The [Mis]treatment of Daniel Murphy

Within the New York Mets’ community, Daniel Murphy is a polarizing figure.

Amongst those who lean on descriptors such as “grinder,” “gamer” and “gritty” to base their opinion of a player, Murphy is a poster child for the banal “how the game should be played” proverb.

After all, the 29-year-old owns a career .291 batting average (and a park-adjusted 109 wRC+) at a position that rarely sees such offensive output. And despite his overzealous—albeit, very poor—antics in the field, Murphy does take his defense seriously.

Yet, for the detractors who prefer to belabor Murphy’s career 6.3 percent walk rate and minus-31 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) at second base, his oft-dirtied jersey isn’t reason enough to peg him as a “core” player.

Regardless of where a fan falls on the #ImWith28 spectrum, however, Murphy’s short-lived future with the team has little to do with his positive or nonexistent skill sets. Instead, the mistreatment of Daniel Murphy—a player that, if he played in a normal environment, would be a notable role player and asset—is yet another unfortunate product and casualty of the Mets’ financial woes. Continue reading

J.J. Hardy: Where Did All His Home Run Power Go?

Over the past three seasons, no shortstop has hit more home runs than J.J. Hardy. In fact, The Baltimore Orioles’ star has even slugged more dingers than Troy Tulowitzki, Asdrubal Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez.

2011-2013 HR
J.J. Hardy 77
Troy Tulowitzki 63
Asdrubal Cabrera 55
Hanley Ramirez 54
Ian Desmond 53
Jhonny Peralta 45
Jimmy Rollins 45

But the very shortstop with a penchant for hitting home runs has yet to connect for one in 2014. Over his first 178 plate appearances, Hardy has posted a stellar .303 batting average, park-adjusted 94 OPS+ and 11 doubles—but zero home runs.

So how is it that despite sporting a high batting average (it’s 43 points above his career rate) and reasonable OBP+ (it’s only two points below his career rate), that Hardy is sitting at zero home runs? Continue reading

Dellin Betances: The Biggest Success Story in the 2014 New York Yankees’ Bullpen

The close of the 2013 season marked the end of a long era of dominant relief pitching in the Bronx. Mariano Rivera, who reigned as the New York Yankees’ closer since 1997, decided to hang up his cleats and infamous cutter—for real, this time.

Luckily for the New York Yankees, however, the team had closer-in-waiting David Robertson in tow. Robertson, 29, owned a 1.91 ERA (versus a 2.31 FIP) and 3.58 strikeouts-to-walks ratio from 2011 to 2013 while setting up for the future Hall of Famer.

As expected, Robertson’s transition to closer in 2014 has been a natural one, tossing a 2.40 ERA (versus a 2.32 FIP), 7.67 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and 11 saves over 15 innings. Yet, even though the right-hander’s dominant performance has put the Yankees at ease, perhaps the rise of Dellin Betances has been the bigger bullpen story in New York this season. Continue reading

Joba Chamberlain is Back, Baby

It feels like Joba Chamberlain has been around forever. And given how many twists and turns his career has taken him through, it’s not a farfetched notion.

But in reality, Chamberlain is just 28 years old. Continue reading

New York Mets: Who Is Going to Crack Their 2015 Rotation?

Going into 2015, the New York Mets will be faced with a unique situation: The team will have far too many starting pitchers.

In addition to Matt Harvey and Jeremy Hefner returning from Tommy John surgery, the Mets will also sport at least two additional major league-ready pitching prospects in Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero. And if you’re a believer in Jacob deGrom as a starter, he would bump that number up to three.

With the likes of current rotation mates Zack Wheeler, Jonathan Niese, Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and, to a lesser extent, Jenrry Mejia, all under contract next season, the Mets will possess 10 very viable starting pitchers for just five rotation slots in 2015.

Assuming the Mets front office will look to improve the team’s collective park-adjusted 88 wRC+ for next season, dealing at least one of their starting pitchers only makes sense.

Below details the likelihood of each pitcher’s chances of locking up a 2015 rotation spot, getting relegated to bullpen duties or possibly being shipped elsewhere. Continue reading

Should the New York Mets Be Worried About Bartolo Colon?

When the New York Mets signed Bartolo Colon to a two-year, $20 million contract this offseason, it seemed like a prudent acquisition. In many ways, signing the 41-year-old starting pitcher to a comparatively reasonable deal was the very savvy, Moneyball-esque free-agent move many Mets’ fans had been waiting for Sandy Alderson to make.

But Colon has been a bit more vulnerable in 2014 than over his past three seasons. The right-hander has pitched to the tune of a 5.65 ERA (versus a 4.42 FIP) and park-adjusted 60 ERA+ in his first six starts in orange and blue. By comparison, Colon combined for a far superior 3.32 ERA (versus a 3.60 FIP) and a 119 ERA+ from 2011 to 2013.

Yet, perhaps the most worrisome signs of the Dominican native’s cold start have been the rate and distance of his home runs allowed. Continue reading

3 MLB Hitters Enjoying Surprising Aprils (And Could Continue to Surprise in 2014)

If there’s one thing prudent baseball observers dread the most, it’s the inevitable sweeping analysis—for better or worse—based on a small sample size (SSS). But even though the 2014 baseball season is still in its infancy, there are a variety of players enjoying surprising Aprils that could realistically enjoy fruitful 2014 seasons, too. Continue reading