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The Surprising Mets Defense

By Mike Silva ~ July 1st, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets.

One of the biggest criticisms of Jason Bay when he signed with the Mets was not for picking a cavernous stadium that would swallow up his home runs, but his inability to play defense. The Boston media, known to take swipes at players on the way out of town, made this widely known upon Bay’s 4 year/$66 million dollar deal. In two seasons, Bay has resembled Luis Castillo at the plate, but his defense has been pretty solid. Even his UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating) has been in the positive this year at 5.7. If he continues at this pace it will be his best defensive season statistically. Bay is not alone, as Dan Murphy, Justin Turner, Ruben Tejada, and yes Carlos Beltran, have joined the historically strong defenders in Jose Reyes and Angel Pagan to make up a surprisingly solid defensive Mets team.

It’s always hard to judge defense. Errors are too vague; Ultimate Zone Rating is prone to huge statistical swings due to sample size; the eyes always have a tendency to tell half the story. Perhaps if you combine all three it gives you a balanced view of the team.

The Mets have some of the fewest errors in baseball, but are towards the bottom in UZR. Anyone who watches them daily knows they are a solid to above average team. Their staff doesn’t strike many batter out, so they have relied on their defense making the routines plays. With David Wright and Ike Davis out, the Mets haven’t missed at beat the corners. As a matter of fact, Turner has played a better third than Wright and Murphy has held his own in comparison to a future Gold Glove winner in Ike Davis.

The biggest surprise may be Beltran. Only missing two games this year on a surgically repaired knee could be considered a modern miracle. Being among the runs saved leaders (source) in right field to date is downright astonishing. Yes, Beltran was a Gold Glove centerfielder, but playing a new position on a bum knee made many wonder if he could be competent.  Murphy and Bay are also among the leaders at first and third respectively. Murphy also has done an adequate job at second and third.  Both are surprising since they are in the lineup for their bat. You could point out a lot of weaknesses in their games, but hard work is not one of them. Their commitment to defense proves that any player can improve in that facet of the game.

I suspect Ruben Tejada would be among the leaders as well if he had enough time. Tejada has shown marketed improvement since his promotion. Right now the Mets may have the best up the middle infield defense in baseball when Reyes and Tejada are on the field.

How can the Mets win with an average staff made up of #3 starters, shallow bullpen, and no power? It appears playing strong defense is the key.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to The Surprising Mets Defense

  1. Chuck Johnson

    “The biggest surprise may be Beltran. Only missing two games this year on a surgically repaired knee could be considered a modern miracle. Being among the runs saved leaders (source) in right field to date is downright astonishing. ”

    This isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this, and I don’t understand this reasoning at all.

    Beltran is in the top 15-20 best centerfielders in the history of the game.

    Centerfielders that reach age 34 and have major knee surgery have no problem moving to a corner outfield spot and being an above average player.

    Sabermetrics ranks another age 34 centerfielder as one of the best defensive players ever.

    What sabermetrics can’t justify is the fact he spent seventy-five percent of his career playing behind a Hall of Fame pitcher and had more routine plays than anyone..ever.

    No one has yet to come up with a sabermetric formula which accurately tracks steriods on performance.

    Carlos Beltran is performing at an AllStar caliber level and will cash in bigtime as a free agent this off-season.

    Andruw Jones has gone to spring training THREE years in a row on a non-guaranteed, minor league contract.

    Not hard to figure out.

    Six more years at his career averages, Beltran is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

    Andruw Jones might be lucky enough to make it past the screening committee.

    No way he gets more than one year on the ballot.

  2. Mike Silva

    Chuck, Jones is no where near a HOF IMO. Defensively yes, but he just hasn’t been the kind of offensive player that I would consider. Beltran, well, I have my doubts he can play at this level without a DH. Remember, my surprise is more about the surgery (bone on bone) than with Beltran’s capabilities.

    Beltran, not Jones, was the Best CF in baseball the last decade.

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