John Olerud

Mets Old Timer’s Day Lineups And Ideas

It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.

It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:

MGR Davey Johnson/Bobby Valentine

P Dwight Gooden/John Franco

C Todd Hundley/Mike Piazza

1B Keith Hernandez/John Olerud

2B Tim Teufel/Edgardo Alfonzo

3B Howard Johnson/David Wright

SS Rey Ordonez/Jose Reyes (I don’t want him there, but he’ll be invited)

LF Cliff Floyd/Endy Chavez

CF Mookie Wilson/Carlos Beltran

RF Darryl Strawberry/Curtis Granderson

Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.

Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.

For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.

If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.

The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.

Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.

Mojo Rising Bracket: (1) Mike Piazza vs. (4) John Olerud

(1) Mike Piazza – greatest offensive catcher in Major League history who decided to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. Second player to have his number retired by the Mets. Hit a number of big homers for the franchise including one capping off the 10 run inning against the Braves and the one post 9/11. Mets all-time leader in slugging and second in OPS. All over the single season and career top 10 offensive categories. Took those late 90s Mets teams over the top. Caught final pitch at Shea Stadium and first pitch at Citi Field.

(5) John Olerud – Had the Keith Hernandez like effect where is acquisition was what helped turned the franchise around. His .354 batting average in 1998 is the Mets single season record, and his .315 career average is the best in Mets history. That 1998 season stands as the best season a Mets first baseman has ever had. Holds the Mets first and second best single season records for OBP and is Mets all-time OBP leader. By OPS+ second best hitter in Mets history. Name littered all over single season and career top 10 lists. Hit RBI single off John Rocker in Game 4 of NLCS. First baseman for greatest defensive infield in team history.

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Mets Fan Favorite Tournament: Sweet 16

After the first two rounds, the Sweet 16 in each of the four brackets is set, and there are going to be some fun and difficult match-ups. So far, all of those who have had their numbers retired and have been captains in team history have survived.

In the Miracle Bracket, Tom Seaver should be expected to advance. To secure a spot in the Final Four, he is going to have to face the winner of Jerry Koosman/Cleon Jones, which has Mets fans deciding which of the somewhat unlikely heroes of 1969 (and 1973) should advance.

The Amazin Bracket kicks off with a battle between the first two captains in team history – Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. As if deciding between them isn’t tough enough, fans have to decide whether they love Dwight Gooden or Darryl Strawberry more.

The Mojo Rising Bracket only has members of the 1999 Mets remaining, which is appropriate given how the region was named after that team. The first match-up is between the helmeted ones in the catcher Mike Piazza and the first baseman John Olerud. Then, it is a match-up between Al Leiter and Edgardo Alfonzo, who were the heros of the play-in game against the Reds.

Finally, in the Citi Bracket, we have two Cinderella runs from Wilmer Flores and Pete Alonso. Flores faces David Wright in a match-up of the emotional stories from the 2015 season. With Alonso, he squares off against Jacob deGrom to see which current Mets player fans adore more.

Voting begins tomorrow with Seaver and Ed Kranepool.

Mojo Rising Bracket: (4) John Olerud vs. (5) Robin Ventura

(5) John Olerud – Had the Keith Hernandez like effect where is acquisition was what helped turned the franchise around. His .354 batting average in 1998 is the Mets single season record, and his .315 career average is the best in Mets history. That 1998 season stands as the best season a Mets first baseman has ever had. Holds the Mets first and second best single season records for OBP and is Mets all-time OBP leader. By OPS+ second best hitter in Mets history. Name littered all over single season and career top 10 lists. Hit RBI single off John Rocker in Game 4 of NLCS. First baseman for greatest defensive infield in team history.

(5) Robin Ventura – Forever known through baseball history for the Grand Slam Single. In his Mets career also became the first player to hit a grand slam in both ends of a doubleheader. Won a Gold Glove in 1999 and was a member of the best defensive infield in baseball history. In 1999, set a then Mets single season record for RBI in a season (surpassed by Mike Piazza in that same season). By WAR, top player on 1999 team which returned to postseason. His rain delay impersonation of Piazza is still one of the most popular rain delay bloopers.

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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

Darryl Strawberry Might’ve Been Better Than David Wright

When talking about New York Mets history, Tom Seaver is the best player in team history. After that, it is accepted and largely unchallenged fact David Wright is the best position player in team history. This is far from just sentiment. After all, Wright is second all-time in Mets history with a 49.2 WAR.

Wright’s name is all over the record books too. He is the Mets all-time leader in offensive WAR, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles, RBI, walks, singles, sacrifice flies, and WPA. For those categories he is not atop, and there aren’t many, he is in the top five or 10.

Wright’s standing in Mets history and the record books is a function of both how long he played with the Mets and how great a player he was. It should be noted he was not just a compiler. As an example, his 8.3 WAR in 2007 still stands as the best season a Mets player ever had. When digging deeper, he is the only Mets player with three of his seasons to appear in that top 10.

Even with that, you could argue Wright was not the best position player in team history.

When Wright was first called up to the Mets he was chasing Darryl Strawberry. As Wright was winding down his career and trying to set every record in Mets history, he would fall 10 homers behind Strawberry for the team all-time home run record. You could also argue he failed to catch Strawberry as the team’s best position player.

In his Mets career, Strawberry hit .263/.359/.520 with 187 doubles, 30 triples, 252 homers, and 733 RBI. Over those nine years, he amassed a 36.6 WAR which is fifth best in Mets team history and the second best among position players.

What is interesting is he’s not commonly accepted as the second best position player in team history. There have also been credible arguments made for players like Carlos BeltranKeith Hernandez, and Mike Piazza. When you delve into the numbers, Strawberry stands above the rest and may even be above Wright. To that, here is a side-by-side comparison of their career Mets stats (Mets all-time rank in parenthesis):

David Wright Darryl Strawberry
49.2 (1) WAR 36.6 (2)
.296 (3) BA .263 (22)
.376 (4) OBP .359 (10)
.491 (7) SLG .520 (2)
.867 (4) OPS .878 (3)
949 (1) R 662 (3)
1777 (1) H 1025 (9)
390 (1) 2B 187 (9)
26 (7) 3B 30 (6)
242 (2) HR 252 (1)
970 (1) RBI 733 (2)
762 (1) BB 580 (2)
1292 (1) K 960 (2)
196 (4) SB 191 (5)
133 (4) OPS+ 145 (1)
133 (4) wRC+ 143 (2)
30.2 (1) WPA 25.2 (2)

Looking at this, we again see Wright being the top player overall with most of the team records. However, when you dig into the numbers deeper, especially the advanced ones, an argument for Strawberry begins to emerge.

As we see with OPS+, Strawberry was the best hitter in team history. When you go into wRC+, John Olerud is ahead of him, but when you make the qualifier 2500 PA, Strawberry is again on top. Overall, in terms of Mets history, the top hitter is a three way race between Olerud, Piazza, and Strawberry. Ultimately, Strawberry comes out on top with Wright a step below that group.

However, this wasn’t about who was the best hitter. It was about who was the best player. Keep in mind, Wright has a 13.4 lead over Strawberry on that front. It should also be noted Wright spent an additional six more seasons in a Mets uniform than Strawberry.

When we look at it from a WAR/year perspective, Wright averaged a 3.5 WAR per season. That actually trails Strawberry who had a 4.6 WAR/year average. That’s more than a full win better than Wright.

Of course, with Wright’s career was cut short by spinal stenosis, and on that front some of his final years were far from complete seasons. For example, his 14th year was just three plate appearances. It makes little to no sense to make that as part of the equation here.

Still, when you drop the 14th year, Wright averages a 3.8 WAR, which is still lower than Strawberry. When you eliminate the 2015 and 2016 partial seasons, Wright has a 48.6 WAR over 11 seasons. That’s a 4.4 WAR per season, which is STILL lower than Strawberry.

Even with Wright having three of the top 10 seasons in Mets history, he still averaged a lower WAR than Strawberry. Part of the reason for that it, for of Wright’s first 11 seasons were below a 3.0 WAR, and Strawberry had just two such seasons. Also, Strawberry never had a WAR below 2.7 whereas Wright had three such seasons.

In addition to the average WAR argument, there are some other factors which should be considered. Strawberry was the first Mets position player to win Rookie of the Year. Strawberry was an All-Star in seven of his eight seasons as opposed to Wright who did it in seven of 14 (or 11). Of course, it should be noted All-Star selections are far from perfect.

What may ultimately tip the scales in Strawberry’s favor is the postseason.

In Strawberry’s postseason career with the Mets, he hit .250/.326/.461 with four doubles, four homers, and 12 RBI in 20 postseason games. Those four home runs were very noteworthy as well. In Game 4 of the NLCS, he hit a game tying three run homer off Bob Knepper. In Game 5 of that series, his homer off Nolan Ryan was not only just one of two Mets hits that day, but it also allowed the Mets to send the game into extras. His third postseason homer was a monster shot in Game 7 of the World Series.

In Wright’s postseason career, he was a .198/.311/.319 with five doubles, two homers, and 13 RBI in 24 games. Wright did have his big moments like the game winning hit in Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS and the first ever World Series homer hit in Citi Field. That said, Wright’s postseasons have mostly been disappointing.

When looking at the careers of both players, Strawberry was the best hitter in team history, and he had much bigger moments in the postseason. That is one of the reasons why he has a World Series ring with the Mets. Overall, he had a higher average WAR than Wright or any other Mets position player ever did.

On, Wright had the longer career amassing more records than Strawberry, and he was the better defender winning two Gold Gloves. He also had a much better Mets peak than Strawberry. Also, unlike Strawberry, he carried the burden and honor of being the Captain.

Ultimately, whichever Mets player you consider to be the best in team history is going to depend on a number of factors. It is about whether you prefer a higher peak or more consistent production. It is a matter of how much value you put on compiled stats against advanced stats. It is also a factor of how much you want to incorporate postseason success and leadership.

After taking this all into account, it is still very possible Wright is the best player in team history. However, it is far from a settled matter. Strawberry was better on a year-to-year basis, and he helped the Mets win a World Series. Regardless of which player you choose, it’s a much closer and tougher decision than previously believed.

2000 Game Recap: This Is The Mike Hampton The Mets Traded For

When the Mets sent Roger Cedeno and Octavio Dotel to the Houston Astros, they did so thinking they were getting an ace in return, the type of ace who could take this Mets team over the top and help them win the World Series. Over the first month of the season, Mike Hampton was definitively not that.

For the second straight start, Hampton has shown himself to be the ace the Mets hoped he would be. Part of being an ace is being a stopper who comes up with big time pitching performances when the team is struggling. Hampton did exactly that pitching a complete game against the Marlins. Really, he did it all.

After five-and-a-half scoreless innings, Hampton, who nearly hit a walk-off homer yesterday, dropped a perfect bunt down to start a one out rally. He would then score on Joe McEwing‘s RBI double.

It should be noted McEwing got the first crack at replacing Rickey Henderson batting lead-off and playing left. McEwing would look nothing like Henderson out there, which is to say, he played defense and hustled. For example, in the first, Hampton was in trouble allowing the first three batters batters to reach via single.

On the third single by Kevin Millar, McEwing charged hard and came up throwing. His aggressive defense led to the Marlins holding Mark Kotsay at third where he would stay after a Preston Wilson strike out and Derek Lee GIDP.

The Mets were up 1-0 after McEwing’s double, but they were not done there. On McEwing’s double, the throw from Danny Bautista got away allowing McEwing to go to third. Brad Penny would walk Derek Bell, and then on the second pitch of the at-bat to Edgardo Alfonzo, Bell stole second. That’s where you saw one of the most bizarre decisions you will ever see. Marlins manager John Boles ordered Alfonzo be intentionally walked in front of Mike Piazza.

No one is going to deny Alfonzo is clutch and a great hitter, but intentionally walked Alfonzo after a 2-0 count to face a future Hall of Famer is beyond a dubious decision. Piazza would make the Marlins pay for their disrespect by hitting a grand slam to give the Mets a 5-0 lead.

That was all the help Hampton needed.

The Marlins couldn’t get anything going against Hampton until the eighth. In fact, after the three singles in the first, the Marlins didn’t get another hit until the eighth inning. The Marlins again had three straight singles to start an inning only this time, the third single would drive home a run. Hampton then recovered by getting the next three outs and retiring six of the last seven batters he faced.

Suddenly, the Mets are back to a game over .500, and things look the way the team drew them up before the season . . . even if those plans no longer call for Henderson leading off and playing left.

Game Notes: The Mets have replaced Henderson on the roster with Mark Johnson. He is wearing John Olerud‘s old number 5.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

Mojo Rising Bracket: First Round Complete

The first round of the Mojo Rising Bracket is complete, and so far, this bracket had the clotsest match-up this far with Benny Agbayani knocking off Todd Hundley by ONE VOTE! With that, Agbayani joins Tommie Agee as the other 10 seed to knock off a seven seed. That means through the first round of three brackets, there have been just two upsets.

This next round will have Robin Ventura and John Olerud not only on opposite ends of the greatest defensive infield of all-time, but also seeing who can advance to the Sweet 16. Agbayani and Edgardo Alfonzo can also see who was the bigger hero in 2000.

In the final bracket, we will lead off tomorrow with David Wright against Jeff McNeil.

Mojo Rising Bracket: (4) John Olerud vs. (13) Lance Johnson

(5) John Olerud – Had the Keith Hernandez like effect where is acquisition was what helped turned the franchise around. His .354 batting average in 1998 is the Mets single season record, and his .315 career average is the best in Mets history. That 1998 season stands as the best season a Mets first baseman has ever had. Holds the Mets first and second best single season records for OBP and is Mets all-time OBP leader. By OPS+ second best hitter in Mets history. Name littered all over single season and career top 10 lists. Hit RBI single off John Rocker in Game 4 of NLCS. First baseman for greatest defensive infield in team history.

(13) Lance Johnson – Had the single greatest season a Mets lead-off hitter has ever had. In 1996, he posted what was then the second highest single-season WAR in Mets history. Now, it is fifth best, and it is still the best any Mets lead-off hitter has ever had. In that season, he set team single-season records for at-bats, runs, hits, total bases, triples, and singles. His hits, triples, and singles records still stand. Was having a similarly impressive 1997 season before being traded to the Cubs in a trade which netted the Mets, among others, Turk Wendell.

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Mojo Rising Bracket: (5) Robin Ventura vs. (12) Todd Zeile

(5) Robin Ventura – Forever known through baseball history for the Grand Slam Single. In his Mets career also became the first player to hit a grand slam in both ends of a doubleheader. Won a Gold Glove in 1999 and was a member of the best defensive infield in baseball history. In 1999, set a then Mets single season record for RBI in a season (surpassed by Mike Piazza in that same season). By WAR, top player on 1999 team which returned to postseason. His rain delay impersonation of Piazza is still one of the most popular rain delay bloopers.

(12) Todd Zeile – Played for 11 MLB teams in his career with the Mets being the only team he played for twice. Came to the Mets originally in 2000 as a replacement for John Olerud. Helped that Mets team win a pennant with a great postseason. By OPS was the Mets best hitter in that World Series and might’ve been remembered differently if the ball obeyed the rules of physics or Timo Perez ran it out. Was the player who spearheaded wearing the first responder caps post 9/11. Returned to Mets to be a post game analyst on SNY.

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