Grading the Mets hitters

Since grading the Mets’ hitters first half was such a rousing success, I thought I would grade their whole season now that it has mercilessly ended.  This is still a very, very hacky thing to do, but with the World Series possibly shaping up as an Alien vs. Predator-esque Phillies/Yankees finale, I need to distract myself from that impending doom somehow.  I will grade the pitchers tomorrow.

Carlos Beltran: First Half – A; Second Half – Incomplete; Final Grade – B

It’s hard to give Beltran a real accurate final grade when he only played for two weeks in the second half.  With a full season, I feel confident he would have been an A, but he simply didn’t get enough time in to warrant it.  I hope whatever knee injury he has gets healed up, because this team isn’t the same without him.

David Wright:  First Half – A-; Second Half – B-; Final Grade – B

It wasn’t a great year for David, but it was still a pretty good one.  The power never really seemed to come back, and he had the head injury in the second half that took him out of the lineup for two weeks.  He didn’t play great in September, possibly due to lingering side effects from the injury.  I’d really like to see the power stroke come back in 2010, as the massive dropoff in home runs was alarming.

Angel Pagan:  First Half – Incomplete; Second Half – B+; Final Grade – B

I’m as amazed as anybody else; I’m giving Angel Pagan the best Mets’ second half hitter’s grade.  Don’t dwell too much on the mental mistakes, he still provided the team with good outfield defense and an above-average bat.  I wouldn’t give him a starting job in 2010, but he should be a capable 4th outfielder for the next few years.  Yes, the highlight of our second half was the emergence of our fourth outfielder of the future.

Luis Castillo:  First Half – B-; Second Half – C+; Final Grade – B-

Castillo seemed to get worse with the glove as the season went on, perhaps owing to fatigue or bad knees.  Unfortunately, the team lacked depth at second base after the Reyes and Cora injuries, so he was pretty much stuck playing every day.  Still, he earned his contract this year, which is more than we can say for him last year, and perhaps gives us hope that maybe, just maybe, Oliver Perez will earn his contract in 2010.  Okay, that’s a stretch.

Jeff Francoeur:  First Half – Incomplete; Second Half – C+; Final Grade – C+

I will give Francoeur something of the benefit of the doubt on his defense, which UZR doesn’t love, because it’s a small sample size.  I will also not bother factoring in his atrocious first half with the Braves, which would probably push this grade down into the D-/F range.  With all of that said, we’re still left with a very flawed baseball player, who admittedly showed nice power but remains allergic to walks* and whose arm remains the only thing good defensively about him.  Signing him to a contract that goes beyond 2010 would be quite dumb, so I’m expecting them to not only sign him through 2010 and 2011, but to buy out his first free agency year as well.  I have no confidence in this front office.

* – Mets players with fewer Mets’ PA than Francoeur who drew more walks than his 11, from most PA to fewest:  Alex Cora, Omir Santos, Ryan Church, Brian Schneider, Jeremy Reed, Jose Reyes, Cory Sullivan, Anderson Hernandez, and Carlos Delgado.  That’s nine players.  Only nine position players walked fewer times than Francoeur, none of whom had more than 100 PAs this season.

Fernando Tatis:  First half – D+; Second Half – B-; Final Grade – C

Tatis played well enough in the second half that you could almost even call him a bright spot.  I’ll admit that I was sick of watching him by July, but he came on strong and played really well to end the year.  That being said, he took a lot of at-bats that should have gone to Nick Evans in the second half, and he should not be a part of this team’s immediate future.  I hope he catches on somewhere, though, he seems likable enough.

Gary Sheffield:  First Half – B-; Second Half – Incomplete; Final Grade – C-

Sheffield barely played in the second half, and when he did play, he wasn’t very good, and he couldn’t play the field at all in September (although he really couldn’t play the field from April to August, either).  It was a good move to bring Sheffield in, but they probably used him too frequently and he wore down by season’s end.

Omir Santos:  First Half – C; Second Half – D+; Final Grade – C-

It worries the hell out of me that the front office might see Santos as a full-time option at catcher.  He’s not a good hitter as he can’t get on base, and as I predicted, he couldn’t maintain his power in the second half (.117 ISO in the second half vs. .144 in the first half).  He is a backup catcher at best, and really he is more of a third string catcher, the type of guy teams stow in AAA until there is an injury at the major league level, who then gets DFA’d as soon as the regular catcher is healthy again.  This being the Mets, instead we kept this guy around and made him the starter.

Cory Sullivan:  First Half – No Grade; Second Half – C-; Final Grade – C-

Whatever.  There are hundreds of Cory Sullivans laying around baseball, devoting more than a word to him is a waste of time.  No diss, Cory.

Daniel Murphy:  First Half – F; Second Half – C; Final Grade – D+

Murphy followed up his awful first half with an OK second half.  He still didn’t show enough with the bat to where he should be guaranteed any playing time in the majors in 2010, and if the team doesn’t bring in a better first baseman, they are going to continue to struggle to score runs.  He did look pretty good with the glove at first, though.

Brian Schneider:  First Half – C+; Second Half – D-; Final Grade – D

After a strong return from injury, Schneider struggled mightily through the end of July into August (and really, mightily doesn’t even begin to describe how much he struggled in August) before losing playing time to Santos and Josh Thole in September.  Still, I bet Schneider hangs around baseball for another 5-10 years as a backup before settling into what seems to be his ultimate destiny; career minor league manager.

Alex Cora:  First Half – C-; Second Half – F; Final Grade – D-

As I said back in July, it’s not his fault; he shouldn’t have been playing every day, and he really shouldn’t have been playing every day considering he was hurt.  He’s also not good enough defensively to play shortstop with any sort of regularity.  The team really needs to do better at the backup middle infielder spot, particularly defensively, especially since Reyes might not be ready to go to start the year.  If the team likes his leadership so much, hire him to replace Luis Alicea as the first base coach.  As a player, he is strongly lacking.

Jeremy Reed:  First Half – D-; Second Half – F; Final Grade – F

He was a worthwhile enough gamble in the Putz trade, but he showed he isn’t worthy of a roster spot, even as a backup.  Time to non-tender him and let him be somebody else’s problem.

Anderson Hernandez:  First Half – No Grade; Second Half – F; Final Grade – F

Hernandez is neither good enough with the glove to be a backup shortstop nor good enough with the bat to be a backup second baseman.  That means he’s not a major league player.

Jose Reyes:  First Half – B-; Second Half – Incomplete; Final Grade – Incomplete

He barely played enough to get a grade in the first half, and didn’t play at all in the second half, so he will go down as an incomplete.  It’s a shame, this team missed him dearly.

Carlos Delgado: First Half – B-; Second Half – Incomplete; Final Grade – Incomplete

See Reyes, Jose.

Ryan Church:  First Half – C; Second Half – Incomplete; Final Grade – Incomplete

FYI, I would have ranked Churchy around a C/C- if I included his Braves’ second half with his Mets’ first half.

Fernando Martinez:  First Half – F; Second Half – Incomplete; Final Grade – Incomplete

He probably realistically should have been an incomplete in the first half as well.  He didn’t have enough time to really show anything in the majors, and frankly he had no business being here to begin with, but injuries and a complete lack of options in Buffalo paved the way for his promotion.  It is worth pointing out that he played pretty well in Buffalo in the limited time he saw there, he just needs to stay on the field for a whole season so we can evaluate what he’s capable of doing.

Wilson Valdez, Ramon Castro, “Nasty” Nick Evans, Josh Thole, Ramon Martinez, Angel Berroa, Argenis Reyes, Emil Brown, Andy Green, Marlon Anderson, Robinson Cancel:  Incompletes

Valdez, Castro, Evans, Martinez, Reyes, and Brown also warranted first-half incompletes, while I inexplicably forgot Marlon Anderson for some reason, even though I never turn down an opportunity to take an unprovoked cheap shot at the man.  Anyway…quick hits on each.

  • Wilson Valdez is a better player than Anderson Hernandez and should have gotten his innings at SS in September.
  • Good for Castro for getting to catch Mark Buehrle’s perfect game.
  • “Nasty” Nick should not have been an incomplete, but the stupidity of Jerry Manuel trumps all.
  • Josh Thole showed flashes of ability, but should start 2010 in Buffalo, and could become the starter by mid-season if the team really thinks Santos can catch every day.
  • Ramon Martinez sucks.
  • Angel Berroa sucks, too.
  • So does Argenis Reyes.  The Mets really exhausted every possible backup infield candidate they could find.
  • Emil Brown sucks too, but he’s an outfielder.
  • Andy Green went 1 for 4 with a walk in 5 PA spread over 4 games. 
  • And yet, he still out-performed Marlon Anderson with his 0 for 4 over four games.  See, I love taking a good cheap shot at Marlon Anderson.
  • Robinson Cancel received exactly one plate appearance this season, the same number as Mets relievers Pedro Feliciano, Sean Green, and Brian Stokes, and fewer than Mets reliever Ken Takahashi.

So to summarize the Mets’ hitting in 2009:

  • Four B’s
  • Five C’s
  • Three D’s
  • Two F’s
  • Fifteen incompletes

And really, you could argue that I was being generous listing Sheffield, Santos, and Sullivan as C-’s and listing Cora as a D-.  As bad as most of these grades are, I still don’t think they fully capture how bad this team was at hitting this year.

4 Responses to “Grading the Mets hitters”

  1. TomSeaver says:

    Good work, Chris. It’s pretty dismal but well thought out. The only two players that I think you were very generous with was Wright and perhaps Beltran. In Carlos’ case he was injured sure, but when he was there his run production was way off what it normally is. Reyes not being there would affect his RBI, but should not affect his SLG. I give him a C. In Wright’s case, oy captain my captain, he was way worse than awful, and he was there for the whole tortuous season. His run production was putrid, it stank to high hell. I’ve never seen a middle of the order hitter fail so consistently as this guy, all year long with men on base. I don’t know what ever became of him. Perhaps he’s just a complete head case at this stage of his career, kinda like a hitting version of Ollie P. I think his grade should be a D-.

  2. Chris Wilcox says:

    I didn’t even look at RBIs while writing this piece, so that’s why you won’t see them accounted here. I just feel that RBI is a statistic too dependent on what somebody else does (in this case, get on base) for it to properly evaluate other players. In this case, particularly with Wright and Beltran, they missed having Jose Reyes batting leadoff, as the two of them combined to drive in Reyes 56 times in 2008.

    Beltran would have been on pace for an A season before the injury, which is why I marked him down to a B. The injury kept him from reaching A status. Before that, he was on pace for his best hitting season since 2006, and there was a good possibility that this could have been his best season ever. It’s a shame that the knee injury kept him out of the lineup for two and a half months, but it also shows strong character on his part to come back for the last two weeks of the season when there was nothing on the line.

    As for Wright, I discussed this back in July when I was thought to be grading him too lightly for giving him a first-half A-, but I don’t grade on a curve. Compared to other David Wright seasons, this would have been a C or a D season, sure, but he still provided the team with strong on-base percentage. His big issue was the huge drop in power and the sudden and alarming dropoff in defense, going from an above average third baseman to a bad one in the course of one year. If Daniel Murphy had the year David Wright had, fans would be calling him a success, and most Mets fans wouldn’t be looking for a new first baseman this offseason. Since it was Wright, it’s a disappointment, and rightfully so; Mets fans have come to expect A’s out of Wright, not B’s. Hopefully we’ll be back in the B category in 2010.

  3. tjv101 says:

    Ok, all those grades together put the Mets as an overall D as far as I am concerned. This 70-92 season was very alarming. Wright’s power drop-off’s and lack of run production with RISP scares the hell out of me. I really hope he gets his act together. Reyes, Beltran, and Delgado (since we figure the Mets won’t pull of a miracle signing of Gonzalez or Fielder) will probably rebound. I like Frenchy and I hope at his age and with a healthy core of guys around him will help him bounce back to a nice 2010 season. I don’t think I can handle another year like this.

  4. Chris Wilcox says:

    Travis, David Wright’s splits with RISP this year: .309/.380/.447/.827. His overall splits: .307/.390/.447/.837. He hit almost exactly as well with runners in scoring position as he did in other situations. His main problem was fewer batters getting on base ahead of him to drive home, not that he has suddenly become a wimp in the clutch. Nobody hits 1.000 with RISP, which people need to remember.

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