Friday, February 10, 2012

Never Mind Santana's Arm; The Mets Need His Bat!

Here's a bit of trivia for you.  There are six pitchers in Mets history who hit at least 10 doubles during their tenure in Flushing.  Can you name them?

Well, five of the six had long careers in New York.  The club's all-time leader in doubles by a pitcher is Ron Darling, who collected 20 two-base hits in nine seasons as a Met (but somehow, all he remembers are his home runs in back-to-back games in 1989).  Next up are Tom Seaver (17 doubles in 12 seasons), Dwight Gooden (15 doubles in 11 seasons), Sid Fernandez (14 doubles in 10 seasons) and Jerry Koosman (12 doubles in 12 seasons).  But right behind all of them with 11 two-baggers is a guy who's only been a Met for four seasons and one of them was spent entirely on the disabled list.

From 2008 to 2010, Johan Santana collected 11 doubles in 182 at-bats, am impressive feat for a player who had spent his entire career in the American League prior to joining the Mets in 2008.  That's as many doubles as Willie Randolph hit as a Met in 286 at-bats.  Even Jason Bay, who is paid to be a big-time hitter, needed 360 at-bats to reach 11 doubles in 2011.

Santana has averaged a double every 16.5 at bats as a Met.  Let's compare that to the top ten doubles leaders in Mets history:

  • David Wright: 281 doubles in 4,161 at-bats (14.8 AB/double)
  • Ed Kranepool: 225 doubles in 5,436 at-bats (24.2 AB/double)
  • Jose Reyes: 222 doubles in 4,453 at-bats (20.1 AB/double)
  • Howard Johnson: 214 doubles in 3,968 at-bats (18.5 AB/double)
  • Edgardo Alfonzo: 212 doubles in 3,897 at-bats (18.4 AB/double)
  • Carlos Beltran: 208 doubles in 3,133 at-bats (15.1 AB/double)
  • Mike Piazza: 193 doubles in 3,478 at-bats (18.0 AB/double)
  • Darryl Strawberry: 187 doubles in 3,903 at-bats (20.9 AB/double)
  • Cleon Jones: 182 doubles in 4,223 at-bats (23.2 AB/double)
  • Mookie Wilson : 170 doubles in 4,027 at-bats (23.7 AB/double)

As you can see, only David Wright and Carlos Beltran had a better doubles per at-bat ratio than Johan Santana, and their ratio isn't that much better than Santana's.

There are two Hall of Famers who hit fewer doubles while they were on the Mets than John Santana.  Duke Snider hit eight doubles as a Met in 354 at-bats and Richie Ashburn hit seven doubles in 389 at-bats.  Did I mention that both Snider and Ashburn were All-Stars as Mets despite their lack of two-base hits?

Mike Hampton was considered by many to be one of the best hitting pitchers of his generation.  But in his one season as a Met, he did not collect a single extra-base hit, despite his .274 batting average.

Johan Santana spent the entire 2011 season on the disabled list.  Obviously, the Mets missed him on the mound.  But looking at his career numbers, they might have missed him more at the plate.  Without question, Johan Santana not being available is double trouble for the Mets.  And I do mean double.

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