Top seasons by Mets hitters

Posted on October 19, 2010 by

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Throughout their history the Mets have been known as a pitching-first organization.  But the Mets have had some pretty good years by hitters, too.  Here are the top single-season performances by position in team history, ranked by the WAR calculation available on Baseball-Reference.

 

Position Player WAR Year
1B John Olerud 8.1 1998
LF Bernard Gilkey 8.1 1996
CF Carlos Beltran 8.0 2006
3B David Wright 7.8 2007
2B Edgardo Alfonzo 6.7 2000
RF Darryl Strawberry 6.7 1987
C Gary Carter 6.5 1985
SS Jose Reyes 5.9 2006

 

 

If we just look at offense, we get a slightly different picture.  Here are the single season leaders ranked by OPS+

 

Position Player OPS+ Year
3B Howard Johnson 169 1989
RF Darryl Strawberry 165 1988
1B John Olerud 163 1998
C Mike Piazza 155 2000
LF Bernard Gilkey 155 1996
CF Carlos Beltran 150 2006
2B Edgardo Alfonzo 147 2000
SS Jose Reyes 118 2008

 

The thing that jumps out to me is that no hitters from either the 1969 or 1986 World Series teams make the list.  Cleon Jones and his 151 OPS+ were edged out by Gilkey for LF while Keith Hernandez had the top OPS+ for the 1986 team but his 140 mark was no match for Olerud.

 

What would the batting order look like for our all-time Met team?  It could be:

 

Reyes

Alfonzo

Olerud

Piazza

Strawberry

Johnson

Beltran

Gilkey

That seems very nice but how does it match up to other teams?  Since the Mets debuted in 1962, they have 3,734 wins.  In that same time span, the team closes to them in wins is the Chicago Cubs, who have 3752 victories.  Here are their best single-season hitters by position from 1962 onwards:

 

Position Player OPS+ Year
RF Sammy Sosa 203 2001
1B Derrek Lee 174 2005
LF Billy Williams 171 1972
3B Ron Santo 164 1964
2B Ryne Sandberg 146 1992
CF Adolfo Phillips 136 1967
C Geovany Soto 118 2008
SS Shawon Dunston 107 1995

 

The Cubs have the better top-end players, as their top four hitters each have a higher OPS+ than their Mets counterpart.  But the Mets bottom four hitters are better.  And if you break it down by position, the Mets win five of the eight spots, although Alfonzo wins 2B by one point.  All in all, pretty even.

But the Mets have been to four World Series in their history while the Cubs have not made it once.  If we look at wins and World Series appearances, the Tigers are a pretty good match, with 3,850 wins and three trips to the Series.  Here are Detroit’s best hitters in the Mets era:

 

Position Player OPS+ Year
1B Miguel Cabrera 179 2010
RF Al Kaline 176 1967
LF Willie Horton 165 1968
CF Al Kaline 161 1966
SS Alan Trammell 155 1987
C Bill Freehan 145 1968
2B Lou Whitaker 141 1991
3B Shane Halter 118 2001

 

Here, going by order, the Tigers come out with four wins compared to two wins by the Mets, with two ties.  Matching up by position, The Tigers come out on top, winning five of the eight positions.  And yes, Kaline played the majority of his games in ’66 in CF, logging 86 games in center.  And third base could have been manned by several different guys, including Dick McAuliffe, Dmitri Young, Darrell Evans, Travis Fryman or Tony Phillips, but Halter was the first guy to play the majority of his games at the hot corner.

So, the Mets are not embarrassed by their closest comps at best overall offensive season by position.  While fans will always think pitching first, the Mets hitters have not been too much behind what you would expect in top-end quality.

The rub comes in how many top seasons the hitters have accumulated.  The Tigers have 59 seasons with an OPS+ of 130 or more since 1962 and the Cubs have 51.  The Mets have 37.  Only once in their history have the Mets had three players with OPS+ of 130 or more in the same season, which happened in 2006 (Beltran 150, Wright 133, Delgado 131).

How nice would it be if Beltran, Wright and Jason Bay all topped 130 in 20011?

 

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Posted in: Perspectives