Edit: the full quote from Alderson: ”We’ve taken what seemed to be a fairly barren outfield at the beginning of the season and turned it over the last month into maybe the most productive outfield in baseball.”
According to Fangraphs WAR, the Mets have the second-best outfield in baseball in the Julyy (3.4) WAR as a unit trailing only the Tampa Bay Rays (4 WAR). Yeah, I was surprised too. No other team is above three WAR in that span.
For what it’s worth, about a third of the Mets’ outfield value in the last month comes from a measure of their defense (6.4 runs) and baserunning (4.1 runs). Measuring defense over small sample sizes is really, really dicey. That defensive value of +6.4 is third-best in baseball. It passes a smell test – Juan Lagares and Eric Young Jr. do appear to cover a lot of ground – but I’m skeptical of the accuracy and predictive value of such measurements.
Including only offensive performances, the Mets are fourth in wRC+ (behind only the Rays, Angels and essentially even with the Dodgers). By wOBA, the Mets are seventh in the last 30 days (trailing the Angles, Reds, Blue Jays, Rays, Red Sox, and Nationals). The Mets accomplished this with an .364 outfield BABIP that accompanied a walk rate (8.8%) and an isolated slugging percentage (.156) hanging around MLB average for outfields.
It’s a stretch to say that the Mets’ outfield has been the most productive in baseball in July. But as Alderson observed, maybe it’s been – that claim we rate completely true.
Of course, that was not Alderson’s claim as he did not specify a unit of time. Perhaps over a shorter sample, it is true that the Mets outfield has out-performed all others.
Instead, I would end with a statement more specific in length and more circumspect in value as true: “In the month of July, the Mets’ outfield has been among the top third offensively, while contributing positively defensively and on the bases to make them among the Majors’ best outfield units.” Is that a little lawyerly? Sure.
Still, the Mets’ outfield in July (ranked by plate appearances: Marlon Byrd, Eric Young, Juan Lagares, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Andrew Brown) has been very good. It is to the Mets’ credit that they were able to turn an outfield that was among baseball’s worst in the season’s first few months into one of its best.
Now, is it sustainable in 2014 or even August?
Full Chart of baseball’s best outfields in the last 30 days and their component contributions via Fangraphs follows the jump.