December 13, 2013

The Mets, First Base and The Need For Stability

I'm not gonna sit here and rehash the past season. It's over and done with. We know about Ike, we know about Duda, we know about Satin. I am an Ike fan, but I'm done being an apologist for the guy. I also hate Duda, but I'm willing to run him out there if we have to. Satin is a nice player too. He's not someone I envision as an everyday player. One thing we can assume based on reports is that most likely Duda and Satin will still be on this team come spring. Davis is still here though, so for now you have to include him in the discussion.

Photo credit to Michael Baron
Based on the anticipated moves yet to be made, people are calling for a Duda/Satin platoon. As many of you have probably already figured out from interacting with me, I am against platoons. I've become more open minded to the thought recently, especially with the outfield. However, I will not sit here and be cool with a first base platoon. First base is a core position for a baseball team. It's very hard to be successful when you do not have stability at the first base position. First basemen make many of the calls when it comes to cuts and throws from the outfield. On top of that, infielders like to be comfortable with the person they're throwing the ball to every night. I don't believe first base platoons lead to overall team success. If you look at the last 10 World Series winners, the one common theme is stability and production from their first basemen.

2013 - Bos - Mike Napoli             (139 gms, .259 BA, 23 HR, 92 RBI)
2012 - SF - Brandon Belt              (145 gms, .275 BA, 7 HR, 56 RBI)
2011 - StL - Albert Pujols             (147 gms, .299 BA, 37 HR, 99 RBI)
2010 - SF - Aubrey Huff               (157 gms .290 BA, 26 HR, 86 RBI) *100 gms @1B
2009 - NYY - Mark Teixeira        (156 gms, .292 BA, 39 HR, 122 RBI)
2008 - Phi - Ryan Howard            (162 gms, .251 BA, 48 HR, 146 RBI)
2007 - Bos - Kevin Youkalis        (145 gms, .288 BA 16 HR, 83 RBI)
2006 - StL - Pujols                        (143 gms, .331 BA, 49 HR, 137 RBI)
2005 - ChiW - Paul Konerko        (158 gms, .283 BA, 40 HR, 100 RBI)
2004 - Bos - Kevin Millar             (150 gms, .297 BA, 18 HR, 74 RBI) *69 gms @ 1B
                     Doug Mientkiewicz  ( 49 gms, .215 BA, 1 HR, 10 RBI)

With the exception of 2004, when the Red Sox traded mid-season for Mientkiewicz, every team has had a first baseman who played at least 100 games at the position for their respective team. In 2010, Aubrey Huff spent most of June and July filling in the OF for the Giants, but was the teams primary first baseman the majority of the season. And aside from Mientkiewicz/Millar in 2004 and Brandon Belt in 2012, these first baseman have been power hitting run producers in the middle of the line up. I know all the Bill James wannabes are going to have something to say about the stats I've chosen to use. I only used basic stats just to paint a picture of what a typical first baseman usually projects as.

I am in no way comparing the 2014 Mets with these great teams. I don't believe that even with the moves the Mets have made that they are to be taken seriously as championship contenders. They will be competitive and they will be entertaining, but obviously there is more to be done. The Mets do have a lot more holes that need to be filled, including shortstop and the bullpen. I believe though that if the Mets anticipate contending soon, then first base needs to be solidified. No matter who the last man standing is, either Ike or Duda, then you're going to have to use 2014 to gauge whether they are your first basemen or not. Otherwise it's time to cut the cord and find someone who can go play first base everyday. 

Talk Mets and insult me on Twitter @GetsThruBuckner

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