Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Ultimate Mets Lineup

The 2011 Mets are hovering around .500 right now, and they will probably finish the year around .500 too.  Fitting, given that this team has been oddly snakebitten.  Jose Reyes was in the middle of his best offensive season and is now on the disabled list for the second time with a recurring leg problem.  Daniel Murphy joins him on the DL after establishing himself as a starter with a breakout year.  Last year's breakout Ike Davis hasn't seen the field in months, and won't until next year.  Ace Johan Santana will be lucky to see game action in 2011, and may never be the same after shoulder surgery.  David Wright has been hitting well since missing time, leading one to wonder how he would have performed over a full season.  Ditto for the departed Carlos Beltran.

So I decided to perform a little experiment.  What if everyone on the 2011 Mets had performed at the peak of his career? What if every starter had his best historical season - forget that, how about taking every Mets star from the last decade, sticking them on the field and seeing how they would perform at their absolute apex.

The ultimate Mets fantasy team of the 2000s, instead of the also-ran 2011 edition.

I only had a few rules. One, each player could only submit one season - no using Carlos Beltran at every outfield spot. Two, I would not select partial seasons, i.e. at least 140 games played or 28 games started.  Finally, I would maintain no understanding of the stats I used.  I majored in journalism, not engineering, so don't take any of this as scientific.  I promise you I barely understand this stuff as it is, so if this team is predicted to have 172 wins and -10 losses, don't say I didn't warn you.

Without further ado, the best Mets squad of the decade.

Glossary : wRC=Runs Created, WAR= Wins Above Replacement

Catcher: Mike Piazza, 2000

Stat line: .324/.398/.614, 38 HR, 26 2B, 113 RBI, 90 R, 110 wRC, 6 WAR

First Base: Carlos Delgado, 2006

Stat line: .265/.361/.548, 38 HR, 30 2B, 114 RBI, 89 R, 101 wRC, 3.3 WAR

Second Base: Edgardo Alfonzo, 2000

Stat line: .324/.425/.542, 25 HR, 40 2B, 94 RBI, 109 R, 128.9 wRC, 6.7 WAR

Shortstop: Jose Reyes, 2006

Stat line: .300/.354/.487, 19 HR, 30 2B, 17 3B, 64 SB, 81 RBI, 122 R, 109.5 wRC, 6.1 WAR

Third Base: David Wright, 2007

Stat line: .325/.416/.546, 30 HR, 42 2B, 34 SB, 107 RBI, 113 R, 141.2 wRC, 8.9 WAR

Outfield: Carlos Beltran, 2006

Stat line: .275/.388/.594, 41 HR, 38 2B, 18 SB, 116 RBI, 127 R, 119.8 wRC, 7.9 WAR

Outfield: Cliff Floyd, 2005

Stat line: .273/.358/.505, 34 HR, 22 2B, 98 RBI, 85 R, 97.2 wRC, 3.8 WAR

Outfield: Angel Pagan, 2010

Stat line: .290/.340/.425, 11 HR, 31 2B, 7 3B, 37 SB, 69 RBI, 80 R, 82.9 wRC, 5.4 WAR

Starting Pitcher: Johan Santana, 2008

Stat line: 16-7, 2.53 ERA, 234.1 IP, 206 SO, 63 BB, 1.15 WHIP, 66 ER, 4.8 WAR

Starting Pitcher: Pedro Martinez, 2005

Stat line: 15-8, 2.82 ERA, 217 IP, 208 SO, 47 BB, .95 WHIP, 68 ER, 5.9 WAR

Starting Pitcher: Al Leiter, 2000

Stat line: 16-8, 3.20 ERA, 208 IP, 200 SO, 76 BB, 1.21 WHIP, 74 ER, 4.6 WAR

Starting Pitcher: Mike Pelfry, 2010

Stat line: 15-9, 3.66 ERA, 204 IP, 113 SO, 68 BB, 1.38 WHIP, 83 ER, 2.9 WAR

Starting Pitcher: Steve Trachsel, 2002

Stat line: 11-11, 3.37 ERA, 173.2 IP, 105 SO, 69 BB, 1.38 WHIP, 65 ER, 1.9 WAR

Now for the calculations.  I used a Pythagorean W-L calculator to see how this team would do.  Pythagorean W-L is calculated by comparing the runs a team scores versus the runs a team allows.  I used Fangraphs runs created stat for my starting lineup to get a vague idea of how well they'd score.  For my pitching staff, I did it a little differently - I took the Mets best year by earned runs allowed, 2010, and simply used that for my runs scored.  My calculations don't really take defense into account, so we have to pretend there are no errors scored on either side of this fantasy season.

Bear with me.

The ultimate 2000s Mets squad would have gone 109-53, scoring 890 runs along the way.  The wins are impressive, though the runs scored wouldn't even eclipse the 2007 Yankees, to name one squad.

Still, some seasons stuck out.  David Wright's 2007 was absolutely sublime. Baseball Reference and FanGraphs have different criteria when they define WAR, but they gave him a 7.5 and 8.9 WAR, respectively.  By either metric he was outstanding, and probably had the best Mets offensive season of the 2000s.

Also, Edgardo Alfonzo had a crazy few years as a Met - from 1999-2000 he hit .313/.404/.520, which are basically Frank Thomas numbers, all from second base.

I also learned some things along the way.  I learned the Mets have had some pretty mediocre outfielders - outfield was by far the hardest position to fill in the starting lineup. I learned the Mets need better pitchers, since Santana's three great years and Martinez's one great year simply blow every other recent Mets starter to bits.

Finally, I learned I have WAY too much time on my hands.

Evan is also the author of Umpire State. Follow him on Twitter @Evan_S_S.

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