Johan Santana

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 57 Johan Santana

Mostly due to Nolan Ryan, there have been 12 no-hitters thrown by pitchers after they left the Mets. There have been 10 pitchers to throw no-hitters before coming to the Mets. Hideo Nomo is the one pitcher who threw a no-hitter before and after pitching for the Mets. Through it all, the swinging bunts, the bloop singles, the defensive misplays, everything, there has been just one man who has thrown a no-hitter in a Mets uniform.

Johan Santana.

If he did nothing else in his Mets career, this would have been enough to make Santana the best ever Mets pitcher to wear the number 57. However, his career would prove to be much more than this moment.

Santana originally came to the Mets after the collapse of the 2007 season. Omar Minaya waited out the field, and he eventually got the Twins to accept the trade, and then, he got the Mets to make Santana the highest paid pitcher in the game. It was all designed to prevent another 2007, and really handle the unfinished business from 2006.

It was actually a slow start for Santana in his first season with the Mets, which shouldn’t have been all the surprising as that is what he typically did with the Twins. However, in June, Santana turned it on, and he was phenomenal in a Cy Young worthy season. Somehow, he only finished third in Cy Young voting despite leading the league in ERA, GS, and IP.

However, as we know, with aces it is not just about the win-loss record. It is about stepping up when your team needs it most. That’s exactly what Santana did. Really, he was simply brilliant down the stretch. In the second half, he was 8-0 with a 2.17 ERA and a 1.096 WHIP. People may have wanted to give credit to the managerial switch or something else, but fact, is the biggest driver of the Mets turning it around was Santana being Santana.

That included him demanding the ball on the penultimate game of the season. With the Mets in a position where they could not afford to lose another game, Santana took the mound on three days rest and threw the last great game a Mets pitcher would have at Shea. He shut out the Marlins allowing just three hits while striking out nine. The fact he did this on an injured knee made this start all the more incredible.

That would prove to be the last time the Mets won at Shea, and it would be the last start Santana would make with the Mets being contenders.

Partially due to the injuries setting in, people tend to forget Santana was still a very good pitcher over the ensuing two years, which included his being named an All-Star in 2009. Over the first two years in Citi Field, Santana had a 131 ERA+. As noted, the injuries would mount with him needing surgery on his knee, elbow, and shoulder in successive seasons.

The last surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder cost him all of the 2011 season. Simply put, pitchers really don’t recover from that surgery. Santana somehow did even if it was for a short duration. In his first 11 starts, which includes the famed 134 pitch no-hitter, Santana was 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA and 1.029 WHIP. Essentially, Santana was back, but unfortunately, the wear and tear of pitching every fifth day proved to be too much. His entire career would last just 10 more starts.

Through all of it, Santana had established himself as one of the best starters in Mets history. He has the sixth best ERA+ with the 10th best K/BB. If you take out his 2012 season, he would rank higher in those and other categories, but then again, if you take out that season, you miss the only no-hitter in Mets history. For that no-hitter and all the great things he did in a Mets uniform, Santana is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 57.

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
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford
54. T.J. Rivera
55. Orel Hershiser
56. Andres Torres

The Next Jacob deGrom Might’ve Just Seen His Baseball Career End

This past week, the New York Mets released 39 minor league players. They were far from the only team who took that action. Every MLB undertook the same process with the COVID19 shutdown, the ever increasingly likely cancellation of the minor league season, and the contraction of 42 minor league teams.

This led to a variety of reactions. Many were sad, and some were angry. There was also Andrew Church who eviscerated the Mets and Tim Tebow. Lost in that was the purge of minor league talent.

Make no mistake, every minor leaguer who was released was a talented baseball player. They had enough talent to get a contract to play professional baseball. The issue at the moment was teams like the Mets thought better to get rid of them so they wouldn’t have to pay them $400/week.

When you look at the players who were released, you really have to question whether the Mets would’ve released Jacob deGrom under similar circumstances. Don’t be so sure they wouldn’t have.

Going back a decade, deGrom was a ninth round draft pick out of Stetson University. While much has been made about his being a collegiate SS, truth be told deGrom had converted to a pitcher Junior year. That year, he pitched and played short. It was his pitching which caught the Mets attention.

Just because he caught the Mets attention, it doesn’t mean he was good right away.

As a 22 year old, deGrom was assigned to a Kingsport franchise which is in line to be contracted. Despite being over a full year older than the competition, he did not pitch well.

In the six starts deGrom made, he was 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA, 1.577 WHIP, and a 7.6 K/9. Batters hit .324/.360/.472 off of him. At the end of the year, he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL.

At that time, there was nothing which could give you any indication he was about to become a pitcher who would have a dominant 2015 postseason in addition to consecutive Cy Youngs.

No, he looked like an older prospect for his level who couldn’t beat younger batters, and worse yet, he had a busted elbow. If you’re looking to not pay players, and you’re looking to cut down the amount of people in your system to prepare for a loss of affiliates, deGrom was going to be in real danger of getting released.

If that happened, deGrom doesn’t get the chance to get healthy, learn a change-up from Johan Santana, and start on a path towards being a potential Hall of Famer. No, in all likelihood, his career would’ve been over.

Now, it’s very possible none of the 39 players released by the Mets could’ve done what deGrom did. Most and maybe all don’t even make it to the majors. However, that’s not the point.

The point is unless you give prospects real time to learn and develop you’re never going to find the next deGrom. The same can be said for Mike Piazza, Jeff McNeil, of Seth Lugo. For that matter, the Mets miss the 2016 postseason without undrafted free agent T.J. Rivera.

In the end, MLB franchises opted to end the dreams of minor leaguers over $400/week. In the process, they’re going to potentially miss out on the next diamond in the rough, or even that key player who gets them to the postseason thereby making the franchise millions of dollars.

Citi Bracket: (5) Johan Santana vs. (12) Matt Harvey

(5) Johan Santana – Had first huge moment of Mets career taking ball on three days rest to pitch a complete game three hit shutout to keep Mets hopes alive. Was the last ever Mets pitcher to win a game at Shea Stadium. Was probably cheated of Cy Young that year with his leading league in ERA and IP while being narrowly second in WAR and ERA+. All Star in 2009. Threw the only no-hitter in Mets history after coming off of shoulder surgery. Took 134 pitches to do it, and it was effectively the end of his near Hall of Fame career.

(12) Matt Harvey – Dubbed the Dark Knight. Set Mets record for most strikeouts in debut. Had great 2013 season which saw him pitch near perfect games and no hitters and start the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field. Had the best K/BB for any Mets pitcher in a non-strike shortened season. Was a sensation featured on Fallon, ESPN the Magazine, and Sports Illustrated. Threw more pitches than anyone in MLB history post Tommy John. Had great postseason winning pivotal Game 3 of the NLDS, setting the tone in Game 1 of the NLCS, and having an epic Game 5 start.

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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. 23 Bernard Gilkey

With 34 different Mets players wearing the number 23, it is one of the more popular player numbers in Mets team history. When you think of the number, you are reminded of how great Pat Mahomes was out of the Mets bullpen in 1999, Mike Baxter‘s catch saving Johan Santana‘s no-hitter, and Bernard Gilkey.

Entering the 1996 season, the St. Louis Cardinals no longer had room on their roster for Gilkey, the hometown kid. He was squeezed out by other outfielders making Gilkey an expensive back-up for a team looking to free up money to address other needs. He was a player entering his prime, which made him all the more enticing for a Mets team looking to turn their franchise around.

While Gilkey could be expected to be an improvement over Joe Orsulak, and a significant one at that, no one could be really prepared for the absolutely great season Gilkey had in store for the Mets in 1996.

That 1996 season was marked by a number of offensive records compiled by the trio of Gilkey, Todd Hundley, and Lance Johnson. Believe it or not, there were eight separate single-season records set that year, and even to this date, the feats accomplished in that season remain in the Mets single-season top 10 lists.

We would get a sense of how special a year it would be from the Mets new lineup when Hundley and Gilkey homered on Opening Day against Gilkey’s former team. That was the first RBI in 117 total for the season. That would tie Howard Johnson for the Mets then single-season record.

Overall, he would hit .317/.393/.562 with 44 doubles, three triples, 30 homers, and 117 RBI. Those were great numbers which were part of his season long onslaught of the Mets record books.

In addition to the RBI title, he would have the second highest SLG and OPS. He finished just behind his teammate Johnson for the most total bases in a season. His OPS+ was fourth best. His 44 doubles still remains a team record, and his extra base hits were then second only to HoJo.

When all was said and done, Gilkey’s 8.1 WAR would be the best season a Mets position player ever had. Really, it obliterated the record with Cleon Jones‘ 7.0 in 1969 being second. That mark would only be passed in future years by David Wright and Carlos Beltran.

For some reason, Gilkey didn’t make the All-Star team that year even though he was the second best player in the National League that year. Despite that, Gilkey still received some notoriety not just for his hitting prowess, but also for how wide his eyes opened when he saw a pitch he could drive somewhere. That would actually lead to him getting a memorable cameo in the summer blockbuster Men in Black.

Gilkey would not be able to replicate his 1996 success, but then again, there are very people in Major League history who could. Still, Gilkey was an important player for the Mets who did help take them from their last 90+ loss season in the aftermath of the great 1980s Mets teams to the next era of winning Mets baseball.

Even though he never replicated that success. Gilkey had some real big moments during the 1997 season. One of the big moments came in the first ever Subway Series. With his first inning double off of Andy Pettitte, Gilkey became the first ever player to record a hit in a regular season game between the Mets and Yankees. When John Olerud doubled, he scored the first ever run. Thanks to Dave Mlicki, it would prove to be the game winning run.

On the following day, even though the Mets lost, his homer off of David Wells would be the first homer in the Subway Series.

This was part of a fun and surprising year where the Mets won 88 games. They would be in the pennant race late in the season. Late in that season, Gilkey would hit a pinch hit three run homer to give the Mets a late season win to keep them alive in the Wild Card race:

While the Mets fell short that season, Gilkey did all he could do to power the Mets into that 1997 postseason. In fact, he would hit .329/.404/.600. Still, the Mets could not catch the Braves or the eventual World Series Champion Marlins that year.

Unfortunately for Gilkey, he struggled in 1998. Those struggles were partially related to a vision issue, and those issues eventually led to the Mets trading him to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Gilkey’s Mets career lasted just short of three full seasons. Still, in that timeframe, he was an impactful player. He had an all-time great season in 1996. He forever etched his name in the Subway Series record books. Finally, he helped turn the Mets from a 90 loss team to a postseason contender. For his efforts, he is actually the Mets fourth best LF by WAR, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 23.

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

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 22 Al Leiter

The Mets have won two World Series with Donn Clendenon and Ray Knight being the MVPs of those series. Aside from being Mets, one thing that links them is they both wore the number 22. However, while each have their own special place in Mets history, the best Mets player to ever wear the number was Al Leiter.

After being the starting pitcher in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, Leiter was shipped out as Wayne Huizenga ordered a firesale of the team. Leiter, who grew up a Mets fan in New Jersey, would get to live out his childhood dream of pitching for the Mets. On that note, before there was Todd Frazier, Leiter was the Mets player from Toms River, NJ.

The Leiter trade was a significant step for the franchise. Not only did it come at a steep cost which included AJ Burnett, but it was an indication the Mets were looking to take the next step forward after a surprising 88 win season in 1997. Leiter went from a star studded rotation in Florida to the Mets ace.

In that 1998 season, he was 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA, 1.150 WHIP, and an 8.1 K/9. Using the stat ERA+, Leiter’s 1998 season was the best by any Mets pitcher not named Dwight Gooden, Jacob deGrom, or Tom Seaver. Put another way, it was the best season by any Mets left-handed pitcher, a group which includes Tom Glavine, Jerry Koosman, and Johan Santana.

While Mike Piazza got much of the publicity for that season, and deservedly so, by WAR, Leiter was the second best player on that Mets team. It should be noted he was the pitcher who was on the mound when Piazza first came to the Mets. The two of them became friends, and Leiter was one of the reasons Piazza stayed.

Leiter would not be able to replicate his 1998 success in a Mets uniform, but he would go on to put together a great Mets career. While it may not have been his best season, Leiter would come up big time and again.

After the May firings of Bobby Valentine‘s coaching staff, Leiter won six of his next seven starts to help get the Mets from one game under .500 at the beginning of June to 11 games over just one month later. That helped turn the 1999 season from a forgettable one to one of the most special ones in team history.

When the Mets were staring down a late season collapse for the second straight year, Leiter helped right the ship by beating the Braves to allow the team to tie the Reds atop the Wild Card standings to force a play-in game. Leiter would get the ball, and he would turn in what was arguably the greatest regular season pitching performance in team history:

In a game the Mets absolutely had to have, Leiter put his best performance in a Mets uniform pitching a two hit shut-out on the road against the Reds to send the Mets to the NLDS. One interesting note is that while this is classified as a one-game playoff, it is considered a regular season game.

One of the reasons this is interesting is because despite some truly great performances in the postseason, Leiter never won a postseason game with the Mets. Mostly, it was due to some bad luck like when he lost Game 3 of the NLCS when the greatest infield of all-time allowed an unearned run in the Mets 1-0 loss. To be fair, his teammates picked him up in Game 6.

In 2000, for the first time in his Mets career, he was not the designated ace. That didn’t matter all that much as Leiter had a great season making the All Star team while going 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA. Things would not be as difficult for the Mets this year as they easily made the postseason.

In typical Leiter hard luck fashion, his gem in Game 2 of the NLDS went by the wayside when Armando Benitez blew the save. Still, Leiter’s performance was important as it helped right the ship after an opening game loss, and it helped propel the Mets to the NLCS. In the NLCS, Turk Wendell vultured a win.

In that World Series, Benitez yet again blew the save in Game 1 costing Leiter a win. That series did not go the Mets way, and they were forced to win a Game 5 to send the series back to Yankee Stadium. In that Game 5, Leiter gave everything he had to try to will the Mets to victory. Being a terrible hitter, he would even try to bunt his way on to drive home a run. Sadly, he was out of gas after 142 pitches, and his defense just couldn’t get to that one ground ball.

The Mets never reached those heights again during Leiter’s tenure. However, he had one more big moment left in the tank.

Many forget this now, but after the 9/11 attacks, it was Leiter, the local kid from Toms River, NJ, who was handed the baseball when the Mets returned to action in Pittsburgh. He received a no decision after limiting the Pirates to one run over seven innings.

One really important note here is Leiter is the last Mets player to ever wear a First Responder’s cap. On the one year anniversary, Leiter cycled through the caps for each of the first responder agencies pitching a complete game shutout against the Braves.

In Leiter’s final few years with the Mets, they never got back to the postseason, but Leiter still remained a very good pitcher for the team. Notably, he never had a losing record for the Mets, and he won 10+ in his seven years with the Mets with a 3.42 ERA. He would also accomplish some truly astonishing feats.

In 2000, he won the Roberto Clemente Award. In 2002, he became the first Major League pitcher to defeat all 30 teams. In one he probably wants to have back, he was the last ever pitcher to lose a game to the Montreal Expos. Overall, he became of the best pitchers in Mets history.

In fact, he could make the claim as the best ever left-handed pitcher. On that note, among Mets pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings, only Jacob deGrom and Seaver have a better ERA+. Overall, Leiter is in the Mets top 1o in wins, GS, IP, strikeouts, WAR, and ERA+. He should be in the Mets Hall of Fame, but for now, he is going to have to settle for being the best Mets player to ever wear the number 22.

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

Dwight Gooden’s Rookie Year Was Best In Mets History

In their history, the Mets have had six players win the Rookie of the Year Award – Tom Seaver (1967), Jon Matlack (1972), Darryl Strawberry (1983), Dwight Gooden, (1984), Jacob deGrom (2014), and Pete Alonso (2019). Out of those six, two stand above the rest as they were record breaking seasons:

When the Mets posted a poll on Twitter, fans were split as to who had the better rookie season. They shouldn’t have been.

With respect to Alonso, there is no denying how great a year he had. During the year, Alonso would break Aaron Judge‘s rookie home run record, and like Judge, he would win the Home Run Derby. He would also be an All-Star. Alonso proved to be a great power hitter setting a number of Mets single season records.

In 2019, Alonso set not just the Mets rookie records, but also the team single season records for homers, total bases, extra base hits, and HR/AB. He was also in the top 10 in a number of other categories including SLG and RBI. What is interesting, and noteworthy for reasons detailed below, Alonso was not in the Mets single-season top 25 in WAR or the top 15 in OPS+.

Gooden had every bit the record breaking season Alonso had. In fact, Gooden not just broke, but he obliterated Herb Score‘s rookie strikeout record. Ultimately, Gooden would strike out 276 batters that year, a mark which would lead the majors. His K/9 would not just lead the majors, but it would also be the Mets single-season record.

In that season, Gooden would also lead the league in FIP, WHIP, H/9, HR/9, and WAR. If we are being completely honest, he was absolutely robbed of the Cy Young Award which went to Rick Sutcliffe because writers were obviously most interested in narrative and story than facts.

Like Alonso, Gooden’s season wasn’t just a great rookie year, it was also a great single season year in Mets history. In fact, Gooden’s 1984 season would be the Mets single season records for K/9 and FIP. His strikeouts were the most by any Mets pitcher not named Seaver. Remember, this is a franchise with Seaver, deGrom, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, and other greats.

With all due respect to players like Carlos Beltran, Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, and David Wright, they just don’t have the same cache as those pitchers. In terms of the pitching, the Mets have had some of the best pitchers of all-time playing at their peak. Please keep in mind, that is in no way meant to disparage those hitters. After all, Piazza and Beltran played like Hall of Famers while with the Mets. It’s just that Seaver and Martinez are on a completely different plateau.

When you are a Mets pitcher who breaks a team record, it is truly noteworthy. It really is of historical significance as you have done something not even Seaver did. Remember, not only is Seaver the greatest player who ever wore a Mets uniform, but he is also arguably the greatest right-handed pitcher in baseball history. In his rookie year, Gooden surpassed Seaver in K/9 and FIP.

Going back to the FIP, Gooden’s season was the 14th best of all-time. In fact, only Martinez had a better FIP in the post World War II era. Looking back, Gooden’s 1984 season is completely overshadowed for how great it was. Part of the reason for that is Gooden had an even better season in 1985.

Going deeper, you can make a good case Gooden’s rookie season was the greatest rookie season a pitcher ever had. While Alonso’s season was great, you can’t make that same claim for him among the ranks of position players.

If the historical significance of both seasons is not enough to convince you, consider their respective WAR. In 1984, Gooden had a 5.5 bWAR and 8.3 fWAR surpasses Alonso’s 5.2 bWAR and 4.8 fWAR.

Overall, while there is no denying Alonso had a great rookie year, the best a Mets position player ever had, it just pales in comparison to Gooden’s 1984 rookie season. Simply put, Gooden probably had the greatest rookie season a pitcher ever had, and he had the best rookie season of any Mets player.

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 19 Bob Ojeda

Every time a team makes a trade, you hope that it is helping you win a World Series. There are few times you can pinpoint a trade as a significant reason why your team was able to beat the other team. In many ways, that is exactly what the Bob Ojeda trade was for the Mets.

Before the 1986 season, the Mets acquired Ojeda from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for a package which included Calvin Schiraldi. The motivating factor for this deal was for the Mets to get another left-handed starter into the rotation to help them deal with the Cardinals line-up which included the left-handed Andy Van Slyke as well as the switch hitting Tom Herr, Ozzie Smith, Vince Coleman, and Willie McGee.

What the Mets really got was the best pitcher in their rotation. Yes, even with Dwight Gooden atop the rotation, Ojeda would lead that Mets team with a 140 ERA+. In fact, he was arguably the second best pitcher in the National League that year after Mike Scott. Overall, Ojeda was 18-5 with a 2.57 ERA.

As great as he was in the regular season, he was even better in the postseason. His first ever postseason start came in Game 2 of the NLCS with the Mets already down 1-0 in the series. He would respond by out-dueling Nolan Ryan in his complete game victory:

That postseason Ojeda made four starts, and the Mets won all four games he pitched. All four of those games were crucial games the Mets had to have. That included this Game 3 and the subsequent Game 5. The next time he took the mound was in Game 3 of the World Series.

In that Game 3, Ojeda was facing his former Red Sox teammates; teammates who were up 2-0 in the series as it headed to Fenway. Staked to a 4-0 lead before he ever took the mound, Ojeda would shut down the Red Sox offense and get the Mets back into the series. Over seven innings, he yielded just one run on five hits.

In Game 6, the Mets once again handed him the ball asking him to keep hopes alive. With all the drama of that game, one thing which gets completely lost is how well Ojeda pitched. He did all he could possibly do to keep the Red Sox at bay limiting them to just two runs over six innings. When he departed that game, the score was tied, and the Mets were still alive.

An important note to that game was while Ojeda was keeping the Mets alive, Schiradi melted down. After two quick outs, he allowed Gary Carter to start the greatest World Series rally of all-time. Ultimately, Schiraldi would be the losing pitcher of that Game 6, and he would be the losing pitcher of Game 7.

In the history of baseball, you may never get a clearer indication of who won and lost a trade than this 1986 World Series. For the Mets, they have no chance at winning it if they did not have Ojeda in the rotation. With respect to the Red Sox, it’s possible they win that World Series if they had someone else on the mound in those crucial Game 6 and Game 7 moments.

Ojeda’s Mets career was more than just 1986. In 1987, he would get the Opening Day start due to Dwight Gooden‘s drug problems. Unfortunately, his season would be hampered by injury. He would recover to again be an important part of the 1988 rotation.

That year, due to the emergence of David Cone, he was “only” the second best pitcher in the rotation with a 112 ERA+. Yes, he had a losing record, but that tells you more about the that stat than it does about how Ojeda pitched. After all, he had a 2.88 ERA and a 1.004 WHIP. Aside from that record, everyone knew how good Ojeda was. That was evident from his five shutouts, a mark which ranks as the sixth best single season mark in Mets history. His HR/9 that year was also sixth best.

Many to this day, pinpoint his severing part of the middle finger in a hedge clipper accident as the reason the Mets lost the 1988 NLCS. That’s how good he was that year, and really, that is how much of a big game pitcher he was.

Ojeda would last two more years with the Mets pitching well. He would finish his Mets career with a 51-40 record with a 3.12 ERA, and a 1.182 WHIP. His ERA and WHIP are the ninth best in Mets history. That is all the more remarkable when you consider it puts him ahead of pitchers like Johan Santana. Finally, he is ninth in terms of shutouts which puts him not only ahead of Santana but also Jacob deGrom.

More than any of that, he was a driving force for the Mets winning the 1986 World Series. His importance to that team could not be overstated. As a result, Ojeda is the best Mets player to wear the number 19.

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

Get Us Gary, Keith, And Ron Announcing Simulated Games

With no sports available to be broadcast, NBC Sports Washington is taking a novel approach. Instead of replaying a classic game, they’re going to play simulated games for the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards.

These video game simulations are using EA Sports games. So, instead of seeing actual games, we’re seeing machines play games. It’s like e-Sports meets Real Steel.

It’s certainly worth trying for a sports starved country.

For Mets fans, what would be better? Watching Johan Santana‘s no-hitter for the umpteenth time, or seeing a video game simulation of Pete Alonso hitting home runs and having crazy home run celebrations?

Perhaps you can find a way for MLB to work with teams and RSN’s to broadcast the games simultaneously. If they could do that, could you imagine how much fun Gary, Keith, and Ron would have broadcasting these games?

Listening to Keith’s bemusement of this while he’s sitting home on Skype (or some other device) while Hadji is running around would be reason enough to watch.

As for baseball, they could have some fun with it keeping records and standings. We can get Harold Reynolds and other MLB Network personalities trying to break it down, or simply having a breakdown about how computers have once again ruined the game.

If done well, this could be fun and give baseball fans something to watch until we get games. If done poorly, well, it’s still better than nothing.

In any event, NBC Sports Washington is taking the first crack at this. Hopefully, it is a success, and it brings us closer to having something to watch to bridge the gap.

Trivia Friday: 2019 Opening Starters On Different Teams

Many times, we make a big deal out of the Opening Day starter. That’s your ace and the pitcher who is supposed to lead your staff and hopefully the postseason. When it is a pitcher like Johan Santana or Pedro Martinez changing teams, it’s a big deal. For others, no so much.

In any event there is a wide gamut of Opening Day starters, and some find new homes for different reasons. Nearly, one-third of the 2019 Opening Day starters will begin the 2020 season on a different team than they did a year ago. Can you name those pitchers? Good luck!


Marcus Stroman Trevor Cahill Corey Kluber Julio Teheran Jhoulys Chacin Hyun-Jin Ryu Zack Greinke Madison Bumgarner Eric Lauer