Continuation from Introduction.
Right before the All-Star break, Floyd was sent back to the team he broke into the major leagues with - Montreal. Readjusting to artificial turf proved tough, and he was traded to Boston just about two weeks later. Boston did signal some interest in re-signing Floyd towards the end of the season, but that never did materialize. The Mets signed him as a free agent in December.
Statistically, Floyd had a relatively fine season last year (.289-28-79). Prone to a run of nagging injuries in the past, he still managed to play in 146 games with a sore knee for most of the season.
Floyd had a keen eye for pitchers trying to sneak a first-pitch fastball by him. He usually made them pay. When pitchers got away with it, though, Floyd demonstrated good patience. He walked a career high 76 times last season, and 19 of them were intentional. Floyd demonstrated equal power to all fields.
Floyd still showed good speed and has learned to pick his spots well. He was successful in 15 of 20 base stealing attempts. Defensively, Floyd did well in Boston against the backdrop of the Green Monster, adjusting to the experience rather quickly.
Floyd has had a career-long habit of running hot and cold. His 2002 season was again indicative of that. Floyd started fast hitting .313 in April, cooled to .224 in July, and got hot again in August hitting .325.
Floyd's batting average dips slightly (.246) against left-handed pitching. Even though he has a knack for hanging tough against the lefties, his on-base percentage drops precipitously against them (.304 compared to .420 against right-handers.)
It's Up to You, Cliff Floyd, Cliff Floyd
Do I hear a song there? With all due respect to the baseball environs of Florida, Montreal and Boston, playing in New York is unlike anything Floyd will experience in his career. His on-field moves (and sometimes off-field moves) will be examined under bright media spotlights and a huge fan base that can turn on a dime. He may be ready. He says he is, and he comes to camp 20 pounds lighter than last year. Just in case, though, he should be prepared for the subtle mental adjustments that may be necessary for the challenge of playing in New York, New York.
Shea It Isn't So
Floyd's batting average at Shea Stadium last year was a paltry .182. That may be nothing more than an anomaly given few chances, but his batting average at Shea has decreased steadily over the last three years. During that three-year span, he is batting just .250. Floyd's batting average will need to become a lot healthier - a lot nearer his career average of .284 - to satisfy the Mets. So, you see, it might not just because I Shea so.
Being Out in Left Field
Let's hope that being out in left field doesn't dredge up the thoughts a lot of people have when we refer to someone being out in left field. After alternating playing time in both left field and right field last year, Floyd comes to the Mets as the everyday starter in left. Here's a funny thing, though. Of all the outfield positions Floyd's played in his career - and he's played them all - his fielding percentage in left field is the lowest. That could be easily attributed to far, far more chances playing in left, but the Mets can ill-afford to have any outfielder having mental lapses in crucial situations. Floyd's career .966 fielding percentage in left field will have to improve a tad before everyone involved - team, media, and fans alike - become comfortable with him ‘being out in left field.'
Floyd is expected to bat third in the Mets' lineup. Last season, he hit just .228 batting third, spending the majority of the season getting used to batting fourth and ringing-up a .302 average in doing so. Floyd, though, has plenty of experience batting third in the order. Over the last three years, he has significantly more plate appearances hitting third, and has hit .302 during that span. This kind of performance is exactly what the Mets are expecting.
What Must Be Changed in 2003 from 2002?
Floyd will have to exhibit more offensive consistency and work hard to prevent long cold spells. Being new to the team and fans alike, doing so will go a long way to endearing Floyd to his new team and surroundings. Dry spells on a team that is built and expected to win now could prove disappointing.
Speaking of consistency, Floyd must put behind him those nagging injuries that have reduced his paying time in the past. In the past two seasons, he has done a good job of doing that, playing in 149 and 146 games. The Mets are counting on Floyd logging significant playing time in 2003, and working to stay healthy is a big part of that.
What is Expected?
Floyd put up .289-28-79 numbers last season. I'm sure the Mets would take a repeat performance from him - especially considering the production they got out their left fielder last season. Simply, Floyd needs to adjust to his new surroundings quickly, stay healthy, be patient, be consistent, and play smart. He's demonstrated these abilities before. This time, though, he needs to do it in New York - on the grandest stage of them all.
The Mets have spent a lot of money to get more power out of an outfield position. Here's hoping the Mets and their fans feel the surge in 2003.
Cerrone's Certain Facts
-- For his career, Cliff Floyd has stolen an average of 20 bases per full season at a success rate of 83%.
-- Had he not been traded last season, Floyd was on pace to hit roughly .290 with 33 homers, 110 runs batted in, and 20 stolen bases for the Florida Marlins.
-- Floyd is only a .267 career hitter against the current starting pitchers of the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.
Matthew M. Cerrone is a MLB research coordinator for NYFansOnly.com
This column is part of a continuing series previewing the 2003 Mets season. Wednesday will feature Armando Benitez