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Entries in New York Mets (15)


Bay Done in By Fastballs

"I still feel I have plenty to give to this game and that I can play baseball at a high level...I’m excited to keep playing and have no intention of just walking away."  -- Jason Bay

The last time Jason Bay hit the free agent market, he parlayed a 36-homer season with the Red Sox in 2009 into a four-year, $66 million deal with the Mets. Bay is back on the market after parting ways with New York, but he'll only get 66 this time around if that's the uni number he's assigned as a non-roster invitee this spring.

The 34-year-old, felled by post-concussion symptoms and cracked ribs during his time in Queens, is coming off a 2012 season in which he batted .165, got on base at a .237 clip and slugged .299 in 215 plate appearances. His 47 OPS+ was the worst by a Mets hitter getting 200+ plate appearances in a season since Joe McEwing (44 OPS+) in 2002. For Bay to be even a shadow of the stealth star he was with the Pirates and Red Sox, he'll need to start turning on some fastballs.

Check out Bay's slugging percentage by pitch location against fastballs since 2009. He was a monster against heaters in 2009, slugging .598...

Bay's slugging percentage by pitch location vs. fastballs, 2009


During his first year with the Mets, Bay clubbed fastballs left over the heart of the plate and also did damage on pitches thrown at the knees. Even so, his fastball slugging percentage dipped to .477...

Bay's slugging percentage by pitch location vs. fastballs, 2010


Save for the occasional high fastball, he wasn't much of a threat against fastballs in 2011 while slugging .444...

Bay's slugging percentage by pitch location vs. fastballs, 2011


This past year, Bay's heat map was an ocean of blue. Bay slugged just .323 against fastballs:

Bay's slugging percentage by pitch location vs. fastballs, 2012


As Bay became an easy out on fastballs, pitchers pounced. Pitchers threw Bay a fastball over the plate 49.8% of the time in 2009, 53.2% in 2010, 53.5% in 2011 and 55.7% in 2012 (the MLB average is 51.3% over that time frame). There's no need to be timid when the most Bay can do with a fastball most days is hit an occasional single.

Hopefully, Bay can overcome his ailments and re-establish himself as a major leaguer. If not, he can proudly walk away with over $80 million in career earnings and the highest career value (21.8 Wins Above Replacement) of any 22nd-round draft pick this side of John Smoltz and Andy Pettitte.


Robinson Cano and the Long Ball

New York Yankee Robinson Cano put on quite a show last night as he outdueled Adrian Gonzalez (BOS) in the final round of the HR Derby, winning it with 32 total HRs.  His 12 homers in the final round set a record for the derby.

Playing for the Yankees, a team that has big sluggers like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, Cano's power sometimes gets short shrift.  But after last night, it will be hard for anyone to ignore his long ball proclivity.

Cano seemed more than comfortable having his father, Jose Cano, throw to him last night.  While BP pitchers usually soft toss fastballs one after another, one wonders if Cano could have produced even more HRs last night if he was facing sliders.

Since 2009, Robinson Cano has hit more HRs off sliders than any AL batter with 21, and second behind fellow HR Derby contestant and former derby winner Prince Fielder (MIL), who has 23.  Those 21 homers tie the number he has hit off fastballs in that same span of time.  His 8.0 HR% on sliders (highest among any pitches he has seen since 2009) ranks 5th in baseball behind Jason Giambi (9.1%), Russell Branyan (9.0%), Prince Fielder (8.3%), and Hideki Matsui (8.3%).

Since the 2010 All-Star Break, Cano has hit 11 HRs off sliders, best in the league.  He has a 27.5% HR/FB rate on sliders, ranking him in the top 4% of the league.    And his 11.0 HR% on sliders in that time is best among all major league hitters, even Jose Bautista (10.4 HR%).

If Cano is looking to top last night's performance in next year's home run derby, perhaps Jose will break out the slider in Kansas City.


Called Strikes out of the Strike Zone

(All 2011 games through May 16th - min. 100 pitches taken outside of the strike zone)

The first column indicates the total number of pitches the batter has taken outside of the pitchFX defined strike zone.  The second column shows what percent of taken pitches out of the strike zone were called strikes. Six New York Mets made the list - that's nearly a quarter of the top 25.  Call it the Madoff effect.  Oakland comes in second with 4 batters making the list.  The majority of these pitches are located off the outside edge of the zone as the following graphic indicates.

Called Strikes outside the Strike Zone in 2011

Here's a list of the batters that have had the least "non-strike" strikes called against them.

(All 2011 games through May 16th - min. 100 pitches taken outside of the strike zone)

It's interesting that Jeff Francoeur gets the smallest percent of bad strikes called against him.  The RHB ranks in the bottom 6% of the league in chasing pitches out of the zone.  Umpires apparently appreciate his free-swinging ways.