It has been well documented that Reyes' performance typically drives the Mets and the disparity in his numbers between how he performs when the Mets win as opposed to when they lose is simply crazy. Jose is batting .128/.227/.205 in Mets losses and is batting .320/.366/.520 in Mets wins. What is really shocking is just how much pop Reyes exhibits in the Mets wins. For reference as to just how impressive his line is in Mets wins, Miguel Tejada came into last night's action batting .321/.374/.565. Reyes has sixteen extra base hits in Mets wins in 150 at-bats and four extra base hits in Mets losses in 78 at-bats. When Reyes hits a triple, the Mets have not lost in 2006. For his career, the Mets are 23-4 when he hits a triple.
We all know that Reyes makes this team go. However, Jose Reyes needs to simply find more consistency because at times he really hurts this team. Ideally, your leadoff hitter is not a work in progress and at this point in his career, Jose Reyes is better suited to bat second in my option. Reyes is a pull hitter and should be a line drive/groundball hitter and if he was able to bat second, he could have the huge benefit of batting with a runner on more often. Not only does he perform better with runners on, but it also opens up a hole between first and second if the runner is on first and he should be able to use that to his advantage.
While it is correct that a leadoff hitter is only a true leadoff hitter for one at-bat during the game, they have runners on in front them less frequently than the other spots in the order because of the bottom of the order and the pitcher's spot. With none on in 2006, Reyes is batting .236/.305/.336. With runners on in 2006, he is batting .284/.337/.534. Though not as pronounced, Reyes career splits still tilt towards him being a better hitter with runners on as well. The big problem is the Mets do not have many other choices. Maybe Milledge could be that guy down the line if he can continue to walk, but it is doubtful anyone else will ever leadoff for the Mets while Jose Reyes is on this team.
Though Willie has not really made any mistakes with the leadoff spot being no one else is really better suited for it, he has made some mistakes. Paul LoDuca has done an admirable job, but it still warrants a discussion to move him down or at the very least slide everyone else up when he is sitting. LoDuca is batting .302/.345/.438, but when he is out, the Mets are getting .212/.268/.318 from the two spot. Willie's insistence in putting replacement level players into such a vital spot while LoDuca is sitting is curious, but Willie tends to do some weird things.
Part of the reason why I still think Beltran should be batting second is because Willie's resistance to shake up the lineup when LoDuca sits. When Beltran sits he does and when Wright sits he does, but for whatever reason not when LoDuca sits. LoDuca is going to sit plenty so something more effective needs to be done there. I simply do not agree that those at-bats should be more or less given away. My other issue with the current lineup construction is that the Mets are 12th in runs scored from David Wright's spot in the lineup. Sugar Pants is the team's best hitter and leads the team in OBP. He needs to have people behind him who can drive him more consistently. Of course with Floyd playing better these days, that should happen, but that does not mean there still is not a better way.
While people can show me studies that lineup construction does not matter, conventional wisdom and other stats tell me otherwise. Even though you can put together calculations that can back lineup constructions' irrelevance, it does not take into account how certain people will perform in different situations. You will never know until things are set into motion. Despite Wright's struggles when he moved up while Beltran was out, I believe that is was just bad luck and coincided with a slump. The kid is just too good to not be able to hit anywhere.
All this is really just nitpicking being the team is in first place, but I think it is plain to see that team is not quite producing runs like they were earlier in the year. There are a lot of close games and stretches where it is tough for them to get something going without the long ball. For me, when I look at this lineup and see those things happening, I see that something has to be wrong. Maybe it is a deeper problem that cannot be fixed by juggling the lineup, but this team should be performing more consistently on the offensive end.
1st spot: .259 (9th) .317 (12th) .414 .414 (5th) - 5th in Runs
~ Reyes .254/.317/.412
2nd spot: .277 (13th) .322 (13th) .406 (12th) - 14th in Runs
~ LoDuca .304/.347/.443
3rd spot: .279 (10th) .401 (7th) .629 (2nd) - 2nd in Runs
~ Beltran .277/.394/.619
4th spot: .277 (4th) .362 (8th) .505 (7th) - 11th in Runs
~ Delgado .256/.351/.518
5th spot: .269 (9th) .344 (6th) .462 (8th) - 12th in Runs
~ Wright .325/.398/.546
.6th spot: 266 (8th) .347 (9th) .500 (5th) - 5th in Runs
~ Floyd .235/.333/.414
7th spot: .275 (7th) .343 (6th) .418 (8th) - 5th in Runs
~ Nady .267/.331/.484
8th spot: .247 (11th) .287 (14th) .363(11th) 13th in Runs
~ Matsui .211/.248/.285
"Championship teams have to win some games like this," Valentin said after the Mets' major-league-high 16th one-run win. "Sometimes you're going to face a team like today that's playing great baseball. You're going to face a top pitcher like Webb. It's better to win one-run games than lose one-run games."
Like Nady, Milledge likes to stand far away from the plate. When guys crowd the plate, they are trying to take away the outside part of the plate. When guys are too far off the plate, the outside part of the plate is a big weak spot for them. There is a happy medium and Milledge is not standing in that happy medium. The thing that confuses me is that with Milledge's bat speed, he is not vulnerable to pitches inside which should enable him to move towards the plate. I understand why someone would not feel comfortable crowding the plate, but you have to make sure you have full plate coverage. I know Nady and Milledge got where they are by doing what things their way, but it just seems that moving them in a tick could prove to be very beneficial.
Milledge is also taking his first boos in stride.
"My parents were there," Milledge said. "They'll probably kill me for making an error. But it was a bad play on my part and (the fans) let me know about it. I didn't get upset about it. I would have booed myself. I didn't feel bad about them booing me on the play. But it was kind of like they had a short memory."
Top 5 2006 NL Third Basemen, by VORP
Player Team EqA VORPMiguel is head and shoulders above everyone else in terms of VORP and with Scott Rolen in the lead for All-Star voting, David Wright might have trouble getting a spot on the NL All-Star squad if he is not voted in. While taking three third baseman on the team would be unlikely, Wright certainly deserves a spot.
Miguel Cabrera FLO .338 30.9
David Wright NYN .318 21.6
Morgan Ensberg HOU .317 19.9
Scott Rolen SLN .290 14.3
Freddy Sanchez PIT .279 13.7
"I don't think Pedro stepped up because of the matchup, I think Webb stepped up the way everybody steps up against Pedro," said Willie Randolph, who used every one of his position players to earn the victory. "Pedro's been doing this a lot longer.
"But I have a great deal of respect for Webb."
Webb must have been stepping up for his last two complete game shutouts prior to this start too. They have both been pitching spectacular this year and that's the bottom line. One is just winning games and the other is running into a lack of run support.