Breaking down the Mets offense, hitting coach and strategy

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

Look, if you want Mets hitting Dave Hudgens fired, give it up. It’s not going to happen, nor should it. He’s Sandy Alderson’s guy, and it is Sandy’s hitting philosophy that Hudgens is working to implement through the entire organization.

They’re not going to abandon it because they had a difficult time for three days in Miami, against what is maybe the best pitching staff in baseball.


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It has been 23 innings since the Mets last scored a run.

It was just four days ago, leaving Colorado, that they were being praised for scoring the sixth-most runs in the National League. Today, they are ninth, following three straight losses to the Marlins.

“It’s a whole different environment in Colorado than it is (at Marlins Park),” Hudgens said Wednesday (ESPN, May 8). “We hit some balls hard today, squared some balls up. Their pitching is really good.”

The goal isn’t to draw walks, Hudgens once told me. Instead, he said, the goal is to have a very refined strike zone, which will help hitters make better contact, which statistically translates in to more power.

It’s a good approach and one that is wise for an industry tilting toward and overvaluing young, hard-throwing, strikeout pitchers.

That said, MLB scouts have clearly caught on to what Sandy’s guys are doing in the big leagues. Opposing pitchers throw first-pitch strike after first-pitch strike, the Mets take, take and take, and are repeatedly being forced to hit from behind in the count. I understand the idea is to ‘hunt for strikes,’ as they say, but either Sandy needs better hunters or his hunters need better weapons… and they also need hits to start dropping again.


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According to ESPN’s Mark Simon, the average major league hitter hits around .700 when hitting a ball categorized as “hard-hit.” However, the Mets as a team are hitting .592 on their hard-hit balls this season (ESPN, May 8).

What’s more, Rockies starting pitchers have a combined 4.16 ERA, which is third-worst in the NL, while the Marlins starting pitchers have a 3.13 ERA, which is fifth-best.

“We knew this would be a tough road trip,” David Wright said Wednesday about traveling through Colorado and Miami. “I’ve been around long enough to know our history at Coors Field and Marlins Park.”



Read more about Alderson’s hitting philosphy and what it means to be Hunting Strikes




207 comments
Just - MLB
Just - MLB

Righhhht...


Hi Matt Cerrone..



Care to explain ??

I've never seen so many hitters on the same team who so often take the most hittable pitch they see, and wind up striking out on the toughest pitch they see. Duda does this most often, followed closely by Wright and Lagares.  They're not going to deliver on their power potential very well when they continue to do this.  I'm not sure if this is due to Hudgens' philosophy, but he sure hasn't done much to fix it.  Did everyone see Utley this weekend?  If the first pitch is in the hitting zone, he rips.  I've thought for a few years now that Hudgens needs to be replaced.

metsfan86
metsfan86

I love this site, but the stupidity of this "hunting strikes" stuff compelled me to make this post. I gotta agree with the previous posters- WHAT ARE THE METS PAYING CERRONE TO WRITE THIS STUFF? Did Dave Hudgens steal his log-in and password to Metsblog? Is Cerrone so star-struck that he actually got to meet and talk to Dave Hudgens that he will defend him long after the ship has sunk?


Cerrone writes that "hunting strikes" has been written about more lately. Where? I read a lot of different Mets blogs and the PR job that appeared on this site was the first I'd ever heard of it. Maybe Cerrone was thinking about Ron Darling's term "hunting strikes", which means that an umpire calls everything on the border a strike to speed up the game. THAT is the "hunting strikes" that is being talked about, not this Hudgens drivel.


Cerrone also has shown poor judgement in his estimations of Mets talent (Daniel Murphy and Rafael Montero come to mind), but this takes the cake- 


"if you want ... Dave Hudgens fired, give it up. It's not going to happen, nor should it. He's Sandy Alderson's guy, and it is Sandy's hitting philosophy that Hudgens is working to implement through the entire organization. They're not going to abandon it because they had a difficult time for three days in Miami..."

THIS IS THE STUPIDEST THING I'VE EVER READ REGARDING THE METS, AND I READ THE NEW YORK POST.

Is Dave Hudgens Matthew Cerrone's dad? How tone-deaf can one man be? A difficult time in Miami? HOW ABOUT A DIFFICULT 5 YEARS?


Mr. Cerrone- are you even watching the Mets, or just playing video games with Dave Hudgens in the clubhouse?

konyc
konyc

"... they had a difficult time for three days in Miami, against what is maybe the best pitching staff in baseball..."

"...the Marlins starting pitchers have a 3.13 ERA, which is fifth-best. (in the NL)."

So the team with fifth-best E.R.A. in one league is the best in baseball.  With such statistical analysis, Mr. Cerrone clearly has a job waiting for him in the Mets front office.

Tugboat25
Tugboat25

After reading this, I predict Hudgens gets canned sometime in the next month to month and a half.

Terry Jacoby
Terry Jacoby

They’re not going to abandon it because they had a difficult time for three days in Miami. ARE YOU KIDDING ME...THIS IS THE DUMBEST THING I'VE READ ON THIS SITE AND THAT'S SAYING SOMETHING. HAVE YOU BEEN WATCHING THIS TEAM THE PAST THREE YEARS. DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!!!! Also, one hitting philosophy for an entire team is stupid. Every hitter is different and every hitter has a different approach with different strengths and weaknesses. To FORCE them to do something different is ... well ... you see the results. Oh wait, it was just three games in Miami .... 


thwacker
thwacker

After watching decades of baseball, this hitting philosophy seems ridiculous!!  Why us?

upstater
upstater

Mets will never improve until they get rid of Alderson. His philosophy is years out-dated and his ability to find talent non-existent.

Chaka Paul
Chaka Paul

Come on Matthew Cerone how much are they paying you to write this stuff? Rough 3 days in Miami? It's been a rough 3 years!! Look I like Collins, I think he's been working miracles with what he has since he's gotten here but our hitting is atrocious! How do you justify a MLB team going 23 innings without scoring when they didn't have to face the other team's ace? I don't care if we faced 3 aces in a row you can't rationalize a team of professional hitters failing to score a run. Collins needs to abandon this hitting philosophy ASAP!!!

tbone1
tbone1

What hitting philosophy,  swing and miss the ball ?

William Kelley
William Kelley

Maybe the Mets (particularly the younger players) should concentrate on seeing the ball and hitting it. Looks like many are doing to much thinking and guessing on pitches.

1963PoloGrounds
1963PoloGrounds

A "hitting philosophy" constructed by people who were not successful major league hitters cannot be taken seriously, and the proof is that what should be a good hitting lineup simply isn't.  In fact, the team hasn't hit as long as Alderson and Hudgens have been here.  That's because they've got these guys thinking too much at the plate.  A team of good hitters won't emerge because everyone is following the same script.  Everyone has to be who they are and then be open to adjustments.  If you're a pull hitter, and most are, look to pull early in the count, especially strike one.  You have to want to pull strike one. That's where the power comes from.  Then you have to want go the other way with two strikes.  If your natural swing is to go the other way, then that's what you want.  "Hunting strikes" is ridiculous because "pull" and "other way" swings are completely different.  Anyone who has ever hit knows this.  Few can effectively pull an outside pitch nor hit an inside pitch well the other way.  Then there's situational hitting.  Keep it simple. Let these guys be who they are and look for fastballs in or out early in the count depending on their natural preference. David Wright is a classic case of someone who's in between now and it's the fault of this "philosophy."

kefhrny17
kefhrny17

"We're just gonna change the way you've approached how to hit a baseball all your life, refine that strike zone. I don't know what that means, but Alderson told me to tell you guys."- Hudgens.

SomeHighSchoolKid
SomeHighSchoolKid

So, Matthew Cerrone just called the Marlins rotation the best in baseball. He then goes on to state that they have the 5th best ERA in the NATIONAL LEAGUE. Wtf????

And he also uses it as an excuse to not score for 23 innings. Are you serious??? WE MISSED JOSE FERNANDEZ and we still couldn't score!!!!

WoodsideNative
WoodsideNative

"The goal isn’t to draw walks, Hudgens once told me. Instead, he said, the goal is to have a very refined strike zone, which will help hitters make better contact, which statistically translates in to more power."   And while they are refining the strike zone they are letting big, juicy pitches go buy. 

What does Alderson know about hitting? He never played the game. And Hudgens had what...6 ABs....and zero hits?  He was also drafted twice and didn't sign. Tells me all I need to know about him.

They all need to go....now.

metjetnet
metjetnet

This uproar is mainly attributable to poor Hudgens being the one elected by Sandy to try to bring a new & different hitting system that they're installed in the entire organization to a group of guys at the top level who are already who they're gonna be. Period. That's an awfully tough lift. You're not gonna change a Wright, a Murphy, a Granderson, or any of the others they have here now, not at this stage of their careers. It's not gonna work. I fully assume that Sandy & Co. know this. But you have to plant a flag somewhere. You have to say AT SOME POINT, that this is our trademark, this is who we are & what we do & how we do it. Every company does it, with every new CEO or div. mgr. Your new hires get the full new training. You try to get the legacy people to change as best as you can until they leave or "get it," because you can't have your new talent doing one thing & the veterans another -- at least in theory. Baseball is no different. This is what they're teaching in the minors; there's no way they cannot teach it on the big club as well. They expect results (& are getting them) in the minors; they'll take what they can get with the bigs. 

Especially, when you have major league guys simply not understanding what the coaches are teaching them. No one, I'm certain, ever said "Always take the first pitch." What they're trying to do is to get guys to firmly establish a mental strike zone & then never waver from that. In essence, if he's off the plate, force the pitcher back into the zone where he is vulnerable. It's a perfect concept for this explosion of huge, power-arm guys throughout the majors. They're not getting high SO totals from just beating guys, but from being just a bit wild, which many batters fear taking, so they swing at bad pitches. But after he's walked 4 or 5 in a game & they've scored, he'll be scared into coming into the plate where you'll be waiting. 

This is no different than the exact approach that Ted Williams used in the '40s.

I can't for the life of me figure out why that's so difficult to understand. But hey! That's why these players get the big bucks...

Adrian Cervantes
Adrian Cervantes

Alderson has brainwashed Metsblog writers like he does with the team. The way he is trying to control the way the Mets hit reminds me of a control freak owner/general manager/wannabe coach in Dallas.

MetsFan1962
MetsFan1962

If the FO is paying attention, their hitting philosophy is a failure since the Mets have not scored a run in the last 23 innings. Time to take on a new approach with a new hitting coach.

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

They call him...Sandy Alderson..''MAN OF ACTION''!

cmetsfan
cmetsfan

"statistically leads to more power"lol....This is the problem. Marlin stadium is more similar to Citi than other parks. Marlins hitters are trying to bunch hits in order to score. Yes Stanton swings for the fences, but if the rest of the team is using the whole field, and they outscored New York at Citi the day Mejia had his implosion, theyre scoring enough.


I was neutral on Hudgins, but this excerpt makes the philosophy sound very flawed while giving the organization the sound of having a power complex. Plus it doesn't factor erratic umpire which tends to happen around the 6th when umps need to recalibrate how they call strikes, according to pitching changes.



hankincolo
hankincolo

Keith Hernandez should be the hitting coach, but then he probably doesn't want the grief when the inferior talent inevitably fails.  

heynow20
heynow20

They should post an article called - Mets fans "Hunt" for complaints

stage52
stage52

Remember what Terry thinks is good hitting barely moves the needle on other clubs .  Always consider the source.

stage52
stage52

A See the Ball, Hit the Ball approach would work for me.   Leave the Guessing about whats coming to Gypsy Con Artists.

Albert E Lewis
Albert E Lewis

Sandy you season saver you!...signing a 40 year old 300 lb pitcher who looks like he been to too many buffet tables and signing a .180 hitter named Grandy! looks like were going places now!

Kenneth Meltsner
Kenneth Meltsner

It's odd. Justin Turner was not the second-coming of Pete Rose (or Elio Chacon, for that matter) but the guy actually hustled and came-across in the clutch. And was very affordable. Gone. Same as LaTroy Hawkins. Decent guy, good team player, solid influence on the young players. Gone. But you spend $20M on an out-of-shape guy with a history of performance-enhancers and back-issues. You also commit $60M to another guy who is notorious for not putting the ball in play. Anyone else see a disconnect?

pj10
pj10

The mistakes in these articles are boarderline unbearable.

nykjw2
nykjw2

I hate being a Mets fan

victor leo
victor leo

@samc Mathew Cerrone is definitely on the Wilpons payroll. This team has not improved one bit since this Alderson and Hudgens hitting philosophy. Its a joke this has been going on for years now. They need a new voice and better players period. Miami the best pitching staff in baseball??? this guy is a joke,

stage52
stage52

@metjetnet Is it not time to change your ink ribbon on your typewriter yet?  LOL

Adrian Cervantes
Adrian Cervantes

Hudgens will not be fired unless Alderson is fired. Noway Alderson fires his yes man.

stage52
stage52

@heynow20 More like a Easter Egg Hunt on Citifield.   Not hard to find those Eggs.

metjetnet
metjetnet

You haven't felt fan pain, my friend, until you've had Richie Hebner as your prime locker room presence & lead offensive force on your team, for a couple of years. Maybe the Mets WORST position player & biggest a-hole, ever.

metjetnet
metjetnet

@stage52 @metjetnet Sorry, guys. Have just seen a few dozen too many one-liners from guys ill-schooled in baseball as a game, and just snapped today. A number of points were going under-discussed. So, pop!! Break out the extra words, Martha! :-)

stage52
stage52

@metjetnet I think maybe I ate 1 too many pot brownies today.  Whopee!

stage52
stage52

@Adrian Cervantes I think Noway is 2 words unless your speaking about that country next to Sweden............come to think of it Alderson could be Swedish  but now you got me rambling!