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Nov 02

And Then There Were None

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In the days to come we can discuss the Mets season. By all measures, it was remarkable. As the disappointment of giving away a World Series fades, as all the blunders and bad decisions are turned over and examined like clues from a Sherlock Holmes story written by Roger Angell, we’ll grow deaf to the echoes of Joe Buck reminding us the Royals can hit fastballs and smile wistfully at an amazin’ run.

First we have to transition from what is to what could have been. After, we we can discuss what was.

The end of the Mets 2015 season reminds me of Deborah Kerr’s famous line in Tea & Sympathy: “Years from now, when you talk about this—and you will—be kind.” Of course, I came to this line through Remington Steele, and believe me, it sounds a whole lot more optimistic coming from Pierce Brosnan. This would be a perfect time to discuss Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s poem “Casey At The Bat” as well, which even for me is jumping quite a bit, but that’s where I am at this moment: lots of thoughts, lots of ideas swirling around, and with little idea how to process them.

Hello, WordPress.

This was a tough Series for me. Not with the loss. These things happen. That the Mets punted three of these games, giving away Games 1, 4, and 5 because for some reason they didn’t feel like closing them out, is extremely frustrating. I grew tired of the myth of mystical KC that grew from the mainstream media—the constant reminders of how they never strikeout (you know who also didn’t strike out that much this season? The A’s, Braves, and Red Sox. A little sour grapes after reading and listening to that nonsense for a week) and how they somehow figured out the fastball after 100+ years of hitters trying.

I’m not bitter. I’m weary.

No. This was a tough week for reasons external to baseball. We were given our midterm for my grad school class, and if you’ve never worked on Class diagrams and CRC modeling, then believe me, it takes some time. More importantly, I turned in my notice for the job I’ve been working for 17 years, soon to start a new one next week.

This past week I spent cleaning out my cubicle—you accumulate a lot of things in 17 years—and for some reason I had printouts of the Mets schedules from ’98 through 2001. On each, I wrote down the result of each game and the winning and losing pitchers. Why? Maybe to feel closer to the team. It was the late 90s equivalent to writing a blog. There, in 2000, was written down the results from the 2000 Series and all its bitter reminders. I had flashbacks of Armando Benitez blowing late leads and Timo Perez jogging around the bases until it was time to not jog and by that time it was too late. Sigh. Not this time, though. This year would be different. This team would play without what-ifs.

Maybe not.

Anyway, I’ve had a lot on my mind that didn’t involve baseball, and here was the Series, so I compromised and took a break from writing. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been worth reading anyway. I can summarize a Series worth of articles like this: Eric Hosmer sort of sucks on defense, the Mets are horrid on defense, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz are the real deal, and Mike Moustakas is fat. There you go. Those are the nice things I wanted to write. You didn’t want to hear about my take on the crummy broadcasting, the BS no-call on Salvador Perez’s check swing in Game 3, and Daniel Murphy’s fielding gaffs. This series basically exposed everything that was both great and awful about the Mets this season in five games: poor defense, a lack of offense beyond home runs, poor bullpen arms outside of Jeurys Familia, and allowing baserunners to go wild. But, there was also the starting pitching, Curtis Granderson, David Wright’s big Game 3, and Familia (I don’t care that he blew three saves. He pitched well despite those results).

All day yesterday I had this feeling that Matt Harvey was going to pitch the game of his life. Call it blogger’s intuition. With every chance I get, I constantly remind everyone that Harvey is the type of pitcher you want on the mound for games like this, that he wants the ball in games like this, and he didn’t disappoint. If there’s anything we can take from Game 5, anything we can take from this series in general, is that the Mets have a legitimate ace that shows up in the biggest games. Perhaps there wasn’t a Madison Bumgarner run in him. He didn’t finish off the ninth inning and give the city of New York something to discuss for five months into the beginning of next season. I care, but I don’t. Harvey proved me right last night. All those Buster Olney types that want to argue for trading him, all those people that want to still consider Harvey as the Mets savior as he brings back a bushelful of prospects and dreams of decades of dominance, should remember Game 5.

Not all aces pitch their best when it matters most.

I spent a long time trying to come up with a good reason why Terry Collins shouldn’t have pulled Harvey after walking Lorenzo Cain to start the ninth. Is that an odd thing to write after discussing Harvey’s dominance? Maybe. After the walk to Cain, Harvey was sitting at 108 pitches. I find it a legitimate question to ask. He’d owned Hosmer up to that point, striking him out with a fastball in the first and with one of the filthiest curves Harvey’s thrown all season in the fourth. Familia had thrown the previous two games. It was Harvey’s game to finish. None of them made sense. What I finally settled on was Collins was trying to send a message to Jacob deGrom and Syndergaard and the rest of the Mets team. He believes in them. Finish what you started. There’s a responsibility associated with being crowned an ace, with being given a flashy nickname like the Dark Knight. You assume a persona like that you damn well better step up, own it, and not hide from it when times are darkest.

Does that make Collins Commissioner Gordon?

None of that really made much sense to me from a practical sense. Bring in Familia, finish off the stupid game, travel to KC.

But, seeing as this week has been dealing with doubts and fears and excitements of my own unrelated to baseball, it made some sense. Sometimes you just have to do things because. The leap into the unknown and the belief in yourself, your decisions, and your abilities outweighs the possibility of failure. So, you know what? I still think he should have brought in Familia. Duh. Win the stupid game already.

So, to the people of Kansas City: enjoy it. To Eric Hosmer: your defense sucks but that was some great base running. To Mike Moustakas: eat up. I’m happy to see a team like the Royals win the Series. Believe it or not, I think it’s a great thing for baseball that a team that doesn’t buy its championships won for the first time in 30 years. I’m happy for guys like Joe Posnanski and Rany Jazayerli that have spent years writing about the Royals so eloquently can enjoy today and this offseason like it’s 1985 all over again. I don’t like it that it was against the Mets, but there’s always next year.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to say…maybe next year.

Below I’ve listed the particulars for yesterday’s game.

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    14 12.6
##   Curveball    18 16.2
##    Fourseam    47 42.3
##    Two-seam     7 6.31
##      Slider    25 22.5

Pitch Type by Inning

##           1 2 3 4 5  6 7 8 9
## Changeup  3 0 2 2 1  1 2 2 1
## Curveball 0 0 0 5 6  3 1 3 0
## Fourseam  4 3 5 6 9 10 3 2 5
## Two-seam  1 0 1 0 0  2 3 0 0
## Slider    5 7 2 2 3  1 0 2 3

Pitches by Outcome:

##                           Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam Slider
## Ball                             4         8       16        0      7
## Called Strike                    1         1       14        2      1
## Foul                             3         2        8        2      6
## Foul Bunt                        0         0        0        0      1
## Foul Tip                         0         0        2        0      0
## In play, no out                  1         0        0        2      2
## In play, out(s)                  4         2        4        1      3
## In play, run(s)                  0         0        1        0      0
## Swinging Strike                  1         4        2        0      5
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        0         1        0        0      0

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##                  Changeup Curveball Fourseam Two-seam Slider
## Double                  0         0        1        0      0
## Field Error             0         0        0        0      1
## Flyout                  1         1        2        1      1
## Forceout                0         0        0        0      1
## Grounded Into DP        0         0        1        0      0
## Groundout               1         1        1        0      1
## Pop Out                 2         0        0        0      0
## Single                  1         0        0        2      1
## Strikeout               1         2        4        0      2
## Walk                    0         1        0        0      1

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   51.35         48.65     39.06     68.16

Note: Zone % is the number of pitches thrown that were considered in the strike zone; Out of Zone is the number of pitches thrown out of the strike zone; and O-Swing % and Z-Swing % relate to those pitches out of the zone and in the zone that were swung at by batters.

Calculations: I calculated the strike zone based upon the formula provided by Mike Fast in a post for Baseball Prospectus. O-Swing % = Swings at Pitches Out of the Zone / Total Pitches Out of the Zone, and Z-Swing % = Swings at Pitches In the Zone / Total Pitches In the Zone. Fangraphs has a great explanation regarding plate discipline, and I encourage you to read about it if you get a chance. After enjoying my site first, of course.

Pitch Types by Zone Location

##  Pitch Type In Zone Out of Zone O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##    Changeup       9           5     0.400     0.778
##   Curveball       6          12     0.333     0.833
##    Fourseam      25          22     0.182     0.400
##    Two-seam       6           1      1.00     0.667
##      Slider      11          14     0.571     0.818

Strikeouts by Description

##                           Changeup Curveball Fourseam Slider
## Called Strike                    0         0        2      0
## Foul Tip                         0         0        2      0
## Swinging Strike                  1         1        0      2
## Swinging Strike (Blocked)        0         1        0      0

Standard Batting Lines Against Matt Harvey

##           Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##  Alcides  Escobar  4  4 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      12
##      Alex  Gordon  3  2 0  0  0  0 0  1   0  0 0.000 0.333 0.000       8
##        Alex  Rios  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000      13
##      Ben  Zobrist  4  4 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.250 0.250 0.250      17
##  Edinson  Volquez  2  2 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.500 0.500 0.500       5
##      Eric  Hosmer  4  4 1  1  0  0 2  0   0  0 0.250 0.250 0.500      15
##     Lorenzo  Cain  4  3 1  0  0  0 2  1   0  0 0.333 0.500 0.333      21
##   Mike  Moustakas  3  3 1  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333       8
##    Paulo  Orlando  1  1 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       3
##   Salvador  Perez  3  3 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       9

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 85.8 87.4 90.3   -8.132     5.436       -8.015         4.017
##   Curveball 79.6 83.3 85.0    1.315    -4.105        1.664        -5.719
##    Fourseam 92.6 95.7 97.9   -5.372     9.225       -5.071         7.994
##    Two-seam 94.7 95.5 95.9   -6.773     6.869       -6.643         5.601
##      Slider 85.9 89.5 91.2    1.370     2.535        1.916         1.192

Note: Horizontal movement denotes average distance, in inches, from point of release to home plate (+ moves away from a right-handed batter) while vertical movement is average distance, in inches, from release point to home plate. As measured from the corner of home plate, the x-axis (horizontal) runs to the catcher’s right, the y-axis points at the pitcher, and the z-axis (vertical) runs up and down.

Note 2: The corrected horizontal and vertical are based upon a paper by Alan M. Nathan from the University of Illinois and account for the elimination of both gravity and drag. The corrected averages more accurately reflect the true movement of the baseball.

Below are the pitch locations by both batter stance (left or right) and by pitch type.

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-11-02_Matt Harvey_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-11-02_Matt Harvey_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-11-02_Matt Harvey_Batters

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