“This is not about statistical success. This is about winning as a team, and you have to put people in positions that you feel is best to win as a team,” Manuel said during a 40-minute news conference, one day before New York’s first official workout for pitchers and catchers.
I would argue that winning is a statistical success, whether it be as a team or individual. There’s no arguing against Manuel’s point on the manager putting players in positions they have the best chance to succeed, and therefore giving the team the best chance to win. That’s just common sense.
“Whether that means [Jose Reyes] batting second, third, whatever — first or leading off — you have to accomplish that. And that’s a big part of the message throughout spring training: The game takes precedent over individual stats.”
Oh that trickster Jose Reyes. He only wants to lead off to boost his individual stats, like plate appearances.
“If we could lead [Luis Castillo] off, which is probably best for him, it might be something that we’ll have to do because it’s for him,” Manuel said. “We have to give him the best possible chances for success in order to get his year behind him.
Wait, what? Didn’t Manuel just say that “[The] game takes precedent over individual stats,” and now he’s saying “[Which] is probably best for him, it might be something that we’ll have to do because it’s for him.”
“We have to give him the best possible chances for success in order to get his year behind him.”
So the game’s not about individual stats, statistical success, or anything like that, and yet Manuel and the Mets really need Luis Castillo to hit leadoff because it’s good for him and so he can put his last season – an unsuccessful statistical season – behind him. That doesn’t make a lick of sense, and it’s undermining Manuel’s point about winning.
There is not a person alive who thinks Castillo is a better hitter than Reyes. Over the last three years, Castillo has gotten on base at a .358 clip, that’s slightly better than Reyes 0.355. Compare their slugging percentages, where Reyes’ lowest is .421 and Castillo’s highest is .362, and there’s just no contest on who should be getting more plate appearances.
If the Mets want to go to a more OBP conscious leadoff hitter, that’s fine. Hitting Reyes second or third in favor of Carlos Beltran makes sense. Throw David Wright behind those two and you have quite the top of the lineup. Batting Luis Castillo first is taking away plate appearances from your best hitters. Not enough to make a difference, but if Manuel is serious about winning, shouldn’t he be utilizing every asset of the game to its max in order to help his cause?