Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Nick Migliore. Nick is a big-time Mets fan and frequent commenter here and on other Mets fan sites. It’s great to have him making a contribution that should add some diversity to the perspective on the Mets from other posts that are on this site. You can follow Nick on Twitter.
First and foremost, I’m glad to be part of The Mets Report! Thanks again to Dave Doyle for the opportunity to write for this site. I’m a huge Mets fan, and to give you a heads up about my writings, I tend to rely on more in-depth stats than just the standard ERA, win-loss records, batting average, etc. I hope everyone enjoys my contributions. If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop a comment below and I will do my best to reply.
Now, on topic: John Smoltz. Yes, he pitched to a 6.35 ERA and a lousy 3-8 record last year. Yes, he was extremely hittable (95 hits in 78 IP), and yes, he’s 42 years old and will turn 43 about a month and a half into the season. But I really think this guy can help the Mets in 2010. Why? I’ll try my best to explain.
Last season with the Boston Red Sox, John Smoltz pitched to a 8.32 ERA in 8 starts before subsequently being released. Why did John struggle so much? I do remember reading a rumor about how he might have been tipping his pitches, but I really chalk it up to one thing: misfortune, based specifically off two underlying statistics:
- BABIP (batting average on balls in play) – The standard average for a pitcher’s BABIP is about .300. With the Sox, Smoltz’s BABIP was a whopping .386; ugh, yeah, that’s very unlucky.
- LOB% (left on base percentage) – The standard average for a pitcher’s LOB% is about 70%. While I, unfortunately, cannot find his LOB% splits with the Red Sox and Cardinals, it was an overall 60% last year, which is well below average and once again proves bad luck on John’s part.
Once he was swept up by the Cardinals, Smoltz pitched to a very solid 4.26 ERA in 7 starts; it’s no surprise his BABIP was a more reasonable .314, and he gave up just less than a hit per 9 innings. His walk rate remained pretty much the same and his strikeout rate jumped from 7.4 per 9 innings with Boston to 9.5 per 9 innings as a Cardinal. I think a safe conclusion is that not only was he mainly unlucky with the Red Sox, but he’s a pitcher who is probably better off remaining in the inferior National League.
Do I want to rely on Smoltz as a cog in the Mets’ 2010 rotation? No, I don’t. My stance has always been to sign a high-risk/high-reward starter like Ben Sheets, who has more upside than Smoltz. But I do believe there is something to be had by bringing him in as an extra body who can work as a reliever until a rotation spot inevitably opens up. John might not be the ace pitcher he was in 1996, or even the one he was in 2007, but I firmly believe he has some intriguing stuff left in the tank, and the Mets should absolutely bring him aboard in a reliever/starter “swingman”-type role.