Mets pitchers and catchers help keep stolen bases alive in 2018
By Tim Boyle
Stolen bases were down in 2018 across Major League Baseball. This didn’t stop the New York Mets pitchers and catchers from allowing plenty.
Home runs, strikeouts, and pitching changes were up in 2018 while many other numbers were down. One of them was stolen bases. You’d never know it if you watched the New York Mets exclusively.
The season ended with Whit Merrifield leading the way in stolen bases with 45. The total is the lowest by any leader in MLB since the 40 stolen bases by Maury Wills and Luis Aparicio in 1963.
Doing their part to keep stolen bases alive, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz finished number one and two in allowing a swiped bag. Thor gave up 32 with Matz not far behind at 28.
This is the second time in Syndergaard’s young career where he has led the league in this category. Back in 2016, his other year we could consider a full one, 48 baserunners successful swiped a bag against him.
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Perhaps most alarming, Syndergaard accomplished this by pitching in only 145.1 innings. By all standards, it’s an incomplete year. The 24 starts he made ties what he did in his rookie 2015 campaign. That year, only 15 base runners stole a base against him.
It’s terrifying to see this many stolen bases targeted against two pitchers on one team. The Chicago White Sox suffered a similar fate with several of their starters getting beat up via the SB.
Thanks to several stolen bases against the Toronto Blue Jays in the final game of the year, the Mets managed to avoid having the worst stolen base total against. Still, the 134 successful swiped bags hardly helps the reputation of the pitchers and catchers.
The Mets weren’t the worst team at throwing out base runners. Their percentage was better than the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies. However, scouting reports likely have in bold letters the word “RUN” on it which caused more men to run against them than either of those two teams faced.
When the Mets explore catcher options for 2019, they need to take this problem into consideration. They don’t need a guy who swats at the plate. They need someone who can cut down runners better than what they currently have in stock.
It’s an ongoing issue plaguing this franchise. Unless the catcher brings the offensive prowess of Mike Piazza, he needs to be able to keep runners honest.
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In 2018, those baserunners telling everything but the truth.