Through the first 18 games, the Mets are at .500, and it is like the season is starting fresh. They still don’t have Carlos Beltran, but they do have Ike Davis and a healthy Jose Reyes, and some of the struggling players like Jason Bay and David Wright appear to be on the verge of breaking out.
So I thought I’d take a quick look at some advanced statistics to see what we can expect from the lineup going forward. Specifically I’d like to look at batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, and line drive rates. The reason why I want to look at these two is because they are the best way to gauge if a player is doing well or just getting lucky; if they are really struggling or just catching some bad breaks.
What we can tell with these stats: BABIP will generally stay at the same level throughout a player’s career. There may be some outliers, but by and large this will stay the same through a players career. If a BABIP is lower than the career average we can expect it to level off, meaning a player has had some bad luck. Line drive percentage shows the same thing to an extent, but will also show if a player is simply starting to enter a decline phase of his career as well.
Let’s go through the lineup:
1. Angel Pagan CF – AVG: .241, OBP: .317, SLG: .296.
2010 BABIP: .267, Career: .317, 2010 LD%: 26.1, Career: 19.6
This tells us that Pagan has been under-performing. His line drive rate makes me think that he isn’t aging, but he’s just been running into some bad luck.
2. Luis Castillo 2B – AVG: .250, OBP: .339, SLG: .308.
2010 BABIP: .250, Career: .331, 2010 LD%: 13.7, Career: 24.6.
Castillo’s BABIP is much lower than his career so there should be room for improvement, however, his drop in line drive rate makes me think that he might just be getting older and slowing down. Expect his bat to pick up, but don’t expect an .080 point raise.
3. Jose Reyes SS – AVG: .285, OBP: .337, SLG: .356.
2010 BABIP: .292, Career: .309, 2010 LD%: 22.9, Career: 20.5.
Reyes’ numbers are off, but still pretty close to his career line. Expect some improvement, but not a huge one.
4. Jason Bay LF – AVG: .262, OBP: .377, SLG: .369.
2010 BABIP: .405, Career: .328, 2010 LD%: 26.2, Career: 20.0.
Bay’s numbers are odd. Both his BABIP and LD% are higher than his career numbers, but his old school slash line is way down. I’ll try to have an article up evaluating Bay further.
5. David Wright 3B – AVG: .230, OBP: .415, SLG: .426.
2010 BABIP: .306, Career: .344, 2010 LD%: 17.9, Career: 23.5.
The fact that Wright’s BABIP is .040 points lower than his career makes me believe that he will improve his average this year, but his line drive rate has dropped. This means that he could catch up eventually, but it makes me think that it is possible that people who talk about him dropping off after getting hit in the head last season might be on to something.
6. Jeff Francoeur RF – AVG: .279, OBP: .346, SLG: .515.
2010 BABIP: .271, Career: .303, 2010 LD%: 11.3, Career: 19.5.
Francoeur’s numbers are so much lower this year than over his career that I can’t help but think he has nowhere to go, but up.
7. Ike Davis 1B – I’m skipping him because he was only recently called up.
8. Rod Barajas C – AVG: .196, OBP: .203, SLG: .375.
2010 BABIP: .170, Career: .251, LD%: 8.0, Career: 17.5.
See Jeff Francoeur, numbers nowhere to go, but up.
Overall : I’d say it is very good for the Mets that they are all under-performing compared to their career numbers. BABIP is supposed to have fewer deviations from the norm than traditional batting average. This means that it is realistic to expect this lineup to start producing more consistently.
If that happens and the Mets rotation and bullpen continue to do well, some have been better than others obviously, the Mets might even pull above .500 and make a play for the playoffs. The fact that they are .500 right now and their numbers look like this is pretty impressive.