Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Posts Tagged ‘Orel Hershiser’

The Best Single Season Pitchers

Posted by JD on February 24, 2011

As one commenter noted, my previous list didn’t address pitchers who only played one year with the Mets. So, in the spirit of completeness, we’ll tackle that today. This list also has a caveat: I left R.A. Dickey (3.4 rWAR; would have tied for second on this list) off because, barring a surprise trade or some very unfortunate circumstances, he’ll be pitching for the Mets this year. With that being said, here we go:

9. & 10. Jack DiLauro and Juan Padilla (1.1 rWAR, 1969 and 2005): DiLauro was on the postseason roster in 1969 but didn’t appear in the NLCS or World Series. He was removed from the 40-man roster that offseason and selected by the Houston Astros. Even though DiLauro’s major league career lasted only two seasons, he had an interesting journey, bouncing around AAA before retiring at the age of 29.

Padilla represents a mild case of “what might have been”. Signed as a free agent after unsuccessful stints with the Reds and Yankees, Padilla had a decent season in 2005. His 1.49 ERA is a bit deceptive (he only struck out 17 in 36 1/3 innings of work and his 2.05 BABIP and 4.90 xFIP indicate he was more than a little lucky), but he should have been a part of the 2006 bullpen. Instead, Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2006 season. The Mets signed him to a minor league contract before the 2008 season but released him after only 14 innings and he’s been kicking around the independent leagues ever since.

6. 7. & 8. Hisanori Takahashi, Mark Bomback, and Kenny Rogers (1.3 rWAR, 2010, 1980, 1999): Takahashi’s stay with the club is still fresh in everyone’s mind, so I’ll just say this: I stand by this post. Omar Minaya should have traded Takahashi when he had the chance. He was a luxury item at the time and should have been converted into a younger, cheaper asset with more potential.

According to poster JFK at the Ultimate Mets Database, Bomback was given his nickname “Boom-Boom” from “the sound one heard when he was pitching–the sound of the ball off the bat and the sound of the ball hitting the wall afterwards.” He did lead the 1980 Mets in hits allowed, so there was probably more than a little truth behind it.

I’ve got nothing nice to say about Kenny Rogers, so I won’t say anything at all.

4. & 5. Mickey Lolich and Mark Guthrie (1.4 rWAR, 1976 and 2002): Lolich was acquired from the Detroit Tigers after the 1975 season, a season which saw him lose 18 games despite being worth 4.1 rWAR. This deal was unpopular with Mets fans at the time because the price to acquire Lolich was fan-favorite Rusty Staub, who was coming off a 105-RBI season (which was worth 3.1 rWAR). Although Staub never really came close to being the player he was in 75 again, Lolich “retired” from the Mets before the 1977. Staub went on to be worth 6.3 rWar to the Tigers, while Lolich was literally worth nothing.

Guthrie was acquired from the A’s (along with Tyler Yates) for David Justice, who had been acquired from the Yankees for Robin Ventura. So, in a way, you could say that the Mets acquired Guthrie for Ventura, I guess. I had been under the impression that Guthrie was a lefty specialist for the Mets, but his splits don’t really show it: he faced 103 righties vs. only 87 lefties. He held lefties to a .187 average, but righties only hit .221 against him and he actually had a slightly higher OPS+ against righties than lefties (60 to 57). That being said he was a decent reliever in a bullpen that, despite being maligned, wasn’t all that bad.

3. Orel Hershiser (1.9 rWAR, 1999): The Bulldog was a nemesis for Mets fans during the late 80’s, having a ridiculous Cy Young award winning season that culminated in shutting out the Mets in Game 7 of the NLCS. I know they won the World Series that year, but I really only remember one unbelievable at-bat from it: I wasn’t paying close attention after the Mets were eliminated. He signed with the Mets 11 years later He appeared in three games that post-season, the final one being the fateful Game 6 against the Atlanta Braves. Again, since I can’t say anything nice about Kenny Rogers, I won’t say anything at all. But I find it fascinating that Orel Hershiser appeared in two of the most painful post-season losses for the Mets.

2. Kevin Appier: (3.1 rWAR, 2001): Appier signed a 4-year, $42 million contract before the season, largely to replace the next pitcher on this list, and was traded away for Mo Vaughn after it. It seemed like an overpay to me at the time (after all, he only won 11 games that season), but now I’m not so sure. I’ve read several articles about the monetary value of a wins above replacement (I linked to a good one in this post). Though I don’t understand exactly how the values are calculated, I’ve seen them range between $4 and $5 million. In the interest of being extra-conservative (and not having access to the actual data as I write this), let’s say the value of 1 WAR in 2001 was $3 million. Using that scale, Appier was worth about $9 million that season: not much less than what the Mets actually paid him. Not bad, and not at all worth throwing away for Mo Vaughn.

On a related note, this post from Rany Jazayerli makes a great case for Appier to be elected to the Hall of Fame. It’s too late now, but the post is interesting nonetheless.

1. Mike Hampton (4.6 rWAR, 2000): “The Colorado school system”. Those four words will forever be associated with Mike Hampton in the minds of Mets fans. Sure, he spurned our favorite team and gave us a lame reason to justify it. But, through the lens of time, I’d argue that he did us a great favor: he was never the same pitcher after 2000. He struggled with the altitude in Colorado, struggled with injuries in Atlanta, and accumulated just 3.3 rWAR in the years after he left the Mets (or, just about what Appier gave them in 2001). In the end, it all worked out: Hampton put his kids in the school system of his choice, and Mets fans didn’t have to watch him clog their payroll. A reall win-win situation.

Posted in Flushing Frivolities, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

One Year Wonders

Posted by JD on February 22, 2011

As I was ranking Mets players with Presidential surnames, I noticed a few of them only had one year tenures with the team. This got me to wondering which one-year Mets were the most productive, and I was back on the Baseball Reference Play Index before I knew it. The results are listed below (as with the President list, I’m relying exclusively on the version of WAR (rWAR) used by Baseball Reference).

One note before we start: I omitted the best “one-year Met” from my list. Ike Davis had a 2.5 rWAR in his rookie year, which easily tops all of the other contenders. Seeing as how he’ll be the starting first baseman this season, I figured he didn’t technically qualify. If he suffers a career-ending injury before the season starts feel free to blame me for jinxing him. Now, on to the list:

10. Derek Bell (1.3 rWAR, 2000): A throw-in in the Mike Hampton deal (at least, that’s how I always looked at it); Bell was the starting right fielder for most of the 2000 season (a season ending injury late in the year prevented him from playing in the postseason). He slashed .266/.348/.425 in 624 plate appearances over 144 games. He added 18 home runs and 69 RBI, but his 98 OPS+ indicates that he was slightly below average for a right fielder.

My favorite Derek Bell memory has nothing to do with his time on the Mets. He signed a two-year deal with the Pirates after the 2000 to be their starting right fielder. When informed that he would have to compete for his starting job, Bell launched his infamous “Operation Shutdown”. From the Wikipedia:

“Nobody told me I was in competition. If there is competition, somebody better let me know. If there is competition, they better eliminate me out of the race and go ahead and do what they’re going to do with me. I ain’t never hit in spring training and I never will. If it ain’t settled with me out there, then they can trade me. I ain’t going out there to hurt myself in spring training battling for a job. If it is [a competition], then I’m going into ‘Operation Shutdown.’ Tell them exactly what I said. I haven’t competed for a job since 1991.”

That’s one of the best sports quotes I’ve ever heard, trailing only Latrell Sprewell’s “I got my family to feed” and Rasheed Wallace’s epic “As long as somebody CTC, at the end of the day I’m with them. For all you that don’t know what CTC means, that’s ‘Cut the Check.” If I ever re-name this blog, Cut The Check is the hands-down favorite to be the new name.

9. Richie Ashburn (1.3 rWAR, 1962): While technically tied with Bell, I couldn’t bring myself to equate a Hall of Famer with “Operation Shutdown”. After all, Ashburn played his final season with the inaugural 1962 Mets, which was inglorious enough. He slashed .306/.424/.393 and had a 122 OPS+, an incredible line for a 35 year-old. In fact, Whitey’s .424 OBP stood as the team record (minimum 400 at-bats, an entirely arbitrary threshold) until John Olerud topped it.

8. Rick Cerrone (1.4 rWAR, 1991): Even though I remember Cerrone on the Mets in 1991, I have always thought of him as a Yankee. That’s why I was surprised to learn that he played for six other teams (Cleveland, Toronto, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Boston, and Montreal). Another interesting factoid is that 1991 was the second most valuable season of his career (in terms of rWAR, at least), trailing only his 1980 season (3.9 rWAR for the Yankees).

6. & 7. Joe Foy and Duke Snider (1.4 rWAR, 1970 & 1963): We touched on Foy during the Presidential post, but I’ll say it again: just an unnecessary trade. Duke Snider’s story was similar to Ashburn’s in that he was a past-his-prime future Hall of Famer still hanging around. Unlike Ashburn, Snider had a connection to the Mets as one of the brightest stars of one of the franchises they were meant to replace, the Brooklyn Dodgers. Snider didn’t play much center for the Mets, appearing in only 11 games there in 1963, but while his bat was not up to his previous standards he did have an above-average OPS+ (115). He would finish his career in 1964 with the San Francisco, making him one of only four men to play for the Giants, Dodgers, and Mets. The other three are listed at the bottom of the post.

5. Dick Schofield (1.8 rWAR, 1992): Jayson Werth’s uncle was acquired from the then-California Angels along with a PTBNL (Julian Vasquez) for Julio Valera. Schofield was a defense-first shortstop with an excellent arm, but he was a pretty poor hitter. That’s being nice actually. According to the Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Schofield Schofield shares the record (with Mark Belanger) for most seasons with more than 400 at-bats and less than 100 hits with four. This seems like a bad thing, but it isn’t really. They are arbitrary thresholds, and some good players (including Mark McGwire, Ricky Henderson, and Barry Bonds, to pick just three) appear on the list. For the record, 12 other players had similar seasons with the Mets, including Dave Kingman, Todd Hundley, and Tommie Agee.

4. Desi Relaford (2.1 rWAR, 2001): Relaford falls into the nebulous category of “players I liked for no particular reason”. The Mets picked up on waivers from the San Diego Padres and paid him just $475,000, then later packaged him with the also-awesome Tsuyoshi Shinjo for Shawn Estes. 2001 was a career year for Relaford (he didn’t come close to replicating that season again) so Steve Phillips was right to try to sell high. Being Steve Phillips, however, he completely botched the transaction.

3. Eddie Bressoud (2.2 rWAR, 1966): I didn’t really know that much about Bressoud, who played all four infield positions (but primarily shortstop) for the 1966 Mets. Turns out he was very productive (at least in terms of Mets from that era): his single season with the Mets produced the third highest rWAR among position players to that point in the franchise’s history (behind Ron Hunt’s 2.6 and Ken Boyer’s 3.0). According to Baseball-Reference.com, he’s fairly similar (as a player, not necessarily as a person) to Tony Bernazard. I wonder how many times he challenged minor leaguers to a fight?

1. & 2. Tommy Davis and Richie Hebner (2.3 rWAR, 1967 and 1979): A Brooklyn native, Davis had an 18 year career for 10 teams. He actually lead all Mets position players in rWAR in 1967, admittedly not the most impressive achievement ever. A former MVP candidate (his 6.8 rWAR in 1963 trailed only Willie Mays and Frank Robinson that season), Davis was acquired along with Derrell Griffith in a trade for Ron Hunt and Jim Hickman. 1967 would be a last hurrah of sorts for Davis: he would never again be that productive, and he would play for 8 more teams over the next nine years. Unlike with Relaford, however, the Mets successfully sold high on Davis: packaged with three other players, he brought back Tommie Agee and Al Weis in a 1967 trade with the White Sox.

Richie Hebner also had an 18 year career, though he was much less traveled (he only played for five clubs). Hebner was known for digging graves during the offseason, but more importantly the Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richie_Hebner notes that “Few people know that Rich Hebner has 3 heros: Jerry Flynn, his son Joe Hebner, and his nephew Michael Hebner.” I felt I had to do my part to spread that important piece of information, so there you go.

Hebner came and went before my Mets fandom began and nothing jumped off of his Baseball-Reference page, so I originally didn’t have anything else to add. That is, until I read his page over at the Ultimate Mets Database. Holy crap did this guy elicit a lot of raw emotion from Mets fans, and they are all over the map. I had no idea so many felt so strongly about a guy who was only here for one year. Bonus: someone defended him by calling him a “gamer”.

Trivia answer: Jim Pignatano, Orel Hershiser, and Darryl Strawberry.

Posted in Flushing Frivolities, Ike Davis, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Caught Looking

Posted by JD on October 25, 2010

Steve Lombardi at the Baseball Reference Blog had an interesting post the other day listing all of the players who ended their team’s post season by taking a called strike three. The post was inspired by the season-ending strike outs of Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez this weekend. The last occurrence prior to that was, of course, Carlos Beltran’s season ending backwards K against Adam Wainwright. No surprise there.

What is surprising (at least to me, anyway) is that Beltran wasn’t the first Met in that situation: Howard Johnson took a called strike three to end the 1988 NLCS. Hojo’s K was slightly less dramatic than Beltran’s: the Mets were trailing the Dodgers 6-0 at the time and Orel Hershiser was working on a complete game, five hit shutout. Those circumstances likely spared Hojo from the treatment Beltran has received in the past four years. In fact, I could only find two Hershiser-centric articles that briefly mentioned Hojo in passing (here and here). Given the pounding Beltran’s taken, I wish Johnson had been a little more vocal about his experience (though part of me understands: it’s never easy to talk about negative events).

Another ex-Met on the list also stands out, even if his post-season ending moment didn’t happen in the orange and blue: Willie Randolph took the final strike against the Royals’ Dan Quisenberry in 1980. Now, I could swear I remember Willie mentioning his strike out in defense of Beltran at some point, but I can’t find it in a Google search. While I’ll trust my spotty memory to give Willie the benefit of the doubt, I’m still frustrated with the media (and fans) who refuse to give Beltran a pass. It’s past time to move on and let it go, but Beltran’s career as a Met is doomed to be overshadowed by that one at bat.

In the interest of thoroughness, three other players with connections to the Mets appear on the list: former Met Randy Myers struck out Omar Vizquel to end the 1996 ALDS, future/former Roberto Alomar K’d looking against Jose Mesa to end the 1997 ALCS (in another twist, both series pitted the Indians against the Orioles), and Derek Lowe punched out former Met Terrance Long to end the 2003 ALDS. Throw in the fact that A-Rod and Alomar will both eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame and Vizquel has a decent shot, Beltran isn’t exactly keeping poor company here. But I’m sure that fact will go unreported, too.

Posted in Carlos Beltran, Flushing Frivolities, Mets | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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