Carlos Delgado, who had an impressive evening last night, is now batting .242, with 13 home runs and 47 runs batted in. In his career, Delgado has traditionally had more impressive offensive statistics in the second half of the season than in the first half. With just a very minor increase in his offensive production in the second half of this season, Delgado will end up with a batting average in the .250s, about 30 home runs, and about 100 rbis.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, I was taught that one should not show disrespect to baseball players who hit 30 home runs in a season and drove in 100 runs. Of course, the Mets did not have players like this when I was growing up and they wouldn’t have any such players until the middle of the 1980s. But if they had had players like this when I was growing up, it would not have been considered proper for me to be disappointed in them.
I am not disappointed in Carlos Delgado. What is it with everybody else?
Well, people are saying that he is not hitting as well as he did last year. Last year, he ended up hitting .265, with 38 home runs and 114 rbis. He had a good year. That 38 was one of his highest homer totals ever. Players have good years and one of the reasons we call their good years good years is that the season that comes after the good year will probably not be quite as good as what we are calling the good year. If next seasons tended to be better than what we call good seasons, then we would not call them good seasons. We would call them off years, or even bad years.
Have you looked at the team offensive statistics lately for this season and last season? Right now, the Mets have hit 86 home runs. They are sixth in the league and the median home run total for teams in the National League is 80. Last year, at the end of the season, the median team home run total was 170. The Mets hit 200, 4th in the league. These numbers suggest that the number of home runs hit by the National League is down by about 12%. So if you want to compare anyone’s offensive statistics this year with their statistics last year, you have to make an adjustment. If you knocked Carlos Delgado’s homer and rbi totals for last year down by 12%, you would get 33 home runs and 104 rbis. That’s pretty much where he is likely to end up. But what about batting average, you say? Well, if Delgado ends up hitting .255 and you know perfectly well that he could hit higher than that, that would be just ten points lower than what he hit last year. One hit per 100 at bats. Thank you for noticing.
Still, you whine, he doesn’t look at ease up there! Yeah, like you know. There’s something wrong with his swing! Maybe, but there have been an awful lot of games in which there doesn’t look as if there’s anything wrong with his swing.
I don’t suppose that there could be anything wrong with your expectations?
Look, most division-winning teams win between 90-95 games. Teams that win 90-95 games have a lot of flaws, unlike teams that win 108 games, like the 1986 Mets. Baseball fans, I think, have a tendency to forget about those flaws once the team has won its division, even though they are obsessed by the flaws when the season is actually happening. Look over the statistics for the 2006 Mets. Do you remember how incredibly weak the starting pitching was in the second half? Do you remember how weak we were against lefties? Well, maybe you do. It wasn’t so long ago. But you’ve repressed it to some degree. You are doing the retrospective idealization thing so that you can complain about the flaws of the current team because you’re afraid that the current team isn’t going to win it. This is natural human behavior. But for someone like me, who gets no intrinsic joy from complaining, this is very annoying.
Still, you may say that you think that something could have and should have been done about these flaws during the offseason. What? I am still waiting for someone to come up with the thing that Omar should have done that he didn’t do that would have made the difference. And even if you come up with such a thing, please remember that on April 1, we really had no way of knowing what the flaws of this particular team would be. Make a list of the ten things that have happened this year that you could not have predicted.
You see what I mean? Bear with them. Calm down. Cheer real loud. You don’t have to be complacent, but it may be better to be complacent than to be a whiny pain in the ass. The cavalry is probably not on its way and we will look really stupid if we behave as if we think that it is. Suzyn Waldman learned this the hard way. A great righty bat and another John Maine are not going to fall into our laps at this point. We’re probably stuck with this crew. But they can win a division. You know they can. They can certainly win this one, probably with not much more than 90 games, 7 more than last year’s World Champs. I know it’s well past a cliché by this point. But Believe.