Leadership: What is it?

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on here I know, but this has been on my mind for some time and especially during the Mets recent atrocious skid.

So, What is leadership exactly? Is it showing a bright and happy face during Pre and Post game interviews? Is it keeping positive energy and good vibes during bad times? Lots of fans question whether the Mets have real leadership. While I can certainly understand why, I think fans need a real understanding on what leadership is.

Look no further than one Francisco Lindor, An on the Field leader who whenever he plays and is on the field, you see him calming guys down, reassuring his teammates, keeping positive vibes while at the same time, keeping it real and honest when things are rough. Now, that’s not a knock on Pete Alonso who is an optimist and likes to put a positive spin on things. Let it be known, there is nothing wrong with that at all. What fans are doing is destroying Pete Alonso for being positive and for him feeling like he doesn’t need to point out the obvious. Some players will call it like it is, some players will see the light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel (Positive outlook) and some players will be in the middle, Positive with some realistic view.

Here’s the issue though….Fans, Media, Talking heads, bloggers, myself included don’t know what goes on in the Clubhouse behind closed doors and we will never know. Are guys losing their minds? Are guys just Happy-go-Lucky? Is Luis Rojas digging it into them? Is he cheering the lack of Offense? We’ll never know and that’s something that benefits the team. What the fans, Media, Talking Heads, Bloggers don’t know is best. But let’s not take that too far, Remember the Rat/Raccoon fiasco? Everyone was miffed that the Mets weren’t “Honest” about what happened and honestly, good that they didn’t. Media, fans, Talking Heads and Bloggers have ways of blowing things out of proportion. But now I digress.

We’ve seen this team literally plummet harder than Tom Petty’s Free Falling and yet instead of being doom and gloom about it, the Mets as a whole are having positive energy. Hate him all you want, but Luis Rojas has kept his guys motivated through this awful stretch. Also, Even though the Mets are now 7 games back of the now First place Atlanta Braves, Rojas helped kept an injury riddled Mets team in First place for 90 consecutive days when the Mets were using their C and D squad players.

Now here’s the point I’m making. When Francisco Lindor went down with his oblique injury, It reflected on how much he was missed on the Field. It’s one thing to be in the Dugout on the Injured list and be a Leader, but there’s a Humongous difference when a star player or a Leader is on the field playing along side you. Examples are going to pitchers mound visits to reassure pitchers that everything’s going to be fine/helping him calm down and feed him a positive outlook on the situation. Since Lindor went down, the Leadership isn’t the same and other players have tried to take over that role in his absence.

Pete Alonso is one of those guys trying to “Hold down the Fort” so-to-speak. Is it working? I wouldn’t immediately shoot it down, but is he has good as Lindor? From what we can see, no he isn’t. Again, that’s not a knock against Alonso, He has his own way of being a Leader. The same goes with Luis Rojas, While it may look like he looks uninspiring, lost or even unintelligent, He knows what he’s doing (as far as what the analytics department allows him to do). In terms of keeping his team motivated, standing up for his guys and showing he believes in them, he’s got it down to a science. To question him on standing up for his players is ludicrous. You see it all the time when barking at umpires, questioning calls, you name it. His players could be 100% wrong in whatever play was made or with a call regarding a ball or strike, but he’ll go out there and fight for his guys. That’s what a real good manager does for his team. You also see that the players love playing for him and do whatever they can for him, including some late game rallies. That’s not saying they’ve been doing it recently, but The Players do love his influence as well as how he handles media and stands up for them.

While some fans, Media, Talking heads and bloggers may find this asinine and want Managers to be like those of the managers “back in the day” like Billy Martin, Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter and some even may reference Wally Backman out of all names, Managers in today’s game simply don’t do that anymore, It’s one of the reasons why Joe Girardi was canned as Yankees manager. He called out Gary Sanchez a few times and the organization as well as the Player(s) hated that. While I admit that players should grow more of a backbone and suck it up, That’s how players are nowadays. There’s just no changing that and the game has changed dramatically.

Leadership now is how you defend your players, are there for your team and how you keep them motivated and how you face the Media at times. Whether you agree with it or not, that’s how the game has evolved now. There’s nothing anyone can do to change that. Leadership for an MLB team is also how you conduct yourself after a good or bad performance and how you respond to others or even how you talk to the Media. Most responses are PR responses/right things to say and you can certainly understand that, However there are something that players say that you really need to read between the lines with and not see it as a general statement or what fans claim as “Delusional” or “in Denial”.

I’ll reiterate, what fans, Media, Talking heads, bloggers don’t know what happens behind closed doors in the clubhouse is for the better. They don’t need to know and it’s best left to the Players, coaches, Manager, Front Office Executives and Owner(s).

Analytical Management: The New Feel For The Game.

Here’s a thought:

When the Mets fired Dave Eiland back in 2019, the pitching started to get better. His methods were “Old school” and players were having trouble adapting to his methods and teachings. When Phil Regan (GOAT/Vulture) took over, the Mets pitching seemed to have gotten better. Regan followed the Analytics while also implementing his own experience, but mostly putting the analytical data first.

Chili Davis and Tom Slater had old school methods and approaches. Now that they’re gone, the Mets are going with…You guessed it, more of an analytical approach. Hense why they brought Hugh Quattlebaum and Kevin Howard. Both worked in the Minor leagues. Hugh as the Minor League Coordinator and Howard as the Farm director….In other words, heavy in analytics.

The Struggles of Francisco Lindor didn’t help their case, but neither did the struggles of the offense as a whole, including struggling with RISP with the exception of recently in the Series win in Philadelphia.

As for Luis Rojas, his job is completely safe. He’s an analytics first manager like most in the league, meaning that most/If not all of his decisions are based off of Analytics. This includes writing the lineup (Written for him), In game decisions, which pitchers to bring in at which times, you name it. No manager has full say anymore in today’s game with everyone so heavily sold on analytics, with the exception being the Phillies in Joe Girardi, who demanded he have control of writing the lineup before he signed on to be the manager for Philly.

Although I don’t agree with it at all, MLB has been trending in this direction since if I were to guess, 2016/2017. The art of a manager actually managing a game, those days are long gone now. The manager is now a scapegoat while the analytics department gets the ultimate free pass. Every team now invests heavily in analytics. It’s the way of the game nowadays sadly. You can say to hell with the stats, but that’s ultimately what’s driving the game. It’s no longer a feel for the game anymore, unless you feel the analytics.

Long Term Lindor: The Mets Season Prediction(s)

Well, It certainly has been a long time since I wrote an article. I hope you’re all ready for an in depth analysis of the Mets season. No, I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of everything, but I will give you where the Mets will place in the Division as well as why I feel they will be where they’ll land and if they’ll make the playoffs or not. Before you ask….No, I will not go into individual player stats. It’s too tedious.

First, Let’s tackle the Mets recent signing shall we?

As of late March 31st, The Mets signed the Elite shortstop Francisco Lindor to a 10 year 341 Million Dollar extension which includes some deferred payments, a Limited 15 team no Trade clause from 2022 till 2025 and a Full no trade clause starting in 2026 till 2031. This deal was key for the Mets and especially for the Mets new Billionaire owner Steve Cohen. Lindor was a key acquisition in the off-season for the Mets as well as Carlos Carassco, who is currently on the Injured List due to a Torn hamstring. Lindor being locked up for 10 years (11 technically) shows how the Mets are committed long term to success and not mediocrity. The Mets look to compete for years to come and not just “Tread water” like they have for the past several years. This signing of Lindor set the market for other shortstops who are free agents this upcoming off-season such as Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Javier Baez and others. A Market for a Shortstop the Mets won’t have to worry about for a Long time.

On to the Prediction.

Where will the Mets place? Will they win the Division? Will they be bottom feeders? Will they be treading water? Will they be average at best?

My prediction for the Mets will be:

The Mets will finish in 2nd place of the National League East Division with around 86-92 wins with a Wild Card playoff spot. I find it very hard to believe that the Mets will topple the Braves for the 1st place spot in the division with the Braves being stacked. That’s no insult to the Mets, I just can’t envision a scenario where the Mets take the division against a Healthy Braves team. The only way I see the Mets taking the Division is if the Braves are overcome by a Bevy of injuries and the Mets go on an absolute torrent down the stretch from the word “Go”.

With that being said, The Mets will have their hands full with a very competitive National League East Division in the form of not only the Braves, but the Nationals (COVID Riddled right now) and the Phillies. I don’t think the Marlins will be as good as they were in the 60 game 2020 season, but I think they’ll make it difficult for other teams, a Pesky team is what I think the Marlins will be. A Team that won’t make the playoffs, but will be a thorn in your side.

I can definitely see a 4 way race to the Division with the Braves winning it overall, but I see more of a 3 way Race in the National League East for the second Wild Card spot for the National League between the Mets, Nationals and Phillies. Ultimately, I feel the Phillies will wet the bed during the final stretch and it’ll be the Mets and Nationals going neck and neck with the Mets pulling in front with the Last few games. I can’t see any teams from the National League Central Division or even the National League Western Division. The West will bring the Padres in the First Wild Card spot with the Dodgers in the driver’s seat for the division. As for the Central, I think it goes to the Cardinals, although I wouldn’t be surprised at all Cubs somehow pull away with the Division title.

Back to the Mets.

I know some people saw the Prediction based on whatever website it was saying the Mets would take away the East division with the Braves landing in fourth place. I don’t know who made that prediction nor do I want to know what they either Smoked, drank, snorted or gear cranked to make that prediction. I can tell you that The Mets don’t have a division winning roster at least in the Eastern Division. If they were in the American League West Division, American League Central Division, National League Central Divison or even a Braves-less National League East Division, I can see them Winning the division. This Braves team is just too good in my opinion.

Could the Mets win the Division? Absolutely! In 162 games, there’s always a chance (Unless you’re the Pittsburgh Pirates, Then you have no chance at winning more than 40 games or even 30 games for that matter). In all honesty, The Mets have a chance to win the Division, but I doubt they win it. But then again, in a 162 game season, anything can happen.

For now, I stand with my prediction and if anything drastically changes, You’ll see another long, well thought out article from me!

Enjoy Opening Day on Saturday (Hopefully and unfortunately) my Mets brothers and sisters! LETS GO METS!!!

Why 2021 Can Be A Good Year for Pete Alonso

2020 was a down year for the 2019 Rookie of the Year. I believe 2021 can be a good one for the first baseman.

Palmer on Pittsburgh

Stat Comparisons

Baseball Savant
Baseball Savant

It’s not hard to see that Alonso hit the ball much better in 2019. Alonso was making less contact, striking out more, and not making good contact when he did. However, these aren’t the only stats that matter.

Baseball Savant
Baseball Savant

This is a figure that I think means a lot. The two seasons are not very different, but there is a slight difference from 2019-2020. That difference is actually a good one, as Alonso was using more of the entire field as opposed to 2019, where he was slightly pulling the ball. Whether this was the reason why he struggled more, or he just wasn’t making contact as much as he wanted, this is a positive sign for Alonso.

By the Pitch

Pete Alonso is a fastball hitter. He has been thrown more fastballs than any other pitch, but he still struggles with them sometimes. In 2019, Alonso had a .291 AVG against fastballs. That number dropped significantly to .237 in 2020. The SLG is even more worrisome of a drop on the fastball, as it fell from .666 in 2019 to .509 in 2020. However, fastballs are always going to be something Alonso feeds off of, he just needs to get used to hitting the breaking pitch.

That being said, breaking pitches are the worst category for Alonso, as he has batted a highest of .205 on them in his career- from the 2019 season.

However, there is one category that actually got significantly better in 2020- off-speed pitches. In 2019, he had a .239 AVG, and a .587 SLG on the off-speed. 2020 yielded incredible results on off-speed pitches, as he had a .280 AVG, and a .640 SLG. That is a very good number, and is very promising for Alonso. He struggled so mightily on any non-fastball pitch in 2019, and he made that adjustment in 2020 to be able to hit off-speed. This did hurt his fastball hitting in 2020, but that is because he was working so hard to hit the slower pitches. As long as Alonso works on hitting the fastball the way he did in 2019, and combines that with his off-speed success in 2020, his only weak spot will be breaking balls. That is definitely something he hasn’t been able to say yet.

Year-to-Year Comparison

Going to throw out a bunch of Pete Alonso’s stats here comparing 2019 and 2020, and will analyze them.

  • Exit Velocity
    • 2019- 90.7 MPH
    • 2020- 90.2 MPH

Good to see similar exit velocities by year. Alonso hits the ball hard, a very good sign.

  • Barrel %
    • 2019- 15.8%
    • 2020- 12.8%

Definitely a drop off in barrels, but that is something that can be fixed. Alonso was looking to be better at hitting the off-speed, which will in turn lead to more hits on top of or under the ball.

  • Hard Hit %
    • 2019- 42.9%
    • 2020- 41.2%
  • Whiff %
    • 2019- 41.4%
    • 2020- 44.7%
  • In zone Swing %
    • 2019- 41.4%
    • 2020- 44.7%
  • Out of zone swing %
    • 2019- 58.6%
    • 2020- 55.3%
  • First-pitch swing %
    • 2019- 28.1%
    • 2020- 33.5%

These numbers display a clear pattern. While Alonso was swinging the bat more, he was having less hard hits, and more swings and misses. However, the number that stands out to me is the out of zone swing percentage. Albeit incredibly high, he swung at 3.3% less pitches out of the zone between 2019 and 2020. A very impressive change like that is oftentimes a good sign, and could only mean good things. Mets fans have seen for a while that Alonso likes to swing at pitches outside the zone, but the trend he is on shows that he is going to be doing less of that.

Overall, Alonso needs to swing the bat a little less, needs to be more focused on hitting breaking pitches, and needs to be able to hit fastballs at a rate like he did in 2019. If he can do that, 2021 can be a great season for Alonso.

Opinion

Personally, I believe that this season will be a good one for Alonso. I believe he is going to stick to the model of a true power hitter- a guy who doesn’t hit for average, but will hit many home runs. But, I do think we can expect a boost in his average from the past season, and he will still hit many dingers. I am projecting him to hit somewhere between .250-.260, with around 40 home runs. If he can do that, Pete Alonso will be able to solidify himself as one of the better power hitters in today’s game.

Photo Credit Wendell Cruz USA TODAY Sports

Mets game Preview: 3/02/2021 Astros @ Mets

The Mets will face the Astros in Port St. Lucie at 1.10 EST.

Line-up:

DH Brandon Nimmo

SS Francisco Lindor

RF Michael Conforto

1B Pete Alonso

2B Jeff McNeil

C James McCann

3B Luis Guillorme

CF Albert Almora jr.

LF Khalil Lee

Probable pitchers:

RHP Marcus Stroman, RHP Jordan Yamamoto, RHP Edwin Diaz, LHP Jerry Blevins, RHP Drew Smith, RHP Franklyn Kilome and RHP Sam McWilliams

Game Notes:

Mets number 7 prospect Khalil Lee will make his debut for the Mets organization. He was part of the trade with the Royals. Very excited to see him play today.

Projected Mets 2021 Opening Day Roster (Fangraphs)

I love to use fangraphs as one of my baseball resource tools. I highly encourage all nerds and non-nerds to check them out and support them. Here 2021 OD roster for the Mets according to fangraphs.

Starting Pitchers

RHP Jacob Degrom
RHP Carlos Carrasco
RHP Marcus Stroman
LHP David Peterson
LHP Joey Lucchesi

Bullpen

Closer- RHP Edwin Diaz
Setup- RHP Trevor May
Setup- RHP Miguel Castro
RHP Dellin Betances
RHP Jeurys Familia
RHP Robert Gsellman
RHP Jacob Barnes
LHP Aaron Loup
LHP Stephen Tarpley

Infielders (Bats)

C James McCann (R)
C Thomas Nido (R)
1B Pete Alonso (R)
2B Jeff McNeil (L)
3B JD Davis (R)
SS Lindor (S)
INF Luis Guillorme (L)
INF/OF Jonathan Villar (S)

Outfielders (Bats)

LF Dominic Smith (L)
CF Brandon Nimmo (L)
RF Michael Conforto (L)
OF Albert Almora Jr. (R)

Injured List

RHP Noah Syndergaard
RHP Seth Lugo

We are expecting the Mets to make more moves as they are actively shopping JD Davis and with Seth Lugo going down for at least 6 weeks with elbow surgery, they find themselves in need of a bullpen piece.


(Cover Photo is the http://www.fangraphs.com logo)