Mets’ Offensive and Pitching Comparisons to National League Average Since 2011

By Ethan Marshall

The Mets’ 2017 season has been nothing short of a disaster thus far.  Until recently, the team was getting solid pitching every day, but little to no run-support.  Now, while the team has been scoring runs, the pitching has faltered.

It’s commonly believed for a baseball team to be successful, they  need a combination of good hitting and solid pitching.  Before the Mets were a playoff team each of the last two seasons, they were a bottom-of-the-barrel team in the National League for quite awhile.  The charts below examine the Mets’ team batting averages (BA) and earned-run averages (ERA) since 2011 to those of the league averages in that same time frame.

The data below suggests a team built like the Mets can be successful with slightly below-average hitting as long as the pitching is superb.  The data shown confirms the saying: “Good pitching beats good hitting.”

 

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Data Source: Baseballreference.com

 

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Data Source: Baseballreference.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panic Time for the Mets’ Rotation?

By Ethan Marshall

 

The disaster that has been the 2017 Mets season thus far has fans thinking “How can this get any worse,” every day.  With Yoenis Cespedes and now Noah Syndergaard sidelined indefinitely with injuries, the Mets need to right the ship without their best pitcher and hitter.

Noah Syndergaard walks off the field with trainer Ray Ramirez after suffering a partial tear of his right lat muscle yesterday in Washington.  Photo credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass.

Syndergaard’s injury may prove more costly in the long run.  With Seth Lugo and Steven Matz still weeks away from returning from their own injuries, the Mets are without a decent replacement.  The current plan for Friday is for Rafael Montero to start, but he’s failed to prove he belongs in the big leagues time and time again.

Assuming the Mets sign free agent Doug Fister (which they should), he would likely need two or three weeks to get himself ready to pitch in a major league game.  As early as it is, the Mets could explore the trade market for a pitcher that can eat up innings.

Bartolo Colon, who the Mets let go in the offseason because they felt they already had enough pitching depth, could be a suitable target for Sandy Alderson.  The Braves are in rebuilding mode, and with Colon signed on a one-year deal, he seems likely to be traded at some point this season.  Colon proved incredibly reliable in his Mets tenure, eating up innings while pitching well.  The Mets could really use a pitcher with a rubber arm like Colon’s right now.  With the Mets beginning their first series at SunTrust Park in Atlanta tonight, this could be a good time for Alderson to talk with Braves general manager John Coppolella about working out a deal for Colon.

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Bartolo Colon pitching at Citi Field against the Mets.  Photo credit: Getty Images.

 

The Mets and Braves have gotten along well in recent years on the trade front.  In July 2015, the Mets traded minor league pitchers John Gant and Rob Whalen for Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson.  In June 2016 the Braves again traded Johnson to the Mets, this time for minor league pitcher Akeel Morris.

Of course there may be problems in negotiating a deal for Colon.  The Braves may try to take advantage of the Mets’ desperation by asking for higher tier prospects in exchange for Colon.  Additionally, Colon has an ERA of 5.59 in 29 innings pitched.

The Mets can’t afford to throw Montero out to the mound every five days for at least the next three weeks.  Whether it’s through the waiver wire, free agency or trading, the Mets need to find a replacement that can give them a quality outing each start.

Perhaps one way to negotiate with the Braves is to consider offering media magnet Tim Tebow.  The Braves just opened a new stadium, and need a way to sell more tickets.  Arguably nobody draws as much a crowd as Tebow.  While he alone wouldn’t be nearly enough for the Mets to give up for Colon, he could still draw the attention of the Braves if he continues to produce in the minor leagues.  While he is only batting .237 for the Class A Columbia Fireflies, he did go 6-21 last week, posting a .285 average.  Trading Tebow for Colon may just be stupid enough to work.

 

 

Data Visualization Assignment

By Ethan Marshall

 

The data visualization of the members of Congress throughout the United States in January of 2015 is effective at communicating information.  The names of the representatives, their party affiliation and pictures of them are all provided.

The graphs under the map of the US break down the percentage of specific genders, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, age and education throughout the country and Congress.  The graphs further break down the categories by showing the percentage of Democrats and Republicans who fall into this category.

For example, while 50.8% of the US population is female, they make up just 19.5% of Congress.  However, 32.5% of Congressional Democrats are women while 9.3% of Congressional Republicans are women.  Through this, we see that a majority of the women in Congress come from the Democratic party.  While they only make up about one-fifth of all of Congress, women account for almost one-third of all Democratic representatives.

The way in which the graphs break down the members of Congress by these categories helps to prevent misleading information.  Rather than just saying 13.7% of Congressional representatives are younger than 45, the percentage of the US population that falls under this category is provided, as well as how much these representatives make up of their party.

The graphs show that in most cases, people that can be put under certain categories aren’t represented as much in Congress as the population they make up.  This is particularly evident for people without college education.  While they make up 42.4% of the country’s population, only 0.4% of the members of Congress don’t have a college degree.  The graph shows that American voters prefer their representatives to have a higher degree.

The graphs show diversity is a big issue for Republican representatives.  All the Republicans identify as heterosexual.  95% of the Republicans are white, and 90.7% of Republicans are male.

The article does show that many people may be represented in Congress more than they may have thought.  While African Americans make up 12.6% of the country’s population, and 8.6% of the members of Congress are African American, 18.4% of the Democratic representatives are African American.  The US Congress is diverse on the Democratic side, but not for the Republicans.  The lack of diversity for Republicans in Congress brings down the total percentage of different minority groups being represented.

 

 

 

Video Story Project

By Ethan Marshall

Jimmy Anton works at Holiday Farms supermarket in Glen Head.  He has been working there since the supermarket was a Waldbaum’s.  He’s spent almost a decade working there, stocking shelves, handling shipping and helping customers.  He’s seen both employers as well as fellow employees come and go over that span.  One reason as to why he’s been able to keep his job for so long is that he is a very hard worker.  Hailing from Peru, Anton, came to America in hopes of making a living here.  He hopes to one day have his own house and start his own family.  Right now, he’s just trying to be a good employee, making sure he finishes all the work he’s expected to do.

My video story on Jimmy’s responsibilities at work can be found here.

“What it Would Take to Build Trump’s Border Wall” Video Critique

By Ethan Marshall

 

This non-broadcast video on CNN’s website examines how a border wall between the US and Mexico can be built, using special effects and animations to help the viewer better understand the information being provided to them by correspondent Jason Carroll.

The sequencing, edits, shot composition, and sound are combined throughout this video in order to maintain the viewers’ interest and make it easy for them to understand what’s being told to them.

The video usually uses wide and extreme wide shots of the Carroll talking to the viewer so that the body of water separating the US and Mexico can be seen by the viewers.  Using a shot of that includes the body of water as a border rather than a fence makes the viewer realize that Trump’s wall wouldn’t just be running along the middle of nowhere.  There are natural obstacles that need to be taken into account in building the wall too.

The editing of the video includes animations showing where the wall would go through, how a strong and stable wall can be made, and the cost of the wall.  By providing a visual aid, the viewer is able to better understand what is being discussed than if the shots consisted only of Carroll standing in front of the body of water.

The composition of the shot of Carroll standing in front of the border helps to make the viewers realize just how much distance there is separating the US from Mexico in that area.  While Carroll states that the body of water only separates the US from Mexico by 100 miles, the extreme wide shot makes Carroll look dwarfed by the natural border behind him.

The loud volume in which Carroll speaks to the viewer throughout the video keeps the viewer drawn into his voice.  Carroll’s voice isn’t annoying enough to push potential viewers away, nor is it monotone enough to bore viewers.  He is able to sound as though he is intrigued by the details he is providing to the viewers.

In my opinion, this video is able to be successful for, among other reasons, the smart and creative ways the sequencing, edits, shot composition, and sound is used.  One of the main points Carroll is trying to make to the viewer is that while it is possible in theory for the wall to be built, it would be a long and arduous process for it to be done.  Carroll finishes the video with a humorous stat about how much the wall would cost: nothing, because Mexico is going to pay for it.  It’s a way of him saying how ridiculous this idea is in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ulises “Uli” Chavez Photo Story

Born in San Salvador, El Salvador in 1997, Ulises Chavez was separated from his parents at a very young age.  His parents moved to New York when he was just an infant, with the goal of raising enough money to one day have Uli brought to America to be with them.  After spending the first nine years of his life being raised by his aunt and two uncles in El Salvador, Uli’s parents were finally able to raise enough money to arrange for Uli to be reunited with his parents in America in 2007.  Uli and his then-16-year-old cousin were driven across the U.S.-Mexico border, and brought to Long Island, New York.

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Today, Uli spends most of his time working at Holiday Farms, a supermarket in Glen Head, New York.  He is trying to make and save enough money to afford to go to college.
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Uli says he enjoys living in America much more than El Salvador.  “You get more rights [in America].”   
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One of Uli’s many responsibilities at Holiday Farms is stacking the shelves.
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In order to get to the items, Uli needs to use a cutting tool to quickly and neatly open the bags of goods.
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Stacking the shelves requires Uli to carry many different goods from the back room to the aisle they are supposed to be in.  When the shelves are completely filled, the leftover products are brought to the back room until the shelves need to be restocked again.  In this picture, Uli is using a U-shaped wagon (referred to as a U-boat) to push the leftover goods to the back room. 
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Occasionally, Uli is called upon to change the machines used to recycle plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans.  He has to drop off the recyclables at a loading station in the back of the store, where a truck picks it up and takes it to a recycling plant.

 

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When the cardboard compactor in the back room begins to overflow, it is Uli’s job to empty it out and move the giant cardboard stack to the loading station, where it will be sent to the recycling plant.
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The process of moving the cardboard stack includes multiple steps.  First, Uli needs to get a big wooden pallet, and place it next to the compactor.
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Next, he needs to insert thin metal wire through the back of the compactor, before tying the wires together in the front.  This allows for the compacted cardboard to stay together when it is moved.  
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Then, the metal plate holding the cardboard in place is lifted with the push of a button, allowing for the cardboard to fall on the pallet.  After this, a forklift is used to move the cardboard on the pallet to the loading area.
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While Uli hopes to one day attend and graduate from college after he saves enough money to be able to do so, he says his ultimate goal is to become an electrician, as well as to get married and have a family in Long Island.

 

 

 

 

Tebow, Tebow, Tebow

By Ethan Marshall

 

The Tim Tebow show arrived in Port St. Lucie a few weeks ago, and, this week, he appeared in two spring training games for the Mets.  The 29-year old prospect went 0-7, with three strikeouts and a hit-by-pitch in the the Grapefruit League.

After signing with the Mets last summer to play full-time professional baseball for the first time since when he was a junior in high school in 2005, Tebow was thrown right into the wringer this spring. His Grapefruit League debut last Wednesday came against 2016 A.L. Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello.  Porcello struck him out looking on four pitches.

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Tebow walking back to the dugout after striking out in his first at-bat of spring training.  Photo credit: Jason Vinlove, USA TODAY Sports

Tebow’s second at-bat seemed like a Hollywood movie moment in the making when he stepped into the box with the bases loaded and nobody out.  A homer would’ve added to the circus that is Tim Tebow.  While Tebow did hit the ball hard, it was on the ground and right at the second baseman, resulting in a double play.

After getting hit in the shoulder in his third at-bat, Tebow didn’t even flinch as he tossed his bat and went to first base.  Tebow would get doubled up shortly after this when he was caught too far off first base on a lineout to second by L.J. Mazzili.

While Tebow and the Mets have been criticized for inserting him into the starting lineup, taking away playing time from potentially better ballplayers, it should be noted that Tebow was a very good baseball player in his high school days.  Tebow’s former high school  baseball coach, Greg “Boo” Mullins, described him as a “six-tool player,” the sixth tool being his character.  In a 2013 interview with The Sporting News, the former Nease High (Ponte Vedre, Florida) baseball coach said “Everybody should know this: He wasn’t just a great football player, he was a great baseball player too.  I believe he could have played in the big leagues.

In his junior year, Tebow batted .494, with four homers, 30 RBI, and 10 doubles.  Mullins projected Tebow could’ve been drafted between the 7th and 12th rounds out of high school.  He went as far to say that Tebow could’ve potentially be drafted in the second round had he played baseball in college.  The reason he was never drafted, as Mullins points out, was that while multiple MLB teams were considering drafting him out of high school, they didn’t want to waste a pick on a man who had clear intentions of playing football over baseball.

Despite Tebow’s unsurprisingly poor spring performance, Mets manager Terry Collins did see some bright spots in the former Heisman Trophy winner.  According to The New York Daily News, Collins said “The speed of the game is really something he hasn’t seen before.  [Wednesday] was his first game, he went back and took live (batting practice) and he saw better at-bats [Friday].  He was more rested at the plate, a lot more comfortable.  All things considered I thought he did a nice job.”

Regardless of how Tebow’s baseball career pans out, every at-bat, every defensive opportunity, and every game he participates in will be heavily covered by the media.  For the Mets, this is just the beginning of the Tim Tebow circus sideshow.