The Mets are Performance Chasers

It’s no secret that we are BIG Mets fans over at Mullooly Asset Management.  I’ve written about the Mets many, many times in the past.  Well guess what?  I’m going to do it again today.

The Mets are currently 53-55, and four games back in the NL Wild Card spot.  On paper, that doesn’t sound too bad.  However, any fan of the game knows that it’s a long shot for them to make the playoffs.

So how did the Mets get to this point?

It’s largely in part due to the underwhelming performance of the bullpen.  Going into the season, on paper, the Mets bullpen looked GREAT.  They traded for superstar closer Edwin Diaz, and brought back long-time Met Jeurys Familia. The 8th and 9th innings looked locked down.

Not so fast.  BOTH Diaz and Familia have been disappointing to put it nicely.  So what’s the problem with Diaz and Familia?  Well, my theory is one that has plagued the Mets a couple times in recent history.  It’s also the SAME concept that continuously plagues investors year in and year out:

PERFORMANCE. CHASING.

Let’s take a look at some notable Mets relief pitchers who didn’t really work out the way they hoped:

  • Edwin Diaz
    • 2018: 73 Games, 57 Saves, 1.96 ERA, 5 HR, 16 ER
    • 2019: 46 Games, 24 Saves, 5.14 ERA, 9 HR, 24 ER **w/ the Mets**
  • Jeurys Familia
    • 2015-16: 94 combined Saves, Avg. 2.20 ERA
    • 2017-19: 24 combined Saves, Avg. 4.91 ERA (7.22 ERA in 2019)

On a less well-known level:

  • Anthony Swarzak
    • 2017: 2.33 ERA, 77.1 IP
    • 2018: 6.15 ERA, 26.1 IP **w/ the Mets**

To go back a little further:

  • K Rod (Francisco Rodriguez)
    • 2004-2008: 1.73-2.81 ERA, 62 Saves in 2008
    • 2009: 3.71 ERA, 35 Saves, 38 Walks (most in his career) **w/ the Mets**

In the cases of Diaz, K Rod, and Swarzak, the Mets chased after the performance the pitchers had given their previous teams in the past year, only to be severely disappointed by the results once they joined the Mets.

In the case of Familia, he was already ON the Mets, but the out-performance during 2015-16 led to overuse, or overexposure, and has caused the under-performance since.

All four of these pitchers had terrific years in which they were naturally relied upon a lot to get the job done.  Like in the case of Familia, this led to overuse across the board and injuries followed.

The Mets still have not seemed to learn their lesson that relief pitchers coming off of historically great seasons, with a lot of innings pitched, are at a higher risk of “reverting to the mean” performance-wise, or getting hurt the next season from being used so often.

This is NOT always the case with relief pitchers.  It just seems to happen more times than not with the Mets.  Who knows what that says about their ability to evaluate talent.

The point remains for investors though.  Be wary of performance chasing.  The same way the Mets get burned chasing after hot pitchers, investors often get burned chasing after hot investments.  As you can see from the chart below from Ben Carlson over at A Wealth of Common Sense, it’s been very difficult to establish any sort of reliable pattern when it comes to which asset class will be the top performer that year.

In investing, the degree of difficulty in selecting the best performing investments AHEAD OF TIME lends itself to the idea of diversification.  Spreading your investments across a balanced, well-rounded mix of asset classes, countries, sectors, etc. will take away the guessing game of trying to pinpoint which investment will perform the best that year.

With investing, it’s a simple solution – diversify.

With the Mets, it’s not as simple.  Perhaps instead of putting all of their metaphorical eggs in one or two baskets (Diaz/Familia), they can try to build a more well-rounded bullpen with more reliable arms.  Easier said than done, though.

Regardless, keep your fingers crossed the bullpen can figure it out down the stretch and we see another Mets playoff run! Okay, enough about the Mets.

Have a great weekend!

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