December 12, 2013
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Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Mets .
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July 19, 2013
The next Miracle MetMatt Harvey. His name has the ring of an ace. His presence on the mound is imposing at worst and terrifying at best. His tobacco-packed lip, bloodied nose and lightning fastball hearken back to a less delicate generation of pitchers.
Word is that the 24-year-old right-hander will be kept to an innings limit for the second half of his first full season in the Show, skipping some of his scheduled starts for the New York Mets, who are out of the playoff picture from every angle but the mathematical. Much as the world wants to see him pitch, you would struggle to find a Mets fan willing to risk such a promising young arm on anything less than a playoff push.
And for good reason. The Mets have won two World Series titles, 1969 and 1986. In both of those years their success followed strong young pitching. With Harvey and Zack Wheeler already major league ready and [pitchers like Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero climbing the prospect ladder, the Amazin's and their fans look forward to have a future of solid pitching depth.
Harvey is the closest thing to a sure bet among them. On the surface he is a power pitcher with finesse ability. He throws (and controls) four plus pitches at high velocity. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds he’s built for the high-stress innings of a workhorse.
After his stellar first half and his performance starting the All-Star Game, it’s worth a look at how his numbers at age 24 stack up against some Mets greats of yesteryear at the same age. For the purpose of this article, I’ve dubbed a pitcher’s first full season in which he ended the year at age 24 his “Harvey year.”
Why not start with the Ryan Express? Mostly a reliever for the Miracle Mets of ’69, Nolan Ryan surpassed 150 innings in a season for the first time in his Harvey year of 1971. Pitching for an average team, he went 10-14 in 26 starts. He managed a good (though not Ryan-esque) K/9 of 8.11 and posted one of the lowest home run rates per nine innings of his career at .47. Metrically, however, the 1971 campaign was dismal for Ryan. He set career-worst full season marks in BB/9 (6.87), K/BB (1.18), strikeout rate (19.4 percent), WHIP (1.59), ERA+ (86), and FIP (3.92). My goodness.
Following that season he was traded to the California Angels, for whom he blossomed into one of the all-time greats, harnessing his triple-digit fastball and leading the league in strikeouts for 1972 at age 25.
When Jerry Koosman was 25 the Mets won their first World Series. The year before that, his Harvey year, was his first full season. This may sound familiar: In 1968 Koosman was a National League All-Star on a team that missed the postseason. He went 19-12 with a 2.08 ERA during the Year of the Pitcher, striking out 178 and walking 69 in 263.2 innings. Koosman posted a good ERA+ of 145 and WAR of 4.3, and would best his 2.70 FIP only with a 2.67 mark in ’69. His WHIP was the second lowest of his career at 1.10. Excellent numbers for a 24-year-old rookie. Remind you of anyone?
Koosman’s teammate during those years, Tom Seaver, had his Harvey year coincide with a world championship in 1969. It’s hard to criticize a line of 25-7, 2.21 ERA, 165 ERA+, 1.04 WHIP. It’s impossible to downplay 18 complete games in 35 starts (five of them shutouts). But surprisingly, the ’69 campaign was a relative down year for Seaver compared to the seasons that sandwiched it. His sophomore season in 1968 was his breakout, and he posted a WAR of over 9.0 in both ’70 and ’71. In fact, Seaver’s 1969 FIP of 3.11 was his worst between ’68 and ’77, his K/BB was just 2.54 (compared to 4.27 in 1968, 3.41 in 1970, and 4.74 in 1971), and his WAR dropped to 5.2 from 6.6 before rocketing up in 1970.
Certainly these are all fantastic numbers on their own, but even though Seaver won the Cy Young and finished second in the MVP voting, 1969 was not his best statistical year.
Fast forward now to the next World Series championship for the Mets, 1986. I refuse on moral grounds as a Red Sox fan to get into the details, but I will say that a certain Dwight Gooden was just 21 during that season. Having made his debut at 19, and a stellar debut at that, it’s tough to compare Gooden’s Harvey year with Harvey at 24. That year for Gooden was 1989, and he threw just 118.1 innings due to a bum shoulder.
I had a lot of trouble deciding which year of Gooden’s to examine for this article, and for the sake of simple comparison I’ve settled on his rookie season of 1984. Doc exploded onto the scene in ’84, with a ridiculous K/9 of 11.39. He went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA, a 1.69 FIP, a sparkling 8.3 WAR, and a crazy good .29 HR/9, all despite a .296 BABIP. His WHIP was 1.07, his ERA+ was 137, and the list goes on. That was a sensational rookie season for Doc Gooden, and has been the most common comparison with Matt Harvey in 2013.
Mets fans have waited almost 30 years for another Dwight Gooden, another Seaver or Koosman, a Nolan Ryan they can lock down for more than four major league seasons. Look no further than Matt Harvey. He has thoroughly dominated all forms of competition this year. He’s made 19 starts (my guess is he’ll finish with about 30) and is 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA. He has ravaged my favorite stat, strikeout-to-walk ratio, with a 5.25 mark to go along with 10.18 K/9.
A half season is a small sample size, and many of his numbers have been inflated by his last two starts (13 innings, 15 hits, eight earned runs), but even with that inflation these numbers are fantastic: .92 WHIP, 2.17 FIP, 153 ERA+, and already a 4.2 WAR. Through 130 innings his metrics stand up against any of the four guys mentioned above.
What really excites me about Harvey, at the risk of cliché, goes somewhat beyond the statistics. His K/BB demonstrates how confident he is in his stuff and his ability to throw strikes, and he should be. His fastball averages above 95 mph, his slider is almost as fast as the average major league fastball, and his curveball and change-up are plus pitches as well. Robinson Cano in the All-Star Game was just the second batter Harvey has plunked all year.
But articles like this, and comparisons like mine, have put the weight of the whole Mets franchise almost entirely on Harvey’s shoulders. He started the All-Star Game at home in front of the biggest crowd in All-Star Game history, and after his first three pitches resulted in two baserunners he proceeded to strike out the best hitter in the world, induce a weak pop out from the other best hitter in the world, and go on to complete two shutout innings against a positively disgusting lineup.
Perhaps the most reassuring thing about Harvey is that he has a repeatable, clean, efficient delivery. We all saw the ESPN Body Issue; no one is questioning whether that machine can hold up over the course of the season. But Dylan Bundy has good mechanics and a strong body too, and overuse in high school probably doomed him to Tommy John surgery. The Mets are doing the right thing by limiting Harvey’s 2013 innings.
Matt Harvey is a gifted athlete with great mechanics, legendary stuff, and a confident makeup. He’s already put up numbers to rival the great young pitchers of the Mets franchise. Can he spearhead the charge to another ring? We’ll find out. But in the meantime, how exciting is this?
Posted by: Dylan Driscoll
June 04, 2013
Ike Davis and comfort at the plateAll stats are as of Sunday, June 2
Living in New York, I am often subjected to sports talk radio. As I'm sure most people know, the New York media love controversy. This being said, one thing the talking heads have been discussing more than anything else is Mets first baseman Ike Davis and the possibility of him being demoted to the minors.
Davis, 26, is hitting .168/.245/.272 (.230 wOBA, 44 wRC+) in 177 plate appearances. As a team that is currently in transition and is still trying to figure out its core, the Mets have to be disappointed in Davis so far.
After strong and injury-plagued 2010 and 2011 campaigns, respectively, Davis struggled out of the gate in 2012 (.178/.228/.296 in first 171 PAs) and by the end of May there were talks of him being sent to Triple-A Buffalo. However, he quickly turned it around and from June 1 on, he hit .253/.341/.536 and finished the year with 32 homers. With a very good last four months, it seemed safe to think Davis would continue to hit in 2013.
It seems like deja vu because of what happened last year. However, although the slash lines are similar, there seems to be a little bit more swing and miss in his game. He's striking out in almost one-third of his plate appearances, while swinging and missing on 13.4 percent of the pitches he sees. It's kind of crazy to see a player struggle so mightily to find consistency.
For me, this lack of consistency for Davis comes from tinkering with his swing. Looking back at some video, it appears Davis has tried different stances over the years since making his debut in 2010. Here's a look with some screen caps:
Davis was going well at the time of the first two pictures, but he has two different stances. He seems to be more upright in 2010 while being in more of a crouch and maybe a little wider in 2012. He is seen using these same two basic stances in April and May of this year. He's also tried different toe taps and strides over the years and during the early part of this season.
Not being able to settle down with one stance will clearly take a toll on a player's ability to consistently produce, but it could hurt his mental toughness as well. Let's look at two spray charts, one from when he was consistently putting up solid numbers (2010-2011) and one when he was having trouble doing so (2012-2013):
It's clear that he's become more pull-happy in the last two years, while he was more of an all-fields hitter from 2010-2011. There seem to be more hits to left field and center field and even some more power to center field during the first two years.
The idea of a hitter losing himself isn't new; in fact, we saw it with Dustin Ackley just a couple of weeks ago. The Seattle second baseman was the second pick of the 2009 amateur draft and and made a successful big league debut in 2011 (117 wRC+ in 376 PAs). Since the start of 2012, however, he has hit .221/.288/.312, prompting the team to send him to Triple-A to work on his game. Here's what Mariners manager Eric Wedge had to say about it (via MLB.com):
"It's not his swing anymore," Wedge said. "He's in a pretty good position fundamentally. But I do think it's the mental that leads to the fundamental, the mental that leads to the actual performance. Listen, he's going to be a good hitter. He's going to be a good player. He's done a [heck] of a job at second base. … He gets down the line quicker than anybody, he can steal a bag, he cuts the bases as good as anybody. There's a lot there to like.
I think Wedge brings up a good point here because Ackley has had success at the major league level. Davis is a similar case, but it seems that they have each struggled with the mental side of hitting. The M's sent Ackley down with the hopes that he can work on his approach in a more relaxed setting while getting some confidence back. It might take reset in Las Vegas for Davis to get back to being productive, but after the turnaround he had last year, patience might be the best move.
Posted by: Matt Filippi
March 27, 2013
Tough time for NL third sackersMaybe there's something going around, but National League third basemen seem to be getting more than their fair share of injuries of late. Fans and fantasy owners probably are a bit panicked right now as this plague spreads.
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Posted by: Greg Simons
October 26, 2012
A tribute to The Walking Man“The Walking Man” sounds like it might have been a prequel to The Running Man, the 1987 cult film that featured a devious Richard Dawson as a sadistic game show host. In this case, The Walking Man refers to former major league third baseman Eddie Yost, who died earlier this month at the age of 86.
Yost first came into my consciousness in the 1970s, when he was a perennial member of the Mets’ coaching staffs. Regardless of the manager, the Mets always seemed to have Yost, Joe Pignatano, and Rube Walker in their employ as coaches. (It was common for coaches to stay with teams for long stretches back then, even with changes of managers.) I did not know much about Yost at the time, other than figuring he was a loyal company man who could work for any manager. Well, there was more to Yost than met the eye.
Eddie Yost is proof positive that if you can control the strike zone then you can prosper in the major leagues, even if your other skills are only average. Yost was not a particularly slick defensive third baseman; in fact he was likely average to below-average. He hit with some power, but his home run totals were compressed by the pitcher-friendly dimensions of Griffith Stadium in Washington. His lifetime batting average was a mediocre .254. Nor was he was an accomplished basestealer. Yet, he lasted for 18 seasons in large part because of his ability to draw walks and reach base as the leadoff man for the Washington Senators. In so doing, The Walking Man found a unique way to contribute as an above-average major league player.
Originally signed by the Senators in 1944, Yost bypassed the minor leagues completely and made his major league debut that August. (It helped him that the Senators were not a good team and that many of the major leagues’ best players had already been called to military service.) Then the reality of World War II hit Yost himself, forcing him to give up all of his 1945 season. He returned from the Navy to play briefly in 1946, before receiving a regular shot at playing time. But for the rest of the 1940s, he struggled, failing to gain traction as a hitter. Perhaps only Washington’s status as a second-division club kept Yost in the lineup, or in the major leagues at all.
Still only 24 years of age, Yost found his way in 1950. He hit a career-best .295. He reached double figures in home runs. And his walk numbers exploded. After drawing a plentiful 91 walks in 1949, he pumped that figure up to a league leading 141 in 1950. He became a master of the strike zone, able to recognize pitches and whether they fell within the confines of the zone, or faded just outside of its perimeter. He also became a master of fouling off pitches, particularly with two strikes. With an on-base percentage of .440, Yost had arrived as an offensive force and a pest to opposing pitchers.
That summer marked the beginning of a stretch of seven seasons in which Yost accumulated at least 123 walks six times and led the league in bases on balls four times. He was also amazingly durable during that stretch, as he played in 152 or more games six times. He also made his lone All-Star team during that span of seasons, as he was selected by Casey Stengel despite being in the midst of a .233 season.
Stengel and the Yankees coveted Yost for much of the early 1950s. They felt that Yost would help them immensely at third base. They initiated trade talks with the Senators on several occasions, but could never finalize a deal for The Walking Man.
Yost’s numbers, along with his durability, fell off in 1957 and ‘58. With Harmon Killebrew projected as the team’s future third baseman, the Senators traded Yost and colorful infielder Rocky Bridges to the Tigers for a package that included outfielder Jim Delsing. Yost enjoyed a revival with the Tigers. In two seasons with Detroit, he led the league in walks and on-base percentage each time, and also took advantage of the dimensions at Tiger Stadium. Yost’s 21 home runs in 1959 were by far his best output. (While playing in Washington, Yost had played at a distinct disadvantage; the left field dimensions at Griffith Stadium made it a nightmare for right-handed hitters. From 1944 to 1953, Yost had hit only three home runs in Washington’s cavernous bone yard.)
The Tigers would have liked to keep Yost, but he was now 33, so they left him exposed in the expansion draft. The Los Angles Angels selected him, made him their leadoff man, and watched him become the first batter in the history of the franchise.
Unfortunately, Yost’s skills left him by the time he joined the Haloes. With his hitting and power completely diminished, and with pitchers challenging him more often, Yost’s ability to draw walks was all that remained. That was not enough to keep him in the lineup, nor in the major leagues. After the 1962 season, Yost called it quits.
If not for his walking, Yost would not have had nearly the career that he did. His lifetime on-base percentage was better than several Hall of Fame hitting masters, including Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn, Frank Robinson and Willie Mays. Of all players who are not Hall of Famers and are eligible for election, Yost stands as the career leader in walks. On the all-time list, he currently ranks 11th in bases on balls.
As someone who controlled and studied the strike zone, Yost was regarded as an intelligent player. He was also bright enough to become the American League’s player representative. So it was no surprise when he became a coach, first with the Angels, and then with the Senators, Mets and Red Sox. He also managed the Senators for one game.
When Gil Hodges left the Senators and became the manager of the Mets in 1968, he brought Yost with him from the Washington staff and made him his third base coach. After the Mets stunned the universe by winning the World Championship, rumors surfaced that the Twins would hire Yost as Billy Martin’s replacement. But it never happened, so Yost returned to New York.
After Hodges’ death in the spring of 1972, Yost remained on the Mets’ staff, working first for Yogi Berra and then for Roy McMillan. He continued as third base coach until 1976, when the Mets hired a new manager in Joe Frazier, who decided to cut Yost loose. The Red Sox snapped up Yost as third base coach, keeping him there until 1984. By the time he retired, Yost had accumulated 22 seasons as a third base coach.
Twenty-two seasons of coaching, along with 18 seasons of playing. That’s a pretty good career for a player whose major strength was his ability to take a walk. There should be a lesson in there: learn the strike zone, boys and girls, and you might have a chance to do what Eddie Yost did.
Posted by: Bruce Markusen
July 27, 2012
Matt Harvey rides four-seamer in dominant debutMatt Harvey made his much-anticipated debut Thursday on the road against Arizona. The Mets spotted him with two runs in the top of the first and Harvey had no intention of letting the D-backs back in. He struck out Gerardo Parra with a slider, down and in, to begin his major league career. Aaron Hill then followed with a fly out to center. Harvey conceded an infield single to Jason Kubel before getting Paul Goldschmidt looking on a fastball on the outside black to end the frame.
Harvey got two more D-backs swinging in the second and followed that up with three punch-outs in the third for a total of seven. After another three strikeouts in the fourth and fifth innings, Harvey took the mound for the sixth. He went walk, strikeout, walk and Terry Collins emerged from the dugout to remove Harvey from the game in favor of Josh Edgin, who quickly got the final two outs to keep Harvey’s shutout intact.
In total, Harvey struck out 11 batters, conceded three walks, allowing a double and two singles—one of which was an infield hit—in 5.1 innings. His 11 strikeouts were the most by a pitcher in a major league debut since Stephen Strasburg struck out 14 against Pittsburgh in 2010. He even added two hits of his own at the plate. Perhaps the only knock on his performance was that his pitch total of 106 was far from economical.
Harvey relied heavily on his four-seam fastball, throwing it 72 times. The pitch averaged 94.9 mph, touching 98, and garnered 13 swinging strikes. He used a slider as his primary off-speed pitch, riding it to another five swings and misses. He also mixed in a change-up and curveball sparsely, but on this night he was mostly a two-pitch man.
Harvey's four-seam fastball PITCHf/x plot
He lived up in the zone and above the zone with his fastball, throwing 24 fastballs out of the strike zone high, according to PITCHf/x, while throwing just four below the strike zone, all barely missing low. Hitters couldn’t lay off those high mid-to-high 90s heaters, as Harvey used the pitch to complete eight of his 11 strikeouts, six of which were swinging, and five of which were at or above the batter’s belt.
And his sliders...
The slider was used on his other three punch-outs. He primarily used the pitch against lefties, throwing it 15 times (27.8 percent) against them, versus eight (15.4 percent) against righties, recording two of those strikeouts against lefty Gerardo Parra and one against Justin Upton. The location of the pitch was similar to both righties and lefties—down and away to righties and down and in to lefties.
At six and a half games out of the final Wild Card spot, the Mets aren’t likely to make a push for the playoffs this season. But, what Matt Harvey did last night should give Mets fans, and baseball fans in general, a reason to keep watching. His fastball was explosive; only three pitchers, Stephen Strasburg, David Price and Jeff Samardzija are averaging a higher velocity than what Harvey sat at on Thursday night. His slider was very good as well, and his overall performance was pretty special.
He won’t be this good every start, but he has the talent to put starts like this together from time to time. And for that reason, Harvey could become one of the game's must-watch starting pitchers.
Posted by: Jesse Sakstrup
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