Saturday, June 05, 2004

Piazza and Matsui Tidbits 

Since I could not watch last night's 5 to 1 loss to the Marlins due to the fact that MLB Extra Innings Sucks, I got my daily Mets quota by snooping around some player stats.

This may be stating the obvious, but Mike Piazza needs some protection in the line-up if the Mets are going to go anywhere. Piazza has 10 HRs but only 22 RBI. Of the 57 big league hitters with 8 or more HRs, Piazza has the least amount of RBI. The fact is, the only time Piazza is pitched to is when he can do the least amount of damage. Piazza has 8 of his 10 HRs with the bases empty while hitting at a .321/.382/.589 bases vacant line. Mike's able to put up these numbers because he's given some pitches to hit, as he only walks about once every 11 plate appearances when the bases are empty. Compare those numbers with Piazza's stats with runners on bases, and we see that Piazza's AVG and SLG dip to .280 and .527 respectively although his OBP jumps almost 40 points to .421 thanks to a walk rate that more than doubles to one free pass every 5 of his plate appearances when there are runners aboard. With a runner in scoring position it gets even worse, as Mike draws a walk every 3.86 times he steps up to the plate. Piazza's 8 intentional walks (and quite a few blatant unintentional intentional walks as well), which ties him for 3rd in MLB, highlight the problem of being backed up (way back) by too many players that are hovering at, too close to, or below replacement level. Come to think of it, the fact that Piazza has put up the numbers he has with the inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Baseball Players batting behind him is pretty amazing. Obviously trading for an impact bat is one solution. A quick fix, however, might be to take advantage of Jason Phillips' hot bat (5 HR, .278/.350/.569 in May) by insulating Piazza with Cliff Floyd hitting 5th and Phillips 3rd.

Is it time for Kazuo Matsui to quit the switch hitting charade? I know, I know, I gotta give this guy a break - first I trash his fielding and now this. Let me first start off by saying that, despite looking bad in the batter's box at times, if you would have told me before the season started that on June 5th Matsui would hitting .258/.340/.423 with 5 HRs and 7 SBs - numbers that place him 5th among NL shortstops in hits, 2nd in doubles, and 3rd in extra base hits - I'd take it. That said, he looks downright awful hitting from the left side and looks much more comfortable batting from the right side of the plate. The numbers bear this out: hitting lefty: .243/.313/.370; hitting righty: .325/.449/.650. I realize suggesting that Matsui give up switch hitting is a bit hasty, okay very hasty, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
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