Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Roberto Alomar’

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 »

Caught Looking

Posted by JD on October 25, 2010

Steve Lombardi at the Baseball Reference Blog had an interesting post the other day listing all of the players who ended their team’s post season by taking a called strike three. The post was inspired by the season-ending strike outs of Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez this weekend. The last occurrence prior to that was, of course, Carlos Beltran’s season ending backwards K against Adam Wainwright. No surprise there.

What is surprising (at least to me, anyway) is that Beltran wasn’t the first Met in that situation: Howard Johnson took a called strike three to end the 1988 NLCS. Hojo’s K was slightly less dramatic than Beltran’s: the Mets were trailing the Dodgers 6-0 at the time and Orel Hershiser was working on a complete game, five hit shutout. Those circumstances likely spared Hojo from the treatment Beltran has received in the past four years. In fact, I could only find two Hershiser-centric articles that briefly mentioned Hojo in passing (here and here). Given the pounding Beltran’s taken, I wish Johnson had been a little more vocal about his experience (though part of me understands: it’s never easy to talk about negative events).

Another ex-Met on the list also stands out, even if his post-season ending moment didn’t happen in the orange and blue: Willie Randolph took the final strike against the Royals’ Dan Quisenberry in 1980. Now, I could swear I remember Willie mentioning his strike out in defense of Beltran at some point, but I can’t find it in a Google search. While I’ll trust my spotty memory to give Willie the benefit of the doubt, I’m still frustrated with the media (and fans) who refuse to give Beltran a pass. It’s past time to move on and let it go, but Beltran’s career as a Met is doomed to be overshadowed by that one at bat.

In the interest of thoroughness, three other players with connections to the Mets appear on the list: former Met Randy Myers struck out Omar Vizquel to end the 1996 ALDS, future/former Roberto Alomar K’d looking against Jose Mesa to end the 1997 ALCS (in another twist, both series pitted the Indians against the Orioles), and Derek Lowe punched out former Met Terrance Long to end the 2003 ALDS. Throw in the fact that A-Rod and Alomar will both eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame and Vizquel has a decent shot, Beltran isn’t exactly keeping poor company here. But I’m sure that fact will go unreported, too.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Flushing Frivolities, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Robbie Alomar, Revisited

Posted by JD on December 13, 2009

Roberto Alomar made his debut on the Hall of Fame ballot this year*. He was the best second baseman of the 90’s, won two World Series in Toronto, and was part of some very good Baltimore teams that just couldn’t get past the Yankees. He hit, hit for power, stole bases, had a great arm and was a wizard with the glove. But he was almost done by the time he got to the Mets: a 34-year old second baseman who couldn’t catch up to a fastball, couldn’t field his position, and seemed to hate playing here.  It looked to me like he never wanted to be here and I never quite understood why**. Both his dad and older brother played and coached for the Mets and seemingly didn’t hate their time here (as far as I know). His act wore thin quickly: Robbie was an unproductive grump and the Mets soon dumped him for prospects (one of which was Royce Ring).

*Along with Kevin Appier, David Segui, Robin Ventura, Fernando Vina, and Todd Zeile. There’s a murderer’s row of ex-Mets for you. And I could’ve included El Gato Grande on the list, but that’s stretching it a bit.

**Bob Klapisch sheds some light on Alomar’s attitude in a recent interview. It’s worth the read (I don’t want to just copy Klapisch’s words here) but let’s just say that Robbie’s explanation sadly makes perfect sense. It’s no excuse, but at least I understand now.

Robbie certainly didn’t play like a Hall of Famer, posting an 89 OPS+ in his only full season (2002). However, I remembered it as being so much worse. It was below average, but it wasn’t horrible as I’d remembered. I began to wonder whether I might have overestimated how poorly Robbie played. So I set out to take another look at Robbie’s Mets career, comparing it to all the other second basemen that have played for the team.

As a point of reference, here are Alomar’s key stats from 2002: 655/590 PA/AB, 73 runs, 24 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs, 53 RBI, 16/4 SB/CS, .266/.331/.376/.708 BA/OBP/SLG/OPS, 89 OPS+. I used Baseball Reference’s suggested (yet seemingly arbitrary) number of 502 plate appearances as a cut-off (I know there’s a reason they chose this number but admit I don’t know what it is). Sorted by OPS+ (which I feel is a more representative statistic when comparing different eras), we get the following results:

Rk            Player OPS+  PA Year Age
1    Edgardo Alfonzo  147 650 2000  26
2    Edgardo Alfonzo  125 726 1999  25
3           Ron Hunt  118 521 1964  23
4    Gregg Jefferies  111 659 1990  22
5          Jeff Kent  110 514 1995  27
6           Ron Hunt  110 600 1963  22
7    Gregg Jefferies  106 559 1989  21
8          Jeff Kent  104 544 1993  25
9           Ron Hunt  102 543 1966  25
10   Gregg Jefferies  101 539 1991  23
11      Felix Millan  100 587 1976  32
12     Luis Castillo   98 580 2009  33
13      Felix Millan   92 743 1975  31
14      Felix Millan   92 699 1973  29
15      Charlie Neal   92 579 1962  31
16   Edgardo Alfonzo   90 519 2001  27
17    Roberto Alomar   89 655 2002  34
18     Wally Backman   87 574 1985  25
19      Felix Millan   78 585 1974  30
20     Carlos Baerga   76 551 1998  29
21        Doug Flynn   62 572 1978  27
22        Doug Flynn   61 580 1979  28

Alomar ranks 17th, which seems realistic (to his credit, however, Robbie is the oldest second baseman on this list). But let’s face it; we’re not looking at a very deep group here. When Carlos Baerga’s 76 OPS+ makes your top 20, you don’t have a tradition of excellence at the position.

However, the Mets do have a history of using platoons at the position, most notably from 1986-88 (arguably the most successful years in franchise history). Let’s lower our plate appearance threshold to 300 to account for part-time players and see what we get:

Rk            Player OPS+  PA Year Age
1         Tim Teufel  153 350 1987  28
2    Edgardo Alfonzo  147 650 2000  26
3    Edgardo Alfonzo  125 726 1999  25
4           Ron Hunt  118 521 1964  23
5      Wally Backman  117 347 1988  28
6      Wally Backman  115 312 1982  22
7       Keith Miller  114 304 1991  28
8      Wally Backman  113 440 1986  26
9          Jeff Kent  111 452 1994  26
10   Gregg Jefferies  111 659 1990  22
11         Jeff Kent  110 514 1995  27
12          Ron Hunt  110 600 1963  22
13     Jose Valentin  109 432 2006  36
14   Gregg Jefferies  106 559 1989  21
15         Jeff Kent  104 544 1993  25
16       Ken Boswell  103 405 1969  23
17          Ron Hunt  102 543 1966  25
18   Gregg Jefferies  101 539 1991  23
19       Ken Boswell  101 436 1971  25
20      Felix Millan  100 587 1976  32
21     Jose Vizcaino   99 402 1996  28
22     Wally Backman   99 499 1984  24
23     Luis Castillo   98 580 2009  33
24   Willie Randolph   93 336 1992  37
25        Tim Teufel   93 309 1988  29
26        Tim Teufel   93 318 1986  27
27       Ken Boswell   93 306 1968  22
28      Felix Millan   92 743 1975  31
29      Felix Millan   92 699 1973  29
30      Charlie Neal   92 579 1962  31
31   Edgardo Alfonzo   90 519 2001  27
32    Roberto Alomar   89 655 2002  34
33      Jerry Buchek   89 444 1967  25
34     Carlos Baerga   87 498 1997  28
35     Wally Backman   87 574 1985  25
36    Roberto Alomar   84 302 2003  35
37     Damion Easley   82 347 2008  38
38       Ken Boswell   82 402 1970  24
39        Bob Bailor   79 404 1982  30
40      Felix Millan   78 585 1974  30
41     Luis Castillo   77 359 2008  32
42     Carlos Baerga   76 551 1998  29
43   Edgardo Alfonzo   75 407 1996  22
44      Chuck Hiller   74 303 1965  30
45       Brian Giles   70 445 1983  23
46        Doug Flynn   70 474 1980  29
47       Ken Boswell   70 400 1972  26
48      Felix Millan   68 340 1977  33
49      Miguel Cairo   64 367 2005  31
50     Wally Backman   62 335 1987  27
51        Doug Flynn   62 572 1978  27
52       Bobby Klaus   62 337 1965  27
53        Doug Flynn   61 580 1979  28
54          Tim Foli   59 312 1971  20
55        Doug Flynn   54 343 1981  30

Tim Teufel only had 279 plate appearances in 1986 and so doesn’t qualify, but he had a 93 OPS+. From ’86 to ’88, the Mets’ second base platoon OPS+ was 113/93, 62/153, and 117/93. Add them up, divide by two and you get 103, 108, and 105. Not awesome, but certainly capable (I know you shouldn’t just combine OPS+ this way, but I’ve already wandered too far off topic).

Adjusting the threshold to include platoons reveals that Alomar’s 2002 season ranks 32nd out of 55. The adjustment also captures Robbie’s second season on the Mets. In 2003, he appeared in 73 games (302 PA) and put up an 84 OPS+, good for 36th on our list. Better than some*, worse than most**, and not as awful as I thought.

* Certainly better than Doug Flynn. Holy crap! How do you amass 572 plate appearances with a 62 OPS+? And then get 580/61 the very next year? That should be illegal. I’d like to think he had naked pictures of somebody in the front office, but this was the same group that traded Tom Seaver, so I think it’s safe to chalk it up to total incompetence.

**Again, it’s worth noting that there were only two second basemen older than Alomar on our list: 36 year-old Jose Valentin (109 OPS+) in 2006 and 37 year-old Willie Randolph (93 OPS+) in 1992. Two thoughts: I didn’t truly appreciate how well Valentin played that year until now, and it’s always a bit disorienting to see Randolph’s name pop-up in discussions about Mets players these days. His time as manager overshadows his Mets playing career so much that it gets a lost a bit.

I’m not trying to sugarcoat anything here; Alomar was bad, and he was a major factor in the Mets under-performance in 2002-03. But I’d argue that it was inevitable, that there was no way he could live up to the expectations created by the trade that brought him here. He may have had a 150 OPS+ for Cleveland in 2001, but it was a career high and he was 33. It wasn’t really smart to expect him to continue producing at that level for much longer, never mind trading several young players to acquire him. Throw in his reputation as a “clubhouse lawyer” and Cleveland’s eagerness to send him packing and you have to wonder how so many red flags could be ignored*. Which brings me to a larger point: Steve Phillips was a horrible General Manager.

*Yet another example of why the Wilpons were so foolish to retain Phillips at Bobby Valentine’s expense. Valentine had his flaws to be sure, but there’s no way he makes that trade. This is a great example of the single worst part of being a sports fan: the utter hopelessness of knowing that your franchise’s ownership is incompetent. Valentine is a free agent as I write this yet the Wilpons would never consider rehiring him. Forget Omar Minaya’s silly contract extension: if the GM position was open today, the Wilpons’ stubbornness would preclude Valentine from getting anything more than a courtesy interview, if that. It’s almost like the fans have to root for the players to win IN SPITE OF management/ownership.

Phillips traded his flagship prospect at the time (Alex Escobar, who never panned out but would be roughly equal in terms of hype to Fernando Martinez in 2008), Jerrod Riggan (a solid reliever) and Matt Lawton (a decent LF who struggled in NY but had an OPS+ of 99, 104, and 114 in three seasons for the Indians) and threw in Billy Traber as a player to be named later (nothing to write home about, but still bouncing around the majors today), and another prospect for a past-his-prime second baseman who all but admitted he didn’t want to leave Cleveland. Alomar may have become a symbol of the Mets’ malaise, but that was a horrible trade. While Alomar’s performance on the field did little to enamor him to the Shea faithful, that ire should have been focused on Steve Phillips for failing to properly asses Alomar’s value and squandering valuable assets to acquire him. It’s no coincidence that Alomar was Phillips’ last major acquisition, and rightfully so.

While I still don’t care for Alomar, I have a better understanding of why he performed the way he did. Considering how much of a cluster-fuck that trade was, his below average performance was less egregious than it originally seemed. The lesson that I’ve learned here? While a player may be responsible for his individual failures, never place all of the blame on that player’s shoulders when management is completely incompetent.

I have a feeling that’s a lesson we all might have to apply again this season, don’t you?

Posted in Hall of Fame | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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