Would You Like Some Hitting With That?

The 2003 New York Mets have shown little at the plate through their first 19 games. The hitting has been so atrocious, that the excuse of a 'slow start' is starting to wear thin with some fans.

Take a look at these two statistical lines from 2003 and try to guess to whom they might belong.






Player A





Player B





Suspiciously similar, aren't they? Let's add a small bit of info.



Player A


Player B


That really changes things. Player A can be forgiven for such lousy play, but Player B is another story.

Player A is the Mets' very own Roger Cedeno, and if you have not guessed it yet, I was misleading when I wrote "Player B," as it is actually the Detroit Tigers baseball club. Pathetic isn't it? What is manager Alan Trammell to do? Well, he can sit and cry, or he can put on a jersey and boost the team's average the old fashioned way. Hey, he can probably still play better than most of the guys on the Tigers.

So why start out talking about how completely awful the Tigers are? Sometimes it's better to laugh before you cry, so grab a handkerchief before you continue reading. No, seriously, at least get a Kleenex. I'll wait.

The Mets are bad. Through 19 games the Mets have lost all ability to hit the ball. New York is first in the National League in payroll, yet they are last in runs scored. They just aren't hitting. There's a saying that comes to mind about not being able to hit water if they fell out of a boat. Why, if half the lineup signed up for an arm-chopping-off competition, it really wouldn't make that big a difference in the box score the next day.

OK, I could complain, and it would help ease the stress caused by said lack of hitting, but it would not get us anywhere as far as learning how and/or why the Mets are hitting so poorly. The best thing to do is to isolate the problem and (as I have no executive authority in the Mets' front office) complain profusely on that issue that is found to be the problem.

So, starting with the general, the team has an OBP of .303 and an OPS of .659. Without the pitchers, that comes to an OBP of .307 and an OPS of .672. We are taking out the pitchers because they are expected to be unable to hit the ball. From here we go by player.

Mike Piazza - Mike had a dreadfully slow start, but has started hitting in the last week. This is an anomaly as Piazza usually starts the season hot. In the month of April from 2000-2002, Piazza has posted a 1.119 OPS, but this April, he is down at .677. As mentioned above, he is started to show signs of life with 1.032 OPS in his last 24 at bats.

Mo Vaughn - Vaughn is hitting as well as he can be expected of him. His OPS is a weak-looking .711, but assuming at this point in his career that last season's .805 OPS is the norm then .711 is well within the standard deviations expected over the course of a season. He's really no different than Todd Zeile was for the Mets.

Roberto Alomar - Alomar is hitting fine. He is not the Alomar that he was in Cleveland, but his OPS is not much lower than his career average, while his OBP is actually eight points higher than his career mark.

Rey Sanchez - Sanchez is a black hole in the lineup. His OPS is .318, which threatens Al Lieter for worst on the team. Jose Reyes is probably good enough to be in the majors- according to Clay Davenport at the Baseball Prospectus, Reyes' current major league equivalent batting average is .258, almost double Sanchez's.

Ty Wigginton - Wigginton has been phenomenal. Here's hoping he keeps it up.

Jeromy Burnitz - Burnitz has been hitting like the Burnitz of old. Expect him to play well this season. He simply is not as bad as he played last season.

Roger Cedeno / Timo Perez - Cedeno has been a waste of a spot in the lineup, and Perez has not been much better. The one thing to remember is that Cedeno has always had trouble getting started. Every season he has had a poor April and then (if he's lucky enough to still be in the lineup) he turns around his season by the all-star game. The one exception to that rule was last year where he never got things going, so there is reason to worry. As for Perez, he's just not good enough to play everyday. He's a fine fourth outfielder, and along with Shinjo, the Mets have a great backup outfield, but neither are good enough to start.

Cliff Floyd - Floyd has started slow enough to whine about, but not slow enough to be worried about. He'll produce as long as he's healthy.>br?
So, to recap, Vaughn, Alomar, Wigginton, and Burnitz are hitting, Piazza and Floyd will hit, and Sanchez and the centerfield situation are abysmal. The problem is not that the majority of the lineup isn't hitting, the problem is that two spots (shortstop and center field) are hitting like pitchers. In a way, having Sanchez, Cedeno, and a pitcher in the lineup all together is like conceding three outs every time through the lineup, and need I remind you that three outs constitutes and inning. That translates into three conceded innings every game (or 2.2 if you pinch hit for the pitcher), and how can a team possibly win if it only gets to bat for six of the nine innings?

What should the Mets do? It's still too early to call up Reyes to play short. It's best for the long run to let him develop more. There is Jay Bell who can play shortstop, but his defense is not what it once was. Russ Johnson is also available, can play shortstop, and gets on base. Meanwhile for centerfield, if Cedeno doesn't pull things together soon, perhaps Essix Snead should get a shot. The Mets shouldn't be afraid to bench cedeno just because he has the big contract. Winning is sometimes more important than pride.

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