After much dissension from many Mets at the time of the signing, you would be hard pressed to find a Mets fan who is not impressed by Alex Cora.Â Cora, who currently has a BA of .304 and an OPS of .823, does so much more than the stats alone even indicate.
From his past two managers:
After learning that Cora would soon return to the team our fearless manager had this to say “but, also,Â i now realizeÂ the type of leadership he brings to theÂ dugoutâ€¦ he talks to every oneâ€¦ heâ€™s always on the ball, thinking, talking about the game, studying, sharing information with teammates, etcâ€¦ in the clubhouse,Â he checks in with people, talks baseball,Â and encourages a smart-brand of playâ€¦ it makes sense that people around the game praise this guy, yet stat-junkies dismiss himâ€¦”
Ask what Cora means to the Red Sox in 2007 Terry Francona had this to say: “It’s hard to stay prepared for games if you aren’t playing all the time, but Alex is always ready,” said Francona. “He does everything to the best of his ability. Even if it’s just fielding ground balls during batting practice he goes all out. He doesn’t do anything at half speed.”
What about the player himself?Â What does he feel that his value is to the team?Â As a role player that tries to impact the team and the clubhouse.
“WASHINGTON â€” The worst lineup Alex Cora said he had ever seen won three of four games late last summer. He batted eighth or ninth for a Red Sox team playing without the injured Mike Lowell, Julio Lugo, J. D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis, and with its replacement third baseman, Jed Lowrie, battling a fractured wrist.
â€œI donâ€™t know how we did it,â€ Cora said. â€œAt one point we had Dustin Pedroia hitting fourth. I mean, yeesh. But we didnâ€™t care. We were just like, letâ€™s go. Why canâ€™t we do it? Why not us? And thatâ€™s what you do, man.â€
Excuses were not tolerated in Boston, where he won a World Series title in 2007, and he expects the same fortitude from his new teammates. Whenever the Metsâ€™ deluge of injuries is broached, Cora changes the subject, a verbal eye roll. He is on record saying that if someone disagrees with him they â€œdonâ€™t belong in this clubhouse,â€ a remark issued in Pittsburgh on June 1, the day before he was activated from the disabled list.”
Cora has a reputation among his managers and baseball people alike.Â But as a fan, sometimes I lean on their impressions of a player even more.Â Especially once it is clear that player will no longer be on their favorite team.Â Here are a couple of quotes from Red Sox’s fans when the Mets signed Cora.
“Mets fans should be happy with this potential pickup. Cora is a great clubhouse guy and he can do some things in the field to help a team. While his range has slipped a bit in recent years, you can be comfortable knowing that just about anything hit within his reach will be played cleanly. He also puts together solid at bats. He can lay a bunt down and advance runners and work the pitch count. In terms of utility guys, he’s a good one to have around as long as you don’t have to lean on him for too much.”
“It’s a good sign for the Mets and as a Sox fan I hate it. Awesome utility hitter and seemed like a great guy in the clubhouse.”
“Okay player but amazing clubhouse guy. AC was an amazing leader in the clubhouse.”
And the list goes on.Â Often for a star you hear these kinds of words when they leave.Â But who hears these comments about a guy that started 40 games and only got 200 AB’s?
So what has Cora done so far for the Mets?Â Granted I am not a big believer in clutch but there are many of you who are:
|2 outs, RISP||11||Â||13||10||Â||3||1||0||0||3||0||0||3||1||.300||.462||.400||.862||4||0||0||0||0||1||0||.333||110||131|
|Late & Close||15||Â||19||14||Â||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||2||0||.286||.375||.286||.661||4||0||0||3||0||1||1||.286||61||85|
|Within 1 R||22||Â||50||40||Â||15||5||1||0||1||2||1||7||3||.375||.468||.550||1.018||22||0||0||3||0||1||2||.405||147||170|
|Within 2 R||22||Â||59||47||Â||16||5||1||0||3||2||1||8||3||.340||.436||.489||.926||23||0||0||4||0||1||2||.364||125||148|
|Within 3 R||23||Â||66||54||Â||18||6||1||0||5||3||1||8||5||.333||.419||.481||.901||26||0||0||4||0||1||2||.367||119||141|
|Within 4 R||25||Â||76||61||Â||20||6||1||0||6||3||1||10||6||.328||.417||.459||.876||28||0||0||4||1||1||2||.357||113||136|
|Margin > 4 R||6||Â||10||8||Â||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||2||1||.125||.300||.125||.425||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.143||4||20|
Late & Close are PA in the 7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck.
Based on these stats Cora does best when the team needs him the most. By any definition that IS clutch. Add to that a few more stats:
In Losses: .357 BA .996 OPS
As a Sub: .417 BA 1.045 OPS
With 2 strikes: .316 BA .802 OPS
With RISP: .308 BA .829 OPS
With a runner on 3rd 2 Out: .333 BA .929 OPS
Mets record when Cora gets at least 4 AB’s 9-5.
Cora has also been on base or had an RBI in every game he has started this season.
So not much for stats? Try this final stat
Against the Phillies: .357 BA, 1.009 OPS.
Maybe Cora should be hushing the Phillies because on the field that is exactly what he IS doing.