*stats as of July 26th
If you have been following me on my twitter page (@MarissaMets), you probably know by now that my favorite Met is Juan Lagares….there’s good reason as to why that’s the case.
He makes everything in the outfield look SO easy…
While also making near-impossible plays…
And also throwing strikes from the outfield more frequently than Jason Vargas on the mound…
I’ve made it pretty clear that I am a HUGE sucker for great defense, something we all know the Mets lack in. In fact, according to fangraphs, only 4 Mets position players have more than 0 defensive runs saved (or DRS). Juan Lagares has been out since May yet STILL leads this team with 6. Michael Conforto, left fielder, who I think could potentially be a gold-glover here, has 3. Todd Frazier has 3 at third, and José Bautista has 1 in right field.
Now to flip to the other side of the spectrum, Asdrubal Cabrera has a DRS of -17, tied for second worst in all of baseball. Amed Rosario, who at times shows his defensive prowess but also often makes silly mistakes, is at -12 DRS. Michael Conforto, center fielder, has a -8 DRS. Jay Bruce has -5 in right, José Reyes has -3 at third.
In total, the Mets team adds up to -71 defensive runs saved, third worst in all of baseball. One might say that is NOT how you win championships…
Take a look at the top 5 teams in DRS:
- Brewers (58-46): 81 DRS
- Diamondbacks (56-47): 69 DRS
- Braves (54-44): 40 DRS
- Cubs (59-42): 36 DRS
- Marlins (44-59): 30 DRS
As you can see, 4 out of the top 5 teams have a winning record. Is it a coincidence? Maybe…but now let’s take a look at the bottom 5 teams:
- Orioles (29-73): -85 DRS
- Philles (57-44): -75 DRS
- Mets (42-57): -71 DRS
- Pirates (53-50): -52 DRS
- White Sox (36-65): -41 DRS
Interestingly enough, 3 out of these 5 teams are having what one would call a horrendous year.
Let’s dive back in to the Mets. It’s no secret that the big four arms (deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, and Wheeler) have pitched well when healthy. But the results are not there. It’s seemingly every deGrom start there are at least 3 misplays. A ball not run down in the outfield thanks to a bad route, a ball up the middle not gotten to by Cabrera due to poor range, etc. For me, bad defense is probably the hardest thing to watch in the sport of baseball, and even without these advanced stats, the naked eye can tell you that the Mets are terrible at it. This organization tried to build a team around a young core of pitching without taking into account how valuable a good defense would be. Not very smart planning in my opinion…
I am not saying that defense should take priority over offense. What I AM saying is that there’s clearly value in having a team that can play well defensively as well as offensively. I feel as if every team should put emphasis in making sure their defense up the middle is sharp, especially if they are trying to compete. The Mets have been trying to compete over the last 3+ years while also fielding a shortstop/second base combo of Wilmer Flores and Daniel Murphy in 2015, Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker in 2016 and 2017, and Amed Rosario (who has had a bad year defensively despite having all of the defensive skills) and Asdrubal Cabrera in 2018. They also have tried the likes of Cespedes and Conforto both in centerfield rather than in their natural corner-outfielder positions. We all know that hasn’t worked out too well.
My hope for next year is, if the Mets don’t surprise the world and sign Manny Machado, they at least put some emphasis on defensive value when deciding on what second baseman they acquire. I believe Amed Rosario will continue to improve defensively and have a nice bounce-back season at shortstop.
As far as center field, that is something sad for me to think about given how the future is unknown when it comes to Lagares. When healthy, he has been one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. My heart breaks thinking about how 2019 is his last year before free agency and how there is logic in trading him in the offseason…If that is the case, the Mets should really think about signing a defensive-first center fielder, at least for the bench.
All in all, I think it was foolish for the Mets to try and build a contending team around pitching without any regard for their defense. Whether or not the advanced defensive stats back it up, defense is an important aspect of the game, and in my opinion, many fans and teams alike do not appreciate it enough.
Fortunately, according to Tim Healey’s tweet, it seems like the Mets might be starting to realize that defense is crucial!
Besides…the more of this,
The merrier 🙂