363 percentage for all other teams playing in Yankee Stadium over that same period, 2005-2007.

Most Win Shares as A Yankee Since 1962 (the "Mets Era"):
1. Bernie Williams 311 (7th all-time in Yankees history)
2. Derek Jeter 307 (8th all-time in Yankees history)
3/4. Don Mattingly and Roy White 263 (tied for 10th all-time in Yankees history)
5. Willie Randolph 251 (13th all-time in Yankees history)
6. Jorge Posada 225 (17th all-time in Yankees history)
7. Thurman Munson 206 (20th all-time in Yankees history)
8. Graig Nettles 204 (21st all-time in Yankees history)
9. Bobby Murcer 191 (25th all-time in Yankees history)
10. Mariano Rivera 188 (27th all-time in Yankees history)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Everyday Outfield

The Mets have now played their first 13 games of the 2008 season with the same three starting outfielders: Pagan, Beltran and Church have started every game. The Mets have never before gone so long into a season without varying their starting outfield. Most seasons, the Mets vary their starting outfield before the 5th game of the year: in only 13 of the seasons 46 seasons in Mets history have the Mets gone past the fourth game of the year before making a change in the starting outfield. The Mets' average for the first game a change is made to the starting outfield is 3.7 and the median is 3. Before the current season, the only times the Mets have gone past their ninth game of the year without a variation in their starting outfield have been 1970, when they changed for the first time in the 10th game of the year (Jones, Agee and Swoboda finally give way when Shamsky starts instead of Swoboda in right) and last season, 2007, when Alou, Beltran and Green started the first 10 games but Endy Chavez started for Alou in left in game 11.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

This Bud's For You

There have been 80 full seasons since Babe Ruth hit 60 homers in 1927. Here are the hitters with the most plate appearances over those 80 seasons among those players who never reached double digits in home runs:

Top 5 Most Career PAs, 1928-2007, Among Players With Fewer Than 10 Career Homers
1. Bud Harrelson 5,516 PAs (7 HRs)
2. Jerry Remy 4,916 PAs (7 HRs)
3. Roger Metzger 4,676 PAs (5 HRs)
4. Frank Taveras 4,399 PAs (2 HRs)
5. Greg Gross 4,355 PAs (7 HRs)

Only 27 players have had even half as many PAs as Harrelson after 1927 without hitting double figures in career homers.

Harrelson might have reached double figures in homers if he had played the bulk of his career with a home park other than Shea. Shea has been a tough park for homers throughout its existence and was no less tough on Bud Harrelson. In over 2,400 PAs at Shea (only one man, Ed Kranepool, came to the plate at Shea more times than Harrelson), Buddy hit only one homer. So at some point in this final Shea season, which begins with the home opener today, hoist a beer for Bud.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Down Side

The last time (before yesterday) the Mets finished a day's play under .500 for the season was September 23, 2005, when they were one game under. They won 7 of 9 after that day and ended up finishing up 2005 with an 83-79 record. In 2006 they started the season 1-0 and 8-1 and never fell below .500, and in 2007 they started 4-0 and 10-4 and never fell below .500.

The last time (before yesterday) a Mets starter went at least seven innings and surrendered no more than one run, yet was credited with a loss anyway, was in a 1-0 Mets defeat at the hands of St. Louis on May 17, 2006, with Mark Mulder going most of the way for the Cardinals and Steve Trachsel taking the loss for the Mets despite surrendering just one run in seven full innnings (an Albert Pujols walk and Scott Rolen double in the sixth inning led to the lone run of the game). The Mets had the bases loaded with one out in the ninth in that game, but Jason Isringhausen came in replacing Mulder and got David Wright to strike out out and Cliff Floyd to ground out to end it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Most Homers in a Season by a Binghamton Met (the Mets have been playing in Binghamton since 1992):

1. Matt Raleigh (1997) 37

2/3. Robert Stratton (2001)/Tate Seefried (1997) 29

4/5/6. Bryon Gainey (1999)/Mike Jacobs (2005)/Butch Huskey (1993) 25

Matt Raleigh is currently the manager of the Carolina Mudcats, the Marlins' AA affiliate.

Him Again?!

Smoltz's first out today will make him the eighth pitcher in history to log a full 300 IP's against the Mets in his career.
Top 10 pitchers in innings pitched against the Mets (W-L record vs. Mets, and Saves vs. the Mets, in parens):
1. Steve Carlton 550.67 IP (30-36)
2. Greg Maddux 428.33 IP (35-19)
3. Phil Niekro 393 IP (25-14, 5 saves)
4. Bob Gibson 385 IP (28-14, 2 saves)
5. Juan Marichal 342.33 IP (26-8, 1 save)
6. Rick Reuschel 314.33 IP (14-25)
7. Jerry Reuss 309 IP (15-21)
8. John Smoltz 299.67 IP (17-14, 24 saves)
9. Steve Rogers 283 IP (15-13)
10. Don Sutton 278.67 IP (18-12, 1 save)

source database for this one was: baseballmusings.com's Day-by-Day Database

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Mercy Rule Games

I count 5 games in Mets history, before last night's, in which the Mets gave up zero runs and scored at least 13:
July 29, 1965, a 14-0 demolition of the Cubs (Galen Cisco complete game, Johnny Lewis two homers)
July 1, 1976, a 13-0 destruction of the Cardinals (Jon Matlack complete game, Milner grand slam, Mets had only five singles and four extra-base hits, but walked 10 times)
April 19, 1998, a 14-0 massacre of the Reds (Al Leiter starting, no homers for the Mets)
September 30, 2006, a 13-0 dismantling of the Nationals (Tom Glavine starting, homers by Franco, Castro, Chavez, Green and Wright)
September 29, 2007, John Maine's near no-hitter, a 13-0 pulverizing of the Marlins (two homers by Milledge and one by Castro)

So in the first 36 years of the Mets franchise the team only had two of these games, while the Mets have now had two of these in their last five regular season games, both against the Marlins.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another Opening, Another Show

A few Mets Opening Day facts in honor of tomorrow's season opener (thank you Cole Porter for the entry title and baseball-reference.com's Play Index for the data that produces the stats):

--The Mets have been playing for nealy half a century now, but only once have they had the same three starting outfielders on opening day as they had the previous season's opening day. In their opening game of the 1985 season, the Mets had George Foster, Mookie Wilson and Darryl Strawberry as their starters in the outfield, the same three guys who started in the outfield on opening day 1984. (Note that it's been even longer than that since the Yankees had the same three starting outfielders in two straight opening day games. The last time the Yankees managed that was in 1968, when Tom Tresh, Joe Pepitone and Bill Robinson were the opening day starters in the outfield, just as they were in 1967.)

--Most opening day starts for the Mets at third base, through 2007:
Howard Johnson 7
Hubie Brooks 4
David Wright 3
Robin Ventura 3
David should match Hubie's total tomorrow.

--Most Career Opening Day Homers For the Mets:
Todd Hundley 4
Darryl Strawberry 4
Mike Piazza 3
Cleon Jones 3
Bobby Bonilla 3

--Most Career Opening Day Homers For the Mets -- Active Mets:
David Wright 1
Carlos Beltran 1

-- Most Career Homer Runs, in Opening Day Games, Against the Mets:
Karl (Tuffy) Rhodes 3
Adam Dunn 2
Corey Patterson 2
Andy Van Slyke 2

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Very Catchy

Most Games Played As Catcher for the Mets in One Season:
1. Todd Hundley (1996) 150
2. Gary Carter (1985) 143
3. John Stearns (1978) 141
4/5. Mike Piazza (1999)/ Gary Carter (1987) 137

The capacity to play many games behind the plate in a single season must be genetic -- compare the top of the preceding list with the top of the next list:
Most Games in One Season At Catcher for Any MLB Team, All-Time:
1. Randy Hundley (1968) 159
2/3/4. Frankie Hayes (1944)/Ray Mueller (1944)/Jim Sundberg (1975) 155
5/6/7. Ted Simmons (1975)/ Carlton Fisk (1978)/ Johnny Bench (1968) 154

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ex-Met Makes History

Former Met Victor Diaz, playing for Texas in 2007 (his first season not in a Mets uniform), had an on-base percentage of .259 and a slugging percentage of .538 in 108 plate appearances. It is almost impossible to combine that low an OBP with that high an SLG. To have a high slugging percentage you generally need some significant number of hits, and it's awfully difficult to have a significant number of hits yet end up with an OBP as low as .259. To put what Victor did in perspective note that he is the first batter in the history of the major leagues to combine an SLG over .530 with an OBP of under .260 in a season while coming to the plate more than 40 times. How did he manage this unprecedentedly odd feat? Well, he had 9 homers, 12 singles and 4 doubles in his 108 PAs, and one single solitary walk. So he had as many extra base hits as singles and walks combined. What a goofy season.

Thank you to Bill James, who pointed out Victor's odd season, in an article about odd seasons Bill posted yesterday on his new online site, creatively titled Bill James Online: http://www.billjamesonline.net/Home.aspx

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ten-Fold Stars

30 Win Shares in a season is a level achieved only by the top stars of the year -- at 30 Win Shares a player is often getting into MVP territory (in the NL last seaosn only David Wright, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Matt Holliday had 30 or more Win Shares). To total 300 or more Win Shares in a decade means essentially a player has averaged MVP-type level play year after year over the entire decade. As you might expect, then, this feat has been rarely accomplished. Over the past five complete decades (1950s through 1990s), only six players have topped 300 Win Shares over a full decade:

1950s: Mantle, 317 Win Shares
1960s: Aaron 340, Mays 337, Frank Robinson 307
1970s: Joe Morgan 315
1980s: none
1990s: Bonds 351

In the current decade that will run from 2000 to 2009, with two seasons remaining three players have enough Win Shares accumulated to make 300 plausible:
--Barry Bonds has 277 over the period 2000-2007, and if he does latch on with a team he could still make it to 300 over 2000-2009.
--Alex Rodriguez has 271 over 2000-2007, and based on recent performance will likely make it easily to 300 over 2000-2009.
--Albert Pujols has 251 Win Shares, and again based on recent performance he should make it to 300 by 2009, though any substantial dropoff in performance, as unlikely as that is, or significant injury would leave him short. Albert is a bit behind Bonds and A-Rod in this decade only because Albert only first broke into the majors in 2001, so he has one year, 2000, with zero Win Shares.

For those interested in earlier history, the 300+ Win Shares decades for the first half of the 20th century were:
1900s: Honus Wagner 421 Win Shares
1910s: Cobb 386, Walter Johnson 378, Tris Speaker 361, Eddie Collins 338
1920s: Ruth 413, Hornsby 362
1930s Ott 323, Gehrig 323,Foxx 314
1940s: none

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Big Mistakes

Since the first official World Series in 1903, there have been about 1,200 major league post-season games, split virtually evenly between about 600 World Series games and 600 league playoff (league championship series or division series) games.

Of those 1,200 games, only 4 have ended on an error. The New York Mets were the winners in two of those four games -- in both cases giving the Mets their third win of a World Series. These were the only two World Series championships in Mets history. These two walk-off errors are, naturally, two of the most famous plays in Mets history, and among the most famous in all World Series history: the Buckner error on Mookie Wilson's grounder to first in 1986, of course, and J.C. Martin's sacrifice bunt attempt (with men on first and second, nobody out) in the 10th inning of the 4th game of the 1969 World Series -- the throw to first by Orioles pitcher Pete Richert hit Martin in the elbow and caromed away, allowing pinch runner Rod Gaspar (Jerry Grote had doubled to lead off the inning, and Al Weis was on first after an intentional walk) to score from second base for the winning run.

The other two walk-off errors in post-season history were:

--The third game of the 1914 World Series. Connie Mack's perennially powerful (three World Series championships in the previous four years) Philadelphia A's already trailed the underdog Boston Braves 2 games to none. The A's thought for sure they had their first win of the Series notched when they scored two runs in the top of the 10th, but the Braves came back and scored two of their own in the bottom of the tenth. And in the bottom of the twelfth, a sequence unfolded similar to the Mets' last inning in the J.C. Martin game. Hank Gowdy doubled for the Braves, just as Jerry Grote doubled for the Mets in that fateful 1969 game. And just like Grote, Gowdy was replaced by a pinch-runner. And just as Al Weis was then intentionally walked in 1969, so in 1914 was the Braves' Larry Gilbert. And just like J.C. Martin in '69, Herbie Moran in 1914 laid down a bunt that was fielded by the pitcher, in this case the A's Joe Bush. But unlike Pete Richert in 1969, Bush opted to try to get the lead runner at third -- and threw the ball away, allowing the runner to score from second to end the game. The Braves went on to sweep the Series, and Connie Mack promptly dismantled his great team -- the A's dropped into last place for years thereafter.

-- After many years without a first place finish, the Yankees finally won the AL East in Joe Torre's first season as manager of the Yanks in 1996. The Yanks lost the first game of the best-of-five league division series to Texas at Yankee Stadium, and fell behind 4-1 in game 2 (the big blow a three run homer by Juan Gonzalez, who homered off of Johan Santana yesterday in Santana's spring training debut with the Mets). But the Yankees crept back with single runs in the 4th, 7th and 8th innings, while Mariano Rivera pitched two and two thirds perfect innings in relief of Andy Pettite and then John Wettlend pitched two more run-free innings -- the game was tied into the bottom of the 12th inning. Just as in the 1914 and 1969 World Series games, a first and second, no-out situation (Derek Jeter single, Tim Raines walk) led to an obvious sac bunt opportunity. Chunky Yankee third baseman Charlie Hayes, who had entered the game earlier as a pinch hitter for Wade Boggs (!) laid a bunt down toward third base where Dean Palmer (according to Win Shares, the worst fielder in major league history to play a significant number of innings at third base) picked it up but bounced his throw two feet in front of first and past second baseman Mark McLemore who was covering first on the bunt. Jeter came in to score and the Yankees won the rest of the games against Texas, the ALCS against Baltimore and the World Series against Atlanta, the first of four Yankee championships in a five year period. That 1996 Yankee team included not just Raines (36 years old) and Boggs (38 years old) in the stars-in-their-twilight category, but Darryl Strawberry (34 years old) as well. Charlie Hayes, who laid down the bunt that won this game for the Yanks, was the fielder at fault in the case of another historic error -- on August, 15 1990 Terry Mulholland pitched a game that would have consitituted a perfect game if not for an error by Hayes in the 7th inning (Wikipedia points out that more men have orbited the moon than pitched a perfect game).

Friday, February 1, 2008

Santana Tidbits

The Mets completed a deal tonight for perhaps the reigning best pitcher in baseball, Johan Santana. With baseball-reference-com, plus a little bit of Excel apreadsheet fun, we can learn
agglio Ordonez, 5
--Homers given up to the Yankees: 1, in 40 2/3 total innings pitched.
--OPS by lefty hitters against him: .654
--OPS by righty hitters against him: .641 (so he's been even better with the platoon advantage against him)
--Of the 16 teams against which he has at least three decisions, he is undefeated against only two: the Mets and Yankees (3-0 against both)
--Homers given up to the Yankees: 1, in 40 2/3 total innings pitched.
--Overall his career record against NL teams is 16-4 in 182 2/3 IP, with a 2.27 ERA and a .554 OPS against (.187 BA against)
--At Shea he is 2-0 in 2 starts, 15 IP, 1 ER, 7H, 1BB, zero extra base hits, a 0.60 ERA and a .303 OPS against
--As a hitter, Santana has a lifetime batting average of .258 and a .636 OPS (compare that to Joe McEwing's career numbers for the Mets: .244 BA, .644 OPS).
--Almost nobody steals bases off Johan Santana. Johan has allowed 28 SBs in his 1,308.7 IP career. That's a stolen base allowed about every 47 innings. I looked at the 194 pitchers who pitched 1,000 innings or more since 1990. Johan's allowed SB rate is the sixth best of those 194 pitchers. Terry Mulholland was the best (one SB allowed every 102.5 IP!). The worst of these was Dwight Gooden, allowing an SB every 6.3 IP, but this is only counting his days from 1990 on, after his (very early) peak.
--Johan Santana has thrown, in his entire career, only 2 (!!) intentional walks. That's an IBB every 655 innings pitched. Since 1973 when the DH was first introduced, 163 pitchers have accumulated at least 1,000 IP pitching for American League teams. Of those 163 guys, Santana's 655 IPs per IBB is not only the the highest rate of IPs per IBB, it is ridiculously far beyond anybody else. Number 2 on the list is none other than current Met Pedro Martinez, who in his AL career surrendered IBBs at a rate of one every 277 IP. The average IP per IBB for guys on this list is about 58 IP per IBB, less than 10% of Johan's rate. #163 on this list -- the guy who gave up IBBs most frequently -- is Greg A. Harris, who started his major league career with the Mets. During his days as an AL pitcher, Greg gave up 58 IBBs in 1,021 IPs, a rate of an IBB every 18 IPs or so.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Latin Empire

Over at baseball-reference.com's Stat of the Day, a new study shows that 53% of of the Mets' 2007 plate apearances were from players born in Latin American countries, compared to 24% in the majors generally, and that 30% of the Mets' innnings pitched were thrown by pitchers born in Latin American countries, compared to 18% in the majors.

I think that, consciously or not, Omar is taking the same approach to Hispanic-heritage players that Oakland's general manager Billy Beane took during the "Moneyball" years to types of players the market seemed to undervalue a bit. In Beane's case he loooked for players who walked a lot, for college prospects instead of high school prospects, for sidearm pitchers, and players in other categories that the market seemd to undervalue at the time. For Minaya, I think he believes, and he may well be quite right, that in many cases between an American born player and an Hispanic player of equal talent, the market will undervalue the Hispanic player a bit and there is thus sometimes a market opportunity there.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Nolan and Paquin

Mets fans with a taste for trivia may remember the name Frank Estrada, who was part of one of the most infamous trades in Mets or baseball history. On December 10, 1971, Estrada, Don Rose and the young, flame-throwing pitcher Nolan Ryan were traded for the perennial All-Star shortstop Jim Fregosi. Fregosi failed to play for the Mets at his prior level of performance, while Ryan went on to pitch for more seasons than anyone in baseball history, obliterating records for most career no-hiters and total strikeouts and establishing standards for these categories that seem unchallengable.

The career of Frank Estrada (or rather Francisco Estrada, or Paquin, his Mexican League nickname) might seem, if you just checked his major league stats, the exact opposite of Ryan's unprecedentedly prolific career. Estrada, brought up to the Mets from the minors late in the 1971 season entered the first game of a double header at Shea against the Expos, on September 14, 1971. He replaced Jerry Grote behind the plate with the Mets trailing 12 to 0 in the top of the sixth. When the Expos' fifth batter of the inning came up, he allowed his first and last major league passed ball. Estrada, who was 23 years old, came up for his first major league at bat in the seventh with two outs and nobody on -- he knocked a single to left. In the botom of the 9th he came up again with two outs, the Mets still trailing 12-0, and grounded out to end the game (everybody in the park but Frank was probably rooting for an out). He never played in the majors again -- finishing his MLB career with a .500 batting average and 1 passed ball in four innings caught.

Estrada's sounds like an obscure career but his life in baseball has actually turned out much more like that of Nolan Ryan's than most fans are likely aware. Indeed, Paquin Estrada has had one of the most illustrious careers in the long history of the Mexican proessional baseball, catching more games than anyone in the history of the Meican leagues, or indeed more games than anyone in the minor leagues, in the US or Mexico. Nolan Ryan pitched in an astounding 27 seasons in the US major leagues, from 1966 to 1993, missing only 1967 during that span. Yet the man he was traded with, Franscisco Estrada, was playing professionally in the top Mexican leagues in 1966 and he actually went Ryan one year better -- Estrada's final season as a player was 1994! And Estrada has continued to play a huge role in Mexican baseball, as a top manager for many, many years, winning numerous titles. The Mexican national team that knocked the US team out of the 2006 World Baseball Classic was managed by none other than Paquin Estrada. He's a distinguished member of the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame, and the current manager of the Chihuahua Dorados. I wonder if Nolan Ryan, who was born in southern Texas about a three hour drive from the Mexican border, has met Estrada since they were ever so briefly on the Mets together more than 36 years ago.

Ricardo Rincon was recently signed by the Mets to a minor league contract, with a chance to compete this spring for a chance at making the big club. Rincon would be the fifth Mets pitcher in history born in Mexico. Ollie Perez was the fourth, after Armando Reynoso, Juan Acevedo and Rigo Beltran. (The 1997 and 1998 Pirates, by the way, each had five pitchers from Mexico in a single season, including Rincon in his first two seasons in the majors). The Mets have had only three position players born in Mexico: Alex Trevino, Karim Garcia and, the Mexican-born player to play for the Mets, the catcher by the name of Francisco Estrada who went on to the Ryanesque career in his native country.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Just A Bit of Home

Since 1964, when Shea Stadium opened, the Mets have had an overall winning percentage at home of .519, 24th among the 30 franchises during that period (for franchises younger than the Mets, I just use their entire franchise history to rank them), and way below the total .538 percentage in home games that all major league teams combined have averaged since 1964.

But over the same period the Mets, since 1964 have been just slightly below average when they play as the visiting team. In away games since 1964 the Mets have had a winning percentage of .456, 18th among the 30 teams in the majors but in a virtual tie for 16th (the Mets, Phils and Tigers all have exactly 1,594 road wins since 1964, the Tigers have one fewer road loss than the Mets in that period and the Phillies three fewer road losses).

What these numbers add up to is that the Mets since 1964 have had one of the very weakest home field advantages in the majors. With a .063 difference between home winning percentage and road winning percentage, the Mets find themselves ahead of only three of the 30 franchises in strength of home field since 1964. Only the Braves, Reds and Orioles have had less of a gap between their home and road records since 1964. The average gap for all teams is .076, so the Mets' gap of .063 is quite low. The Rockies have the largest home vs road gap by far, at .155. Baltimore has the lowest gap at .041.

The Orioles are, along with the Yankees, one of only two franchises to have a road record over .500 since 1964 . But unlike the Yankees, who also have the best home record since 1964, the O's have had a home record that is only a bit above average.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Puffed Rice

Jim Rice came extremely close to being elected to the Hall of Fame this past week. With 72.2% of voters including him in their selections, he fell just short of the 75% needed. Historically, coming that close has almost always meant a player is eventually elected.

An item of interest to Mets fans is that modern sabermetric statistics show Moises Alou (through 2007) and Jim Rice to have had careers of almost identical value.

Career Win Shares (Bill James stat that tries to reflect a player's total contribution to team wins on both offense and defense)
Jim Rice: 282
Moises Alou: 282

Career WARP1 (Baseball Prospectus' "Wins Over Replacement Player", it also includes both offense and defensive contributions)
Jim Rice: 72.1
Moises Alou: 72.6

Career OPS+ (Baseball-reference.com's stat adjusting OPS for home park effects and for different historical eras, with average=100)
Jim Rice: 128
Moises Alou: 128

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Primary Education

OK, today everyone is watching New Hampshire, birthplace of only one New York Met ever, Don Florence, whose entire major league career consisted of pitching 14 games for the Mets in 1995. Florence has another claim to fame as a Met -- you can make the case he has the best winning percentage of any Mets pitcher in history, if you don't require any minimum number of decisions:

Most Career Wins as a Mets Pitcher, among pitchers with zero losses as a Met
Don Florence: 3 Wins, 0 Losses
Bartolome Fortunato, Barry Jones, John Candelaria and Jim Bethke: 2 Wins, 0 Losses

No major leaguer born in New Hampshire has ever been inducted in the Hall of Fame. Best major leaguers born in New Hampshire:
--Arlie Latham, 221 Win Shares. Latham was one of the more popular players of the 19th century among fans. He was a prolific base stealer who hit for a good average and played third base for many years when that was a very tough position to play (lots of bunting, plus inferior gloves for fielding those wicked line drives). He was very famous as an entertainer, eccentric and overall kook on the field and off (he is credited for, among other innovations, starting the tradition of chattering encouragement to the pitcher from the infield).
--Red Rolfe, 162 Win Shares. Rolfe was the All-Star third basemen for the great, great Yankee teams of the late 1930s, late in Gehrig's career and early in DiMaggio's (Rolfe was 6 years younger than Gehrig and six years older than DiMaggio).
--Mike Flanagan, 158 Win Shares -- the popular Orioles pitcher and more recently an executive in the O's front office.

Among active MLB players born in New Hampshire the leading light is Chris Carpenter with 91 career Win Shares. Chad Paronto has 10 career Win Shares and Brian Wilson (not the Beach Boy) has 5 career Win Shares. Other New Hampshire natives who have played major league ball since 1945 and that current fans might remember are Bob Tewksbury (101 Win Shares), Phil Plantier (46 Win Shares) and Joe Lefebvre (35 Win Shares).

Sunday, January 6, 2008

With Intent

Designating a walk as an "intentional walk" is a somewhat odd aspect of baseball statistics. Most baseball statistics (setting aside fielding errors) are simply statements of facts. A single is an occurrence when the batter hits safely and makes it to first base; a walk is when the batter is awarded first base on four balls, etc. The intentional walk, however, requires a subjective determination by the official scorer of what was in the pitcher's mind -- whether or not he "intentionally" walked the better. There can certainly be gradations of "intentionality" that are not reflected in the simple statistical assignment of a walk as either "intentional" or not. A pitcher will sometimes pitch around a batter, intentionally avoiding giving the batter any pitch close to the strike zone or remotely hittable, without going through the traditional rigmarole of a standard "intentional" walk (catcher stands up, signals for a pitch way outside the strike zone, etc.). Intentional walk stats thus have to be taken with some grain of salt.

Nevertheless, the major leagues do record a sub-category of walks known as intentional walks, and there are some interesting patterns to be found there. Jose Reyes had 13 intentional walks (IBBs) in 2007 -- that's a very high number for a leadoff batter, and led the majors this past season for IBBs by a leadoff batter. By my calculations, Reyes is only the ninth NL player in the past 50 years to manage 13 or more IBBs in a season from the leadoff position in the batting order (note however that some of the other eight players -- such as Pete Rose and Lou Brock --did it multiple times in their careers). The frequency of Jose's IBBs in 2007 resulted in the Mets receiving more IBBs at the leadoff spot in the batting order than at any other spot in the order, an odd result indeed.

Generally speaking, in the NL, the 8th batter in the order gets the most IBBs, with the 5th place and cleanup hitters close behind. Over the past ten seasons, 8th spot batters have received about 24% of all IBBs in the National League, cleanup hitters about 21% of the IBBs and 5th place hitters about 18%. Leadoff hitters in the NL over the past ten seasons have only about 4% of the all the IBBs in the NL, ahead only of ninth place hitters at about 3% (these are all essentially all pinch hitters of course) and 1% for second spot hitters. Clearly a second spot hitter is rarely walked intentionally, given that the heart of the order is generally coming up immediately thereafter.

Although overall during the past ten seasons, the 8th spot has gotten the highest proportion of IBBs in the National League, in 2007 NL cleanup batters outdid 8th spot hitters in IBBs, with the cleanup guys taking about 26% of the IBBs and the 8th spot guys taking about 21.5%.

IBBs for pitchers are about as rare as ivory-billed woodpeckers. Brooks Kieschnick was pitching in a game in 2004 and received an IBB while at bat in that game -- but Kieschnick played more games in his career as a major league outfielder than as a pitcher. The last man before that to receive an intentional walk while in the game as a pitcher was Jim Kaat, all the way back in 1970, pitching for the Twins against the Brewers. Kaat was walked intentionally with one out and men on second and third, with the score tied in the top of the 11th inning. The Brewers were obviously trying to set up the possibilities of a double play or a force at home. It didn't work: Cesar Tovar singled and then Harmon Killebrew homered Kaat and Tovar in, and the Twins scored six runs in the inning.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Field of Dreams State

The nation is focused on Iowa today. Not because it has been the birthplace of six Mets:
Jim McAndrew 38 Win Shares as a Met
Jack Hamilton 8 Win Shares as a Met
Lute Barnes 2 Win Shares as a Met
Ken Henderson 1 Win Share as a Met
Rich Folkers 0 Win Shares as a Met (29.3 IP in 1970, 6.44 ERA, for the Mets)
Kevin Tapani 0 Win Shares as a Met (only 7 IP for the Mets, but went on to a long career as a solidly average pitcher, mostly for the Twins and Cubs; 124 career Win Shares)

Hall of Famers born in Iowa:
Fred Clarke 400 Win Shares
Cap Anson 381 Win Shares
Bob Feller 292 Win Shares
Red Faber 292 Win Shares
Dave Bancroft 269 Win Shares
Dazzy Vance 241 Win Shares

The only active major leaguers who have had at least one career Win Share and are native Iowans:
Jon Lieber 109 Win Shares
Casey Blake 62 Win Shares
Jerry Hairston 57 Win Shares
Wes Obermueller 6 Win Shares
Jeff Clement 2 Win Shares
Joel Hanrahan 1 Win Share