Brodie Van Wagenen’s short tenure as Mets’ general manager has been highly active, to say the least, leaving fan’s consistently checking social media to read about his next move.
The Mets have been one of the most talked about teams during the 2019 offseason, with their flurry of trades and free agent signings in hope to improve the 2019 roster. Van Wagenen’s mission set to eliminate the roster’s if’s by creating depth within the entire team. Another mission, I believe that Van Wagenen and co. are setting forth, is seeking contact out of their hitters. Alderson’s regime valued the home run and followed the trend of preaching launch angle. Van Wagenen and his analytics team may be preaching a different offensive style to hitting reminiscent of what the Kansas City Royals had with their 2015 World Series team.
The Royals were able to put bat to ball, putting pressure on opposing defenses. This approach burnt the Mets countless times during the five-game series loss. Furthermore, with the addition of Chili Davis as hitting coach, who preaches contact over launch angle to his hitters, I decided to do a comparative analysis of the newcomers compared to the 2018 Mets. I measured three data metrics off of Fangraphs to see how contact changes the Mets lineup.
Second Base: Asdrubal Cabrera V. Robinson Cano
K% Cano (13.5%) > Cabrera (20.1%) MLB average for 2018 (22.3%)
BABIP: Cano (.329) > Cabrera (.296) MLB average for 2018 (.296)
OBP: Cano (.374) > Cabrera (.316) MLB average for 2018: (.318)
In this comparison, Cano not only provides a higher contact rate than Cabrera, but that contact is resulting in a higher average. Along with the more successful contact rate, Cano’s OBP is substantially higher than Cabrera’s and the league average. Cano has been a prominent force in the line up since he came up with the Yankees. His approach to hitting will serve well in the three hole, replacing Cespedes as he recovers from dual heel surgery.
Third Base: Jed Lowrie vs. Todd Frazier
K% Lowrie (18.8%) > Fraizer (23.7%) MLB average for 2018 (22.3%)
BABIP: Lowire (.304) > Fraizer (.241) MLB average. for 2018 (.296)
OBP: Lowrie (.353) > Fraizer (.303) MLB average for 2018: (.318)
Lowrie’s last two years offensively with the A’s have been his best. With Lowrie serving as a super utility man on the Mets, I see him taking a lot of playing time away from Todd Fraizer at third base. Frazier had a disappointing first season with the Mets, only amounting a .303 OBP while striking out in 24% of his plate appearances. Lowrie will provide a higher contact rate while also providing a similar power output.
Catcher: Wilson Ramos vs. Kevin Pawlecki
K% Ramos (19.2%) > Pawlecki (23.5%) MLB average for 2018 (22.3%)
BABIP: Ramos (.353) > Pawlecki (.257) MLB average. for 2018 (.296)
OBP: Ramos (.358) > Pawlecki (.315) MLB average for 2018: (.318)
This comparison was the most lopsided as the catching position was the Mets biggest offensive weakness, next to first base. Ramos, a notably strong offensive catcher when healthy, provides a lot of contact that yields a high average when put into play. Compared to Pawlecki, Ramos is the highest impact player to the lineup that Van Wagenen has brought in.
With these three additions, Vanwagenen has brought in major league bats that put bat to ball, rather than selling out for the long ball. This lineup doesn’t have a clear superstar, but it does have needed length that will keep the line moving, just as the 2015 Kansas City Royals thrived on.