The New York Mets will be led by Buck Showalter as the team sets to try to win their first World Series since 1986. Since this is their 60th season, here are 60 bold predictions for the season.
1. The New York Mets will win the 2022 World Series.
2. Howie Rose will retire after the season. The Mets have already tabbed their replacement in Jake Eisenberg, and Rose could not pass up the opportunity to go out calling a Mets World Series victory.
3. Rose will return in some limited fashion to SNY and will be a fill-in replacement in 2023 and beyond.
5. Dominic Smith will force his way into the lineup. Yes, he’s battling with J.D. Davis and Robinson Cano for the DH spot, but like he did in 2019 and 2020, he’s going to force his way into the everyday lineup and not relinquish his spot.
6. Edwin Diaz will be an All-Star. Diaz has been an every other year pitcher in his career, and following that pattern, this is his year.
7. The Mets All-Stars this season will be Diaz, Lindor, and Max Scherzer.
9. Jeff McNeil will finish the season as the left fielder. That is an injury prone outfield, and McNeil will eventually be forced to move out there.
10. Robinson Cano will reclaim a starting job. We forget that when Cano played he was actually good in the field. If the outfield is as injury prone as we think, we will eventually play almost every day at second or DH.
12. Starling Marte is going to have a fast start and quickly become a fan favorite. When he’s snubbed at All-Star time, fans are going to be livid.
13. Mark Vientos will have a thrilling MLB debut. Vientos’ bat is arguably Major League ready, and he’s going to get some run during some point of the season as a third baseman or DH. He may not relinquish a spot.
14. Brett Baty will be moved at the trade deadline. With the emergence of Vientos and the ground ball problems, the Mets feel comfortable moving him for that big piece at the trade deadline.
15. The Mets everyday catcher is not on the Opening Day roster. At some point, the Mets will swing a deal or call up Francisco Alvarez to take over as the everyday catcher.
16. The Philadelphia Phillies will be the Mets main contenders. Last year, the Atlanta Braves were dead in the water until the Mets were too injured. The Mets won’t do that again this year, and the Phillies pitching and hitters will give people more of a run than we think.
18. Tylor Megill will last the entire season in the rotation. Now that he’s here, it is going to be difficult to remove him from the rotation. If need be, the Mets will go to a six man rotation to keep him in the majors.
19. Carlos Carrasco will rebound and will pitch like he did with Cleveland, but he will not make more than 20 starts.
20. Trevor Williams will become a huge part of the Mets bullpen as he becomes more of a fastball/slider pitcher.
21. Steve Cohen will purchase SNY during the course as the 2022 season as the Wilpons are scared off by the increasing rights deals with streamers.
22. The Mets will have multiple Gold Glove winners with Lindor and Marte.
23. Hefner will get interviews for managerial positions with other teams after this season.
24. So will Eric Chavez.
25. The Mets will not have any player at DH for more than 40 games this season.
26. J.D. Davis will make multiple relief appearances for the Mets this season.
28. None of the Mets outfielders will play over 135 games this season.
30. Mark Canha will play more games than any other Mets outfielder, but he will have the lowest WAR out of all the regular outfielders.
31. There will be an issue over Marcus Stroman not receiving a video tribute when the Chicago Cubs visit the Mets in September.
32. Old Timers’ Day will have one team wearing the 1986 Mets jerseys and the other team wearing the black jerseys.
34. The loudest ovation on Old Timers’ Day will go to Piazza. The second loudest will go to Nolan Ryan, who will be a surprise attendee.
35. The defensive highlight of the season will come from Luis Guillorme.
36. Pete Alonso will take a step back defensively, and he will see more time at DH than initially expected.
37. A week or two into the season, we will hear some rumblings about Michael Conforto looking to return to the Mets. He won’t return, and likely, he will not sign with anyone until after the Major League draft.
38. Some team will crack the frequency on the pitch calling device, and we will eventually know it is them because they will be the surprise team of the 2022 season. It won’t be the Mets.
39. Mets fans will actually enjoy the Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this season.
40. Showalter will be the 2022 NL Manager of the Year, and it might be unanimous.
41. Seth Lugo will return to his dominant form, but he will only be a one inning reliever. The multiple inning role will be assumed by Williams.
42. The Tom Seaver statue will be perfect.
44. People will talk about how Scherzer isn’t what they thought he’d be and the contract was a mistake. Those people will be idiots.
45. The Mets are going to have a monster second half with them running away with the division.
46. With the Toronto Blue Jays winning the division, the Mets are going to make a push to get their unvaccinated players vaccinated to ensure their availability for the World Series.
47. Jeurys Familia will receive a tribute video when he returns to Citi Field, and there will be a mix of cheers and boos with probably more boos.
48. The Wild Card round will be a complete dud and fans will be clamoring for the return of the winner-take-all Wild Card Game.
49. We will see David Peterson bounced around between starting and relieving due to the injury issues with the Mets starting staff. He will struggle for it.
51. James McCann will have very similar production to what he had in 2021, and in short order, he will find himself in a catching rotation with Tomas Nido.
52. No New York baseball player will sign an in-season extension. That includes deGrom and Nimmo, and it also includes Aaron Judge.
53. There will be no negative articles written about Showalter this season even during a time in the season where the Mets slump (as even the best teams in baseball always do).
54. Taijuan Walker will make the fewest starts of anyone in the Mets pitching rotation.
55. The Mets will have a no-hitter this season, but it will not be from a starting pitcher going all nine innings.
56. This will be the last Major League season with nine inning double headers. We will see the return of seven inning double headers in 2023.
58. Mets fans will not care about the Apple TV game, but they will be absolutely livid about the game on Peacock. Of course, MLB will not care one iota about the blowback.
59. Showalter is going to get Guillorme in a lot of games for late inning defense.
60. To reiterate, the Mets will win the World Series, and they will not have to wait another three decades for their next World Series.
The New York Mets seem to be narrowing their managerial search, and reading the tea leaves, it seems Buck Showalter will be the next manager. There are reports Steve Cohen wants him, and there are ties from the New York Yankees between new general manager Billy Eppler and Showalter.
If we are going to go back to Eppler’s old Yankees ties, the Mets could also look at Willie Randolph for the managerial role. With Randolph, there are two things which stand out in his candidacy: (1) he’s actually had success as the Mets manager; and (2) he has unfinished business.
When we look back at Randolph’s Mets tenure, people mostly remember the bad. There was the 2007 collapse, and he was fired one game into a west coast trip. There was the chasm between him and Carlos Delgado. Of course, many forget the 2008 Mets also collapsed, but this time under the helm of Jerry Manuel.
Really, Randolph had to deal with more as the Mets manager than most did. He never had the full backing and respect of ownership. Things got so bad Manuel and Tony Bernazard were going behind Randolph’s back to not only spy on him but to find reasons to remove him from the job. The shame of it was Randolph was quite good at the job.
First and foremost, Randolph was immediately challenged in his job by trying to find a way to graciously end Mike Piazza‘s Mets career. Randolph did it in a way where Piazza not only had a strong season, but he had his dignity during the course of the season.
Randolph was gifted an old foe in Pedro Martinez atop the rotation. Notably, despite the many battles between the two during the heyday of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, there was nothing but respect between the two. Randolph had tried to protect Martinez from the team, but to no avail.
Another challenge with Randolph was the Carlos Beltran situation. He helped Beltran navigate through what was a disaster of a 2005 season and get him playing at a Hall of Fame level. By most accounts, the two had a good relationship, which is something a smart manager will have with their superstar.
One important part of that is the ability to adapt. When Randolph first took over the Mets job, he initially tried to make the Mets more like the Yankees. Case-in-point was the restrictions on facial hair. That is something he eventually rescinded.The ability to adapt to the job is of vital importance.
There were other highlights from Randolph’s tenure with the most important being his development of David Wright and Jose Reyes. With respect to Reyes, he was able to help him hone his skills to develop a more sensible approach at the plate to help him become an All-Star. With respect to Wright, he admitted in his book, The Captain: A Memoir, Randolph helped him become the Major League player he wanted to be. If not for injuries, that would’ve been a Hall of Famer.
Looking at Randolph, one of the biggest skills he had was his working relationship with Rick Peterson. The two worked together to get the most out of the Mets pitching staff, and we saw them do some things which may now be considered commonplace. For example, Randolph had a very quick hook in the 2006 postseason, and he was not afraid to let his superior bullpen win him games. The Mets will be looking for something like that in 2022 with Jeremy Hefner being retained as pitching coach.
Overall, Randolph had strenghts and weaknesses as manager. As we saw with him, the strengths far outweighed the weaknesses. That’s a major reason why he’s second only to Davey Johnson in winning percentage. He was a very good manager, who for some reason, never got another opportunity to manage.
Perhaps at 67, Randolph no longer has any designs on managing. If he does, we need to remember he was a good manager for the Mets. Unfortunately, he never received a fair shake. All told, Randolph knows what it takes to succeed with the Mets. No, he’ll never get the job, but there should have at least been some level of interest.
When Carlos Delgado was five percented off the Hall of Fame ballot, there was shock from fans. Almost yearly, people look to point out the absurdity.
While understood, Delgado did not have a career as good as John Olerud‘s, and yet, we rarely hear about how Olerud should not have been five percented off the ballot.
Olerud played 17 years in the majors hitting .295/.398/.465 with 500 doubles, 13 triples, 255 homers, and 1,230 RBI. He won one batting title, was a two time All-Star, and won three Gold Gloves.
In terms of the advanced numbers, he has a 58.1 WAR, 39.0 WAR7, and a 48.6 JAWS.
Looking at the average Hall of Fame first baseman, he’s fairly well behind the 66.9 WAR and 54.8 JAWS. However, he’s closer to the 42.7 WAR7. Examining his career past these numbers you see a more compelling case.
Notably, by WAR, Olerud is the 20th best first baseman of all-time. When looking at the top 20, the only three eligible players not tainted by steroids not in the Hall of Fame are Todd Helton, Keith Hernandez, and Olerud.
Behind these players are nine Hall of Famers. Those players include Hank Greenberg and Orlando Cepeda. Other players behind him are Fred McGriff, Delgado, and Don Mattingly, three players who have very vocal advocates.
First and foremost, the 500 doubles is significant. Olerud is one of 64 players to accomplish that feat. Of those 64, there are few eligible players not in the Hall of Fame.
When you eliminate steroids tainted players like Rafael Palmeiro and players currently on the ballot like Helton, there are only members of the 500 doubles club not in the Hall of Fame.
Digging deeper into that, putting aside Barry Bonds and Palmeiro, Scott Rolen and Helton are the only players with 500 doubles and three Gold Gloves who aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Notably, Rolen and Helton are still on the ballot.
Beyond that, Olerud deserves a bump for his postseason play. In his postseason career, he was a .278/.365/.435 hitter. When you look at his performance prior to the final two seasons of his career, he had a .816 OPS. He won two World Series and was part of several memorable games.
There are also some very unique and noteworthy aspects of his career. Olerud became the only first baseman and just the second overall to hit a cycle in both leagues.
Like Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, he went straight from the draft to the Majors. In fact, Olerud would be the only second round pick to accomplish the feat.
While Hernandez is seen as the best defensive first baseman ever, Olerud is the all-time leader in defensive WAR at first base. He’s fifth in total zone rating.
Even with his being part of the best defensive infield in history, Olerud is overlooked for being one of the greatest defenders at the position. In fact, he was so good Bobby Valentine was able to utilize him holding on runners without Olerud having to stand directly on the bag.
Nearly everything about Olerud’s career was unique right down to his wearing a batting helmet in the field. Looking at his entire career, Olerud left an indelible mark on the history of baseball.
He was a great defensive first baseman, one of the best ever, and he was a very good hitter who would hit .350+ three times and have eight seasons above a 124 OPS+. In fact, in 16 of his 17 seasons, Olerud was an above league average hitter.
Overall, Olerud was an outstanding player who was one of the more complete first baseman of not just his era but MLB history. While you may still fairly look upon as his career as just short, he certainly deserved a deeper look into what might’ve been a Hall of Fame career.
It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.
It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.
Darell, No brainer to have Old Times Day , done
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 1, 2020
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:
Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.
Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.
For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.
If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.
The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.
Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.
After last night’s game, Dominic Smith was moved to tears speaking about his pain and fears. He was raw, emotional, and honest. It moved many people. It led Mets fans to go out and buy his jersey and support his foundation.
Buying my @TheRealSmith2_ Jersey tomorrow even though I can't actually afford it.
— what a Metstake?️? (@ChristinaMets15) August 27, 2020
If you only have a few bucks to spare, consider donating to @TheRealSmith2_‘s charity rather than buying his jersey (which is just giving money to MLB).
— Good Fundies Brian (@OmarMinayaFan) August 27, 2020
We also saw former Mets players like Paul Lo Duca speak to how moved they were by hearing Smith’s words.
Wow Dom Smith had me in tears. Much respect. #lgm
— Paul Lo Duca (@paulloduca16) August 27, 2020
Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen? Well, he’s been silent. He has had no quotes for the published articles on the moment. He also has sent no tweets
Remember, this was the same man who had been caught illegally texting game decisions to the clubhouse. Van Wagenen can reach his phone to text for his manager to make a pitching change, but he can’t reach his phone to send a tweet in support of one of his players who was clearly in pain.
The same goes for the Wilpons. They’ve been silent. This is still their organization, and there’s been no press release or quote in support of Smith.
Dominic Smith clearly felt all alone yesterday, and it caused him pain. That was a time for Van Wagenen and the Wilpons to come out and publicly support him. They opted not to do so.
Dominic Smith deserved better than that from them. We all do.
Just make this the latest exhibit in a very long line as to why we’re all counting down the days until the Wilpons are gone. This is another example why Van Wagenen needs to follow them out the door.
Before Colin Kaepernick, there was Carlos Delgado. Back when he was in Toronto, Delgado would sit in the dugout during the playing of “God Bless America.”
The reason for Delgado’s protest was against the Iraq war. Delgado’s protest was colored as a more general anti-war stance as he was also staunchly opposed to the US military’s use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.
Delgado continued sitting in the dugout during his final year with the Blue Jays and then in his first and only year with the Florida Marlins. New Yorkers who viewed the song as a 9/11 healing song would boo Delgado.
Delgado’s sitting in the dugout was a significant issue when the Mets obtained him via trade. When asked about it, Delgado said, “The Mets have a policy that everybody should stand for ‘God Bless America’ and I will be there. I will not cause any distractions to the ballclub…. Just call me Employee Number 21.”” (The Nation).
When asked about Delgado’s forced compliance, Jeff Wilpon said, “He’s going to have his own personal views, which he’s going to keep to himself.”
Fast forward 16 years.
The issue of police shootings of black people has been a significant issue in 2020. It was on Opening Day when nearly all of the Mets players wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts.
However, no one knelt for the anthem. On that subject, Dominic Smith said, “taking a knee just isn’t enough.” After the shooting of George Floyd something changed.
— DOMINIC SMITH (@TheRealSmith2_) August 27, 2020
For the first time in Mets history, a Mets player didn’t stand for the “National Anthem” or “God Bless America.” This went against long standing Mets policy, and at the moment, we don’t know if any instructions were given to the 2020 Mets the way they were once given to Delgado.
On the kneeling, Smith gave a tearful statement in his postgame press conference:
.@TheRealSmith2_’s postgame reaction.
Please take the time to listen to his emotional words. ? pic.twitter.com/KXbQyqdk0i
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 27, 2020
Some will agree with the kneeling. Others won’t. That’s within your right, and having an opinion on the kneeling doesn’t de facto make you a good or bad person. In this world, there’s room for nuance and respectful debate.
Instead of focusing on the act, we need to focus on the words. That’s what Michael Conforto, who stood for the anthem, did:
"I told him I wish I had been out there with him…we support him 100% no matter what he chooses to do"
– Michael Conforto on Dom Smith taking a knee during the national anthem pic.twitter.com/CfFKgVmYbF
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 27, 2020
As Mets fans, and really as human beings, we need to give Smith support in the same way Conforto did. We need to hear his words and understand the courage it took.
And yes, it took real courage. It took courage because he was there on his own doing it. It took courage because he was speaking out. It took courage because we know Mets ownership has previously silenced such acts.
In the end, we should all be proud we have a player like Smith wearing a Mets uniform. He’s a great ballplayer, a better person, and an even better role model. At this time, he needs us to hear him and give him our support . . . support Delgado had never received.
The story with Daniel Murphy goes when he was in Jacksonville University, he introduced himself as “I’m Daniel Murphy from Jacksonville, and I hit third.” That would perfectly describe Murphy’s Mets career to an extent. While he played some questionable defense, he will forever known for his offensive exploits.
Murphy’s story with the Mets began in 2008. The team was fighting with the Phillies for the National League East crown in August, and due to a number of injuries, they rushed Murphy up from the minors and stuck him in left field despite his being primarily a third baseman in his career.
Murphy was a revelation for the Mets that year hitting .313/.397/.473 with nine doubles, three triples, two homers, and 17 RBI in 49 games. He’d also notably hold his own him left field. Thus began the odyssey of Murphy with the Mets where he played mostly out of position, hit, and was clutch.
In 2009, he was severely miscast as the Opening Day left fielder in Citi Field. The ballpark was far too spacious, and he was not really an outfielder. Due to a number of injuries, he would find himself at first base in place of Carlos Delgado. In that season, he would not only lead the team in homers, but he would also have the first homer at Citi Field which came as a result of replay review.
After an injury plagued 2010 season which he began in the minors because new GM had more faith in Brad Emaus and others, Murphy returned to the Majors in 2011, and he eventually won the everyday second base job. It was a breakout season for him where he had his second highest OPS+ in his Mets career.
From there, while trade rumors would constantly follow him, he emerged as one of the teams best and most reliable players. One of the most interesting things which happened was Murphy became an extremely effective stolen base threat despite not having overwhelming or even good speed. From 2013 – 2014, he would steal 27 consecutive bases. That’s the second longest streak in Mets history trailing only Kevin McReynolds.
In that 2013, he would actually lead the league in stolen base percentage. He would also finish second in the league in hits. The 2014 season would be a special one for Murphy. First and foremost, he became a dad, and he would attend the birth to much consternation. Later that year, he would make his first All-Star team and his only one with the Mets. As great as that year was, 2015 would be Murphy’s best in a Mets uniform.
Working with new hitting coach Kevin Long, Murphy worked on improving his plate discipline, launch angle, and pulling the ball. We would see all of that come to fruition with Murphy having one of the greatest postseasons we have ever seen becoming the first ever player to hit a homer in six consecutive postseason games.
There’s no understating how great a postseason that was. In that postseason, he homered off of Clayton Kershaw (twice), Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, and others. Kershaw is an all-time great pitcher, Greinke is a likely future Hall of Famer, and Lester is a great postseason pitcher. Murphy beat them all, and he did something only Lou Gehrig had ever done by having a hit, run, and RBI in seven consecutive postseason games.
To put it succinctly, it was Murphtober.
He didn’t just beat teams with his bat. He had a great diving play to end Game 1 of the NLDS, and he would also steal a key base. On that note, in Game 5 of the NLDS, Murphy had such a great game, it should be known as the Murphy Game.
In that game, he was 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, homer, two RBI, and a stolen base. He gave the Mets a first inning lead with a double scoring Curtis Granderson. In the fourth, with the Mets trailing 2-1, he caught the Dodgers asleep with the defensive shift going from first to third on a Lucas Duda walk. This enabled him to score on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly. Later, in the sixth, he hit the go-ahead homer.
In the Mets 3-2 victory, Murphy played a key role in all three runs. It makes it fair to say in a tightly contested series and game, the Mets lose without him. Without Murphy, there is no NLCS or pennant. On that note, he would break Mike Piazza‘s team record for postseason homers and become just the second Mets player to ever win the NLCS MVP. Like Ray Knight, he would find himself playing for another team in 2016. That would prove to be a giant mistake.
Overall, Murphy had a very good and somewhat underrated Mets career. His .288 batting average is the seventh best in team history. His 228 doubles are the third most. His 13.6 WAR is second only to Edgardo Alfonzo among Mets second baseman. Only Ron Hunt, Alfonzo, and Murphy have been All Stars at second base.
Overall, he is arguably the Mets best ever postseason hitter, and he is their second base second baseman of all-time. He is one of the most clutch players to ever wear a Mets uniform, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 28.
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
27. Jeurys Familia
The New York Mets have been around since 1962, and in that time, they have two players in the Hall of Fame, three players with retired numbers, 31 people in the Mets Hall of Fame, and a whole host of other beloved players. The question is who exactly is the most beloved player?
Does Tom Seaver still have cache in 2020? Did Mike Piazza or David Wright surpass him? Does Keith Hernandez‘s work in the booth as well as his play on the field make him the one Mets player who has reached across all generations?
We really don’t know the answer to that and a whole host of other related questions. To that end, with there being no baseball, this site has set up a field of 64 akin to the NCAA Tournament. The field has been sectioned off in roughly 14 year increments to cover different eras of Mets baseball with each particular era having at least one Mets team who has won a pennant.
There were some tough choices to be made in selecting this field. The field was done using different offensive and pitching metrics, and it was done in consultation with Mets fans. On that note, special thanks are do to Joe D, Michael Mayer, Greg Prince, Tim Ryder, James Schapiro, and Bre S.
There were some tough decisions, and unfortunately, players like Ed Charles, Art Shamsky, Dave Kingman, John Stearns, Randy Myers, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, and Zack Wheeler did not make the list. It is regrettable, but the cuts had to be made somewhere to make this a more manageable field of 64.
The plan is to have polls open each day with a blurb on the match-up on this site with the ability to vote both on this site and on Twitter. The results of both will be combined, so if you are truly interested, you will be able to vote in both places. While not perfect, this is somewhat akin to the All-Star Game which to some degree is voting for fan favorites.
May your favorite player win, and Let’s Go Mets!
Ron Swoboda Rusty Staub Tug McGraw Ed Kranepool Felix Millan Bud Harrelson Nolan Ryan Jerry Grote Ron Hunt Cleon Jones Donn Clendenon Jon Matlack Tommie Agee Jerry Koosman Gary Gentry Tim Teufel Ron Darling Lenny Dykstra Mookie Wilson Sid Fernandez Gary Carter David Cone Howard Johnson Lee Mazzilli Darryl Strawberry Ray Knight Jesse Orosco Bob Ojeda Dwight Gooden Wally Backman Rico Brogna Rick Reed Bernard Gilkey Robin Ventura Todd Zeile John Olerud Lance Johnson John Franco Turk Wendell Al Leiter Bobby Jones Todd Hundley Benny Agbayani Edgardo Alfonzo Armando Benitez Jeff McNeil Michael Conforto Daniel Murphy Johan Santana Matt Harvey Jose Reyes Wilmer Flores Noah Syndergaard Brandon Nimmo Carlos Beltran Pete Alonso Curtis Granderson Yoenis Cespedes Jacob deGrom R.A. Dickey
Based upon his receiving just 18.1% of the vote last year, it does not seem like Jeff Kent will get anywhere close to the 75% threshold for Hall of Fame induction. Unfortunately, it does not appear as if he is going to get the push he needs to get anywhere close to that 75% in any of the subsequent three years meaning he will one day need to have his case reassessed by the Veteran’s Committee.
Now, there are viable reasons to overlook Kent’s candidacy. After all, his 55.4 WAR puts him below the 69.4 WAR of the average second baseman. The same can be said of his 35.7 WAR7 and 45.6 JAWS. Assessing just those numbers, you could say Kent belongs just in that proverbial Hall of Very Good, but not the Hall of Fame.
However, there is more to his case, and it merits a deeper look.
First and foremost, there are the homers. In his career, Kent hit 377 homers with 351 of them coming as a second baseman. That mark is the best among second baseman in Major League history. In terms of Hall of Fame eligible players, that puts him ahead of Rogers Hornsby, Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan, and Joe Gordon, each of whom are Hall of Famers.
There’s more to it. Mike Piazza is the all-time leader in homers at the catcher position. Cal Ripken Jr. is the all-time leader in homers by a shortstop. Mike Schmidt is the all-time leader in homers at third. They are all in the Hall of Fame. Right now, looking across every position, the all-time home run leader at a position was inducted into the Hall of Fame when there was no PED issues.
There’s more to Kent’s offense than just homers. His 562 doubles were also the fifth most at the second base position putting him behind Hall of Famers like Biggio and Charlie Gehringer but ahead of Hornsby, Roberto Alomar, Billy Herman, Frankie Frisch, and Morgan. Breaking it down, Kent is the only Hall of Fame eligible player in the top ten in doubles at the second base position who has not been inducted.
Going deeper, Todd Helton and Kent are the only Hall of Fame eligible players at their position to be in the top five all-time in doubles (not implicated with PEDs) not inducted into the Hall of Fame. That was cemented with Ted Simmons recent election by the Veterans’ Committee.
While considered an out of date stat, Kent’s 1,518 RBI are the third most at the position. All of the Hall of Fame eligible second baseman in the top 10 are in the Hall of Fame except Kent. Again, barring PEDs, the top three Hall of Fame eligible players in RBI have been inducted. All except Kent.
In terms of RBI, there is more to it. Right now, the only non-PED implicated Hall of Fame eligible players who have at least 1,500 RBI not inducted into the Hall of Fame are Fred McGriff and Carlos Delgado. Essentially, if you are a non-1B with 1,500 RBI, you were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Kent is also second all-time in slugging at the position. Again, every clean Hall of Famer in the top two in slugging at their position has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. He’s also fourth in OPS. As you can assume, every clean Hall of Fame eligible player in the top five in OPS at their position have been inducted.
It’s this type of production which arguably makes Kent the second best offensive second baseman all-time to Hornsby. That would also make Kent the best at his position in the post World War II Era. It is one of the reasons why he was the 2000 National League MVP.
A second baseman winning the MVP is a rare feat indeed. In fact, there have been only 10 second baseman in Major League history who have done that. With the exception of Dustin Pedroia, who is not yet Hall of Fame eligible, everyone second baseman who has won the award is in the Hall of Fame. That’s everyone except Kent.
Really, the only reason Kent is not in the Hall of Fame is his abrasive personality and his defense. Honestly, there is not much to defend his defense, which was admittedly subpar. However, we should take into consideration Kent has turned the 11th most double plays among second baseman in Hall of Fame history. That is more than Sandberg and Biggio.
Also, for what it is worth his total zone rating is higher than Alomar’s. That’s not insignificant when Alomar is considered a very good defensive second baseman.
There’s one other factor to consider with Kent’s Hall of Fame case. He was an excellent postseason player. In 49 postseason games, he hit .276/.340/.500 with 11 doubles, nine homers, and 23 RBI. Prorated over a 162 game season, those numbers would equate to 36 doubles, 30 homers, and 76 RBI.
That is high end production in games which matter most. Speaking of which, in his only World Series appearance in 2002, he would hit three homers.
Overall, in his 17 year career, Jeff Kent established himself as the second best offensive second baseman, and really, he was the premier slugger at the position. For those efforts, he put up stats which would have been otherwise Hall of Fame worthy, and he would win an MVP award. While he may not be a proverbial first ballot Hall of Famerr, he is someone who has put together a career worthy of induction.
Over the past few years, we have seen some players who deserved longer looks and deeper analysis fall off the Hall of Fame ballot for their failure to receive five percent of the vote. This puts sometimes deserving and borderline players in a limbo hoping and waiting they receive eventual consideration from the Veteran’s Committee.
Carlos Delgado fell off the ballot after receiving just 3.8% of the vote. That happened despite his having more homers than Jeff Bagwell and Tony Perez. He had a better OBP than Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey. He also had a higher slugging than Eddie Murray. Overall, his 138 OPS+ was higher than Bill Terry and Frank Chance.
Now, you could also argue he wasn’t up to Hall of Fame standards, but that debate never really could develop as he fell off the ballot.
Lofton had a higher WAR than Andre Dawson, who was inducted in 2010. He also has a higher WAR than Andruw Jones, who is appearing on the ballot for a third time this year. On that point, he is teetering himself with his just receiving 7.5% last year.
Edmonds is just a hair behind Dawson in career WAR, but he is also well ahead of Kirby Puckett. Notably, Edmonds trails just Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., and Torii Hunter in Gold Gloves won by a center fielder. Notably, his eight are the same amount as Dawson. Given how comparable he is to Dawson, you’d think he would get a longer look. He didn’t.
The same could be made about any number of candidates. Hideki Matsui had over 500 professional homers. Johan Santana had a higher WAR and ERA+ than Sandy Koufax. John Franco has more saves than any left-handed closer, and he has a higher ERA+ than Hall of Fame closers Bruce Sutter, Rich Gossage, and Dennis Eckersley. Finally, David Cone presents his own interesting case. All of these players were one and one on the ballot.
We will likely see the same happen to Bobby Abreu this year despite his having a better WAR, WAR7, and JAWS than recently inducted Vladimir Guerrero. He also has more doubles, triples, stolen bases, walks, and a higher OBP. Keep in mind, Guerrero was inducted just last year making the votes on the two players quite disparate despite having the same electorate.
All of these players hope to one day have the same chance Lou Whitaker now has.
Back in 2001, Whitaker only received 2.1% of the vote, which to this day, is plain wrong. Looking at WAR, Whitaker is the seventh best second baseman of all-time, and the third best at the position to debut after World War II.
He accumulated more hits than Tony Lazzeri and Johnny Evers. He scored more runs than Red Schoendienst and Jackie Robinson. He has more doubles than Ryne Sandberg and Nellie Fox. He has more triples than Craig Biggio and Bill Mazeroski. He has more stolen bases than Rogers Hornsby and Billy Herman. Overall, his OPS+ is higher than Roberto Alomar‘s and Bobby Doerr‘s
By any measure, Whitaker should be in the Hall of Fame, and yet because of the five percent rule, he has not yet been inducted. Looking at Whitaker and other cases, it is probably time the rule gets changed.
Conceptually, the five percent rule makes sense. A player does not come to vote until five years after his career is over. Ideally, this means voters have had an opportunity to assess a career in full and make a determination. However, in practice, it does not quite turn out that way.
Really, when there are fringe and overlooked candidates, there is usually someone championing them leading to them getting more attention, and eventually, induction. Bert Blyleven received 17.6% of the vote in his first year of eligibility, and he was inducted on his final year on the ballot. Tim Raines received 24.3% in his first year and was inducted on his last year. Hopefully, we will see something similar happen with Larry Walker.
The point is for every Mariano Rivera and Tom Seaver there are a number of Hall of Famers who have needed years of analysis and debate. By taking players off the ballot after one year, we are all losing the opportunity to have deeper analysis and debate about players who may well belong in the Hall of Fame.
There has to be a better way especially when we see a top 10 second baseman like Whitaker fall off the ballot. Perhaps, that rule could be relaxed for a year and moved to a player’s second year of eligibility. Perhaps, the Hall of Fame could tier the percent of the vote needed to keep a player on the ballot.
For example, to stay on the ballot after one year you only need just one vote. After the first year, you need five percent of the vote with the threshold rising roughly two percent each year so you need 18% of the vote to make it onto the final year on the ballot.
Structuring the vote this way allows for more debate about players while also presenting an opportunity to remove players who have not swayed the vote in a particular direction. Certainly, this type of system would be better than just disregarding players after one year, lamenting it, and then hoping someone corrects the error a decade or so later.