The Mets Win the NL. No, Seriously

How amazing has Daniel Murphy’s ability to summon his inner Ken Griffey, Jr. been? He somehow usurped the story of the Cubs winning the 2015 World Series and made the conversation about him and the New York Mets. Not just the conversation. Murphy made casual fans root for the Mets, turning them from the guys who were a cute story with their pitching staff and their whiny fans to a team that had a legitimate shot at winning this thing.

It’s one thing to hit home runs and make people discuss financial windfalls for free agents to be. It’s another thing to make fans (interested, casual, and indifferent alike) forget how cool it would be if Back to the Future II really could predict a Cubs World Series win, 108 years without a title, and Theo Epstein and the 2004 Red Sox connection. This series had all those eerie, black cat path crossing markers associated with it that anything could have happened, and it took a tsunami of A-plus pitching and a Murphy homer barrage to quiet the Hollyween voodoo. Oh yeah, and along came Lucas Duda. I told you to not worry about Duda.

From what I gather, from the various posts I’ve read, the common sentiment about what happened to the Mets this season is one of disbelief. Yeah. That makes sense. Consider that at one point, the Mets starting pitcher for Game 4 Steven Matz (1-0) was the best hitter in the lineup when he made his major league debut against the Cincinnati Reds, and you can see how disbelief makes complete sense. If you make it through a post by a Mets beat writer or fan and don’t read “wow,” “I can’t believe,” or “they weren’t supposed to be here,” then they were trying exceptionally hard to keep those words out of the post. I know. I’ve been struggling to not write an entire post, so please indulge me for a moment while I get some of this out of my system.

Wow. I can’t believe this. They weren’t supposed to be here. Wow. I can’t believe this. They weren’t supposed to be here. Wow. I can’t believe this. They weren’t supposed to be here. Wow. I can’t believe this. They weren’t supposed to be here. Wow. I can’t believe this. They weren’t supposed to be here. Wow. I can’t believe this. They weren’t supposed to be here. Wow. I can’t believe this. They weren’t supposed to be here. Wow. I can’t believe this. They weren’t supposed to be here. Wow. I can’t believe this. They weren’t supposed to be here.

I don’t want to belabor the point, but would you please look at that lineup against the Reds again. That wasn’t a day for Terry Collins to sit his regulars. Those were the regulars. Here’s the lineup from the prior game against the Reds. Half of that lineup had an OBP below .300 with another precisely at .300. This wasn’t an offense built to score runs. This was an offense built to test a pitching staff’s tolerance for abuse. Disbelief makes absolute sense. I’m still gobsmacked that Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Jon Niese, and Bartolo Colon still have full use of their right arms. These guys pitched so many innings with the score hovering around “go F yourself” that I hoped the Wilpons sprung for each to sleep in a hyperbaric chamber as a means of keeping them youngish.

I’ve been enjoying these four and five run games. It wasn’t always like this. A sentence like this, form Jonah Keri’s preview of the Mets/Cubs series, sort of undersells how difficult it was for this team to score runs: “Coming into the trade deadline, the Mets offense was an abomination, averaging fewer than 3.5 runs per game and ranking dead last in the National League in runs scored.” He could have described the Mets offense as a government experiment in prolonged suffering and it would have worked just as well. It’s easy to laugh about plays like Dexter Fowler’s popup in the fifth that fell between Murphy and Curtis Granderson when the team has a 6-1 lead. When that score is 0-0 or 2-1 that brings out a bit of overreaction.

So, yeah, we’ll say disbelief is apt.

I’m old enough to remember 1986, 2000, and 2006. I remember them all fondly, and like any fan of a team that isn’t there every year (you know, those of us who aren’t Yankees, Cardinals, or Giants fans) these years of postseason appearances take on an idealized, nearly mythical quality. With those years, we had an idea the team might be good. The Mets won 90 and 98 games in ’84 and ’85; the team nearly made the playoffs in ’98, lost the NLCS in ’99, and beat the Cardinals in 2000 to get a lesson in Derek Jeter heroism in the Series; and the team was coming off a season above .500 in ’05, which gave people an idea that the breaks could go their way.

Despite all this reminiscing there was a game played last night, which is rather obvious considering I’m discussing the Mets moving on to the Series. In said game, Murphy hit another home run, making it six games in a row this postseason. That is a new major league record. Murphy has seven homers in the postseason, a new Mets record. He also tied a Mets record by recoding 16 hits in a single postseason. Duda hit a three-run homer in the first and a two-run double in the second, driving in five runs total. This ties a Mets postseason record, which had also been tied by Granderson in that 13-7 smack down of the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLDS.

Travis d’Arnaud hit a home run in the first, his second in this series. He went back-to-back with Duda. The Mets could have scored 10+ runs last night. It was a possibility. Wilmer Flores was stranded after a leadoff triple in the sixth. The team failed to score with the bases load and one out in the seventh. These are nitpicky things.

Steven Matz pitched well, lasting 4 2/3 innings. He motored through the first three innings and ran into trouble in the fourth after Jorge Soler hit a leadoff double, Kris Bryant walked, and Anthony Rizzo singled to load the bases. Starlin Castro hit a laser beam into David Wright’s mitt, and then a Kyle Schwarber groundout to Duda scored the Cubs only run off the lefty. Colon relieved Matz in the fifth after the Fowler popup/single and Soler singled.

Tuesday, huh? Wow.


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

Pitches by Type:

##  Pitch Type Count    %
##    Changeup    12 15.8
##   Curveball    13 17.1
##      Sinker    51 67.1

Pitch Type by Inning

##           1  2 3  4 5
## Changeup  3  0 4  3 2
## Curveball 2  2 3  5 1
## Sinker    8 11 9 16 7

Pitches by Outcome:

##                 Changeup Curveball Sinker
## Ball                   6         5     19
## Called Strike          1         3     12
## Foul                   1         2      6
## In play, no out        0         0      4
## In play, out(s)        2         0      7
## In play, run(s)        0         1      0
## Swinging Strike        2         2      3

Events by Final Pitch of At-Bat

##           Changeup Curveball Sinker
## Double           0         0      1
## Flyout           0         0      1
## Groundout        1         1      4
## Lineout          0         0      2
## Pop Out          1         0      0
## Single           0         0      3
## Strikeout        1         2      1
## Walk             0         0      2

Pitches by Zone Location

##  Zone % Out of Zone % O-Swing % Z-Swing %
##   56.58         43.42     13.82     40.65

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       4           8     0.250     0.750
##   Curveball       6           7     0.286     0.333
##      Sinker      33          18     0.111     0.545

Strikeouts by Description

##                 Changeup Curveball Sinker
## Called Strike          0         0      1
## Swinging Strike        1         2      0

Standard Batting Lines Against Steven Matz

##          Batter PA AB H 2B 3B HR K BB HBP SF    BA   OBP   SLG Pitches
##   Anthony  Rizzo  2  2 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.500 0.500 0.500       7
##  Austin  Jackson  1  1 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       3
##      David  Ross  2  1 0  0  0  0 0  1   0  0 0.000 0.500 0.000       6
##   Dexter  Fowler  3  3 1  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.333 0.333 0.333      10
##     Javier  Baez  2  2 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       9
##     Jorge  Soler  3  3 2  1  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.667 0.667 1.000       9
##     Kris  Bryant  2  1 0  0  0  0 1  1   0  0 0.000 0.500 0.000      13
##  Kyle  Schwarber  2  2 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       9
##  Starlin  Castro  2  2 0  0  0  0 1  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       5
##     Travis  Wood  1  1 0  0  0  0 0  0   0  0 0.000 0.000 0.000       5

Pitches Velocities & Movement:

##  Pitch Type  Min Mean  Max Mean Hor Mean Vert CRT Mean Hor CRT Mean Vert
##    Changeup 83.2 84.7 85.7    8.744     4.633        8.511         3.432
##   Curveball 76.5 78.8 81.7   -4.864    -7.023       -5.523        -8.358
##      Sinker 92.4 94.6 96.5    8.602     6.260        8.201         5.221

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.

Average (MPH) Velocity for Pitches by Starters Last Night:

2015-10-22_Steven Matz_BoxPlot

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

Pitch Location by Stance:

2015-10-22_Steven Matz_Stance

Pitch Location by Pitch Type:

2015-10-22_Steven Matz_Pitches

Pitch Locations by Batter:

2015-10-22_Steven Matz_Batters

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