The Secret Formula To Winning Baseball Is Revealed

secret formulaThere has been a lot of chatter since the 2013 season has come to an end, regarding which model the Mets should be following in order to build winning baseball.

Should they follow the Oakland Athletics model? How about the San Francisco Giants? Let’s try the Boston Red Sox…

The truth is there is no secret formula to building a baseball team. If there was, there is no way it would be able to be kept a secret the way Coca-Cola keeps their famous cola recipe a secret.

Major League Baseball is a copycat league. When one team has success, the other unsuccessful teams try to build their teams using the other teams’ models.

All businesses operate that way when you think about it. Harvard Business School is famous for its case study model, which uses case studies of some of the more successful and unsuccessful businesses to guide the business leaders of tomorrow. We learn from the success and failures of ourselves, but also from the successes and failures of others.

We can argue back and forth about what makes teams successful or not. One team can spend five times more than another team in player contracts, and have much less success, so what really drives success? As the Angels proved this year, it’s not always about having the best players in the lineup.

The secret is Timeliness.

Timeliness, in baseball, can be described as taking advantage of opportunities on the baseball field when they present themselves. That is the only thing that can determine the success or failure of a team. There is no model to follow.

The Oakland Athletics have been doing the same thing for years–some years they are really good, and others they aren’t so good. There is no crystal ball. There is nothing that a team can do to guarantee success.

I predicted the Mets would win 85 games in 2013 at the beginning of the year. I don’t think it was crazy to think it could have happened. They had solid pitching on paper, and when you have solid pitching all you need is opportunistic offense. Notice how I did not say the team needs good offense–opportunistic will do.

However, the Mets did not have opportunistic offense in 2013. In fact, they were ranked 23rd in the league while hitting with runners in scoring position–the top three teams were the Cardinals, Tigers, and Red Sox. Two of those teams are playing in the World Series this year. In fact, I went back to 2010, and there was a team featured in each seasons’ World Series that was in the top five in the league with regards to hitting with runners in scoring position.

To add to the poor hitting, the Mets were also ranked 24th in the league while pitching with opposing runners in scoring position this past season. When you add those two factors together, you can see why the Mets ended 2013 the way they did.

Here is a breakdown of how the Mets performed in 2013 with regards to hitting with RISP:

AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
Zach Lutz 5 0 2 .400 .500 .800 1.300
Wilfredo Tovar 4 0 2 .500 .600 .500 1.100
Juan Centeno 2 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Andrew Brown 42 2 19 .333 .391 .548 .939
Collin Cowgill 10 1 7 .300 .300 .600 .900
John Buck 97 5 46 .299 .381 .495 .875
Marlon Byrd 108 8 55 .287 .314 .556 .870
Daniel Murphy 141 3 60 .305 .340 .447 .787
David Wright 95 0 31 .284 .407 .368 .775
Josh Satin 56 0 14 .268 .391 .357 .748
Jordany Valdespin 27 2 14 .185 .290 .444 .735
Ike Davis 78 3 22 .205 .354 .333 .687
Juan Lagares 96 1 28 .240 .324 .354 .678
Matt den Dekker 13 0 5 .308 .357 .308 .665
Omar Quintanilla 69 0 19 .232 .368 .275 .643
Eric Young 76 0 24 .250 .301 .342 .643
Wilmer Flores 27 0 12 .259 .300 .333 .633
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 24 1 9 .167 .300 .292 .592
Ruben Tejada 42 0 9 .262 .295 .262 .557
Lucas Duda 76 1 17 .145 .343 .197 .541
Mike Baxter 20 0 4 .150 .357 .150 .507
Anthony Recker 25 0 8 .160 .281 .200 .481
Rick Ankiel 13 0 2 .154 .214 .231 .445
Justin Turner 44 0 13 .182 .229 .205 .434
Travis d’Arnaud 20 0 3 .100 .240 .150 .390
Team Total 1300 27 441 .242 .329 .357 .686

And here is a breakdown showing the Mets Clutch Stats from 2013 (RISP with 2 outs):

AB HR RBI BA OBP SLG OPS
Daniel Murphy 65 2 30 .354 .425 .538 .963
Andrew Brown 23 0 8 .348 .375 .478 .853
Eric Young 34 0 12 .294 .385 .412 .796
John Buck 50 2 18 .260 .362 .420 .782
Juan Lagares 48 1 16 .250 .357 .417 .774
David Wright 40 0 10 .250 .412 .350 .762
Marlon Byrd 53 2 18 .264 .339 .396 .735
Wilmer Flores 16 0 8 .313 .353 .375 .728
Josh Satin 24 0 6 .250 .357 .292 .649
Omar Quintanilla 36 0 9 .167 .388 .250 .638
Anthony Recker 12 0 3 .167 .333 .250 .583
Matt den Dekker 7 0 2 .286 .286 .286 .571
Lucas Duda 40 1 8 .125 .327 .225 .552
Zach Lutz 1 0 0 .000 .500 .000 .500
Ruben Tejada 21 0 5 .190 .261 .190 .451
Ike Davis 44 0 7 .159 .288 .159 .448
Justin Turner 26 0 6 .154 .214 .192 .407
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 12 0 2 .083 .267 .083 .350
Rick Ankiel 7 0 1 .143 .143 .143 .286
Travis d’Arnaud 13 0 1 .077 .200 .077 .277
Mike Baxter 11 0 0 .000 .267 .000 .267
Wilfredo Tovar 0 0 0 1.000
Team Total 657 10 190 .222 .330 .321 .651

As you can see from the charts, the most clutch player the Mets had in 2013 was Daniel Murphy. I know there has been trade talk surrounding Murphy in the fan base, but he would definitley be one of the players I would be hanging on to in 2014 especially after seeing he was also the best Mets hitter with RISP in 2013. The other players that hit extremely well with RISP and in the clutch were Marlon Byrd and John Buck. Byrd would be a player that the Mets should definitely consider bringing back in 2014.

One player that people are down about offensively is Matt den Dekker, but in a small sample, he has shown to be very effective while hitting with RISP. He hit .305 with five RBI in just 13 at bats in 2013 with RISP. He showed flashes of this ability in Spring Training last season, and it was one of the main reasons why I was lobbying for him to join the team out of camp before a broken wrist dashed that idea. His clutch hitting, coupled with his solid defense, could land him a starting job in 2014.

If there is one specific thing the Mets should look at moving forward, it is adding additional players who have had success while hitting with runners in scoring position, and pitchers who have success in pitching in similar situations…timely hitting and pitching is the key to success.

If there is a secret formula to building teams, it’s really not a secret…it’s all about having clutch players, not necessarily the best players.

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