Grading the hitters’ first half

Yes, I am doing the hackiest of hack ideas, the first half “grades” for each and every player.  It will give me a chance to sort through the damage, and figure out exactly how we got to this point and if there is anything we can do about it (the answer: probably not, no).  I will start with the hitters today and tackle the pitchers tomorrow.  In order from A to F…

Carlos Beltran: A

He would have been the first half MVP had he not gotten hurt, and the sharp decline by the team since his injury just shows how valuable he’s been to this team.  It’s hard to figure out what to make of his defense; Fangraphs shows a sharp decline, whereas Dewar’s +/- shows him having another terrific year.  Either way, he is sorely missed by this ballclub.

David Wright: A-

His power is down a lot, and his defense continues to decline, but the .325/.410/.462/.872 line is still very good, and I think we’re going to see a bounceback in the power department in the second half, to where he should have about 20 homers by the time the season ends.

Luis Castillo: B-

His defense remains terrible, but he’s having a rebound season of sorts at the plate, thanks to some nice plate discipline and getting a bit more hit-lucky out there.  He might legitimately have a case for being the team’s second best hitter right now, and if that’s not an indictment of the 2009 season, I’m not sure what is.

Gary Sheffield: B-

The good: a .283/.385/.478/.863 slash line, the only Met who can hit with any power.  The bad: because he’s 41 years old, he can’t play in the field every day, which is absolutely a detriment when it comes to Sheffield, particularly considering the Mets available options in the outfield.  The ugly: Sheffield’s defense, unquestionably the worst on the team.

Jose Reyes: B-

On one hand, this should probably be an incomplete, since he missed about half of the first half; on the other hand, he has more plate appearances than many of the players listed below, and has been more valuable than most of them even in half a season.  His slash stats are below expectations, but still decent (.279/.355/.395/.750), with a nice uptick in walk rate offset by a decrease in slugging.  It seems like in Reyes’ case, his absense has not made the hearts of Mets fans grow fonder, as every half-bit Mets blog and talk radio show out there has been formulating their own unintelligent Reyes trade, not realizing that without Reyes, this team has been worse, not better.  My prediction: he returns by the first week of August and instantly provides a spark that this offense so desperately needs.

Carlos Delgado: B-

Similar to Reyes, he should probably be incomplete, but he also has more plate appearances than several players I’ve graded below.  Before he went down, Delgado seemed to be one of the few players who could provide power to this lineup (he has the highest extra base hit percentage on the team of players who have played more than 2 games).  His defense has remained shockingly decent as well.  He’s another guy where if the Mets get him back soon enough, there’s reason to believe they can make a run.  Of course, that’s a big if.

Brian Schneider: C+

Schneider is having a pretty quiet decent little season.  He’s not hitting for average, but he’s drawing walks and hitting for extra bases at a much higher rate than one would expect from Brian Schneider.  It might be a case of small sample size (he only has 99 plate appearances) but so far, I have very few complaings about Hoops; he has out-performed Omir Santos so far.

Omir Santos: C

Speak of the devil!  This is pretty much Santos’ ceiling.  No, the team should not have traded Ramon Castro to keep him, and yes, his struggle to OBP north of .300 is aggrivating, and he isn’t very good defensively either.  But his .144 ISO slugging is pretty good for a catcher, so…hey, he’s got that going for him.  That said, by season’s end, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this grade around a C- or lower, because he probably can’t maintain that power, and he still can’t get on base to save his life, and he’s still poor defensively. In the end, the Ramon Castro trade will go down as an utter disaster, yet it might only be the third worst trade Omar has made since the end of 2008.

Ryan Church: C

Trading Ryan Church was not a bad move in and of itself, since he has been a thoroughly average to slightly below average player in 2009.  Trading him for Jeff Francoeur, who has been a thoroughly terrible player in 2009, however…that was a bad move.  Also, Churchy’s numbers all look a little bit low compared how he has played traditionally, and figure to see a nice upward turn over the rest of the season, whereas Francoeur has been just as bad in 2009 as he was in 2008.  Prediction: this trade is going to look completely ridiculous by the end of the season.

Alex Cora: C-

Cora is a nice backup, a strong complimentary player, who is completely in over his head as a regular.  His defense at shortstop is terrible (-2.4 UZR) and his bat has significantly cooled off since a nice start (.246/.333/.305/.638).  If he wasn’t so overexposed playing every day, I think he would be a lot better, but he already has more plate appearances this season than last, and should come close to his career high in that category if Jose Reyes doesn’t return soon.

Fernando Tatis: D+

The power looks like it’s slowly coming back, but that’s the best you can say about Tatis.  He leads the team with 11 GIDP, despite not being a regular; any time Tatis comes to the plate with a runner on first and less than two outs, I hope desperately for a strikeout or a pop out.  If Delgado or Beltran had not gotten hurt, or if Daniel Murphy had not been such a disaster this season, Tatis would be a prime candidate to get released right about now.  Frankly, there’s still time.

Jeremy Reed: D-

His bat has not been much better than Endy Chavez’s (.292/.326/.360/.686), only he lacks Endy’s otherworldly range that I took for granted because of how much I hated watching him hit.  In fact, he’s probably a below average fielder; his main qualification as a defensive replacement is that he’s better than (fill in the blank: Gary Sheffield, Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans, Fernando Tatis), which is not much of a qualification.  More proof that the Mets got absolutely decimated in the JJ Putz trade (and I liked it at the time, so I don’t know what that says about me).

Daniel Murphy: F

But it’s not his fault; he should have been sent back down to Buffalo about a month ago.  His fielding at first has been adequate, but he will never hit for enough power to be an every day first baseman.  He needs to be playing the outfield regularly in the minor leagues to improve his defense (getting some reps at second base probably wouldn’t hurt, either).  And his hitting…man, Daniel Murphy does not mean business with the bat this year.  His slash lines are awful for a middle infielder (.248/.314/.364/.677) but are completely retched for an everyday first baseman/corner outfielder.  He simply is not ready to be playing in the majors right now, and needs to be sent down, regardless of the ultra-thin depth at the major league level.

Fernando Martinez: F

He was probably called to the majors too soon, and it showed, but there were enough tantalizing glimpses of potential thrown in there to where he looks like he will be a keeper.  He’s just not there yet (he is 20 years old, after all, and has been playing above his age at every level).  Hopefully, he doesn’t get traded in a move that brings a thoroughly average or worst player back in return.

Ramon Castro, Angel Pagan, “Nasty” Nick Evans, Ramon Martinez, Wilson Valdez, Argenis Reyes, Emil Brown, Jeff Francoeur: Incomplete

None of these guys played long enough to warrant a grade.  A quick snapshot of each:

  • Castro would probably be ranked in the C+ range with the other catchers, and they received nothing of value for him.
  • Pagan has played shockingly well in limited playing time, with a decent bat and a good glove.  If he had played this well with more playing time, he would be looking at a B grade.  I do not expect this to continue.
  • Evans probably deserved more playing time than he received, I’d like to know what would happen if the team ever committed to him for any period of time.  He probably belongs in the majors ahead of Tatis at this point.
  • Ramon Martinez sucks.
  • So does Wilson Valdez.
  • Argenis Reyes, too.  Can you believe these guys were some of our backup options in the middle infield?
  • Emil Brown sucks too, but he’s an outfielder.
  • Jeff Francoeur did not receive enough Mets at bats to qualify for a grade, but if I was grading him on his first half with the Braves, he’d be a solid F.

So to recap, this year’s Mets have:

  • Two A’s (one of whom is currently hurt)
  • Four B’s (two of whom are currently hurt)
  • Four C’s (one of whom was traded for an F player)
  • Two D’s (granted, these guys are both part time players)
  • Two F’s (one of whom plays every day, both of whom probably do not belong in the major leagues right now)
  • Eight incompletes (at least five of whom should have never played for a major league baseball team with pennant aspirations)

Three of the team’s six best hitters are out of the lineup, being replaced by a subgroup of C’s, D’s, F’s, and incompletes that would probably be C’s, D’s, or F’s with more playing time.  That’s a huge reason why this team is so frickin’ terrible right now, borderline unwatchable.  When Luis Castillo is one of your first half bright spots…that’s a sign from God that there is something seriously wrong with your baseball team.  And I haven’t even started the pitching yet.

10 Responses to “Grading the hitters’ first half”

  1. Joeadig says:

    I think your unreasonable love for David Wright has got to stop. He’s NOT having a good season. He has a high batting average (or he did before his ugly recent slump), but his power, his defense, and his eyebrows keep getting worse. This team has no power and it needs him to drive in more runs; instead, he’s become a straight singles hitter. That won’t get the job done. He deserves a C at least, if not lower.

  2. Joeadig says:

    Also, to say that Beltran would have been the first half MVP if not for getting hurt just shows once again that you are blinded by your homerness. Albert Pujoles is clearly the NL MVP; nobody else should even get a vote.

  3. Chris Wilcox says:

    For Beltran, I meant first half METS MVP, not NL MVP. I should have made that more clear. Obviously, Pujols is the NL MVP, and by a wide margin. I wouldn’t even try to make a case for Beltran otherwise (though he would have been in the discussion for “NL MVPs who aren’t Albert Pujols).

    As for Wright…I mean, are we going to pretend that on base percentage doesn’t matter here? His homers are down (though he’s still hitting doubles) but he’s getting on base at a .410 clip. If you wanted to say he was more of a B/B+ hitter, I could understand, but a C? Players who get on base 41% of the time (meaning they avoid outs 59% of the time) are not C players. He’s not driving in runs because the players hitting in the 1-2 holes for much of the season have been guys like Alex Cora and Daniel Murphy (Murphy in the 2 hole in particular has been a laughable disaster). You can’t drive in runs if there is nobody on base in front of you, I don’t care if you hit .400.

  4. tjv101 says:

    Wright isn’t having a good season. His average before his slump was impressive but his 5 HR’s and 44 RBI’s and 87k’s aren’t. How do you go from hitting 25 HR’s in 4 straight seasons to this? His power numbers are awful. What is impressive his OBP (which usually hovers around .400 anyway) and steals this year (20). To give David Wright an A- is almost absurd as doing a paper for a college class with fake interviews as the class was being started an A- too or saying the Raul Ibanez deal was a bad signing. Also, I find it hard to believe you can give anyone that’s been hurt for an extended period of time a grade such as Reyes, Delgado, and Beltran. Plus, your being harsh on Santos. The Mets haven’t had a productive catcher since #31 so what do you really expect anyway. At least with Santos, you know you can play him game in and game out and he will hit the ball and not get hurt unlike Castro who when playing every day breaks down. I like Santos and he has come up with a few big hits this year to help win games so I wouldn’t knock him too much.

  5. Chris Wilcox says:

    Santos’ OBP: .301
    Wright’s OBP: .410

    If I’m being too easy on Wright and too harsh on Santos, and Wright gets on base 11% more than Santos, and getting on base and not making outs is the most important thing a baseball player can do on the most basic of levels…I mean, that is a significant difference. Omir Santos is not a good baseball player, and David Wright is. There is legitimate value to getting on base at an over .400 clip that I think Travis and Joe do not appreciate.

  6. tynian16 says:

    So I’m obviously not into the Mets and think their season has been a ton of fun so far but I just wanted to chime in with a simple analysis on David Wright. A baseball team wins games by scoring more runs than the other team and a player of Wright’s supposed caliber should be one of the main generators of runs for his team. Using a simple calculation of runs scored (the only time that OBP matters is if you end up scoring) plus RBI’s, shows that there are 46 players in baseball who have generated more runs than Wright. Albert Pujols leads with 160 and Wright has 100. There are five Phillies ahead of Wright including that Victorino guy you all seem to hate. Wright does lead the Mets in that category which I guess speaks to a bigger problem. David Ortiz and A-Rod each have 85 and one of them was a dead body for half the season and the other missed 1/3 of the season. While Wright’s numbers sort of look ok, I think he has had a very disappointing season.

  7. Chris Wilcox says:

    “Runs generated” doesn’t mean anything. As I’ve discussed before, the runs scored and RBI stats are horribly flawed and are determined by two factors: a runner behind you to drive you in for runs, and runners on base ahead of you for you to drive in. We can all agree that the Mets offense for much of this year has been a disaster, right? Look at my grades; only Beltran and Wright warranted A’s, and only Castillo, Reyes, Delgado, and Sheffield rated as B’s, and three of those six guys have been hurt all season. If the batters ahead of David Wright aren’t getting on base, he can’t drive them in, right? And if the batters behind David Wright aren’t very good, they aren’t going to drive him in very often if he’s not on base, right?

    David Wright is 8th in the National League in on-base percentage. Carlos Beltran is fourth. When it comes to not making outs (and…say it with me…”not making outs is the most important thing a player can do at the plate”) David Wright and Carlos Beltran are among the top eight players in the National League. That’s why they get A’s.

  8. tjv101 says:

    Wright’s OBP is fantastic, but an A- for that? Did his 5 HR’s factor in your grading? How bout his 87 K’s? If your grade of an A- stood for Alarming then I’d agree with you. His other numbers are right on par (doubles, hits, walks) but let’s be serious here. He’s not having a good season. I would give Wright a B- to a C range but that’s it. Your being a wishful thinker believing he can hit 20 HR’s this year.

  9. Joeadig says:

    Cox, Give it up. Kish wins.

    As for Santos, are you that blind??? Santos is a fill-in player and he’s been awesome— IN THAT ROLE. If he were a $10 million per year superstar putting up the numbers he has, then you can give him a poor grade. But he’s a career journeyman whom we expected absolutely nothing from. The only excuse for giving him a C is that your finger slipped on the keyboard.

  10. Chris Wilcox says:

    Joe, you’re a teacher, should I grade Santos on a curve just because I had no expectations from him? He hasn’t been that good, the only things he’s done well is hit for more XBHs than one might expect, and the Papelbon homer. A .301 OBP is frighteningly bad, even for a catcher, and he’s not a good defender.  On what fucking planet has Omir Santos been a better player than David Wright this year?  If Santos warrants a B, Wright would warrant an A+++ and Carlos Beltran would warrant the first-ever letter grade higher than A ever awarded.

    I’m done arguing about Wright. He’s doing his job, which is to get on base. He’s even hitting “in the clutch,” hitting .343 with a .420 OBP with runners in scoring position this year. The problem has been the slugging, and I’m confident that’s going to make a second half comeback, and his defense, which is more alarming to me. If you want to invent reasons why David Wright isn’t playing well, continue to do so, but to give Wright anything lower than a B grade would have been ignoring how great he is at getting on base and how he has come through “in the clutch.” That “runs generated” nonsense is completely reliant on having good players hitting both in front of and behind him, and since Beltran went down, Wright has been literally the only good hitter on this team.

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