FG on Fox: Should the Mets Have Fired Their Hitting Coach?

The Mets are seven games under .500 three-plus years into the tenure of the current front office, so maybe it was inevitable that someone got fired. And with 252 runs scored, the offense is middle of the pack (ninth in the National League by runs per game). Hitting coach Dave Hudgens made an easy target for someone in the Mets’ organization. But was it the right move?

That’s a hard question to answer. But by focusing on the peripherals of the team, and perhaps even the career of Lucas Duda, who played all but a hundred or so of his plate appearances under the tutelage of Hudgens, maybe we can try to evaluate the move.

In some ways, focusing on results understates the problem. Yes, the Mets are middle of the pack in runs, but their underlying numbers are worse. Their weighted runs created — calculated by weighting each offensive event according to its impact on the game in the past — is 11% worse than league average and near the bottom of the National League. They walk more than any team in the big leagues, but with that walk rate has come a high strikeout rate (sixth-worst)… and none of the power that usually comes with taking pitches. The Mets have the second-worst slugging numbers in the National League.

Of course, the hitting coach can only work on the process, he can’t hit the ball. Research suggests that the major axis between hitting coaches is between those that preach patience and those that preach aggressiveness.

Read the rest on FoxSports.com.




Print This Post



Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


23 Responses to “FG on Fox: Should the Mets Have Fired Their Hitting Coach?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. channelclemente says:

    Maybe they should hire Madoff.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. John says:

    I just don’t buy it. Its like “looking for your pitch to hit” is some magical philosophy hudgens came up with. It is what ballplayers have been doing since the beginning of baseball. The mets putting salary incentives on walks and taking pitches has led to the current state of the mets. How many first pitch meatballs to Mets players take? Just about every single one. Why? they get bonuses if they do. You can argue its not Hudgens fault. But leading the league in walks means nothing if you can’t do anything with runners on base. And it’s kind of hard to drive pitches with authority when you are always protecting because you are behind in the count. And it’s funny that you use Duda as an example, because he isn’t a good ballplayer. How about using all the players the mets coaching staff has messed up by tinkering with their hitting? There are many more of those than there are Lucas Duda’s. Look for pitch to hit and hit it. It’s common sense. To say that’s the organizational philosophy is to pretend that’s not every organizations philosophy. This FO philosophy is to take as many pitches as possible, at least that’s what is getting across to the batters (ever listen to Murphy on the subject). That’s a bad philosophy. Was Hudgens at fault? No. But he needed to be a scape goat. Just like Terry Collins is about to be. And why? Because the FO is actually terrible at evaluating talent (and using available resources at acquiring said talent). Further, they have rested all their hopes on having this amazing crop of prospects all working out perfectly and simultaneously (and we know what the bust rates of prospects are; the odds that all of harvey, wheeler, tda, montero and syndergaard were going to all come up and be excellent is actually a ridiculous assumption).
    Their talent evaluation is terrible (Rauch, Francisco, Farnsworht, Valverde and every relief pitcher they ever brought in; Granderson and CY; Brad Emaus, Colin Cowgill, Allan Dykstra and every other terrible former Blue Jay/Padre/Athletic they bring in; Shawn Marcum; somehow thinking Eric Young Jr. is a good baseball player; trading Pagan for nothing (how good would a real lead-off hitter look right now); trading Ike Davis for nothing; not trading Reyes or Wright). Their use of resources is awful (say what you will about the wilpons purse strings, but there were significantly better ways to allocate the roughly $80 million in contracts the Mets handed out this offseason, like, I don’t know, a certain Chi-Sox first baseman). The Sandy Alderson draft track record has also been awful. We can’t say they have been busts here quite yet, but in 13 first or supplemental round draft picks from 2005-2009, the padres have produced exactly 1 major league player. I am going to “go on a limb” and suggest that for the Mets they won’t be much better. This year they go with a need-based consensus “safe” pick?
    Seriously, Hudgens is the scape goat but Sandy is the real problem. And the writers here need to stop worshiping him for his “stats based approach” and taking him to task for every terrible decision he has made. Come on Eno.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • DominIke SatinDude says:

      Yes, what the Mets needed this off-season was another first baseman!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • john says:

        They still don’t have a first baseman. Duda is awful. During the offseason, even your boy Sandy admitted as much. The problem is you have certain amount of money to spend, you need to spend it correctly. Sandy hasn’t from year 1 (Franky frank). You can’t dispute that.
        The crux of my argument – if you even read it – was that their evaluation of talent and just of limited resources has been all wrong. But yes, if you are halt with Duda as a first baseman, I will gladly let your team have him.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eno Sarris says:

      On the contrary, taking pitches is indeed correlated with both power and patience, and therefore wOBA. It’s also one of the few ways a player can get better as he gets older. http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/batters-take-more-pitches-as-they-get-older-051214 So I have no problem with the peripherals that Hudgens may have coaxed out of his batters or the organizational pro-OBP philosophy.

      As for the rest of it, you’re pulling the plug three years into a FUBAR situation on a GM handcuffed by bad owners. Yeah, the Mets should have signed a Cuban first baseman to give them their fifth third baseman on the field.

      Also, all the free agents you mention are bargain bin, and Granderson’s not dead yet. I like their pitching, and we’ll see what the next year brings in terms of position player acquisitions. I hated the Davis trade FWIW.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • john says:

        Eno, I agree that taking pitchers is typically correlated with power. But it’s not like the mets offer too small a sample size counter argument. Looking for the right pitch to hit is part of every players game. The mets place incentive not at hitting but at not swinging, which makes passive hitters and increases strike outs (you mentioned as much). So the mets are taking more pitches. Great. They swing at a lower% of pitches in the zone than most other teams in baseball and see more pitches I the zone than all but 6 teams in the league. Pitchers attack them -http://mets360.com/?p=21617- and mets batters oblige by not swinging bc their paychecks downs on it. You watch them right? At least sometimes? Where’s your article on the first pitch fastballs right down the middle. The 2-0 fastballs they look at? I may not know much about hitting but professional ballplayers are supposed to hit those pitches. I’m not even certain what pitches they hunt for. Seriously, watch them. It’s awful. Is why they have no power, it’s why they lead the league in strike outs.

        I’m complaining that sandy’s player personnel decisions haven’t been good. And while having a great farm is good and all – it is supplemental. The great Oakland a’s realize this. So do the Pirates. The free agents brought in have been awful. There’s no amount of home runs granderson can hit to justify his 4 year deal. Ditto on colon’s deal. We saw it previously. And for all the credit he had gotten for trading Beltran and Dickey (neither of which seem like the major wins now that we thought they were then), not a single Preston remembers the god awful pagan trade? And we are trying to trout out eyes Jr when healthy as a lead off hitter? And please go look at his draft track record in San Diego. It’s also awful.

        Paul Swydan had come around. I’m just surprised he is the only one. Good gms can do things with limited payrolls. It’s about spending money wisely. He hasn’t done that when given the opportunity, there’s no arguing that fact. And yes, I’d rather have an axial first baseman than Lucas Duda. Sorry. Did Hudgens deserve it, probably not. But lots of people need to go.

        And everyone seems to fidget that assistance basically destroyed the A’s (10 of his 15 seasons at the helm were losing seasons and he won the ws with a steroids infused bash brothers line up). Then he took over a good padres team and left them terrible and with bad drafts to boot. If he didn’t have such a bad track record, maybe he could get more benefit of the doubt. But with almost 25 years as a gm and only 8 winning seasons and 6 play off births. It’s en vogue to blame ownership, and they certainly shouldn’t get a free pass. But if they give him a budget, he needs to make better decisions than he has. And these are the tips of decisions he’s been making for a long time.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Eno Sarris says:

          I watch the Mets and Giants most of all. I don’t think this sample is as big as you obviously do. I see horrendous approaches on the Giants coming through in high leverage moments and gaudy numbers. I see okay approaches on the Mets not working out right now. I also think the league in general takes too many first pitch strikes. I can think these things and not think Dave Hudgens was to blame, which was what my post was about.

          I don’t believe hitting coaches change the hitters. I think they emphasize either being patient or being aggressive. I doubt this group of Mets would be much better if they were aggressive. They’re already over-performing their projected output offensively! I said most of these things in a post that took me most of a full day of research, interviewing, transcribing and travel.

          I also don’t believe that three years is enough time to give a GM coming into a situation like the 2010-2011 Mets. Think the Cubs told Theo he’d have three years and he’d be out?

          Any time you want to talk about the signings, I’d say you should provide context. Which other signings should they have made? Where’s your shadow GM? I don’t think you can say that Jose Abreu was ever in the cards for a team that needed outfielders and bleeds league-average first basemen. Yes, I think Ike and Duda could both be two-win first basemen, and when they’re cheap and under team control, two wins are useful.

          I don’t love the front office, but I think they should get a year or two more. Or we can fire them now, and then the next team gets credit for Sandy’s draftees, which would be fun.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • TomTerrific says:

          fine, as long as you give credit to the Omar era players who Sandy has been relying on to fill more than half the roster.

          As far as good processes go or the perception thereof, it may be time to begin to question what many believe are “good processes” and what many believe aren’t. That would be quite a shock to the Sabre-loving world, but if the Mets so-called “progressive” FO has followed said good processes, they aren’t leading to good results and the light at the end of the tunnel is still very dim. This isn’t all about money. That’s far too easy a crutch to lean on. Plenty of teams make more with less. No, this is about questioning who’s making some of these player decisions (are they still assessing in year 4?) and possibly reshuffling the FO deck.

          Honestly, Valverde and Farnsworth? The decisions and non-decisions in the pen alone have destroyed any chance this team may have had to play .500 ball this year and gain momentum toward the future. As far as alternate scenarios go, it’s practically meaningless to play monday morning qb, but why did they show late interest in Grant Balfour and let guys like Benoit and Joe Smith go earlier in the winter when they had a clear need? The complete and utter failure to build a pen 4 years running is inexcusable. I mean, you’d have to expect better just by getting lucky, no??

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Kenz says:

      I will give Alderson credit for two things that have eluded Mets management forever. Devoting resources to the farm system, and understanding the Mets’ location on the win curve; the former is just an extension of the latter. His goal when he was brought in was and is not to be a good GM. Rather, it’s to not be a comically inept one, like the previous ones they have had in the 2000s. *Disclaimer, I was absolutely appalled by the Angel Pagan trade.

      The Mets when Alderson took them over were a mediocre team. With a $140 million payroll. Three years later, the Mets are still a mediocre team. With an $86 million payroll. Say what you will, that’s at least a bit more efficient with talent than before. As for relief upgrades, and all the minor leaguers traded for, all any GM hopes for is that a few of them might stick, if anything. If not, doesn’t matter, because there’s no point in trying to get everything right when a team is so far out of contention. I would say that Alderson has yet to display his strong points, given that his recent draftees are just now reaching the upper minors. His trades have generally been a plus, getting rid of payroll for something cheap with potential in return (except for Pagan). With Harvey returning in 2015, this offseason will be the real test of Alderson’s skills on the free-agent market.

      As for the draft, Paul DePodesta has given the farm system some “Moneyball” flavor, and by that I mean based on the principles partially explained in the book. Get hitters who can hit (get on base) in the early rounds. Good pitchers are likely to fall in later rounds. All Alderson has to not do is sacrifice 1st round picks for marginal upgrades (Moises Alou, K-rod).

      I’m still really frustrated, but believe me, this front office is not as hilariously, LOLMets incompetent like previous ones were. Thank God our GM isn’t Dayton Moore.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TomTerrific says:

        my take on this post is that there is no point in really trying to improve the team bc they suck… so if they suck, it’s more cost efficient to suck for half the price! so throw some cheap smack against the awl and they may get lucky.

        Good strategy. Have I nailed it?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • vivalajeter says:

      John, while your overall point might have some level of accuracy, it’s hard to put much faith in your words when you come across as a talk-radio caller. Step back a minute and stop exaggerating. For starters, Duda is not awful. He’s not great, and he’s not someone you’d build a team around, but he’s not awful, unless you’re solely talking about LF defense.

      You’re also criticizing very small player transactions. Rauch was a low-dollar signing. Farnsworth and Valverde were brought in on small dollar contracts, and then released when they didn’t pan out. Brad Emaus? Wasn’t he a Rule V pick that they started for a few games, then sent him back? I’m also not sure why you even brought up Dykstra. I just looked it up, and they gave up Eddie Kunz for him. Kunz had a career minor league FIP over 9.00 and is out of the game, while Dykstra has been crushing the ball in the minors for several years. He likely won’t make an impact in the majors, but it’s weird to criticize a team for trading an awful pitcher for a good ML-depth 1B.

      I didn’t follow his drafts in SD, but it’s hard to evaluate a draft back then when you don’t know how much the owners had to do with it. It’s easier today with the slotting values, but in the 90’s a lot of teams passed on good players because of signing bonuses. From the accounts I’ve seen, they’ve done a solid job drafting over the last few years. Not flawless, but not bad.

      And Tom, I agree that plenty of teams win with lower payrolls, but the problem is that the team had so much dead weight in prior years. Didn’t they pay $40MM last year to Santana (0 innings) and Bay (0 at bats)? Teams like the A’s, Twins, etc, they don’t have those kinds of contracts that hold them back. And I assume they didn’t go for a closer early in the off-season because they expected Parnell to close for them. As they got closer to Spring Training, it became clear that he wasn’t recovering as well as they hoped he would, so they looked into Balfour.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TomTerrific says:

        The problem, Viva, is that they put all their eggs in the Parnell-Vic Black basket heading into the season. Parnell was coming off of neck surgery but they just expected him to step right back into the closer role without a hitch. On top of that, their backup plan (Vic Black) had like 10 ML IP under his belt. The whole thing was completely indefensible, so trying to defend it doesn’t reflect well on you frankly.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • vivalajeter says:

          It really depends on what they knew at the time. If they were given a fixed number of dollars to spend and they thought Parnell would be ready for Spring Training, I could see why they spent their dollars elsewhere. Sure, Black can’t throw strikes and Parnell is out for the year, so the decision looks terrible. But if Parnell was healthy and Black was decent, you’d undoubtedly say that they shouldn’t have spent over $15MM for 3 years of Joe Smith or 2 years of Benoit, and that spending that much on a reliever instead of an OF is indefensible.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • TomTerrific says:

          No I wouldn’t have. 2 arms does not make a bullpen. More importantly, I’m saying that everyone saw this situation coming a mile away – Parnell hadn’t thrown a pitch off a mound until Spring and Black hadn’t done anything to deserve being anointed to anything. All you’re saying is that *if* both guys surpassed expectations, then it wouldn’t have looked so bad. Sage analysis there.

          It didn’t take an all-star FO to detect they were leaving themselves woefully unprepared and the decision to go with Farnsworth and Valverde is borderline incompetent. No, it’s really completely incompetent.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Za says:

          Except guess what? The bullpen is coming together very nicely – Mejía, Familia, Black, Germén, Edgin, Torres, and Matsuzaka are more than respectable and very, very cheap. That’s a perfectly reasonable bullpen; Sandy wasted no money and yet has a bunch of gas-throwing relievers with wicked breaking stuff, and most of them are young and cost-controlled. That’s pretty good.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Bobby says:

    Eno – you didn’t really answer the question. Should the Mets have fired the hitting coach? I’ve seen a lot of Mets games this year and it’s tough to watch them take so many hittable pitches. Maybe they weren’t in the zone they were looking for, but they were plenty hittable. I think Wright is really messed up with that approach. And TdA certainly didn’t look comfortable.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eno Sarris says:

      I said that there are two ways a hitting coach can have an impact. I showed that Hudgens has had an impact in one of those ways. And that the team is actually scoring more runs than projected.

      I have no problems with what Hudgens has done.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. TomTerrific says:

    HC is where the firings should begin.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Bat says:

    Anyone who watches a lot of Mets games knows that Terry Collins (AKA Captain Hook due to his frequent calls to the bullpen) should get fired.

    Sandy should then get to pick one more manager and we see where we are at the end of 2015 – another 1.5 years.

    If Sandy, Ricciardi, and D3Po AKA Podesta haven’t done anything by that point – five years into the tenture – then they should be canned in the 2015 offseason.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. pft says:

    Look for your pitch early in the count, and go for it. Don’t swing at pitchers pitches with less than 2 strikes. With 2 strikes, don’t try to do to much, just put the ball in play. Simple.

    Seriously, I don’t know what a hitting coach does. Maybe try to find mechanical flaws when batters are in slumps. Make sure hitters have good video to watch of the opponent and has the charts showing what pitchers throw when, and charts for the hitter as well to know what pitches he is missing (and which will probably be thrown to him since the other teams charts will show the same)

    Ultimately, its up to the hitter.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Wobatus says:

    The bats actually had improved somewhat during the year. 98 wRC+ in May, 99 over the last 30 days, around 13th in baseball. If Wright was providing typical production they’d be above average. D’Arnaud had a nice k/bb ratio and while he wasn’t showing power he hit into some bad luck.

    They got out of the gate terribly, 77 wRC+ in April, second worst in baseball. The above-.500 record may have fooled some.

    Granderson coming around has helped. I think Eno is right. Hudgens didn’t do a bad job and they are a couple of bats away.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Johnston says:

    The Mets should fire their entire staff. ASAP. And then everyone in the front office.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>