Part one dealt with the pitchers. This part will focus on the position players, primarily the Mets, though I'll come back around to look at some splits and stuff for the Cubs batters at the end.
I'll rank the likely position players in decreasing wOBA:
OF Yoenis Cespedes (.287/.337/.604, .394): The Mets picked up Cespedes at the trade deadline, and in his two months with the team he's set the world on fire. He hit 17 HR in 57 games and struck out at a 21.7% clip, with only a 5.6% walk rate. He's a free swinger, it's safe to say. Despite being a RHH, he has actually hit righties better than lefties in his career (.348 to .337). When you see that .337 OBP you feel pretty good, but that .604 SLG erases that pretty quick (dying laughing). Defensively, he's an above average LF and below average CF.
OF Michael Conforto (.270/.335/.506, .359): Conforto was the tenth overall pick in last year's draft, and rocketed to the majors this year in a season that saw an absurd wealth of rookie debuts. He got the call-up following months of injury-riddled ineffectiveness by Michael Cuddyer and did a solid job, posting 2.1 WAR in 56 games with solid defense in LF. The Mets have largely shielded him from facing lefties (just 15 PAs) which might account for his relatively high wOBA. Given the Cubs lack of lefty starters, I'm guessing we'll see a lot of him, with Cuddyer pinch hitting if the Cubs bring in Wood or Clay Dick to face him.
1B Lucas Duda (.244/.352/.486, .359): Duda is ptobably the most underrated Mets hitter out there, and one of the rare non-pitcher members of the Wandy Rodriguez Hall of Fame. He posted a -0.4 WAR over his first four seasons, then posted a .253/.349/.481 line in 2014, his age 28 season, clubbing thirty home runs. He followed it up with an almost identical season this year, though bafflingly enough with only 73 RBI. It's a dumb stat, but given how crazy this Mets offense was this year you figure he would be one of the centerpieces. Fangraphs is not a big fan of his defense, though the metrics themselves (DRS/UZR) seem to think he's pretty average.
3B David Wright (.289/.379/.484, .359): I don't think anyone was more relieved than Wright when the whole Matt Harvey pitch count/innings thing blew up in the media last month, as well as Cespedes's offensive explosion. The longtime Mets franchise player, he always gets the most scrutiny from the extremely rational NY media whenever things were going on but now he's just a guy on a team full of good players. He missed most of the season due to what was initially a hamstring injury, and later tuned out to be a spinal injury (scary stuff). When in the lineup he hit just fine, though small sample sizes abound. He's a decent defender at 3B.
OF Curtis Granderson (.259/.364/.457, .357): I was shocked when I saw in one of the NLDS games that Granderson hit 26 HRs this year – it goes to show how little attention I pay to the AL that I forgot his 40+ HR years with the Yankees. He hit 43 and drove in 106 in 2012 for only 2.7 WAR, Joe Carter would be proud. He hit 20 homers last year for the Mets in what was a largely disappointing season, especially defensively. This year the metrics seem to think he's about average with the glove, and his hitting rate stats all rose about the same as the 40 point rise in his BABIP from last season. He's cut down on his strikeout rate in a big way compared to his Yankees years as well.
C Travis d'Arnaud (.268/.340/.485, .355): d'Arnaud spent a lot of time on the DL this year, including a two month stretch starting in April with a broken hand and another month long stretch in June-July. When he was in the lineup he produced just fine though – his stats prorated to a full starting catcher's season is around 4.5 WAR. He finished off the season ice cold, however, putting up a .143/.222/.163 line from Sep 15 to the end of the regular season. He went oh-fer in all of the NLDS games except for that crazy 13-7 game, where he had three hits and a homer. That might even have been a below average performance in that game (dying laughing).
2B Daniel Murphy (.281/.322/.449, .325): To get on an Old Hoss Radbourn rant for a second, there are too many goddamned Murphys in this league. There's this guy, and David Murphy (who I always confuse for each other, if not think they are one person) and former Cubs great Donnie Murphy running around. This is almost as bad as the Demariyus/Julius Thomas 80/88 jersey thing with the Broncos last year. This Murphy is a contact hitter who rarely walks and strikes out less than average, and has a soupçon of pop. Most of his value seems to lie in his versatility, though he's not a particularly good defender at any position.
1B/OF Michael Cuddyer (.259/.309/.391, .306): Cuddyer posted a .414 wOBA with the A's last year in injury-limited time, which was enough to get 2/21 from the Mets this offseason. He repeated the injury-limited part, but not the wOBA, coming in at replacement level on the year. His already low walk rate dropped to 5.9% and he started striking out 50% more often. Safe to say it's not quite what the Mets were expecting. It looks like he's more or less a platoon guy now, so will probably start tonight.
SS Wilmer Flores (.263/.295/.408, .304): Flores is another contact guy who is largely meh with the bat, but is mostly there for his glove. I remember last season when Mets fans feted him as the first competent SS to come out of their system in forever, and competent is probably about his ceiling. As awful as that Ruben Tejada injury was, I'm surprised at how much sentiment I remember seeing/thinking I saw about the Mets being screwed with him out – they're pretty much the exact same player on paper. Tejada's line this year was .261/.338/.350 with a .303 wOBA. Better at getting on base, but a lot less pop.
CF Juan Lagares (.259/.289/.358, .280): Lagares is a terrible hitter but a plus plus defender in CF. His numbers didn't look as good this year but I'd take more stock in the 45 runs above replacement he put up in the previous two years combined. He might get a start or two, but we'll defnitely see him as a defensive replacement in any game the Mets are winning.
The Cubs are facing a lot of RHPs this series, so if they succeed it's probably going to mean big serieses from Schwarber and Rizzo, and maybe Montero or Coghlan, if he manages to find his way into the lineup. With Soler hitting as hot as he is right now, it's tough luck for him. Here's a rundown of all the Cubs regulars' wOBA splits this year
- Baez (.462) (20 PA)
- Rizzo (.383)
- Fowler (.376)
- Jackson (.350) (30 PA)
- Bryant (.348)
- Montero (.342)
- Soler (.318)
- Castro (.283)
- NORF (.264)
- Russell (.236)
- Schwarber (,217)
- Ross (.176)
- Coghlan (.172)
- Schwarber (.407)
- Rizzo (.384)
- Bryant (.377)
- Coghlan (.355)
- Montero (.326)
- NORF (.325)
- Russell (.324)
- Fowler (.320)
- Soler (.311)
- Castro (.290)
- Baez (.265)
- Ross (.237)
Random news and thoughts
Syndergaard was just confirmed as the Mets game 2 starter, and Matz will go in game 4. He might be available out of the pen this weekend as well.
OV Podcast #10 is in the books and on the web. I mentioned in the pod that I have the Cubs in 6 as my prediction.
To-day's base ball squadrons
- Murphy (?!)