Baseball Think Factory wrote:
One-third of the season is completed, and the 2007 New York Mets are keeping pace with the 2006 New York Mets. While it is a surprise to many, it shouldn’t be.
Standings through 04 June 2007:
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Tm W L W-L% GB
NYM 35 20 .636 ---
ATL 32 25 .561 4.0
PHI 28 29 .491 8.0
FLA 28 30 .483 8.5
WSN 23 34 .404 13.0
Standings after 55 Met games in 2006:
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NLE W L GB WP
NYM 33 22 - .600
PHI 29 27 4.5 .518
ATL 28 29 6.0 .491
WSN 25 32 9.0 .439
FLA 20 34 12.5 .370
Yes, the 2007 Mets are actually two games ahead of their 2006 pace. I doubt the Braves will proceed to go belly-up this June as they did in June 2006, but the Braves certainly lack the talent the Mets have, and aren’t likely to keep up, much less catch the Mets. The Phillies are an unbelievable mess. They play like world-beaters one day and the Bad News Bears the next. On a side note, Cole Hamels is terrific to watch pitch.
What has the Mets outfront? Offense? Defense? Pitching? All three actually.
The bullpen is incredible once again, with a slightly different cast. Billy Wagner is having an “up” season, with 31 straight saves converted and a great ERA. He hasn’t had his home run issues he started with in 2006. When Chad Bradford left, there was concern that the Mets wouldn’t have a righty stopper. Rookie Joe Smith has stepped up in a tremendous manner with 25 of 27 outings being scoreless and has gotten lots of chances. Aaron Heilman and Pedro Feliciano have continued their 2006 dominance, and Smith, being somewhat more effective versus lefties than Bradford, has helped Feliciano’s workload. Guillermo Mota is back from his 50 game suspension and started off throwing well. The only blargh points in the pen have been when someone in the dugout lets Scot Schoeneweis throws pitches to right handed batters. Schoeneweis is a fine LOOGY, but even pitchers that bat right handed can rope doubles off him.
The rotation is stellar. I’ve been a big “Show me” critic of Rick Peterson for about two years now (or however long we’ve had him), and this year he is. Perhaps his “system” needed a few years to get full effect, but the Mets are reaping benefits. Oh, yes, Tom Glavine is the same as he ever was, but the re-emergence of Oliver Perez is stunning. Perez is throwing deep into games - in eleven starts, Perez has thrown seven or more innings seven times. Perez was this good in 2004, and is really just settling in. With the bullpen the Mets have, that’s sealing the deal. El Duque spent some time on the DL, which would be nice to avoid, but has been terrific when pitching. Usually that’s a big problem, but Jorge Sosa has found a nice groove for the Mets, and according to Met GM Omar Minaya, Sosa’s performance is a function of Peterson’s system, one that is implemented up and down the Mets farm system. John Maine continues to baffle hitters. He irritates many statheads by confounding BABIP, but then so did Glendon Rusch. Mike Pelfrey’s start was a little disappointing, but he’s young and will get better command and location as he learns.
The Mets are 26-2 when leading after six innings. When your starters only have to get you six, your team is in very good shape. Moreover, the Mets have won nine games when tied or trailing after six.
The offense is having issues with injuries. The regular outfield, Moises Alou, Carlos Beltran and Shawn Green, is not on the field and hasn’t been for the last few games. Alou has missed twenty games and Green has missed a week already. Green isn’t eligible to come off the DL until June 10. Jose Valentin has only started 20 games. Okay, he should be platooned against LHSPs, but the Mets definitely miss his defense. Overall, the Mets have experienced an interesting lineup of late.
Who is playing? Endy Chavez, who was incredible with the glove last season and continues that, is posting a miraculous 108 OPS+. Oh, that’s not other-worldly, but certainly better than one might expect. Endy could always be a valuable player if he could remember to bunt in half of his plate appearances. Damion Easley and Jose Valentin have produced well at second base. The biggest improvements have come from Jose Reyes, who is is expected to start a career arc like this, and Shawn Green, who noted during Spring training that he had changed his swing. He’s not hitting for lots of power, but he’s stroking the ball more smoothly alley-to-alley. Green’s improvement (from a 113 OPS+ to a 133 OPS+) is pretty good, but not outside his expectations. David Wright had a terrible April and is thus well behind his expected performance, basically at the rate Green is ahead of his. Then there is Carlos Delgado. Delgado has a newborn and a sore hand. He struggled terribly in April, and has recently gotten well. I guess his child started sleeping through the night. With Delgado posting a brutal 86 OPS+, the Mets can expect a much better performance moving forward.
From here, the Mets offense looks to increase, while the pitching may regress. Fortunately, the offensive run production is well over what the pitching may regress to. A hundred wins looks pretty good right now.