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Mets of the 2010s: 100-91

Welcome to the first chapter of Faith and Fear’s countdown of The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s. A full introduction to what we’re doing is available here [1], but the concept is pretty self-evident. These are the more or less best Mets we rooted for as Mets fans these past ten years. Since a decade is coming to a close, we thought it would be fun to round them up and recall a little something about them.
[2]
100. DAVID AARDSMA, 2013
David Aardsma leads off any alphabetical consideration of New York Mets players, having broken Don Aase’s record for Double-A Mets on June 8, 2013, when he entered a tie game versus the Marlins and pitched a scoreless twelfth inning. That game went on to become the longest game in Citi Field history, going twenty, by which time the Mets lost, but Aardsma couldn’t be headed off on the great Metropolitan Roll Call of this or any decade. Also, he inherited 19 runners over 43 appearances and never allowed one to score.

99. PAUL SEWALD, 2017-2019
Paul is here for Paul, but also for Pill (Tyler, that is). Paul is here for the Jacob who wasn’t deGrom (Rhame, that is). Paul is here for both Chasen and Chase Bradford. Paul is here for Kevin McGowan, for Jamie Callahan, for Gerson Bautista, for Stephen Nogosek. Paul is here for every vaguely promising righty reliever promoted between 2017 and 2019 whose good impressions were, shall we say, fleeting. Paul takes the ball for Eric Hanhold, for Tyler Bashlor, for Drew Smith and Drew Gagnon and anybody else who drew the short end of the pen’s straw. Mostly, though, Paul Sewald is here for 120 appearances of his own and the one win he garnered in his 119th, which followed fourteen losses over three seasons. Paul was the first of this cohort to make it to Flushing. Paul’s still here. Many of the pitchers he represents, like the pitches they threw, are gone. Such staying power is not to be underestimated.

98. RONNY PAULINO, 2011
97. PEDRO BEATO, 2011-2012
96. CHRIS YOUNG, 2011-2012

Chris Young the pitcher (not to be confused with Chris Young the outfielder) started a game on Sunday night, May 1, 2011, that would have been easy enough for a nation to ignore when it began on ESPN, yet it turned into at least an irresistible sidebar to larger events before it was over. Young threw seven innings and gave up a single run at Citizens Bank Park, dueling Cliff Lee before handing matters over to the bullpen. By the time the game was meandering into extras — during which rookie Pedro Beato would hold the fort for three scoreless innings — the world learned the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six had stormed the Pakistani hideout of Osama bin Laden, who had engineered the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center nearly ten years before, and killed him. It was a moment of national catharsis, acknowledged as much in the stands in Philadelphia as anywhere else. The connection for Mets fans was obvious: the one recreational interlude associated more than any other with the aftermath of September 11, 2001, took place ten days later, Braves at Mets, Mike Piazza going indelibly deep. When Ronny Paulino, making his first start at Mike’s old position, delivered his fifth hit of this game about a hundred miles south, producing the go-ahead run in the top of the fourteenth, it felt as if an emotional circle had been excavated and squared. Beato had been in high school in Brooklyn in 2001, Young in college in New Jersey. They had very specific memories of that awful day. So did everybody, of course. Come May 1, 2011, those who were lost on September 11, 2001, were still lost. The war fought in the name of preventing another such attack of epic proportions was (and is) still in progress. Yet, for what it was worth, the Mets were on the field again, winning a ballgame in the shadow of global events.

95. LUIS HERNANDEZ, 2010
Leading off the home fifth inning of the seventeenth game of Luis Hernandez’s seventeen-game New York Mets career — in the ninth of nine consecutive starts he made at second base — Luis fouled the second pitch he saw from the Braves’ Tim Hudson off his right foot. Hernandez was in obvious pain, but stayed in the box. The third pitch he saw from Hudson he sent over the right field wall at Citi Field. Somehow he limped around the bases. When the half-inning was over, Joaquin Arias replaced the injured infielder, for Luis Hernandez had broken his foot with that foul. Though he’d compete for a roster spot the following spring (and briefly return to the majors with the Rangers in 2012), that break, that swing and that homer ended Luis’s Mets tenure. Talk about going out with a bang.

94. JUAN CENTENO, 2013-2014
The first time Juan Centeno caught in the major leagues, on September 18, 2013, the other team’s catcher — the Giants’ Buster Posey — stole a base. It was the second of Posey’s season and the sixth of the defending MVP’s career, a record that had established Buster wasn’t in there for his speed. So maybe Centeno would like a mulligan. In the callup’s next time behind the plate, at Cincinnati on September 25, after Jay Bruce had already swiped two bags, Billy Hamilton singled with two out in the fifth inning. Hamilton was already something of a legend, having stolen 75 bases at Triple-A Louisville before his promotion. At two minor league outposts in 2012, Billy totaled 155 that’s not a typo steals. In his first thirteen attempts in the bigs, Hamilton was 13-for-13. Factor in that he shared the same name as a nineteenth-century speedster who pilfered more than 900 bags in his time, it seemed there’d never be any stopping this Billy Hamilton. That was until he took off from first against Juan Centeno, and Juan Centeno stopped him cold, a critical moment in an eventual 1-0 Mets win. Perhaps another legend, the Story of Centeno, was born that Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park. Actually, Juan, who’d leave the Mets after 2014 and earn a World Series ring as a backup on the 2017 Astros, owns an unremarkable caught stealing percentage as a catcher, having nailed only seven runners in fifty-two attempts. But he was the first to halt Hamilton, and Hamilton is one steal shy of 300 entering 2020.

93. COLLIN McHUGH, 2012-2013
As the Mets plummeted from sight in the second half of 2012, as they were prone to do post-All Star break in the first half of the 2010s, Collin McHugh did everything a callup from Buffalo could possibly do to reverse the familiar trajectory. In his first major league start, on August 23, the righty scaled the Rockies at Citi Field: seven innings, two hits, one walk, no runs, nine strikeouts. Coming within a month of Matt Harvey’s similarly eye-opening debut at Arizona, McHugh gave Mets fans a reason to dream of a pitching-laden future whose second halves wouldn’t take annual dives. Alas, in the present of August 2012, the Mets lineup did nothing against the Rockies, and New York lost again, 1-0, with Collin getting no-decisioned. That maiden voyage turned out be the only highlight of McHugh’s Met tenure (not counting the genuinely thoughtful blog [3] he’d been writing since 2008). He’d appear in eleven games across 2012 and 2013, none of them a Mets win, before being traded to Colorado. His own Met record was 0-5 and, truth be told, little of the losing after his debut could be attributed to pitching in hard luck. A trade to the Rockies didn’t much change his fortunes, but the Astros recognizing something special in him did. Collin posted 43 wins across three seasons between 2014 and 2016, and like ex-Met Juan Centeno, a 2017 World Series ring awaited him in Houston.

92. VIC BLACK, 2013-2014
Every decade has its closer of the future. The ’80s had Wes Gardner, the ’90s Derek Wallace, the ’00s Eddie Kunz. In the 2010s, Vic Black was gonna throw hard and shut doors. Picked up from Pittsburgh late in the 2013 season, the righty showed flashes, notching almost a strikeout per inning in 56 games over two Met years. In 2014, only one of the 26 runners on base when he entered scored. Perhaps all Black had to do to ensure his future was stay healthy. In the spring of 2015, however, just prior to Opening Day, Vic went on the DL with right shoulder weakness. He never pitched for the Mets or in the majors again, the closer of the future leaving behind a total of one save in his wake.

91. KEVIN PLAWECKI, 2015-2018
Kevin Plawecki started behind the plate for the Mets 192 times. Rarely did the Mets indicate Plawecki’s place in the lineup was their idea of ideal. The former first-round draft choice was generally pegged as Travis d’Arnaud’s backup, but d’Arnaud had a hard time staying in one piece, thus Plawecki now and then took on the status of regular, most notably during d’Arnaud’s 2015 absences, a year when the Mets scrapped to stay viable in their first playoff race in seven years. Kevin helped keep the Mets afloat, though it was Travis who took over as their surge toward a pennant got serious. Plawecki was the only to Met to stay active on the postseason roster through all three rounds without seeing a speck of action. In 2017, he’d see the battery from both sides now, pitching in a pair of blowouts. His Met ERA of 12.00 went into the books alongside a four-season batting average of .218.