Too much analysis in baseball? How the Mets Adjust to Players

During his press session at the GM meetings in Las Vegas this week, Scott Boras addressed how teams are using analytics.

It’s clear that the super-agent, who represents a who’s who of MLB stars, hears complaints from customers who are bothered by game management. The information is readily available and many teams expect it to be used. According to Boras, the players feel overburdened and perhaps threatened because of this.

“We see players all the time talking about how the emphasis on the standards that the team gives is different than what the player used to get to the big leagues,” Boras said. “He feels he’s no longer meeting the standards that teams want, and [teams] they want to change the platform that the player himself used to get to the first league.

Mets general manager Billy Eppler and agent Scott Boras (inset) discussed communicating testing to players this week.
Bill Kostrun; Getty Images

“Receiving a daily flood of information without a proper bridge to execution, we find a mess. We find players who are [under]- efficient. We find players whose confidence level is shaken, so we have to deal with the analytical bridge. We have to create new methodologies. We need baseball people to understand analytics. We also need analysts to understand that we need a communication bridge and a method and time frame to get that information to the players.

The Mets were at this very point after the 2021 season ended. Several players – Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith and JD Davis among them – were unhappy with the amount of information they had to absorb on a daily basis.

Those concerns may have influenced how the Mets went about building their receiving and pitching staff last winter. Billy Eppler, with a strong background in scouting, was hired as general manager. His choice for manager was Buck Showalter, whose success in the game began before the analytics revolution. Both are students of analytics, but they are not married to them.

New York Mets designated hitter Pete Alonso #20 hits Jeff McNeil #1 after hitting a solo homer in the 8th inning.
Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso were among the group of Mets who found the flood of statistical information they received daily in 2021 unhelpful.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

The force-feeding of the Mets ended in spring training, replaced by a system where players choose what information they want to absorb.

“I look at the role of the coach and all the support around this team that is there day in and day out and travels with this club,” Eppler said. “In a way, it’s kind of a service job, and you’re there to meet the needs of the players. If you have a player who wants a lot of information and you can’t provide it, then I think you’ve failed the player. I think if you have a player who doesn’t want that much information or wants things distilled in a very simple way and you present things to them in one methodology, I think you’ve given up on the player.

Eppler compared it to his job as CEO, which caters to the needs of managers. If the Mets are in a tight game and Showalter turns to his bench for a defensive backup and no one is on the roster, Eppler says, he failed. Likewise, if the Mets need a comebacker and Showalter wants a bat off the bench and the roster is without that option, he failed.

San Diego Padres vs. New York Mets at Citi Field - New York Mets manager Buck Showalter #11 in the dugout during the second inning.
In hiring Buck Showalter, the Mets wanted a manager who understood the value of analysis and had the ability to discern when a player needed to hear it.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“So we’re trying to give people the tools to do their work, to optimize their work,” Eppler said. “That’s how I approach it. It’s not binary. It’s just a matter of serving the player and we want to continue with the same approach.

Eppler was asked about Boras’ claim that scans make players feel pressured to change when they get to the big leagues.

“Go watch a Division I college baseball game right now and try to get as close as you can and watch everything that’s going on,” Eppler said. “They’re pretty used to the news and they’re starting to get a lot of it in the minor leagues, but there’s a lot of players who want to keep it simple, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for me. .”

Don and Keith, or Don and Keith

Keith Hernandez belongs on the Modern Baseball Era Committee’s ballot for the Hall of Fame simply because he deserves reconsideration for Cooperstown.

But there’s also the idea of ​​symmetry and the romantic idea that he and Don Mattingly might be enshrined in the Hall of Fame together as New York’s star first basemen of their time. The 1950s had Willie, Mickey and Duke – as in Mays, Mantle and Snider – in New York, and the 80s had Don and Keith.

Keith Hernandez, right, and Don Mattingly hug during Hernandez's jersey retirement ceremony.
With Don Mattingly finished on the modern-era Hall of Fame ballot, Keith Hernandez will once again have to wait for his chance in Cooperstown.

It’s no crime that Hernandez was left off the ballot released this week (Mattingly was included), but did we really need a repeat of Barry Bonds-Roger Clemens-Curt Schilling in their first year out of the game? Baseball Writers’ Association of America survey?

Perhaps some or all of the players from this group will emerge with a plaque, but simmering their candidacies for at least a few years seems like a better idea.

Hernandez would never make the Hall of Fame ahead of Mattingly, whose defensive skills as a perennial Gold Glover equaled Hernandez’s and who was a far better hitter than the Mets’ first baseman.

So perhaps the best Hernandez fans can root for this time around is Mattingly’s pick, ultimately putting Hernandez in the on-deck circle. Others may be rooting against Mattingly in hopes that future picks will put two New York first basemen with a shot at Cooperstown. The Committee’s next vote for the Modern Baseball Era is scheduled for the Hall of Fame Class of 2026.

Conforto missed out on millions

New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto #30 hits a 3 home run in the first inning as the New York Mets play the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday July 11, 2021 at Citi Field in Queens.
After missing all of last season with a shoulder injury, Michael Conforto is no longer expected to receive lucrative multi-year contract offers.
Robert Sabo

Michael Conforto’s free agency is fascinating.

Last year at this time, he might have had multi-year offers in the $50 million to $75 million range. But Conforto wasn’t signed before the lockout, then suffered a shoulder injury before free agency resumed, costing him the entire season.

Conforto will get a major league contract this season, but anything more than a year and $10 million could be a giveaway. Conforto won’t turn 30 until spring training. He would probably only make sense for the Mets if Brandon Nimmo leaves and the team is willing to play Starling Marte in center. Not a good game between Conforto and the Mets.

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