A few years ago, Jose Reyes was the darling of the media and seen as the best young shortstop in the National League. Since then, a number of other shortstops have come along. I'm wondering, when Reyes is healthy, where does he rank among NL shortstops? -- Rory M., Montpelier, Vt.
I'm not sure what a media darling is, and I doubt such status had much to do with how people in this business assessed Reyes. That said, he clearly was the premier shortstop in the league as recently as 2006, and he hadn't been surpassed in '07. He no longer has that standing because his stock has dropped while that of others -- Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki, in particular -- has soared. And Yunel Escobar is a fine player, though the stolen base isn't a component of his game. And of course, Jimmy Rollins has developed a reputation for getting it done when it matters most despite his uneven overall performance.
To exclude Reyes from a discussion of the most dynamic players in the big leagues, regardless of position, based on what happened in 2009 would be foolish. But for the Mets to regain status as legitimate contenders and for him to be among the elite shortstops again, his '10 season needs to be special, comparable to what he produced in '06.
What are your feelings about Sabermetrics? Do you pay attention to them, or are you still a believer in the traditional statistics? -- Patrick F., Stamford, Conn.
John Schuerholz, who had remarkable success as a general manager for the Braves, said, "Statistics are like autopsies. They tell you why something happened." That makes sense to me, but that concept doesn't preclude the use of statistics to measure a player's or a team's future performance. I keep up with the new statistics, but I'm not fond of some of the more popular newer ones.
OPS, for example. I understand it measures a player's offensive production in two areas. And that has its place in the evaluating performance, I guess. But I'd prefer to know the two components of OPS rather than their total. Luis Castillo's and Jeff Francoeur's totals for 2009 were equal, .732. Based on the figures alone, the players were equals. And of course they weren't.
A study in OPS
And what of WHIP, another popular statistical hybrid with a convenient acronym that sounds clever. But, again, the final figure provides a general sense of how a pitcher performs when two more specific figures produce a clearer sense. If I were a general manager, I'd rather know how many walks and how many hits a pitcher allows in nine innings than a total of baserunners allowed. And WHIP doesn't reflect hit batsman, so it's not precise. And in the case of Dave Bush (15 HBP in 114 1/3 innings), that would be nice to know.
I'd rather know total bases allowed per nine innings and have walks and hit batsmen included, with singles, doubles, triples and home runs valued as they are in slugging percentage calculations. WHIP provides no sense of how many bases are allowed, just as opponents' batting average doesn't. I'd opt for opponents' slugging percentage instead of opponents' batting average.
Moreover, since we understand that a runner in scoring position is more likely to score than one at first base, why not develop a statistic that measures how often players singlehandedly put themselves in scoring position via an extra-base hit, a single and a stolen base, or a walk and a stolen base? It seems simple enough to do with computers.
And while we're at it, why is it that a listing of average runs per game for teams exists nowhere? Runs win games. From what I've seen, a team scoring more runs than its opponent wins just about every game. And a team that does so regularly usually wins a lot of games. But if the big league stats are consulted on June 25 or Aug. 16, all we get are total runs. And because the total games often differ from team to team, the average for each team must be calculated. Just a thought about a rather basic statistic that we don't generally deal with while we fuss about WHIPs.
Moreover, the quality start still bothers me. The lowest standard for a quality start is three earned runs in six innings, and that yields a 4.50 ERA. Too high. Three earned runs in seven innings yields a 3.86. And that suggests quality. Two earnies in seven yields 2.57. That is quality in any league.
Have a question about the Mets?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Mets beat reporter Anthony DiComo for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
It seems that all the comments on the Mets you post say the team is a total mess. I don't think so. Does anyone remember how injuries affected the team? I agree with you; a left fielder, a No. 2 starter and someone to replace J.J. Putz are necessary. But why replace Brian Schneider as the catcher? Are the free agents out there significant improvements over what has been provided? -- Phillip G., Newport Beach, Calif.
The Mets evidently have decided they no longer want Schneider. He clearly fell into disfavor with Jerry Manuel last season, though the manager denied it.
Is there some kind of unspoken thing preventing Gary Carter from being considered for manager? There's the cliché about catchers making good managers, and then the reality that Mike Scioscia is one of the best managers in the game. Carter was such a good catcher. Why does his name never come up when there are rumors of a change in management (as opposed to Bobby Valentine)? -- Matthew Corey, Williamsburg, (no state provided)
After managing successfully in the lower levels of the Mets' chain in 2005 and '06, Carter declined a promotion to manage the Mets' Double-A Binghamton team in '07. And he twice has announced his availability for the Mets' managerial position while it was occupied -- by Art Howe and then Willie Randolph. None of that endeared him to the organization.
Nothing against the guys, but Mets fans deserve way better. The team has regressed since losing in the NL Championship Series. If I were Omar Minaya or the Wilpons, this is what I would do: trade Oliver Perez and John Maine and a Minor Leaguer for Roy Halladay, sign John Lackey, trade Luis Castillo and sign Orlando Hudson. What do you think of these moves? The organization has to wake up and stop giving us mediocrity. -- Rafael P., Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Mets were eliminated on the final day of the season in 2007 and '08. As disappointing as that might have been for you, their overall performance during those years hardly constituted mediocrity. The moves you propose might make sense, but why would the Blue Jays take Perez and a Minor League player in a package for Halladay even with Maine included? Any club that would accept Perez, given his contract and his 2009 performance, would be within its rights to demand Willie Mays in his prime, too. And it's unclear whether another team would take Castillo.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.