How do the Phillies and Mets Stack Up? Part Deux

Unsurprisingly, my Phillies-Mets comparison got a lot of mixed reviews. I’d just like to add statistics to back up my claim that the Phillies have advantages in base running and defense, since I’ve seen a lot of people who seem to think that they’re actually advantages for the Mets.

I’ve harped a lot here about the Phillies’ +/- rating last season. It was at +74 last season; the Mets were at +43. That rating for the Mets is nothing to sneeze at — it’s very, very good. Their strength is in the outfield, particularly with Carlos Beltran. The Phillies’ defensive strength is in the infield, particularly the middle infield with Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.

Numerous times I’ve said that that +74 should be expected to drop a bit in ’09 because, well, that’s freaking high. Add in that Utley is coming off of hip surgery — he may not be as mobile as he was last year, even though he did play injured for a majority of the season (my guess is that he was injured on Justin Upton’s slide attempt to break up a double play when the Phillies were in Arizona in May last year).

John Dewan recently wrote an article titled “What Makes Utley So Good?” Dewan concludes that Utley is usually in a great position to make plays. If his conclusion is valid — and I believe it is — then it’s not fair to label Utley’s fantastic defensive season aberrant. Sure, there will probably be a regression to the mean, but perhaps not quite as large as we think.

Here’s an overview of the 2008 season, using the +/- stats listed on page 72 of The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2009.

Middle Infield (Utley, Rollins; Castillo, Easley, Reyes):

  • Phillies: +71
  • Mets: -21

Corner Infield (Howard, Feliz; Delgado, Wright):

  • Phillies: +7
  • Mets: -11

Outfield (Burrell, Victorino, Werth; Tatis, Murphy, Chavez, Evans, Pagan, Anderson, Beltran, Church):

  • Phillies: -4
  • Mets: +75

As for base running, I’ll copy what I wrote in a comment on Baseball Think Factory:

Re: base running, the Phillies had six players last year who are returning in ’09 with an EQBRR of 1 run or greater. The Mets had seven last year, but only five are returning.

Phillies:

– Jimmy Rollins: 9.1
– Shane Victorino: 7.4
– Jayson Werth: 5.2
– Eric Bruntlett: 3.1
– Carlos Ruiz: 1.9
– Chase Utley: 1.2 (injury prone)

Mets:

– Jose Reyes: 8.3
– Carlos Beltran: 6.3
– Luis Castillo: 3.7 (old, injury-prone)
– Angel Pagan: 2.6 (buried on depth chart)
– Endy Chavez: 2.2 (went to Seattle)
– Damion Easley: 1.5 (unsigned)
– Argenis Reyes: 1.2 (buried on depth chart)

EQBRR, which stands for Equivalent Base Running Runs, can be found at Baseball Prospectus.
Hopefully that clears up how I concluded that defense and base running are advantages for the Phillies. Feel free to comment if you disagree and have some insight to share.

How Do the Phillies and Mets Stack Up?

On Pro Baseball Central on Wednesday night, we were debating which of the two teams had an advantage at each position. I decided to investigate a bit more, looking up projections from five different systems: MattS (from The Good Phight and Statistically Speaking), Bill James, CHONE, Marcel (all three can be found at FanGraphs), and ZiPS (from Baseball Think Factory).

I highlighted in olive green the pitchers’ best projections, and in yellow their worst.

Here are the starting pitchers. Apologies for the image quality, Microsoft Paint is the best I have at the moment.

Phillies and Mets starting pitching projections

If we go by each pitcher’s best projection, the Phillies’ top five is:

  • Cole Hamels: 3.24 ERA
  • Joe Blanton: 3.95
  • Brett Myers: 4.06
  • J.A. Happ: 4.11
  • Jamie Moyer: 4.23

Chan Ho Park has a slightly higher projected ERA but I knocked him off because Moyer is guaranteed a spot in the rotation. The Mets’ five:

  • Johan Santana: 2.76 ERA
  • John Maine: 3.96
  • Mike Pelfrey: 4.10
  • Oliver Perez: 4.22
  • Tim Redding: 4.61

I left Freddy Garcia off because I think pigs have a better chance of flying than he does in making the Mets’ starting rotation.

It looks like the Phillies have a slight advantage at every rotation spot except the #1 spot.

Here are the various projections for the relief pitchers.

Phillies and Mets relief pitching projections

I only have the projections for six relievers because the other two spots are up for grabs at the moment and there are too many competitors vying for them: Antonio Bastardo, Yorman Bazardo, Joe Bisenius, Dave Borkowski, Sergio Escalona, Mike Koplove, Justin Lehr, Gary Majewski, Drew Naylor, Blaine Neal, and Jake Woods.

With that said, the Phillies’ best six:

  • Brad Lidge: 3.19 ERA
  • Ryan Madson: 3.48
  • J.C. Romero: 3.53
  • Scott Eyre: 3.72
  • Chad Durbin: 3.72
  • Clay Condrey: 4.29

The Mets’ seven:

  • Francisco Rodriguez: 2.34 ERA
  • J.J. Putz: 2.59
  • Pedro Feliciano: 3.36
  • Brandon Knight: 3.44
  • Duaner Sanchez: 3.70
  • Brian Stokes: 3.86
  • Carlos Muniz: 4.42

The Mets have a better back of the bullpen and a very slight edge elsewhere, mostly because of J.C. Romero’s 50-game suspension.

Here are the starters at the eight positions for each team:

Phillies and Mets starting position player projections

The Phillies’ eight best projections:

  • Carlos Ruiz: .734 OPS
  • Ryan Howard: .963
  • Chase Utley: .922
  • Pedro Feliz: .744
  • Jimmy Rollins: .815
  • Raul Ibanez: .847
  • Shane Victorino: .794
  • Jayson Werth: .853

The Mets’ eight:

  • Brian Schneider: .696 OPS
  • Carlos Delgado: .863
  • Luis Castillo: .707
  • David Wright: .954
  • Jose Reyes: .834
  • Daniel Murphy: .849
  • Carlos Beltran: .885
  • Ryan Church: .825

The Phillies have huge offensive advantages at first and second base; the Mets have a huge advantage at third base and center field. The Phillies have a slight advantage at catcher and right field. It’s a wash at shortstop and left field although I think Ibanez is very likely to significantly out-produce Murphy.

Here are the team’s bench projections. I took the five players I thought were most likely to make the 25-man roster on Opening Day.

Phillies and Mets bench projections

The Phillies’ five’s best:

  • Matt Stairs: .808 OPS
  • Greg Dobbs: .788
  • Geoff Jenkins: .774
  • Chris Coste: .760
  • Eric Bruntlett .682

The Mets’ five’s best:

  • Nick Evans: .829 OPS
  • Fernando Tatis: .810
  • Ramon Castro: .785
  • Jeremy Reed: .724
  • Alex Cora: .686

I very much disagree with the Bill James projection for Evans — I think it’s extremely optimistic.

The Mets’ bench appears to be slightly better but note that Tatis could be getting a decent amount of playing time as a starter, so the Mets’ bench is more likely on par with the Phillies’ if not slightly behind.

Keep in mind that with the projections I’ve listed, defense and base running are not factored in, both of which are advantages for the Phillies.

Overall, it’s very close. A recap:

  • Phillies’ Huge Advantages: First base, second base, left field, defense.
  • Phillies’ Slight Advantages: Catcher, back of starting rotation, bench, base running.
  • Pushes: Shortstop, right field, non-CL and non-SU relievers.
  • Mets’ Slight Advantages: Ace starter, CL and SU relievers.
  • Mets’ Huge Advantages: Third base, center field.

The Mets have 5 players that garner them an advantage; seven players are pushes; the Phillies have 13 players that garner them an advantage (as well as defense and base running).

I’d say overall, the Phillies are the slightly better team. What do you think?