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?

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12 comments

  1. Goat

    March 06, 2009 11:06 AM

    Another way to look at the hitters is to look a their position in the lineup:
    1) Rollins vs. Reyes: Push
    2) Victorino vs Castillo/Murphy: Push
    3) Utley vs. Wright: Push
    4) Howard vs. Beltran: Edge Philadelphia
    5) Werth vs. Delgado: Edge New York
    6) Ibanez vs. Church/Tatis: Push
    7) Feliz vs. Schneider/Castro: Edge Philadelphia
    8) Ruiz/Coste vs Castillo/Murphy: Edge New York
    These are my guesses for the lineups, barring injury, but the top four for Philadelphia, even if they all put up average seasons, is pretty good. I think Victorino will be better than anyone the Mets bat second, but that isn’t to say the Castillo/Murphy will be total crap. The Mets have players with higher potential upside, but the Phillies have steadier performers – the only guy I question is Werth. Can he continue to put up the numbers he did last year, the first year he had over 400 AB’s? Murphy, Castillo, Church, Tatis, heck, even Schneider and Castro are question marks for the Mets.

    My two cents.

  2. ShooterB

    March 06, 2009 11:50 AM

    Based on nothing but my uninformed opinion, I’d also say the Phils are the slightly better team. John Maine and Oliver Perez have such roller coaster production…and that makes the Mets’ rotation difficult to project. My guess is that those 2 taper off towards the end…leaving the Mets vulnerable to another meltdown.

    But I just picked up the new MLB 2K9 for Xbox, so my analysis is incomplete. Give me 2 or 3 weeks of solid video game time, and I’ll have more misguided predictions for you.

  3. Bill Baer

    March 06, 2009 12:06 PM

    Goat, that’s another way to look at it. I would still give the Werth/Delgado edge to the Phillies. Check out the projections for the two and you’ll see it’s a push at worst.

  4. Bill Baer

    March 06, 2009 12:40 PM

    Shooter, I’m not sure how people are concluding that the 2-5 of the Mets’ rotation is stronger than that of the Phillies. It’s certainly close if Kendrick ends up winning the fifth spot but I don’t expect him to.

    I played the MLB 2K9 demo last night, I wasn’t too impressed with it. I had 2K8 and it ended up collecting dust, but also ended up getting me 20% off Guitar Hero World Tour when I got it at Gamestop.

    Pay attention to the dirt that gets kicked up when the players run the bases. It looks Sega Genesis-ish (say that five times fast).

  5. ShooterB

    March 06, 2009 03:27 PM

    I’ve barely played it, but I wasn’t all that impressed either. I also noticed that some of the graphics seemed to have gone backwards in a time warp.

    Just one more EA Sports installment getting worse with time. If I didn’t know better, I’d say EA is out to destroy video games as we know it.

    Sega Genesis rules!

  6. ShooterB

    March 06, 2009 03:37 PM

    * I meant 2K…not EA. I want my EA MVP baseball back!

  7. jaroslavhasek

    March 09, 2009 01:36 PM

    this is a pretty hack analysis. i’d say overall the mets have a better team. most predicting models agree. what a suprise that a homer phillies blog would disagree with science.

  8. Bill Baer

    March 09, 2009 05:09 PM

    i’d say overall the mets have a better team. most predicting models agree.

    PECOTA has the Mets at 90 wins, the Phillies at 87.

    CHONE has the Phillies at 87, the Mets at 86.

    ZiPS has the Phillies at 91, the Mets at 88.

    Marcel has both the Phillies and Mets at 90.

    Ron Shandler has the Phillies at 95, the Mets at 92.

    Bill James has the Phillies at 93 wins, the Mets at 92.

  9. whit75

    March 10, 2009 12:38 PM

    The bullpen will have different players and your projections are Phillie bias.All things considered it`s The Mets turn this year!

  10. Joamiq

    March 10, 2009 12:39 PM

    This is a hack analysis, given that every time you deviate from your methodology you make an assumption in the Phillies’ favor.

    1. I don’t know why on earth you’d discount Garcia’s chances of making the rotation. He’s clearly in the mix.
    2. Giving the Phillies an advantage in the back of the rotation when you’re talking about differences of .01-.11 in ERA (except for #5, where again, I have no idea why you decided Garcia is out) is laughable.
    3. If the Phillies have a slight advantage in the back of the rotation based on an insignificant ERA difference, closer would have to be counted as a huge advantage for the Mets given the gap there.
    4. A .028 edge is a slight advantage for the Phillies in right field, but a .019 edge for the Mets constitutes a wash at SS? Your cutoff point is obviously somewhere in between, but intuitively it doesn’t make sense to draw a distinction between OPS edges .009 apart.
    5. Cherry picking exceptions from your methodology is the #1 sign of a hack analysis. Deciding that Ibanez is going to significantly outperform David Murphy and calling it a huge advantage is the perfect example of that.
    6. Similarly, deciding that Evans’ projection is so optimistic and that Tatis will start enough to turn the bench from a slight edge for the Mets to a slight advantage for the Phillies is another cherry picked exception.
    7. I’ll give you defense, but I don’t know how on earth you arrive at the conclusion that the Phillies have an advantage in baserunning.

    So, had you been consistent in applying your methodology, your conclusions would have looked different. I suppose one can’t expect much else from a fan blog. But in addition, I think your methodology is flawed anyway. Deciding that a team has an advantage at a position based merely on projected ERA or OPS is grossly oversimplified.

    Bottom line, these two teams are evenly matched, and barring major injuries or trades, this one is going right down to the wire. There’s no discernible edge either way.

  11. Bill Baer

    March 10, 2009 04:13 PM

    1. Freddy Garcia is terrible. The #5 spot becomes a larger advantage if he makes the rotation, so I don’t know why you’re banking on him.

    2. Here’s the breakdown…

    Myers ~ Maine
    Moyer ~ Perez
    Blanton > Pelfrey (but Pelfrey has more upside)
    Happ > Any #5 candidate of the Mets’

    If Kendrick wins the #5 spot, the back of the rotation becomes less of an advantage for the Phillies, but I think his shot at the spot has been diminished. Chan Ho Park is another candidate but he is pretty much the epitome of a #5 starter and is better than any of the guys the Mets are trying out.

    3. Your logic is faulty, since you’re setting your own subjective standards.

    4. Check out my recent article on Murphy. I think that .849 OPS projection in left field is way too kind. Ibanez is pretty much a lock for a 120 or higher OPS+ while I’d bet Murphy struggles to get it over 100 in 2009. So, yeah, advantage Phillies.

    Jayson Werth is a lock for an .800+ OPS while the projections (except ZiPS) have Church struggling to cross the .800 threshold.

    5. I didn’t cherry-pick anything. Murph’s LD% last season was unsustainable. It significantly increased his BABIP thus significantly increasing his production. When his LD% drops to a normal 20% his BABIP will drop to a normal .320 or so. A 13% reduction in line drives and a 70-point reduction in BABIP means Murph ain’t going to be what he was last year — not even close.

    6. But Tatis will be platooning with Murphy in left field. I didn’t just pull that out of thin air.

    And again, I didn’t just decide that Murphy’s projection (it was Murphy, not Evans) was too good; it was based on objective analysis of his peripherals.

    7. The Phillies steal as many bases but at a nearly 10% better clip. You should probably read this where I explain defense and base running in more detail.

Next ArticleHow do the Phillies and Mets Stack Up? Part Deux