With reports Brandon Nimmo getting sick from cooking his own chicken dinner, it does inspire many to say, “Same old Mets!” Certainly, the Mets have had their fair share of bizarre injuries and illnesses over their 57 year history. There are plenty of stories, and the Mets bloggers share some of the more infamous in Mets history:
I love Noah Syndergaard, but the hand, foot and mouth disease is easily the standout injury in recent memory for me.
Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)
Valley Fever…and it’s not close. Single-handedly ended Ike Davis‘ career.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
I’ll bring up Ryan Church here. Not that a concussion is bizarre, but putting him on an airplane to Denver and then Snoop Manuel surreptitiously chastising him for not being tough enough to handle it will always be the benchmark for bizarre in Flushing.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
Gotta go with what happened to reliever Ken Sanders between innings one Sunday afternoon in 1975: “I was taking my warm up pitches and lost the return throw from John Stearns and it hit me directly in my right eye. I never touched it. It actually knocked me out. There was no action on the field at the time of the accident.”
Tim Ryder (MMO)
Sasser hit .297/.328/.416 from 1988 thru 1990. Once his head got the best of him, everything came crashing down. The conventional injuries didn’t help either.
Bre S. (That Mets Chick)
Weirdest Mets illness: Ike Davis, valley fever in 2012. Valley Fever is an infection that is released from the dirt in desert regions of the Southwest and is inhaled. It can be stirred up by construction and winds.
Fast forward to 2014 and Davis still complained about having Valley fever! Its mind boggling how that infection stayed with him throughout the years. “You have no energy, no nothing. It was definitely a weird one. It’s supposed to go away on its own, but when I had an X-ray last year, it showed I still had it. I’m hoping that’s over and done with.” – Ike Davis
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
It’s gotta be “Valley Fever,” for me…it’s got all the hallmarks of a Mets injury. It’s a disease that sounds fake, like it’s almost a parody, and also sounds like a cruel act of God.
Strangely enough, Ike’s other injury is high on the list too — the time the training staff had him wear a walking boot nonstop, and it turned out the boot was basically suffocating his ankle, and it turned into him missing the 2011 season and pretty much ended his career. That…that’s the Mets right there.
Jerry Blevins slipping over a curb and re-breaking his arm. Sure, you can understand his arm breaking when he was hit with a comebacker, but a professional athlete breaking the arm again slipping on a curb takes the cake.
What’s interesting here is we had no mention of Tom Glavine losing his front teeth in a cab ride. What’s interesting to note with him is that while he thought that to be heart breaking, he was not devastated after killing the 2007 Mets season. Speaking of cab rides, we should never forget Duaner Sanchez.
There are many, many more here to list. We all know them, especially those who have participated in these roundtables. They know much more than the injuries, which is yet another reason to visit their sites and read their quality work.
Years ago, the Mets actually had a team cookbook available for sale entitled “GourMets.” Unfortunately, that book is no longer in publication leaving Brandon Nimmo on his lonesome when attempting to make himself a piece of chicken for dinner. Things did not end well:
Brandon Nimmo says he lost four pounds throwing up from his chicken and sweet potato dinner. He confirms he was NOT smiling while throwing up… but he can laugh about it now. pic.twitter.com/ufelZJJurq
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 28, 2019
In typical Nimmo fashion, we see him smiling and laughing about an ordeal which saw him throwing up all night and losing four pounds. We should also note it’s typical Mets fashion to see a player go down with something as simple as cooking and eating chicken. After all, as we have seen with Tom Glavine and Duaner Sanchez, Mets players can’t be trusted with so much as a cab ride.
While Glavine’s and perhaps Sanchez’s ordeals seemed to be not their fault, it would seem like Nimmo’s ordeal is completely avoidable. With that in mind, let’s review what Nimmo should have done differently.
First and foremost, if you have no idea what you are doing, don’t start with chicken. If you really want chicken, order out. If you don’t want to order out, get in touch with someone who knows what they are doing. Don’t try to cook the chicken yourself and risk food poisoning.
If you are undeterred and really want to cook that chicken, then by all means do it, but make sure you are handling it properly. The chicken you are looking to cook should be properly stored in the refrigerator. If you picked it up on your way home, just make sure it wasn’t sitting in your car too long, especially in a warm Florida climate. Chances are if it smells off before you even thing of cooking it, you’re going to get sick.
Also, you need to be really careful how you handle the chicken. If you are handling it and seasoning it before you cook it, you should be washing your hands. You should also be cleaning and disinfecting the area where you prepared the chicken. After all, even if you have cooked the chicken properly, you can still get sick from what you did before you cooked the chicken.
If you are cooking for the first time, put it in the oven where you can reduce the amount of times you actually handle it. If you are cooking at 350 degrees, it will probably take 25-3o minutes. It could take more. The best way to tell if it is done is to insert a thermometer to make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees. If not, cook longer. If you don’t have a thermometer, just cut it in half and look to see if it is cooked all the way through.
If you don’t want to use an oven, you can use things like a grill, Foreman grill, or even a pan. The best bet for any of those is to look online for a recipe and instructions on cooking temperature or time.
Ultimately, when cooking a chicken the most important thing to do is to make sure it is properly stored, and you are keeping your hands and all surfaces clean. To hear Nimmo tell it, the chicken looked cooked through and tasted good. If that is truly the case, the chances are he either mishandled or improperly stored the chicken.
At the end of the day, considering this is the Mets, all the players should probably avoid cooking their own meals all together. They should probably avoid taxi cabs to go out and get the food. Really, they should be ordering food to be delivered while sitting in their hotels or homes in bubble wrap.
After an eight year career, former Mets pitcher Dillon Gee has announced his retirement from baseball. While Gee spent time with the Royals, Rangers, Twins, and even Japan, he is a New York Mets player through and through. The fact Gee emerged to even be that is quite remarkable.
Gee was a 21st round draft pick out of the University of Texas. He didn’t throw consistently in the 90s. None of his breaking pitches were great. Looking at that profile, you would not immediately peg him as a guy who was going to make it to the Major Leagues.
Overlooked through all of that was Gee knew how to pitch. He could locate his pitches, and he knew how to sequence them. With that knowledge and his underrated stuff, Gee just dominated in the minors. A year after he was drafted, he posted a 1.33 ERA in Double-A Binghamton. He would come to Spring Training in 2009, and he would catch the eye of then Mets manager Jerry Manuel.
You could have expected to pinpoint that as the moment where Gee took off. He didn’t because in Triple-A Gee was 1-3 with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.303 WHIP in just nine starts. He watched on like the rest of us as the Mets dipped down to Triple-A for Tim Redding, Nelson Figueroa, Pat Misch, Fernando Nieve, and Jon Niese. As that 2009 team faltered, Gee was left with us Mets fans wondering, “What if?”
The reason why Gee was no in the mix was a torn labrum leading to season ending shoulder surgery for a torn laburm. As we would eventually see with Johan Santana, that could be a career killer. Fortunately, even with him struggling in the minors in 2010, it wasn’t one for Gee.
Gee would finally get his chance at the end of the 2010 season, and over the course of seven brilliant innings against the Nationals, he proved he belonged. He did that all the more so as Gee had a 2.18 ERA in five MLB starts. That stint established he was a Major Leaguer, and he would become a fixture in the Mets rotation.
There were several highlights from Gee in his Mets years. In 2011, he would start the season 7-0 surpassing Jon Matlack‘s rookie record of six consecutive wins to start a season. He would set a career high with nine strikeouts in a game. And then, once again, there was an issue with his pitching shoulder. This time, Gee had a clot an arterial clot requiring season ending surgery. By the end of 2012, he had a promising start to his career, and he also had two significant and potentially career altering shoulder surgeries.
Once again, Gee would beat the odds, and he would once again establish he was a big league pitcher. While he teetered early on in 2013, he would re-establish himself in May with a terrific start against the Pirates allowing just one run in five innings. After that, he would have two more moments which would be arguably be the highlight of his career. The first was a 12 strikeout performance against the Yankees in the Subway Series:
It was a huge moment as the victory secured the Mets ever, and to date only, season sweep against the Yankees in the history of Interleague Play.
Later that season, Gee would flirt with a no-hitter for six innings against the Braves. It wasn’t the first or last time Gee would have that type of a performance, but it was special nonetheless.
This would lead to his being the Mets 2014 Opening Day starter. Just being an opening day starter put him in the same conversation as pitchers like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, Al Leiter, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, and Johan Santana. It was a special honor for a pitcher who persevered throughout his career.
Unfortuantely, Gee would have injury issues in 2014, which helped lead to the rise of Jacob deGrom. That coupled with Matt Harvey returning and Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz on the horizon made his spot tenuous going forward. With the team being unsure what he was going forward coupled with another injury, Gee’s time was all but over. Finally, Gee would be released by the Mets in June meaning Gee would miss the ride.
Gee missed the ride despite his being a mentor to young pitchers like Harvey. He missed the ride despite him being one of the building blocks who not only had to take their licks pitching in front of inferior Mets teams, but also trying to take this team back to contention. Something, he never got to experience. Instead of being bitter, he was right there with all of us rooting for that Mets team to win the World Series:
— Dillon Gee (@DillonGee35) October 31, 2015
Gee was a Met through and through. For six years, he gave the Mets everything he had. He did not let two shoulder surgeries stand in his way. He rose to become an Opening Day starter, and his fingerprints were all over that 2015 team. In the end, Gee should be proud of everything he accomplished. It was a very good career, and as a fan, it was a privilege to watch him pitch every fifth day.
Best of luck in retirement Dillon Gee!
Back in 2010, things were bleak with the Mets, really bleak. The team closed out Shea Stadium with brutal losses on the final game of each season. In 2006, Carlos Beltran struck out looking. In 2007, Tom Glavine allowed seven runs in one-third of an inning. In 2008, in what was the final game at Shea Stadium, Jerry Manuel brought in arguably his worst reliever in Scott Schoeneweis, who would allow a homer to Wes Helms to complete a second collapse.
In 2009, fans were less than thrilled with Citi Field. It looked like more of an homage to the Dodgers than the Mets. As much of a disappointment as Citi Field was, the team was even more of a disappointment. The Mets went from a World Series contender to an under .500 team. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse the Madoff scandal hit. It would forever change the impact how the Mets organization would be run.
Fans were looking for hope in any way, shape, or form, and they would find that hope in Ike Davis.
The 2010 Mets would disappoint, but there would be hope because of the play of the 2008 first round draft pick. As a rookie, Davis hit .264/.341/.440, and he would finish in the Top 10 in Rookie of the Year voting. While fans loved his bat, it would his play on the field, including his signature catch which would make him a quick fan favorite:
Using DRS as a metric, Davis was already the best fielding first baseman in the National League. More than that, he seemed to be the only player not intimidated by Citi Field. With his defense and game winning hits, it seemed like Davis was a star in the making.
As 2011 began, he seemed well on his way recording an RBI in nine of the Mets first 10 games. In early May, he was hitting .302/.383/.543. By any measure, he was a budding star, and then he would suffer an injury, which was compounded because the injury itself was originally mischaracterized.
With the injury, his potential breakout to stardom was delayed a year. Instead, during Spring Training, Davis would contract Valley Fever. The Valley Fever was most likely a factor in Davis’ drop from his early production. He would hit a disappointing .227/.308/.462, but he would hit 32 homers. Whatever hope the 32 homers would present were quickly dashed as Davis would never again be the same player.
As difficult as 2013 would be with Davis, the 2014 season would be worse. Davis’ injuries and production opened the door for the Mets to look at Lucas Duda, and based upon a number of factors, including play on the field, the Mets would tab Duda as their first baseman. This meant that Duda was a key bat in a lineup which would win the 2015 pennant while Davis would bounce around between the Pirates, Athletics, Rangers, Yankees, and Dodgers organizations.
Eventually, the slugger would abandon hitting, and he would attempt to become a pitcher. It would not lead anywhere as Davis would become a minor league free agent after the 2017 season, and he found himself with no suitors.
That doesn’t mean he didn’t have one last big moment as a baseball player.
During the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Davis would play for an Israel team, who would make a surprising run. He’d have a key pinch hit and he would hit well in the tournament. In six games, Davis hit .471/.571/.706 with two doubles, a triple, and three RBI. After that, he was no longer a position player, but a pitcher. After a year in the Dodgers organization, he was neither.
He did not play at all in 2018, and now, he has decided he will no longer play baseball anywhere.
This may not have been the career Davis wanted or believed he would have when he was a first round draft pick, and yet, he was a player who left a definitive impact. He was a key figure who gave Mets fans hope. He is the only human being who can say he played first base when the Mets had a no-hitter. He was a fan favorite, and he is a player many Mets fans still have a soft spot for all these years later.
And if things take off after the 2017 World Baseball Classic, he could have an impact on baseball in Israel.
All in all, that’s not a bad career. In the end, Davis should hold his head high fully knowing he left an impact on the Mets, and he may have done even more than that. Really, congratulations to Ike Davis on a fine MLB career.
Prior to Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, there was much debate over who Willie Randolph should give the ball.
It was Steve Trachsel‘s turn in the rotation, but he was terrible in Game 3 and bad in the NLDS. Possibly, it was the result of the microdiscectomy he had in 2005, but he didn’t have in anymore.
Due to the rainouts in the series, Tom Glavine in one day of rest was a non-starter leaving the Mets unable to throw their best (healthy) pitcher in a winner-take-all-game.
As a result, when you broke it all down, the Mets best option was Darren Oliver Perez. That’s right, it was some combination of Darren Oliver, the former starter who was brilliant in the Mets bullpen in 2016, and Oliver Perez, the pitcher who did just enough to win Game 4. With Perez not being nearly as good as he was as his 2002 breakout season, and him starting on three days of rest, this truly was an all hands on deck type of game.
Looking at the game, it made sense to put the Mets bullpen front and center. The Mets had the best and deepest bullpen in the National League. That bullpen led the National League in wins, ERA, and fWAR. It was dominant, and even with the hiccups in Games 2 and 5 in the series, you certainly trusted it much more than you trusted anyone in the rotation.
As we are aware, things turned out much differently than anticipated. With the help of Endy Chavez making the greatest catch you will ever see, Perez would allow just one earned on four hits in six innings of work. He went far beyond what anyone could have anticipated, and really, he put the Mets in position to win that game.
Ultimately, the Mets would lose the game and as a result the series for two reasons. The first was the Mets offense didn’t deliver. After Endy’s catch, Javier Valentin struck out with the bases loaded, and Endy did not have more magic left for the inning instead flying out. In the ninth, Cliff Floyd struck out, Jim Edmonds robbed Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran struck out looking.
The second reason was the bullpen, specifically Aaron Heilman. He pitched a scoreless eighth, and he started off the ninth well striking out Edmonds. After the Scott Rolen single, he really was through the dangerous part of the lineup. He should have gotten through that inning unscathed to give the Mets a chance to walk off. Realistically speaking, no one could have anticipated what came next.
In 2006, Heilman did not get hit hard. He yielded just a 4.4% FB/HR ratio, and he had a 0.5 HR/9. He had not given up a home run since July 16th, and that was hit by Phil Nevin. Again, no one could see Yadier Molina‘s homer coming.
That didn’t stop it from coming, but just because it came, it did not mean Randolph and the Mets made the wrong decision trusting Heilman.
Sometimes, you make the right decision, and the wrong thing happens. It is what we saw happen last night with the Athletics.
Like the 2006 Mets, the real strength of that team was the bullpen. In a winner take all game, Bob Melvin put his faith in them. Ultimately, it was two of his best relievers, Fernando Rodney and Blake Treinen, who failed most. They took a close game and put it well out of reach.
That doesn’t mean he was wrong to trust those arms for one game. It just means the team’s best players didn’t perform, which is the reason the Athletics lost. Really, it was the use of an opener or the bullpenning. It was Rodney and Treinen, two pitchers who were definitively going to pitch in the game even if the Athletics used a traditional starter, who lost the game.
In the end, there is still a debate at the merits of using an opener or bullpenning, but the Athletics losing this game did not settle this debate. Not in the least.
Through the first four innings, Jacob deGrom was pitching like the ace we know he is. After a tough loss, and with first place in the balance, he was as great as he has ever been. Through the first four innings, deGrom had walked none, allowed just two hits, and he struck out six.
He then went into the tunnel into the clubhouse. He was done for the day with a hyper-extended elbow. Based upon the ensuing MRI, he may be gone longer than that. If deGrom is gone, the Mets will have lost much more than a 7-0 game.
Look, we can get into Tom Glavine–Greg Maddux–John Smoltz 1999 strike zone Sean Newcomb was getting from Home Plate Umpire Lance Barrett. The Mets were clearly irritated by it, and we even saw Todd Frazier say something about umpiring in general after the game.
We can even wonder how in the word Wilmer Flores forgot to do the one thing in baseball he is actually good at doing – hitting left-handed pitching.
Really, right now, none of this matters. As it stood, this pitching staff needed at least one more starter, and that was assuming Jason Vargas will get better and Zack Wheeler won’t turn back into the guy who forced the Mets to put him in Triple-A to start the season.
Sure, the Mets are just a half game back, and it is possible Matt Harvey, Seth Lugo, and/or Corey Oswalt step up here. We saw something like that happen in 2016 when Lugo and Gsellman performed a miracle over the last month of the season.
Maybe it’s being a little overly dramatic, but after what we saw with Noah Syndergaard‘s injury last year, and how the energy from the team and the ballpark flat-line after deGrom left the game, it’s very possible the Mets need a miracle.
I guess it’s times like these we all channel our inner Tug McGraw and say, “Ya Gotta Believe”
With the Mets 2018 season beginning today, we are all hopeful that this will be the first Mets team since 1986 to win a World Series. If history is any judge, fans will depart Citi Field with that feeling as the New York Mets do have the best winning percentage on Opening Day. Whether the good feelings and warm memories continue from there is anyone’s guess.
As you look to turn on the television or head to the ballpark, we thought we would share some of our Opening Day memories with you in the latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable.
Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)
Two words: Collin Cowgill (That’s not my actual answer)
I think I’m going to cheat here. The first game that came to mind for favorite Opening Day memory was the Mets’ home opener in 2000. It was their first game played in North America, if that helps? The Mets split a two-game set in Japan the week before and then faced off against the Padres at Shea, and I was there. It was my first time attending a home opener, and I had to bend the rules that day too, seeing as I was, technically speaking, scheduled to continue my high school education that afternoon. A couple of friends and I cut class, took the 2/3, transferred to the 7, sauntered up to the ticket window, bought four tickets, and enjoyed a 2-1 victory. I brazenly put the schedule magnet giveaway on the refrigerator, and as far as I know was never caught. Please do not tell my mother.
My favorite Opening Day memory was Tom Seaver‘s 1983 Opening Day start. It was tremendous.
The details of Seaver’s homecoming were detailed in this Sports Illustrated piece.
This one has me stumped since I have not been to a Mets opening day since the Shea days. One that stands out is the chilly home opener for Tom Glavine. A 15-2 Mets loss I believe. Good times.
I cut school to go to Opening Day in 1980. My mother wrote a note to the teacher saying “sorry my son was absent. He went to Opening Day. P.S. the Mets won 5-2.” The teacher let me off the hook but only because the Mets won. I cut school in 1983 to see Seaver’s return as a Met. I cut school in 1988 to see Darryl Strawberry hit a HR on Opening Day, then left early to get back to theater rehearsal, and I had to platoon style elbow crawl my way under the director so she wouldn’t know I was gone. Luckily they never got to my scene yet so I was out of trouble. Until we left for the day and the director said “How was the game?” As many times as I cut school for Opening Day, it’s a wonder I can put a sentence together.
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend 17 Opening Days/Home Openers (18, counting the first home game after the 1981 strike, which was functionally a second Home Opener), my favorite among them the 2001 Home Opener, when the 2000 NL pennant was raised, we were handed replica championship flags on our way in, Tsuyoshi Shinjo introduced himself to us with a homer, Mike Piazza socked two, the Mets obliterated the Braves and, not incidentally, the weather was perfect.
But with all due respect to the thrill of being on hand to, as Howie Rose says, welcome the National League season to New York, my core Opening Day memory is from 1975, when I convinced a friend to skip Hebrew School and watch the rest of the first game of that season.
The game began while we were still in shall we say regular school (sixth grade). Our teacher put the Mets and Phillies on the classroom TV. One wise guy tried to switch to the Yankees. Out of pique, the teacher switched it off.
Fast forward a bit, and my aforementioned friend and I went to my house to catch a little more of the game before we had to get to Hebrew School. This was Seaver versus Steve Carlton, and it was such an occasion that I said to him, “I’m not going to Hebrew School today.” He was convinced to not go, either.
We watched to the end and were rewarded for our truancy. Seaver pitched a complete game. Dave Kingman homered in his first game as a Met, and Joe Torre (also a new Met) drove in the winning run in the ninth, or what we would today call walkoff fashion. The whole winter was about reconstructing a dismal 1974 squad and hoping Seaver would be healthy. For one day, everything clicked as we dreamed.
If you ask a New York Giants fan about the postseason, they will reminisce about Super Bowl XLII and XLVI. You will hear about the Helmet Catch and Eli hitting Manningham down the sideline for 38 yards. You know what you don’t hear about? Fassell having the Giants ill prepared for Super Bowl XXXV or Trey Junkin.
The reason is simple when you win, you remember it forever. However, when you lose, and you lose and lose, that memory festers and worsens year to year.
For years and even until this day, you will occasionally hear Howie Rose bemoan Yogi Berra‘s decision to go with Tom Seaver on short rest over George Stone in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series. One of the reasons that memory lingers is the Mets where irrelevant from 1974 until 1984.
After 1986, Mets fans were in their glory, and to this day many fans who got to live through 1986 talk about it as fondly today as they probably did when they got to work on October 28, 1986.
Behind them is a group of Mets fans who never really got to live through the 1986 World Series. As a result, they just know Madoff Scandals and hauting postseason failures:
- Davey Johnson botched that series including leaving in Dwight Gooden too long in Game Four. Doc would allow a game tying home run in the top of the ninth to Mike Scioscia.
- It was the last hurrah for Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez who struggled over the final few games of the series, and respectively faced poor and injury plagued 1989 seasons before finding new homes in 1989.
- First and foremost, the one thing that should stick out was how those Braves teams just tortured the Mets, and the Mets could never get past them.
- Both John Franco and Armando Benitez blew leads in Game 6 preventing the Mets from sending the series to a seventh game and letting the Mets be the team to do what the Red Sox did to the Yankees five years later.
- Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded to end the series.
2000 World Series
- Timo Perez should have run out that fly ball off the bat of Todd Zeile
- Roger Clemens should have been ejected for throwing a bat at Mike Piazza
- Piazza’s ball goes out if it was just a few degrees warmer
- Guillermo Mota shook off Paul Lo Duca
- Billy Wagner cannot give up a home run to So Taguchi
- Yadier Molina
- Cliff Floyd just missed his pitch, the Jose Reyes liner didn’t fall, and Carlos Beltran struck out looking on an Adam Wainwright curveball
- The subsequent two seasons followed with epic collapses with Tom Glavine not being devastated and an inept Jerry Manuel going to Scott Schoeneweis who gave up the homer that closed Shea for good.
2015 World Series
- Terry Collins making terrible decision after terrible decision.
- Yoenis Cespedes a no-show from the very first defensive play of the World Series.
- Jeurys Familia blowing three saves even if they weren’t all his fault.
- Daniel Murphy overrunning a ball.
- Lucas Duda‘s throw home.
- Matt Harvey for too long in Game 5.
2016 Wild Card Game
- Connor Gillaspie
The list for the aforementioned series really goes on and on, but those were just some of the highlights. After tonight’s game, that is what Astros and Dodgers fans will be doing. They’ll be asking if Dave Roberts was too aggressive with his pitching changes while A.J. Hinch was not aggressive enough. Why didn’t Chris Taylor try to score, or why could Josh Reddick just put the ball in play. Really, the list goes on and on.
For one fan base, they will focus on the things that went wrong. Considering the Dodgers haven’t won in 29 years and the Astros have never won, the pain of this loss is going to hurt all the more. For the fanbase that gets to win this one, they will have memories to cherish for a lifetime, and they will never again be bothered by the what ifs that could have plagued their team in this epic World Series.
Heading into this season, it seems like Wilmer Flores had crafted a role for himself as a platoon player. Flores has just absolutely killed left-handed pitching. Since 2015 when Flores was handed the starting shortstop job, Flores has hit .335/.377/.661 against left-handed pitching. Essentially, he’s Babe Ruth when there is a left-handed pitcher on the mound.
Unfortunately, as good as Flores has been against left-handed pitching, he has been that poor against right-handed pitching. In the same time frame, Flores has hit .248/.286/.358 off right-handed pitching. Whereas he’s Ruth with a left-handed pitcher on the mound, he’s Ruben Tejada at the plate when there is a right-handed pitcher on the mound. Because Flores is a poor defender out there, you can really justify using him in a platoon type of role. Now, there are many a careers made out of being that type of a player. As we have already seen with Flores, you can still be a revered player with a fan base being that type of a player.
But, Flores is a 25 year old player. He should want to be more than that, and at his age, he is capable of doing more than that. Certainly, he is paired with a hitting coach in Kevin Long who has helped other players, namely Neil Walker, to figure out how to become more of a platoon neutral bat. Looking at Flores this month, it appears as if he is starting to turn the corner against right-handed pitching.
Over the past month, Flores is hitting .380/.415/.520 with four doubles, a homer, and 11 RBI in 53 at-bats against right-handed pitching. Now, given the numbers, it is hard to treat this more than a fluky small sample size result. Flores’ .417 BABIP would seem to indicate that. There’s also the matter of who Flores is facing. Over the past month, he’s done his damage against pitchers like Jarred Cosart, Jesse Chavez, Tom Koehler, Matt Cain, and Matt Garza. This isn’t exactly Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.
And yet, you can only face the pitchers the other team puts on the mound. The fact that Flores is hitting well against them is a credit to him, especially when you consider he may not have hit them as well in prior seasons. This also might be part of Flores’ maturation as a hitter. This year, he is pulling the ball more and striking out less. He appears to be more selective at the plate, especially against right-handed pitching. While you can’t expect Flores to hit .380 against right-handed pitching, it’s possible he could hit them well enough to play everyday.
In fact, this isn’t Flores first good stretch against right-handed pitching. With the injuries last year, Flores was unexpectedly thrust into an everyday role. Before he went out with his own injury, Flores was improving against right-handed pitching. During the month of June, he hit .267/.328/.433 off right-handed pitching. After slumping against right-handed pitching in July, Flores picked it back up again in August hitting .273/.313/.386. No, these are not outstanding numbers, but they are an improvement of his career .255/.289/.374 line against right-handed pitching.
Certainly, Flores has earned the right to show the Mets how much of the past month is a fluke. David Wright isn’t walking through that door anytime soon. Jose Reyes is hitting .202/.274/.326 for the season and .228/.287/.358 in the month of May. Also, for those wanting to keep Flores on the bench against right-handed pitching, Reyes is hitting .205/.269/.315 against right-handed pitching. Considering the option right now is between Reyes and Flores, the Mets have to go with Flores now.
If nothing else, Flores presents the Mets with something Reyes can’t – upside. Flores is a young player who could be coming into his own right now. However, we won’t know if that’s the case unless we see him play. Considering the alternatives, it’s time to make Flores the everyday third baseman and finally find out what Flores is as a major league player.
Overall, I have decided to vote for Vladimir Guerrero, Jeff Kent, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, and Larry Walker on my IBWAA ballot. If they were up for IBWAA vote, I would have also voted for Tim Raines and Jeff Bagwell while not voting for Edgar Martinez. In looking at Kent, Mussina, and Walker, I went back over their careers, and I re-assessed whether or not I should vote for them. Ultimately, I did. I did the same with players I did not vote for, and as a result, I added one to my ballot:
Fred McGriff, 1B
Stats: 19 seasons, .284/.377/.509, 2,490 H, 441 2B, 24 3B, 493 HR, 1,550 RBI, 38 SB
Advanced: 52.4 WAR, 35.8 WAR7, 44.1 JAWS
Awards: 3X Silver Slugger, 5X All Star
During Hall of Fame voting, many times you will hear about a player being a compiler. There are two ways you can define compiler: (1) someone who put up a number of counting stats over a very good but not great long career; or (2) Fred McGriff.
Arguably, McGriff was never a truly great player. In fact, from a WAR perspective, he only had three seasons that you would rate him at superstar or MVP level. If you take out the partial seasons he played in his first and last year, McGriff averaged a 3.1 WAR. Basically, this means for most of McGriff’s career, he was a very good, but not quite All Star caliber player. In that sense, his five All Star appearances seem right on the money.
Like Guerrero. McGriff’s advanced statistics were held down by his perceived poor base running and defense. Certainly, McGriff was no Keith Hernandez out there. In fact, despite his appearance on the Tom Emanski videos, McGriff was not a particularly good first baseman. Certainly, his .992 fielding percentage was nothing special as far as first baseman go. It goes a long way in explaining why McGriff had a -18.1 dWAR in his career. With that said, I am not sure how reliable that -18.1 figure is.
One of McGriff’s contemporaries at first base was the man who replaced him at first base in Toronto – John Olerud. In Olerud’s playing days, he was considered a very good first baseman who won four Gold Gloves, and in reality, probably should have won more. That notion has been reinforced by some advanced metrics. For his career, Olerud’s dWAR was -2.
When reputation and advanced metrics agree a players is a good defensive player at his position, and dWAR completely disagrees, it gives you pause as to whether the calculation is entirely correct. Assuming McGriff was only half as bad as dWAR suggested, his career WAR would increase to 61.5, which would leave him only 4.4 WAR short of what the average Hall of Famer was. In fact, you could conclude McGriff was a poor first baseman that merited a negative dWAR and still have him reach the average WAR for a first baseman.
Despite all this hand wringing, the fact remains McGriff probably falls short of being a Hall of Famer due to his defense, and yes, defense matters. With that said, there are two other factors which give McGriff the benefit of the doubt.
First, McGriff was a money player that was typically at his best when there was a lot at stake. Using the baseline of his .284/.377/.509 career slash line, here are McGriff’s stats in big situations:
- RISP: .277/.403/.479
- RISP, two outs: .241/.399/.421
- High Leverage: .290/.385/.500
Typically speaking, McGriff was at a minimum slightly better in pressure situations.
Another example of how good McGriff was in pressure situations was the 1993 season. At the time the Braves acquired McGriff, the Braves trailed the San Francisco Giants by nine games in the National League West Standings. Over the final 68 games of the season, McGriff would hit an astounding .310/.392/.612 with 19 homers and 55 RBI. Essentially, McGriff was Yoenis Cespedes before Cespedes was Cespedes. The Braves needed each and every single one of those homers as they finished one game ahead of the Giants in the standings.
Granted, that was just one season. However, McGriff’s clutch hitting was also evident in the postseason. In 50 postseason games, McGriff was a .303/.385/.532 hitter with 10 homers and 37 RBI. His clutch postseason hitting helped the Braves win their only World Series with the vaunted Greg Maddux–Tom Glavine–John Smoltz rotation. In the 1995 postseason, McGriff hit .333/.415/.649 with four homers and nine RBI.
Overall, his postseason play combined with the question marks surrounding the defensive statistics that push his WAR outside Hall of Fame averages is enough for him to get my vote even if it is my the narrowest or margins.
There is one other small factor at play. Anyone who saw McGriff towards the end of his career knew he was sticking around to try to get to 500 homers. At the time, 500 homers was a golden benchmark which led to almost automatic Hall of Fame induction. Well, McGriff didn’t get there as he fell seven home runs short. He fell seven home runs short because he began his career in a de facto platoon with Cecil Fielder. He fell seven home runs short because of the 1994 strike. He fell seven home runs short because there were pitchers juicing while he wasn’t. He fell seven home runs short because he was washed up at age 40. Ultimately, he fell seven home runs short because he just wasn’t good enough to get those seven home runs.
Do you know where he would rank on the all-time home run list with those seven extra home runs? 11th. Do you know where he currently stands on the list? 11th. Ultimately, seven home runs over the course of a 19 year career is about one-third of a home run per season. One-third of a home run per season doesn’t amount to much. If that is the case, seven home runs should not be the line of demarcation between him being a Hall of Famer and him not garnering much support.
With or without the seven home runs, you can justify voting for McGriff who had a good career for almost all of his 19 seasons. He has certainly done enough to justify being inducted into Cooperstown.