Pedro Martinez

Citi Bracket: (6) Noah Syndergaard vs. (11) Pete Alonso

(6) Noah Syndergaard – As a rookie helped Mets win 2015 pennant. Pitched perfect inning in Game 5 of NLDS, won Game 2 of NLCS, and told the Royals he was 60’6″ away. First pitcher to win a World Series game at Citi Field. Was so great during his first year, he had Pedro Martinez screaming “THOR!” in honor of him. Beat the Royals again in the second game of the 2016 season featuring a nearly unhittable slider. Had two home run game against the Dodgers. Threw at Chase Utley. One of the few reasons Mets were able to claim top Wild Card spot in 2016 and out-pitched Madison Bumgarner for seven innings. Despite subsequent injuries remains in the top 10 in FIP among MLB pitchers. Fourth best Mets starter of all-time by FIP. Has had exceptional control with second best K/9 in team history and fourth best K/BB.

(11) Pete Alonso – Had rookie season so great people are already envisioning him as the next captain of the Mets. Near unanimous NL Rookie of the Year. Set Mets and MLB rookie record for homers. Also set Mets single-season record for total bases and extra base hits. Won the 2019 Home Run Derby and provided portion of winnings to charity. When MLB once again denied the Mets request to wear the first resopnders’ caps, he took it upon himself to get cleats honoring the first responders.

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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

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 34 Noah Syndergaard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 32 Jon Matlack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 31 Mike Piazza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous

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

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

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

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

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

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

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto

Dwight Gooden’s Rookie Year Was Best In Mets History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Wilpon Wants Player Salaries Cut Before Playing Fanless Games

As reported on CNN, New York Governor and noted Mets fan Andrew Cuomo called Jeff Wilpon to tell him people need baseball. That much is evident from seeing the fan enthusiasm at Gary, Keith, and Ron calling a simulated game.

For public safety reasons, Governor Cuomo said these games may need to be played in empty ballparks. Wilpon was having none of that saying playing games without fans would require player salaries be cut to offset the lack of attendance.

In response of a global pandemic, Wilpon is using this as an opportunity to cut player salaries. This is the same person who reportedly torpedoed a $2+ billion deal with Steve Cohen so he can play GM.

This is also the same person behind firing an unwed pregnant woman, tried to stop Carlos Beltran from having career saving surgery, altered Pedro Martinez‘s career by forcing him to pitch through an injury to get a gate, and other untold despicable decisions.

For some of us, COVID19 is emotionally, physically, and financially crippling. Many of us are desperate for any sense of normalcy, for any distraction. For our collective mental health, we need baseball to return as soon as it is safe for players to play.

As far as Wilpon is concerned, that doesn’t matter. The man purportedly not paying ballpark or SNY employees desperate for a paycheck is going to ask players to cut their guaranteed salaries to permit them to play and to help the country get through this pandemic.

Obviously, Wilpon purposefully misheard John F. Kennedy said as, “Ask not what you’re country can do for you, ask what your players can do for their country.”

Mets All-Time Fan Favorite Tournament

The New York Mets have been around since 1962, and in that time, they have two players in the Hall of Fame, three players with retired numbers, 31 people in the Mets Hall of Fame, and a whole host of other beloved players. The question is who exactly is the most beloved player?

Does Tom Seaver still have cache in 2020? Did Mike Piazza or David Wright surpass him? Does Keith Hernandez‘s work in the booth  as well as his play on the field make him the one Mets player who has reached across all generations?

We really don’t know the answer to that and a whole host of other related questions. To that end, with there being no baseball, this site has set up a field of 64 akin to the NCAA Tournament. The field has been sectioned off in roughly 14 year increments to cover different eras of Mets baseball with each particular era having at least one Mets team who has won a pennant.

There were some tough choices to be made in selecting this field. The field was done using different offensive and pitching metrics, and it was done in consultation with Mets fans. On that note, special thanks are do to Joe D, Michael Mayer, Greg Prince, Tim Ryder, James Schapiro, and Bre S.

There were some tough decisions, and unfortunately, players like Ed Charles, Art Shamsky, Dave Kingman, John Stearns, Randy Myers, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, and Zack Wheeler did not make the list. It is regrettable, but the cuts had to be made somewhere to make this a more manageable field of 64.

The plan is to have polls open each day with a blurb on the match-up on this site with the ability to vote both on this site and on Twitter. The results of both will be combined, so if you are truly interested, you will be able to vote in both places. While not perfect, this is somewhat akin to the All-Star Game which to some degree is voting for fan favorites.

May your favorite player win, and Let’s Go Mets!

Ron Swoboda Rusty Staub Tug McGraw Ed Kranepool Felix Millan Bud Harrelson Nolan Ryan Jerry Grote Ron Hunt Cleon Jones Donn Clendenon Jon Matlack Tommie Agee Jerry Koosman Gary Gentry Tim Teufel Ron Darling Lenny Dykstra Mookie Wilson Sid Fernandez Gary Carter David Cone Howard Johnson Lee Mazzilli Darryl Strawberry Ray Knight Jesse Orosco Bob Ojeda Dwight Gooden Wally Backman Rico Brogna Rick Reed Bernard Gilkey Robin Ventura Todd Zeile John Olerud Lance Johnson John Franco Turk Wendell Al Leiter Bobby Jones Todd Hundley Benny Agbayani Edgardo Alfonzo Armando Benitez Jeff McNeil Michael Conforto Daniel Murphy Johan Santana Matt Harvey Jose Reyes Wilmer Flores Noah Syndergaard Brandon Nimmo Carlos Beltran Pete Alonso Curtis Granderson Yoenis Cespedes Jacob deGrom R.A. Dickey

Simulated Recap: Shades Of 2005

Fifteen years ago, Mets fans were psyched for a season where Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran joined a team which already had Mike Piazza, Jose Reyes, and David Wright. On Opening Day, the Mets bullpen, namely Braden Looper, blew the game setting the stage for an 0-5 start. Based on the MLB The Show 20 simulations, we’re revisiting that season.

In the fourth, Rhys Hoskins would hit the first of two homers. That one homer off Michael Wacha was all the margin the Phillies needed as Aaron Nola completely shut down the Mets offense.

After this 3-0 loss, video game Luis Rojas has started his managerial career 0-5. That’s just like Willie Randolph. Of course, that Mets team would still finish the year above .500, and it would be a stepping stone to the last great Mets team in Shea Stadium the following year.

Any Mets fan would take this Mets team building towards being one at-bat from a World Series. Mostly, they’ll take any baseball whatsoever.

Mets Problematic Tommy John History

The concern with Noah Syndergaard having Tommy John surgery isn’t just his being gone for the 2020 season and a significant portion of the 2021 season. The larger problem from a Mets perspective is this team has not had the best history with Tommy John surgeries and rehabilitation.

Jeremy Hefner

The Mets don’t have to look any further than their pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. Back in 2013, he was putting together a promising campaign when it was discovered he had a torn UCL. During his rehab from Tommy John, things were not going well, and it was discovered he would need to undergo a second surgery. He would only pitch one season in the minors after that before retiring.

Matt Harvey

Hefner was rehabbing at the same time as Matt Harvey. When it was discovered Hefner needed the second surgery, the Mets had eased the throttle off of Harvey who was pushing to pitch in 2014. In 2015, despite agreements on his innings limit, the Mets reneged and pushed him to pitch, and Harvey would throw more innings than anyone in the history of baseball after their Tommy John surgery.

In 2016, he was just not good with everyone trying to figure out what was  wrong with him. It took a while to discover he had Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Despite noticeable muscle atrophy, the Mets pitched him in 2017 leading to a stress reaction. Really, that was all but it for him as a Met and possibly his career. The big unknown is how the Mets handling of him affected his shoulder and/or aggravated or caused the TOS.

Bobby Parnell

Harvey would not be the only Mets pitcher to return in 2015 from Tommy John. The other notable pitcher to return was Bobby Parnell. After discovering a torn UCL the day after the 2014 Opening Day, Parnell underwent the surgery. A year later, a Mets team hoping to stay in the pennant race activated him well before the end of the 18 month rehabilitation period. Parnell didn’t have his fastball, and his command was shot. By the middle of August, he had pitched to a 6.38 ERA before being put on the DL with arm fatigue. He’d only pitch 5.1 Major League innings after this season.

Zack Wheeler

While Parnell was someone whose injury was discovered a day into the 2014 season, Zack Wheeler‘s torn UCL was discovered on the eve of the 2015 season. Wheeler had surgery, and he was slated to return in the middle of the 2016 season to help the Mets return to the postseason. During his rehab, he’d have issues with his stitches, and he would suffer a flexor strain when he was finally able to step on a mound again.

He wasn’t able to step onto a Major League mound again until April 2017, and he would have to be shut down that season due to a stress reaction in his right arm. Really, Wheeler wasn’t right until the 2018 season, which was three years after the first surgery.

Steven Matz

A Mets pitcher having this level of difficulty in their Tommy John rehab is not anything new. In fact, that was exactly the case with Steven Matz when he was in the minor leagues. After being drafted in 2009, it was discovered he had a torn UCL, and he needed to have Tommy John surgery.

Matz really struggled with the rehabilitation, and there was a significant amount of scar tissue. At one point, they were concerned he was going to need a second Tommy John surgery. The advice was to just pitch through it. Matz would do just that finally making his professional debut in 2012. His Tommy John issues would not re-emerge until 2017 when he needed ulnar nerve transposition surgery.

Jacob deGrom

When Matz underwent the surgery, he joined reliever Erik Goeddel and ace Jacob deGrom in having the surgery. With respect to Goeddel, he had Tommy John when he was in high school well before he was a member of the Mets organization. However, with respect to deGrom, he had his surgery and rehab as a member of the Mets organization.

With deGrom, he had seemingly appeared to be the one Mets pitcher who had a normal Tommy John surgery and rehabilitation. Yes, there were difficult times when he told Frank Viola he wanted to quit, but that was part of the normally grueling rehabilitation process and return. Ultimately, deGrom would become a Rookie of the Year winner, and he would introduce himself to the world with an incredible All-Star Game appearance and a postseason for the ages.

As noted with Harvey and Wheeler, Mets pitchers were dropping like flies in 2016. In addition to Harvey and Wheeler, Matz went down with a massive bone spur. It was then discovered during a pennant race, deGrom needed the ulnar transposition surgery. As we have seen, the surgery went well, and after a pedestrian 2018 season (by his standards), he has returned to be the best pitcher in baseball.

Keep in mind, the Mets checkered Tommy John history isn’t just recent. Jason Isringhausen would have the first of his three Tommy John surgeries with the Mets. Looking back at Generation K, he, Paul Wilson, and Bill Pulsipher would all have arm issues leading to them never pitching in the same rotation.

Position Players

The Mets haven’t had Tommy John issues with pitchers only. T.J. Rivera underwent the surgery in 2017, and he attempted to return too soon struggling in 22 at-bats. The Mets would release him, and he would play in the Atlantic Leagues for the Long Island Ducks before landing a minor league deal with the Philadephia Phillies. We will see if he can return.

Last year, we saw the Mets botch the handling of Travis d’Arnaud. Even with the team playing well with a tandem of Wilson Ramos and Tomas Nido, the team rushed d’Arnaud back to the majors before one full year of rehabilitation. He would have one of the worst games you would ever see a catcher have leading to the Mets rage cutting him.

He would first land with the Dodgers and then the Rays. Notably, he didn’t start really playing well until July, which was roughly 15 months after the surgery, which is much closer to the recommended 18 months.

This is not an extensive history, but it is a good snapshot of the struggles the Mets have had dealing with Tommy John surgeries. Perhaps, it is of no coinidence much of this has coincided with the Wilpon taking over majority control of the Mets, and as Pedro Martinez and others have noted, Jeff Wilpon’s interference with medical decision making has been a real issue.

Seeing the Tommy John problems the Mets have had, we get a better sense of why Seth Lugo was so unwilling to go through the process, and we see some of the dangers which may very well face Syndergaard as he attempts to return from the surgery before hitting free agency.