MLB: New York Mets at Miami Marlins

Staff Post: Small Sample Size Theater

Whatever else happens this season, we’ll always have the 11-1 record. Best start in baseball. An accomplishment the Yankees have never unlocked. Who cares if no team in the last 30 seasons has won a playoff series after starting 11-1 or better? That’s not a fun fact, it’s a wet blanket fact.

What’s fun is extrapolating Mets stats from their historic small-sample stretch. Like this: “Winning at an 11-1 rate over a 162-game season would produce a 148-14 record.” Or this: “Met catchers are on pace to hit 13 triples this season, more than all but one player (Charlie Blackmon) hit in 2017.” In that spirit, the BP Mets staff will gaze into their crystal ball and project…

The Team’s Dollars Spent on DL players

As of Saturday, the Mets had spent $2.9 million on disabled players. David Wright accounts for two-thirds of that total, but the Todd Frazier signing proves the Mets have no plans for Wright to play again (and we know the team recovers 75 percent of Wright’s salary under an insurance policy while he remains injured). So while it looks like the 2018 Mets have spent more money on the DL than any team except the Giants, exempting Wright’s cost puts the Mets toward the bottom third of the league.

Granted, this one seemed more promising before the 25-man roster was stripped of both its catchers over 48 hours. But still. Michael Conforto is back and raking, the starting staff (sans superfluous Jason Vargas) is shoving, and the bullpen is thriving despite Anthony Swarzak’s absence. The 2018 Mets have always been a bet on health. If the new training staff can keep its players upright all season, minimizing DL dollars lost, they could be in for a run to rival the 108-win 1986 World Series team. — Scott D. Simon

Amed Rosario’s Strikeout Rate

Much was expected from Amed Rosario when he received the call to the majors last season. The Mets’ shortstop of the future ranked eighth on our main site’s 2017 top 100 prospect list, but Rosario disappointed with the bat to the tune of a .248/.271/.394 triple-slash. Perhaps even more troubling was the 28.8% of Rosario’s at-bats that ended in a strikeout, which was more than 10% higher than his minor league career K-rate. Through his first 43 plate appearances of the 2018 season, Rosario’s K-rate is sitting at 32.6%. It’s a troubling trend for the young shortstop that limits his upside as a hitter, especially considering the lack of power he’s shown thus far. I think it’s reasonable to expect Rosario to get his K% down to about 23% by the end of the season, which would be a huge boon to his batting average and on-base percentage. Rosario exhibited terrific bat to ball skills throughout his years in the minors; it’s only a matter of time until it translates to the majors. — Alex Rosen

Brandon Nimmo’s OBP

Through April 9, before a controversial demotion and subsequent return to Flushing in the wake of a catching collapse, Brandon Nimmo put up a .600 OBP, including four walks in just 15 plate appearances. A .600 OBP on the season would put him behind only Barry Bonds’ 2004 in the record books. It would beat Ted Williams’ 1941 and Babe Ruth’s 1923 and Mickey Mantle’s 1957. A .600 OBP would make Nimmo a legend. He’s not that, probably. He’s almost assuredly worse than Bonds and Williams and Ruth and Mantle. He’s not a .600 OBP guy. But he deserves a chance to prove that. — Kate Feldman

Noah Syndergaard’s Zone Percentage

Our friend Noah Syndergaard hasn’t been at his sharpest to this point in the season. Interestingly enough, before Sunday’s start, Syndergaard had thrown just 32.1% of his pitches in the strike zone despite a career average around 47%. For a guy with as much talent and confidence as anyone, it’s more than a bit surprising to see that he’s seventh lowest in Zone% in the majors, despite Mickey Callaway’s constant encouragement for his pitchers to “be aggressive in the zone.” Perhaps it’s just a bit of rust or a case of Syndergaard being too cute, but it’s easy to envision that number jumping back up to his career norm by the end of the 2018 campaign. — Adam Kaufman

Jay Bruce’s Defensive Stats

There’s lots of fun to be had with small sample size numbers, but you can probably have the most fun with defensive metrics, which can be completely ludicrous without sufficient data inputs. As of Friday, Jay Bruce stood out in particular with a -60.5 UZR/150 in 93 innings of play in right field. For reference, the worst outfielder season on record by UZR/150 was Brad Hawpe in 2008 with the Rockies, who posted an obscene -44.7 in 1,172 innings. What’s more, it took Manny Ramirez around 4,000 innings to accumulate -60 career UZR. So basically, UZR/150 is saying that 150 games of Bruce at this rate would be about as valuable as 4,000 innings of Manny in your outfield. Oof. — David Capobianco

Michael Conforto’s OPS

Quick trivia! How many times has a Met completed a full season with an OPS over 1.000 (min. 500 PA)? Once. In 56 years of franchise history, only Mike Piazza has cleared quadruple digits, finishing 2000 with a robust 1.012 mark. A week ago, Michael Conforto had a 1.021 OPS in over 16 plate appearances. We’re doing this exercise primarily to illustrate the preposterous nature of small-sample sizes, so while it’s irresponsible to say Conforto will sustain this mark based on 16 turns at the plate, I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility in general. Conforto had a .939 OPS in 440 PA last year. He’s now a year more disciplined at the plate with as much pop as he’s ever had. And if Mickey Callaway continues to sandwich Conforto at leadoff between a position player and Yoenis Cespedes, he’ll typically have the upper hand on opposing pitchers before even seeing a pitch. – Jordan Rabinowitz

Mets’ Catchers’ Stolen Bases Allowed

While the Mets have provided critics barely anything to complain about through their first 13 games, the trend of allowing stolen bases has continued. Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki allowed 12 of 13 runners to successfully steal before their injuries.  The current roster has weak-armed Jose Lobaton, who has permitted 79% of baserunners to steal successfully in his career (in addition to two already this season), and an inexperienced Tomas Nido. Sandy Alderson and staff may take this opportunity to go out and upgrade a position that has been weak for the Amazins for quite some time now.  If a trade is not made or a veteran is not signed soon, look for the Mets’ abysmal number of stolen bases allowed to continue to rise. – Tyler Oringer

Steven Matz’s Home Run Rate

As of Sunday morning, Steven Matz’s HR/FB rate was 30.8%. That means almost one out of every three fly balls allowed by Matz this year have gone over the outfield wall. Let us assume he holds those fly ball and home run rates throughout the season, and we will, perhaps foolishly, project him for 150 innings (he has never surpassed 145). In this scenario, he will allow 43 home runs this season, which is just seven shy of the major league record. Of course, when Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven allwed 50 home runs in 1986, he did so in 270 innings pitched. Were we to project Matz to throw 180 innings with this rate, he’d allow 51 home runs. I love to see records fall, but this is one I could do without. — Zane Moran

The Bullpen’s Strand Rate

The Mets entered Sunday’s game against the Brewers with a 1.62 bullpen ERA, the best in baseball. Last year the Mets’ bullpen – with a lot of the same guys – posted an NL-worst 4.82 ERA. Mickey Callaway comes from the Indians’ innovative school of intelligent reliever usage, so maybe he’s brought better performance from Cleveland. However, the biggest thing going for the pen right now is luck. The Mets have stranded an astounding 98.7 percent of opposing baserunners so far; average pitchers only strand around 73 percent of opposing runners. It’s reasonable to expect the Mets’ bullpen to be above average at stranding runners all season, since they are one of the best at striking hitters out. But even the best bullpens end up below an 80 percent strand rate for an entire season.  — Noah Grand

Yoenis Cespedes’s Strikeout Rate

Yoenis Cespedes has struggled in 2018 despite the Mets’ overall success. He’s striking out over 40 percent of the time (as of April 14).  Unfortunately, his high strikeout rate for could continue throughout the season. Opponents are attacking him with changeups and fastballs while relying less on cutters, sliders and curveballs. This change in approach has knocked Cespedes off his game. He is swinging more at pitches both inside and outside the strike zone but making less contact. His contract rate is down from his career average of 77 percent to 69.4 percent, while his swinging strike rate has jumped to 15 percent. We’ll see the rest of the season if Cespedes can adjust his approach. If not, expect to see this abnormal strikeout rate continue. — Seth Rubin

Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell – USA TODAY Sports

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