Michael Conforto

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

Simulated Recap: Braves Trounce Mets

This was not the Mets day. It was 6-0 before the Mets scored a run, and the Braves scored in five of eight innings in their 13-2 drubbing of the Mets.

Rick Porcello took the loss after allowing six runs over 3.2 innings. Michael Conforto knocked in the Mets only two runs with a sixth inning two run homer.

Simulated Recap: Matz Beats Braves

Yesterday, the Mets needed a ninth inning rally to beat the Braves. Today, things were not nearly as dramatic as Michael Conforto‘s RBI ground out in the second gave the Mets a 2-1 lead and the lead for good.

That lead grew to 3-1 on a Yoenis Cespedes RBI double. Pete Alonso homered in the first, and Wilson Ramos homered in the eighth in the Mets 4-1 win.

Steven Matz picked up the win after limiting the Braves to one run over six. Edwin Diaz earned the save.

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

 

Simulated Recap: Mets Waste Big Effort From Conforto

Rick Porcello allowed five runs over five innings, and the Mets never could quite catch up to the Diamondbacks.

In the loss, Michael Conforto had a big game going 4-for-5 with a double and an RBI.

The Mets other runs came off of back-to-back bases loaded walls to Porcello and Jeff McNeil.

The Mets had a chance in the ninth with runners at the corners and one out, but they couldn’t get another run across. As a result, the Mets lost 5-3.

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

 

Simulated Recap: Conforto Homers

Yesterday, the Mets could only muster a run against the Pirates. When Michael Conforto hit a two run homer in the first, the Mets surpassed that total. They also provided Steven Matz with more than enough run support.

Matz picked up the win after allowing just one run over 5.2 innings.

Wilson Ramos also homered. Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, and Jeff McNeil also delivered runs in the Mets 6-1 win.

Citi Bracket: (8) Michael Conforto vs. (9) Daniel Murphy

(8) Michael Conforto – Already ranked in the top seven in WAR among Mets outfielders. Has willingly played all three outfield positions to help the team and has been much better than advertised at all three positions. Barely played in Double-A before getting called up in 2015 to help save that season. Hit three postseason homers including two in Game 4 of the World Series. Had great All-Star season in 2017. Has rebounded from shoulder injury to have a very good 2019 where he has emerged as a team leader. Ranked in the top 10 in Mets history in SLG, OPS, and OPS+.

(9) Daniel Murphy – Burst onto the scene in 2008 to help push the Mets into contention. Career as a clutch hitter began there. Had streak of 27 consecutive steals which was second best stretch in team history. Overcame all comers to establish himself as the team’s second baseman. Led team in homers in first season in Citi Field. Was an All-Star in 2014, the same season he missed Opening Day to attend the birth of his child. Had perhaps the greatest postseason in Major League history setting a Major League record by homering in six straight postseason games. Joined Lou Gehrig as the only players to have a hit, run, and RBI in seven consecutive postseason games. Mets lose the NLDS without him having perhaps the greatest game any Mets position player ever has. Only one of three Mets players to be named NLCS MVP. Seventh best batting average in team history with the third most doubles.

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