Perspectives: April 7, 2023
by Paul Semendinger
April 7, 2023
I always believe it is important for teams to get off to a good start. The old adage is to "win series" or to "win two out of every three." The Yankees have done that so far. They have started 2023, the first week, at least, off on the right foot.
A good start is a good start. Now the key will to keep it going...
One team off to a less-then-great start is the New York Mets who are 3-4.
Again, it's early.
I've been on the road a lot these last few days and have heard many Mets fans and radio personalities bemoaning their start.
The fans in New York are hungry, very hungry for a championship - in any sport - but especially baseball.
It's been far too long for this great city and its fans.
The Mets continue to win the PR battle with the Yankees. This was their latest win:
Here is the full article: New York Mets Announce Multi-Year Partnership with New York-Presbyterian.
From the article:
The Mets and NewYork-Presbyterian will collaborate both at the ballpark and in the community to host health and wellness events, including cancer screenings and blood drives. Fans will also be invited to participate in interactive wellness experiences throughout Citi Field and a branded 7th-inning stretch to promote an active lifestyle. On designated Comeback Days, NewYork-Presbyterian patients and healthcare workers will be recognized on the field.
As part of the partnership, fans who deliver their babies at NewYork-Presbyterian hospitals will also be treated to a Mets onesie, celebrating their fandom from day one.
I love the onesie idea. I would have been thrilled to get a Yanke4es onesie when my kids were born. How fun is that? Plus all of the events to promote health and wellness, etc...
The fact is that the Mets continue to do things to generate interest in the team and to build community. They find ways to make rooting for them fun. A few weeks ago, there was a Mets Day throughout the city. The Mets are engaging New York.
All of this adds interest. It creates discussion. I would have to think it'll help make people fans of the team.
I wish the Yankees would do more things like this. It can't hurt.
The bottom line, though, is that winning makes more fans.
If the Yankees win the World Series, that's all the fans, in the end, need, want, and care about.
I am concerned that Giancarlo Stanton has left his best days behind. That isn't to say that he won't do some things to make the fans stand up and take notice, but I sense (and I hope I'm wrong) that more often he'll look bad at the plate.
In the end, I can see Giancarlo Stanton batting .230 with 25 homers, but also having 11 of the 15 hardest hit balls in 2023. Fans will say, "Look at the exit velocity, he's still got it." But, when he's not slamming the ball, I see a lot of ground outs and strikeouts.
Stanton does have two homers, one a moon shot, but he's only 4-for-20 to start the year. It's early, of course, but I worry that this is the player he is now.
I also worry that if Stanton isn't great, the Yankees could be in trouble.
Right now, the Yankees can't count on much offense from shortstop, third base, left field, center field, and catcher. They need Aaron Judge (RF), Giancarlo Stanton (DH), Gleyber Torres (2b), and Anthony Rizzo (1b) to carry the team. And, D.J. LeMahieu, when he plays, but it seems the Yankees are very reluctant to play him every day.
In the comments yesterday, I pointed out some of Harrison Bader's lifetime statistics and a reader insinuated in the comments that this was somehow being negative. Let's be honest. If a player's statistics indicate that there is reason to be concerned, that is a reflection of the player, not the writer pointing out clear facts.
I'll share the comments I made here:
Bader's 2022 Yankees Stats:
14 games, .217/0/9 (Regular Season)
9 games, .333/5/6 (Post Season)
Bader supporters will say, "Look how he did in the post-season! He's so great."
Bader detractors will say, "He didn't do all that well."
Both are looking at extremely small sample sizes.
Let's remember, in 9 post-season games, Brian Doyle batted .391.
Over the entirety of his career, Harrison Bader (in 537 games) has an OPS+ of 97 meaning he has been, for his career, a slightly below average hitter.
The facts about Bader are as follows:
He has been a slightly below average hitter for his career
Before his great post-season in 2022, in 10 previous games, he had a post-season batting line of .136/0/3.
He is considered to be an excellent defensive player
Every single season he has played, he has appeared in fewer games than the season before (not counting 2020).
Now, in 2023, he might do better than he has over his career. Anything can happen. But he is, by far, not a sure thing to be a player who gets on base, or even plays consistently.
It is VERY reasonable for a person to question his ability to be available and get on base because these are two things he hasn't done well in his career.
These were not negative comments, they just pointed out the facts, Bader's statistics over his career.
I also keep reading the perspective of some that Jordan Montgomery is only an average pitcher. The argument is that it was fine to trade an average pitcher for a better-than-average outfielder.
That's a fair perspective to have, but... the last two years, Jordan Montgomery has been an above average pitcher as measured by ERA+.
In 2021, his ERA+ was 112. In 2022, it was 105.
Just as Bader is slightly below average by OPS+, Montgomery is slightly above average by ERA+.
In regard to bWAR... if the knock on Montgomery is that he's just a middling pitcher, well, the same would have to be said for Harrison Bader as a outfielder due to these numbers:
Bader = 3.8 Montgomery = 3.3
bWAR 2022 (combined, 2 teams)
Bader = 1.1 Montgomery = 1.7
bWAR 2021 + 2022:
Bader = 4.9 Montgomery = 5.0
The stats are the stats. Pointing them out isn't being negative. It's being honest.
And it's fair to say that Harrison Bader is not a more valuable player than Jordan Montgomery. If anything, Montgomery has the slight edge over the last two seasons.
My hope going forward would be that Bader gets healthy and dominates. That would be the best outcome.
Overall, absenting the specific players from the discussion, I believe that good left-handed starting pitchers are much more important to a team than a good centerfielder.
That's a fair argument to have. Good cases can be made for both perspectives.
Of course, good to great teams usually have both... not one or the other.
It would be nice if the Yankees had both...
Maybe when Harrison Bader and Carlos Rodon returns, they will have both.
Let's Go Yankees!