Nolan Ryan

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

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 50 Sid Fernandez

Sid Fernandez, or as Mets fans came to know and love him, El Sid, had become a beloved left-handed pitcher who had a sneaky fastball which just seemed to rise after he released it. With that sneaky delivery, on any particular day, you could see a gem from him with fans hanging S from the rafters, and when those days came, it was pure magic.

For Fernandez, he had come to the Mets in 1984, and with so many promising young arms, he really had to prove himself. Prove himself he would, and better yet, he would have one of the most important outings in team history.

Fernandez didn’t make the Opening Day rotation out of the 1984 or 1985 seasons. However, when he got called up each season, he stuck, and he would prove he belonged. In 1984, he had a respectable 102 ERA+. In 1985, he would lead the league with a 9.5 K/9. Finally, in 1986, Fernandez would make the Opening Day rotation.

In that 1986 season, Fernandez was terrific matching Dwight Gooden with a team high 200 strikeouts. He would also be named an All-Star for the first time in his career. His best start of that season, and possibly his career was his July 11, 1986 start against the Braves. In that two-hit shut out, he would strike out nine batters.

While he had won a career high 16 games,  10+ strikeout games, shutouts, and was an All-Star, they all pale in comparison to what Fernandez did in the postseason.

After being a hard luck loser against the scuff-marking Mike Scott in Game 4 of the NLCS, Fernandez was moved to the bullpen in the World Series as Davey Johnson opted to go with just three starters. This led to Fernandez making three relief appearances in the World Series, which included a 2.1 inning stint in Game 7.

After the Mets epic comeback in Game 6, there was a rainout which allowed the Red Sox to turn to Bruce Hurst, who would’ve been the World Series MVP, instead of Oil Can Boyd. Making matters worse for the Mets, Ron Darling didn’t have it lasting just 3.2 innings with the Mets falling behind 3-0.

Fernandez entered with a runner on second and two outs. After walking Wade Boggs, he got Marty Barrett to fly out to end the inning. Fernandez completely subdued the Red Sox offense. In the bottom of the sixth, Lee Mazzilli pinch hit for him and would start the game tying rally. Ultimately, Fernandez earned a no decision, but more importantly, he would earn a World Series ring.

Fernandez would find himself an All-Star again in 1987. In making consecutive All-Star teams, he joined Gooden as the only multiple-time All Stars from that World Series rotation. Moreover, in terms of Mets history, Fernandez, Jerry Koosman, and Jon Matlack are the only left-handed Mets starters to make consecutive All-Star appearances. In his last All-Star appearance, Fernandez would earn the save.

Fernandez was again an important part of the Mets NL East winning club in 1988. During that season, Fernandez led the league in H/9 for the second time in his career. As a matter of fact, Fernandez has the third best career H/9 mark in Major League history trailing just Nolan Ryan, Clayton Kershaw, and Sandy Koufax. Sadly, he didn’t pitch well in his one start on over-extended rest, and the Mets lost that series in seven losing the NLCS for the first time in team history.

The 1989 season saw Fernandez have his second best season in a Mets uniform by ERA+ (115). That was despite his starting the season in the bullpen with the team due to the emergence of David Cone. Despite that, he was the best pitcher in the rotation leading the team in ERA+, strikeouts, wins, and winning percentage. He’d also have one of the best starts of his career ruined. His 16 strikeout effort went up in flames as Lonnie Smith hit a walk-off homer. Speaking of homers, never a slouch at the plate, Fernandez would hit his first and only career homer.

From there, the Mets great run was nearing its end, and Fernandez was starting to have some injuries pile up. He would deal with a broken wrist and some knee issues. While the Worst Team Money Could Buy was an epic disappointment, Fernandez was one of the few who did his job well. In that 1992 season, he was the best pitcher on the team with a 129 ERA+ going 14-11 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.067 WHIP, and an 8.1 K/9.

His Mets career was over after the 1993 season, a season where he suffered another knee injury. In total, he was the sixth ever Mets pitcher by WAR with the fifth most wins in team history falling two short of 100. He is also ranked third in WHIP and second in H/9 (again trailing Ryan).

He rates well in terms of strikeouts with the eighth best K/9 and the fourth most strikeouts. Really, Fernandez is all over the Mets all-time leaderboards including having the ninth best WPA. Through it all, Fernandez is certainly one of the best starters in team history, one of the most important, and very clearly, the best Mets player to ever wear the number 50.

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

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 44 David Cone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

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

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

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

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 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

 

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.

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

(4) Bud Harrelson vs. (13) Nolan Ryan

(4) Bud Harrelson – First Mets player to ever inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. Two time All-Star and first infielder to ever win a Gold Glove. Started a brawl with Pete Rose during the 1973 NLCS. Only person on the field for both the 1969 and 1986 World Series.

(13) Nolan Ryan – First and only Hall of Fame player drafted by the Mets organization to debut with the team. Earned a win in the 1969 NLCS clinching game and a save in Game 3 of the World Series. Best known not for his time pitching with the Mets but rather for the trade which netted the Mets Jim Fregosi.

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Best Mets Of All Time: No. 4 Lenny Dykstra

The number four has had a number of folk heroes and fan favorites in Mets history. The first was Ron Swoboda with his diving catch catch robbing Brooks Robinson of a hit in the 1969 World Series. There was Rusty Staub who gallantly fought while injured for the 1973 Mets.

Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam single, and Wilmer Flores has more walk-off hits than anyone in Mets history. Even with all of these Mets greats, when it comes to the number four, Lenny Dykstra was the best player to ever wear the number.

While he was first called-up in 1985, Dykstra would first establish that as the case during the 1986 season. In that season, Dykstra was pressed into action as an everyday player when Mookie Wilson suffered a Spring Training injury. We would soon find out that not only was Dykstra up to the task, but he would emerge as the Mets second best position player that season (by WAR).

It was more than his numbers. He presented a fire and grit for this Mets team (not that they needed it), and we would see exactly why he had the nickname Nails. Of all the special things Dykstra had done that year, he would save his best work for the postseason – something that would become the hallmark of his career.

In Game 3 of the NLCS against the Houston Astros, the Mets were facing going down 2-1 in the series with Mike Scott slated to start Game 4 and Nolan Ryan in Game 5, the 108 win Mets team was in real trouble. They could not lose this game. Ultimately, they wouldn’t as Dykstra would become the first ever Mets player to hit a walk-off homer in Mets postseason history:

Overall, Dykstra would hit .304/.360/.565 with a double, triple, homer, and three RBI. In a series where the Mets offense really struggled against the Astros pitching, especially the top of their rotation, it was Dykstra who helped keep the Mets afloat for their late inning miracle rallies. Really, next to the pitchers, Dykstra was unarguably the best player for either team in the series, and to some extent, he deserved the MVP award.

Just like he did in Game 3 against the Astros, Dykstra again game up huge in Game 3 of the World Series. After that emotional NLCS, they found themselves down 2-0 heading to Fenway. The Mets were in deep trouble. However, Dykstra would revitalize that Mets team leading off the game with a home run off Oil Can Boyd:

To some extent, that moment would be somewhat tainted by allegations Ron Darling made towards Dykstra. Overall, the off-the-field stuff during his career (steroids) and after his career, marred Dykstra. However, when he played, he was a terrific player who always came up big in big moments.

Again, in the 1986 World Series, Dykstra was terrific hitting .296/.345/.519. From there, he would find himself splitting time with Wilson with the Mets obtaining Kevin McReynolds in an offseason trade with the San Diego Padres. When Dykstra got to play, he was a very good player on the field.

He would again be great in the postseason. In a losing effort, Dykstra was phenomenal hitting .429/.600/.857 with three doubles, a homer, and three RBI. Just like two years prior, pitchers aside, Dysktra was very clearly the best position player on the field.

Seeing how he played in that series and in his Mets career, it is a wonder to everyone as to exactly why Dykstra would be traded during the ensuing season to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel. There are not enough ways to describe just how epic a blunder this was for the Mets. This was a franchise altering decision for the Mets and Phillies.

Ultimately, the one thing you can always say about Dykstra was the Mets were always better with him. He was always prepared for the biggest moments on the biggest stage in the biggest city in the world. While he was far from a perfect person, he was the perfect player to play in New York, and if not for him, it is likely we are talking about the Mets only having won one World Series in their history.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Granderson was the third best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 3.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson

Sympathy For Astros Fans

To a certain extent, the New York Mets and Houston Astros are tied together. Their respective stories began in 1962 when both teams broke through as expansion teams. Up until a point they had some parallels in their history.

In 1969, while Tom Seaver and the Mets we’re making a miracle run in Flushing, the Astros were surprisingly game. They got as close as 2.0 games back in late August before fizzling. Like the Mets, 1969 would be the first year the Astros didn’t have a losing record or a 90 loss season for that matter.

The Mets next World Series run would come in 1986, and they’d have to go through Houston to do it. Interestingly enough, that Astros team would have two former Mets maddening young hurlers, Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott, standing in their way.

When the Wild Card Era was ushered in, the story of the two teams diverged, and their tenuous link splintered. If that splintered it, the Astros move to the AL almost fractured it.

Still, there were some links through the years. Mike Hampton was the 2000 NLCS MVP. There was falling short of the pennant due to Albert Pujols led Cardinals teams ripping your heart out. There was also Carlos Beltran.

Beltran was a future Hall of Famer who played for both franchises. Initially, he fell short of going to the World Series with both teams losing in seven games to the Cardinals. Jeff Suppan was the Game 7 starter in both series.

Finally, Beltran broke through and won the World Series with the 2017 Astros. With that, his return proved fortuitous. The Mets were hoping they’d have a similar experience when they hired him to succeed Mickey Callaway as their manager. That isn’t going to happen.

With the release of MLB’s findings on the Astros sign stealing scandal, the Mets fired Beltran, and the Astros are dealing with the knowledge their World Series title is now tainted.

For Mets fans, we have to accept the role Beltran played. More than that, we know the ties between the Mets and Beltran are probably forever severed, and his Hall of Fame inevitability is now in question. To put it succinctly, we have to deal with the fall of an all-time Mets great.

It’s worse for Astros fans. MUCH worse.

Those fans had to wait 55 years for a World Series. They finally got one, and it was all the sweeter because of home-grown and back-then very well regarded players like Jose Altuve and George Springer.

This is a complete and utter nightmare for any fanbase, and the Astros fans are left to somehow process something which brought them so much joy. This is a sport and team they love, and this was a championship they waited a lifetime to see.

This is likely why we’ll see lashing out and rationalizing of what their team did. That doesn’t make them remotely unique.

Look at Yankees fans glossing over Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and other players. The Red Sox do the same with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. There are others, but this also shows whether you’ve won 27 times or had to wait 86 years, your fans are going to be protective of those titles and players.

The same is going to be the case with the Astros. Don’t blame them. This is the circumstance they were put in by their favorite team.

They’re left rationalizing and trying to hold onto their only title. That’s the absolute worst position to be in as a fan. As a fanbase, they deserve our sympathy. Of course, it’s difficult to give them that if they choose to be obnoxious about it.

Still, no one wants to be in their shoes, and the fans of the other 29 teams should be happy they’re not them. They should also hope to the extent the Astros weren’t the only ones doing it, their team isn’t found out thereby leaving them to have to do the same rationalizing.

With Second Cy Young, Jacob deGrom Looking Like a Hall of Famer

The entire list of pitchers in Major League history who have won a Rookie of the Year award and two Cy Young Awards are Tom Seaver, Jacob deGrom, and Justin Verlander. That’s the entire list, and of the three deGrom is the only pitcher in Major League history to win a Rookie of the Year and consecutive Cy Young Awards.

On the topic of consecutive Cy Young Awards, that is a feat which has been accomplished by just 11 pitchers. Of those 10, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton, Pedro Martinez, and Jim Palmer are in the Hall of Fame. Roger Clemens likely would’ve been but for the steroids implications, and we reasonably expect Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer to be inducted when they are eligible.

Ultimately, that means seven of the 11 pitchers who have accomplished this feat are in the Hall of Fame. Looking forward, the question is whether deGrom can be the eighth.

When looking at deGrom’s Hall of Fame chances, the biggest obstacle at the moment is his not having made his Major League debut until his age 26 season. As noted by Beyond the Box Score, Old Hoss Radbourn, Mordecai Brown, Joe McGinnity, and Hoyt Wilhelm are the only four pitchers who debuted in or after their age 26 season inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Of those four three of them were starting pitchers.

Looking at the aforementioned three older starting pitchers, they averaged a 54.4 JAWS and a 58.9 WAR7. Even if deGrom were to repeat his 10.1 WAR from 2018, his subsequent 45.0 JAWS/WAR7 would fall short of the mean. However, it would put him in line with Brown.

But that is an important point. The one thing to take a look at is deGrom has only pitched six years in the majors. Even with his hitting the 200 inning mark in each of the past three years, he doesn’t have much mileage on his arm. This has him in the prime of his career with an opportunity to build off of these past two years.

Essentially, what deGrom needs to do is repeat the success Max Scherzer has had.

Entering his age 32 season Scherzer had accumulated a 37.0 WAR in 10 years. Over that time frame, he had two Cy Young awards with two other top five finishes. In the ensuing three years, Scherzer had accumulated a 21.7 WAR with another Cy Young and two more top three Cy Young finishes. At this moment in time, Scherzer is rightfully seen as a future Hall of Famer.

Assuming for a moment, deGrom has similar success over the next three years, he would have a 56.6 career WAR. That number would definitively put him in the conversation with the aforementioned starters, and it would start putting him in the larger conversation as well with his approaching his opt out year in his contract.

If deGrom does pitch that way, he is going to earn another Cy Young award. Winning that award would be of vital importance. While Denny McLain and Tim Lincecum have not and will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Clemens remains the only pitcher with more than three Cy Youngs not in the Hall of Fame, and again, we know there are extenuating circumstances there.

Now, we know the Hall of Fame is not just a WAR exercise. When looking at any position, especially pitcher, we need to dig a little deeper. When doing that, right now, deGrom’s case looks great.

So far, deGrom has the fifth best ERA+ in baseball history putting him ahead of pitchers like Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. His K/9 is 15th best ahead of hurlers like Pedro Martinez and Nolan Ryan. It’s not his strikeout rate, but his control which stands out. His 4.72 K/BB is eighth best in Major League history putting him ahead of pitchers like Greg Maddux and Roy Halladay.

His 1.053 WHIP ranks ninth bettering the career marks of pitchers like Sandy Koufax and Tom Glavine. His 2.78 FIP is better than the career marks of Cy Young and Bob Gibson.

As you break it down, deGrom stands right there among all the greats, and he has the awards to prove it. He also has the postseason success. When looking at deGrom, we are seeing a Hall of Fame career. All deGrom has to do from this point forward is stay healthy and maintain his greatness.

Whether he can do it is anyone’s guess. Whether he gets there or not, it is going to be fun watching him prove his greatness every fifth day in a New York Mets uniform.