To a certain extent, it is surprising this isn’t Dave Kingman. After all, he was the first Mets player to have back-to-back 30 home run seasons. However, even with the home run power, Kingman wasn’t nearly as productive as people might’ve remembered. In fact, over his six year Mets career, he accumulated just a 3.0 WAR.
First baseman, Rico Brogna surpassed that mark despite having a Mets career half that than Kingman. Brogna left an impression during his brief tenure which included his being the first ever player to homer at Coors Field. Still, he wasn’t the best player to wear the number 26. That honor goes to Terry Leach.
Leach came to the Mets in one of those under the radar trades Frank Cashen would become famous for as he built that 1986 squad. His first big moment as a member of the Mets would come in the final week of the 1982 season. As the Mets were playing out the string of yet another 90 loss season, Leach would be phenomenal pitching a one hit shutout over 10.0 innings to earn the win.
Even after that great start, Leach would not appear in a game for the Mets again until 1985. Part of the reason for that is the Mets traded him to the Cubs who traded him to the Braves. Once the Braves released him in 1984, the Mets brought him back to the organization. In 1985 and 1986, Leach would be on the shuttle between Tidewater (the Mets then Triple-A affiliate) and New York.
While he had been an effective reliever in brief stints, Leach was going to turn 33 years old, and you wondered if he was ever really going to get an extended chance to establish himself as a Major Leaguer. In 1987, fate would intervene.
On the eve of the 1986 World Series, Dwight Gooden would be suspended for cocaine, and Rick Aguilera would suffer an injury. The Gooden suspension created room on the Major League roster, and the Aguilera injury opened up a spot in the rotation. Leach would step up and have one of the more remarkable and surprising stints for a Mets starter.
As a starting pitcher that year, he was 7-1 with a 3.51 ERA. During that stretch, he had some absolutely brilliant pitching performances. In his first start of the season, he outpitched Fernando Valenzuela. On June 27, he beat the Phillies after allowing two earned over eight. In his next start, he’d pitch his second career shut out against the Reds allowing just two hits.
Over his first seven starts, he was 5-0 with a 1.87 ERA. At that point, Leach was 8-0, and he would run his record to 10-0 by August 11. That 10-0 start to the season is still a Mets record to this day.
What was remarkable about Leach’s run is as good of a starter he was that year, he was an even better reliever. In his 32 relief appearances, he was 4-0 with a 2.84 ERA. Overall, he was 11-1 with a 3.22 ERA. His .917 winning percentage that year remains a Mets single-season record.
Leach’s 1987 season helped him secure a spot in the 1988 bullpen. Leach pitched very well that season going 7-2 with a 2.54 ERA and three saves. In the NLCS that year, Leach would make three appearances pitching five scoreless innings.
Unfortunately, Leach took a step back in 1989, and he would be traded to the Royals. Eventually, he would find his way to the Twins, where he was once again teammates with Aguilera on the 1991 World Series winning Minnesota Twins.
Overall, Leach was one of the more surprising stories in the course of Mets history, and it is remarkable a relative journeyman still owns a Mets single season record. That just speaks to how great he was in 1987. His second stint with the Mets was very effective, and it is a large reason why he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 26.
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
(1) Mike Piazza – greatest offensive catcher in Major League history who decided to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. Second player to have his number retired by the Mets. Hit a number of big homers for the franchise including one capping off the 10 run inning against the Braves and the one post 9/11. Mets all-time leader in slugging and second in OPS. All over the single season and career top 10 offensive categories. Took those late 90s Mets teams over the top. Caught final pitch at Shea Stadium and first pitch at Citi Field.
(16) Rico Brogna – Local kid Rico Suave was an instant fan favorite after a big 1995 season. In that season, he became the first ever player to homer at Coors Field. Had difficulty building off that very good 1995 season due to his suffering from ankylosing spondylitis. Would go on to become a national spokesperson for the disease. With Mets making efforts to reach out to alumni last year, he was one of the first players to return to Citi Field.
In an effort to make the All Star voting more enticing and draw interest to the game, Major League Baseball has changed the voting for this year. Essentially up until June 21, the fans get to vote like they always did. After that, there will be a “Starters Election.” The Staters Election has the fans vote for the starters from the now reduced list over a 28 hour window.
This is a change for its own sake, and it gets it partially right (more on that in a moment). Really, if Major League Baseball wants to get fans interested in the game, let the fans pick their own All Star. In this instance, their own All Star means the player they want to represent their favorite team.
Take the Marlins for example. Are any of their players really All Star worthy? Maybe Brian Anderson who has a 1.8 WAR this season. The problem there is Anderson is 10th among NL third baseman in WAR meaning if he’s selected a worthy player is going to be left off in his stead.
Now, that’s the way it is and will always be so long as every team is represented. If this is going to continue to be a fan spectacle, you do want to see every team represented. After all, even a team like the Marlins, who draw worse than some Triple-A teams, has fans, and you want them to tune in to watch. You want to see Anderson, or whoever their representative is play in the game.
But if you’re going to want to entice the Marlins fans to watch, why not let them pick who they want to watch. For them, it could be Anderson, Miguel Rojas, Caleb Smith, or whomever else it might be. If you boil it down, if you are keeping a representative for every team to keep fans engaged, let them pick their representative.
By doing so, you not only keep them engaged, but you also prevent them from seeing a player they don’t want to see in the game. For example, Mets fans saw Bobby Bonilla as their lone All-Star in 1993 and 1995 despite the fans likely wanting to see players like Dwight Gooden, Rico Brogna, or John Franco in the game. Remember, if you are trying to entice fans, you should entice them with players they want to see play.
That includes being able to vote for pitchers. There are logistical issues with pitchers being available to pitch in the game. However, that should not prevent fans from having their favorite players on the roster even if they cannot participate in the game.
Remember that this would create a pool of just 15 players on a 34 man roster. That’s just seven additional players. Certainly, you could accommodate this by adding six more roster spots if deemed necessary. After all, September rosters are 40. If a manager can handle 40 players in September, there’s no reason he cannot handle that in an exhibition game where managers try go get everyone into the game.
Really, when looking at it that way, there’s no real reason why fans couldn’t or even shouldn’t pick their own team’s representative. Let the Marlins pick their one guy. Mets fans seem to want to push for Pete Alonso. Let them see him in the game. Let Yankees fans send CC Sabathia for one last All Star appearance before his possible Hall of Fame career ends. Again, let fans see who they want to see who they want.
You can do a results show on MLB Network announcing those players. You can then do another show announcing the pool of elected players. Then, you can do the Staters Election Major League Baseball has implemented. Only this time, fans are picking from the actual All-Stars. Then, you can hold the results until the game.
You get fans tuning in a little earlier to find out exactly who the starters are because they won’t know until player introductions. If all done properly, you get more interest because fans are seeing who they actually want to see, and you get more people tuning in earlier in order to see the results. Ultimately, this is the best way to handle every team represented and creating the highest possible level of fan interest in the game.
Arguably, this was the most entertaining All Star Game in quite a while. It was not only a close game which went into extra innings, but we got to know more about some of the best players in the game. Certainly, miking Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Francisco Lindor made them much more likeable and did a great job of promoting the young superstar talent in the majors.
Still, given how the All Star Game has dropped drastically in terms of importance and how the ratings have been stagnant, there are ways to improve the game. Here are some suggestions from the Mets Bloggers:
Michael Baron (nym.news)
Get rid of it 🙂
Roger Cormier (Good Fundies)
They should find a way to show Brandon Nimmo on screen for 100 percent of the telecast. Nimmo watching himself watching the game, Nimmo petting a dog, Nimmo studying film. Any of those really, on the lower right hand corner of the screen.
Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)
The losers of that year’s All Star Game each pay a portion of the money Bobby Bonilla is owed that year.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
Get rid of interleague play.
That’s if you want to save the All Star Game as is. If not, then scrap the whole thing and just have a season break every four years and make it the World Baseball Classic Semifinals and Finals. If you want to do something the other three years, make it a similar international theme. MLB vs. Cuba.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
Give each league a 41-man roster. I was gonna say 40, but 41 will be a subliminal advertisement for the greatness of Seaver. All snubs will be solved up to the 42nd-most deserving NL and AL player. What’s a couple of more minutes of introductions? Those are the best parts of the whole affair.
Also, get rid of Joe Buck and don’t let Matt Vasgersian near the All-Star Game. Team a really good National League announcer with a really good American League announcer. I’d even accept a blending of the defending league champion crews, understanding we might get stuck with somebody from YES one future midsummer night.
If we are going to have every team represented in the All Star Game under the pretext that it generates fan enthusiasm for the event, let the fans pick their All Star.
As a Mets fan in 1995, I would have been much more interested in seeing Rico Brogna, Todd Hundley, or John Franco than seeing Bobby Bonilla, which was just further punishment for Mets fans. Seriously, let the fans pick who they want to see – pitchers included.
In addition to wanting to see fans pick their own All Star, I also want everyone visiting the site to read the All Star quality material produced by the people who participate in these roundtables.
With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, the organization has yet again went out and brought home a local boy to play for the hometown team. It is something we have seen from the organization throughout their history starting with Ed Kranepool, and it is a new focus we have seen with this organization with them drafting Long Islanders Steven Matz, Justin Dunn, and Anthony Kay.
With the Mets illustrious, and in the case of Bobby Bonilla, infamous hometown players coming home to play for the Mets, in a new feature on Mets Daddy, Mets bloggers have come together to answer the question about who is their favorite hometown Mets players:
Michael Baron (MLB.com)
While my father first introduced me to baseball with those 1980s team with Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, and Gary Carter, I have relatively few memories of those teams due to my young age. No, as luck would have it, my real fandom began just after those players departed the Mets. That left me with an era of Bobby Bonilla being the best player on a team that went from World Series champions to refusing to rebuild.
As a result, I have an attachment to a group of moments and Mets players that were part of a largely forgettable era in Mets history. I can spin tales of watching Mackey Sasser diving against the wall in right field. I can tell you about Pete Schourek‘s dazzling one hitter against the Montreal Expos. To me, Rico Brogna was a perennial All Star, and Todd Hundley was going to be one if they Mets would just stop playing Kelly Stinnett and Charlie O’Brien and his hockey mask over him.
Another important figure at that time was Anthony Young.
Here is what is lost in AY’s history. He was a pretty good pitcher. In fact, back in 1991, AY was regarded by Baseball America as the Mets top prospect. When AY made it to the the majors, he showed he was a major league caliber pitcher. He was never expected to be an ace, and there was some question whether he belonged in the rotation or in the bullpen, but overall, he belonged.
Taking a cursory look at his stats, he was largely forgettable. As a Mets pitcher, AY had a 3.82 ERA and a 1.367 WHIP. His ERA+ was 98 suggesting he was only slightly below average. However, we know that wasn’t the full story. It never is. Missing here is the fact that AY lost a record 27 decisions in a row.
The losing streak started with AY struggling. In three early May starts, he allowed five, four, and five earned runs. He escaped his next start without a loss despite allowing four runs over 5.1 innings. Fans started to get frustrated with him and boo. AY would be shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen.
The losing streak became a “thing” in June when he made four starts and one relief appearance taking a loss in all of the games. Now, he was at eight straight losses. When John Franco went down with an elbow injury, AY became the closer. When he saved a game against the Cubs in an extra-inning game, we all learned that recording a save did not interrupt a consecutive loss streak.
While in the bullpen, he blew five saves, and he would accumulate six more losses putting the streak at 14. Things didn’t improve to start the 1993 season. First in the bullpen and then the rotation, he lost game after game after game. There were rumors of players griping. At times, fans were frustrated as AY had become emblematic of the Mets of this era. While the talent was there, the team just wasn’t winning. It was getting hard to watch, and you wondered why the Mets kept throwing the same people out there expecting different results.
Somewhere during this stretch, AY moved from scapegoat to folk hero. Fans began to cheer for him almost willing him to break this streak. To a certain extent, AY deserved those cheers because he was not one to publicly complain about either his run support or the defense. He was not complaining about being shuffled between the rotation and the bullpen. He went out there and did his job.
Finally,on July 28th, an Eddie Murray walk-off double snapped AY’s 27 game losing streak putting his 1993 record at 1-13. Both AY and Shea Stadium was jubilant. The win put an end to an infamous streak that made a relatively pedestrian pitcher newsworthy.
Well, AY is back in the news again, and once again, it is for something beyond his control. AY was recently diagnosed an inoperable brain tumor that doctors, and in reality everybody, hopes is benign. At 51 years of age, AY, a man most known for his losing, cannot afford to take another loss. He’s too young. He’s a husband, father, grandfather, and a coach. At this moment, now more than ever, he needs a save or a win. At this stage, he’ll probably take whatever he can get.
At this point, Mets fans can only offer thoughts and prayers, to cheer him on like we all did when he was losing game after game. Now more than ever, AY needs you. I know I will be cheering for him just like I did him all those years ago.