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.




57 comments
Jack Fitzpatrick
Jack Fitzpatrick

Notice how many times the batters take the 1st pitch for a strike. When that happens they are already in a hole.

Not4Nutten
Not4Nutten

Captain K  hasn't had a big hit in years, and Lucas is a work in progress, this is the deal, the pitchers today are throwing at speeds of 90+ Miles and Hour, the opposition is sending in fresh arms by the inning, add to that the Owners, GM and Manager is looking for guys to Pop the ball over the fence, that's why the strike outs. What's needed is the Old Billy Martin School of thought, everyone on the team regardless, will steal a base, bunt safely and have extended fielding practice! The Rookie Manager in 1969  took rookie Greg Nettles and second baseman Rod Carew, met them at 6am in the park and bunted, fielded and ran the base path practice! Rod Carew stole home 7 times that year including the winning AL Championship Game. We all know what Nettles did as a Yankee and Rickey Henderson did as a Player and Tony LaRussa as a Manager, all mentored by

Billy! Terry has to start mentoring instead of fighting!!!!!!

Ed Renner
Ed Renner

This game is played by Human Beings, not machines. The best of them gets hits only 30% of the time. The people who have reached the level of the Major Leagues do so because of their natural reflexes, eyesight and ability to study the pitchers' past, But when they get up to the plate, their natural reflexes are in command. This STUPIDITY gives the Mets hitters far too much to compute when they are in game situations at the plate. This to me is the key reason why these guys take so many close third strikes. Too much thinking. Too little natural reaction using their Major  League level talent.

This team's approach seems to be made up by guys too much into statistics. If the team wants better production, GET BETTER HITTERS. Sabermetrics is a helpful tool, up to the time they step in the batters box. After that, Major League talent takes over.

If the game were played more by Sabermetrics and less by physically talented Major Leaguers, then why aren't most hitters hitting .350 and higher. Why don't teams have .900 winning percentages? The answer? They still have to PHYSICALLY play the game, using their God given talent.

I truly believe that Sandy, Dave Hutchins, and the two lap dogs Di Podesta and JP just don't get it.

GET BETTER PLAYERS GUYS. OF COURSE, WE SHOULD HAVE BETTER BASEBALL MEN RUNNING THE METS...NOT STATISTICIANS.

HERE'S A SUGGESTION....FIX DAVID WRIGHT'S REDICULOUS BATTING APPROACH, WHICH HAS HIS FRONT FOOT PLANTED, LEAVING HIM EXPOSED TO THE OUTSIDE LOW PITCH. YOU MAY ARGUE THAT HE'S BEEN SUCCESSFUL SO FAR. THIS IS TRUE. BUT IT IS BECAUSE HE STILL HAS TREMENDOUS TALENT AND REFLEXES. WHEN HE SLOWS DOW...AND HE WILL, HE WILL SINK FAST. YOU STEP INTO AN OUTSIDE PITCH, YOU DRIVE THE BALL SOMEWHERE.

Should David adapt? Well, look at 41 year old out of shape Bartolo Colon. He adapts.

Sabermetrics is great....TO A POINT.

lholztrio
lholztrio

Give Murph a contract extension!

Chris Stevens
Chris Stevens

This is exactly why they have no offense. You shouldn't have your supposed power guys constantly drawing walks. Any coincidence that our offense has gotten completely laughable ever since alderspin came aboard?

Haig Mathosian
Haig Mathosian

Selective hitting ? It's more like selective missing

Craig Ramirez
Craig Ramirez

*****METS FANS*****


Given our last half decade, you have a right to be upset about the state of your team.


However, this article, and the hitting approach it outlines should not be the subject of your ire.


At the end of the day, regardless of all the new wave rhetoric/terminology, it's the same approach that was taught to many of you by your Little League coaches and fathers, and that is simply to swing at good pitches with the expectation that you are more likely to effectively hit those pitches than the slop that a pitcher might otherwise throw outside of the zone.  It's that simple.  Swing at the pitches that you are more likely to hit effectively.  If the result is a walk, then the better for all involved.


Are there exceptions?  Of course.  I often see Pablo Sandoval, and Vlad Guerrero's names tossed around.  I would only point out that only one of those players is/was elite.  The other is a decent player, who is still an anomaly in his ability to hit bad pitches.  Most players can't, and the result is weak swings, that produce even weaker outs.  Is that what people want to see?





Jim Flaherty
Jim Flaherty

It's really common sense and it's what most very good hitters do naturally---recognize pitches & don't swing at balls, read the strike zone & be selective within the strike zone more or less so based on the count.   I first heard it described by Kiner & McCarver as the oxymoron of being "Patiently Aggressive".  

The Mets are just explaining it in certain ways to media, and to players to try and get them to improve.  It comes down to how you explain it and how much you emphasize it to the individual player.  Different players will respond to different ways of trying to get the message across.  What's key is recognizing or having the ability to sense how an individual player will respond or is responding and whether or not you're trying to change him too soon or giving him too much to think about.  Another term McCarver used to bring up every now & then, "Think long, think wrong.".  But that doesn;t mean you stop trying to coach the message, it's just a matter of tailoring it the right way for the individual player. 

Jeff Morrow
Jeff Morrow

This is why they suck. When you complicate a cheese sandwich, you wind up with bad results.

Greg Baker
Greg Baker

you deserve better then these comments Maggie. Nice article.

nymetsrule
nymetsrule

Does this stupid statistic explain why they are K-ing like kings.

MetsKnicks
MetsKnicks

Has anyone given any thought that maybe David Wright is starting to decline? He already declined a little after 08, but i hope this isn't the start of a major decline. He is 31 so you never know.

ken1010
ken1010

People are different, have different strengths and need different approaches. Coaches should tailor their approach to what they have to work with.

The Mets cookie cutter approach might work for some. But the Mets are not producing offensively overall.

Goorru®Mets
Goorru®Mets

If this is taught from 18+, it could work but it obviously doesn't work to ballplayers already programmed other ways.  

cmetsfan
cmetsfan

I think Murphy's hitting, who swings at a lot of garbage at times, is bolstering the lineup most because I think pitchers labor at getting him out and get dejected when Murph hits em where theyre not fielded.


Kieth Hernandez was talking about "bunch hitting" in today's telecast, and I think in a park like citi, letting the hitters poke holes in the defense, chipping away with singles/doubles etc...is just as valid an approach as trying to get guys to specifically hit for power. Granderson, Wright,Duda,Youngs, Murphy,TDA/Reckor etc.. all seem to have the ability to place hits and that can lead to as big an inning as power with this lineup. I think they should try to guess their pitches for homeruns in late AB's or with 2 out, none on, but power fixation might not be necessary with this many capable hitters. 

getalife
getalife

I think there are some problems with this approach.  The hitters are waiting for the perfect pitch which may not come.  If a perfect pitch finally comes, there's no guarantee that they will hit it.  The result - lots of taken hittable but imperfect pitches, K's and walks by guys who should be slugging. 

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

LOL, c'mon we're extolling the front office for their evaluation of offense statistics when they've put together an AWFUL lineup. (as currently comprised)

getalife
getalife

Maybe this is why Granderson is messed up.

hashburry
hashburry

"highest OBP of any Mets regular position players"  Kinda like being the tallest midget.


Can there be an end to the analysis of "how" the Mets hit, because they can't.

lholztrio
lholztrio

This is presented as some type of proprietary scientific system when it is nothing more than Hitting 101.  Each batter is different, each pitcher is different, each situation is different.  There is no one size fits all process for hitting.  There should not be a piecemeal financial reward for each AB.  The entire concept is bogus!

#FreeWilmer
#FreeWilmer

You're not sure how they could calculate BASES PER OUT?

Sounds to me like its.... BASES PER OUT.  Bases / Outs.

Basically slugging percentage with walks added in sounds about right to me.  Maybe they weight 1B 2B 3B HR a little differently (maybe using linear weights) but yeah, the formula is in the name.

Mike Garrison
Mike Garrison

Then why do they - Duda especially, take so many "hit-able strikes" that put them behind in the count. The best they looked all year was when they were jumping all over Arroyo, early in the count. I'm not saying I disagree with this philosophy, I just have a lot of questions. 

Jay Cross
Jay Cross

Great stuff -- I eat articles like this up.

It's easy to get demoralized by the day-to-day struggles of the big league club (although this series was awesome) but I get pumped to see the kinds of big-picture, strategic "heavy lifting" going on behind the scenes to make this team great for decades. 


THIS, above all else, is the kind of thing the Mets weren't focused on before Sandy. As much as I wish we signed more players this offseason, I prefer this steady and scientific approach to the "make a big splash", Hail Mary offseasons of the past.

Christopher Masiello
Christopher Masiello

No more talk about this BPO, hunting strikes crap! 

The philosophy is simple:

Get behind in the count

Don't get on base

Don't hit the ball hard

DO strike out - A LOT!

For God's sake, do whatever you can to waste the amazing outing that your pitcher delivers.

mets1962
mets1962

Well if you look at today's Duda at bat with first and second no one out, he takes a inside fast ball down. As the #4 hitter, should have been looking to cream that pitch. Think he maybe calculating his BPO for his bonus instead of concentrating on the pitch

Haig Mathosian
Haig Mathosian

You're right, it was taught in Little League.......and if these guys are so-called major leaguers, they shouldn't have to be taught it now. And why then are they leading the league in strikeouts ?

nymetsrule
nymetsrule

@MetsKnicks No probably not yet. You honestly can't call a .270 average through the first 3 weeks (and a little slump) a decline. He will put up his normal numbers.

cmetsfan
cmetsfan

@MetsKnicks  I just think he's trying to hit for power too much, to try and distinguish himself from Murphy who can "serve" the ball anywhere and probably play 3rd better. Wright doesn't seem to know how to anticipate pitches or that he should mostly go for power on the road.

anymos
anymos

@ken1010 Really, its the same approach every team in the league uses and something these guys have heard their whole lives.  This approach really boils down to Ted Williams #1 rule in hitting, only swing at strikes.  You tailor your approach to individuals when working on mechanical things if a guy doesn't feel good at the plate- adjusting where he holds his hands- etc.  You don't tailor a philosophy that's a basic principle of hitting.  Guys like Vlad who can swing at anything and hit it hard are 1 in a million- the rest of the players should be doing exactly what the Mets are preaching.

Craig Ramirez
Craig Ramirez

@getalife  Sir, of course there is no guarantee that a player will hit a "perfect" (your words - I don't think anyone is advocating that they wait for the perfect pitch), pitch.  But, let's play it out.  Would you prefer that they swing at an imperfect pitch which they are LESS likely to hit effectively? 

getalife
getalife

I also don't get the aggression part.  Aren't you being aggressive any time you swing the bat?  Do they swing more "aggressively" at pitches right down the middle?  It seems like it should just be called "selectivity."

anymos
anymos

@getalife Or it could be that he only played 60 games and had about 200 ABs last year before switching leagues this season.

anymos
anymos

 The root of this whole thing is to only swing at strikes.  I'd say that concept is pretty much 'one size fits all.' 

ltorres14
ltorres14

Finally, someone said it. This is like Subway's new claim that they invented the pizza with their "flatizza".

cmetsfan
cmetsfan

@Mike Garrison  I suspect Duda is a very "impressionable" guy trying to answer his critics by being the power hitter they demand. Problem is, he's "telegraphing" the approach so bad, that pitchers are pitching him in while the defense shifts.


What they should do with Duda, is literally have Tim Teufel be his brain, and give Duda a sign when he should choke up to hit against the shift, as I think he can do, or pull for power.

BringBackDaveTelghe
BringBackDaveTelghe

@Jay Cross The analysis is fine, but any lineup that has Tejada and EYJ getting major ABs needs to rethink their evaluation.

likeike
likeike

@Jay Cross +1 - agree... wish more positive mets fans like you posted.   3 of 4 at home, from NL champs.... i'm enjoying the season even if others aren't

Jay Cross
Jay Cross

@mets1962  The bonuses only apply to minor leaguers I believe. Duda isn't getting paid for his BPO. This is a mentality they are trying to instill in players while they're still developing. 

anymos
anymos

@getalife That's all it is.  I think they used the term 'aggressive' because there were questions/comments about whether players were taking too many pitches or looking for walks.  Its just about being selective and swinging at pitches in the strike zone- the term aggressive is just describing the mentality of attacking the pitch whether its a first pitch strike or the 5th pitch of the AB. 

@likeike @Jay Cross I'm really liking the club this year...Young, and Murphy up  top really are cutting a path to victory.

Jay Cross
Jay Cross

@likeike @Jay Cross  I understand why more fans aren't positive. They're mostly pissed at ownership -- I am too, and think Sandy's plan would be materializing a lot faster with a legitimate NYC payroll -- but the way I see it is those obstacles were going to be there no matter who our GM was, so I'm happy it's Sandy.