Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bartolo Colon's Hitting Prowess Is A Recipe For Success

Bartolo Colon pitched a beautiful game for the Mets on Friday night, allowing one run on six hits in seven innings.  Colon walked none and struck out five - four of which came on called third strikes.  The win was Colon's third victory in three starts this year, giving him a 207-141 lifetime record and a .595 career winning percentage.

Clearly, Colon is one of the more dependable pitchers of his generation, as his teams have produced a 252-187 record (.574 winning percentage) in his 439 career starts.  But Colon's performances on the mound don't give his teams the best chance to win a game.  It's when he performs at the plate that his teams are almost unbeatable.

Although Colon may be shaped like Babe Ruth, his hitting shape is a totally different story.  Colon has struck out in more than half of his plate appearances (92 K in 180 PA) and has managed just 13 hits and no walks in 164 career at-bats.  Colon has driven in a total of seven runs in those 15 dozen plate appearances, or two fewer than Carlos Delgado had in one game for the Mets in 2008.  Simply stated, when Colon swings at a pitch, he has a better chance to lose his helmet than he does of adding a hit or RBI to his lifetime totals.

But when he does collect a hit or drive in a run, well, that's when special things happen to his teams.

When Bartolo Colon produces at the plate, his teams are nearly perfect. (Adam Hunger/USA TODAY)

As previously stated, Colon has seven RBI in his career, driving in those runs in six games (Colon had a two-RBI game for the Expos in 2002).  How did his teams perform in those affairs?  They won all six.  Included in that 6-0 mark is each of the last two games Colon has started for the Mets - the first time in his 18-year career that Colon has put together back-to-back games with at least one RBI.

Colon is twice as likely to collect a hit than drive in a run in a major league game, as his 13 career hits have been collected in 12 contests.  (Colon's sole multi-hit effort occurred in the aforementioned two-RBI game.)  His teams are close to perfect in those dozen games, going 11-1 when Colon shocks the world by getting a hit.  The only time a Colon-led team lost a game in which he collected a hit was on July 23, 2002, when he went 1-for-2 for the Expos, but lost the game, 4-3.  Who was the only team that was able to defy the odds by defeating Colon when he collected a rare hit?  Why, it was none other than your New York Mets.

Bartolo Colon was signed to a two-year deal by Sandy Alderson because of his winning pedigree and his ability to be a positive presence in the clubhouse.  Colon has certainly done what Alderson expected him to do, as the Mets have won 20 of his 34 starts.  Colon has also been able to assist with the team's young pitchers with his extensive knowledge of the game, helping Mets pitchers put up a stellar 2.63 ERA and 1.03 WHIP through the team's first 11 games - both of which rank second in the league behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

But Colon has also unexpectedly helped the Mets with his bat.  Last Sunday, his fourth-inning RBI single broke a 2-2 tie in a game eventually won by the Mets, 4-3.  And last night, his fifth-inning sacrifice fly knotted the game against the Marlins and got the Mets' offense going in the team's 4-1 come-from-behind victory.  In doing so, Colon has continued to be his team's lucky charm whenever he has collected a hit or driven in a run.

Bartolo Colon's teams are 11-1 whenever he collects a hit.  They're an unblemished 6-0 when he drives in a run.  Nobody's perfect.  But Colon's teams are close to perfect whenever he puts on a batting clinic, even if that clinic has been closed most of the time.

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