Congratulations to David Wright on a great career, and from Mets fans everywhere thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Tonight was about one thing and one thing only – David Wright.
While we always anticipated he could be shut down at any time without warning, after he homered in his third straight game, no one truly expected May 27, 2016 to be his final game as a Met.
In a pleasant surprise,Mickey Callaway said pregame that Wright was going to pinch hit tonight. To ensure he got in, Callaway assured us Wright was going to be the first pinch hitter of the game.
For a brief moment, it appeared that would be the bottom of the fourth. A noticeably nervous Wright emerged from the dugout and the fans erupted.
While Wright began a routine both familiar from his 13 year career and yet new from this being an all too different experience all together, he dropped the bat.
He picked it up and continued that routine etched in our memories. Alas, with Kevin Plawecki grounding out to end the inning, the process would have to begin anew in the fifth.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 29, 2018
As I saw this, I knew it was time. My oldest was up next to me in eager anticipation of the moment. We had been talking about it all night, and he was telling me how cool each of the highlights of him was.
I went and I got the baby out of his crib. I had each of my boys on my lap to watch a baseball game. It wasn’t the first time it’s ever happened, but it was the first big Mets moment since my youngest was born.
There was no option other than sharing this important moment with my sons. One day when they are older, they can each honestly say they saw David Wright play.
So while my phone was abuzz with texts from my brother and dad, I sat there with my boys on my lap, and we watched Wright eagerly swing at Jose Urena‘s first pitch:
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 29, 2018
Even with all that Jacob deGrom has done, that groundout to third was the top moment of 2018 because for a brief moment David Wright was once again a Met.
Game Notes: In case you were wondering, the Mets lost 8-1.
We have seen Jacob deGrom have a historically great season. However, was it an all-time best Mets season at least as judged by WAR? Can you name the players who have had the 10 best seasons in Mets history? Good luck!
Over the past decade, there seems to have been a shift in the MVP voting. While it has traditionally been an awarded given to the best player or a difference maker on a postseason contender, there has been an increasing push to give the award to the best player. Largely, this is the reason why we have seen Mike Trout win the 2016 AL MVP over Mookie Betts despite the Angels being under .500 and in fourth place in the AL West. It was also the reason Giancarlo Stanton won last year.
Trout was hardly unique in winning the MVP despite playing for a second division team. Alex Rodriguez won the 2003 MVP because not only was he by far the best player in the American League, but there was also no real position player who emerged as a legitimate contender for the award. The other classic example was Andre Dawson winning the 1987 NL MVP. He won because by that generation’s standards 49 homers and 137 RBI were far too much to be ignored.
In addition to under players from under .500 teams winning the MVP, we have also seen pitchers win an MVP. In fact, there have been seven starting pitchers and three relievers to win the award. What is interesting is two of the pitchers who have been named MVP have come in the past decade. The first was Justin Verlander, who won the Cy Young and MVP in 2011. The other was Clayton Kershaw, who won both awards in 2014.
Up until this point, we have not seen a starting pitcher from under .500 team win the MVP award. Perhaps with the historic season he has had, it is time Jacob deGrom becomes that pitcher.
Looking at the league leaders right now, deGrom leads the National League with a 10.3 WAR. Despite the epic run Christian Yelich is on to close out the season, deGrom leads him in WAR by 3.3. Even with Yelich having four games left in his season, it is safe to say deGrom is going to beat him in this category by a healthy margin.
Now, if you go through the past decade of MVP award voting, there has only been one player who has amassed a WAR of at least 10.0. That was Bryce Harper who was the unanimous 2015 NL MVP. As an important side note, Zack Greinke, who had a 9.7 WAR and 1.66 ERA finished second. Moreover, the lowest WAR for an MVP award winner was Joey Votto who had a 7.0 WAR in 2010.
Digging a little deeper, no one with a WAR of at least 10.0 has not won the MVP award in the National League since 2001. That year Sammy Sosa and his 10.3 WAR lost to Barry Bonds and his 11.3 WAR. Previous to Sosa losing, the last time a National League player had a WAR of at least 10.0 and did not win the MVP was 1964 when Willie Mays lost to Ken Boyer. To a certain extent, you could make the case a 10.0 WAR is one of those magic thresholds which should merit you the MVP award.
One of the reasons why National Leaguers who have accumulated at least 10.0 WAR have won the MVP is because it is a truly astonishing feat. The National League was founded in 1876. In the 142 year history of the National League, there are just nine position players who have ever amassed a 10.0 WAR: Rogers Hornsby, Barry Bonds, Honus Wagner, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Joe Morgan, Sammy Sosa, Ernie Banks, and Bryce Harper. All nine of these players have at least one MVP award.
This century, there are just two National League pitchers to have at least a 10.0 WAR – Randy Johnson and deGrom. Johnson didn’t win the MVP the years he amassed over a 10.0 WAR partially because Bonds was putting up historic numbers while posting a higher WAR.
In fact, over the last 30 years, that list is just Johnson and deGrom. Over the last 50, that list is Dwight Gooden, Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Phil Niekro, Johnson, and deGrom. With the exception of Gooden, each of these pitchers were Hall of Famers. With the exception of Niekro, these were first ballot Hall of Famers.
That’s the level of season deGrom just had. It was not just all-time great, it was the type of season a Hall of Famer would have.
With his 24 consecutive quality starts, he broke the record Bob Gibson and Chris Carpenter shared. He has set the Major League record with 29 consecutive starts allowing three earned runs or less. He’s the only pitcher since 1900 to have a season where he has has at least 250 strikeouts, 50 or fewer walks, 10 or fewer home runs allowed, and an ERA under 2.00.
Overall, Jacob deGrom did just have a great season, he just had an all-time great season. In fact, his 2018 season is on the short list for the greatest seasons a pitcher has ever had. Certainly, that’s more than enough for him to win the Cy Young. It should also be enough for him to win the MVP Award.
Just when you thought you’ve seen it all from Jacob deGrom this year, he had one final special moment in store for us all.
Finally, in his sixth start against them, deGrom would beat the Braves. Despite him allowing just four earned in 33.0 innings against the Braves this year (1.09 ERA), he was 0-2 against the Braves this year with the Mets 0-5 in his starts. Really, to beat the Braves, deGrom needed to shut them out.
With him possibly getting the opportunity to clinch the Cy Young, deGrom would do just that pitching eight scoreless and completely dominant innings.
It was not until the sixth the Braves would have a batter reach safely, and that was an all too fleeting moment for the Braves.
Acuna would strike out swinging on a wild pitch, and he’d take off for first. However, he was ruled to have rounded first, and as such, when he was tagged by Dominic Smith, the inning was over.
While deGrom was phenomenal, even by his standards, he didn’t do it alone. In fact, Jeff McNeil was a wizard making not just one
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 27, 2018
but two brilliant defensive plays
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 27, 2018
Unlike deGrom’s previous five starts against the Braves, and really most of his starts this seasons, he would get enough run support. Tonight, that support would come from the bats of Michael Conforto and Smith.
In the sixth, Conforto hit a one out double off Braves reliever Luke Jackson. Smith would deliver a two out single giving the Mets a 1-0 lead, which was all the run support deGrom needed.
For good measure, Conforto and Smith would homer in the eighth. Each homer was impressive in their own right.
Smith was an opposite field shot, and Conforto’s was an absolute bomb which landed near the Shea Bridge. It would be his career best 28th homer.
That 3-0 lead was more than enough.
deGrom would finish the night strong striking out three of the last four batters he faced. With his striking out Ozzie Albies to end the eighth, he recorded his 1,000th career strikeout:
News flash: This guy's good. pic.twitter.com/NeeMHtbdOe
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 27, 2018
His final line for the night was 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K.
When Seth Lugo closed out the ninth for his third career save, deGrom finally got his 10th win. If he does go on to win the Cy Young, it will be the fewest wins from a Cy Young award winning starter.
All told, deGrom finished the year 10-9 with a 1.70 ERA, 0.989 WHIP, and an 11.2 K/9.
He became just the third pitcher in MLB history with a sub 2.00 ERA, more than 250 strikeouts, and fewer than 50 walks.
Game Notes: There was some consternation over deGrom not coming out to get cheered and depart the game. Under MLB rules, if he stepped on the field, he would have been required to face at least one batter.
The smoke started when Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote an article naming four people “off the beaten path” who the Mets should consider to be their next General Manager. In compiling this list, Sherman included Ron Darling because “[h]e He is smart, hard-working, personable and passionate about the Mets.”
Clearly following up on Sherman’s idea, Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News asked some questions to Darling at a TBS event to promote their coverage for the 2018 postseason. In the article, Darling showed his interest through two key quotes:
I would be disingenuous if I didn’t say that if someone wants to sit down with me and talk about putting a team together I would absolutely take that meeting.
* * * * *
I know a lot of things would have to change with my family to take that task on, but everyone who loves the game wants a chance to put a team together, and I’m no different. I would prefer that to managing a team. The day-to-day stuff (involved in managing) would not be my favorite. But the behind the scenes stuff… I would be more qualified for those personal relationships away from the field.
With the intrigue created by two articles being published, Darling had to address the rumors during last night’s game, and he seemed strong in his intentions to continue with his broadcasting career. Specifically, Darling said, “I work for three different networks. I don’t have time to work as a general manager, nor do I have probably the skills to do it.”
With Darling giving differing accounts, it is difficult to ascertain what his true ambitions are. In both circumstances, it is quite possible he is giving the response he believes he thought he should provide. Taking the accounts together, they are not necessarily contradictory. After all, Darling could honestly have real interest int he General Manager job while also admitting to himself (and Mets fans watching the game) he ultimately does not have the requisite skill set to do the job.
What we do know is this has become an issue over the way the Mets are handling this search. Specifically, as noted in Mike Puma’s article in the New York Post, the Wilpons seem unable to determine exactly which style of general manager should led the organization. At some point, the Wilpons are going to have to reach some form of a consensus in what may prove to be an unexpected power struggle.
The question is whether the power struggle and battling ideology would ultimately lead to the Mets considering or hiring Darling.
Here’s what we do know. The Wilpons seem to like to surround themselves with people they know, like, and have previously had dealings. It is why when it came time to replace Jim Duquette, they lured Omar Minaya from Montreal. It’s also why they brought Omar Minaya back heading into this season. It’s why we see Terry Collins being given a real and not ceremonious role in the organization and his gaining more influence as the year has progressed.
This is the sort of environment where not only does a Darling get brought up as a possible candidate, but it is also the type of enviroment where he may get serious consideration.
If you play if out, you could see the narrative. Darling is a Yale graduate. As we have seen with John Lynch with San Francisco, former players and commentator can transition to the front office and be successful. As an aside, it doesn’t hurt Lynch was Kevin Burkhardt’s former partner on Fox. Having been around the team daily since 2006, Darling is well versed in the roster and its needs. He’s media savvy and respected by all.
Really, the narrative writes itself. The question is whether the Wilpons really go there. Right now, it’s likely they won’t, but sadly, at this point, we can’t rule it out.
Today was a special day regardless of the outcome because the Mets finally activated David Wright from the 60 day disabled list. That said, whatever chance we thought we would get to see him play were quickly dashed as the Mets said they were not going to pinch hit him. The reason given was the Braves are fighting for homefield advantage in the NLDS, and the Mets did not want to interfere with the integrity of that race.
While justified, you almost have to question how the Mets could take that stance and also use their bullpen in this game.
Through the first six innings, the Braves had just three hits to the Mets four. The difference between the two teams was the Mets made their hits count.
Crew Chief reviews call that Michael Conforto did not hit a home run in the 3rd; call confirmed, no home run.
— MLB Replay (@MLBReplays) September 26, 2018
In the sixth, the Mets tacked on a run in a rally against Braves reliever Dan Winkler.
At 3-0, it appeared Noah Syndergaard was going to earn his first career win against the Braves. In his six scoreless innings, he would allow the aforementioned three hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
After 89 pitches and his being pinch hit for, Syndergaard was done after six. Robert Gsellman would relieve him and the bullpen meltdown would begin.
Johan Camargo led off the inning with a double, and he scored on a Kurt Suzuki RBI single. Suzuki moved to second on a Charlie Culberson walk, and he’d score because Austin Jackson flat out dropped a Rio Ruiz flyball.
Drew Smith, who has really struggled of late, came into the game and threw gasoline on the fire. Actually, with him being a pitcher, he just came in and threw bad pitches.
One of those pitches was thrown to the backstop allowing not just Suzuki to score, but also for Culbertson and Ruiz to move up. The next was hit by Ronald Acuna, Jr. for an RBI single which put the Braves up 4-3.
That 4-3 deficit grew as Jerry Blevins would have a rough eighth.
After getting the first out, Todd Frazier, who didn’t have a great game, booted a Camargo grounder. Camargo would then score on a Suzuki double. The capper would be a two run Ozzie Albies two run homer.
At that point, it was 7-3 Braves, and the game was over. While Wright was not used as to not upset the competitive balance of the postseason, the Mets bullpen was used and they did just that.
Game Notes: Wright homered in his last three games played in 2016, so whenever he plays, he will have a chance to match his career high in homering in four straight games.
At the moment, we have no idea just how much he is going to play prior to Saturday, but the Mets are anticipated to make an important roster move just by activating David Wright off the 60 day disabled list. With Wright activated, Mets fans now have the chance to make the all too short good-bye to Wright. Today is an emotional day for everyone involved, and it should prove to be the first day of what will be an emotional week culminating in Wright taking the field for the final time on Saturday.
Hopefully, fans will flood to the ballpark and to their television sets to just cheer on Wright to let him know just how much he has meant to fans over these past 14 years. For those of us who will be watching, we will all watch on with anticipation of Wright getting a surprise pinch hitting appearance at some point during the game.
No matter what happens, the rest of the season is all about Wright. It’s about him getting to play in front of the fans, but more importantly to him, it is about him playing in front of his daughters. It’s about him ending his career on the field instead of in a trainer’s room. The Mets organization may not get many things right, but they got this one right.
Today, David Wright is once again an active player on the Mets roster. Today, we get our Captain back.
With the Mets winning 8-6 yesterday in what was an odd and messy game between two also rans, the Mets took the season series against the Nationals for the first time since 2015.
This only underscores just how vulnerable the Nationals were this year.
There was an opportunity for the Mets to take this division. The Mets record against the rest of the NL East further proves this out:
- Atlanta 4-12
- Philadelphia 11-8
- Miami 10-6
Even with their struggles against the Braves, the Mets are two games over .500 in the division. Seeing how well the Mets performed in their own division, you have to question what went wrong.
We all know the answer. It was that 5-21 June.
All of this offset a Jose Bautista return to form making him a surprise contributor. Still, that Bautista contributing highlights a key problem.
The Mets answer is always to go older, older and more injury prone. We see the Mets have a healthy foster, they can compete, but when are they ever healthy?
The McNeil case was the worst of them all.
First, he wasn’t much of a prospect. Then, he couldn’t play third base. Now, the Mets are pinpointing second as a position they could upgrade at this offseason. They wouldn’t feel this way if they observed McNeil this season.
This is emblematic of how this organization’s views on how to build a roster. Worse yet, despite evidence to the contrary, they repeat this behavior.
This is why 2018 fell apart. That is why we should treat the 2019 version with skepticism, at least until such time as the Mets change the way they conduct their business.
That’s why, even with the this window opening, the Mets could not take advantage. If they continue operating the same way, they’ll continue not competing.
Austin Voth, a 26 year old rookie pitcher with an 11.81 ERA, yielded only a Michael Conforto fourth inning infield single before departing after five. A pretty bad Nationals bullpen would not surrender a hit over the final four innings giving Voth his first MLB win.
Corey Oswalt got the start for the Mets, and the shame for him was he was pretty good. If not for his allowing a two run bomb to Treat Turner in the third, it’s possible Oswalt walks off with a no decision.
Not that it was going to happen with the Mets bats being completely listless, but any hopes of a comeback were essentially eliminated with the Nationals hitting Jerry Blevins hard in the sixth.
The big blow that inning was a Matt Wieters three run homer.
All told, the Mets lost this game 6-0. On the bright side, no matter the outcome both of these teams are missing the postseason.