During Spring Training, Buck Showalter has made it a point to bring Keith Hernandez down to the field. In fact, as reported by Bob Klapisch of nj.com, Showalter removed the old rule which banned Hernandez from the batting cages. Showalter made it a point to get rid of the dumb rule (which was explained away because Hernandez was a part of SNY).
Specifically, Showalter noted, “I wanted people to notice Keith next to me and it wasn’t by coincidence. To me, Keith Hernandez is Mets royalty. He can go wherever he wants around here. This is his team.”
Showalter is exactly right here. After all, Hernandez was the first captain in team history. That 1986 team constantly talks about how much Hernandez meant to that team in terms of his leadership and defense. To keep that away from the team is pure and utter Wilpon nonsense. Well, the Wilpons are gone and so is much of their stupidity.
This was something Bobby Valentine had done so well during his Mets tenure. We didn’t just see the Mets greats pass through Spring Training for a photo op and media attention. That is something we will see this Spring with Mike Piazza, Al Leiter, David Wright, and others passing through and working with the players for a day or so.
Valentine had taken it a step further than that. Valentine put Mookie Wilson on his coaching staff. We also saw it with him having Al Jackson, an original Met just inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, on his coaching staff. There many be many reasons why Valentine did that, and it could very well be because Davey Johnson once did the same thing with him and Bud Harrelson on the Mets coaching staff.
Being a Met is different than being a part of any other team. It’s being the big market target while sitting in the shadow of the Yankees. It’s having a fan base who clings to Tug McGraw‘s “Ya Gotta Believe!” who also expects Tom Glavine to implode completing the collapse. We know Gary Carter is going to start an improbable rally while fully expecting Lucas Duda to throw it nowhere near Travis d’Arnaud.
The Mets are the most unique team in all of sports, and they have the fanbase to match. Each and every player who has come through here fully understands it. After all, Carlos Beltran went from reviled while playing here to a standing ovation at the All Star Game wearing the enemy St. Louis Cardinals uniform and fans who cheered him as a conquering hero when he was brought back as the manager.
Valentine knew all of this, and he had a coaching staff reflect that. Showalter seems to get that as well, and he wants the former Mets to be a part of this team both in Spring Training and beyond. He understands the team history, and in the end, Showalter just implicitly gets it.
When the Mets have a manager who gets what being a New York Met is all about, magic happens. We saw it in 1986 and 1999. Mookie brought home Ray Knight. Robin Ventura hit a grand slam single. Seeing how Showalter is managing this team, Mets fans should be ready to see what is coming next.
Famously starting with Billy Beane, the war on analytics on baseball has long been fought. Really, it started before him, and it’s a war which continues to this day.
Back in the 1970s, it was Earl Weaver looking for a bloop and a blast. In the 1980s, it was Davey Johnson pouring over computer reports to find a statistical advantage. There’s more, and yes, this is an oversimplification.
Ultimately, analytics won. We see the Tampa Bay Rays have a competitive advantage with their use of analytics despite a low payroll. The Los Angeles Dodgers meld spending power with analytics to gain a stranglehold on the NL West and to some extent the National League.
When Steve Cohen took over the New York Mets, his first and main focus has been analytics. After using it to significantly improve the Mets defense, it’s being expanded to the minor leagues. In many ways, this is the tip of the iceberg.
We saw it with the NFL. The Los Angeles Chargers lost a game in OT to the Kansas City Chiefs. One of the purported reasons why is the Chargers opted not to kick a field goal on three separate occasions while subsequently failing to convert on fourth down. The ex-players had a field day.
— Carl Banks (@CarlBanksGIII) December 17, 2021
Turns out analytics suck!
— mark schlereth (@markschlereth) December 17, 2021
If you break it down, the Chargers made the correct choice. With analytics, we see going for fourth down is the better choice.
Like with baseball, the criticism is grossly misplaced. The issue isn’t the decision itself, but rather, the execution. Much like it’s the reliever and match-up chosen, it’s the play call and execution.
However, the naysayers only choose to focus on one part of the process. It’s why they’re losing the battle. People increasingly understand the full process, and overall, the numbers and data prove out the process on the field.
This is why teams go for it more. This is why analytics eventually win in all sports. It did in baseball. With teams going for it more, and with all Bill Belichick did, we see it is in football.
For that matter, it is in hockey and basketball too. Just this past year, we saw it as a big reason why Adam Fox won the Norris Trophy.
Overall, analytics always win. They win because it’s the start way to do things. They win because it works.
Former players whining days gone by continue to miss the point. Instead of the woe is me, their focus can still be on the things where everyone agrees. It’s not the option to go for it, but rather, the play call.
The sooner these former players buy in, the better. We’ll see a more informed fan base. We’ll also see fans hearing from people who actually like to see the sport. Ultimately, more than anything, that will help grow sports.
When you look at the New York Mets 1999-2000 teams, Bobby Valentine carefully built in coaching staffs. Yes, he brought in the best coaches he could find (and/or were forced upon him), but he did something more. He specifically built a coaching staff dedicated towards winning.
Valentine’s first base coach was Mookie Wilson. Really, who better than Mookie to tell the players what it meant to win in New York. He was there for their transformation from complete and unmitigated disaster to one of the best teams in baseball history. He would even have the hit (alright, reached on error) which would help cement their status.
Valentine might’ve learned the importance of having that former winner on the coaching staff because he had the same experience. Back in the early 1980s, he was the third base coach for Davey Johnson. When he was hired as the Texas Rangers manager, Valentine was replaced at third by Bud Harrleson, who had been on the coaching staff with Valentine.
Fast forward to 2015, and there was Tim Teufel, who like Valentine and Harrelson, was the third base coach. Like the aforementioned, Teufel did bring his own level of expertise. Of course, part of that expertise was how to thrive in New York and how to win.
When the Mets build their 2022 coaching staff, that is something they should be atuned to in building their staff. Obviously, teams should hire the best coaches possible. In fact, the Mets already started that process by retaining Jeremy Hefner. In that process, there should be an allotment for a coach who can help players with the process of navigating New York.
Look, New York is a challenging place to play. It’s the most challenging in all of professional sports. To some degree, it is all the more difficult playing for the New York Mets. There is an added level of scrutiny, and after years of Wilpon malfeasance, there is just a certain portion of the media and fandom who just can’t let of the lol Mets mindset.
The best way to help the players mitigate against that is to bring in a coach who understands winning here. Looking at the Mets, there may not be anyone better suited to that than Edgardo Alfonzo.
Alfonzo, 48, was a Mets minor league coach and manager from 2014 – 2019. During that time period, he worked his way up from bench coach and roving hitting instructor to the New York Penn League Championship winning manager for the Brooklyn Cyclones. That was it for Alfonzo because Brodie Van Wagenen had no use for Mets legends who were winners.
As Alfonzo told Mike Puma of the New York Post, he actually thought he was going to get a promotion for winning. After all, that’s what is supposed to happen when you succeed in your job. Well, now presents the belated opportunity for that to happen.
The challenge for the Mets is determining how he could best help a coaching staff. In all honesty, his familiarity with analytics and willingness to apply and interpret them will be what ultimately dicates what job he could be offered. Whatever the case, there should be a job for Alfonzo.
After all, this is a player who played at a Gold Glove level at two positions in the infield. He was a terrific hitter and one of the most clutch players to ever wear a Mets uniform. He can just bring an immense amount of knowledge to the job, and he has the proven ability to communicate with players from all backgrounds.
Alfonzo can be an asset to the 2022 Mets if they are willing to let him be one. The team will certainly be better if he is a part of the coaching staff helping this team win their first World Series since 1986.
The New York Mets seem to be narrowing their managerial search, and reading the tea leaves, it seems Buck Showalter will be the next manager. There are reports Steve Cohen wants him, and there are ties from the New York Yankees between new general manager Billy Eppler and Showalter.
If we are going to go back to Eppler’s old Yankees ties, the Mets could also look at Willie Randolph for the managerial role. With Randolph, there are two things which stand out in his candidacy: (1) he’s actually had success as the Mets manager; and (2) he has unfinished business.
When we look back at Randolph’s Mets tenure, people mostly remember the bad. There was the 2007 collapse, and he was fired one game into a west coast trip. There was the chasm between him and Carlos Delgado. Of course, many forget the 2008 Mets also collapsed, but this time under the helm of Jerry Manuel.
Really, Randolph had to deal with more as the Mets manager than most did. He never had the full backing and respect of ownership. Things got so bad Manuel and Tony Bernazard were going behind Randolph’s back to not only spy on him but to find reasons to remove him from the job. The shame of it was Randolph was quite good at the job.
First and foremost, Randolph was immediately challenged in his job by trying to find a way to graciously end Mike Piazza‘s Mets career. Randolph did it in a way where Piazza not only had a strong season, but he had his dignity during the course of the season.
Randolph was gifted an old foe in Pedro Martinez atop the rotation. Notably, despite the many battles between the two during the heyday of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, there was nothing but respect between the two. Randolph had tried to protect Martinez from the team, but to no avail.
Another challenge with Randolph was the Carlos Beltran situation. He helped Beltran navigate through what was a disaster of a 2005 season and get him playing at a Hall of Fame level. By most accounts, the two had a good relationship, which is something a smart manager will have with their superstar.
One important part of that is the ability to adapt. When Randolph first took over the Mets job, he initially tried to make the Mets more like the Yankees. Case-in-point was the restrictions on facial hair. That is something he eventually rescinded.The ability to adapt to the job is of vital importance.
There were other highlights from Randolph’s tenure with the most important being his development of David Wright and Jose Reyes. With respect to Reyes, he was able to help him hone his skills to develop a more sensible approach at the plate to help him become an All-Star. With respect to Wright, he admitted in his book, The Captain: A Memoir, Randolph helped him become the Major League player he wanted to be. If not for injuries, that would’ve been a Hall of Famer.
Looking at Randolph, one of the biggest skills he had was his working relationship with Rick Peterson. The two worked together to get the most out of the Mets pitching staff, and we saw them do some things which may now be considered commonplace. For example, Randolph had a very quick hook in the 2006 postseason, and he was not afraid to let his superior bullpen win him games. The Mets will be looking for something like that in 2022 with Jeremy Hefner being retained as pitching coach.
Overall, Randolph had strenghts and weaknesses as manager. As we saw with him, the strengths far outweighed the weaknesses. That’s a major reason why he’s second only to Davey Johnson in winning percentage. He was a very good manager, who for some reason, never got another opportunity to manage.
Perhaps at 67, Randolph no longer has any designs on managing. If he does, we need to remember he was a good manager for the Mets. Unfortunately, he never received a fair shake. All told, Randolph knows what it takes to succeed with the Mets. No, he’ll never get the job, but there should have at least been some level of interest.
It was a very poorly kept secret back in 2017 if he had his druthers Sandy Alderson wanted to hire Kevin Long to succeed Terry Collins as the New York Mets manager. Long didn’t take anything for granted coming extremely prepared for the interview with binders of information. More than that, he had already had a profound impact on the Mets organization rejuvenating Curtis Granderson while transforming Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy.
However, it wasn’t to be. Instead, Jeff Wilpon got it in his mind he wanted to have Mickey Callaway as the manager. Despite Callaway interviewing poorly, it was enough for Wilpon to hire Callaway after one interview because the Philadelphia Phillies showed interest. As Mets fans can recall, this went over about as well as when the Mets included Jarred Kelenic in the Robinson Cano trade because the Phillies showed interest in Edwin Diaz.
Since then, the managerial position has been a disaster for the Mets. Callaway proved to be an awful human being harassing female reporters. After him, the Mets hired and then were effectively forced to fire Carlos Beltran. In a mad scramble, they hired Luis Rojas while completely failing to give him any chance to succeed in the position. Rather that let him continue to grow, the team has decided they need to go in a different direction.
Now, there are many moving pieces before the Mets get to hire a new manager. The biggest is the need to hire a new president of baseball operations. Presumably, that is the person who will and should have the biggest input on who the Mets next manager will be. Whatever the case, the Mets have the right to correct the mistake they made in 2017 and hire Long.
For his part, Long served the world with a reminder why he was managerial material. During the National League Wild Card Game, he was sitting next to superstar Juan Soto, a player Long has helped get the most out of his ability. Soto was wearing a Trea Turner jersey (another player Long has helped immensely) while Long wore a Max Scherzer jersey.
Max Scherzer went over to high five Juan Soto and Kevin Long after the walk-off home run ? pic.twitter.com/HvV0s4FLzE
— Blake Finney (@FinneyBlake) October 7, 2021
In that moment, you saw everything you could have possibly wanted to see from a future manager of your team. He was standing there with his star player, a player in Soto he helped take from a 19 year old wunderkind to a bona fide Major League superstar. More than that, he showed the incredibly great relationship he fostered with his superstar player, the very type of relationship a manager absolutely needs to have any level of success.
We also saw the sense of loyalty he has for his players. He went out there to support both Turner and Scherzer. It was a moment which meant so much to them Scherzer made sure to go over to the stands to celebrate his team’s walk-off win with them. Keep in mind here, Scherzer is a free agent who should be on everyone’s radar.
When we look at the modern game and the current status of the managerial role, it is increasingly about relationships with the players and the ability to communicate. It’s no longer about Gil Hodges playing a hunch or Davey Johnson trusting his eyes over the data. Increasingly, it’s about taking the game plan prepared by the front office and not just executing it, but getting the players to buy in on the plan.
Putting aside what happened in the NL Wild Card Game, this is exactly what Long does. He helped transform Cespedes from a wild swinger to a player better able to identify his pitch and become a monster at the plate. There was also Murphy who went from gap to gap hitter to a legitimate threat at the plate. Murphy showed the 2015 postseason wasn’t a fluke by any means when he became an All-Star and MVP candidate with the Washington Nationals. It should be noted Long followed Murphy to Washington, D.C.
In total, Long is what you want in a manager. He can process data and translate it to players in a way where they can understand and execute it. We also see he is a coach who can foster great relationships with this players. He is also loyal to his players, and they love him. Short of being able to steal away the Bob Melvins of the world, you’re not going to find a better managerial candidate than Long.
Alderson knew it in 2017, and he can do what he wanted to do back then and make Long the Mets manager. If that is the case, we can expect the maddening Mets offense to finally click and for this team to reach the World Series potential we know they have.
With the scare of Davey Johnson being sick in the hospital with COVID19, the Mets were in danger of losing their second franchise great in less than a year. Tom Seaver will never be around to see his statue, but Johnson could be around to see his number retired.
The Mets standards for retiring numbers is all over the place. Casey Stengel was the first for, well, it wasn’t his performance as manager. That’s for sure.
Then, it was Gil Hodges. His number was posthumously retired a little more than a year after his tragic death. His guiding the Miracle Mets certainly factored into this decision.
After that, for the longest time, only Hall of Famers had their number retired. Yes, Seaver’s number was retired before his induction, but his induction was a fait accompli. For his part, Mike Piazza had to wait for his induction.
Things have changed with Jerry Koosman now getting his number retired. With that happening, it’s hard to ascertain where the line now is. Wherever it is, one thing should be clear – Davey Johnson should have his number retired.
Johnson is arguably the best manager in Mets history. In fact, in the 59 year history of the Mets, he remains the only manager to win two division titles. That’s a record which will stand for at least two more years.
That’s not the only records Johnson has. He’s the only manager to have never finished below second place. His .588 winning percentage still rates first. The same for his 595 wins.
He’s the only Mets manager to have five consecutive 90+ win seasons.He’s the only manager to have multiple 100 win seasons.
In fact, his 1986 Mets are one of the best teams of all-time. In fact, since World War II, no National League team has won more games than that Mets team won that season. As we all know, the Mets won the World Series that year.
With that, he joined Grote as only one of two Mets managers to win a World Series.
The way Johnson did it was truly unique. He was one of the first managers noted for what we now deem an analytical approach. Before games, he used to scour over computer printouts to not only try to maximize his lineup, but also to try to find an edge. As his record indicates, he was very successful.
He also was unique in that he was not always beholden to veterans. In fact, one of the reasons the Mets were so successful early on is Johnson went with the talented Mets core. That included his pushing Frank Cashen to call Dwight Gooden up for the 1984 season.
That was a very bold decision which helped deliver the Mets a World Series title three years later.
Johnson did his part getting the most out of those young Mets on the field. Although, there will forever be the question if his laidback style managing personal lives had a negative impact. To be fair, it’s hard to pin substance abuse issues on just a manager. That’s an unfair criticism.
Overall, Johnson wasn’t just the winningest manager in Mets history, he’s also a revolutionary figure in the game. He’s as important a figure in team history, and in many ways, he’s the best manager in Mets history.
Really, it’s hard to imagine anyone can do what he did. The winning. Changing the way the game is managed. All of it. And that is exactly why the Mets should retire his number.
The New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers have an interesting history. For fans of the original Mets team, many of them were originally Dodgers fans.
That includes Fred Wilpon, who built a ballpark in testament to those Dodger teams. Of course, that was resented by younger more modern Mets fans who have zero recollection of those Brooklyn teams.
For Gen X fans and younger, the history of the Mets and Dodgers is quite different.
There was the Dodgers upsetting the 1988 Mets. That was a painful series highlighted by David Cone perhaps riling up the Dodgers, Davey Johnson leaving in Dwight Gooden too long with the ensuing Mike Scioscia homer, and Orel Hershiser‘s virtuoso performance.
The 2006 Mets got some measure of a payback in the NLDS sweep. That was a total beatdown with former Dodgers Shawn Green and Jose Valentin relaying to former Dodger Paul Lo Duca who tagged out Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew at home plate.
Things between these two teams really ratcheted up in the 2015 NLDS. That all began with Chase Utley living up to his reputation as one of the dirtiest players ever with his tackling Ruben Tejada at second thereby breaking Tejada’s leg.
The bad feelings of that series carried forward into the next season when Noah Syndergaard was ejected during a nationally televised game after throwing a pitch behind Utley. Utley would get the last laugh with Terry Collins being revered years later when the ejection video was released.
After that, things calmed down. That was due in large part to the Wilpons ineptitude taking the Mets out of contention. During that time, the Dodgers became the model franchise finally breaking through and winning the 2020 World Series.
Now, with Steve Cohen at the helm, things promise to be different.
With Cohen comes real financial heft which arguably surpasses what the Dodgers have. We’ve seen early on what that means with the Mets already signing Trevor May and James McCann as well as being in the market for George Springer and Tomoyuki Sugano.
But, it’s not just the financial strength. It’s also the scouting and analytics. The Dodgers have used that to identify players like Max Muncy and Justin Turner who have become relative stars. They’ve also developed an enviable pipeline of talent with young players like Gavin Lux and Will Smith.
The Mets have started heading in that direction by bringing back Sandy Alderson. They’ve also hired Jared Porter as GM and Zack Scott as Assistant GM.
Of course, the Mets have retained perhaps the best draft scouting with Mark Tramuta, Tommy Tanous, Drew Toussaint, et al. That group is responsible for great talent like Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Seth Lugo, Brandon Nimmo, and Dominic Smith. That’s nothing to say of the talent still left in the system and traded away.
The Mets have the core, financial resources, burgeoning front office, and now the right ownership for the Mets to become a juggernaut like we haven’t seen from this franchise since the 1980s. They will very soon rival the Dodgers on and off the field.
That is going to lead to some more postseason run-ins. With that will be the heightening if tensions between these franchises which have already had their moments.
If the Mets make the right moves, we’ll see an epic postseason clash between these teams come October not just this year but in each of the ensuing seasons. The seeds are already there, and so, with more epic postseason series, we’ll see the makings of a bitter Mets/Dodgers rivalry.
It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.
It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.
Darell, No brainer to have Old Times Day , done
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 1, 2020
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:
Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.
Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.
For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.
If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.
The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.
Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.
Typically speaking, deciding who is “THE BEST” at something is a futile endeavor. After all, trying to apply objective measures to reach a subjective opinion is a concept somewhat at odds with itself.
In terms of baseball, it’s nearly impossible with the change of eras. Should Babe Ruth be considered the best ever when he played before integration? Should Barry Bonds be disqualified due to PEDs? Should we split the difference and say it’s Willie Mays?
Again, there’s just too many factors at play to determine who is THE BEST. To that end, we should look at this more as who’s in the discussion rather than who is atop the list.
In terms of the Mets, we know Tom Seaver is the best player to ever play for the team. That’s one of the rare instances where it’s clear-cut. It’s far from clear-cut on the manager side.
For 25 years, it was clearly Gil Hodges. He led the Miracle Mets to the 1969 World Series partially due to innovation. Hodges utilized platoons, and he might’ve been the first manager to utilize a five man rotation.
As we all know Hodges never got the chance to cement himself as the best manager ever as he suddenly died of a heart attack on the eve of the 1972 season. You can’t help but wonder what he could’ve done with the Mets getting Rusty Staub.
In 1984, the Mets hired Davey Johnson, who arguably went on to become the best manager in team history. In addition to winning the 1986 World Series, his teams never finished lower than second in the division.
Johnson was also the only Mets manager to win multiple division titles. In his tenure, his teams averaged 96 wins. It’s part of the reason why he has the most wins and highest winning percentage. Those were the Mets glory years, and he was at the helm.
Arguably, Hodges and Johnson are the Mets two best managers. However, there could be a case for Bobby Valentine.
Valentine is third in terms of wins and winning percentage. He came one year short of Johnson’s team record by having five consecutive winning seasons. However, notably, Valentine’s teams were not as loaded as Johnson’s.
Despite that, Valentine was the first Mets manager to lead the team to consecutive postseasons. He’s the only Mets manager to lead his team to a postseason series victory in consecutive seasons. In fact, he’s the only one to do it in any two seasons.
Overall, that’s the top three, and people should feel comfortable ranking them as they see fit. There’s a justifiable reason to put them in any order from 1-3. That said, Hodges and Johnson have the edge having won a Word Series.
After that trio, it’s fair to say Willie Randolph was a clear fourth. In addition to his leading the Mets to the 2006 NLCS, he never had a losing record while amassing the second best winning percentage in team history. His hand in developing David Wright and Jose Reyes to not only reach their potential, but also handling the city should never be discounted.
Honestly, if that isn’t your 1-4, you’re simply doing it wrong.
Terry Collins has a losing record and the most losses in team history. He blew a World Series. He also unapologetically destroyed reliever careers (see Tim Byrdak, Jim Henderson) while admitting he didn’t want to develop young players like Michael Conforto.
Yogi Berra was the manager who led the Mets to their second pennant, but he also finished with a sub .500 career despite having a World Series contending type of roster for part of his tenure.
After that, well, just consider there are only six Mets managers with a winning record. Two of them, Bud Harrelson and Mickey Callaway, were not generally well regarded for their managerial abilities. After that, there’s a lot of bad, including Hall of Famers Casey Stengel and Joe Torre.
Through Mets history, it’s clear who the four best managers are even if the order isn’t nearly as clear. Past them, it’s an uninspiring debate among pretty poor choices.
In the end, your list is personal to you, and no one can quite tell you you’re right or wrong. That is unless you do something monumentally stupid like having Hodges outside the top three or putting Stengel on your list.
Short of that, everyone’s opinions are valid, and it’s a fun debate. And remember, that’s all this is – a fun debate. It’s nothing more than that because you can’t definitely prove one is better than the other.
Sid Fernandez, or as Mets fans came to know and love him, El Sid, had become a beloved left-handed pitcher who had a sneaky fastball which just seemed to rise after he released it. With that sneaky delivery, on any particular day, you could see a gem from him with fans hanging S from the rafters, and when those days came, it was pure magic.
For Fernandez, he had come to the Mets in 1984, and with so many promising young arms, he really had to prove himself. Prove himself he would, and better yet, he would have one of the most important outings in team history.
Fernandez didn’t make the Opening Day rotation out of the 1984 or 1985 seasons. However, when he got called up each season, he stuck, and he would prove he belonged. In 1984, he had a respectable 102 ERA+. In 1985, he would lead the league with a 9.5 K/9. Finally, in 1986, Fernandez would make the Opening Day rotation.
In that 1986 season, Fernandez was terrific matching Dwight Gooden with a team high 200 strikeouts. He would also be named an All-Star for the first time in his career. His best start of that season, and possibly his career was his July 11, 1986 start against the Braves. In that two-hit shut out, he would strike out nine batters.
While he had won a career high 16 games, 10+ strikeout games, shutouts, and was an All-Star, they all pale in comparison to what Fernandez did in the postseason.
After being a hard luck loser against the scuff-marking Mike Scott in Game 4 of the NLCS, Fernandez was moved to the bullpen in the World Series as Davey Johnson opted to go with just three starters. This led to Fernandez making three relief appearances in the World Series, which included a 2.1 inning stint in Game 7.
After the Mets epic comeback in Game 6, there was a rainout which allowed the Red Sox to turn to Bruce Hurst, who would’ve been the World Series MVP, instead of Oil Can Boyd. Making matters worse for the Mets, Ron Darling didn’t have it lasting just 3.2 innings with the Mets falling behind 3-0.
Fernandez entered with a runner on second and two outs. After walking Wade Boggs, he got Marty Barrett to fly out to end the inning. Fernandez completely subdued the Red Sox offense. In the bottom of the sixth, Lee Mazzilli pinch hit for him and would start the game tying rally. Ultimately, Fernandez earned a no decision, but more importantly, he would earn a World Series ring.
Fernandez would find himself an All-Star again in 1987. In making consecutive All-Star teams, he joined Gooden as the only multiple-time All Stars from that World Series rotation. Moreover, in terms of Mets history, Fernandez, Jerry Koosman, and Jon Matlack are the only left-handed Mets starters to make consecutive All-Star appearances. In his last All-Star appearance, Fernandez would earn the save.
Fernandez was again an important part of the Mets NL East winning club in 1988. During that season, Fernandez led the league in H/9 for the second time in his career. As a matter of fact, Fernandez has the third best career H/9 mark in Major League history trailing just Nolan Ryan, Clayton Kershaw, and Sandy Koufax. Sadly, he didn’t pitch well in his one start on over-extended rest, and the Mets lost that series in seven losing the NLCS for the first time in team history.
The 1989 season saw Fernandez have his second best season in a Mets uniform by ERA+ (115). That was despite his starting the season in the bullpen with the team due to the emergence of David Cone. Despite that, he was the best pitcher in the rotation leading the team in ERA+, strikeouts, wins, and winning percentage. He’d also have one of the best starts of his career ruined. His 16 strikeout effort went up in flames as Lonnie Smith hit a walk-off homer. Speaking of homers, never a slouch at the plate, Fernandez would hit his first and only career homer.
From there, the Mets great run was nearing its end, and Fernandez was starting to have some injuries pile up. He would deal with a broken wrist and some knee issues. While the Worst Team Money Could Buy was an epic disappointment, Fernandez was one of the few who did his job well. In that 1992 season, he was the best pitcher on the team with a 129 ERA+ going 14-11 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.067 WHIP, and an 8.1 K/9.
His Mets career was over after the 1993 season, a season where he suffered another knee injury. In total, he was the sixth ever Mets pitcher by WAR with the fifth most wins in team history falling two short of 100. He is also ranked third in WHIP and second in H/9 (again trailing Ryan).
He rates well in terms of strikeouts with the eighth best K/9 and the fourth most strikeouts. Really, Fernandez is all over the Mets all-time leaderboards including having the ninth best WPA. Through it all, Fernandez is certainly one of the best starters in team history, one of the most important, and very clearly, the best Mets player to ever wear the number 50.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy
29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza
32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey
34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver
42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw
46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez