New York Mets should try “Moneyball” 2.0 approach

Jeff McNeil, New York Mets. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Jeff McNeil, New York Mets. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /

The New York Mets can win playing small ball in 2019. They brought in good hitters who can hit for extra bases this offseason. A strategy that gets batters on base, moves runners and scores is perfect for Citi Field.

New York Mets fans, do you remember “Moneyball?” If you saw the movie with Brad Pitt or better yet read Michael Lewis’ book, you know it’s about how the cash strapped Oakland A’s figured out how to contend on the field with their free-spending opponents. They learned how to replace the runs generated by Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon in 2001 with Scott Hatteberg and a past his prime David Justice in 2002.

The 2019 Mets aren’t in the same shape as the Athletics were in 2002. Then again how often do the Wilpon’s cry poor and act like they have no money? The Mets power bats are few and far between to start 2019. So then why jump in with the same “swing from the heels,” longball or strikeout mentality as the rest of baseball? The pieces are in place to put together a winning small ball offense and they don’t need a Harvard mathematician like Paul DePodesta to do it.


This offseason the Mets have parted ways with several players who couldn’t get on base and produce runs. Jay Bruce .223/.310/.370, Kevin Plawecki .210/.315/.370, Austin Jackson .247/.290/.348, and Wilmer Flores .267/.319/.417 are gone. Joining the lineup are Wilson Ramos .306/.358/.487, .303/.374/.471, Jed Lowrie .267/.353/.448, Robinson Cano .303/.374/.471, and a move to full-time status by Jeff McNeil .329/.381/.471.

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Despite some of the good slugging percentages listed, the new players aren’t necessarily power hitters. They do however produce plenty of extra-base hits. At pitcher-friendly Citi Field, manager Mickey Callaway has to see that hitting into the gaps is the way to go.

How it would work

Amed Rosario would ideally be the speedster who would set the table, but he needs to improve upon his .295 on-base percentage to be considered. Enter McNeil. The Mets want to move him from second base to the outfield this spring. Regardless of which position he plays, McNeil gets on base an runs well.

As tempting as it would be to bat Cano, who is marvelous at the hit and run, Lowrie is the ideal number two because he’s a switch hitter, can lay down a bunt, and hit behind the runner. Then comes the best pure hitter the New York Mets have, Cano to bat third. It would be great to see him at the plate with a runner(s) in scoring position.

If the opponents want to bypass on Cano, they can face Michael Conforto and his .825 lifetime OPS with two runners on base. Pitchers who make a mistake to him with ducks on the pond will pay dearly when Conforto capitalizes. Next in the order comes all-star catcher Ramos who had 38 extra base hits in 382 at-bats last season. He’ll bat in the five-hole.

Brandon Nimmo follows in the sixth slot (against lefties he can bat leadoff and McNeill will slide down the order). He is a versatile hitter that does a little bit of everything, hitting into the gaps won’t be a problem. Rosario bats seventh. Hopefully, with runners on base, he’ll see some better pitches to hit. Todd Frazier (or Dominic Smith, or Peter Alonso) occupies the eighth spot in the order until one of them masters the strike zone in a DH-less lineup.

When Yoenis Cespedes comes back mid-season, his power bat can slide into the middle of an already potent lineup.

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The New York Mets have Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler at the top of the rotation. They close out games with Robert Gsellman, Jeurys Familia and Edwin Diaz. That’s more than enough talent on the mound to keep opponents in check while the offense scores runs.