Lindor Is Best Shortstop In Baseball Despite What Shredder Says

MLB apparently needs to start over with “The Shredder” because it really fails all of the time. Case-in-point, The Shredder ranked Francisco Lindor as the ninth best shortstop in the game. As usual, it would prove to be wrong, very wrong.

In the 2022 season, Lindor was the best shortstop in all of baseball. It really wasn’t up for debate at all.

Lindor lead the Majors with a 6.8 fWAR. That ranked him ahead of Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Corey Seager. Notably, those four players were ranked ahead of Lindor entering the 2022 season, and based on the rankings heading into the 2023 season, they were again ranked ahead of Lindor.

In terms of bWAR, Lindor would finish tied for third with Correa just behind Swanson, who was ranked lower than Lindor, and Bogaerts. Again, players who have not been as good as Lindor were ranked higher.

We would see Lindor would have the second highest OAA. He rated fifth in wRC+.. Notably, none of the players who rated higher in OAA rated higher in wRC+ and vice versa. This makes Lindor the best combination of defense and hitting from the shortstop position .Again, this is not opinion, it is based upon hard factual data.

Really, it has been this way over Lindor’s entire career. Since his first full season in 2016, Lindor has amassed a 38.0 fWAR, which is the best in the majors over that time span. His 32.6 bWAR trails only Correa by 2.2 WAR.

Over that time frame, Lindor has a 118 OAA at shortstop, which is again the best overall at the position. His wRC+ ranks as the sixth best among shortstops. Again, Lindor is the best all-around threat from the shortstop position in the majors. It has been that way since 2016, and it has continued to be that way his entire career.

Looking forward, Lindor is still 29 and in the prime of his career. He has been the best, and he promises to continue to be the best. On that point, only Correa is ahead of him in bWAR, and the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets were very concerned about his ability to play shortstop or be a star in the not too distant future.

For some reason, people have had a hard time accepting Lindor’s greatness. To be fair, we have seen that be the case with Mets fans the past two seasons. Make no mistake, Lindor has been the best shortstop in the game his entire career, and he’s still in the prime of his career. Overall, Lindor is the best shortstop in the game, and in reality, he’s a future Hall of Famer.

We can’t force people to accept that now, but in the end who really cares? The Mets have Lindor, and they are a World Series contender largely because they have him. Let people rank him where they want while Lindor plays better than whoever they want to pretend is better.

Like Rolen, Nettles Should Be A Hall Of Famer

Scott Rolen was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame on his sixth year on the ballot. It took way to too long for one of the best third basemen ever, but he’s where he belongs.

For some bizarre reason, people were unwilling to accept it even though Rolen is a top nine third baseman by WAR. However, it is more than just WAR.

When you’ve done something only Mike Schmidt has done, you’re a Hall of Famer. That’s now officially true of Rolen.

Rolen’s induction is a testament that defense matters. More than that, great defense can make you a Hall of Famer. That’s why his WAR was so high.

That what got lost on people as they made laughable cases for players like Don Mattingly. There were also arguments made for Dale Murphy or Keith Hernandez (who actually should be in the Hall of Fame).

Here’s the thing, Rolen was a third baseman, and they’re not. First baseman and center fielders should be used for those players.

That said, Rolen’s induction should serve as a bellwether for another third baseman. Rolen’s induction should prompt the Veteran’s Committee to induct Graig Nettles.

Like Rolen, Nettles was a great defensive player who won two Gold Gloves. He would’ve won more if not for Brooks Robinson.

Nettles has the third and fifth best defensive seasons by a third baseman. He’s fifth all-time in defensive WAR, one spot ahead of Rolen.

In his career, Nettles had a 68.0 WAR, which is just 2.1 behind Rolen and 0.4 behind the average Hall of Fame third baseman. Nettles is also just behind Rolen in WAR7 and JAWS while he’s ahead of the average Hall of Fame third baseman.

Nettles also won two World Series titles and was the 1981 ALCS MVP. Overall, he was a great player worthy of enshrinement.

Despite that, he fell off the ballot in three years. That’s a reflection of the arcane standards of yore, but we know better now.

This is why there’s a Veteran’s Committee. It’s to induct players like Nettles who should’ve been inducted over a decade ago. Like Rolen, Nettles (and Hernandez) belong in the Hall of Fame.

Carlos Beltran Again Shows David Ortiz Induction Hypocrisy

For reasons which still have not been explained, David Ortiz was held to a completely different standard than anyone else who has ever been on a Hall of Fame ballot. You might’ve believed Ortiz being inducted on the first ballot would prove to be a changing of the guard, but in the end, it was more of the same for the 2023 Hall of Fame class.

As previously detailed here, Ortiz had PED allegations. On this ballot, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, and Gary Sheffield were not inducted despite each of them being far superior players. We again saw Omar Vizquel lose votes partially due to allegations of domestic violence, but when Ortiz was on the ballot, it was not remotely a factor or ever discussed. We can go on and on with the double standards including how Ortiz threw bats at umpires and constantly tried to police the fun of the game.

When looking at Ortiz, the only conclusion is he was a cheater, and he was an overall bad guy. However, he was great for a quote and mostly good to the media. Combine that with his being a willing caricature on Fox’s pre- and post-games, and you have a Hall of Famer.

That brings us to Carlos Beltrán. As you recall back in 2008, Billy Wagner spoke of a rift in the Mets clubhouse dealing with media accountability, which was an indirect shot at players like Beltràn.

By every measure, Beltràn was a deserving Hall of Famer who should have been inducted on the first ballot. He’s one of the best switch hitters of all-time, and by WAR, he’s the eighth best center fielder of all time ahead of players like Duke Snider and Andre Dawson.

Beltràn won Rookie of the Year. He was a nine time All-Star. He won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. He had postseason success and won a World Series in the final year of his career. This is as complete of a Hall of Fame resume as you get, especially when there are zero allegations of PEDs against him.

Of course, this neglects his final year with the Houston Astros. In that year, the Astros had a sign stealing system with Beltràn named as the ring leader. Keep in mind, this needed to be an organizational efforts with the cameras and the like, but in the end, it was Beltràn who received the blame.

As a result, writers lined up to write article after article on how the Mets needed to fire Beltràn as their manager. To that end, Beltràn remains the only player punished for this actions. Apparently, the Wilpons being callow and succumbing to public pressure was insufficient punishment. The writers demanded further punishment with them opting not to vote for Beltràn for the Hall of Fame.

Keep in mind, many of these same writers voted for players like A-Rod. They voted for Ortiz on the first ballot. They did that even though the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox received punishments from Major League Baseball for similar systems. We would see Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge win MVP awards after their teams cheated. Apparently, the sign stealing wasn’t an issue for their careers.

We can go on and on when it comes to sign stealing systems. The reason is for some reason the only time baseball cared was with that Astros team. When it was Bobby Thompson and the New York Giants, it was the “Shot Heard Round the World.”Really, when it came to Beltràn and the Astros, everything has been blown way out of proportion.

Overall, writers just have it out for Beltràn despite his not taking PEDs, committing acts of domestic violence, or throwing bats at umpires. In the end, Beltràn’s biggest crime was not having a much better relationship with the media during this playing days. If he did, the writers would’ve fought for him to keep his managerial job and for his induction into the Hall of Fame. After all, they bent over backwards to overlook all the issues with Ortiz to put him in the Hall.

MLB Should Re-Calibrate First Pitch Times

As part of the new CBA, baseball teams are going to play the other 29 teams this season. There are a number of ramifications from this including playing fewer games against divisional rivals, but it also means more games out of a team’s time zone.

For example, last season, the New York Mets played 22 road games against NL and AL West opponents. That was partially the result of the Mets playing the AL West in interleague play. Back in 2021, the Mets had only played 16 games against western division opponents.

Those extra six games may not seem as much, but that’s an extra week of 10 PM starts. Typically speaking, that means many fans will struggle to stay awake for consecutive games and will likely miss them all together. Certainly, that will be the case for children, i.e. the demographic Major League Baseball is purportedly targeting to make lifelong baseball fans.

Well, that 22 game number seems to be staying. In 2023, the Mets will again play 22 games against western division opponents. That means later and later starts meaning fewer and fewer fans able to watch the game. On the inverse, that also means fans from the west coast will miss part of east coast games because they will still be at work and school.

This is not remotely a beneficial situation for anyone. Sure, it will be exciting to see more of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in addition to other baseball superstars in the NL and AL West. However, if those games are so late, the Mets playing them makes the goals sought completely obsolete.

Of course, this should have been part of an MLB feasibility study. Apparently, it wasn’t, and now, we’re left to see how MLB will react to a move which will ultimately turn fans away from games for a day or two or for a full week of games. Really, this is what baseball wants to avoid.

To that end, perhaps, baseball should seek to normalize start times to try to attract as many fans to those games as possible. For starters, every non-Sunday Night Baseball game on the west coast should be a day game to permit baseball fans from both fans to watch the games. For example, a 1PM start time on the west coast is a very manageable 4 PM start time on the east coast.

Weekday games are more difficult. If there is a day game, nothing needs to be changed. As noted above, the 1 PM west coast start time works well for the east coast. The real issue is the 7 PM PST start times. You’re eliminating a significant part of the audience for a 10 PM first pitch, and there’s a greater attrition as the games go deeper into the night and early morning hours.

Moving to a 6 PM PST start time is a little bit more manageable on the east coast and will attract some additional viewers. A 5 PM PST start time would be perfect for east coast viewers, but that is way too early for west coast fans to get to the ballpark. Maybe, they can split the difference and have a 5:30 start time. Of course, that is also difficult.

In the end, the answer may just be a hybrid approach. Permit the west coast teams to have 1-2 7 PM PST start times, but they need to adjust one of their game start times to be more palatable for east coast fans. Certainly, the inverse should also be true.

Overall, the goal is to get more fans watching games and allowing the youngest of fans to become lifelong baseball fans. The current schedule and start times serves as an impediment. Baseball needs to realize this and act accordingly.

 

Mets Should Invite R.A. Dickey To Spring Training

There was news recently the New York Mets plan on inviting David Wright to Spring Training to work with Brett Baty and Mark Vientos. The Mets interest is obvious because they want the best third baseman in team history to teach two of their best prospects to maximize their potential.

In terms of the Mets, this is something they and every franchise do. They always love bringing back the team greats to work with their young players. Years ago, the Mets had Mike Piazza work with Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. If not for the World Baseball Classic, maybe Piazza could be there working with Francisco Álvarez and Kevin Parada.

For the Mets, we know they won’t stop at Wright. When looking at it, one Mets legend they should invite to Spring Training is R.A. Dickey because he can have an impact like no other former Mets player could.

We’re all very aware of the Dickey story. He was a former first round pick of the Texas Rangers who was discovered to be born without a UCL in his right arm who threw a forkball which was more akin to a knuckleball. This led him on a long and transient path to the majors and eventually the New York Mets.

With the Mets, he would be named the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner, and he would be the last Mets pitcher to win 20 games. He had taken the mantle from Tim Wakefield as the great knuckleball pitcher of his generation, but unfortunately, there has really been no one to take up that mantle since Dickey retired.

When looking at any farm system, the Mets included, there are pitchers who are never going to make it to the majors. There are various reasons including lack of velocity and/or control. For those prospects, and for the organization, the question is how long you play out the string with them until you change something about them or eventually cut them loose. It’s a sad reality of the minor leagues.

For the Mets, having Dickey in camp could permit him to teach those prospects not just the knuckleball but his knuckleballs. Remember, when Dickey was with the Mets he threw multiple ones which is what made him a unique and dominating pitcher.

To some degree, this is what we saw happen with Jacob deGrom and Johan Santana. When Santana taught deGrom his change, deGrom’s trajectory as a prospect went to the next level. Taking another ninth round pick and showing them the knuckleball could have a similar impact. Chances are, it won’t, but certainly, it is worth trying.

In the end, Dickey is just one of four Mets pitchers to win a Cy Young. He was a great Met for the short time he was here, and for that reason alone, he should be invited back for spring training. The fact he could help Mets prospects take their game to the next level makes inviting Dickey a must.

Tommy Pham Bad Move For Mets

Tommy Pham is one of those moves that sounds good. After all, people can remember him being a good player at one time, so certainly, it must be a coup to get him on this New York Mets team as a fourth outfielder. However, you have to ask yourself how were the Mets even able to get him as a fourth outfielder.

The answer is simple – Pham is not a good baseball player anymore. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine how the outfielder who will be 35 on Opening Day will suddenly regain his ability to play baseball.

Last year, between the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox, two places great for right-handed hitters, Pham hit .236./.312/.374 with 23 doubles, one triple, 17 homers, and 63 RBI. That season wasn’t an anomaly; it is who Pham is now. Over the past three seasons, Pham is hitting .231/.324/.372.

Looking at the advanced numbers, Pham had an 89 wRC+, and over the past three, Pham has a 94 wRC+. When looking at Baseball Savant., you get a clearer picture of what has happened with Pham.

Simply put, Pham is a dead red hitter. He hits the fastball well. However, he can no longer hit a breaking or off-speed pitch. He still hits the fastball quite hard, and he can truly do damage to those pitchers. That said, he really can’t hit anything else. In reality, that makes him an easy out, which is indicated by his declining numbers over the past three years.

It should come as no surprise Pham does have decent numbers against left-handed pitching. In 2022, he had a 115 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, and over the past three seasons, he has a 111 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Certainly, this could make him part of the platoon equation at DH for Daniel Vogelbach.

Here, it should be noted Darin Ruf had a 116 wRC+ against left-handed pitching last year, and he has a 137 over the past three seasons. While the counter-argument is Pham could better serve as a fourth outfielder, that is not entirely correct as Pham had a -6 OAA in left as opposed to Ruf’s -5. Put another way, they are both bad outfielders who are best suited to DH.

On Ruf, he can at least play first base to spell Pete Alonso. Another note here is Ruf should serve as a warning for Pham. Ruf was a semi-regular player who struggled in a pure reserve role for the Mets. Now, the Mets are looking to do the same with Pham.

Really, at the end of the day, it is difficult to ascertain what purpose Pham fills for this team. He’s not an upgrade in any sense, and if you want to make out that fantasy football fight with Joc Pederson to be part of a larger picture, he could serve as a detriment in the clubhouse, but that may be a bit of a stretch as he has not seemed to have an in-season issue with a teammate. However, we also can’t ignore it.

However, that feud with Pederson should not matter. The Mets didn’t need Pham. In reality, they needed to move Mark Canha to a fourth outfielder role, and that could’ve been accomplished by signing an outfielder, or as they tried with Carlos Correa, by signing an infielder. Whatever the case, the Mets signed Pham for one year meaning he should not stand as an impediment should he struggle or the team is ready to turn to Brett Baty at third or left.

Maybe Darin Ruf Is Answer to Mets Darin Ruf Problem

While the New York Mets have addressed many of their offseason needs, the one area which remains unaddressed is DH. To a certain extent, it seems odd a team so willing to go well beyond the point where teams would consider spending has seen their offseason stall on this front. Certainly, the Carlos Correa drama was part of that.

However, the Mets did see viable options sign elsewhere. Andrew McCutchen purportedly turned down more money from the Mets to return to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Trey Mancini is a Chicago Cub. Adam Duvall just signed with the Boston Red Sox.

This leaves the Mets trying to talk themselves into the next tier of players. Jurickson Profar is a popular target, but he’s not much of a hitter. He does increase the Mets versatility, but he is also not someone who has not thrived in a reserve or part-time role.

Robbie Grossman is an interesting choice. He has good numbers against left-handed pitching, and he does have a good walk rate. Typically speaking, he makes good contact, and he can hold his own defensively. Moreover, he has thrived in a reserve/part-time role. However, he has zero power.

That brings us back to Darin Ruf. What this Mets team was sorely lacking was power, and the Mets gave up way too much to get Ruf to try to help address their power issues. Obviously, Ruf did not do that last season posting a 13 OPS+. He did get one postseason start drawing a walk and a HBP in his one start.

It should be noted Ruf did land on the IL after he was acquired by the Mets with a neck strain. Certainly, it’s possible that impacted his performance. If it did, the hope is he could be back to being a right-handed DH platoon option against left-handed pitching. In his career, he does have a 143 wRC+ against left-handed pitching.

He’s slightly more than a platoon DH option. He can spell Pete Alonso at first base on occasion. That’s important with Alonso needing a break every now and then. He can’t play the outfield everyday in his career, but he can at least play there for a game or an inning or two. This does have some value to the team.

Mostly, he’s simply replaceable. If he doesn’t get the job done, Eduardo Escobar or Mark Canha can easily take over his role. That would require the Mets to play Luis Guillorme as their primary second baseman, but that is something they should be doing anyway. There is also the question of when the Mets are going to call-up Francisco Álvarez or Mark Vientos to at least take over part of this role.

In the end, the Mets have Ruf and are paying him. He has a role which can be easily supplanted by the talent on this team. The upgrades on the free agent market are gone. At this point, the Mets might as well role with him and see if he can rebound.

Mets Were Right To Use Giants Doctors For Carlos Correa

The New York Mets did not sign Carlos Correa, and Correa is a Minnesota Twin again. We know that is because the Mets had the same issues with Correa’s physical as the San Francisco Giants did.

The process which led Correa from the Mets to Twins seemed never ending. Now, apparently, even with Correa being a Twin, the story just doesn’t want to seem to die with Correa now telling his story as to what happened.

Correa spoke about the process with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. On the topic of the ankle, Correa had this to say about why he did not pass the Mets physical:

The Giants used an ankle specialist who didn’t pass me. Then the Mets used the same specialist, who obviously wasn’t going to pass me. He had already given an opinion to another team about my ankle. He was not going to change that. He was going to stand by what he was saying, of course, because that is what he believed.

Now, at first blush, it would seem absurd for the Mets to have the same specialist. In some ways, it seemed like a bait and switch. However, we all need to be reminded of just how exuberant Steve Cohen and his family was about the signing. Moreover, as we learned from this interview, Cohen sent his private plane to go get Correa. Cohen and the Mets really wanted Correa.

To some, this begs the question why use the same specialist as the Giants? Believe it or not, most professional teams use the same specialists. After all, how many times do we see a player visiting a specialist employed by another team, and just about everyone uses Dr. James Andrews.

We should also note that specialists’ opinion existed. The Mets needed to find out exactly what the Giants’ specialist said. That is regardless of whether or not they used that doctor. Also, we should remember here, it may not have been sinister to use the Giants doctor. As Will Carroll pointed out there is a “very,very small universe of doctors that MLB teams use and trust.” It just may be the Mets consulted the same doctor not fully knowing the Giants used the same guy.

Another factor is we shouldn’t have discounted a Carlos Gomez type situation. Certainly, there were reports back then of buyers’ remorse and/or the Mets wanting the Milwaukee Brewers to take on more of Gomez’s salary.

More than any of that is the simple fact that the Twins doctors didn’t sign off on the same lengthy deal as they first offered. Remember, the Twins were first rumored to offer 10 years $280 million as the Giants and Mets offered contracts surpassing $300 million. However, that’s not the deal the Twins eventually gave Correa.

Correa signed a six year deal for $200 million. Apparently, the Twins were not willing to go to 10 years as they initially were. With the Twins getting Correa, certainly, no one is out there questioning what doctor they used. After all, they got the player.

In the end, the Mets did all they could reasonably do to sign Correa. He didn’t come because he failed a physical. He wasn’t a Giant because he failed a physical. The Twins signed him for less years and money than they initially intended because of the ankle. The only conclusion we can draw from here is the Mets did nothing wrong.

Mets Should Sign Trevor Bauer

Back when Steve Cohen first purchased the New York Mets, the team was very close to signing Trevor Bauer. That was even with there being issues with Bauer and his treatment of women. It’s fair to say the rumors weren’t at the levels of what would eventually led to Bauer receiving the largest ever suspension in Major League history, but there was something there.

Now, the Mets are in winner-take-all mode. This is an offseason where the Mets gave Edwin Diaz a record deal for a reliever, and they gave Brandon Nimmo the largest deal ever to a homegrown Mets player. Oh, by the way, the team also signed Justin Verlander, Kodai Senga, Jose Quintana, and Omar Narvaez. They also did all they could do to sign Carlos Correa.

Cohen wants to win, and apparently, the Mets finish to the regular season and Wild Card round exit has only spurred him to push harder. That leads to Bauer being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’s now a free agent with any team able to sign him for $720,000.

For Cohen, that amount is something he finds in his couch cushions. Based on his unprecedented spending spree this offseason, that is nothing to him. Certainly, you can argue he should use that money to sign Bauer like the Mets wanted to do back before Bauer signed with the Dodgers.

After all, by signing Bauer, the Mets would exclusively control his rights. They can use that to make sure he never pitches in a game in 2023 and perhaps never again. They would being a civic duty by doing this.

This is also doing a favor to baseball. Remember, back when Cohen was snatching up free agents, one of the prevailing rumors was the other 29 owners were angry with him and would be complaining to the commissioner if they had not already. By signing Bauer and not playing him, Cohen would be doing the other owners a favor.

First, he would be ensuring Bauer doesn’t play. Second, he would be saving the other owners from themselves. After all, we see what the Atlanta Braves did with signing Marcell Ozuna, and the Chicago Cubs did with their keeping Addison Russell. Sometimes, teams and Major League Baseball needs to be protected from themselves.

Here, Cohen should be the hero. Sign Bauer and then never play him. Let him rot into obscurity. Push him a further year away from ever playing again making the chances of him ever playing again all the more remote.

Trey Mancini Interesting Fit For New York Mets

Now that Carlos Correa has signed with the Minnesota Twins, the question is now what? The New York Mets still need to add another bat, and with Michael Conforto signing with the San Francisco Giants, their options have become even more limited.

One of the better hitters left on the market is Trey Mancini, who played for Buck Showalter with the Baltimore Orioles. At 31, it does seem as if he is moving past his prime, but he does have some thunder remaining in his bat.

Last season, Mancini had a 104 wRC+. That came on the heels of a 105 season, which was a drop from his 132 mark in 2019. Of course, two things must be noted here. First and foremost, he missed the 2020 season due to cancer. Second he was thriving with the Orioles before being traded to the Houston Astros at the trade deadline.

Looking at Baseball Savant, Mancini has seen his average exit velocities and barrels drop each of his past five seasons. However, he did hit enough last season to be an effective DH. He also appears to be one of the players who could benefit from the shift.

Last season, Mancini had a .228 wOBA against the shift. When he was not shifted, Mancini had a .314 wOBA. It should be noted the shift numbers have been anomaly for his career with him posting strong numbers against the shift for most of his career. Then again, that was back when he had a higher exit velocity.

Where Mancini does his damage is against right-handed pitching. In 2022, he had a 111 wRC+ against right-handed pitching against an 88 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. For his career, Mancini is actually better against left-handed pitching with a 112 wRC+ against a 111 against right-handed pitching.

Part of the reason for the change in numbers was his role with the Astros. Before the trade deadline, Mancini was a 98 wRC+ against left-handed pitching while with the Orioles. That dropped to a 64 with the Astros. It should also be noted Mancini is typically a much better first half player than second half player.

To a certain degree, we see Mancini did not and would not thrive in the role Darin Ruf had last year. On that note, Ruf did not thrive in that role. Ruf and Mancini are really everyday players or semi-regular players who have platoon advantages.

This is again where Daniel Vogelbach presents a problem. His numbers against right-handed pitching cannot be matched by anyone, but his possible platoon partners do not thrive on limited duty. That would seem to qualify for Mancini, who at this point in his career is an everyday DH who can fill-in at a position for a game or two. No more.

Perhaps, Billy Eppler can start moving things around to make Mancini or someone else a fit. However, it does appear too late in the game to start doing that. It seems Vogelbach is in place at DH. While the Mets should look to improve on Ruf, and Mancini promises to be that, it does not appear he can truly fulfill that role.