In a shock to everyone, the New York Mets announced they were going to retire Jerry Koosman‘s number 36. Previously, as was the case with Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, the Mets standard for retiring a player’s name was their induction into the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. Now that the standards have officially been lowered, there are a number of other Mets who deserve consideration for the same honor as Seaver, Piazza, and Koosman.
#5 David Wright
Wright is the Mets all-time leader in WAR among position players, and he has set team records in at-bats, plate appearances, run scored, hits, total bases, doubles, walks, RBI, and a number of other categories. He was a consummate professional, a real face of the franchise, and a player who stuck around even when the team was rebuilding.
If not for injuries, Wright would have been a Hall of Famer. He is one of the most, if not the most, beloved Mets to put on the uniform, and he is only one of four captains in team history.
#8 Gary Carter
Under the previous standard, Carter’s number would have been retired had the Hall of Fame not forced him to go in as a Montreal Expos player instead of as a Mets player as he had wanted. Of course, lost in the Hall of Fame’s decision was one of the reasons Carter was even inducted into the Hall of Fame was his time with the Mets.
Carter proved to be the missing piece which would push the Mets over the top in 1986. Speaking of 1986, he was the guy who got the two out single against Calvin Schiraldi to get that rally started. His contributions in that series were much more than that as he led all players in homers and RBI.
Carter was also noted by several of the Mets pitchers as being what helped put that pitching staff over the top. Dwight Gooden said of him, “I relied on Gary for everything when I was on the mound.” Ron Darling said, “With all the sabermetric numbers that we use today, when Gary came over, he brought his own National League computer with him — it was his brain.” (ESPN).
With Carter, the Mets had their greatest run in franchise history, and he was a leader on that team. He was the second captain in team history, and he is one of the most important players who ever put on the Mets uniform.
#15 Carlos Beltran
The people largely against this are fixated on that strikeout, but what those people overlook is the Mets are nowhere near that position if Beltran doesn’t have what could be the greatest season a Mets position player has ever had. That includes his hitting .296/.387/.667 in that sereis. That year and during his Mets career Beltran played like the Hall of Famer he will officially be once he is eligible.
Beltran is the greatest center fielder in team history, and he was a true five tool player winning three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers while being a member of the Mets. That was part of him being named an All-Star in five of his seven years in Queens.
When you break it all down, Beltran is a Hall of Famer who had his best years with the Mets, and everything being equal, he would wear a Mets cap on his plaque.
#17 Keith Hernandez
While Carter was largely viewed as the player who put the Mets over the top, Hernandez was seen as the player who taught a young talented Mets team how to win. Of course, lost in that narrative was how Hernandez was a driving force in helping those Mets teams win.
In his seven years with the Mets, he had seven Gold Gloves, which is the most in team history. He was more than his glove having a the third best OBP, fifth best OPS+, and 10th most RBI in team history.
He was a fiery leader who famously warned Jesse Orosco to not throw another fastball to Kevin Bass. Of course, his leadership was much more than that, which is one of the reasons why he was the first ever player to be named captain.
Of course, we cannot discuss Hernandez without acknowledging his work in the booth. His color commentary has made him an even more beloved Met. If his playing career wasn’t sufficient, certainly his being a vital part of “GKR” puts him over the top.
#45 John Franco
Franco is the greatest closer in Mets history. He has the most appearances and saves in Mets history. In fact, his 424 career saves ranks as the most saves ever by a left-handed reliever. While he played for a number of bad Mets teams, he would come up big many times when the Mets needed him most.
He has a 1.88 postseason ERA for the Mets. Included in that was his striking out Barry Bonds, and his getting the win in Game 3 of the 2000 World Series. As big as those moments were, it is possible his biggest moment was his getting the win the first game back after 9/11 wearing an FDNY cap honoring his friends who died that day.
It should also be noted Franco was a rare closer who was also a team leader. He famously not only surrendered his 31 for Piazza, he would also make sure to make him feel welcome in New York. That was certainly a factor in Piazza staying. It was also a reason Franco was named the third captain in team history.
With respect to Franco, it should be noted his predominantly wearing 31 could mean the team could retire that number in his honor as well. The team also has the option of retiring 45 in both his and Tug McGraw‘s honor. The same tactic can be used for number 5 with Davey Johnson also arguably deserving the honor for arguably being the best manager in team history.
Beyond this group of five players, there are certainly more players who could be argued with everyone having their favorite players and other players having had a significant impact on the team and its history. Of course, it should be noted this list includes players who are no longer playing. If we were to expand it, we would have to also include Jacob deGrom on this list.
The one thing we know is the next player who will have his number retired is Koosman. It is an honor befitting one of the greatest Mets in team history, and it should lead to more emotional days at Citi Field honoring Mets greats.
This was the typical Jacob deGrom start in that he was great, and he got little to no help from his offense.
deGrom would only struggle in the third. In that inning, he loaded the bases with one out. That was partially the result of his struggling with his command walking two batters. Unlike last night in his at-bat against Seth Lugo, Jose Abreu took advantage hitting a sacrifice fly giving the White Sox a 1-0 lead.
From there, deGrom would retire nine straight and 12 of the last 14 he faced. In total, he pitched seven innings allowing in run on five hits while walking two and striking out 11. Being this is deGrom, he would get the no decision for this typically great deGrom effort.
One of the reasons why was Lucas Giolito was arguably better on the night. The Mets wouldn’t get a runner into scoring position against him until Todd Frazier hit a leadoff double in the fifth. Giolito responded by getting the next three in a row to strand Frazier there.
Giolito did not have the same luck on the sixth after issuing a leadoff walk to Michael Conforto. After striking out Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano singled putting runners at the corners. Wilson Ramos hit a slow chopper to third, and Conforto broke home on the contact play. Conforto was safe on a nifty slide tying the game at 1-1.
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 1, 2019
J.D. Davis had a chance to give the Mets a lead, but because this isn’t Citi Field, he hit into an inning ending double play.
Giolito settled back in, and he shut down the Mets allowing just the one run on three hits with three walks and nine strikeouts over 7.0 innings.
This became a battle of the bullpens, and Justin Wilson somehow got through the eighth unscathed. With runners at first and second and two outs, Jon Jay hit the ball up the middle. On the play, it was very difficult to see if Cano was going to get to it. It didn’t matter as the ball hit second base umpire Stew Scheurwater. That meant instead of a potential go-ahead RBI, it was an infield single and a dead ball.
As Gary Cohen was contemplating if you should bring in the warming Jeurys Familia, Ron Darling was rather forceful in saying Mickey Callaway should stick with Wilson. Callaway stuck with Wilson, and he got out of the jam getting Tim Anderson to ground out.
Against White Sox closer Alex Colome, Ramos would lead off with a grounder twice booted by Anderson. After Davis singled up the middle, Aaron Altherr pinch ran for Ramos. It proved to be the right decision as he scored easily on a Todd Frazier RBI single. It’s very likely Ramos was not sent or would be thrown out if he remained in the game.
The Mets had a chance to add-on with the bases loaded, and for a moment it looked like they’d squander the chance when Jeff McNeil struck out. It was not his night going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. While it wasn’t his night, it was Conforto’s hitting a two out two run single expanding the Mets lead to 4-1.
That left breathing room for Edwin Diaz, who was not traded, to get the save. He looked much different tonight than he has most of the season striking out the first two he faced. After a Leury Garcia homer, things felt much more ominous, but Diaz settled in to record his 24th save of the season in the Mets 4-2 win.
Mets have now won six in a row, and with the Nationals losing today, they’re closer to at least one of the teams ahead of them. It’s becoming more and more real.
With Zack Wheeler landing on the IL, the Mets needed to start Steven Matz a day sooner than the Mets had wanted. The bad news was the Twins were hitting rockets off of him all night. The good news is he would get some help by the outfield defense:
Crash Conforto. 👀 pic.twitter.com/pbBfG7TPTJ
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 17, 2019
That catch would not be Michael Conforto‘s lone contribution to the game. He was 4-for-4 at the plate with a key RBI.
The Mets initially took a 2-0 lead against Michael Pineda and the Twins due to some terrible defense. Jeff McNeil and Conforto led off the game with back-to-back singles. They then moved up a base on a Jason Castro passed ball.
A Robinson Cano sacrifice fly made it 1-0. A Pineda wild pitch advanced Conforto to third allowing him to score when Jonathan Schoop made a throwing error on a Wilson Ramos ground ball. After the inning, you wondered how the Mets only had two runs after that comedy of errors.
You were also wondering when the Twins were going to get to Matz who was not sharp.
The first run would come off a Schoop third inning lead off homer. The tying run came in the fourth.
After an Eddie Rosario leadoff single, C.J. Cron hit an opposite field double. Even with the Mets leaving second vacant and no one getting a ball thrown to second immediately, Rosario stayed put. He’d score on a Max Kepler RBI groundout.
To his credit, Matz bore down. He fooled Miguel Sano with a changeup to get a strikeout. He’d intentionally walk Schoop to pitch to Castro. On a 1-2 pitch, Schoop broke for second. As noted by Ron Darling, the Mets rarely throw through in those spots. They did tonight, and they got Schoop before Cron could even think about heading home.
Matz, who was limited to 80 pitches due to his temporary move to the bullpen, was done after four. In some ways, he was lucky to leave after allowing just two earned on somehow just five hits. Then again, he did bear down when needed. It nothing else, it was a step forward.
The Mets took the lead in the fifth on a rally started on a one out Amed Rosario double. He’d score on a Conforto two out RBI single.
The Mets would have a chance to build on this lead in the eighth, but they would absolutely squander it. After a Conforto one out single, Pete Alonso walked. This time, it was a Mitch Garver passed ball moving the runners up a base.
Conforto broke on the Cano grounder, and he was dead to rights. He had a half hearted attempt to get into a run down, but there was no use. On the play, Alonso had a TOOBLAN needlessly breaking for third and getting thrown out to end the jam. It was a rare double play where Cano hit a grounder, didn’t run it out, and he was the only one safe on the play.
Fortunately, the Mets inability to add insurance runs didn’t hurt them as their bullpen was good enough.
In the fifth, after Robert Gsellman got himself into a jam, Luis Avilan came on to bail him out. After Avilan walked Sano with two outs in the sixth, Jeurys Familia got Schoop to ground out. Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo pitched back-to-back scoreless innings to put the game in Edwin Diaz‘s hands.
It wasn’t easy.
After he made quick work of Sano, he was 0-2 on Schoop. Schoop hurt himself on a swing, and the pick hitter Luis Arraez had a great at-bat to earn a walk. Garver then ripped a single to left to put the tying run on second.
After a Jorge Polanco fly out, Marwin Gonzalez hit a dribbler to third which Todd Frazier had no option to eat. Diaz’s former teammate Nelson Cruz came up with the bases loaded, and he worked the count full. After a foul ball, Frazier was able to make a play on a foul out.
Suddenly, the Mets bullpen is getting big outs, and the Mets are winning three straight on the road. It’s too early to get excited, but it’s not too early to notice.
On Monday, people wanted Mickey Callaway sacrificed to the baseball gods, and by Wednesday, the Mets had won a home series. As you can guess a lot happened in just three games:
1. While the vast majority of people would have let Noah Syndergaard face Evan Longoria, it doesn’t mean pulling him from the game was the wrong decision, especially with Syndergaard’s numbers a fourth time through the lineup.
2. If you’re upset Seth Lugo entered the game and/or pinpoint his entering the game as the reason the Mets lost, you don’t trust or have faith in him. There’s no arguing around it.
3. Callaway’s real mistake was Robert Gsellman in the ninth. While we can all understand the other non-Lugo set-up men are terrible, you can’t pitch Gsellman into the ground this way. It’s indefensible.
4. Under the unjustifiable workload, Gsellman has a 12.96 ERA raising his season ERA from 2.48 to 5.05. Essentially, Callaway made one of his few reliable guys completely unreliable.
5. With everything that’s happened to the Mets bullpen, Jeurys Familia going out there and looking like the Familia of old might’ve been the most important thing that happened in this series.
6. Considering the state of the Mets bullpen and the complete lack of starting pitching depth, they needed one of Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel. Not only did that not happen, the overwhelming odds are the Mets didn’t even try.
7. Keuchel going to the Braves makes it so much the worse. His replacing one of Kevin Gausman or Mike Foltynewicz making their rotation much improved. That’s huge for a team just one game back in the division.
8. Andrew McCutchen trading his ACL is bad for both the Phillies and baseball. That said, it does open a door permitting the Mets to contend for a division title.
9. One cure for the bullpen ills is the Mete starters going deeper into games. Mets starters are on a streak of nine straight games of pitching at least six innings.
10. If before the season, someone told you Jason Vargas had a complete game shut out in the same game Adeiny Hechavarria hit a homer, you’d probably talk about the terrific job Wally Backman has done with the Long Island Ducks.
12. With Cano leaving a game early, and his season in general, you’d realize this is just year one of what’s an onerous contract.
13. With Brandon Nimmo staring his rehab assignment, and Dominic Smith playing well, you do have to question if the Mets aren’t better off with McNeil at second, Frazier at third, Smith in left, and Cano as a pinch hitter.
15. With his go-ahead homer, you realize Frazier has been the Mets best player over the past few weeks.
17. The Mets and Juan Lagares needed him to have the game he had yesterday. If nothing else, he becomes a more viable fourth outfielder or defensive replacement.
18. Van Wagenen does deserve credit for keeping Tommy Tanous and Marc Tramuta. That duo helped the Mets have another terrific draft.
19. If nothing else, the Mets are great at home. At Citi Field, they’re 17-10 (.630), have a 118 wRC+ at home (third best in the Majors), and a 3.73 FIP (fourth best in the NL). Essentially, they’re the best team in baseball when they’re at home.
20. It’s great to see and hear Ron Darling again. He’s been sorely missed. Here’s hoping he’s healthy and will not have to leave the booth again anytime soon.
With Todd Zeile taking over in the booth while Ron Darling battles thyroid cancer, it is interesting to consider how the Mets have come to claim Zeile. He played 16 years and for 11 franchises, and he played with the Cardinals more than he played for the Mets. What is also interesting with Zeile is his 11 franchises is not a Major League record. That ties him just for sixth all time. Can you name the five players who have played for more? Good luck!
For all the talk about every game counts, Jason Vargas entered the season as the unchallenged fifth starter. Somehow, he’s failed to clear the subterranean bar set for him this season with tonight being his worst performance.
Vargas lasted just one-third of an inning allowing four earned on two hits and three walks. Now, you may want to say two of those runs were scored after he left the game, but that would be wrong considering he needed 36 pitches to get just one out.
This put the game in Corey Oswalt‘s hands to salvage.
While Oswalt did get out of the inning, the Braves got to him as well scoring four runs off him in the second. To be fair to Oswalt, just like all of last year, the Mets once again put him in a position to fail.
Oswalt was called up earlier in the week to be prepared to make a relief appearance on just three days rest. Then, after the team didn’t pitch him, they had him trying to stay sharp on what was now extended rest. Finally, they asked a starter to hurry up and loosen up to enter a game with runners in scoring position. This is not how you handle or develop pitchers.
Partially because of the Mets being stubborn and plain stupid in trusting Vargas as the fifth starter and partially due to their mishandling of Oswalt, they’d lost what was a winnable game.
Travis d’Arnaud got the rally started with his first hit since coming off the IL. He and Keon Broxton would score on a Juan Lagares RBI double. Oswalt would help himself and tie the score with a sacrifice fly.
After the aforementioned bad top of the third for Oswalt, the Mets were chasing the Braves all night. The key difference between the Mets and Braves was while the Mets messed around with Oswalt, the Braves had Touki Touissaint. Touissaint was very good for the Braves stabilizing the game and saving their bullpen.
This meant even though Chad Sabodka was shaky in the final two innings, the Braves still had plenty of cushion in what would become an 11-7 Braves.
As if this were not enough, Ron Darling announced he needs to take a leave of absence to have surgery to remove a mass in his chest. More than anything that happened on the field, this was the absolute worst development of the day. Thoughts and prayers go to Darling for a speedy recovery.
After the Mets swept the Marlins, they’re now 5-1 and in first place as they come home for their home opener. Here’s the 20/20 observations from the last series:
- When Pedro Martinez compared Jacob deGrom to himself, you got the perfect comparison to just how dominant deGrom is right now. Although we can be sure the Dodger loving Wilpons think Sandy Koufax (either way you take it).
- With deGrom pitching great with Wilson Ramos on Opening Day and Tomas Nido yesterday, we’re seeing giving any credit to Devin Mesoraco was nonsense. Moreover, we’re seeing how better catchers help produce better results.
- In addition to their producing well on the field so far, it’s great to see Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith cheering for one another. Since late last year, and perhaps before that, they were adversaries as far as the future of first base was concerned. They rose above it to show they’re better people than they are players.
- While we believe Juan Lagares‘ extension was a mistake, there’s no doubt he impacts the game when he’s on the field. In the series, we saw him hit a game tying homer, and with his hustle, he reached base even on outs. He’s already at a 1 DRS, and he’s flashing his arm again. He’s potentially a difference maker.
- When the Mets traded Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana, they paid a hefty price for J.D. Davis. It’s becoming increasingly clear, he’s not going to hit well or play good defense. As a result, each game the Mets force him into the lineup only serves to make a bad situation worse.
- On Davis, do yourself a favor and don’t look at the Astros 1B/DH situation.
- While it was nice to see Luis Guillorme finally get into a game, he needs to see more action, especially with Davis playing his way to a demotion.
- It’s very cool to see Yoenis Cespedes‘ brother Yoelkis regarded as one of the top Cuban prospects available. Here’s hoping the Mets can find a way to add him to the organization.
- The schadenfreude seeing the Yankees follow a Mets-like offseason with a series of Metsian injuries (CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Troy Tulowitzki, Jacoby Ellsbury) is off the charts.
- With respect to Brandon Nimmo, it was shocking to see him not get a day after getting hit on the hand. Even if he was alright, with him scuffling, it made sense to give him the extra day.
- Mickey Callaway‘s handling of the bullpen in the series was both bad and dangerous. He pushed a Luis Avilan, a LOOGY with a history of shoulder injuries, to try to pitch two innings. He also pushed Seth Lugo to try almost 40 pitches despite his being ill. That’s how you make two laughers nail biters.
- That said, Robert Gsellman needs to be better. It was his performance which led to Callaway needing to turn to Edwin Diaz for the save.
- Even with the struggles from the rest of the pen, the Mets are more than alright with Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Justin Wilson ready to go 7-8-9 to close out a win.
- If the Mets can’t trust Jason Vargas to go more than five innings against the worst team in baseball when the bullpen is short, why is he in the rotation, especially when Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent.
- With the Mets not trusting Vargas, we need to keep a close eye on Anthony Kay who impressed in Spring Training and will be the Opening Day starter for Binghamton today.
- It was hard to tell on TV, but with a large contingent of Mets fans at Marlins Park, is booing Peter O’Brien still going to be a thing.
- Umpire Ron Kulpa’s behavior was unnecessarily confrontational and unbefitting to the impartiality and temperance we should expect from an umpire. A.J. Hinch was right to confront him, and now it’s time for MLB to confront and potentially begin to suspend umpires who behave this way.
- With respect to Ron Darling‘s book, former teammates Dwight Gooden, Kevin Mitchell, and Darryl Strawberry defending Lenny Dykstra doesn’t mean Darling is lying. There’s a lot of room between those players not hearing something and it actually happening even if Oil Can Boyd said he didn’t hear anything.
- More troubling than the Darling/Dykstra controversy is Darling saying Bob Murphy would pass out drunk in the clubhouse and saying Gary Carter tried to stuff the All-Star ballots. Dykstra is a man who is all too eager to defend himself. Dead men like Murphy and Carter can’t.
- It’s going to be sad to not hear David Wright‘s name announced with the team on Opening Day. It’s not too similar from 2006 when we didn’t hear Mike Piazza‘s name. Hopefully, this will be like 2006 in more ways than one.
In recent news former Mets great Al Leiter has announced he will not be returning to the YES booth for the 2019 season. With him leaving the booth, he is leaving behind a promising and good broadcast career which had begun when he was a player providing commentary during the 2003 NLCS.
During that NLCS, you could see Leiter was going to be a gifted broadcaster. He hasn’t disappointed in his time as a Yankees color commentator or as an analyst on MLB Network. Seeing his work, you knew no one was pushing him out the door, and yet Leiter has announced he is leaving.
The reason is his son, Jack, is a senior in high school, and he is committed to Vanderbilt. If Jack is anything like his father, his uncle Mark Leiter, or even his cousin also named Mark Leiter, he has a real Major League future ahead of him. If that is the case, Al Leiter is going to be in New Jersey doing work for the MLB Network, or he will be in the Bronx, or he will find himself anywhere where the Yankees travel.
That does not leave him much time to watch his son pitch during his senior season. It doesn’t give him time to give parental advice to help prepare his son for college or even the draft. It doesn’t leave enough time for him to spend time with his son because his son finds himself in places like Tennesse, whether that is for college or for an Appalachian League affiliate.
In his career, Leiter made approximately $68 million. He’s done a fine job as a broadcaster presumably earning a good salary. With his reputation and his relatively young age (53), Leiter has the chance to do this. This is all every parent wants, and Leiter has that opportunity. Good for him for taking full advantage.
When he’s ready to return, there could be a chance for him at SNY as the Mets have begun taking more of a look at the 90’s Mets team. We have seen Todd Zeile recently hired to replace Nelson Figueroa and Bob Ojeda before him. Sooner or later, we know Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are going to leave the Mets booth.
Maybe, there will be room for a new booth with Gary, Leiter, and Mike Piazza. It would be the type of booth which could generate the same chemistry and cache with Mets fans. And who knows, maybe we will see Leiter calling games his son is pitching.
But before then, let’s hope the best for Jack Leiter and hope Al enjoys each and every minute of the ride.
The New York Mets have had a number of down seasons with 2018 being one of them. There were some bright spots this past season with Jacob deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball being one of them. This is reminiscent of how many times we have seen different Mets players have great seasons in what has been an otherwise lost season for the franchise.
The last time we saw anything like deGrom’s season happen was R.A. Dickey‘s 2012 season. While the knuckleballer had been better than expected for a few years, no one could see him winning 20 games let alone beating out Clayton Kershaw, who was still in his prime, for the Cy Young Award.
While it was Dickey who won the Cy Young Award, it was Johan Santana who captured the hearts of Mets fans by pitching the first no-hitter in Mets history. Special mention needs to go here for Mike Baxter‘s catch.
In 2004, Mike Piazza passed a significant career milestone by hitting his 352nd career homer as a catcher. With the home run, he passed Carlton Fisk, and he all but cemented his Hall of Fame case by hitting the most home runs as a catcher.
Another Mets catcher who set a home run record was Todd Hundley. In 1996, his 41 homers would not just match a Mets single season record, but it would also pass Roy Campanella‘s single season record for most homers by a catcher. That season saw a number of feats including Bernard Gilkey setting the Mets single-season record for doubles and Lance Johnson setting the record for most triples in a season. Remarkably, all three of these Mets records stand to this day.
On the final game of the 1991 season, which was the Mets first losing season since 1983, David Cone tied the then National League record with 19 strikeouts in a game. It was a feat which had only been previously met by Mets legend Tom Seaver.
Speaking of that 1983 season, Darryl Strawberry would become the first and to this date only Mets position player to ever win the Rookie of the Year Award. The 1983 season was also notable because after the Midnight Massacre, Seaver would finally come home to the Mets.
Really, it was that 1983 season which was the beginning of something special with the Mets. In addition to Strawberry and Seaver, the Mets called-up rookie starter Ron Darling. Much like how he is joined in the SNY booth now by Keith Hernandez, he was teammates with Hernandez that season because the Mets would make a franchise altering trade to acquire the former MVP.
Really, when you look at 1983, you can see how even a bad year is the building block towards a team building a World Series winning club. Hopefully, that is what the 2018 season was for the Mets.
You can argue it was the case with deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball, and Zack Wheeler matching him big start for big start in the second half. Brandon Nimmo had the second highest wRC+ among National League outfielders, and Michael Conforto returned to being Michael Conforto in the second half. More than that, Amed Rosario seemed to turn the corner while his new double play partner, Jeff McNeil, burst onto the scene.
In the end, when you look at losing seasons like 2018, you can see great things. More than that, you can see how great things will soon be in store for the Mets.
While it is not an official policy, the Mets organization will only retire the numbers of players who enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. That is why the only Mets players who have their numbers retired are Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza. If the Baseball Hall of Fame honored Gary Carter‘s choice, he would have gone into the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap, and as a result, his number would have been retired as well.
That would have pleased many Mets fans who want to see his number be retired. More than Carter, Mets fans seem to want to see Keith Hernandez‘s and David Wright‘s numbers retired. With respect to those two, chances are neither enter the Hall of Fame, and just like Carter, chances are Hernandez is inducted into the Hall of Fame wearing a Cardinals cap.
Much of the Carter and Hernandez push is related to both players being key veterans on the 1986 World Series team. Oddly enough, the same case has not been made for Davey Johnson.
Back in 1984, Frank Cashen tabbed Johnson to be the Mets manager. He was entasked with leading a Mets team to not just win a World Series, but really to just win games. The Mets had not been over .500 since 1976, which was Seaver’s last full season with the Mets. Seaver was back in 1983 only for the Mets to lose him again.
The winning happened immediately. Behind Rookie of the Year Dwight Gooden, and a young core which included Darryl Strawberry, Wally Backman, Ron Darling, and Sid Fernandez, the 1984 Mets finished second place in the National League East with a 90-72 record. This began a string of eight straight seasons where the Mets would finish second or better in the division. Johnson would oversee six of those seasons.
The 1985 Mets won 98 games, which was then the second most wins the Mets had ever accumulated. They were that close to winning the division. Entering 1986, Johnson would declare the Mets were the team to beat, and his team would back him up. Their 108 wins is the third most ever by a National League team.
When you include the postseason, the 1986 have won more games than any other National League team over the past century.
Yes, this does speak to how great the 1986 Mets were, but it also speaks to Johnson’s managerial abilities. He was ahead of his time using data and statistics to inform his decisions. Yes, those 1980s Mets teams were talented, but it was Johnson who got everything out of those talented teams by optimizing his team’s lineups.
This is why Johnson would become the first ever National League manager to have 90+ wins in each of his first five seasons.
He’s also the only Mets manager with two 100 win seasons. He joins Gil Hodges as only one of two Mets managers to win a World Series, and he was the first Mets manager to go to two different postseasons.
Johnson is the Mets all-time leader in wins and winning percentage. He is second only to Terry Collins in games managed. He is second to Bobby Valentine in postseason wins, which is partially a function of Major League Baseball adding an additional postseason round when they added the Wild Card in 1994.
Despite all of these records and his impact on the franchise, Hodges and Casey Stengel remain the only two managers who have had their numbers retired by the Mets. Given how the standards to retire manager numbers (to the extent there is any) is far lower than for players, it is odd how nearly 30 years after Johnson managed his last game, he has not had his number retired.
His number not being retired may become more of an issue going forward as once again he is a candidate on the Today’s Game ballot for the Hall of Fame. With his having a better winning percentage than Hall of Famers like Bobby Cox (a manager who also has just one World Series to his credit), and his being only one of two managers in MLB history to lead four separate franchises to to the postseason, there is a real case to be made for Johnson’s induction.
If inducted, he is likely going to enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the Mets. If so, any and all excuses to not retire his number have gone by the wayside. Of course, that is unless you are not of the belief Johnson has not done enough to merit having his number retired anyway.
Given how his number has not been retired, it is certainly still up for debate whether it should or should not be retired by the Mets organization. Going forward, when debates happen,,when taking into account standards already set forth coupled with the impact on the organization, Davey Johnson should probably be first in line when it comes to having his number retired.