Looking on the Bright Side

>If you want some potential, overly hopefully benefits of Jenrry Mejia in the bullpen, here are the Mets bullpen stats since 2002, which is as far back as Fangraphs will give me runs above replacement (RAR) data:

For a primer on WPA, click here.

Check out 2006 – the bullpen was a ridiculous 66.7 runs above replacement. Billy Wagner was 20 runs all on his own, with big contributions from Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, and Chad Bradford.

But besides simply pitching well in a ton of innings in all situations, the group really turned it on in clutch situations, helping pump them all the way up to a 9.26 Win Probability Added. If you want one reason why the 2006 Mets cruised into 97 wins, this is why. Not Paul Lo Duca, not the Cliff Floyd effect, not heart and hustle and smiling and having fun. They outperformed their expected win-loss record – that’s what the pythag +/- number is – by six games, and a lot of evidence points to the bullpen.

One other thing to look at: 2009‘s bullpen appears to barely be an upgrade over 2008, but I think that’s slightly misleading. Remember that a lot of the damage was done by a couple of K-Rod supernova grand slam innings, and some more was done by Luis Castillo.

Anyway, the real point of this is that there are ways to outperform your expected win-loss record, as predicted by your runs scored against your runs allowed. You can get blown out a lot – I think that’s what the Mariners did last year, when they were outscored by 52 runs, but finished 8 games over .500. That’s one way, and probably not a good one. You can’t really plan to get blown out a lot.

Or you can just win far more close games than you lose. A great bullpen could be a way to do this. So maybe Mejia could be the boost the Mets need to propel them over the hump provided by their otherwise limited talent. Maybe they sneak out a few more wins here and there, with the bullpen putting up zeros until the offense scrapes out a run.

I still think Jenrry Time a mistake – this shouldn’t be an all-hands-on-deck season – but I’ll be willing to eat my words if a great bullpen sneaks the Mets into the playoffs. There’s a lot of ifs before getting there – too many for this to be a good idea – but make it into the crap shoot and anything could happen.

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Filed under Columns, Mets, Words

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