Best Mets Of All Time: No. 27 Jeurys Familia
For the first time on this Best Mets list, there is an active player with Jeurys Familia being the best Mets player to ever wear the number 27. Looking beyond that, Familia is one of the best relievers to ever don a Mets uniform. What makes that all the more remarkable is Familia didn’t even begin playing baseball until he was 15 years old. As a result, he’d be a largely unheralded intertional free agent signing in 2007 earning just a $100,000 signing bonus.
After two cups of coffee in 2012 and 2013, Familia burst on the scene in 2014 finishing seventh in the Rookie of the Year voting. He had a 2.21 ERA over 77.1 innings. This would begin what was arguably the best three year stretch for any Mets reliever in team history and what could be the best stretch by any Major League reliever over that time span.
With Familia’s 2014 season, many saw him as the closer of the future. The thought was that was going to have to wait as Jenrry Mejia had established himself as the closer. That was until the first of his steroid suspensions which eventually led to his banishment from baseball. Familia stepped up, and he successfully converted his first 13 save chances and 27 of his first 29.
It should be noted the Mets had VERY little margin of error for much of that season. After a great April start, the Mets suffered a number of injuries leaving them with little to no offense. That problem was compounded by a shallow bullpen. Oft times, Familia was left with a very little margin of error, and he was called upon to pitch more than just one inning. He was a huge reason why the Mets won the division that year.
As great as Familia was during the regular season, he was even better in the postseason. He appeared in four of the five games against the Dodgers in what was an epic NLDS, and he converted the save in all three Mets wins. That included him going four outs to preserve Jacob deGrom‘s great Game 1 start, and it was his pitching two innings to get the save in the clinching Game 5.
Throughout that postseason, he would have a 0.61 ERA. That includes a 1.80 ERA in the World Series. Unfortunately, he was saddled with a blown save in three of those games. However, that speaks more to poor defense and just plain bad decision making by Terry Collins.
Familia rebounded from the World Series disappointment to put together a truly great 2016 season. In that season, he would set a number of Mets records including consecutive saves and saves in a season. In fact, Familia would set a Major League record in the process by converting his 53rd consecutive save opportunity. This would garner him his first All-Star appearance (to date). His signature save conversion that season was in April when he got out of a bases loaded no out jam to save a 1-0 Mets victory:
From 2015 – 2016, Familia set the Mets record for most saves over a two year span with 94. In 2015, he tied Armando Benitez‘s single season record, and in 2016, he blew past it. Over that time span, no National League reliever had converted more saves, finished more games, or pitched more innings than him.
From 2014 – 2016, he pitched more innings than any other National League reliever, and he had the second highest WAR and FIP. Arguably, he was the best reliever in the National League and the best closer in all of baseball. Some of this gets lost in his postseason misfortunes.
Unfortunately, the 2017 season was a disaster. It started with a domestic violence arrest, and he would suffer a season ending injury.
After 2017, he hasn’t quite reached that peak he was at in 2015-2016. However, he did rebound in 2018 to have a very effective season leading to him being traded at the trade deadline. Familia missed New York, and he returned the first chance he got. His return did not go well in year one, but there is hope he can return to form working with former teammate and new pitching coach Jeremy Hefner.
Through it all, Familia has arguably emerged as the best right-handed closer in Mets history. His two year stretch from 2015-2016 saw him close more games and finish more games than any Mets closer. At the moment, he is third all-time on the Mets saves list, and fourth all-time in appearances. Through it all, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 27.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach