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Jul 16

Frequenting the Freq(ing) Mets

The American League won the All Star game. Since I paid attention for all of one Mike Trout home run, any sensible write-up will have to come elsewhere. There was a score, presumably, but I don’t know what that final score was. The AL won, though. SI and ESPN likely have very nice write-ups. I’m too devastated to read them, seeing that I really wanted the National League to have home field advantage and now those dreams are ruined.

Stupid Mike Trout.

In more important matters, without expending mental energy fretting over All Star games or home run derbies, I started thinking about other things. Notably, I began thinking about how a player’s hits are distributed across games in a season. It’s one thing to say that Wilmer Flores is batting .252/.286/.395 on the season, but it’s highly unlikely that Flores is recording one hit precisely every four at-bats. That would be something special if it did occur. It would also be a great way for the defense to rest in those at-bats that are destined for a hit as if ordained by Teiresias. “Take ‘er easy,” Michael Wacha waves to his infielders. “Scouting report pegs this one as a double.”

I thought it would be fun to look into how frequently the Mets get hits and reach base and which of the team’s batters are doing so with the most regularity. I didn’t comb through the game logs for all teams, so there won’t be any league-wide averages to play with. No. I’m strictly looking at the Mets starters as listed on Baseball-Reference (for example, I left out Ruben Tejada and Dilson Herrera and don’t even think about David Wright or Travis d’Arnaud appearing anywhere close to this post) and what we can reasonably expect each to record in a given game. This had the benefit of not filtering through all the game logs for Anthony Recker and Daniel Muno and it would reasonable filter out a lot of the pinch hit type games, or late defensive replacements, that wouldn’t provide much value. Also, I’m only looking at game logs from this season.

Surprisingly, if you’ve spent any time watching the Mets this season, the typical game for one of the main eight involves at least one hit. In just over a 1/3 of the games, about 37.8% of the time, does one of the starters go hitless. Sure, they all seem like they’ve been bunched together lately, but the numbers back it up. Furthermore, if I expand the search out to reaching base rather than recording a hit, it’s downright cheery. In a game, a Mets player fails to reach base via a hit, walk, intentional walk, or hit-by-pitch only 24.8% of the time, which is almost as frequent as reaching base twice in a game: 24.4%.

Type 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Hit 37.8 42.1 16.6 3.1 0.5 0 0
On Base 24.8 40.2 24.4 8.9 1.2 0.34 0.17

Frequency of Mets Hits / Reach Base

If the numbers don’t exactly equal out to 100% it’s because I rounded up. The good news is that based on the wonders of frequency tables, I now know that the Mets batters are more likely to both record a hit than to not and also to reach base than to not.

Of course, looking at the information like this, you’d assume all games are equal. It might be better to break this down further and look at frequency of hits and/or reaching base in a game based upon plate appearances. It’s difficult to imagine the percentages would be extremely high for Curtis Granderson to record two hits in a game if he only had one plate appearance. Granderson can do a lot of things, but I doubt that that’s one of them.

PA 0 1 2 3 4
1 81.8 18.2 0 0 0
2 62.5 37.5 0 0 0
3 50 43.6 6.5 0 0
4 36.7 43.3 17.3 2.5 0.27
5 21.6 44.1 25.5 6.9 2
6 0 63.6 27.3 9.1 0
7 0 0 50 50 0

Frequency of Mets Hits by Plate Appearance

The chart above is no surprise. As the number of plate appearances increases, the likelihood of a batter recording a hit goes up. In the 13 occurrences where a Mets batter has visited the plate six or more times, they’ve come away with at least one hit 100% of the time. Fantastic! That’s the secret then. Just get to the plate a lot. Not surprisingly, batters record four plate appearances in the majority of all games, and that matches up well with what we saw in the previous table. 36.7% of the time the batter is denied a hit, but in 63.3% of all such games the batter is rewarded.

Let’s look at that chart above but this time looking at the times reaching base:

PA 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 66.7 33.3 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 50 37.5 12.5 0 0 0 0 0
3 38.7 50 9.7 1.6 0 0 0 0
4 22.7 41.6 26.8 7.7 1.1 0 0 0
5 9.8 34.3 33.3 18.6 3.9 0 0 0
6 0 27.3 27.3 36.4 0 0 9.1 0
7 0 0 50 0 0 50 0 0

Frequency of Mets Reaching Base by Plate Appearance

Similar to the table above, with more plate appearances, the likelier it is to reach base. Even for a team with one of the worst offenses in baseball this is true. What I didn’t know before, which is great, is that in over 1/3 of all games, if a Mets batter makes it to the plate four times they’ll be on first base at least two of those at-bats.

See? This has value!

Maybe it’s time to look at the individual players. For this exercise, to make things a bit easier to present and to read, I limited plate appearances to three or more times in a game. Any fewer than that would have introduced too much noise and, in my estimation, provided little worth. Here’s a breakdown of hits in a game by player:

Player 0 1 2 3 4
Curtis Granderson 35.8 39.5 18.5 6.2 0
Daniel Murphy 30.6 45.2 14.5 8.1 1.6
Eric Campbell 53.8 30.8 15.9 0 0
Juan Lagares 28.4 48.1 19.8 2.5 1.2
Kevin Plawecki 40 44.4 15.6 0 0
Lucas Duda 37.3 39.8 19.3 3.6 0
Michael Cuddyer 31.4 44.3 21.4 2.9 0
Wilmer Flores 29.6 51.9 16 1.2 1.2

Frequency of Mets Hits by Plate Appearance by Player

What sort of surprised me here is that Lagares and Flores had the fewest of games where they didn’t get at least one hit. Thinking about it, though, it makes sense when you consider the table following this one where I account for all times reaching base. Both are free swingers with a combined 22 walks between them. If either player is reaching base, it’s going to be with the bat. Furthermore, that would reasonably explain why each has a hit in nearly 50% (or more in the case of Flores) of all games where they went to the plate three or more times.

Today’s post is why our eyeballs sometimes speak TRUTH!

Another thing that sort of surprised me was that Cuddyer is getting at least two hits in nearly a quarter of the games he plays. He may be hitting a lowly .244, but when he does hit, there’s a one in four likelihood that he’s getting another. Another way of saying that, though, is that if it seems like Michael Cuddyer doesn’t record hits in many games you’re probably right. You probably tuned out during those games where the hits came in bunches.

What about Mets batters reaching base?

Player 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Curtis Granderson 17.3 33.3 33.3 14.8 1.2 0 0
Daniel Murphy 21 40.3 19.4 12.9 4.8 0 1.6
Eric Campbell 30.8 35.9 23.1 7.7 0.0 2.6 0
Juan Lagares 23.5 43.2 27.2 4.9 1.2 0 0
Kevin Plawecki 28.9 42.2 22.2 6.7 0 0 0
Lucas Duda 18.1 32.5 28.9 19.3 1.2 0 0
Michael Cuddyer 21.4 41.4 31.4 4.3 1.4 0 0
Wilmer Flores 19.8 55.6 19.8 3.7 1.2 0 0

Frequency of Mets Reaching Base by Plate Appearance by Player

This makes sense. Granderson has walked 45 times on the season, Duda 39, so those two would clearly have the fewest games by percentage where they never reached first. Flores and Lagares can be explained with their highly aggressive approaches to hitting, which accounts for a lot of base hits but not a lot of repeat trips during the same game. If you had no idea who the Mets hitters were, if this were your first exposure to this team, you’d clearly see from the above table that Duda and Granderson have been the Mets two best hitters. Duda has reached base two or more times in a game nearly half of the time (49.4%) while Granderson has done the same 49.3% of the time. Is that good? I guess I could compare what I’m seeing here against the game’s best like Trout and Bryce Harper.

Maybe in the future.

I don’t think that would necessarily tell us anything valuable in regards to where we’d expect the Mets hitters to be. Trout and Harper aren’t exactly average hitters, so we might as well compare Wilmer Flores to Joe Morgan and complain that he can’t compete. It’s a relatively painless experience to gather the information, so I’ll do so in the future for a point of comparison. We’ll have so much fun.

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