The U Files # 42: 2003 Mets' Position Analysis

The Mets were the second worst team in the National League in 2003, but there is no reason the team must remain so bad while it is rebuilt. The Mets were ravaged as much by various misfortunes as by a lack of talent. With little effort, it should be possible for the Mets to return to respectability.

Here are the Mets batting statistics by position, and the league averages. For each position, the Mets AB total and the batting average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage for the Mets and the league are listed. The next column is the Mets park-neural RC for each position, calculated as OBP*SLG*AB for each position, and then adjusted for park by multiplying by 3.4 percent (RC * (100/96.6)). After the adjustment of Mets RC, league RC is on the same footing without adjustment. The final column is offensive runs above average.

Position

RC+

AB

Mets AVG

OBP

SLG

League AVG

OBP

SLG

Mets RC

League RC

C

6.7

586

.260

.330

.404

.265

.331

.423

84.8

78.1

1B

-8.5

609

.287

.343

.448

.279

.362

.478

96.9

105.4

2B

-18.1

586

.240

.319

.331

.277

.343

.409

64.1

82.2

3B

-2.2

602

.257

.323

.392

.255

.323

.417

78.9

81.1

SS

-11.1

822

.258

.311

.337

.262

.317

.385

89.2

100.3

CF

-19.8

590

.225

.284

.339

.275

.334

.404

58.8

79.6

LF

-19.2

783

.258

.325

.438

.272

.362

.475

115.4

134.6

RF

-5.3

646

.286

.351

.442

.279

.359

.470

103.7

109



The Mets were above average at catcher, and below average at every other position. This is largely due to the fact the Mets were as good as their bench. Only three Mets had over 400 AB, those being Ty Wigginton (573), Roger Cedeno (484), and Jason Phillips (404). Of the three, only Phillips was an above average hitter. With better health, the Mets should be able to improve at several positions.

Catcher

Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

Jason Phillps

95

.253

.349

.379

Mike Piazza

230

.287

.377

.481

Vance Wilson

261

.249

.301

.383

NL @ Shea

-

.251

.319

.390



Mike Piazza returns primarily as catcher, and more at bats by the Mets future Hall of Famer can only help the offense. The Mets seem likely to have Piazza and Phillips share time between them at catcher and first base. Giving Piazza 150 more AB as a catcher, even if he maintains his 2003 rates, which are a departure from his career norms, would add 8.5 runs to the Mets offense.

First Base

Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

Jason Phillps

299

.314

.383

.465

Tony Clark

208

.240

.300

.495

Mo Vaughn

77

.195

.330

.338

Jay Bell

14

.214

.333

.214

Mike Glavine

7

.143

.143

.143

Joe McEwing

3

.333

.333

.333

Joe McEwing

3

.333

.333

.333

NL @ Shea

-

.270

.350

.462



Aside from Jason Phillips, first base was a black hole for the 2003 Mets. Tony Clark hurt the Mets more with his low OBP (50 points below average) than he helped them with his high SLG (33 points above average). Replacing 208 AB of Tony Clark and 77 AB of Mo Vaughn (285 AB .309 OBP /.335 SLG) with 120 of Piazza and 165 of Phillips at about .365/.475 would add 19.9 runs to the Mets offense.

Second Base

Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

Robby Alomar

263

.262

.336

.357

Joe McEwing

141

.248

.329

.319

Marco Scutaro

66

.212

.329

.364

Danny Garcia

55

.218

.279

.364

Jay Bell

36

.194

.293

.194

Rey Sanchez

25

.160

.185

.160

NL @ Shea

-

.268

.331

.395



The Mets had six players play second base in 2003, and none was as good as average. Roberto Alomar, the starter at second base at the beginning of the season, was traded in mid season to the Chicago White Sox. The Mets were unable to find a replacement in 2003 that was even as good as Alomar. It should not be hard for the Mets to find a second baseman that is an improvement over what McEwing/Scutaro/Garcia/Bell/Sanchez did in 2003.

Third Base

Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

Ty Wigginton

572

.255

.319

.397

Jay Bell

28

.286

.412

.286

Joe McEwing

5

.200

.200

.200

NL @ Shea

-

.246

.312

.403



Ty Wigginton was basically average at third base for the Mets. The contributions of Bell and McEwing hurt the Mets slightly. With slight improvement by Wigginton, the Mets should be no worse than average at third base in 2004 offensively.

Shortstop

Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

Rey Sanchez

317

.256

.292

.293

Jose Reyes

274

.307

.334

.434

Joe McEwing

94

.245

.308

.277

Jorge Valendia

58

.190

.304

.276

Jay Bell

19

.105

.292

.105

Marco Scutaro

1

1.000

1.000

1.000



The Mets finished the season 11.1 runs below average offensively at shortstop, but could easily be above average next season. Jose Reyes will have the full time starting job, and after finishing better than the average NL shortstop in 2003 should do no worse. Met shortstops other than Reyes hit .231/.298/.283. Replacing 250 AB of this with what Reyes did in 2003, the Mets offense improves by 15.1 runs.

Center Field

Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

Timo Perez

147

.265

.309

.361

Jeff Duncan

133

.188

.289

.226

Jeromy Burnitz

113

.248

.292

.549

Tsuyoshi Shinjo

90

.233

.278

.300

Roger Cedeno

60

.183

.234

.250

Raul Gonzalez

44

.182

.245

.273

Joe McEwing

3

.333

.333

.333

NL @ Shea

-

.266

.323

.390



Center Field was a black hole for the Mets. No player had more than 147 AB as a center fielder for the 2003 Mets, and the seven players to man the position were collectively 21 runs below average. This was the Mets biggest hole offensively, and it should not be hard for the Mets to sign a player in the off season that would represent a significant upgrade over what the morass of mediocre play did for the Mets in 2003.

Left Field

Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

Cliff Floyd

326

.298

.385

.531

Jeromy Burnitz

213

.202

.250

.399

Timo Perez

145

.276

.294

.379

Raul Gonzalez

64

.250

.351

.359

Joe McEwing

15

.200

.294

.267

Matt Watson

12

.250

.308

.333

Tsuyoshi Shinjo

8

.000

.111

.000

NL @ Shea

-

.263

.350

.459



The Mets had excellent production from Cliff Floyd at left field, but he only amassed 326 AB as a left fielder, and the rest of the Mets left fielders hit .229/.279/.372. Floyd has always been injury prone, but still his 2003 season represented the lowest AB total in the last 4 years. The next lowest was 420. Given 120 more AB by Floyd, the Mets offense improves by 12.1 runs.

Right Field

Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

Roger Cedeno

398

.286

.343

.405

Jeromy Burnitz

137

.292

.378

.577

Raul Gonzalez

78

.269

.345

.410

Timo Perez

29

.345

.394

.448

Joe McEwing

3

.000

.000

.000

NL @ Shea

-

.270

.347

.454



The Mets started the 2003 season with Jeromy Burnitz sharing time between center field and right field. Burnitz was the Mets best hitter at the two positions, but was traded in mid season to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Roger Cedeno amassed the most AB as a Met right fielder. Should the Mets be unable to rid themselves of Cedeno, and if he gets AB next year, he would hurt the Mets offensively at that position.

The Mets have several holes to fill in the 2004 lineup, and could improve at those positions with a bit of creativity. As noted above, the Mets could easily improve by 55.6 runs at positions that are filled currently. So, with minimal moves the Mets could improve the team by 6+ wins on the offensive side of the ball alone. With creative solutions at second base and center field, the Mets could easily improve further.

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