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Mets of the 2010s: 70-61

Welcome to the fourth chapter of Faith and Fear’s countdown of The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s. An introduction to the series is available here [1]; you can read the most recent installment here [2]. 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.
[3]
70. ERIC CAMPBELL, 2014-2016
Eric Campbell definitely nailed Triple-A. In parts of four seasons with the Las Vegas 51s, the righty swinger tore up the Pacific Coast League, hitting .322 in close to 900 at-bats. Most compelling was the .355 average he had going in 2014 when the Mets called him up to New York for his major league debut. The Mets weren’t doing particularly well and anybody scalding in the minors, even in an acknowledged hitters’ league, looks pretty darn good from afar. Up close, Campbell — known, naturally, as Soup — wasn’t bad. Over three seasons at Citi Field, he’d fill in at first, in the outfield and, when David Wright went down with spinal stenosis in 2015, a lot at third (39 starts in place of the Captain). The year the Mets won the pennant, Eric was a valuable pinch-hitter, producing at a .308 clip off the bench. Ultimately, sustained MLB success wasn’t part of the recipe for Soup, a reminder that a player compiles nearly 900 ABs at AAA for a reason.

69. JOSH EDGIN, 2012-2014; 2016-2017
(Missed 2015 due to injury)
Josh Edgin opened eyes in his first big league camp in 2012 and brought intriguing stuff to bear when he debuted that July. The lefty retired the first four batters he saw at Turner Field before giving up a home run to Chipper Jones and a double to Freddie Freeman, a one-two rite of passage for any Met reliever. A 1.47 ERA in 2014 portended great things, but then Tommy John surgery cancelled his 2015. Josh returned to help the Mets capture a Wild Card in 2016. On April 28, 2017, in his Moment of Zen, he extricated Jeurys Familia from a bases-loaded ninth-inning jam in Washington by teasing a game-ending double play grounder from Bryce Harper. Edgin earned his second and final major league save that night. Two years later, he’d be retired from pro ball and coaching his high school team in Pennsylvania.

68. RAFAEL MONTERO, 2014-2017
The Mets found themselves needing a pair of starting pitchers to get through the 2014 edition of the Subway Series. One was listed by reliable sources as a real comer. The other was Jacob deGrom. The prospect labeled more prime than his contemporary was Rafael Montero. Jake and Raffy were elevated to New York together in the middle of May and, except for their major league beginnings, they’d rarely be mentioned in tandem again. While deGrom commenced carving a Rookie of the Year campaign almost immediately, Montero struggled as a starter and encountered injuries as a reliever. A depleted rotation in 2017 provided him at last with an opportunity to get the ball regularly and he now and then exhibited the form that made talent evaluators mark him for stardom. On August 30 at Cincinnati, it all seemed to come together for Rafael, as he carried a three-hit shutout into the ninth inning, a game the Mets won, 2-0. It was the first of three consecutive starts the righty would win…the last three W’s of a frustrating Met tenure.

67. HANSEL ROBLES, 2015-2018
The live right arm of Hansel Robles was so quick on the draw that sometimes balls he threw weren’t through their flight when his index finger was raised in the air providing a missile guidance system of sorts to help anybody watching follow their trajectory to points unknown. Yes, Hansel was regularly Greteled by opposing batters (seven home runs surrendered over his final 17⅔ innings as a Met), yet that arm did pack enough promise to keep getting chances, especially as the Mets chased playoff berths in 2015 and 2016. Robles went unscored upon in three postseason appearances in ’15 and eventually delivered on his talent by registering 23 saves in 2019. By then, unfortunately, he was pitching for the Angels.

66. RENÉ RIVERA, 2016-2017; 2019
Nobody manning any other position on the diamond is asked to be acutely sensitive to the needs of a teammate, but a catcher has to be there for his pitcher, to say nothing of the ball, which is pretty much the only thing defenders elsewhere on the field have to worry about. René Rivera revealed himself to be the sweet spot for an entire pitching rotation in 2016, becoming the guy more Met hurlers seemed to prefer throwing to than any other option. Noah Syndergaard seemed to benefit most from his presence, crafting his breakout season under the tutelage of the well-traveled pitch-framing vet. When Thor started the Wild Card Game at Citi Field, it was Rivera who handled him from behind the plate. The pitcher responded with seven shutout innings. Noah liked René so much, he asked for him by name when Rivera returned to the Mets as a backup catcher in 2019.

65. MICHAEL CUDDYER, 2015
He’d been a Twin, a Rockie and, most relevantly, a Virginian who grew up in the vicinity of David Wright. His abilities (reflected by a batting crown in Denver) and his connections to a Captain landed him in New York for 2015. From there, Michael Cuddyer built on his background for a club coming into its own. The everyday left fielder as the Mets broke from the gate at 15-5, Michael took on the role of team leader, all the more vital once Wright went out with a monthslong injury. Postgame celebrations were highlighted by Cuddyer awarding a championship belt to the player deemed most responsible for a night’s win. His own playing time got trimmed once the Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes, yet Michael Cuddyer never ceased being a frontline teammate to the rest of the 2015 NL champs.

64. JASON ISRINGHAUSEN, 2011
(Also a Met from 1995 to 1999)
The longest homecoming story in Mets history had a happy enough ending. Jason Isringhausen was an ex-Met more than a decade removed from the orange and blue when the former phenom returned to rekindle his career in April of 2011. Shea Stadium was no longer around and Generation K was a distant memory, yet the former All-Star closer was delighted to be back proximate to where it all began. “To put the ‘Mets’ across your chest,” he confessed, “it’s pretty special.” Izzy, 38, emerged from the pen 53 times in ’11, notching seven saves after Francisco Rodriguez was traded in mid-July. The seventh, on August 15, was the 300th of his career, a milestone the righty watched John Franco reach fifteen years earlier at Shea. Yup, Jason Isringhausen had been around forever and gone from the Mets almost as long. It was indeed special to have him back.

63. NEIL WALKER, 2016-2017
In the annals of tough acts to follow, Daniel Murphy bequeathed a spectral presence Neil Walker didn’t really need. The timing for the solid second baseman’s transfer from Pittsburgh to New York was decidedly less than wonderful, as Neil’s Mets debut followed on the heels of Murph’s NLCS MVP performance the previous fall. Walker did fine for himself in his new locale, especially as a slugger his first Met month. With nine home runs on the board prior to May 1, it appeared possible the Mets wouldn’t miss the perpetually defensively challenged Murphy. Except Daniel the Washington National blossomed into an everyday elite batter whose hitting made everybody forget he wasn’t much of a fielder. It didn’t help the inevitable comparison between second basemen that the guy the Mets didn’t re-sign beat up on his old team like crazy. In 2016, Daniel Murphy batted .347 against all comers, but really came to play against the Mets, raking at a .413 pace. With that as background noise, Neil Walker acquitted himself more than adequately, totaling 23 homers (including a couple of critical blasts that rescued games that appeared lost during the ballclub’s extended flailing period) before an injury ended his season in late August. The next year, Murphy made his second consecutive All-Star team with the Nationals, lifted Washington to another division flag and continued to relentlessly pound Met pitching. Walker was traded to Milwaukee.

62. DOMINIC SMITH, 2017-2019
A slow burn didn’t much more than smolder once Dominic Smith reached the big leagues amid the lost summer of 2017. The erstwhile first-round draft pick demonstrated enticing power during his initial audition at first base, yet couldn’t raise his batting average as high as .200. Injury and a lack of progress kept him from seeing Citi Field in 2018 until June. His most vivid highlight came in left field where he ran into shortstop Amed Rosario on a fly ball and cost the Mets a game against the Giants. Facing the third strike of his stunted career, Smith turned the cliché about the best shape of my life into truth. Shed of weight and baggage in 2019, Dom transformed into a latter-day Lenny Harris when not starting (PH OPS of 1.031) and made himself into a decently serviceable platoon left fielder once first base became the permanent province of Pete Alonso. Another injury turned Dom into the Mets’ most vocal and vibrant cheerleader during the team’s stab at Wild Card glory, but it was Smith who’d be eliciting the final huzzahs of the 2010s. Batting for the first time in more than two months, on September 29, Dom belted a three-run home run to beat the division champion Braves in the eleventh inning of Game 162. Judging from the raucous reception he received, you’d think Smith had won the Mets something bigger than the last game of a non-playoff season. With everybody in attendance suddenly leaning forward into hot anticipation of 2020, maybe he did.

61. HISANORI TAKAHASHI, 2010
Versatility, thy name at decade’s outset was Hisanori Takahashi, a one-year wonder of starting and closing rarely demonstrated in Queens this or any century. No Met pitcher who started as many as a dozen games in a season had ever saved as many as eight other games in the same season before the erstwhile Yomiuri Giant came to Flushing in 2010…and no Met has done it since. When his lone year with the Mets began, the 35-year-old Takahashi was just another crafty middle reliever to manager Jerry Manuel, but a rotation in flux changed Hisanori’s role in May (the same week R.A. Dickey made his Met debut). The southpaw shifted back to the bullpen in August when a combination of legal and physical factors deprived Manuel of Francisco Rodriguez’s services. Takahashi — technically a major league rookie — responded with aplomb, shutting doors as if that’s what he’d come over from Japan to do in the first place.