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Mets of the 2010s: 40-31

Welcome to the seventh 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.
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40. LaTROY HAWKINS, 2013
To say LaTroy Hawkins’s best days were behind him when he joined the Mets at age 40 is to take a narrow view of what the phrase means. Of Hawkins, who seemed to exert an outstanding influence wherever his journeys took him [4], it could be said this two-decade stay in the majors was constructed of myriad good days. Take his 2013 tenure in New York, where he might not have figured as a key piece of the Mets’ pitching plans, but after literally every reliever around him succumbed to injury or ineffectiveness, it was Hawkins and Hawkins alone who remained uninterruptedly active. Indeed, he was the only member of the Mets’ season-opening bullpen to not at some point or another go on the disabled list; be demoted to the minors; or find himself otherwise dispatched. LaTroy just kept on pitching — 72 appearances — and by August he was Terry Collins’s designated closer. What’s more, he was good at it, notching thirteen saves in fourteen tries over two months for a team that was just trying to get through the season. The baker’s dozen represented Hawkins’s highest save total since he was a Cub in 2004. What’s more, the righthander never stopped looking out for the younger pitchers around him [5], hoping he could do for them what the veterans he encountered in a major league career dating to 1995 did for him way back when. In September of ’13, Hawkins referred to up-and-comer Vic Black has having “late life on the ball.” Having engineered a personal renaissance that extended his own MLB run through 2015 (encompassing 23 saves for Colorado in 2014), the same could be said for LaTroy himself.

39. BOBBY PARNELL, 2010-2015
(Also a Met from 2008 to 2009)
The development of a homegrown star can be a beautiful thing, even if it never comes to full fruition. Bobby Parnell seemed to be en route, though. After sipping one of Shea Stadium’s final cups of coffee in September 2008 (he threw the last pitch delivered by any Met there), Parnell made himself an increasingly larger part of the Mets’ plans over the next four seasons, eventually taking command of ninth innings in April of 2013. After years of devoting resources to big-ticket acquisitions in search of often elusive door-slamming capabilities, the Mets had cultivated a closer of their own. For four months, Parnell was practically a dream come true. The 22 saves he accumulated by July 30 were the most in a season by any signed-and-raised Met pitcher since Randy Myers (24) in 1989. Plus there was a pulsating inning thrown on May 7 — the tenth, against the White Sox — that earned Bobby a win on the back end of Matt Harvey’s near-perfect game. Together, Harvey and Parnell had spun a one-hitter, striking out 14. If it all felt a little too good to actually be true, August brought reality into the equation. Bobby was diagnosed with a herniated disk in his neck and didn’t pitch again in 2013. A blown save on Opening Day 2014 hinted that he wasn’t altogether healthy, and, sure enough, Tommy John surgery awaited around the corner. Parnell’s 2015 comeback fizzled and the righty was left off the postseason roster prior to his departure as a free agent. He had only six big league appearances ahead of him.

38. MIKE PELFREY, 2010-2012
(Also a Met from 2006 to 2009)
Big Pelf loomed over the Mets’ pitching plans as the 2010s commenced, and no wonder. At a listed height of 6’ 7”, Mike Pelfrey tended to loom over a lot of things. Given his status as a former first-round draft pick, the Mets had nurtured tall hopes for the righthander. They were only intermittently delivered upon prior to the dawn of this decade, but in 2010, they seemed to coalesce for good. On a staff led by undisputed ace Johan Santana and accented by the emerging R.A. Dickey, it was Mike Pelfrey who put up more wins than any Met, going 15-9, doing so while registering the lowest full-season ERA of his career (3.66). When Jerry Manuel found himself otherwise bereft of relief pitching on April 17 in St. Louis — it was the twentieth inning, after all — he called on Mike to take on a wholly new role. One scoreless frame later, the Mets had secured their longest win ever and Pelfrey was 1-for-1 lifetime in save opportunities. Pelf’s next skipper, Terry Collins, trusted the big guy enough to start on Opening Night in Terry’s Met managerial debut. Unfortunately, 2011 wasn’t nearly the year for Pelfrey that 2010 was, and an injury-curtailed 2012 turned out to be the last time Mike pitched in orange and blue.

37. WILSON RAMOS, 2019
What would you rather have: a catcher who hits or a hitter who catches? When the player in question is standing at the plate doing damage to the other pitcher, nobody much picks apart the distinction. For a solid month of 2019 — August 3 to September 3 — Wilson Ramos played in 26 games for the Mets and hit in every one of them. The hitting streak was the best by any Met in the 2010s (second only to Moises Alou’s thirty in franchise annals), and it couldn’t have come at a better moment. The Mets were making a bid for the postseason, and their mostly everyday catcher was batting .430 and slugging .590 as they strove. That span included four games in which Wilson came off the bench to extend the streak or, more accurately, help his team maintain its momentum. You can also factor into his monumental achievement that by August, a catcher is bound to be physically run down at any age; Ramos turned 32 on August 10. Oh, and don’t overlook that not every pitcher appreciated this catcher’s defensive abilities, and by September word leaked that at least one batterymate (Noah Syndergaard) was asking for someone else to handle his workload. Another, however (Jacob deGrom), clinched a Cy Young Award by tossing three scoreless seven-inning starts, each with Wilson behind the plate. By 2019’s end, Ramos completed his first season as a Met with 141 games played and a .288 batting average. Catch that, why don’t you?

36. JERRY BLEVINS, 2015-2018
If you were casting the ideal veteran lefty reliever for your baseball movie, you couldn’t do much better than Jerry Blevins, stalwart of the Met pen in good times and less. Experienced to the tune of nine seasons before arriving in New York. Affable enough with the media to earn a regular pregame slot in which he and host Pete McCarthy bantered good-naturedly over WOR. So fan-friendly that he invited his Twitter followers to submit concepts for his avatar and committed to the lighthearted entry [6] he deemed his favorite. Critically, Jerry eventually proved a highly durable contributor to the Met cause, though he’d have to first endure a detour that suggested the contrary. The best of the southpaw’s times were just getting rolling in early 2015 when, as if inserting himself into a GEICO commercial, Blevins retired the first fifteen batters he faced. What the Mets couldn’t insure against were a pair of fractures that prevented him from competing beyond April 19. Over the next three seasons, though, Jerry missed no time, and his managers rarely missed an opportunity to deploy his talents. He pitched in 212 games for the Mets from 2016 through 2018, including 73 for the playoff-bound Mets of ’16. The one element that didn’t adhere to a script for a nominal lefty specialist was how effective Blevins could be against righthanded batters. In two of the three years he worked consistently out of the Mets bullpen, he held righty hitters to averages under .200. Then again, nobody ever said baseball movies had to be predictable.

35. J.D. DAVIS, 2019
Who was this guy and what could he do? Before long, Mets fans learned J.D. Davis was a dangerous hitter who could alter the trajectory of a season. Pried loose from Houston in a little-noticed trade in January 2019 — after he posted encouraging minor league numbers if little during major league auditions — the Mets fit the third baseman/left fielder into their starting lineup 99 times and let him loose on National League pitching. The impact was deep. In 140 games in all, Davis slashed .307/.369/.527, with 22 home runs and an undeniable flair for the dramatic. In the tenth inning of a thrilling back-and-forth affair versus Cleveland on August 21, Davis rapped the game-winning double and, after he’d been ceremoniously stripped of his uniform top, addressed postgame interviewer Steve Gelbs and everybody remaining at Citi Field with a rallying cry for the ages. “Hey Mets fans,” he roared into the microphone, “we did it again! This team has no quit, we were grinding all game. We had that New York swagger, that New York attitude, we didn’t quit, we didn’t quit.” Usually mild-mannered when intentionally out of uniform, J.D. could just as easily have been describing his own approach to baseball.

34. MARLON BYRD, 2013
Sometimes a scrap heap yields gold. In 2012, Marlon Byrd was limited to 47 games played for two teams, batting .210 overall when not serving a 50-game PED suspension. In 2013, plucked from encroaching obscurity, Byrd, 35, shimmered as the Mets’ everyday right fielder, eliciting talk that he’d win Comeback Player of the Year honors in the NL. There was no trophy for Marlon in ’13, but he certainly produced a compelling candidacy, blasting 21 homers; batting .285; cutting down seven runners trying to advance on him; and tutoring eager-to-learn teammate Justin Turner on the fine art of swinging. The lessons turned Turner into a dangerous hitter once he left New York for Los Angeles. Marlon, meanwhile, preceded Justin out the Flushing door, having been traded to Pittsburgh in the waning days of August 2013 for the Pirates’ playoff drive.

33. AMED ROSARIO, 2017-2019
No Met position player prospect across the decade rose to New York with higher expectations attached to his scouting reports than Amed Rosario, universally tabbed a star-in-waiting ahead of his August 2017 debut. Once the 21-year-old “finally” appeared, you could see what the fuss was about — and discern that few players arrive in the majors at the top of their game. As a shortstop, he needed polishing. As a batter, he needed discipline. As a youngster, he needed maturity. All told, most of Rosario’s first three seasons amounted to a case for patience, because there was quite obviously something there. Yet in the second half of his third season it seemed a combination of patience and practice was catapulting Amed to a state hinting at perfection. He really could hit, for both average and power. He really could field and throw. It was clear from the get-go he could run, but now we had a clue where he was headed: toward the upper echelon of all-around shortstops in the National League.

32. ADDISON REED, 2015-2017
The successful setup man inevitably becomes the baseball equivalent of the backup quarterback. At the first sign of trouble for the main guy, people start asking why we can’t go to the next guy? Addison Reed made himself a theoretically attractive alternative behind a usually reliable if not wholly infallible Jeurys Familia in 2016, as his eighth innings could be rightly considered held forts of the highest order. In eighty appearances, the righty’s ERA clocked in at a microscopic 1.97, and during the Mets’ spurt to the Wild Card, when every game mattered, Reed’s participation was vital to most every win. In the same span that saw the Mets go 27-12, Addison pitched 21 times. The Mets’ record with his name in the box score? A white-hot 18-3. The next season, with Familia going to the DL in mid-May with an arterial clot in his right shoulder, Reed stepped up to the ninth with a flourish, collecting fifteen saves in his All-Star teammate’s absence. By the time Familia returned in September, Reed was long gone, having been targeted for trade by the playoff-bound Red Sox, making it three consecutive postseasons for an extraordinarily useful right arm.

31. JENRRY MEJIA, 2010; 2012-2015
(Missed 2011 due to injury)
Cats have nothing on Jenrry Mejia in the multiple lives department. The righty from the Dominican Republic showed up as a twenty-year-old at Spring Training 2010, drew rave reviews for a sharp cutter and pitched his way into Jerry Manuel’s bullpen. The lack of a defined role curbed his progress. A trip to the minors converted him to a starter. Tommy John surgery removed him from the Mets’ radar until late in 2012. When he next made a splash, it was starting in the summer of 2013, and he was tantalizingly good at it (six outings, 2.30 ERA) before a bone spur pushed him off the mound. Come 2014, he was all right as a starter for a spell, then, almost out of nowhere, terrific as a closer, saving 28 games, often punctuating his last outs with a crowdpleasing stomp of triumph. Having carved a niche for himself at last, Mejia pulled into Port St. Lucie in 2015 ready to go for a team on the rise. What nobody was ready for were repeated positive PED tests that ultimately saddled him with what was billed a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball. Naturally, someone with as many professional lives as Jenrry was back in organized ball soon enough, pitching in the Red Sox system in 2019. When that minor league season was over, he hadn’t yet reached his thirtieth birthday.