Selective Aggression: How the Mets approach hitting

Mets beat reporter Anthony DiComo recently introduced Mets fans to Bases Per Out (BPO), a statistic used within the Mets organization to help guide their offensive approach at the plate >> Read more at MLB.com.

Maggie Wiggin, Contributor

We don’t know the exact formula, but BPO is likely similar to OPS – doubles weighted more than singles or walks, triples more than doubles, etc. with penalties for outs. This season, according to DiComo, the team is explicitly tying this metric to bonuses, so players receive higher bonuses the more bases they collect with decreases for making outs.

The ultimate goal is to move beyond “swing at strikes, not at balls,” he explains, and take it one step further: swing at good strikes, the ones you can hit with authority, which should result in better contact.

David Wright and Lucas Duda are worth looking at when trying to understand the team’s approach at the plate, Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens told MetsBlog.

“I haven’t received the totals for the month yet, but those two exemplify the approach,” he said.


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Looking at some statistics, we can see that Duda and Wright both swing at a below-average number of pitches outside the zone.

Wright has a higher contact rate than Duda, because he’s an exceptionally good hitter, but both make hard contact. Since the start of 2013, they have the highest OBP of any Mets regular position players, as well as some of the highest ISOs (isolated power), suggesting that this is a successful approach for them.

As for the rest of the team, it’s harder to pinpoint how well the organizational philosophy is sinking on. On one hand, going back to 2013, they have league-average rates of swinging at pitches in — as opposed to out of — the strike zone, as well as about league-average contact rates, which would suggest this isn’t having much of an impact. On the other hand, the team has fielded an arguably below-average collection of players, so it may be that this approach is making them better than they would be otherwise.

It’s also important to look at what is happening in the minor leagues, where players are still developing and potentially more capable of learning new habits. Hitters in the minors are scored on a simple point-based system that rewards good pitch recognition.

It’s unlikely that the organization’s technique is radically different from the 29 other teams, all of whom are looking for good pitches to hit, and ultimately all approaches are limited by the inherent skill of the players available. But this inside look into the team’s values, philosophies, and practical applications is a unique opportunity to understand not just what the team wants, but how they intend to get it.

Who is the PTBNL in the Ike Davis trade?

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

The Mets recently traded Ike Davis to the Pirates for minor-league RHP Zack Thornton and a player to be named later.

The player to be named later will be “pretty significant,” columnist Jon Heyman wrote the day of the deal (CBS Sports, Apr. 18).

The buzz last week had been that the player coming from the Pirates was likely drafted with a top pick last June, and most likely a position player, which is why the teams must wait to announce his name. I’m holding out hope it’s OF Austin Meadows, but I’d say there is little-to-no-chance of that happening. The kid is terrific.

Instead, there is heavy speculation surrounding 22-year-old Pirates OF Jacoby Jones, who was taken with Pittsburgh’s third pick last summer.


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“Jones has long intrigued scouts because of his raw tools, body and athleticism,” prospect reporter Jonathan Mayo wrote last year (MiLB.com, Oct. 2013). “Jones can flat-out run and he has some definite extra-base potential.”

In the event Pittsburgh is sending over a pitcher, most insiders link Alderson and Paul DePodesta to 18-year-old RHP prospect Neil Kozikowski, whom they reportedly scouted last year. He was drafted with Pittsburgh’s eighth pick last summer.

Alderson recently told team beat reporter Mike Vorkunov that the Mets essentially got the same return in trade as they would have gotten this past winter (Star-Ledger, Apr. 21). In January, the Mets had reportedly been seeking a top pitching prospect in return for Davis, with names ranging from Pirates for RHP Nick Kingham to Orioles LHP Eduardo Rodriguez.

I assume Pittsburgh instead decided to give up two lesser players (one established, but with a low ceiling (Thornton), the other a work-in-progress, but a higher ceiling). I’m OK with that as a framework for a return, considering Alderson needed to anoint Duda and give Davis a change of scenery before his value dropped any further than it already had.

Video Highlights from Thursday’s win against the Cardinals


Chris Young ties the game with a solo home run to left field >> Watch here.


Daniel Murphy hits an RBI double to shallow centerfield to give the Mets a 2-1 lead >> Watch here.

Game Recap: Mets 4 – Cardinals 1

The Mets (12-10) defeated the Cardinals (12-11) by the score of 4-1 at Citi Field on Thursday >> Read a full AP recap and boxscore at SNY.TV.



Need to Know: Daisuke Matsuzaka locked down his first career save pitching a perfect ninth inning. … Bartolo Colon pitched seven innings, let up one run, four hits, walked no one and struck out eight. … Chris Young hit his first home run with the Mets, a second-decker to left field. … Curtis Granderson singled in a run as a pinch hitter … Daniel Murphy had two hits, including a double and two RBI. … The Mets took three of four games from the Cardinals during the series.


Reaction from Matthew Cerrone: Hey, it’s easy to be negative, it’s more difficult to believe. But, the fact is, for whatever reason, the Mets played really, really good baseball this series. They fielded well, they pitched well, they got timely hitting, tack on runs and the bullpen looked outstanding. These are the Cardinals. Are they damaged right now? Sure. But, wins are wins, and the Mets shouldn’t apologize for winning three of four from the defending National League Champions. … Now, what happens against the Marlins? Miami has looked better of late, as well. It would be terrible to let up against the division rival. This is going to be an important, tone-setting series. The Mets fought through a really difficult beginning to April. This sets up for a much more interesting May and June than I expected…


What’s Next: The Mets welcome the Marlins to Citi Field on Friday for the start of a three-game series, when Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.63 ERA) takes on RHP Henderson Alvarez (1-2, 2.66 ERA) at 7:10 pm ET.

Today’s Game: Cardinals at Mets, 1 p.m. on SNY

The Mets and Cardinals play their fourth and final game of their series at 1 p.m.

The game will air on SNY and you can follow along online with SNY GameDay. Starting in the third inning, Bobby Ojeda will host a live chat on MetsBlog. Check back later to join in!

Bartolo Colon will start for the Mets, Lance Lynn will pitch for St. Louis.

Mets Cardinals
1. Eric Young Jr. – LF 1. Matt Carpenter – 3B
2. Daniel Murphy – 2B 2. Jon Jay – CF
3. David Wright – 3B 3. Matt Holliday – LF
4. Lucas Duda – 1B 4. Matt Adams – 1B
5. Chris Young – CF 5. Allen Craig – RF
6. Bobby Abreu – RF 6. Daniel Descalso – SS
7. Anthony Recker – C 7. Kolten Wong – 2B
8. Ruben Tejada – SS 8. Tony Cruz – C
9. Bartolo Colon – RHP 9. Lance Lynn – RHP

Links to Read: Harvey, Murphy, Montero and deGrom


Matt Harvey does not regret waiting two months to decide on having Tommy John surgery, he told reporter Dan Martin >> Read more in the New York Post.


The time has come for the Mets to give Daniel Murphy a contract extension >> Read more at the Daily Stache.


The Mets should immediately promote Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom from Triple-A and put them in the big-league bullpen, says columnist John Harper >> Read more in the Daily News.

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Sound Smart: 5 things to know before today’s Mets-Cardinals finale

1) The Mets have won three of their last four games and are 3-3 on their 10-game homestand


2) The Mets have seven come-from-behind victories, which is tied for the second-most in baseball.


3) The opposition is hitting .316 against Bartolo Colon with runners in scoring position. Last season, runners in scoring position posted a .195 batting average with 35 strikeouts against him.


4) Mets starting pitchers have a 1.91 ERA during their last nine games. The bullpen has allowed two runs in their last 15.2 innings.


5) Eric Young, Jr. has reached base safely in 17 straight games, which is the longest current streak in the National League.

Bobby Abreu

Curtis Granderson gets day off, Bobby Abreu is starting in RF

Bobby Abreu will start in right field and hit sixth during Thursday’s day-game against the Cardinals (Mets on Twitter, Apr. 24).

Curtis Granderson will get the day off, despite ending a career-long hitless streak with a single in the first inning Wednesday night.


10:28 am: Terry Collins said he wanted to get Abreu’s bat in lineup.

In his view, it will be wise to get Abreu at least one start a week to keep him fresh and ready for bigger at bats later in the season.

Collins said he is not concerned about having Abreu in the outfield on a day when Bartolo Colon is pitching.

“He is 40 years old, so I’m sure he doesn’t move as he used to,” Collins said of Abreu’s defensive abilities. However, “Colon is a groundball pitcher, so it just added up.”

Granderson wanted to play, but understands the decision by Collins to get him a day of rest.


10:11 am: Abreu’s last major league start was July 25, 2012, for the Dodgers.

Granderson is batting .125 with just one home run and five RBI.

“We work quite a bit together, every day,” said Mets hitting coach Dave Hudgens (NY Post, Apr. 24). “He’s great with his routine, and he’s an incredible worker. That’s why I’m confident he’ll come out of it.


According to columnist John Harper, the Mets may have been better off signing Shin-Soo Choo, who fit Sandy Alderson’s desired approach at the plate.

Choo signed a seven-year, $130 million deal with the Rangers, while Granderson signed a four-year, $60 million with the Mets >> Read more in the Daily News.

It was a fun, wild night of baseball on Wednesday

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

In case you missed it, know that Wednesday was a wild, tight, fun baseball game to watch on SNY.

It started with the wind, which was clocked around 35 mph. It was blowing debris all over the field, which, though I’m sure it was terrible to play in, looked ridiculous on TV. The wind was so strong it actually knocked Travis d’Arnaud over behind home plate, he told reporters after the game. Cardinals starter Michael Wacha had his hat literally blown off his head.

The wind had a direct impact in the ninth inning. The Cardinals had two runners on, down two runs with one out. Daniel Descalso hit a ball off Kyle Farnsworth that drifted in to left-center field. Kirk Nieuwenhuis looked like he was being chased by a bee, while trying to track it down. The wind finally knocked the ball down, it bounced off the wall, Nieuwenhuis picked it up and threw to Ruben Tejada, who relayed the throw home.

Jon Jay already scored. Matt Carpenter rounded third. D’Arnaud got the throw from Tejada, Carpenter slid wide, d’Arnaud turned around and tagged Carpenter’s right side before he could touch home plate.


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“I still can’t believe I witnessed that,” d’Arnaud said after the game.

I appreciate perfect execution. It’s small, simple, we take it for granted, but given the conditions, it was great to see. They’re professionals. We expect them to know how and do their jobs. But, precision is precision, and I enjoy it every time.

Speaking of precision, earlier in the game, Wacha had nine strikeouts in three innings. He gave up a single, two walks and struck out everyone else. It was equal parts amazing and scary. However, in the fourth inning, for whatever reason, Wacha lost control. The Mets scored two runs to take the lead, both on bases loaded walks. He went from looking like someone on his way to a historic game to being out of the game with 93 pitches in four innings.

The game wasn’t pretty. But, it didn’t have to be. Fun is fun.


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