Among other factors, Yasmani Grandal’s numbers in late and close situations make him the clear second choice behind the catcher the New York Mets did sign, Wilson Ramos.
The New York Mets added catcher Wilson Ramos to the roster this winter, upgrading immensely at a position of need. Perhaps the weakest of all nine spots on the field other than maybe center field, Brodie Van Wagenen deserves a high-five for the deal he got done with Ramos.
It wasn’t always a foregone conclusion that Ramos was the man for the job. Early in the offseason, there was reason to debate whether the Mets should go after him or fellow free agent, Yasmani Grandal.
Grandal found a home with the Milwaukee Brewers on a one-year deal worth over $18 million. Salaries like this are atypical for the Mets. Understandably so, they also wanted security beyond just 2019.
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I’m a big fan of the Ramos deal and more so when I looked through one statistic of Grandal’s. Last year, in 83 at-bats which qualify as late and close, Grandal struck out a league-worst 33 times. Add to it his .181/.258/.349 slash line and we get a clear picture of many rallies getting killed.
This sample size is anything but small. Only Freddy Galvis had more at-bats in these situations. Mets shortstop Amed Rosario was third. And while he wasn’t fantastic either, he put the ball in play more and found ways to get hits.
Sometimes this statistic is fluky and doesn’t always carry-over from year to year. Jed Lowrie was one of the best in these situations last year, batting over .300 in late and close situations. I don’t think he will have the same type of year with the Mets in 2019, but he should refrain from choking under pressure completely.
Curious as to whether or not last year was a fluke for Grandal, I found he is a career .177/.298/.313 hitter in late and close situations.
Meanwhile, Ramos has hit .239/.298/.354 in these same types of at-bats. Last year, he slashed .302/.362/.381 in 69 plate appearances. Though his career totals are nothing impressive, in his case, I always remember he only became an All-Star catcher in the last three seasons.
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I felt fans were heavily critical of Grandal’s postseason performance. However, a .107 lifetime batting average in almost 100 plate appearances in the playoffs shows us how unreliable he can be when the pressure is on.