Jerry Koosman

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 49 Armando Benitez

When it comes to Armando Benitez, there is so much over-focus on the times he blew a save you almost get the impression he was a bad closer. Really, he was far from it. In fact, he is one of, if not the, most dominant reliever the Mets have ever had in their history.

For the most part, Benitez was an unknown to Mets fans when he was part of the Todd Hundley three way deal which netted the Mets Benitez and Roger Cedeno. He was not an unknown for long as he burst onto the scene.

His Mets career started with nine scoreless outings and 15 strikeouts in 9.2 innings. He was a dominant set-up man for long established John Franco, and when Franco went down to injury, Benitez seamlessly stepped in as a the Mets closer. In fact, Benitez was so great as the closer that when Franco returned from injury he remained in the closer’s role.

While the narrative changed in subsequent years, Benitez was great when the Mets needed him most. Over the final month of the season as the Mets were desperately fighting for the Wild Card, he was 1-1 converting 6/7 save attempts with a 0.64 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 14.0 innings. He would be the winner of game 162 which forced the tiebreaker game against the Reds.

In that season, he was the second best reliever in all of baseball trailing just Billy Wagner in K/9, ERA, FIP, and WAR. While overlooked, he carried that into the postseason.

In that 1999 postseason, Benitez was 1/2 in save opportunities with a 1.00 ERA in 9.0 innings pitched over seven appearances. He would strike out 11 batters. Many remember him for blowing a save in Game 6, but they forget his save in Game 4, and they forgot his pitching a scoreless 10th in Game 5. After allowing that run in Game 6, he rebounded to get the final out of the inning to send that game into the 11th.

In 2000, Benitez was arguably even better than he was in 1999. Benitez had battling gout that year, but he spent most of that time inflicting the pain on batters setting what was then a Mets single-season save record with 41 saves. He led the league with 68 games finished, which is still a Mets record to this day.

When focusing on his struggles in the postseason this year, it is still important to remember he helped pitch the Mets to the postseason. He would also be the last Mets pitcher to ever record a World Series save at Shea Stadium.

Benitez would again set the Mets single-save mark in 2001, and he would set the Mets mark for saves over two seasons. From 1999 – 2001, Benitez had the fourth most saves in the majors, and he struck out more batters than any other reliever in baseball. Arguably, this made him the most dominant National League reliever over this time frame. Inarguably, he was instrumental in the Mets success during this period.

Really, why many fans don’t want to accept it, Benitez was a great closer, and he is one of the best in team history. His 11.8 K/9 is best among all Mets relievers, and his 2.70 ERA is ninth best. By WAR, he is the fourth best reliever, and saves, he is the second best Mets closer of all-time. By WPA, he is the fifth best pitcher to ever don a Mets uniform. Ultimately, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 49.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom

 

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 48 Jacob deGrom

Jacob deGrom has only pitched six years with the Mets organization, and in that time, he ranks fourth all-time in WAR among pitchers with a 33.3 WAR. To put that in perspective, the three pitchers ranked ahead of him had longer Mets careers, and only Tom Seaver had a higher WAR over his first six seasons.

That is what deGrom has accomplished so far in his Mets career. He has been pitching so great, he has accomplished things only Seaver has done not just in Mets history, but Major League history. With deGrom, we may very well be watching a Hall of Fame career.

When deGrom won the 2019 Cy Young, at the time, he joined Seaver as the only pitcher in Major League history to win the Rookie of the Year Award and two Cy Youngs. Moments later, he was joined by Justin Verlander, who will one day be a Hall of Famer. With deGrom winning consecutive Cy Youngs, he is the only pitcher to win a Rookie of the Year and consecutive Cy Youngs.

What is fascinating about that is no one really expected any of this from him.

When deGrom was first called up to the majors, he was expected to eventually move to the bullpen with Rafael Montero being the mainstay in the rotation. Seeing his Major League debut against the Yankees, it was soon clear the Mets had a truly special pitcher who could one day be an ace.

In his debut, he take the loss despite allowing the Yankees to one run over seven innings. That lack of run support would become a theme in his career. What made deGrom special was he would build on it. Perhaps the highlight of that rookie season was his setting a Major League record by striking out eight batters to start the game.

He finished that season with a flourish striking out 26 batters over his final two starts. That was an indication of what was to come in 2015.

While it was Bartolo Colon who got the Opening Day start, and Matt Harvey receiving all the hype, it was deGrom who was the true ace of that 2015 staff.  In fact, deGrom would be the only All-Star, and he would introduce himself to the baseball world striking out the side on just 10 pitches.

In that season, deGrom would finish seventh in Cy Young voting, but when it came to the postseason, there would be no better pitcher in the postseason. That was apparent when he completely and utterly dominated the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS striking out 13 Dodgers en route to a win.

As dominant as he was in Game 1, he was that gritty in Game 5. In that game, deGrom joined Jon Matlack and Ron Darling as the only Mets pitchers to start a winner-take-all game. In that game, deGrom’s only 1-2-3 inning wa the sixth, but he would get through that game with the lead as the Mets would win the game and the series.

With deGrom winning two games in that series, he became the first ever Mets right-handed starter to win two games in a postseason series. With his victory in Game 3 of the NLCS, he would become the first Mets starter to win three games in a single postseason. In that postseason, deGrom was 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.160 WHIP, and a 10.4 K/9.

We briefly saw deGrom build upon that in 2016, and if not for his stepping aside for his teammate Colon, he would have been an All-Star again. Unfortunately, it was a very difficult season with deGrom as his newborn son dealt with health issues (thankfully, he was alright), and he would need season ending ulnar nerve transposition surgery.

In 2017, he proved he was healthy setting a career record with 15 wins and setting what was a then career best with 201.1 innings, 239 strikeouts, and a 10.4 K/9. Once he proved he could survive the rigors of a full season again, he was primed to become the best pitcher in all of baseball.

Simply put, deGrom’s 2018 season was one of the best in Major League history. In terms of just the numbers, he was 10-9 with a 1.70 ERA, 0.912 WHIP, and an 11.2 K/9. That year, he led the majors in ERA, HR/9, ERA+, and FIP. He was so great he would even have the most staunch traditionalists reevaluate the importance of wins in determining just how great a pitcher is.

It’s nearly impossible to pick a top moment from that season as deGrom was that dominant all season long, and in that season he would record his 1,000 career strikeout. He would get to that mark before any other pitcher in Mets history. Again, we see deGrom is edging into Seaver territory.

In that entire 2018 season, deGrom allowed more than two earned only six times with his allowing more than three just once. In contrast, he allowed zero runs nine times and one or fewer 21 times. He would start a streak of 30 straight starts allowing three runs or fewer, which is an MLB record. He also tied Bob Gibson‘s MLB record of 26 consecutive quality starts.

In 2019, deGrom was not nearly as great as he was in 2018. After all, no one could. However, he was still more than good enough to win another Cy Young, and yet again, he would set Major League records. On August 24, 2019, deGrom became the first ever Major Leaguer to have two games where he struck out 13+ and hit a homer:

This is all part of deGrom becoming an all-time great Met and Major League pitcher. In terms of the Mets, deGrom has the fourth best WAR among pitchers, and after one good full season, he should move to third all-time. He is currently second in ERA, and he is first in WHIP, K/9, and ERA+.

He is already all over the Mets top 10 pitching records, and he is primed to secure himself in the ensuing years as the clear second best pitcher in team history if he isn’t already. That makes him an easy choice as the best Mets player to ever wear the number 48.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco

Miracle Bracket: Sweet 16

It should come as no surprise the top three seeds, Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, and Cleon Jones advanced easily. There was a mild upset with Ed Kranepool over Bud Harrelson. Overall, it looks like Seaver is primed to go to the Elite 8 with Koosman and Jones having an interesting match-up.

The Amazin Bracket will kick off tomorrow with fans getting to choose their favorite between Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling facing off in the GKR gauntlet.

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 47 Jesse Orosco

Imagine trading a pitcher like Jerry Koosman, a man who was so important to your franchise winning its first ever World Series, and in return, you get Jesse Orosco, a man who would similarly be of vital importance to your team winning its second ever World Series. Somehow, the Mets accomplished this feat.

From 1979 – 1982, Orosco was figuring out his role and then establishing himself as a reliever. In 1983, he would really burst onto the scene with one of the truly great seasons a reliever has ever had. Arguably, it is the greatest season a Mets reliever has ever had.

In a feat relievers do not regularly achieve now, Orosco threw 110.0 innings. In Mets history, among pitchers who have thrown 100 innings in a season, Orosco’s 1.47 ERA is the best ever. He was so good that season, he was an All-Star, and he would finish third in the Cy Young voting. That’s the highest in Cy Young voting any Mets reliever has ever finished.

He’d also set team reliever records with 13 wins. Overall, he was 13-7 with 17 saves, a 1.47 ERA, and a 1.036 WHIP. With that, a Mets team who was about to turn the corner knew they had a terrific closer who could pitch at any point in the game.

For 1984, he would be that for a Mets team who went from under .500 to 90 wins and in contention. It would mark the second straight time Orosco would be named an All-Star. In 1985, he would be joined by Roger McDowell in the bullpen, and they would share closing duties. As it turns out, they could do more than that.

There were many great stories from that 1986 season. One of the craziest came on July 22, 1986. In the 10th inning of an extra inning game, catcher Ed Hearns was the last player on the bench. That became an issue when Eric Davis slid hard into third leading to Ray Knight coming up punching. The benches cleared leading to the ejection of Knight and Kevin Mitchell. This meant a pitcher was going to have to play the field.

Through the ingenuity of Davey Johnson, Orosco and McDowell split pitching duties. McDowell pitched to right-handed batters with Orosco in right field, and Orosco pitched to left-handed batters with McDowell in left field. In the 13th, Tony Perez would lined one the other way with Orosco fielding it cleanly.

In the 14th, Orosco reached via walk, and he would be one of the three runs which scored on Howard Johnson‘s go-ahead three run homer in an epic Mets victory. The length and drama of that game would be nothing compared to the postseason.

In the NLCS, Orosco would set Major League history. In that tight, epic series, Bob Ojeda was the only Mets starter to earn a victory. The other three wins were by Orosco. With that, Orosco would be the first and to date only reliever to ever earn three wins in a postseason series.

The biggest and most well known win was his last one. Initially, Orosco had blown the save in that game after allowing a homer to Billy Hatcher in the 14th. Orosco shook that off to pitch a scoreless 15th. When the Mets took the lead in the 16th on a three run rally which included an Orosco sacrifice bunt, it was on Orosco to send the Mets to the World Series.

The Astros would not go quietly scoring two runs. They had runners on first and second with two outs. As the story goes, Keith Hernandez came to the mound to threaten Orosco and Gary Carter if there was a fastball thrown to Kevin Bass. Carter always said he wanted Orosco to shake him off and only throw his slider. There wasn’t as Bass struck out to end the series.

The NLCS that seemingly no one could forget would become an afterthought after what was a storied World Series. The tired Orosco who was pushed to the limits in the NLCS would pitch four times in the World Series where he would again take part in crazy games.

In Game 6, he entered the eighth inning to bail McDowell out of a bases loaded two out jam. He’d be lifted for Lee Mazzilli in a rally where the Mets tied the game to set the stage for the two out heroics in the 10th. Orosco would play a much larger role in Game 7.

After the Red Sox pulled within 6-5 in the eighth, Orosco relieved McDowell. With his best reliever on the mound, and the Mets having a lead, there was no way Johnson was going to lift Orosco if his turn to bat came. As luck would have it, the Mets rallied in that eighth to add insurance runs, and Orosco came to the plate in a sacrifice situation.

That’s when Orosco pulled the old butcher boy and hit an RBI single up the middle to extend the Mets lead to 8-5. Believe it or not, that was the last hit and the last RBI of that series. Orosco made sure of that as he struck out Marty Barrett to end the series throwing his glove up into the heavens:

We are all still waiting for that glove to land. According to legend, it may land when Darryl Strawberry finally rounds the bases after that long home run.

In that postseason, Orosco was 3-0 with two saves, and a 1.98 ERA. He was the man on the mound when the Mets won the pennant, and he was the man on the mound when the Mets won the World Series. It is somewhat fitting as he was the man who was obtained for Koosman.

Orosco’s Mets career would end after the 1987 season as he was sent to the Dodgers in a three team trade which netted the Mets Kevin Tapani and Wally Whitehurst. For a brief moment, he was with the Mets again after the end of the 1999 season, but he was traded for Joe McEwing (who also wore 47) before the 2000 season began.

That gives an indication how long Orosco pitched. As it stood, he made more appearances than any other pitcher in Major League history. In terms of Mets history, he ranks sixth, one behind the man who was sent to Minnesota to obtain him. Orosco is also fourth in saves being the first Mets pitcher to ever eclipse 100 saves. He also has the third best ERA+ and ERA in team history. Overall, he is the best Mets pitcher to ever wear the number 47.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez

Miracle Bracket: (2) Jerry Koosman vs. (10) Tommie Agee

(2) Jerry Koosman – Best left-handed pitcher in Mets history, and he will be the first non-Hall of Famer to have his number retired by the Mets. A Rookie of the Year and Cy Young runner-up. Was great in the 1969 World Series. Beat the Orioles in a needed Game 2 victory, and he was the winner for the Game 5 clincher. He was the one who swiped his shoe in the infamous shoe polish incident. Was great again in the 1973 postseason winning a pivotal Game 5. Finished Mets career with a 4-0 postseason record with a 2.55 ERA. Holds nearly every left-handed starting pitcher record.

(10) Tommie Agee – First ever Mets player to win a Gold Glove and Comeback Player of the Year. In some ways, first true center fielder in team history. Hit a 480 foot homer in Shea Stadium which was immortalized by a sign where the ball hit. Led Mets in OPS during 1969 NLCS. In Game 3 of the World Series, he led off the game with a homer, and he would make one of the famed catches of that series making a diving grab robbing Paul Blair of an extra base hit. His game was dubbed by Sports Illustrated as “The most spectacular World Series game that any center fielder has ever enjoyed.” Twice finished in the top 20 in MVP voting.

Create your own user feedback survey

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 46 Oliver Perez

You could make an argument Neil Allen was the best Met to ever wear the number 46, but he only wore the number 46 for two of his five years with the Mets. Moreover, Allen’s best years with the Mets came when he wore 13. That leaves us looking in another direction.

In all honesty, this isn’t going to sit well with Mets fans, but Oliver Perez is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 46. The Mets understandable disdain for Perez wasn’t there in the beginning of his Mets career.

Perez first came to the Mets at the 2006 trade deadline in a trade which was partially necessitated by Duaner Sanchez‘s infamous cab ride. At the time, many viewed Perez as a bit of a throw-in in the trade with the Padres, and no one expected him to contribute to a team vying for the World Series. In fact, Perez would be left off the initial NLDS roster.

However, with Orlando Hernandez getting injured on the eve of Game 1 of the NLDS, Perez would be added to the roster. With Steve Trachsel getting hurt in Game 3 (in addition to his already existing injuries), Perez would be unexpectedly pressed into action in a must-win Game 4.

That Game 4 appearance wasn’t the greatest game a Mets pitcher has ever pitched, but he got the job done picking up a key win. With the Mets and Cardinals splitting the next two games, it was Perez on three days rest taking the ball in Game 7. With a little help from Endy Chavez, Perez delivered one of the guttiest and most unlikely great pitching performances in Mets history.

Unfortunately, Perez had a no decision as the Mets offense and bullpen just could not deliver a win in that game. If you were looking for a bright side, Perez had emerged as someone who could enter a Mets rotation in need of starting pitching.

Over the subsequent two seasons, Perez would emerge as a solid starter for a Mets team with World Series aspirations. In 2007, he would set a career high with 15 wins. An important note with Perez was he was 3-1 over the final month of the season.

In 2008, Perez was again a solid starter in that Mets rotation. Perez was a little more wild for the Mets than he had been the previous year. Considering the tumultuous season that was with the Mets firing Willie Randolph one day into a west coast trip, and Jerry Manuel threatening to cut Jose Reyes. In that year, Perez would lead the majors in no decisions despite some terrific pitching efforts:

The last indecision was hardest. For the second straight year, the Mets needed to win the final game of the season to force a tie-breaker game. For the second time in three years, the Mets handed Perez the ball with elimination at stake. Much like Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, Perez stepped up pitching to a no decision. Perez would have the distinction of being the final Mets pitcher to start a game in Shea Stadium, but like the rest of the Mets, he would never play another game there.

At that point in his Mets career, Perez was 26-20 with a 4.13 ERA. He had a 3.6 WAR over the two full seasons in the Mets rotation. He also came up huge in the 2006 NLCS, and he came up big again in the final game at Shea. If that was the end of the Perez story, he would have been far more warmly.

Perez received a large free agent contract from the Mets after the 2008 season. Perez would have an injury plagued season, and he would need season ending knee surgery. Everything fell apart for him in 2010. In that season, he performed poorly, and he would refused an assignment to the minors. He would eventually be moved to the bullpen and left unused as punishment. That was until the final game of the season where he’d be thrown into the 14th inning of a completely meaningless final game of the season after not having pitched for nearly a month.

That would be the end of Perez’s Mets career as the team would release him despite his still being owed $12 million for 2011.

Even with how horribly his Mets career ended, Perez still had some terrific moments as a member of the team, and he has the seventh best K/9 in team history. While it does not seem like it with the way his career ended, Perez is the best Mets pitcher to ever wear 46.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 45 Tug McGraw

Even though John Franco had one of the better Mets careers, and he would wear the number 45, when it came down to all he had accomplished with the Mets, he mostly did it while wearing the number 31. Instead, the best player to wear the number 45 with the Mets was the man Franco honored when he switched to the number – Tug McGraw.

McGraw was a larger than life personality, and he was a beloved Mets closer who was a part of the 1969 World Series and 1973 pennant winning Mets teams. What is really interesting with McGraw is that his first big moment with the Mets came with him as a starter.

Before August 36, 1965, the Mets had never beaten Sandy Koufax. Really, Koufax embarrassed the Mets earlier in their history with a no-hitter and a 13-0 record. However, on this one day, the rookie McGraw would out-pitch the Hall of Famer to help the Mets beat Koufax for the first time. While McGraw would win this game, he just was not a starter.

After three years of being in and out of the rotation, McGraw served in the Marines Reserves, dealt with some arm injuries, and he would learn the screwball. That screwball is the first major thing which would change his career. The other was Gil Hodges moving McGraw into the bullpen in 1969.

McGraw was an important part of that Mets bullpen which went from laughingstock to World Series champions. In that 1969 season, McGraw was 9-3 with 12 saves, a 2.24 ERA, and 1.335 WHIP. Despite his great regular season, the Mets mostly rode with Ron Taylor in the postseason.

In fact, McGraw would only make one appearance that postseason. After Jerry Koosman couldn’t get out of the fifth in Game 2 of the NLCS, Ron Taylor pitched 1.1 innings to help get the Mets back in front. For the final three innings, it was McGraw. In those three innings, he shut down the Braves offense, and he would become the first Mets left-handed reliever to earn a postseason save.

Over the next few years McGraw would pitch well while splitting closing duties. While 1969 had served as his breakout season, 1971 would be where he showed he was ready to take his game to another level. During that 1971 season, McGraw was 11-4 with eight saves, a 1.70 ERA, and a 1.027.

In 1972, everything changed for the Mets. On the eve of the season, Hodges died from a heart attack putting Yogi Berra in charge as the Mets manager. Whereas McGraw was the first manager who believed in McGraw as a reliever, it was Berra who truly envisioned him as a closer. By and large, McGraw was the closer for that team, and he responded.

In 1972, McGraw set the Mets all-time record with 27 saves. That record would stand until 1984 when Jesse Orosco broke it. As it stands, it is still in the top 20 in Mets history. With McGraw repeating his 1.70 ERA, amassing the 27 saves, and having an 8-6 record, he would be an All-Star for the first only time as a member of the Mets. In that game, McGraw would pick up the win.

What is interesting for McGraw is he is mostly known for the 1973 season despite it being one of the worst of his Mets career, at least in his career as a Mets reliever. Through July 9th, McGraw had a 6.20 ERA with Berra trying to find ways to get McGraw back on track. One thing McGraw did on his own was to meet with a motivational speaker who kept telling him to believe in himself.

That set the stage for M.Donald Grant’s team pep talk. Grant’s message the front office still believed in a Mets team who was 11 games under .500 led McGraw to seemingly sarcastically start chanting, “Ya Gotta Believe!” much to the amusement of his teammates. For his part, Grant wasn’t so amused, and told McGraw he better start pitching better.

McGraw did, and he was a key component in the Mets turnaround. From July 11 until the end of the season, McGraw was 5-2 with 14 saves, a 2.21 ERA, and a 1.067 WHIP. In what is unheard of in today’s game, McGraw made 1o separate appearances of over three innings. That included one six inning and one 5.2 inning outing. He would also be on the mound when the Mets clinched the division:

With that, McGraw would get the chance to be an impactful reliever in the postseason. In that postseason, McGraw was as dominant as we have ever seen a Mets reliever in a postseason. Perhaps, it was the best postseason we have ever seen a Mets reliever have.

Between the NLCS and World Series, McGraw was 1-0 with two saves and a 1.93 ERA. That included his no allowing a run five NLCS innings and his earning a save in the Mets first ever winner-take-all game. That set him up to finally be able to pitch in the World Series.

McGraw would pitch in five of the seven games. While he would blow his first ever World Series save chance in Game 2, he would stay in the game and pitch six innings total as he and the Mets picked up the win in 12 innings. He would convert his next and last save chance with 2.2 scoreless innings in Game 5. Unfortunately, the Mets were not able to win that fourth and final game, and they would lose their first ever postseason series.

While McGraw was an emotional leader who gave birth to the franchise rallying cry of “Ya Gotta Believe!” he was not a Met for long. In 1974, he would struggle, and the Mets would put him in a variety of roles. After the season, the Mets traded him to the Phillies, and it was discovered he had shoulder issues. As those shoulder issues resolved, the Phillies had a great reliever who would be on the mound as they won their first World Series.

Among Mets relievers, McGraw has the third most wins and sixth most saves. While he is fifth in appearances, he is second in innings. Really, he was the first big time reliever in team history, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 45.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 44 David Cone

While many remember him for wearing number 17 in honor of Keith Hernandez, and the last we saw of him was wearing Dwight Gooden‘s number 16, for most of his Mets career, David Cone wore the number 44.

That was the number Cone was wearing in 1988 when he emerged as the big time pitcher he would be known as throughout his Major League career. Despite starting the year in the bullpen, he would break through into the starting rotation by May, and he would immediately stake his claim to a rotation spot by pitching a complete game shutout against the Braves.

That was just the start of what was a great year for Cone. Cone would jump out of the gate winning his first seven starts. When he lost his first game, it would only be one of three games he lost on the entire year. That seven game winning streak wasn’t his best streak of the year. In fact, Cone would win his final eight games of that 1988 season. With that, Cone would become the first ever Mets pitcher to win 20 games his first full season in the rotation.

In almost any other year, this would have been good enough for Cone to win the Cy Young. In that 1988 season, he had the best winning percentage, and he had the second best ERA in the majors. He had the top ERA out of anyone who pitched over 200 innings. Ultimately, he was in the top 5 to 10 in nearly every pitching category, but he really had no chance with Orel Hershiser‘s record setting 1988 season.

It is really difficult to figure out a true highlight from that season. After all, he had two separate 10 inning complete games. He struck out 10+ seven different times. That was partially the result of that laredo slider. Ultimately, in that 1988 season, we really learned how special a pitcher Cone would be.

The 1988 Mets would win the division for the second time in three years. Cone would take it on the chin in Game 2 after some bold talk, but he would soon step up big time. In Game 3, after a huge five run eighth, Cone entered the game for Randy Myers to close out that victory giving the Mets a then 2-1 series lead.

When Cone took the mound again in Game 6, the Mets were on the verge of elimination. He would not let that happen with a gutty complete game victory evening up the series. This was really the first truly great postseason start which would one day become the hallmark of his career.

The shame for Cone was this was his only chance to pitch for the Mets in the postseason. That great Mets team would fall apart due to a mixture of age, off the field problems, and some really ill-advised transactions. Despite the Mets falling apart over the years, Cone would remain great.

Over that time frame, much like in 1988, Gooden would be the ace in name, but by production, Cone was the true ace of those Mets staffs.

During his time with the Mets, he was a real fan favorite with the Coneheads there to greet his every start. Cone was there with great outings racking up big strikeout totals, and on more than one occasion, he would with becoming the first Mets pitcher to pitch a no-hitter. The closest he got was April 28, 1992 when a Benny Distefano swinging bunt with one out in the eighth refused to roll foul.

One of the reasons Cone was able to flirt with no hitters like this was he was so difficult to hit. In five of his first six seasons with the Mets, he struck out over 200 batters. In 1990 and 1991, he led the league in strikeouts. In fact, from 1988 – 1992, Cone had struck out more batters than any other National League pitcher.

It was more than just the strikeouts for Cone. He also had the most shutouts over that time frame while pitching the third most innings. He was third overall in FIP trailing just Gooden and Jose Rijo. His WAR was the third best in all of baseball.

To put it in perspective, he trailed just Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux, and he was ahead of Nolan Ryan. If not for Clemens cheating, those three pitchers would be in the Hall of Fame. Really, when you look at it, during his time with the Mets, Cone was a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher. Somehow, despite that, he was just an All-Star twice and received Cy Young votes just once in his Mets career.

Really, he did things only Hall of Fame caliber pitchers could do like tying the National League single game strike out record on the final game of the 1991 season:

While that mark would later fall, at the time, that tied him with Tom Seaver for the most by any National League pitcher. To this day, it remains a Mets record. That should put Cone’s Mets career in perspective. He did the things only Seaver could do. As it stands, Cone was a truly great Mets pitcher.

He’s only one of nine Mets pitchers to win 20 in a season. By WAR, he is the ninth best pitcher in team history. By FIP, he is the sixth best. He is also eighth all-time in wins, third in K/9, 10th in innings pitched, sixth in strikeouts, seventh in complete games, and fifth in shutouts.

One special thing Cone did do was return to the Mets. Due to injuries which had taken their toll on his arm and health, he missed the 2002 season. The Mets gave him a shot in 2003, and in his first start of that season, he shut out the Montreal Expos for five innings for the last win of his Major League career.

Even with Cone having a 17 year career taking him to both New York teams, Toronto, Kansas City, and Boston, Cone’s first and last win of his career would come while wearing a Mets uniform. Over that time, he’d wear many numbers, but in the end, he would ultimately become the best Mets player to ever wear the number 44.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 43 R.A. Dickey

When signing players to minor league deals, it is really a no risk proposition. Whether it is a veteran player on his last legs or a journeyman just seeking an opportunity, when done right, the player gets a chance to prove themselves. This is the story of R.A. Dickey with the New York Mets.

Dickey was one time first round pick of the Texas Rangers who had his prospective bonus slashed considerably when it was discovered he was born without a UCL in his right elbow. He would eventually make it to the majors, but he struggled mightily because he just didn’t have the stuff to succeed. As a result, he had made the attempt to convert to being a knuckleball pitcher.

For any pitcher that is a difficult conversion with many pitchers taking years to accomplish the task. Many don’t make it. For Dickey, he didn’t succeed enough to stick with the Rangers, Mariners, or Twins organization. Heading into the 2010 season, the best he could do was grab a minor league deal with the Mets. It proved to be the best thing for both sides.

By that point, Dickey had perfected throwing his knuckleball. It was a different one than the ones we had see with knuckleball pitchers of old. Dickey had a hard knuckleball which danced a little less, and he could control it more. Still, Dickey also had that fluttery one which many became accustomed. The ability to mix up that pitch on speed and locations made him a unique and difficult to hit pitcher.

In 2010, he quickly made his Mets debut, and he would stick in the rotation. In his first start, he picked up a no decision despite allowing just two earned over six innings. After that, he would win his first six decisions as a pitcher for the Mets. Overall, it was a great debut which was highlighted by his one hitting the Phillies in a complete game shutout.

The 2010 season was where he proved he deserved a chance. The 2011 season was where he proved he belonged. In that season, he had a losing record which reflected how bad the Mets were. However, his 112 ERA+ was reflective of his being a good pitcher. In 2012, he would become a great pitcher.

In 2012, Dickey would shock everyone not only by being an All-Star for the first time in his career, but the 37 year old would win the Cy Young Award over Clayton Kershaw. While it may seem strange to believe Dickey could be better than Kershaw, he was. In that 2012 season, he led the league in starts, complete games, shutouts, nnings, and strikeouts. He would also have a number of highlights like becoming the first ever Major League pitcher to record back-to-back one hitters with 10+ strikeouts:

Moreover, Dickey would become the first Mets pitcher to win 20 games since Frank Viola did it in 1990. He was the first Mets right-handed pitcher to accomplish the feat since David Cone did it in 1988. He was the first pitcher to have 20 wins with a sub .500 team since Roger Clemens did it in 1997 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was the first knuckleball pitcher to accomplish the feat since Joe Niekro in 1980. It was that special a season.

That 20th win was his penultimate start with the Mets. After that, the rebuilding Mets would trade him to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. To that end, even though he didn’t get to pitch for a winner with the Mets, he would help the team build their next winner.

Overall, Dickey joins Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, and Jacob deGrom as the only Mets pitchers to win a Cy Young. He is fourth all-time in Mets history with a 2.95 ERA, and he has the fifth best WHIP. By ERA+, he is the third best starter of all-time. Ultimately, he is the Mets best knuckleball pitcher and best player to ever wear the number 43.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 42 Ron Taylor

When Major League Baseball retired the number 42 across all of baseball in honor of Jackie Robinson, at the time it meant Butch Huskey was going to be the last Mets player to wear that number. That was until the Mets acquired Mo Vaughn who had been grandfathered in as he was wearing the number in honor of Robinson.

Neither Huskey or Vaughn are the best Mets players to ever wear that number. That honor goes to Ron Taylor.

While we look back at those Mets teams who went from laughingstocks to a World Series winner, oft times, Tug McGraw was seen as the closer for those teams. After all, he was the larger than life personality who had the swagger you have come to expect to see from closers. However, truth be told, back in those days, it was Taylor.

From 1967 – 1970, it was Taylor who would lead the Mets in saves. When it came down to it, more times than not, it was Taylor who was the reliever the Mets trusted most. That was the most evident in 1969.

In Game 1 of the NLCS, the Mets first ever postseason game, Taylor entered the game in the eighth inning after Tom Seaver departed with the Mets leading 9-5. After pitching two scoreless innings, Taylor was credited with the first ever postseason save in Mets history.

One humorous anecdote from that game was in the ninth, as detailed in Tales from the Mets Dugout, was after Felix Millan had hit a lead-off single, Gil Hodges had instructed Taylor to walk Hank Aaron to face Orlando Cepeda. Hodges knowing he had difficulty against Cepeda demanded to face Aaron. An angry and incredulous Hodges let Taylor have his druthers leaving him with a faint warning.

Taylor would retire Aaron, and when he came back to the dugout, Hodges remarked to him, “You know, you’re crazier than I thought!”

After Taylor picked up the save in the Mets first ever postseason game, he would become the first reliever in Mets history to pick up a win in the postseason. The day after pitching two scoreless, he relieved Jerry Koosman in the fifth. He got Koosman out of that jam, and with the Mets leading 9-6 after five, he was the pitcher of record.

Again, in the World Series, it was Taylor who got the call when the Mets were in trouble. After another scoreless appearance in a losing Game 1, Taylor was called upon to relieve Koosman in Game 2.

Taylor entered Game 2 with runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth of a 2-1 game, and Brooks Robinson due up. Taylor got Robinson to ground out to Ed Charles to end the game. With that, Taylor became the first Mets pitcher to earn a save in a World Series game:

In that 1969 postseason, Taylor made four appearances pitching 5.2 scoreless innings. In those appearances, he allowed just three hits and walked one while striking out seven. When you look through Mets history, you can actually argue Taylor is the Mets best ever postseason reliever.

When Taylor departed the Mets organization, he was the Mets all-time leader in saves. Now, he ranks 12th all-time. In essence, he was the first big time reliever in Mets history, and his performance in the 1969 postseason was an all-time great one. As such, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 42.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver