While the media is busy debating whether or not the Mets less-than-aggressive move for Jason Bay is purely a PR ploy, of greater interest to me personally is the assertion that Mets brass might actually prefer Bay over free agent Matt Holliday. It seems that the Mets are – gasp – using statistics to evaluate how each hitter might fair in their cavernous ballpark. This, meanwhile, from a team that has apparently made upgrading the defense and signal-calling from the catchers position their number one offseason priority, despite, as ESPN’s Keith Law pointed out, the fact that statistical analysis largely debunks the notion that a pitcher’s battery mate impacts his ERA on any detectable level. So imagine my surprise to hear various reports that the Mets have analyzed data on both players and have concluded that Bay’s swing will translate well to Citi Field where the Mets feel Bay could achieve success pulling the ball over the left field wall. Conversely, the Mets fear that Holliday will lose a lot of home runs to Citi’s expansive gaps, most notably in right-center.
So, great, I’m thinking to myself, the Mets have finally woken up and realized that the rest of baseball has put a heavy emphasis on statistical analysis, why shouldn’t we? Unfortunately, I just couldn’t leave it there. As a baseball fan who clearly has too much time on his hands (or is itching to get canned from his job), I had to look at the numbers for myself. After all, hit charts are readily available to anyone with internet access days.
What I found was not so encouraging. While I couldn’t find a hit chart that tracked every ball that a batter put into play for the entire year (I suppose such a chart would get pretty busy), I was able to track how Bay and Holliday each faired in their home ballparks. For Bay I pulled his hit charts from Fenway Park, and for Holliday I combined his charts from Busch Stadium and McAfee Coliseum. I superimposed each over the dimensions at Citi Field, and voila! We have our data.
Scientific? No. These hit charts don’t include any data on loft or wind currents or anything of that nature. Moreover, they exclude half of each player’s at-bats as they only chart how each faired at home. Nevertheless, the graphic dismays me. Maybe the Mets have more telling data that they’re evaluating. Or maybe they’re just liars looking to pull the wool over our eyes. Either way, this can’t make a Met fan happy.
Bottom line: Matt Holliday hits bombs. Jason Bay, not so much.
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