Analysis of the pitching for my NY Mets

It’s 113 games into the season and my favorite team, the New York Mets, is sitting atop the National League East—four games up on the Phillies and four and a half up on the Braves. The Mets are second only to the Padres (and Chris Young‘s ridiculous 1.82 ERA) for the National League lead in ERA and WHIP. Has this been because of skill, though, or luck? I am certainly hoping for the former.

Quick review

If you’re a regular reader, you can skip this part. If you’re coming here from a Mets blog, welcome. I’ll quickly go over some of the metrics used here. LIPS ERA and DIPS WHIP are the most important to focus on. If you understand those two, you will understand the rest of this article. The other metrics are there for those of you with high curiosity levels.

LIPS ERA – Full explanation here. Essentially, it strips out all effects that luck and defense have on a pitcher’s ERA. It measures his controllable skills and nothing out of his control. The effect the Mets defense has on their pitchers’ numbers is talked about below the tables. Uses the same scale as ERA.

DIPS WHIP – Full explanation here. Basically the same thing as LIPS ERA, but for WHIP. Strips out all effects of defense and most effects of luck. Uses the same scale as WHIP.

xGB% – It’s been proven that pitchers have very little control over how many line drives they give up. xGB% measures what percentage of ground balls a pitcher would induce with a league average line drive rate. Ground balls are better than fly balls because there is zero chance a ground ball will clear the outfield fence for a home run. League average is usually 42-43%.

LD% – It’s been proven that pitchers have very little control over how many line drives they give up. As line drives fall for hits more often than any other type of batted ball, pitchers who give up more than they should are candidates to give up more hits than they should be. League average is usually around 19%.

BABIP – Batting average on balls in play. It has also been proven that pitchers have little control over how many balls put into play turn into hits, and that much of the control they do have can be seen in their peripheral numbers (K/9, BB/9, xGB%). League average is usually around .300.

LOB% – Left on base percentage. Measures the percentage of runners a pitcher (or his bullpen) strands on base at the end of an inning. Pitchers have more control over this than they do LD% or BABIP, but still do not stray too far from the league average on skill alone. Can definitely be compromised by luck. League average is usually around 72%.

HR/FB – Home runs per fly ball. Pitchers don’t have complete control over how many home runs they give up, although they can control how many fly balls they allow. These two numbers are connected, and if they don’t mesh the pitcher is in for an adjustment. League average is usually around 10%.

That should be all you need to know. LIPS ERA – ERA and DIPS WHIP – WHIP are simple subtraction problems that measures how lucky or unlucky a pitcher is getting with his ERA or WHIP.


Perez Oliver 20 20 125.0 3.31 3.77 1.22 1.26 8.93 3.38 2.64 31.50 83.21 0.265 9.77 17.05 0.46 0.04
Hernandez Orlando 19 19 118.0 3.05 3.80 1.07 1.23 7.70 3.36 2.30 36.71 81.35 0.225 9.21 11.08 0.75 0.16
Maine John 22 22 135.0 3.27 3.97 1.16 1.27 7.60 3.27 2.33 35.25 78.76 0.254 7.73 15.23 0.70 0.11
Sosa Jorge 18 14 86.7 4.26 4.82 1.29 1.42 5.09 3.43 1.48 36.00 71.43 0.265 7.44 19.37 0.56 0.13
Pelfrey Michael 10 9 48.7 5.92 5.05 1.66 1.62 4.99 4.44 1.13 50.30 67.57 0.331 8.70 23.67 -0.87 -0.04
Glavine Tom 24 24 144.0 4.31 5.31 1.37 1.47 3.94 3.13 1.26 42.51 74.94 0.274 9.94 20.89 1.00 0.10

A little disappointing looking down the LIPS ERA- ERA column. Everyone has gotten lucky except Mike Pelfrey.

This might have something to do with the Mets defense, though. According to Revised Zone Rating—which is explained here—the Mets have the best defense in the National League. They have the second best infield and the best outfield (and that’s with Endy Chavez out the past few months). While some of these guys might be receiving a little luck besides, the drop-off won’t be nearly as scary as you would think upon initially looking at the list.

Pelfrey’s poor luck looks even worse in this light. He not only got unlucky for a player with an average defense behind him, but he managed to get unlucky for a player with the league’s best defense behind him. A 5.05 LIPS ERA is by no means good, but given how the other guys did, an ERA of 4.50 would have been much more likely than one near 6.00.

Isolated from the defense, the Mets pitching is good but unspectacular. The good news is that the potential is there for a great rotation in the coming years. If Oliver Perez can improve his control, he could find himself as a true ace next year.

John Maine looks like he could be a good No. 3 for most teams in the league and should have a spot there with the Mets for years to come. I hope they don’t decide he’s good enough to be their No. 2, though, unless he can crank up the Ks or bring down the BBs.

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I would love to see the Mets get an established ace in the off-season, although I don’t see many available. A guy slightly below that level like Dan Haren or Javier Vazquez or Dave Bush would be nice. As much talk as there has been about Dontrelle Willis possibly being traded to the Mets, I would hate this. Omar… please stay… far… far… away.

Jorge Sosa should be traded in the off-season while his value is high. His 4.82 LIPS ERA wouldn’t be difficult to replace and the Mets might be able to get something decent for him. I hope Pelfrey will be ready to step into the No. 4 or No. 5 role next year. Tom Glavine, as much as many Mets fans like him, has got to go. He was once a great pitcher, but he just isn’t anymore.

And, of course, Pedro Martinez will be coming back shortly. If the injury hasn’t taken too much of his skill away, he should be great to have over the next two—I hope three—months.

I have a hard time slotting Martinez into next year’s rotation, but if he is healthy he would only help.

1. Pedro Martinez
2. Oliver Perez
3. El Duque
4. John Maine
5. Mike Pelfrey

That looks pretty darn good to me. As insurance for Pedro and El Duque (who will surely need some time on the DL throughout the year), the Mets could start Pelfrey in New Orleans and trade for a guy like Dave Bush. He would also help in two years if Omar decides Pedro and/or El Duque are getting too old. While I’m excited for this year, the future looks even brighter.


Wagner Billy 47 0 49.3 1.28 2.81 0.93 1.03 10.58 2.37 4.46 37.50 96.62 0.250 7.69 18.18 1.53 0.10
Mota Guillermo 30 0 36.7 4.91 3.84 1.28 1.28 7.36 2.21 3.33 42.74 68.29 0.295 11.36 18.64 -1.07 0.00
Heilman Aaron 54 0 58.0 3.41 3.85 1.02 1.16 6.52 1.55 4.20 40.57 76.63 0.249 9.86 16.76 0.44 0.14
Burgos Ambiorix 17 0 23.7 3.42 4.18 1.10 1.23 7.23 3.42 2.11 27.27 79.83 0.222 8.11 14.71 0.76 0.13
Feliciano Pedro 53 0 41.3 2.83 4.36 1.14 1.40 7.84 4.57 1.71 53.10 77.08 0.223 3.03 13.79 1.53 0.26
Smith Joe 46 0 38.7 3.03 4.43 1.53 1.45 8.38 4.42 1.89 61.95 83.60 0.342 9.09 15.65 1.40 -0.08
Sele Aaron 25 0 43.7 4.12 5.07 1.69 1.53 5.36 3.71 1.44 43.54 79.25 0.369 7.55 20.92 0.95 -0.16
Schoeneweis Scott 48 0 40.7 5.31 5.45 1.65 1.65 5.75 5.31 1.08 51.94 72.58 0.306 13.16 17.16 0.14 0.00

Kudos to Omar. I wasn’t sure how Guillermo Mota would look coming off his steroid suspension, but he’s been much better than expected so far. Without him, I would be much less confident in the Mets ‘pen going forward. Interestingly, a lot of Mets fans are probably upset with Minaya for bringing him back as he’s the only one getting unlucky with a 4.91 ERA.

Again, thank the Mets great defense for the luck these guys have received. After Billy Wagner, it’s really an unspectacular group. Aaron Heilman has been good, but not as dominant as many expected him to become. If the Mets need to use him as a trade chip this off-season, I wouldn’t be opposed to it, as long as it brings in someone I like.

Funny that the No. 4 guy on the list (and that’s with the lowest K/9 of his big league career) was demoted earlier in the year. If he can crank the strikeouts back up to his career average, and Rick Peterson can help him take a tick off his BB/9 rate, Ambiorix Burgos could become a nice option. He has started throwing off a mound after his shoulder injury earlier, so I hope the Mets will call him back up when he is ready.

Joe Smith could become one of the best relievers in baseball. He’s got that great ground ball rate going for him and can strike out some batters. He just needs to work on control. He started out strong in that area but struggled before he was sent down. He’s just 23 years old, so I have great hope for Smith in the future.

Aaron Sele just isn’t very good. I wasn’t a fan of the signing originally, but it was cheap. It’s time to cut bait on him, though.

I won’t say anything about Scott Schoeneweis; I do enough of that in the next section.

Fernando Cabrera was released by the Indians today. He can really strike guys out, but struggled with his control. His 4.45 LIPS ERA is better than some of the Mets’ guys now, and with a little Peterson magic, perhaps Cabrera could turn into a good guy next year. I hope Minaya looks at him.

Guys the Mets let go

Bannister Brian 18 18 114.0 3.32 4.59 1.15 1.30 4.58 2.29 2.00 40.05 74.92 0.260 5.23 17.69 1.27 0.15
Trachsel Steve 21 21 114.3 4.88 6.35 1.60 1.66 3.15 4.64 0.68 39.75 75.00 0.285 9.04 17.40 1.47 0.06
Bell Heath 56 0 64.3 2.38 3.04 1.03 1.10 9.37 2.66 3.53 55.70 77.88 0.288 5.13 18.40 0.66 0.07
Lindstrom Matt 49 0 45.3 3.97 3.77 1.41 1.30 8.74 3.18 2.75 42.42 72.35 0.354 3.70 13.33 -0.20 -0.11
Bradford Chad 56 0 46.0 2.93 4.24 1.33 1.33 4.89 2.15 2.27 64.29 76.56 0.321 0.00 13.84 1.31 0.00
Oliver Darren 42 0 40.0 4.50 4.37 1.40 1.43 6.75 3.38 2.00 44.96 71.98 0.306 8.00 12.21 -0.13 0.03
Owens Henry 22 0 23.0 1.96 4.66 1.26 1.43 6.26 3.91 1.60 36.11 96.77 0.232 9.09 18.06 2.70 0.17
Ring Royce 15 0 15.0 3.60 5.17 1.67 1.73 10.20 8.40 1.21 57.89 80.51 0.270 10.00 10.53 1.57 0.06
Hernandez Roberto 28 0 26.0 6.23 5.39 1.88 1.73 6.23 5.54 1.13 46.59 67.80 0.356 6.45 16.67 -0.84 -0.15

Most of these guys I’m not upset about, but when Omar traded Heath Bell I was. His peripherals this year aren’t much different than the past two years. The only difference is that he isn’t getting unlucky this year. His control is the same, he’s striking out a few more batters and getting a few more ground balls. That’s one of the few trades where I couldn’t see what Minaya was thinking.

Chad Bradford is the other guy I was upset with losing. His numbers are worse than last year, but they are still better than what Schoeneweis is doing. Giving Schoeneweis a three-year deal was a terrible mistake. There is plenty of freely available talent that can give you 40 innings and a 5.45 LIPS ERA. If we were going to give that kind of deal to a reliever, Bradford would have been better value, regardless of his handedness.

I credit Minaya for letting go of Steve Trachsel, whose time was clearly up.

Darren Oliver I wasn’t as certain about, especially since his replacement as the Mets’ second lefty was Schoeneweis. I don’t mean to be ragging on Scotty so much, but I really disliked the signing. Oliver, while aging, was putting up solid enough numbers to warrant a spot as the second lefty in the pen. He signed for only $800,000, so it’s not like the Mets needed to break the bank to keep him, and we wouldn’t have had to give him three years.

The trade of Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens seemed a little premature. Neither had pitched much in the majors, but they were relatively young and put up good numbers in the minors—especially Owens. Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick are younger, but neither put up numbers as good as Owens’ or Lindstrom’s. Neither was terrible, so maybe Peterson thought he saw something in these guys he could improve. There’s still time for them, so I won’t complain about the trade.

Concluding thoughts

My apologies to the non-Mets fans. I just needed somewhere to vent my feelings and break down how I think the Mets are doing. My Mets fan friends don’t understand what I’m talking about when I refer to stuff like LIPS ERA, or even why I place so much emphasis on strikeouts, walks and ground balls.

Tomorrow, or maybe even tonight, we’ll get back to some normal fantasy baseball discussion.

If any of you Mets fans would like, feel free to relay this piece to your favorite Mets blog. The more informed our fans are about the team, the better.

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