Jeurys Familia

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 40 Bartolo Colon

Back in 2013, many were scratching their heads as to why Sandy Alderson and a cash strapped Mets organization would use a substantial amount of their limited funds on a soon to be 41 year old Bartolo Colon coming off of a PED suspension. As was usually the case during his tenure, Alderson knew better than everyone.

In 2014, Colon stuck in the rotation in the rotation, and he would pitch over 200 innings. That was exactly what the Mets envisioned Colon to be. He was supposed to be an innings eater for an emerging Mets rotation. As luck would have it, Colon proved to be more than that.

Colon was a leader of that pitching staff which won the pennant in 2015. He worked with the pitchers on mechanics and bullpens. He worked with them on how to attack batters. As was the case, he would text them to check in on them to make sure they were alright. Mostly, Colon provided that veteran leadership which makes a difference. It is something people oft talk about, but in practice it is rarely impactful. Colon was impactful.

During the process, Colon became a fan favorite. There were several reasons for that. Aside from his girth and laughable attempts at hitting, Colon was a pitcher who took the ball every fifth day and rarely made excuses. He was also an exceptional fielder.

In 2016, he should have won the Gold Glove. From 2014 – 2016, Colon had the second best DRS among all National League pitchers. This spoke to how athletic he truly was and how much effort he put into helping his team.

During his tenure with the Mets, it was always expected he would be pushed out of the rotation eventually. However, that never happened because Colon proved to be extremely durable, and sadly, Zack Wheeler wasn’t. That proved to be an extremely valuable trait in 2015 and 2016.

In 2015, Colon was the Opening Day starter, and he was really the only Mets pitcher who did not need to skip a start. During that season, he would set a unique Major League record by becoming the first ever pitcher to beat one team (Orioles) while pitching for seven different teams (Indians, White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Athletics, Mets).

While he was a mainstay in the rotation during the regular season, he was moved to the rotation for the 2015 postseason. That postseason was a mixed bag for Colon, but he had come out of the bullpen in Game 4 of the NLCS to pick up the win as the Mets swept the Cubs:

While Colon had highlights in 2014 and 2015, the 2016 season was definitively his best and most storied in his Mets career. During that season, partially due to an injury to Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom stepping aside, Colon would be an All-Star in San Diego. While he was an All-Star in San Diego that year, that was not the most noteworthy thing he did in San Diego that year.

On May 7, 2016, Colon homered off of James Shields in what was one of the most unlikely homers you will ever see. When you hear the call, you hear the disbelief and incredulousness in Gary Cohen’s voice. With that homer, Colon became the oldest ever Major Leaguer to hit his first homer.

While the story of that season might’ve been the homer, the real story was how well he pitched. That 2016 season was clearly his best in a Mets uniform, and with every Mets starter not named Syndergaard needing season ending surgery, the Mets needed him more than ever.

For the second straight year, Colon had led the league in BB/9. Overall, he was 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA and a 117 ERA+. Colon was at his best in August when the Mets were still staying afloat and were primed to make their run. In that pivotal month of August, he was 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA. Over the final two months of the season, he was 6-2. That helped the Mets make their improbable run to the Wild Card making consecutive postseasons for the second time in their history.

Colon never got a chance to pitch in that postseason, and he would leave the Mets in the offseason as he was pursuing an opportunity to start to give him a chance to surpass Dennis Martinez for the most wins by a Latin born pitcher. When he left, he left behind a team who missed his presence in the clubhouse and a fan base who lovingly nicknamed him Big Sexy.

So far, Colon is the best Mets pitcher who has ever worn the number 40, and if he had his druthers, he would return to the Mets and wear the number again. Whether that happens, remains to be seen.

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

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 39 Gary Gentry

To put in perspective how well thought of Gary Gentry was, when the ill-fated trade for Jim Fregosi went down, the Angels initially asked for Gentry, and they were rebuffed. That led to them “settling” for Nolan Ryan. Back in 1971, this made a lot of sense.

In 1969, Gentry was a rookie for that Miracle Mets team which shocked the world and won the World Series. Gentry would have his moments during that rookie season, but it was a mostly pedestrian season where he served as an effective third starter behind Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. However, Gentry would do something that year neither Seaver nor Koosman would do.

The first postseason ever thrown at Shea Stadium was by Gentry. It wasn’t a great start with him leaving after two innings, but he was the pitcher who started the game where the Mets clinched their first ever pennant. Gentry would repeat that history in the World Series, and things would go much better for him.

Gentry would start Game 3 of the World Series, and as such, he became the first ever pitcher to throw a pitch in the World Series in Shea Stadium. After Koosman shut down the Orioles in Game 2, the Mets were in this series, and they had a chance no one never thought they would. They took full advantage.

What made this game interesting for the Mets was this was the first time in the series there was purportedly a clear pitching advantage for the Orioles with them starting future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. However, on this day, the Mets would be the better team and Gentry the better pitcher.

That Game 3 will forever be known for Tommie Agee. He had a lead-off homer and made two great defensive plays. What has been overlooked was how good Gentry was. Over 6.2 innings, he shut out the Orioles while allowing just three hits albeit while walking five. As a result, Gentry would become the first ever pitcher to win a World Series game at Shea Stadium.

This was one of the most important starts in Mets history. With this great start, the Mets took a 2-1 lead, and they were about to hand the ball to Seaver and Koosman. The rest, as we know, is history.

That game would be the apex of Gentry’s career, but to be fair, it would be the apex of just about anyone’s career. There were some issues for Gentry including his temper. At times, he would show his frustration and show up fielders. His biggest issue would be his arm problems, which the Mets never could quite diagnose and fix.

As a result, at the time, he was seen more as a disappoint and a what could’ve been. After all, this was a pitcher the Mets thought was better than Ryan. It wasn’t just the Mets who felt that way. That was a common perception. Regardless of all of that, Gentry was still a good pitcher for the Mets with a 103 ERA+ posting the 10th most shutouts in team history. Overall, Gentry was the best Mets player to ever don the number 39.

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

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 38 Skip Lockwood

When talking about the great relievers and closers in Mets history, the one name which gets constantly overlooked is Skip Lockwood. The main reason for that is he is the only one who never got to actually pitch in the postseason with the Mets.

Lockwood had a long and winding path to the Mets. Early on his career, he was thought of as a third baseman, and he would flame out at the position. He would go to the Oakland Athletics who threw him on the mound mostly just to take a look and to try to slip him through the Rule 5 Draft. Little did they know, Lockwood was a pitcher.

However, it appeared he wasn’t a starting pitcher. Over six seasons as a starter, he was 30-60 with a 3.81 ERA. On the eve of the 1975 season, he was released by the New York Yankees, and he was brought back to the Athletics organization to pitch in the minors. Finally, at that point, he not only accepted, but he pushed for a role in the bullpen. During that 1975 season, he was sold to the New York Mets, and his career would take off.

Lockwood was called up in August, and he would pitch in both ends of a doubleheader against the Expos. Over five innings, he allowed just one earned run. After allowing an earned run in his first appearance, he would not allow another one in his next six appearance which spanned 12.2 innings. This was part of a sensational debut where Lockwood was 1-3 with a 1.49 ERA, 1.097 WHIP, and an 11.4 K/9.

Lockwood would be handed the closer’s reigns the following season, and by and large Lockwood repeated his success. In that 1976 season, he was 10-7 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.018 WHIP, and a 10.3 K/9.That was the best year of Lockwood’s career. He had the third most saves in the league, and he led all National League relievers in strikeouts. By FIP, he was the best reliever in the National League.

This started one of the better stretches in team history for a closer. From 1976 – 1978, Lockwood was a full time closer and one of the best in the game. His 54 saves were eighth best in the Majors, and his 265 strikeouts were seventh best among relievers. His 2.83 FIP was ninth best. Overall, at a time when the Mets were starved for talent, they had one of the best closers in the game.

Overall, in his Mets career, Lockwood was 24-36 with 65 saves, a 2.80 ERA, 1.114 WHIP, and an 8.7 K/9. His 65 saves are the 10th most in team history. He also ranks ninth in games finished. Overall, he is one of the best closers in team history, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 38.

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

 

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 37 Casey Stengel

When compiling a list of the best Mets by choosing the Met who wore a particular number, you finally reach a number where there is only one person who wore the number. That is the case with the number 37 with Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel being the first and only Met to ever wear the number.

Stengel had been unceremoniously fired by the Yankees after Bill Mazeroski hit the only Game 7 walk-off homer in baseball history. After that, the Yankees decided to go in a new direction. In response, Stengel famously quipped, “I’ll never make the mistake of being 70 again.”

That was the thing with Stengel. He was always good for a line, quip, or malpropos. At his age, it seemed like it was going to be his last in baseball. Even though he was 70, Stengel had turned down other managerial jobs. That initially included the Mets.

Early on in their history, the Mets were hell-bent on bringing in some famous faces, especially those with New York roots. That included former Dodgers like Gil Hodges and Don Zimmer. After persistence, it would finally included Stengel. If nothing else, in those early days, Stengel would be a character who would give the team an early identity.

While Darryl Strawberry might’ve been the first person to play for all the teams which started in New York, Stengel would be the first and only person to actually wear all four New York uniforms. In his playing career, he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. As a manger, he would manage the Dodgers, Yankees, and finally, the Mets.

Stengel was never able to bring the Mets to anywhere near the level of the Yankees. He was oft criticized, but that is what typically happens to managers with bad teams. He would be the only Mets manager in the team’s Polo Grounds days, and he would be the first manager in Shea Stadium. He would manage all the way up until he broke his hip. At the end of that season, he would be the first Met to have his number retired by the team.

While he was no longer the manager, the team would keep him as part of the organization until his dying day. When the Mets won the World Series in 1969, both he and his wife were presented with championship rings. Stengel would wear his proudly until his dying day.

So, in the end, while Stengel was not the Hall of Famer he was with the Yankees, he was quintessentially the Mets in their early years, and ultimately, he too would be a champion. Overall, he is the only and best Met to ever wear the number 37.

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

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 36 Jerry Koosman

If there was going to be a 2020 season, we would have seen Jerry Koosman become the first ever Mets player who did not need to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame to have his number retired. That makes him arguably a Mets Mt. Rushmore player. Certainly, it properly denotes how important he was to the franchise.

Koosman gave a glimpse into the type of big pitcher he would become in his rookie year. Despite having a better year. he narrowly finished behind Johnny Bench in Rookie of the Year voting, and he would be named an All-Star. In that All-Star Game, he’d strike out Carl Yastrzemski to earn a save in the 1968 All-Star Game. That was nothing compared to what Koosman had in store the following year.

After having a great rookie year, Koosman established himself not just as the Mets number two starter behind Tom Seaver, but he would also establish himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. Koosman always rose to the challenge and to the big moment.

In that 1969 season, people talk about different moments. For example, there was the black cat game. What was not talked about as often is Koosman’s complete game victory beginning that series which led to the sweep and the Mets pulling within a half game. All told, he was an All-Star again, and he had another great year leading the Mets to their first ever postseason.

Before that postseason, Koosman was already doing great things. His 1968 ERA of 2.08 was the best ever in team history, a record which stands to this day among left-handed pitchers. His 19 wins that year was then the most ever by a Mets starter. It’s still the 10th most in team history. His 17 complete games is still the most by anyone not named Seaver. His seven shut outs were only eclipsed by Dwight Gooden‘s famed 1985 season.

If you look towards the WPA stat, Koosman’s 1969 season was then the second best in team history just trailing Seaver and his 1969 season. His 1969 season also ranks up among the Mets best ever seasons for a starting pitcher. That was before you take into account his work in the World Series.

Heading into that 1969 World Series, no one expected the Mets to win. No one. When Seaver dropped Game 1, there was concern the Mets could get swept. After all, with the talk about the Mets vaunted rotation, the 109 win Baltimore Orioles had Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, and Mike Cuellar.Things forever changed in Game 2.

Koosman out-pitched McNally. He picked up the win after allowing just one run on two hits. With that start, Koosman showed the Mets pitching made that team just as good as the Orioles perhaps better. He started the momentum which led to the Mets going back to Shea Stadium tied. He would get the ball again in Game 5.

Koosman would help the Mets win that Game 5 in two ways. First and foremost, Koosman again pitched a big game. In his complete game victory, he allowed three earned on just five hits. There was also his role in the shoe polish incident. When the ball came off Cleon Jones foot and came rolling into the dugout, Gil Hodges had Koosman swipe the ball against his cleat. Jones was awarded first, and then Donn Clendenon homered to get the Mets back into the game. The Mets would take a 5-3 lead, and when Davey Johnson flew out, the Mets were World Series Champions:

Koosman was never as good again as he was in his first two years, but he was still a well above average pitcher. Part of the reason for his taking a step back was getting a liner to the mouth during batting practice knocking teeth out of his mouth and needing his mouth to be wired shut. He would also start to deal with a sore arm. Perhaps in another era, he would have had his arm treated, but back then, pitchers pitched through those issues.

Still, he would show his mettle as a big game pitcher. In 1973, after his struggles sent him to the bullpen for a stint, he would re-emerge to be a top of the rotation pitcher. Over the final two months of that season as the Mets charged to take over the NL East, Koosman was 6-4 with a 2.03 ERA. During that stretch, he set a then team record of 31.2 consecutive scoreless innings.

Koosman got the ball in a pivotal Game 3. In his complete game victory, he dominated the 99 win Cincinnati Reds allowing two earned on eight hits while striking out nine. He was also 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. In that game, the Reds tried to intimidate and bully the Mets with Pete Rose barrelling over Bud Harrelson at second. Instead, it was Koosman and the Mets sending the message with their 9-2 victory.  Once again, Koosman and the Mets shocked the world in winning the pennant.

Even though the Mets won Game 2, he was not his characteristic big game self. We did see that pitcher return in Game 5. Koosman picked up the win after holding the Athletics to no runs on just three hits over 6.1 innings. That sent the series back to Oakland with the Mets up 3-2. Unfortunately, there would be no second ring.

Even with no second ring, Koosman had one last big year left in him in a Mets uniform. In 1976, the last year the Mets would have a winning record before the team got rid of M. Donald Grant, Koosman was 20-10 with a 2.69 ERA. Somehow, this was the first time he received votes for the Cy Young. He finished second in the voting behind the winner Randy Jones.

That was it for the joy in Metsville. While Koosman survived the Midnight Massacre, he would be the last Mets pitcher to lose 20 games. That was proof positive of the axiom you have to be a good pitcher to lose 20 games as Koosman had a 107 ERA+ and led the league in K/9.

While Koosman survived the Midnight Massacre, he was traded after the following season. That was partially the result of a trade demand. In that trade, Koosman would prove to be a bridge to the next Mets World Series as the Mets received Jesse Orosco from the Minnesota Twins as part of the trade.

As noted above, Koosman is going to have his number retired by the Mets. By WAR, he is the third best pitcher in Mets history and the fourth best overall. He has the third most wins, and he is ranked all over the Mets top 10 pitching categories. Overall, he is easily the best Met to wear the number 36.

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

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 35 Rick Reed

Due to the 1994 baseball strike, Rick Reed was not welcome in many clubhouses. For a brief time that included the Mets one, but with the way he performed for the team, the pitcher who was a replacement player to help pay for his mother’s medical bills, would endear himself to a team, a city, and a fanbase.

After he left the Reds partially due to his teammates consternation with his being a replacement player, the Mets picked him up on a minor league deal. While he may not have been accepted in Cincinnati, he would be accepted in New York. When he pitch the way he did and help turn the Mets around, you understand why.

His first ever start for the Mets was seven scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants. Through June 1 of that year, he would have a 1.18 ERA, and for the season, Reed was 13-9 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.042 WHIP, and a 3.65 K/BB. To put in persective how good a season he had, he was ahead of pitchers like Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in ERA and ERA+. Remember, this was the era where the Braves pitchers got triple the size of the strike zone than everyone else did.

If there was any doubt about him in 1997, he would put those doubts to rest with a very good 1998 where he would be named an All-Star for the first time in his career. While it was not looked upon at the time, Reed was once again one of the best pitchers in the National League. He would finish in the top 20 in many categories like FIP indicating he was much more than just a replacement player.

When you pitch as well as Reed did in 1997 and 1998, fans will certainly remember you. However, it was what he did in 1999 and 2000 which led to Mets fans forever cherishing him. In 1999, Reed had dealt with finger issues, and we saw a dip in all of his stats as a result. However, when the Mets needed him most, Reed was there pushing the Mets to the postseason.

It gets overlooked a bit now, but the 1998 Mets had collapsed much in the same way the 2007 and 2008 teams would, but we don’t remember that as much because of the 1999 team. That 1999 team was on the verge of collapsing and missing the postseason like that 1998 team did. Enter Rick Reed.

Entering that final series, the Mets needed to sweep the Pirates and hope for some luck. On the penultimate day of the season, Reed took the ball, and he pitched perhaps his greatest game as a Mets. Sure, there were times he flirted with no-hitters, but in this game he rose to the challenge pitching a complete game shutout while striking out 12 batters.

He didn’t even give the Pirates a chance to play the role of spoilers. It was this outstanding effort which helped the Mets reach a tie atop of the Wild Card standings and eventually grab that Wild Card spot.

Reed’s first postseason start was the pivotal Game 3 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks. With the series tied 1-1, Reed held onto an early 3-0 lead, and he would be the winner after allowing just two earned over six innings. The next time Reed took the mound, the stakes were even higher.

In Game 4 of the NLCS, the Mets were in risk of being swept by the Braves. For seven innings, he had actually out-pitched Smoltz, perhaps the best big game pitcher of his generation. However, he didn’t pick up the win as he allowed back-to-back homers to Brian Jordan and Ryan Klesko to start the eighth. Even though the Mets fell behind 2-1, Reed had kept it close enough for John Olerud to deliver a clutch two RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to extend that series.

Unfortunately, Reed did not get the ball in Game 7 like was planned. Instead, he took the ball in Japan for the Mets second game of the season. Through the first month of the season, Reed was the Mets best pitcher keeping a team in flux and turmoil afloat until they could figure it out.

In that season, Reed once again emerged as a top of the rotation type starter sitting JUST outside the top 20 in many key stats like FIP. What’s interesting is at the time Reed was never perceived as that, but truth be told, the Mets players and fans trusted him just as much as anyone there was in baseball when he toed the rubber.

We saw that in action when Reed once again was the pitcher taking the ball in Game 3 of the NLDS. In that game, Reed pitched well allowing just two earned over six innings. He was rewarded with a no decision for his efforts in a game Benny Agbayani won with a walk-off homer in the 13th. To a certain extent, it was reminiscent of his first start of the season where he pitched brilliantly, and Agbayani hit the Sayonara Slam.

Reed didn’t have it in the NLCS, but he was still part of the last Mets team to win a pennant at Shea Stadium. Reed would also start the final World Series game the Mets ever won at Shea. With the Mets down in the series 2-0, Reed allowed two earned over six innings, but he would pick up the no decision as the game was tied when he departed. Eventually, the Mets won the game on an Agbayani go-ahead RBI single in the eighth.

Again, there was no scheduled Game 7 start for Reed, and little did we know it at the time, Reed’s career with the Mets was soon coming to a close.

In 2001, a vast majority of the Mets roster regressed. The exceptions to that were Reed,¬†Al Leiter, and Mike Piazza. In that 2001 season, he and Piazza would be the Mets All-Star representatives. Soon after, with the Mets not really in contention, he would be traded to the Minnesota Twins. Years later, Reed would describe that trade as “baseball kinda died for us, my wife and I.” (Anthony McCarron, NY Daily News).

When Reed left, he left behind a larger legacy than many realize. In the history of the Mets, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Pedro Martinez, Jacob deGrom, and Reed are the only right-handed starters to make multiple All-Star teams.

By WAR, he is the ninth best pitcher in Mets history, and he is 10th best by ERA+. He is second in win/loss percentage, and he is also in the top five in WHIP, BB/9, and K/BB. That speaks to the way he had mastered his control to get batters out. By and large, it is why he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 35.

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

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 34 Noah Syndergaard

It’s rare a team can trade the reigning Cy Young Award winner and make the trade look like an absolute steal. However, that is what happened when the Mets traded R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included Noah Syndergaard.

After the December 2012 trade, Syndergaard would have a somewhat interesting path to the majors. It included him trying to push his way to the majors partially to get away from the environment in Triple-A Las Vegas. He would also be ambushed by David Wright and Bobby Parnell in Spring Training with the duo throwing out his lunch. That strange odyssey led to him being truly ready in 2015.

The Mets first called him up in May when Dillon Gee hit the disabled list. Syndergaard would have a very impressive start to his Major League career. In his fourth career start, he hit his first Major League homer. In August, he would be named the National League Pitcher of the Week. He’d set a Major League record by becoming the first rookie since 1900 to have consecutive starts with nine strikeouts and no walks. This was a pitcher not only ready to debut; this was a pitcher ready for the biggest of stages – New York and the postseason.

He pitched well in his first postseason start, Game 2 of the NLDS, but he would get tagged with the loss partially because what should’ve been an inning ending double play was a blown call by second base umpire Chris Guccione when Chase Utley tackled and broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg. Syndergaard would get his revenge twice for this. The first time was his relief appearance in Game 5:

That relief appearance helped propel the Mets to the NLCS. Syndergaard would pitch again in Game 2 of the NLCS helping the Mets get a 2-0 series lead on the Cubs after striking out nine Cubs in 5.2 innings. He would not take the mound again until Game 3 of the World Series. With the Mets down 2-0, he would send a message to the Royals that he was 6’6″ away.”

The Mets would win that game and get back in the series. With that win, Syndergaard would become the first ever pitcher to win a World Series game at Citi Field. Unfortunately, he never got to take the mound again in what should’ve been an epic Game 7.

Instead, he took the mound in Kansas City for the second game of the 2016 season. In that game, he unleashed a wicked slider which would be a key to his having a great year, one which he was named an All Star for the first time in his career. Over his first two starts of the season, he tied a club record with Pedro Martinez and Dwight Gooden for the most strikeouts over the first two starts of the season (21).

In that season, Syndergaard developed not only that slider but also a chemistry with Rene Rivera. He would have a number of great games including his two home run game against the Dodgers.

That season, he would also get tossed from a game trying to exact revenge against Utley by throwing behind him. As if that moment was not iconic enough for Mets fans, it created the infamous Terry Collins rant video.

In that season, Syndergaard would lead the league in FIP and HR/9, and he would be second in the majors in pitcher WAR and third in ERA and ERA+. For some reason, he would only finish eighth in the Cy Young voting that year. Despite the voting, one thing was clear – Syndergaard had arrived on the scene as a true ace. The was the type of ace you wanted to give the ball to in a winner-take-all game, which is what the Mets did.

In the Mets first National League Wild Card Game, Syndergaard was phenomenal. Over seven innings, he actually out-pitched Madison Bumgarner, the greatest big game pitcher of his generation. Unfortunately, the Mets were not able to give him the support he needed, and ultimately, Jeurys Familia would allow a three run homer, and the Mets would be eliminated from the postseason.

One interesting fact about Syndergaard is he joined Al Leiter and John Franco as just the only Mets pitchers to pitch in elimination games in consecutive postseasons. Familia would join him in that feat as well.

After 2016, Syndergaard has had difficulty taking the leap we expected. In 2017, he had a torn lat, and as we recently discovered, in addition to the bone spurs in his elbow, he had a torn UCL. Despite the injuries, Syndergaard pitched like an ace level pitcher. For example, in 2019, he was 18th in the Majors in FIP, and he had the second best hard hit rate.

In fact, since his debut in 2015, Syndergaard has the 10th best WAR and FIP in the majors. During that time frame, he has also been etching his name onto the Mets record books. In fact, despite all the hand wringing some commentators have about his ability to strike people out, he has the second best K/9 in team history. He has also demonstrated exceptional control with the fourth best K/BB in team history.

In the end, he has the fourth best FIP in team history. He has also established himself as a big game pitcher who you can trust to take the ball with everything on the line. He has already established himself as the best Mets player to ever wear the number 34.

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

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 33 Matt Harvey

Right now, we are talking about whether Matt Harvey is able to be able to be an effective Major League pitcher again after he has struggled due to TOS. However, starting back in 2012, we talked about Harvey as the next great Mets pitcher, one who was fairly drawing comparisons to Tom Seaver, one who could lead the Mets to their next World Series.

Harvey dazzled right from the beginning. In his Major League debut he flashed a slider like we’ve never seen, and he set a new Mets record by striking out 11 batters in his debut. In that start, we saw someone who could be the next great pitcher in the game and in Mets history:

That first season was just a glimpse. The 2013 season was the stuff of legends. In 2013, Harvey captivated Mets fans, New York, and eventually all of baseball.

Starting with the numbers, his 2.01 FIP led the league. It is important to keep in mind that was better than Clayton Kershaw, who was back then in his prime and legitimately in the conversation as one of the best pitchers in baseball history (he still is). Between his greatness and the fact the game was being held at Citi Field, Harvey started the All-Star Game pitching two scoreless innings.

There are just so many great stories from that 2013 season. There was the “Harvey’s Better!” chants directed at Stephen Strasburg. There was the bloody nose game(s). There was the almost perfect game spoiled by Ruben Tejada not playing an Alex Rios grounder properly. To sum up how the Mets were then, Harvey didn’t even get the win despite allowing that one infield single over nine innings while striking out 12 because the Mets couldn’t score until the 10th inning.

That 2013 season remains one of the best in Mets history by any pitcher. At the time it happened, his FIP was the third best in team history, and his WHIP was the best ever. He was subsequently passed in both by Jacob deGrom. His K/BB is the best out of any non strike shortened season in team history. To put it succinctly, Harvey was absolutely dominant and pitching at a level only deGrom, Dwight Gooden, and Seaver could replicate.

Unfortunately, Harvey’s season ended with him needing Tommy John surgery. He resisted initially but eventually opted for the surgery. He pushed to pitch in 2014, but he would instead be held back and was ready to go in 2015.

Once again, Harvey taking the mound represented hope for the Mets franchise. While there may have been some early trepidation from fans, he quickly assuaged them by shutting out the Nationals over six innings in his first start of the season. It was the beginning of a strange and great year for Harvey and the Mets.

With this being the Mets and Scott Boras being Scott Boras, it was not one without controversy. First, there as Harvey uncomfortable with the six man rotation. Then, it was Boras trying to enforce previously agreed upon innings limits only for the Mets to get amnesia and try to prod Harvey to pitch anyway.

So Harvey continued to pitch, and he pitched more than anyone else has in their return from Tommy John surgery. He pitched and picked up the win the day the Mets clinched the National League East. He pitched and won a pivotal Game 3 of the NLDS. He pitched a great game against the Cubs to open the NLCS:

Over 7.2 innings, he allowed two earned on four hits and two walks while striking out nine. In that start, he set the tone. The Mets pitching was going to dominate the Cubs, and the Mets were going to sweep their way to the World Series.

In Game 1, even with Yoenis Cespedes completely misplaying a routine Alcides Escobar fly ball into an inside the park homer, he pitched well enough for the Mets to win, and they almost did that coming within a Jeurys Familia blown save and Bartolo Colon 14th inning meltdown of doing that. When Harvey took the mound again in Game 5, he gave everything he had to keep the Mets alive:

This was the moment Mets fans foresaw in 2013, and Harvey delivered with the type of game you expect from an ace. He pitched like an all-time great pitcher. At that time in history, it certainly seemed like Harvey was that and/or was going to be that.

Little did we know at the time that was going to be it for the 2015 Mets, their World Series window, and Harvey’s career. Things were just not right for Harvey in 2016. We eventually found out he suffered from TOS. That began a sad downward turn in his career, and it eventually led to his being traded to the Reds for Devin Mesoraco. In his limited time with the Reds, Harvey pitched well giving us all hope he has one more act in his career.

Before the TOS, Harvey was all over the Mets top 10 lists for pitchers. As it stands, he is still in the top 10 in BB/9, K/9, and K/BB. While not an official category, he is among the Mets leaders in giving a fan base hope and providing them with huge moments. Overall, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 33.

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

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 32 Jon Matlack

When people talk about the Mets as an organization, the common refrain is that this is an organization built on pitching. When discussing the Mets pitching, there is talk about Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. We also hear about Dwight Gooden and Jacob deGrom. There is also the legends who finished their careers here like Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana.

Rarely, you hear about Jon Matlack, who by FIP, is the fourth best pitcher to ever don a Mets uniform. He should be discussed.

Matlack was the fourth overall pick in the 1967 draft, and he would soon show he could be considered the first draft pick the Mets truly nailed.

After a brief cup of coffee in 1971, Matlack began the 1972 season on the Opening Day roster, and he would put together the second Rookie of the Year campaign in Mets history. In 34 starts, he was 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA. To put in perspective how good he was that season, he had a better ERA and ERA+ than Seaver. Expectations were naturally high for him in 1973.

There are many remarkable things which have happened in Mets history, especially on the pitching front. It is really difficult to argue any Mets player did anything more remarkable than what Matlack did in 1973.

On May 8, 1973, Marty Perez of the Atlanta Braves hit a comebacker which not only hit Matlack in the head, but it would also fracture his skull. Somehow, Matlack returned to the mound after missing just two starts. A man with a fractured skull missed just two starts, and he would help the Mets win a pennant.

One area where Matlack’s reputation suffers is he frankly pitched in the wrong era. In the modern game, we have come to de-emphasize win/loss record. That became all the more evident when deGrom won back-to-back Cy Young awards despite winning just 21 games total over the two seasons.

With Matlack, his 1973 season was largely overlooked due to his having a 14-16 record. Lost in that was his being sixth in the league in WAR and FIP (stats not used in 1973) and third in the league in strikeouts. He would not garner one Cy Young vote, nor would he be an All-Star. That didn’t matter because he would be heard from in 1973.

As the story goes, M. Donald Grant was his typical tone deaf self when he delivered that July motivational speech leading to Tug McGraw‘s part inspired, part rallying cry “Ya Gotta Believe!” chant. Part of the reason this was a rallying cry was how the Mets players responded. That included Matlack who was lights out to end the 1973 season.

On the eve of Grant’s speech to the team, Matlack pitched a one hit shutout against the Houston Astros. From that point forward, Matlack had a 2.81 ERA. From August 1 until the end of the year, Matlack was 7-2 with a 2.66 ERA. For a pitcher who struggled getting wins in his Mets career, he certainly got them when they counted.

Matlack was then great in his one and only postseason with the Mets. With the Mets down 1-0 in the series, Matlack had a truly great pitching performance pitching a complete game two hit shut out of a Reds lineup which had some of the greatest hitters of all-time in Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, and Pete Rose. Here is the full game rebroadcast:

Matlack helped turn that series around for the Mets, and after their huge upset of a Reds team on the precipice of becoming one of the greatest teams of all-time, Matlack got the ball in Game One of the World Series, and he would come within a Felix Millan (uncharacteristic) error of a victory.

Matlack followed that game with a brilliant Game 4 performance. Over eight innings, he allowed just one unearned run over eight innings. He got the victory, and the Mets had tied the series. To hear Howie Rose tell it time and again, Matlack was the victim of one of the biggest blunders in Mets managerial history.

The Mets lead the World Series 3-2 heading back to Oakland. Instead of allowing Gary Gentry pitch Game 6 and reserving Seaver for Game 7, Yogi Berra opted to push Seaver and Matlack on three days rest. Matlack just wasn’t up to the task in Game 7 taking the loss. Even with that loss, he had a 2.16 ERA in his three World Series starts, and he had a 1.40 ERA in his four postseason starts.

No matter how you slice or dice it, that’s a great postseason. It is one which would have been remembered more had the Mets actually pulled out the 1973 World Series. Perhaps, that would have put Matlack more into the memories of current day Mets fans.

While Matlack had been previously overlooked, he was no longer. In each of the ensuing three seasons, Matlack was an All-Star, and in the 1975 All-Star Game he would become the first and only Mets player to be named the MVP. He picked up the win in the game after pitching two shut out innings where he struck out four the six batters he faced.

While an All-Star in 1974, he didn’t get one single Cy Young vote. He didn’t get one despite leading the league in shut outs, FIP, and WAR, and he was third in the league in ERA. If it was 2020, he might have been the Cy Young winner. Instead, he and his losing record didn’t have a shot.

Because of this win-loss record, Matlack would not get a Cy Young vote until 1976. In that year, he again led the league in shutouts. He would have a career best 17 wins, and he would tie fewest losses in a full season with the Mets. It wasn’t his best season, but it was the one which he had the the most notoriety because with the 1970s mentality¬† there was just more emphasis on wins.

Overall, Matlack is all over the Mets career top 10 pitching rankings. He is seventh all-time in WAR and wins. He is fifth in ERA, which is first among Mets left-handed pitchers. He ranks fourth in complete games and second in shut outs. As noted above, he is fourth in FIP.

That FIP is the best among left-handed pitchers in Mets history giving him a claim to being the best left-handed pitcher in team history. He is certainly the most underappreciated, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 32.

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

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 31 Mike Piazza

There are two players who wear a Mets cap on their Hall of Fame plaque, and there are only two people who have had their numbers retired by the Mets for what they did as players – Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza.

The fact Piazza even became a Met was somewhat of a miracle. It required the Marlins to go into fire sale mode after winning a World Series. It needed the Dodgers to overreact to Piazza not agreeing to a contract extension. It required Todd Hundley to suffer a significant elbow injury. Finally, it required public pressure from the fans and airwaves for the Mets to do the right thing and get a superstar in his prime.

As Piazza would tell it, he went into the shower thinking he would be a Cub, and he came out a Met. There’s probably a euphemism to be made there.

After somewhat of a slugging start, one where he was incredulously booed, he took off, and he had probably the best stretch we have seen from any Mets catcher. To put it in perspective, Piazza had a .876 OPS in June, and his monthly OPS would improve each of the ensuing months to the point where he hit .378/.475/.720 for a Mets team trying to make their first postseason in a decade.

During that stretch, he would have his first memorable home run as a member of the Mets. During that September push for the postseason, he had a dramatic go-ahead three run homer against Billy Wagner with the Mets trailing 2-0 in the top of the ninth.

While that Mets team didn’t get over the hump, the Mets made sure Piazza would be a part of the Mets team who eventually did giving him the biggest contract in baseball. With Piazza with the Mets for a full season, things were different for this franchise. Suddenly, they had a superstar, and they were legitimate World Series contenders.

Piazza immediately made good on his contact with a great 1999 season. In that first full season with the Mets, Piazza hit .303/.361/.575 with 25 doubles, 40 homers, and 124 RBI. It was the second most homers a Mets player would have in a single season, and it would be the first time in Major League history a player had 40 homers without a multi-homer game. He would also set the franchise mark for RBI in a season, a record which still stands to this day.

There were so many big homers during that season. There was the beginning of his blood feud with Roger Clemens, who Piazza absolutely dominated. There was his legendary tape measure shot against Ramiro Mendoza, which helped the Mets take their first ever series in the Subway Series:

That would not be the only big homer Piazza would hit that year. Piazza had struggled in the 1999 postseason due to a thumb injury. That injury had actually kept him out of Games 3 and 4 of the NLDS. He would play through the injury during the NLCS, and then in the seventh inning of Game 6, Piazza would hit a game tying homer off of John Smoltz, who is one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all-time:

Unfortunately for Piazza and the Mets, while they made the comeback, they could not complete it losing that game in heartbreaking fashion. The next year, neither Piazza or the Mets would be denied.

In his Hall of Fame career, Piazza would put together a number of MVP worthy seasons. In 1998 and 1999, he was frankly overlooked, and in 2000, he was probably robbed of the award. In that season, Piazza would hit .324/.398/.614 with 26 doubles, 38 homers, and 113 RBI. Again, with Piazza, it wasn’t just the stats, it was when he did it. Arguably, to that point in his career, he hit the biggest home run he had ever hit when he hit a homer capping off the Mets 10 run inning against the Braves.

The Mets making a comeback like that against the Braves was indication the 2000 season was going to be different, and it was. This time, the Mets were not going to be denied the pennant. One of the reasons why was this time Piazza was healthy, and he would have a great postseason.

In the NLCS, he would lead all players in OPS. To a certain extent, you could argue he was once again robbed of an MVP. He would lead the Mets to their first World Series. That’s when Piazza would be treated unfairly.

It was not Piazza’s fault he was attacked by Clemens, and he did the smart thing staying in that game. It also gets overlooked far too often Piazza would homer later in that game to give the Mets a chance to win. He would also homer in Game 4 of the World Series to give the Mets a chance to win that game and get back into the series. Overall, Piazza would leave that postseason as the Mets all-time leader in postseason homers (since passed by Daniel Murphy).

The shame for Piazza is he would continue playing at a high level while his teammates had a noticeable drop-off in production in 2001. He was almost single-handedly tring to keep that team afloat, and to a certain extent he did as the Mets did have at least an outside chance of making the postseason when September came.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, none of that matters. On September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers fell in a terrorist attack devastating the city and the country. Baseball would be shut down for a while, and there was not only trepidation over when it would be safe to play sports again, but also when it would be safe to return to New York. When baseball did resume, it was the Mets who were the first New York sports team to play in the city. In the bottom of the eighth, Piazza hit not only the most important homer in his career, but arguably in the history of the City of New York (and baseball):

Piazza’s Mets career would take some strange twists and turns from there. There was the botched first base experiment with Art Howe, and there was the issue whether or not he ever demanded a trade. There were the rumors about his sexual orientation and the awkward press conference which ensued. He would also battle some injuries.

Through all of that Piazza remained a very good to great player. He would first hit his 300th homer, and later on in his career, he would break Carlton Fisk‘s record for home runs by a catcher. The 2005 season would be his last one with the Mets, and he would get a chance to say good-bye to the Mets fans who adored him. Mets fans adored him even to the point where he would received a curtain call when he returned to Shea Stadium as a member of the Padres and homered off of Pedro Martinez.

When Piazza left the Mets, he left as the team’s all-time leader in slugging, and he is second in OPS. He is also in the top 10 in several offensive categories. That includes his being third all-time in homers, RBI, and OPS+. That is in addition to all the Major League records he has as a catcher.

In sum, Piazza was the greatest hitting catcher of all-time, and he was the best catcher in Mets history. As a Met, he was a seven time All-Star winning five Silver Sluggers and finishing in the top 15 of MVP voting four times.

An argument can be made he was the most important position player to ever don the Mets uniform. He caught the final pitch at Shea and the first one at Citi He is a Hall of Famer, and he is now the former player who throws out the first pitch for important moments in franchise history. To put it succinctly here, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 31.

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