Andrew Simon on the perceived velocity of Mets hurlers

One thing Statcast™ is able to measure is perceived velocity (PV), which goes beyond traditional velocity by attempting to quantify how fast a pitch appears to a batter. It does this by factoring in the pitcher’s release point. The more extension he is able to get, the closer to the plate he releases the ball, and the more his velocity “plays up.”

To look at their high-powered arsenals another way, among full-time starters with at least 400 four-seamers thrown, Syndergaard, deGrom and Harvey ranked first, sixth and 12th in average PV. Among those with at least that many two-seamers, they were first, second and third. For good measure, deGrom and Harvey were first and fourth for sliders.

Source: Andrew Simon, mets.com

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Lucas Duda could have a huge 2016

Lucas DudaThe Mets have done a good job of adding, and retaining, talent and depth to their roster this off-season. They are, arguably, a more complete and better team than the 2015 version that stormed their way to the World Series. Fans are rightfully excited to see Yoenis Cespedes back in the team’s lineup, but they’re also looking forward to seeing their youngsters like Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Jeurys Familia continue to take steps forward. There are concerns, though. For instance, what can we expect from David Wright and his chronic condition? Will Curtis Granderson even come close to replicating his 2015 in his age 35 season? Just how bad will Asdrubal Cabrera be at shortstop?

There’s one player that no one seems to be talking about much: Lucas Duda. It’s not surprising. At 6’4” but as reserved as any ballplayer out there, Duda is hard to miss. Still, he seems to find himself faded into the background noise more often than not. Unless he’s going on one of his tears at the plate, of course. What people should be talking about, however, is how he’s quietly put his head down and become one of the best hitters in baseball and a top ten first baseman since officially taking over the duty at the start of the 2014 season.

During those two years, Duda has averaged a wRC+ of 135, 17th best in the majors. If we consider only first basemen, he shoots up to number eight. If we consider his 6.4 total fWAR over those two seasons, his performance is slightly less remarkable. He’s a scratch defender at first, essentially, and provides no value on the base paths. He basically provides all of his value with his bat. That’s still pretty impressive, considering that 6.4 fWAR still puts him at number 10 for first basement through 2014-2015.

The flip side to his tears is that he tends to disappear at the plate for stretches. He’s a streaky hitter, no doubt about it. He can look absolutely unstoppable, as he did this past summer when he smashed nine home runs in eight games. Conversely, he was not very good in the 2015 playoffs as a whole, striking out 20 times in 54 plate appearances. It was the downside to his streakiness that appeared at the worst possible time.

It’s understandable that fans are frustrated with such highs and lows, but it’s important to keep in mind that a team should be constructed to absorb these streaks. That is, though one player is having a rough stretch, others should be there to pick him up. Duda is no longer the sole source for power in this Mets lineup as he has been in the past. He doesn’t need to be that guy anymore. The current roster is sprinkled with players that can carry the offense for a time if needed and the lineup is pretty well balanced.

What does that mean for 2016? Well, assuming relatively good health, we get to see a full season of Duda with strong lineup protection all around. When he goes on one of his tears, teams will not be able to simply pitch around him to get to an entire back half of a lineup made of replacement players (or worse). He hit 30 home runs in 2014 as part of an offense that ranked in the bottom third of the league. What can he do at the heart of an offense that could, potentially, be in the top half of the league or better? It could be a monster season for Duda and a very fun summer for Mets fans.

Top Prospects Among Yankees Spring Training Invitees

2015 first round pick James Kaprielian will join the big club in spring training. (Robert M. Pimpsner)
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Friday afternoon the New York Yankees announced that they have invited 25 players to spring training this year.  Among those invited are top prospects visit site to read more]

Top 10 Spring Training storylines to follow for the Mets

  1. One Ace to Rule Them All – We know the Mets have lots of pitching and with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz all set to start 2016 with the Mets the biggest question that Terry Collins will be called on to answer is, “Who’s the top dog?” The early favorite is Harvey who has the longest tenure and most fragile ego of the quartet but it’s hard to pinpoint who is actually the best pitcher.  This will only get harder once Zack Wheeler is back.
  2. Infield of the Forgotten – With Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera holding down the middle infield positions, pay attention to Dilson Herrera and Gavin Cecchini.  Herrera and Cecchini are both blocked for 2016, barring injury, but they’ll both get their looks.  Don’t be surprised if one or both of the internal Met options looks to show the Mets their mistake in passing them over.
  3. Where’s Wilmer? – With all the moves the Mets made you might be wondering where Wilmer Flores fits in.  The answer is that he’s backing up David Wright’s back and making starts against left-handed pitching for either Walker or Lucas Duda.  Expect to see Flores taking reps at every spot in the infield as he prepares for his role as super-sub.
  4. Waiting for Lefty – The Mets have Jerry Blevins, Anthony Bastardo, Josh Edgin, Sean Gilmartin and Josh Smoker in the system and will likely only be looking for two (three at most) to join the 25-man roster after Spring Training is over.  Odds are that Edgin will see extra time in AAA and that Gilmartin might be transitioned back to starting but Smoker is a true dark-horse to make the team.
  5. The Best Offensive Outfield Since 1987 – Since the glory days of Daryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson and Kevin McReynolds the Met outfield has never been much of an offensive force.  Now, with Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto the met outfield is an offensive strength and not an offensive liability.
  6. The Worst Defensive Outfield? While our outfielders may have potent bats the Mets will need to address the fact that Cespedes is a less-than-ideal defender and that Conforto isn’t a plus defender in left.  It will be interesting to see how the outfield defense holds up now that they can play together as a consistent unit.
  7. Our First Good Look at Smith – We’ve heard about Dominic Smith since he was drafted and now that he has successfully graduated from Advanced A basbeball he’s going to get some time in the Major League camp.  Scouting says that he displays good power in batting practice and the stats indicate that he has great contact abilities.  It’ll be good to see him take some swings with the big league club.
  8. How Does Terry Collins Build the Lineup? – In 2015 Collins bluffed us through Spring Training, placing Juan Lagares in leadoff, only to switch his plan and have Granderson at the top of the lineup for the majority of the season.  This season, Granderson is still likely the best option to lead things off for the Mets but Conforto’s role is in doubt.  Based upon his 2016 results and his projection he should be hitting around the #3/#4 spot in the lineup but Collins has a history of not trusting younger players.
  9. What Will Be Done With De Aza? – Good money says that the Mets will use Alejandro De Aza as the primary left-handed pinch hitter and 5th outfielder, but there is a chance that De Aza earns himself a starting role on another club (via trade) if he plays well.  With Darrell Ceciliani gone and Brandon Nimmo scheduled to play another season in Las Vegas the Mets will probably wish to retain De Aza in his current role.
  10. How Healthy is the Captain? – David Wright is still the face of the franchise and while he’s no longer the driving power of the offense, he is still an important piece for the 2016 season.  It would be good to see Wright playing the field and hitting the ball with authority.  He may never hit over 15 home runs in a single season ever again, but he can still be a plus hitter in the lineup.

Beyond the Top 60: 10 Yankees Prospects to Watch in 2016

Anderson Severino (Bryan Green)
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The Yankees at any one time have over 225 players signed to minor league contracts so it can become difficult to narrow it down to the top 50-60 prospects in the organization.  We looked at who made our official top 50 prospects list, and those who just missed the cut and ranked #51-60.  Now … [visit site to read more]

RailRiders Seeking P.A. Announcer & On-Field Emcee

RailRiders
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Moosic, Pa. – Now batting for the SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees), you? Well, not exactly. But you could echo those very words throughout PNC Field in 2016.

The club will hold auditions for two high-profile positions: secondary public address announcer and on-field … [visit site to read more]

A balanced National League will present challenges for the Mets

National LeagueThe 2016 National League is sharply divided between haves and have nots. Six teams, two in each division, are in rebuilding mode, stripped bare of quality veterans, save a few overpaid, untradeable ones. The other nine, three in each division, are talented enough to compete for one of the five playoff spots.

The have nots should provide some easy wins for the competitive teams. The Phillies, Braves, Padres, Rockies, Reds and Brewers have all been trading assets for prospects the past few seasons. While this familiar tear-down-to-build-up approach is bearing fruit for the Mets, Astros and Cubs now, these six teams aren’t likely to see the light at the end of the tunnel for another two seasons.

The Phillies, still stuck with an aging, overpaid and utterly untradeable Ryan Howard, have him and fellow glory days holdover Carlos Ruiz surrounded by rookies in the field, the rotation and the bullpen. And most of their top prospects aren’t there yet. It will be a long season for Phillies fans. The same is true for Atlanta fans who’ve held onto first baseman and Mets killer Freddie Freeman and pitcher Julio Tehran as a building blocks, but have otherwise traded away every player of value, including superstar shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Thanks to their lopsided trade of Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks, they have a stockpile of top talent in the minors so they plan to be competitive again, just not in 2016. They will, however, be a little better than the Phillies thanks to the additions of Erik Aybar and Ender Inciarte.

The Padres still have a couple of decent pitchers and an overpaid, untradeable former star of their own in Matt Kemp. However, they are also void of talent and desperately trying to hit the reset button following an ill-conceived 2014 spending spree. The Rockies still hold some talent and a few trade chips on the offensive side – namely Carlos Gonzalez – but their pitching staff may be the worst in the league.

The Reds and the Brewers were talented teams not too long ago, but just didn’t have the revenue to support the necessary payroll so Cincinnati traded away most of its rotation and closer, while Milwaukee traded away everyone but Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy – though rumor has it he’ll be gone by spring training. Like Colorado, Cincinnati still has enough bats to score runs, but lacks the pitching to compete.

Last year’s playoff teams – the Mets, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates and Dodgers will all be competitive again, as will 2014 playoff teams hurt by injuries last year – the Nationals and Giants. The other two – the Diamondbacks and Marlins, may be a little short of the rest, but they have enough talent to play .500 and maybe jump into the fray with a bold midseason move.

The Marlins hope for full seasons from ace pitcher Jose Fernandez and big bopper Giancarlo Stanton, as well as continue improvement from some of their younger players. They added free agent pitcher Wei-Yin Chen to round out a potentially strong rotation, but their bullpen is a weakness. Similarly, the Diamondbacks made a huge splash in free agency to bolster their starting staff and have a decent lineup, but not much of a bullpen. These are, in this writer’s estimation, the weakest of the nine contenders.

As for the big seven fighting for five playoff spots, the Dodgers appear a little weaker due to losing Zack Grienke, but have three stud prospects coming up. The Nationals, similarly, lost a few key cogs in the offseason, but have a few studs in the pipeline. They return a top flight rotation and the reigning MVP. The Cardinals will also have to overcome a few free agent losses and their lineup doesn’t look particularly strong going into the season, but they’re getting ace Adam Wainwright back to front a deep pitching staff that led them to a 100-win season. The Pirates will return a similar team built around pitching, defense, contact hitting and star outfielder Andrew McCutcheon.

Meanwhile, the Cubs and Giants were aggressive players this offseason, both in free agency and trades. Both added veterans to their rotations and the Giants may still be in play for a bat. The well-coached, well-rounded Giants hope to keep their even-yeared run of success alive.

It’s a good thing the Mets were equally aggressive in shaping their roster this offseason, because 2016 will be a very competitive one in the National League.

Keith Law on the Yoenis Cespedes deal

Steve: I might have missed it, but what did you think of the Cespedes deal. If he opts out, it’s $27M for a year of Cespedes plus a first round pick.
Klaw: Not on it. He’s not a $27 million player and he’s not a centerfielder. By the way, that’s “if he opts out and the Mets offer and he signs elsewhere.”

Chris: In regards to the Mets & Cespedes. Isn’t it better to overpay him for 1 year then being stuck with 2-3 dead years on the back end of a 5-6 year contract?
Klaw: Isn’t it better to just not pay him at all? There wasn’t a better use for the money they gave him, Cabrera (who can’t play short at all), and de Aza?

Jon: During the Cespedes press conference, Sandy indicated the Mets will now start looking at getting the young pitchers signed to extensions. Syndergaard would be the obvious place to start for that, no?
Klaw: Of their young arms he’s the one I’d try hardest to sign, and Matz would be the least because of his injury history.

Source: The dish

Lots of other Mets-related stuff in the chat, including thoughts on Dominic Smith pulling the ball, Gavin Cecchini’s defense and the best pitching prospect left in the farm system.

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If you prefer longer articles, that’s our specialty here at Mets360. Just click on “Perspectives” or “Minor Leagues” or “History” on the grey menu bar above this article’s headline and you will be taken to a list of over 2,500 articles written since the beginning of 2010.

If you enjoy the quick hitters, click on “Quotes” in the same menu bar to see our archive.

*****

Human Cannonball Highlights Full 2016 Promo Schedule

RailRiders
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Moosic, Pa. – A human cannonball will streak across the NEPA sky in advance of a wild fireworks extravaganza. That June 17 scene gives you a taste of the sizzle the SWB RailRiders (Triple-A/New York Yankees) will display as they roll out their fully fleshed-out 2016 promotional … [visit site to read more]

Beyond the Top 50: Yankees Top Prospects #51-60

Nick Goody  (Jessica Kovalcin)
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Our New York Yankees Top 50 Prospects list is out and now we take a look at prospects who missed the cut and are ranked #51-60 on our list.

Click on the page number to navigate through the list.

 

visit site to read more]