Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Darryl Strawberry’

Something Nice, 4/21/11

Posted by JD on April 22, 2011

Where to start? Jason Bay returned from the disabled list and had a nice game, going one for four with two runs scored (one of which was courtesy of a dropped fly ball by Hunter Pence). Terry Collins single-handedly willed the Mets to win by switching up their uniforms and getting tossed in the first inning. Ike Davis picked up two more RBI, one on a home run to center (not exactly the easiest thing to do at Citi Field). Chris Capuano had a quality start, and Taylor Buchholz closed the door in relief. Good candidates all, and certainly worthy of honorable mentions, but not quite it.

Mike Nickeas opened the scoring in the bottom of the third with his first career major league home run, a solo shot to left field. I wish I was there to see it: despite his shortcomings, I can’t help but root for him. Not much of a hitter (he has a .680 OPS in 1,803 career minor league plate appearances), Nickeas is only on the roster until Ronny Paulino returns from injury. I’m glad he got to have a moment that he’ll remember (and likely treasure) for the rest of his life. It’s not every day that you see something like that happen, but as great a moment as it was, there was something more important for Mets fans.

Today’s “Something Nice” goes to David Wright, who snapped a career high 20 at-bat hitless streak with a solo home run. Wright would go on to get another hit and a walk and finished the day 2-for-3 with two runs scored. The Mets’ best player had his best game in a week or so and got himself a completely meaningless stat to boot: his fourth-inning home run was the “game winning RBI”. Only time will tell if Wright is about to go on a hot streak, but for one night it was awesome to see him display the talents that have made him the Mets best position player of all time*.

*Well, not yet. Not technically: Darryl Strawberry still holds that distinction. But Wright is blurring the line and it’s only a matter of time before he takes that title.

Posted in David Wright, Ike Davis, Jason Bay, Terry Collins | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Manny Ramirez: A “What If” Scenario

Posted by JD on April 9, 2011

If you haven’t heard by now, Manny Ramirez abruptly retired on Friday. Apparently he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs a second time (which would result in a 100-game suspension) and retired rather than having to deal with it. Whatever your feelings on Manny (I mostly agree with Joe Posnanski’s take on him), his antics, and how his career ended, I think we can all agree that he was an amazing hitter.

That got me thinking: where would Manny rank on the Mets offensive leaderboard? The Mets have long been known as a pitching-first franchise (think Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Dwight Gooden, among others), so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Manny absolutely dominates the leaderboard. John Olerud would still own the highest average and OBP, but Manny would lead in OPS, runs scored, hits, total bases, home runs, doubles…you name it, Manny would lead it (and it’s not especially close).

It’s fairly unrealistic to act as if one of the greatest right-handed hitters of all time suddenly played his entire career with the Mets. But what if the Mets had claimed him off of waivers in the fall of 2003? As you may remember, the Red Sox put Manny on irrevocable waivers that year: anyone could have taken him had they been willing to pay his full contract. Nobody claimed him then, but what if the Mets had?

Well, they would have gotten seven-plus years of miserable defense in left field. But beyond that, they would have gotten 1,251 hits (trailing only Ed Kranepool’s 1,418), 2,289 total bases (242 more than Kranepool), 262 doubles (1st all-time, though David Wright has 261), 254 home runs (two more than Darryl Strawberry), 670 walks (90 more than Straw), and 725 runs scored (63 more than Straw). Olerud would still hold the highest batting and on-base averages, but Wright (.305) and Dave Magadan (.391) would drop to second behind Manny’s .308 batting average and .411 on-base average. Mike Piazza’s .542 slugging average would fall to Manny’s .564 and his .975 OPS would be almost 50 points higher than Olerud’s. And did I mention that he put these numbers up between the ages of 32 and 39? That’s just ridiculous.

Going further down the rabbit hole, Manny was worth 23.7 rWAR (Baseball-Reference.com’s version of WAR) during those years. That would place him eighth on the Mets all-time list, below Piazza’s 24.6 but above Jose Reyes’ 23.3. That total wouldn’t get his jersey retired, but it dwarves the total put up by Mets left fielders since 2004. Cliff Floyd (5.4 rWAR in three seasons and a personal favorite), Moises Alou (1.9 rWAR in two seasons), and Jason Bay (1.2 rWAR in one season) played the most left field during those seasons (2008-09 saw 10 different players get more than 10 games each in left field; I didn’t bother adding up their rWAR totals).

What would Game 6 have looked like with Manny Ramirez starting in left? Endy Chavez’ catch, one of the most iconic moments in franchise history, never would have happened, but would Manny have hit a home run to match Scott Rolen’s blast? Or, in the most alternate universe I can think of right now, what would have happened had Endy started the game (thus making his awesome catch) but Manny appeared as a pinch hitter instead of Cliff Floyd? How loud would Shea Stadium have been if Manny delivered the game winning hit, and how would Carlos Beltran haters denigrate him today if he never had to face Adam Wainwright’s wicked curveball? Would the 2007 Mets have made the playoffs? Would we be looking back on an era with multiple division-winning teams? Have I gotten carried away?

If you’ve read this far (thank you!) I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t accounted for park factor. You’re right: the numbers listed above were compiled when Manny played most of his games in Fenway Park, a notorious hitters’ haven (although he did play 223 games as an LA Dodger during those seasons). Also, there’s the not-so-small matter of Manny’s salary during those seasons: he’s made more than $140 million since 2004. So, no: this is not the most likely scenario. But isn’t that the fun of asking “what if?”

Posted in David Wright, Mets, Performance Enhancing Drugs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

One Year Wonders

Posted by JD on February 22, 2011

As I was ranking Mets players with Presidential surnames, I noticed a few of them only had one year tenures with the team. This got me to wondering which one-year Mets were the most productive, and I was back on the Baseball Reference Play Index before I knew it. The results are listed below (as with the President list, I’m relying exclusively on the version of WAR (rWAR) used by Baseball Reference).

One note before we start: I omitted the best “one-year Met” from my list. Ike Davis had a 2.5 rWAR in his rookie year, which easily tops all of the other contenders. Seeing as how he’ll be the starting first baseman this season, I figured he didn’t technically qualify. If he suffers a career-ending injury before the season starts feel free to blame me for jinxing him. Now, on to the list:

10. Derek Bell (1.3 rWAR, 2000): A throw-in in the Mike Hampton deal (at least, that’s how I always looked at it); Bell was the starting right fielder for most of the 2000 season (a season ending injury late in the year prevented him from playing in the postseason). He slashed .266/.348/.425 in 624 plate appearances over 144 games. He added 18 home runs and 69 RBI, but his 98 OPS+ indicates that he was slightly below average for a right fielder.

My favorite Derek Bell memory has nothing to do with his time on the Mets. He signed a two-year deal with the Pirates after the 2000 to be their starting right fielder. When informed that he would have to compete for his starting job, Bell launched his infamous “Operation Shutdown”. From the Wikipedia:

“Nobody told me I was in competition. If there is competition, somebody better let me know. If there is competition, they better eliminate me out of the race and go ahead and do what they’re going to do with me. I ain’t never hit in spring training and I never will. If it ain’t settled with me out there, then they can trade me. I ain’t going out there to hurt myself in spring training battling for a job. If it is [a competition], then I’m going into ‘Operation Shutdown.’ Tell them exactly what I said. I haven’t competed for a job since 1991.”

That’s one of the best sports quotes I’ve ever heard, trailing only Latrell Sprewell’s “I got my family to feed” and Rasheed Wallace’s epic “As long as somebody CTC, at the end of the day I’m with them. For all you that don’t know what CTC means, that’s ‘Cut the Check.” If I ever re-name this blog, Cut The Check is the hands-down favorite to be the new name.

9. Richie Ashburn (1.3 rWAR, 1962): While technically tied with Bell, I couldn’t bring myself to equate a Hall of Famer with “Operation Shutdown”. After all, Ashburn played his final season with the inaugural 1962 Mets, which was inglorious enough. He slashed .306/.424/.393 and had a 122 OPS+, an incredible line for a 35 year-old. In fact, Whitey’s .424 OBP stood as the team record (minimum 400 at-bats, an entirely arbitrary threshold) until John Olerud topped it.

8. Rick Cerrone (1.4 rWAR, 1991): Even though I remember Cerrone on the Mets in 1991, I have always thought of him as a Yankee. That’s why I was surprised to learn that he played for six other teams (Cleveland, Toronto, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Boston, and Montreal). Another interesting factoid is that 1991 was the second most valuable season of his career (in terms of rWAR, at least), trailing only his 1980 season (3.9 rWAR for the Yankees).

6. & 7. Joe Foy and Duke Snider (1.4 rWAR, 1970 & 1963): We touched on Foy during the Presidential post, but I’ll say it again: just an unnecessary trade. Duke Snider’s story was similar to Ashburn’s in that he was a past-his-prime future Hall of Famer still hanging around. Unlike Ashburn, Snider had a connection to the Mets as one of the brightest stars of one of the franchises they were meant to replace, the Brooklyn Dodgers. Snider didn’t play much center for the Mets, appearing in only 11 games there in 1963, but while his bat was not up to his previous standards he did have an above-average OPS+ (115). He would finish his career in 1964 with the San Francisco, making him one of only four men to play for the Giants, Dodgers, and Mets. The other three are listed at the bottom of the post.

5. Dick Schofield (1.8 rWAR, 1992): Jayson Werth’s uncle was acquired from the then-California Angels along with a PTBNL (Julian Vasquez) for Julio Valera. Schofield was a defense-first shortstop with an excellent arm, but he was a pretty poor hitter. That’s being nice actually. According to the Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Schofield Schofield shares the record (with Mark Belanger) for most seasons with more than 400 at-bats and less than 100 hits with four. This seems like a bad thing, but it isn’t really. They are arbitrary thresholds, and some good players (including Mark McGwire, Ricky Henderson, and Barry Bonds, to pick just three) appear on the list. For the record, 12 other players had similar seasons with the Mets, including Dave Kingman, Todd Hundley, and Tommie Agee.

4. Desi Relaford (2.1 rWAR, 2001): Relaford falls into the nebulous category of “players I liked for no particular reason”. The Mets picked up on waivers from the San Diego Padres and paid him just $475,000, then later packaged him with the also-awesome Tsuyoshi Shinjo for Shawn Estes. 2001 was a career year for Relaford (he didn’t come close to replicating that season again) so Steve Phillips was right to try to sell high. Being Steve Phillips, however, he completely botched the transaction.

3. Eddie Bressoud (2.2 rWAR, 1966): I didn’t really know that much about Bressoud, who played all four infield positions (but primarily shortstop) for the 1966 Mets. Turns out he was very productive (at least in terms of Mets from that era): his single season with the Mets produced the third highest rWAR among position players to that point in the franchise’s history (behind Ron Hunt’s 2.6 and Ken Boyer’s 3.0). According to Baseball-Reference.com, he’s fairly similar (as a player, not necessarily as a person) to Tony Bernazard. I wonder how many times he challenged minor leaguers to a fight?

1. & 2. Tommy Davis and Richie Hebner (2.3 rWAR, 1967 and 1979): A Brooklyn native, Davis had an 18 year career for 10 teams. He actually lead all Mets position players in rWAR in 1967, admittedly not the most impressive achievement ever. A former MVP candidate (his 6.8 rWAR in 1963 trailed only Willie Mays and Frank Robinson that season), Davis was acquired along with Derrell Griffith in a trade for Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman. 1967 would be a last hurrah of sorts for Davis: he would never again be that productive, and he would play for 8 more teams over the next nine years. Unlike with Relaford, however, the Mets successfully sold high on Davis: packaged with three other players, he brought back Tommie Agee and Al Weis in a 1967 trade with the White Sox.

Richie Hebner also had an 18 year career, though he was much less traveled (he only played for five clubs). Hebner was known for digging graves during the offseason, but more importantly the Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richie_Hebner notes that “Few people know that Rich Hebner has 3 heros: Jerry Flynn, his son Joe Hebner, and his nephew Michael Hebner.” I felt I had to do my part to spread that important piece of information, so there you go.

Hebner came and went before my Mets fandom began and nothing jumped off of his Baseball-Reference page, so I originally didn’t have anything else to add. That is, until I read his page over at the Ultimate Mets Database. Holy crap did this guy elicit a lot of raw emotion from Mets fans, and they are all over the map. I had no idea so many felt so strongly about a guy who was only here for one year. Bonus: someone defended him by calling him a “gamer”.

Trivia answer: Jim Pignatano, Orel Hershiser, and Darryl Strawberry.

Posted in Flushing Frivolities, Ike Davis, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Daryl Boston, Kangaroo Courts, and 1994

Posted by JD on February 9, 2011

In an effort to pass the time until Spring Training starts (and to avoid the Madoff mess as much as possible), I started counting down by player uniform numbers. I abandoned the effort (for a few reasons) but I figured I’d keep digging around to see what I could see. Today I focused on Daryl Boston.

I liked Daryl when he was on the team. Some backstory: when it came time for Darryl Strawberry to part ways with the Mets, I was very much for letting him walk. There were a few reasons for this, but they are lost in the clouds of my memory. I want to say that I bought into negative articles I read (when all else fails, blame the messenger). I know I was upset with Darryl when he punched Keith Hernandez, so that might have had something to do with it. Whatever it was, I very distinctly remember being “happy to see him go” when Darryl signed with the Dodgers.

This feeling lasted for approximately one Spring Training game. To this day, I regret that Daryl left the Mets. At this point, you’re probably asking what any of this has to do with Daryl Boston, and rightfully so. Well, the Mets had claimed Boston off of waivers from White Sox in 1990, and once I realized what a loss Darryl was, I filled that void by becoming a Daryl fan.

Yes, I know that’s a stupid reason to like a player. It’s an even stupider reason to expect him to play well. But expect it I did. And in the small sample size that is my memory of those years, I remember one particular game (can’t remember the year, but it was after Strawberry left the team) in which Boston hit a home run. I joined in the subsequent “Dar-yl” chants with all my heart, and all was well with the world (for one at-bat, at least). Throw in the fact that he was (for whatever reason) the judge in the Mets’ “kangaroo court” (a fact I learned from a program that I can’t find on line, but is touched on here) and I was sold.

The thing is, over the subsequent years I’ve come to associate Boston’s tenure with the Mets with that one game. As a result, I thought I was over-rating him significantly. Turns out, not so much. Sure, Boston never equaled Strawberry’s production, but he was useful: he had a 114 OPS+ in his time with the Mets and was worth 3.9 rWAR. Not the greatest numbers you’ll ever see, but not bad either.

The other thing I noticed was that Boston’s last game in the majors came on August 11, 1994 (for the Yankees: ugh).  For those of you who may not remember, that was the last day before the strike. I wondered whether the strike ended his career. Further digging revealed that he signed with Florida and played for their AAA team in 1995, so it’s probably fair to say that diminished skill was more responsible. But he was one of 140 players who appeared in their final game that season. What a crappy way for a career to end.

Posted in Flushing Frivolities, Mets | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Look At The Mets Stolen Base Successes (And Failures)

Posted by JD on February 7, 2011

Last week, Sandy Alderson commented that “stolen bases are a footnote”. He’s right, though as James Kannengeiser of Amazin Avenue noted “the Mets have been an elite base stealing machine over the last few seasons.” Actually, Kannengeiser’s analysis thoroughly covers the issue (that’s not the first time I’ve said that about his work) and I pretty much agree with every word of it, especially his conclusion.

But it got me thinking about which Mets players were the most efficient base stealers. So, I went over to Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index tool to take a deeper dive. Here’s a few highlights of what I found:

  • 60 Mets have a perfect base stealing percentage. 55 of them stole 4 bases or less, including Tom Seaver (4-4), Kelly Stinnett (4-4), Josh Thole (2-2), Sid Fernandez (1-1) and Ron Darling (1-1).
  • The five players who were 5-5 or better: Paul LoDuca (5-5), Shane Spencer (6-6), Dan Norman (8-8), Jason Bay (10-10) and Manny Alexander (11-11).
  • The player with the best “non-perfect” stolen base success rate: Chico Walker, who went 21-22 in 222 games over the 1992-93 seasons. I liked Chico, because his name often reminded me of the immortal Chico Escuela.
  • Shawn Green is the only other Met to exceed a 90% success rate, going 11-12 in 164 games over the 2006-07 seasons. He also owns a very, very expensive house.

Now, let’s look at some arbitrary thresholds (current Mets in bold text):

  • Highest success rates, minimum 25 attempts: Bob Bailor, 40-46 (.870), Carlos Beltran, 97-113 (.858), Roberto Alomar, 22-26 (.846), Kaz Matsui, 22-26 (.846), Cliff Floyd, 32-38 (.842).
  • Lowest success rates, minimum 25 attempts: Elliot Maddox, 6-28 (.214), Ed Kranepool, 15-42 (.357), Jerry Grote, 14-34 (.412), Jeff Kent, 12-28 (.429), Felix Millan, 11-25 (.440).
  • Highest success rates, minimum 50 attempts: Carlos Beltran, 97-113 (.858), Lenny Dykstra, 116-141 (.823), Gregg Jeffries, 63-77 (.818), Luis Castillo, 55-68 (.809), Kevin McReynolds, 67-83 (.807).
  • Lowest success rates, minimum 50 attempts: Joel Youngblood, 39-75 (.520), Wayne Garrett, 33-59 (.559), Rey Ordonez, 28-50 (.560), Bernard Gilkey, 29-50 (.580), Lenny Randle, 47-79 (.595).
  • Highest success rates, minimum 100 attempts: Carlos Beltran, 97-113 (.858), Lenny Dykstra, 116-141 (.823), Jose Reyes, 331-416 (.796), Roger Cedeno, 103-135 (.778), David Wright, 138-180 (.767).
  • Lowest success rates, minimum 100 attempts: John Stearns, 91-142 (.641), Cleon Jones, 91-139 (.655), Tommy Agee, 92-139 (.662), Lee Mazzilli, 152-223 (.682), Frank Taveras, 90-131 (.687).
  • Success rates, minimum 200 stolen bases: Jose Reyes, 331-416 (.796), Howard Johnson, 202-265 (.762), Mookie Wilson, 281-371 (.757), Darryl Strawberry, 191-266 (.718), Lee Mazzilli, 152-223 (.682).

Three observations came to me:

  1. The late 60′s-early 70′s Mets ran a little, but without much success.
  2. The 80′s Mets ran a lot, with a fair amount of success.
  3. The current team has the three most successful runners in franchise history, plus Castillo (.809) and Angel Pagan (55-71, .775).

That final point brings me back to Kannengeiser’s post. I share his confidence in Alderson & Co., but I worry just a bit that this edge will be blunted. Time will tell, but it will most definitely be an interesting sub-plot to follow this season.

Posted in Angel Pagan, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Luis Castillo, Mets, Sandy Alderson | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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