Review: MSP Mets Annual

Posted on March 19, 2010 by

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Yesterday my copy of the Maple Street Press Mets 2010 Annual arrived in the mail. Confined to the bed because I was sick, it was a welcome package to receive. Maple Street Press puts out a host of annuals and they get some of the top names in both the blogosphere and traditional media to contribute to their magazines. The Mets guide features articles by Adam Rubin, Dan Schlossberg, Ted Berg, Toby Hyde and Howard Megdal, among others. David Wright is this year’s cover boy.

Amazingly, the guide features 128 pages, uses all colors and yet features just one ad, for a SABR book on the 1969 Mets which was co-edited by Matthew Silverman, who co-edited this guide. Content aside, this lack of advertising puts it ahead of virtually any other magazine out there. And as you can imagine, there is a ton of content. After beginning with a too-long introduction to the 2010 season by Rubin, the guide features a full page listing the CHONE Projections for the upcoming season. This includes both stars and minor league players and is a nice reference, although it contains just one line of basic stats for each player.

Next up is a full page devoted to each expected starter. This is one of the nicest parts of the annual. It is attractivey laid out and contains a ton of information in the forms of text, charts and stats. At the top of the page is the player’s name and uniform number, which is a nice thing. In smaller type is his age, position and bats and throws information. Next up is his 2009 stat line. On the left side of the page is a nice color action shot, about the height of a baseball card but wider. To the right is an extended paragraph of text on the player, which concludes with his contract status, another helpful feature.

The charts contain some very useful information not easy to find elsewhere. First up is a scouting report from 2009, which gives averages for the batters versus all types of pitches, both overall and further broken down versus RHP and LHP. For the pitchers, this section also included additional breakdowns, such as average velocity and count-specific outcomes.

Next are spray zones, which breaks the field into six areas and gives the percentage of balls hit into each zone. It’s also color coordinated to give you an immediate idea which zone a player hits most frequently (pink – because nothing says hot for an MLB player like pink) and least frequently (baby blue). To the right of that chart are hit zones, which divide the strike zone into nine quadrants and show the batter’s average on pitches in those respective areas. Again, this is color coded for easy identification. It also show a chase zone, giving the percentage of pitches outside the zone (broken down again by nine zones) that a batter offers a swing.

Beneath the hit zones is a chart of Strengths & Weaknesses, which shows how a batter did in certain situations. There are four categories for each batter, individually tailored to show presumably his best and worst splits. It shows the player’s split in the category, the MLB average in that split and the MLB rank in that category. For instance, Daniel Murphy had a .398 SLG percentage with two strikes. The MLB average in that split was .290 and he ranked 18th in the category in MLB. The pink and blue theme was here again.

The bottom of the page included more 2009 stats, including splits for home/road, 1st half/2nd half and left/right.

The pitchers have the added breakdown of pitch zones (their equivalent of hit zones) for both LHB and RHB.

These pages are very, very nice. And my reservations about the color choices of pink and baby blue aside, the only thing missing here is raw numbers. The percentages given in both the spray zones and hit zones are handy, but I really wish they would have included the raw numbers, too. They would be easy enough to calculate for the spray zones but there is no obvious way to do it for the hit zones. But even if it was simple, a better designed chart would have made it unnecessary.

The guide also includes several feature articles, including a nice write-up on new Met Jason Bay. There was the obligatory article on all of last year’s injuries, including a nice sidebar feature of the most frequently injured players in team history. John Franco leads the way with seven trips to the DL. The magazine also includes previews on other NL teams, a schedule and the team’s 40-man roster as of press time, complete with statistics. Unfortunately, they used a healthy margin for the left and right side of the stats, making reading the actual numbers a bit of a chore.

There were some nice articles on the farm system by Hyde. He included extended bios on both the top 10 hitters and pitchers in the organization along with a listing of prospects 11-25 for both groups. There were some nice photos of the prospects, although I wish they included more of these. Hyde also broke down the 2009 draft and had a Q&A with Minor League Director Adam Wogan. Hyde asked if the club’s philosophy of aggressively pushing prospects would continue, but Wogan dodged the issue, saying it would depend on the person. Wogan pointed to the success stories of Ruben Tejada and Fernando Martinez as justification for continuing to keep this policy around in some form.

More minor league material included features on Ike Davis and Josh Thole, stats (again in a small type face but at least this time there was no wasted space on the margins), a look at the top minor league teams in team history and schedules for all of the club’s affiliates.

The guide retails for $12.99 and can be purchased on newsstands or online at https://www.maplestreetpress.com/osindex.cfm?products_id=93&action=buy_now

The guide is well-worth the price and is something to which Mets fans can refer to again and again during the season.

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Posted in: Perspectives