Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How The Mets Match Up: Braves

Catcher: McCann is the better ballplayer...and its not even close.  This is not just a case of experience over youth.  McCann is far better behind the plate and while they sport a similar batting average, McCann offers an element of power that will never be part of Jose Thole's arsenal.

1st Base: Despite being two years his senior, Ike Davis and Freddie Freeman have roughly the same amount of major league experience.  Both play an above average first base and feature a nearly identical career batting average in roughly the same number of at bats.  However, while Freeman can hit for power, Ike simply has more and its for that reason that he gets the edge here.

2nd Base: This match-up makes for an interesting argument.  Neither player can play a lick of defense.  Murphy hits for average, while Uggla hits for power.  In the end, its those power numbers as well as his health, that give Uggla the nudge.

3rd Base:  If we're comparing careers, the nod would have to go to Chipper Jones, but we're not.  David Wright is coming off of a career worst season and is primed to bounce back.  Hitting into the now reduced dimensions of Citi Field, Wright simply poses a bigger threat than Chipper at this point in his career.

Shortstop: The shortstop position poses more questions than answers for both teams.  Ruben Tejada has more major league experience than Tyler Pastornicky (provided he earns the position out of camp), and improved mightily at the plate last season, but there is no telling how either will fare over the course of their first full major league season.

Left Field: This is a big mess for both teams as well.  Jason Bay, the consistently inconsistent underachiever, versus Martin Prado, the also oft-injured outfielder approaching decline.  Based upon 2011 statistics, the edge would have to go to Prado, but I honestly believe Bay will benefit from the changed dimensions at Citi Field as well.  That upside makes this race a lot closer and shows no clear winner.

Center Field: This is the second position where the Braves have the clear advantage.  Michael Bourn is not only four years younger than Andres Torres, but he has a better bat, better speed and most importantly, better health.  This makes him the unanimous winner of this matchup.

Right Fielder: The final position up for debate features two former prospects still trying to cut their teeth at the major league level.  Duda has had significantly more success at the plate than Heyward, but is not a natural outfielder.  Ultimately, its Duda's power, better batting average and ability to stay on the field that provide him the edge going into 2012.

Conclusion:  The Mets outscored the Braves by 77 runs win 2011, however the Braves will not have to absorb the loss of a premiere player like the Mets will with the departure of Jose Reyes.  Ultimately, I don't foresee that loss causing a 77 run swing in the offense.  While the Braves have the advantage of experience and a true leadoff man, the Mets simply have more offensive potential, particularly if David Wright and Jason Bay benefit from the altered dimensions, as I believe they will.  Final Verdict:  New York Mets

***"How The Mets Match Up" will be a four part column taking a closer look at the Mets' position players, versus those of each member of the NL East.  Please check back for the other segments, which will be up in the coming weeks, to include separate sections with pitching comparisons.***

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