Over the past few years, we have seen some players who deserved longer looks and deeper analysis fall off the Hall of Fame ballot for their failure to receive five percent of the vote. This puts sometimes deserving and borderline players in a limbo hoping and waiting they receive eventual consideration from the Veteran’s Committee.
Carlos Delgado fell off the ballot after receiving just 3.8% of the vote. That happened despite his having more homers than Jeff Bagwell and Tony Perez. He had a better OBP than Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey. He also had a higher slugging than Eddie Murray. Overall, his 138 OPS+ was higher than Bill Terry and Frank Chance.
Now, you could also argue he wasn’t up to Hall of Fame standards, but that debate never really could develop as he fell off the ballot.
Lofton had a higher WAR than Andre Dawson, who was inducted in 2010. He also has a higher WAR than Andruw Jones, who is appearing on the ballot for a third time this year. On that point, he is teetering himself with his just receiving 7.5% last year.
Edmonds is just a hair behind Dawson in career WAR, but he is also well ahead of Kirby Puckett. Notably, Edmonds trails just Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., and Torii Hunter in Gold Gloves won by a center fielder. Notably, his eight are the same amount as Dawson. Given how comparable he is to Dawson, you’d think he would get a longer look. He didn’t.
The same could be made about any number of candidates. Hideki Matsui had over 500 professional homers. Johan Santana had a higher WAR and ERA+ than Sandy Koufax. John Franco has more saves than any left-handed closer, and he has a higher ERA+ than Hall of Fame closers Bruce Sutter, Rich Gossage, and Dennis Eckersley. Finally, David Cone presents his own interesting case. All of these players were one and one on the ballot.
We will likely see the same happen to Bobby Abreu this year despite his having a better WAR, WAR7, and JAWS than recently inducted Vladimir Guerrero. He also has more doubles, triples, stolen bases, walks, and a higher OBP. Keep in mind, Guerrero was inducted just last year making the votes on the two players quite disparate despite having the same electorate.
All of these players hope to one day have the same chance Lou Whitaker now has.
Back in 2001, Whitaker only received 2.1% of the vote, which to this day, is plain wrong. Looking at WAR, Whitaker is the seventh best second baseman of all-time, and the third best at the position to debut after World War II.
He accumulated more hits than Tony Lazzeri and Johnny Evers. He scored more runs than Red Schoendienst and Jackie Robinson. He has more doubles than Ryne Sandberg and Nellie Fox. He has more triples than Craig Biggio and Bill Mazeroski. He has more stolen bases than Rogers Hornsby and Billy Herman. Overall, his OPS+ is higher than Roberto Alomar‘s and Bobby Doerr‘s
By any measure, Whitaker should be in the Hall of Fame, and yet because of the five percent rule, he has not yet been inducted. Looking at Whitaker and other cases, it is probably time the rule gets changed.
Conceptually, the five percent rule makes sense. A player does not come to vote until five years after his career is over. Ideally, this means voters have had an opportunity to assess a career in full and make a determination. However, in practice, it does not quite turn out that way.
Really, when there are fringe and overlooked candidates, there is usually someone championing them leading to them getting more attention, and eventually, induction. Bert Blyleven received 17.6% of the vote in his first year of eligibility, and he was inducted on his final year on the ballot. Tim Raines received 24.3% in his first year and was inducted on his last year. Hopefully, we will see something similar happen with Larry Walker.
The point is for every Mariano Rivera and Tom Seaver there are a number of Hall of Famers who have needed years of analysis and debate. By taking players off the ballot after one year, we are all losing the opportunity to have deeper analysis and debate about players who may well belong in the Hall of Fame.
There has to be a better way especially when we see a top 10 second baseman like Whitaker fall off the ballot. Perhaps, that rule could be relaxed for a year and moved to a player’s second year of eligibility. Perhaps, the Hall of Fame could tier the percent of the vote needed to keep a player on the ballot.
For example, to stay on the ballot after one year you only need just one vote. After the first year, you need five percent of the vote with the threshold rising roughly two percent each year so you need 18% of the vote to make it onto the final year on the ballot.
Structuring the vote this way allows for more debate about players while also presenting an opportunity to remove players who have not swayed the vote in a particular direction. Certainly, this type of system would be better than just disregarding players after one year, lamenting it, and then hoping someone corrects the error a decade or so later.
The Mets are eliminated from the postseason. The Braves have homefield in their NLDS series against the Cardinals locked up. That doesn’t mean there was nothing to play for tonight. We saw there was when Pete Alonso hit his 52nd homer of the year.
The ❄️🐻’s historic season just keeps on getting better. pic.twitter.com/KyG1dnuP88
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 27, 2019
It was a good start for Marcus Stroman who had a very good close to the season to give you hope for 2020. It was his 10th win of the year and his fourth with the Mets.
What left you puzzled was Seth Lugo pitching two innings to close out the game. He’s been great all year, and there’s no need to push him, even slightly, for the sake of a save. After all, they shut down Justin Wilson, and Lugo is a better and much more important reliever.
But today was about Alonso, and the rest of the season will be about him as well. While he’s tied Judge, his job may not be truly complete until he surpasses Judge to hold the record all by himself.
Game Notes: Jeurys Familia pitches a scoreless eighth to pick up his first hold this month.
Well, the Mets postseason hopes are officially over leaving them to play out the string and for them to set some personal accomplishments. In between, there were some real good things both in this series and the season:
1. The end of the season was put off a game because Michael Conforto came up huge. He once again showed himself a cornerstone player and one who the Mets should be working to keep around for his entire career.
2. The Mets should also be working to keep Zack Wheeler a Met past this season. He had another great outing in an extremely strong finish to the season. He wants to remain a Met, and the Mets need him in the rotation to win next year.
3. That said, it was possible yesterday was a good-bye to both Wheeler and Curtis Granderson. There was a sense of melancholy with Granderson’s homer possibly being his last at-bat in Citi Field and it putting the loss on Wheeler in his last start as a Met.
4. On the topic of good-byes, Jeff McNeil‘s year is done after he broke his wrist when getting hit with a pitch. Fortunately, he has time to heal up and get ready to be the player he has been this year. The Mets need him to be that player next year because when he is he is the more indispensable position player on this roster.
5. One pitcher who the Mets did extend was Jacob deGrom, who cemented his case for the Cy Young by running his scoreless inning streak to 23 innings. He will become the first Mets pitcher to win consecutive Cy Youngs putting him on the pantheon of Mets great pitchers.
6. That list includes Jerry Koosman who is getting his number retired by the team. If the Mets are going to lower their standards for retiring numbers, Koosman was the right place to start.
7. As noted in an earlier article, if Koosman is going to get his number retired, the door is now open for the Mets to retire the numbers of David Wright, Gary Carter, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, and John Franco.
8. It has been great to see the Mets move forward with honoring their history. That should also be coupled by paying more attention to their Hall of Fame. That is not just improving upon it. It is also putting more players in that Hall of Fame including Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, and Bobby Valentine.
9. It should also include Gary Cohen and Howie Rose. On that note with Marty Brennaman retiring from the Reds, we are reminded of how lucky we are as Mets fans to have them call games. We are also lucky on the radio side, it has gone from Bob Murphy to Gary Cohen to Howie Rose.
10. On the subject of lucky, we have been lucky to see Pete Alonso this season. He has been a great player for the Mets setting records. It’s more than just the rookie home run records. He is also his tying Johnny Mize and Willie Mays for the most homers by a New York National League player.
11. He also joins a group including Mays, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, and Ralph Kiner in having 51 homers and 118 RBI in a season before the age of 25. That puts Alonso in a group of Hall of Fame players. It will fun to see what he has in store for next year.
13. With respect to Callaway, he has done enough to stick around another year. We’ve seen him get everything out of this team he could. Young players like Alonso and Amed Rosario have improved. We’ve seen deGrom get to a new level, and the starters be healthy for two years running. That is really no small task.
14. That said, there is enough to get rid of him. At the end of the day, if he is going to be replaced, we need to see him be replaced with an Alex Cora type. The Mets need a manager who is going to push the front office and help implement things needed to win. If they’re not going to do that firing Callaway does little more than change the narrative.
15. Speaking of narratives, the Mets don’t spend. They don’t. People need to stop insisting they do. The payroll is inflated by over $36 million owed to Yoenis Cespedes and Wright which has not been reinvested in this team.
16. The Mets have a number of holes to fill between the bullpen and the rotation. That’s before we even consider the Mets even contemplating trading Noah Syndergaard. They’re also not going to be bailed out by the insurance for Cespedes. That’s a lot of holes to fill without the money or prospects. That’s a tall task for even a competent GM. For Brodie Van Wagenen, it’s impossible.
17. One idea is to put Seth Lugo back in the rotation. Doing that would only leave a gaping hole in the bullpen. That’s a hole all the bigger when you consider Edwin Diaz has allowed as many homers this year as Armando Benitez did in his worst two seasons combined. Keep in mind those two seasons were records for the Mets.
18. There were some bright spots this season which perhaps none of them being bigger than Paul Sewald finally getting his first Major League win.
19. With Sewald getting the win and other highlights, this has been an entertaining season. It is not too dissimilar from the 1996 season where we saw Bernard Gilkey, Todd Hundley, and Lance Johnson having great personal years in a year where the Mets would fall short.
20. And that’s what happened, the Mets fell short, and as Brodie Van Wagenen said himself on WFAN falling short like this would be a disappointment. Just remember those words as everyone, including the Mets themselves, try to spin this season and the future.
Looking at this past offseason, the Mets have traded away much of their future to improve the 2019 team. Top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn were part of a package for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Ross Adolph, Scott Manea, and Luis Santana were traded for J.D. Davis. Finally, Adam Hill, Felix Valerio, and Bobby Wahl were traded for Keon Broxton.
There has been some debate on each of these moves. Whereas many saw the Mets undervaluing assets, there have been a contingent who have justified the deal under the auspices of how not all prospects work out.
To a certain extent, there is validity to the prospects not panning out. With respect to Generation K, only Jason Isringhausen had a successful career, and that was as a reliever not the front line starter we expected him to be. Outfielders Fernando Martinez, Lastings Milledge, and Alex Ochoa weren’t even so much as a part-time player. Relievers like Eddie Kunz did nothing. The list goes on and on . . . .
Of course, this overlooks the prospects which have had successful careers. Tom Seaver was a Hall of Famer. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Edgardo Alfonzo were all-time Mets greats. As we know, that list is much longer than that. It also includes Nolan Ryan, which was a trade which lives on in Mets infamy.
That was a trade of a young player who hasn’t figured it out for a past All-Star Jim Fregosi. While prevailing wisdom is that trade was a Mets disaster, the school of thought were you trade young players for proven Major League talent would be fully onboard with that deal. That does beg the question why people are against keeping prospects and are not against the Mets making trades.
Looking over Mets history, this team has made many horrible trades. In addition to the aforementioned Ryan for Fregosi trade, we have also seen several other poor trades in Mets history:
- Amos Otis for Joe Foy
- Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel
- Jeff Kent for Carlos Baerga
- Jason Isrinhausen for Billy Taylor
- Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano
There are several others which have blown up in the Mets faces. In addition to that, there have been trades for players which have greatly under-performed for the Mets. In addition to the aforementioned players, you can include Roberto Alomar, Willie Mays, Joe Torre, and a litany of others did not perform when wearing a Mets uniform.
With the Mets losing valuable young players and with the team getting veterans who have not performed, you have to wonder why the Mets don’t just operate on the free agent market. Of course, the reason there is the extensive failures the Mets have made on that front. The list is well known, and Mets fans can cite them in their sleep – Jason Bay, Bobby Bonilla, Luis Castillo, Vince Coleman, George Foster, Oliver Perez, and many, many others.
Point is, no matter which way you look, you see a history of failures when it comes to the Mets organization. Their prospects always fail. They only trade for veterans in decline. Every free agent signing is a bust.
Of course, that’s not remotely the truth. When looking at each area, the Mets have had plenty of successes and failures. The goal for every General Manager is to have more success than failures and for those failures to not come back and bite you. That’s what defines periods like the 1980s Mets and also the period immediately thereafter.
So in the end, when judging moves, do it on their own merit and not because you believe the Mets prospects fail, trade acquisitions production declines, and every free agent is a bust.
For the second straight year, Seth Lugo has the best Player’s Weekend jersey with “Quaterrican.” Seeing that jersey as well as some others we will see over the course of this weekend coupled with the color players from Mets past, it does not you wonder which jerseys Mets players from years past would have selected. On that front, the Mets bloggers offer some of the jerseys we would have like to have seen.
Tom Seaver. “THE FRANCHISE.”
Second place is Gary Carter. “KID.”
Franklin Gutierrez, who was a Met for ten minutes, was nicknamed “Death to Flying Things”. I’m sorry but the only two things that could top that would have been Richie Hebner using a middle finger emoji, or anything Willie Montanez would have come up with.
Also, did you know that George Foster‘s nickname was “Yahtzee”? I would buy that.
I like seeing the nicknames we don’t learn about as matter of course, the ones that are personal or known more in the clubhouse than in the public. So ideally, Tom Seaver would have been SPANKY, Willie Mays BUCK and Howard Johnson SHEIKH.
Also, though it would have been hard to resist CHOO-CHOO for Clarence Coleman, I’d like to believe the catcher of few words from the 1962 Mets would have gone with BUB. And given that it was 1962, I could only hope everything was properly spelled.
Looking back, a Darryl Strawberry “Straw” jersey would have been hilarious for the noted coke problems of that team. It would have been funny to see Paul Lo Duca wear a “Captain Red Ass” jersey. Funny, but not likely to happen.
Ultimately, the jersey I would have liked to have seen could have been done this year. After all, what would have been better than seeing Jacob deGrom opting to chose “Sidd Finch” for his jersey?
The answer to the rhetorical question is reading the blogs from the writers who are so generous in contributing their time. Certainly,t hey all have stories to tell about these and many more players. In fact, they may have some nicknames all of their own, but to find that out, you will have to visit those sites.
Last year, when contemplating who should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, I ultimately determined Edgar Martinez fell short. Ultimately, the crux of the argument was due to the scarcity of DHs even available for Hall of Fame voting, it was hard to create a standard. As a result, Frank Thomas, the only player in the Hall of Fame who spent more time at DH than in the field became the standard upon his election. As Edgar was not the DH Thomas was, he should fall short of election.
Since that time, the IBWAA had decided to induct Edgar in what amounts to their own straw poll, and we have seen a groundswell of support of voters to induct him into the Hall of Fame. Whether he does in fact get elected today remains to be seen, but at a minimum, it led to rethink how to approach Edgar’s Hall of Fame candidacy.
Ultimately, I decided that since a DH is just a hitter, Edgar should be looked upon as a hitter only first. After collecting all that information, we can then make the determination about whether he was a good enough hitter to be in the Hall of Fame based upon his hitting alone.
The Steroids Era has blurred this somewhat, but we do know that there are certain magic numbers that get you into the Hall of Fame. On the offensive side, those numbers are 3,000 hits and 500 homers. With respect to both, Edgar not only falls short, but he falls well short. In fact, he “only” had 2,247 hits and 309 homers.
Considering he averaged just 125 hits a year and 17 homers a year, he was going to need another six years to get to 3,000 hits and 11 years to get to 500 homers. So from the magic number standpoint, we know Edgar falls well short.
Lesser Known Magic Numbers
To be fair to Edgar, he was not a home run hitter, and you do not have to be a home run hitter to be a truly great offensive player. To that end, further examination is due to determine if he has the numbers in other categories that are worthy of Hall of Fame induction. For the sake of brevity in this section, the bars set are for all players eligible for the Hall of Fame who have not been implicated by PEDs.
Runs – Putting Johnny Damonaside for the moment as he is on the ballot, every player with more runs scored than Cal Ripken, Jr.‘s 1,647 runs scored has been inducted. Edgar only has 1,219 runs scored.
Doubles– Again Ripken is the bottom line standard with his having hit 603 doubles. Edgar falls short of this mark with his having hit 514 doubles.
RBI– Every player with more RBI than Ernie Banks‘ 1,636 RBI is in the Hall of Fame. What’s interesting is Harold Baines, a career DH himself, was next on the all-time RBI list with 1,628. Edgar finished his career with 1,261 RBI.
Walks – Walks are not as forgiving a category as the others as the Hall of Fame voters have not really rewarded that as a skill, at least not to the extent of the balls in play categories. Thomas and his 1,667 walks is the floor, and Edgar again falls well short with 1,283 walks in his career.
BA -Like Walks, batting average is a bit unforgiving with Babe Ruth and his .342 setting the low water mark. Edgar again is well short with a .312 batting average.
OBP – This is where Edgar’s best case is. Everyone with a higher OBP than Dan Brouthers and his .423 OBP are in the Hall of Fame. However, if you remove Max Bishop, who played from 1924-1935 from the equation, that number drops to Stan Musial and his .417 OBP. With Edgar having a .418 OBP, he meets the criteria of this adjusted standard.
SLG – For this one, some allowances need to be made as Larry Walker, Jim Thome, and Vladimir Guerrero remain on the ballot. Another factor is Albert Belle and his .565 SLG is an outlier not being good enough for induction is an outlier. Otherwise, the bar would be Rogers Hornsby and his .577 SLG. Making those allowances, the new mark is Ralph Kiner and his .547 SLG. Edgar again falls short with a .515 SLG.
Looking at these numbers, Edgar misses the bottom line standard on all of them. In reality, he misses the mark by a big margin for most of them. If we tweak the numbers, his OBP is the only one that matches. It’s certainly impressive, but for a player whose sole job was to go out there and hit, it is really difficult to argue that one truly elite Hall of Fame level skill is enough to merit induction.
As time passes by, we get smarter, and we learn new and better ways to evaluate hitters other than just their traditional back of the baseball card stats. As we know, it is easier to hit in some parks than others, and as a result, we need statistics that adjust accordingly. For a number of factors, including their goal of synthesizing a number of park and league neutral factors to derive an overall hitter value, I decided to use OPS+ and wRC+ for an advanced statistical analysis.
OPS+ If you look at the players eligible for the Hall of Fame and not tainted by steroids, Ty Cobb and his 168 OPS+ was the lowest “magic number” mark. You could even push it down to 163 as Jimmie Foxx had that mark, but it should be noted he is tied with Pete Browning, who was not inducted into the Hall of Fame. Edgar falls short of this mark again with his 147 OPS+.
Now, if we were to focus solely on modern players and just focused on those players who played over the last 50 years, the OPS+ threshold doesn’t really move as Dick Allen with his 156 mark was not inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, Willie Mays and Thomas were. So, if we were to treat Allen like an exception, that mark would move to Willie McCovey and Mike Schmidt, whose career OPS+ is 147, which as we know is Edgar’s career mark.
If we are making a case here for Edgar, which is what we are searching to do, it should be noted by this metric alone, he is tied for 42nd on the list.
wRC+Again, Dick Allen is the major impediment here as his 155 wRC+ was not sufficient for Hall of Fame induction. That would make Tris Speaker and his 157 wRC+ the standard bearer. Edgar and his 147 wRC+ falls well short of that mark.
If we were to make the same allowances that were made for the OPS+ mark, the threshold would move to the 145 wRC+ posed by McCovey, Willie Stargell, and the presumed to be inducted Thome. Edgard has a higher mark than that.
Another factor in Edgar’s favor here is his 147 wRC+ ranks 33rd best in the history of baseball.
If we are going to discuss advanced metrics, we have to discuss WAR. In reality, the WAR required for Hall of Fame induction is a moving target. The high water mark is the 73.9 average for starting pitchers and the 40.6 average for relievers. Putting pitching aside, the high water mark is the 73.2 WAR average for right fielders and the 53.4 average WAR for catchers serving as the low water mark.
Certainly, Edgar falls within all of those parameters with a 68.3 career WAR. In fact, that mark puts him tied for 112th all time. That’s ahead of first ballot inductees like Ivan Rodriguez(68.4) and Ernie Banks (67.4). However, it also puts Edgar behind players never inducted into the Hall of Fame like Lou Whitaker (74.9) and Bobby Grich, both of whom were five percented in their first year of the ballot and were not inducted in the most recent Veteran’s Committee vote.
Overall, Edgar is 112th, which puts him well below some Hall of Famers, but it does put him ahead of many others. The same goes for people not in the Hall of Fame.
Revisiting The Frank Thomas Argument
As of today, the DH position has only been in existence for 44 years thereby making it the newest position in all of baseball. In the brief history of the DH, we have seen it used in a variety of ways. It has been used as a spot for an aging veteran, and we have seen it used for a rotating spot to give players a rest. Of course, with players like Edgar, we have seen it go to good hitters.
As of this moment, there is only one player in the Hall of Fame who spent more time at DH than in the field. That player was Frank Thomas. In his career, Thomas hit .301/.419/.555 with 495 doubles, 521 homers, and 1,704 RBI. He had a 73.7 WAR, 45.2 WAR7, and a 59.5 JAWS. If we are looking to create a standard to induct a DH, he’s it.
Edgar falls short having a lower OBP and SLG with significantly fewer homers and RBI. His 68.3/.43.6/56.0 all fall well short of the numbers Thomas put up.
If we are going to look at Edgar just among hitters, we also need to take other things into consideration. Despite being just a DH, which is effectively a part-time player, Edgar only played over 150 games in just three seasons. To be fair, we should make that four with him leading the league in games played in the shortened 1995 season. Still, he was a DH that could not stay on the field.
Despite the current narrative that Edgar is the best DH ever, he really wasn’t as Frank Thomas was. Moreover, Edgar wasn’t recognized as such in his playing days. During his career, Edgar only won five Silver Sluggers and made just seven All Star teams in 18 years. I know his name is on the American League award for DHs, but that doesn’t mean he was the best DH ever or even of his era.
One other argument I’ve seen is Edgar not playing the field helped his team. Sure, his being utilized the best possible way was a benefit to the Mariners. However, it’s hard to argue that is was also beneficial the Mariners had players like Mike Blowers, Russ Davis, David Bell, Jeff Cirillo, and Scott Spiezio at third base.
From this analysis, it is pretty clear that if you want to make a case for Edgar Martinez as a Hall of Famer, you certainly can. He was certainly a very good hitter in his career, and based upon what metric you chose to use, he was among the best hitters in any particular category. However, the question ultimately is whether he was a good enough hitter that we can overlook his never really playing in the field.
For me, the answer is no.
Right now, the standard for a DH is Frank Thomas, and Edgar falls well short of that. He also did not put up anywhere near 3,000 hits or 500 homers. You literally have to move the floors for any other statistical category for Edgar to be above the proverbial red line. Worse yet, he was a DH that was not able to play over 150 games a season. That’s a problem when you’re looking to induct a one-dimensional player.
No, it won’t be a travesty when and if Edgar is elected into the Hall of Fame. However, it will ultimately be the wrong decision.
If you’re going to say Willie Mays, that’s acceptable. Let’s just split the difference and say this was the greatest double play in Major League history.
Watching that play and remembering that game time and again, there are some things that stick out in your mind. The stands were rocking. Carlos Delgado was fired up like never before. The Mets seemed unbeatable that day. Everything built to a fever pitch in the bottom of the sixth. Degaldo walked. Rolen made a throwing error not only allowing David Wright to reach, but to set up runners at second and third with no outs. Shawn Green was intentionally walked loading the bases.
Then, Jose Valentin struck out, and everyone’s hero, Endy Chavez, flew out to center to end the rally. From there, we saw the Yadier Molina homer, the Carlos Beltran strikeout, collapses in 2007 and 2008, the Madoff scandal, and really the Mets failing to play competitive baseball in the first six years in Citi Field.
In many ways, Chavez’s catch became a highlight in the truest sense of the word because that was the apex. Everything came crashing down after that.
During that game, the Mets looked unbeatable. Harvey had shut down the Royals pitching eight scoreless allowing just four hits and striking out nine. When he took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, the fans were rocking, and everyone believed the Mets were not only going to win that game, but they were going to complete the comeback from a 3-1 series deficit. How could you not? The Royals had just lost Game 7 at home the previous season, and the Mets had Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard for Games 6 and 7.
Like the aftermath of the Chavez catch, it didn’t work out that way. Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain and allowed an RBI double to Eric Hosmer. After a Mike Moustakas ground out, Hosmer was on third and the infield was drawn in. Then to the surprise of everyone, Hosmer broke for the plate while Wright was throwing to first to get Salvador Perez.
From there, we saw the Mets have to fight tooth and nail just to get to a Wild Card Game last year. Madison Bumgarner outdueled Syndergaard, and Conor Gillaspie homered off Jeurys Familia. This past season, seemingly everyone but Ray Ramirez was injured as the Mets dropped from World Series contender to fourth place in the NL East. The roster now has a number of holes and a number of question marks with the team announcing it’s going to cut payroll.
Depending on what the team does this offseason, and depending on the health of players like Michael Conforto, the Mets could once again be looking at an extended period of irrelevance. When Harvey took the mound for the ninth inning roughly two years ago, no one could have possibly believed that to be true.
Then again, when Chavez made that catch, no one could believe what would be in store for the Mets over the next decade.
Impressively, like Willie Mays after “The Catch”, Chavez was aware of the game situation, he made a strong relay to Jose Valentin, who then got it over to a fired up Carlos Delgado to nail Jim Edmonds at first to complete the inning ending double play.
As we know with the American League having won the All Star Game, the Mets wouldn’t have a home game until Game 3 of the World Series. In his first World Series at bat at home, David Wright, the same man who had an RBI single to open the scoring in Game 7 of the NLCS, would do this:
Yes, those events happened in the same October. You cannot convince me otherwise.
On August 22, 1973, the Mets won their second game in a row to raise the Mets record to 57-67 leaving them 6.0 games out in the National League East behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals.
From that point forward, the Mets would be the hottest team in baseball going 25-12 carrying them to an unlikely division championship. The Mets rode the hot streak to beat the Big Red Machine 3-2 in a best of five NLCS, and they came within a win of disrupting the Oakland A’s dynasty.
The popular story was the Mets were spurred by Tug McGraw screaming “Ya Gotta Believe!” after a M.Donald Grant “pep talk” in July. However, the truth is that team just got healthy at the right time, and when the team was at 100%, they were among the best teams in baseball.
During that year, the team was hampered by injuries. Jerry Grote, John Milner, Bud Harrelson, and Cleon Jones all missed significant time. Rusty Staub player through injuries all year. On top of that phenom Jon Matlack was having a down year a year removed from winning the Rookie of the Year Award. He was joined by Jerry Koosman in having a surprising down year. Willie Mays looked to be every bit of his 42 years of age. Young fill-ins like Don Hahn just were not producing. The Mets were forced to do anything they could do to improve the team like releasing dead weight like Jim Fregosi. About all that went right that season for the Mets was Tom Seaver; that and the fact that no one ran away with the division allowing the Mets to enter the postseason with an 82-79 record.
Isn’t that what this Mets season has been. With Matt Harvey, David Wright, Lucas Duda, Adrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes, we have seen this Mets team be hampered time and again by injuries. We have seen countless Mets play through injuries like Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz with their bone spurs. We’ve seen replacements like Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly, and Matt Reynolds not play up to snuff. Players like Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto had surprising down years. About the only thing that has gone right for the Mets this year is the fact that Jacob deGrom has continued to pitch like an ace, and the fact that no one has ran away with the second Wild Card spot.
Maybe, just maybe, this is 1973 all over again. That 1973 team was much further back in both the standings and more teams to leapfrog in the standings. All they needed to do was to get healthy and to get hot. Right now, with Cespedes back and hitting home runs for the Mets again, this team is healthy, and they are on the verge of getting hot. If that happens, the Mets can very well take that second Wild Card spot and get into the postseason.
As we saw in 1973 as well as last year, with great Mets pitching, the Mets can beat anyone in the postseason. They can shock the world. Anything is possible so long as they get hot and get into the postseason.
With the 2016 Hall of Fame class being announced yesterday, it’s hard to believe the Mets will have two Hall of Famers. Understandably and rightfully so, 2016 will be the year for the Mets to honor Mike Piazza. However, it’s high time the Mets also honor Tom Seaver.
Depending on your age, you identify the Mets with a particular player. Some will pick Piazza. Younger fans will pick David Wright. Many will pick any one of the players from the 1986 Mets. Part of this is a recency bias. Another part of this is the failure of the Mets organization to forever hold out Tom Seaver, The Franchise, as the Mets singular franchise player.
Go to other big league stadiums, particularly the new ones. The Yankees have Monument Park. In Monument Park, the Yankees have paid special tribute to five Yankees including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The Giants have a statue of Willie Mays. The Phillies have one for Mike Schmidt. The list goes on and on. The Mets? They only have a special honor for Jackie Robinson.
Walk around Citi Field. There’s no special designation for Seaver. Yes, his number is retired. His retired number also hangs on the same wall as Jackie Robinson. There needs to be a Tom Seaver statue. The main reason is all Mets fans need to know who he was. For some reason, Seaver isn’t spoken about in the historical context as he should. Part of the reason could be the team he represents.
This isn’t an issue of the Mets finances. I’m not mocking the Mets here for not having enough money to purchase a statue. The Mets had the money to build Citi Field. It’s an issue or priorities. They never prioritized honoring Seaver. I still don’t understand why.
Every Mets fan needs to see Seaver on their way into Citi Field. Kids should be asking their parents and grandparents about Seaver. They should hear stories like I did from my father. Stories about how he was nicknamed The Franchise because he turned the Mets around. They need to hear about “The Imperfect Game.” They need to hear stories about the Miracle Mets. They should hear about how Seaver used his legs so much while he was pitching he got dirt on his knee.
There’s no better place to tell these stories than at the ballpark. It’s where my father told me about them. I hope one day he’ll get to tell my son those stories too. I’d love for my son to see the statute and ask, “Who’s Tom Seaver?” I’ll just then sit back as my Dad tells him the same stories he told me.
This is what we’re missing with the Seaver statue. We’re missing the history not only of the Mets, but also baseball. Sure, I look forward to my Dad telling my son about how he grew up a Brooklyn Dodger fan, and Jackie Robinson was his favorite player because he ran pigeon-toed just like my Dad did. It’ll be awesome, but it’s also a problem. My son will ask the Jackie Robinson but not the Tom Seaver question on his way into the ballpark.
The Mets have been around for 54 years and have developed their own rich history. It’s time to properly honor it with a Seaver statute. Then maybe one day we can have a Piazza statute when I can regale my son and hopefully grandson in the future with stories like the trade bringing him to the Mets, him being the greatest hitting catcher ever, and the post 9/11 homerun. Sure, I’ll relate those stories anyway because they’re great stories. However, I want my son to ask me about them. A statue honoring the Mets Hall of Famers would go a long way in that regard.
It’s time to honor Tom Seaver. It’s time to build him his statue. It’s not just for him, but for all Mets fans. The ones that saw him play and the ones not yet born. The a Mets need to honor their history now and set it in bronze.