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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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It’s the Times of the Seasons

If you aren’t the sleep-through-the-night type, then you’re in luck, because you stand a good chance of being awake for that great annual act of winter, the Baseball Equinox, set to occur Saturday, December 28, 2019, at 4:03 AM Eastern Standard Time. As organically occurring phenomena go, the Baseball Equinox is right up there with aurora borealis when it is localized entirely within Seymour Skinner’s kitchen.

So grab a steamed ham and prepare for that instant when we are exactly between the final moment of the previous baseball season (September 29, 2019, 6:56 PM EDT, Dom Smith stomping on home plate) and the scheduled first pitch of the upcoming baseball season (March 26, 2019, 1:10 PM EDT, presumably coming out of the right hand of Jacob deGrom). When you’ve finished taking in the glory of nature threading us through its offseason needle, you can bask in being closer to next year than last year and know that, yup, we’re gonna make it after all.

In the spirit of this particular offseason, the Baseball Equinox we are approaching is the final Baseball Equinox of the decade, which is the sort of thing I’m enjoying saying because no later than the end of next week, we won’t be giving a whit of thought to what decade we’re in. We only do that when we’re reaching the end of one, and even then it signifies only what we decide it does.

We just got through counting down The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s because they were there just waiting to be counted down. But as mentioned when we prefaced the series, there’s no particular baseball magic to a ten-year period, whatever number each year in question has in common with the other nine. Baseball is measured by innings, games and seasons. Everything else is a matter of taste.

Imperfect chronological parameters of a decade notwithstanding, what is left to say about the Mets of the 2010s that didn’t seep through between Aardsma and deGrom? For a while there, the Tens/Teens felt cohesive from a Met standpoint. The first year became the second year and we weren’t much getting anywhere through the first five years. Still, every year had its moments and its players.

My pal Jeff, like the rest of us who are desperate for rumor-free baseball content in December, was kind enough to work up a spreadsheet that revealed which baseball season gave us the most Top 100 Mets of the 2010s. You’d think it had to be 2015, clearly the standout season among the past ten. But, no, it was 2013, the clubhouse leader for most depressing season of the 2010s until 2017 came along and blew it out of the water and into a hole on Yoenis Cespedes’s ranch.

Why, Jeff wondered, did the 74-88 Mets of 2013 contribute 37 different Mets for the Top 100, while the 2015 National League champions gave us 36? Putting aside obvious overlap between the two seasons (sixteen Mets had a foot in both 2013 and 2015), I guessed to Jeff that the roster churn on a lousy team like the 2013 Mets probably generated more opportunities for players to stand out briefly and thus be present and accounted for in the lower echelons of our countdown. Consider two members of the 2013 Mets who made the Top 100 for isolated incidents: Collin Cowgill, the personification of unforeseen Opening Day grand slamitude (No. 80) and Juan Centeno, rifle-armed catcher who cut down Billy Hamilton in his base-stealing prime (No. 94). Cowgill’s big moment was April 1; Centeno’s was September 18. They never played together on the Mets. But they each made an indelible impression on the FAFIF Committee for Contextual Listmaking. Somewhere in between the fall of Cowgill and the rise of Centeno, the multitudes that encompassed Buck, Marcum, Byrd, Rice, Young (EYJ, that is), Hawkins and the Alphabetical Avatar himself, David Aardsma, stopped by, stepped to the fore, grabbed a thin slice of our attention, then stepped away from the fore forever more. That’s how 2013 winds up slightly more loaded with Top 100 players than 2015.

Yet no Met season among these ten was better than 2015 nor more important. The World Series appearance speaks for itself, I suppose, but what really made that year howl with significance was it gave us something big, bold and indisputable to hang our Met hats on. The era that was still mostly in progress when 2015 shook off the doldrums that preceded it predated the decade in progress. You can go back to 2009 and all the losing that didn’t stop. You can go back to September 2007 and the winning that ceased at the worst possible moment. However you measure your eras, you and I deserved a break by 2015, and blessedly we got it.

Though that season began on April 6, and the Five Days in Flushing mythology marks its turning point as July 31, I like to remember a night in 2014 when, for the first time since Johan Santana was shutting down the Marlins at Shea, I felt honestly good about where we were going. It was Saturday night, August 2, a game that has disappeared from every available arc, which is a shame, because I do believe it made for a pretty good preview of what was ahead.

I refer to it privately as the “Kids in America” game, named for the Kim Wilde song that I invoked in the blog post I wrote the subsequent Monday morning. I wasn’t covering Saturday night’s game, and Sunday’s game was so miserable that I wanted to go back and write about Saturday’s scintillating Mets win instead. After paying lip service to the Mets’ 9-0 loss at Citi Field to the Giants, I retraced the steps of Saturday night, when rookie Jacob deGrom dueled veteran Jake Peavy for six no-hit innings apiece. Did ya ever hear of such a thing? That night, Twitter lit up with references to Hippo Vaughn and Fred Toney, who ninety-seven years earlier had engaged in baseball’s only double nine-inning no-hitter (Vaughn of the Cubs finally cracked in the tenth, but Toney of the Reds kept his no-no intact for the 1-0 win).

Though deGrom and Peavey were the story for most of the night, to me — certainly once each man gave up a hit — the game became about who besides Jake was pushing the Mets toward an eventual 4-2 victory:

The runs were generated by d’Arnaud, Lagares and Flores. The outs were recorded by deGrom, Familia and Mejia. None of them has played an entire major league season yet. None of them is older than 26. All of them are excelling together, feeding our dreams, fueling our momentum.

The Saturday night win left the Mets four games under .500, in fourth place in the East and not breathing down anybody’s neck for the Wild Card. They’d lose Sunday and Monday, and I reverted to the frustration that defined the 2010s to that point. But I had hope and I had an inkling that maybe these kids and other kids were gonna start putting it together before long. One year from August 2, 2014, the Mets of deGrom, d’Arnaud, Lagares, Flores and Familia (Mejia not so much), who by then were also the Mets of Cespedes, Syndergaard, Conforto and so on, were sweeping the Washington Nationals and tying for first place. It wasn’t a direct route from the Kids in America to the leaders of the National League East, but it’s fun now to regather the breadcrumbs that pointed to better days.

There was no real era surrounding 2015 like there were in other swell Met times. There were those intermittent good vibes in 2014 and there was that Wild Card surge in 2016, though 2016, once it became the year we remember for its return to the postseason, looked and felt little like 2015. Early on, it seemed we were on a roll from one successful campaign to the next. By September, however, the Mets from April had mostly disappeared. Cespedes was still Cespedes; same for Granderson, Familia, Syndergaard and Colon, but Wright was nowhere in sight. Walker, the reasonable replacement for Murphy, was out. Lagares and Duda were barely back. No Harvey. No Matz. Cripes, no deGrom. Twenty Sixteen gave us the on-the-fly changes of Reyes and his baggage, Kelly Johnson 2.0, James Loney, a pair of Riveras, plus Lugo and Gsellman when we had no idea who they were. Asdrubal Cabrera, who we anticipated as something of a Tejada upgrade, was indispensable. Nimmo was up, but we had little clue what to make of him. Conforto had bounced from vital to superfluous to enigmatic. Jay Bruce was suddenly a Met and on the bench. It was chaos, yet it coalesced. My affection for 2015 is mammoth, yet I don’t know if I was ever Met-happier in this decade than I was in September of 2016. It really was 1973 all over again.

Then it was 1974 in 2017, and so much for an era. Except for another Saturday night at the tail end of the vague plausibility 2017 offered. There was no chance in hell we were going anywhere in ’17, but because we’d seen what they had done the previous two late summers, you thought, well, maybe… But no, no way, no how. Still, on Saturday night, July 22, the Mets were burying themselves per usual, yet stormed from behind against another Bay Area team, the Oakland A’s. Long story short, Wilmer Flores hit a walkoff home run, his first since Tears of Joy. For a brief, shining moment, it was 2015 again at Citi Field. It wasn’t that chants of LET’S GO METS and WIL-MER FLO-RES rang through the ballpark staircases, It was that they reprised themselves on the staircases at Woodside. No kidding. That’s how how giddy we had learned to be in the middle of this decade. If you didn’t look at the standings, it felt like anything was possible.

Within the week, the Mets went on a trading spree in the other direction: Duda to Tampa Bay; Reed to Boston; Bruce to Cleveland; Walker to Milwaukee; Granderson to Los Angeles; René Rivera and Fernando Salas gone, too. Another youth movement was on, more Kids in America stirring hope or something short of it for the rest of 2017 and into 2018 and 2019.

Then, as you don’t need much reminding, 2019 went crazy and we went with it as far as we could, which was no farther than Dom Smith stomping on home plate at 6:56 PM EDT on September 29, though, spiritually, that was plenty — certainly enough to shoot us toward our Equinox and then the next Opening Day, the next decade, and the next who knows what with this team.

The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s

Here in one place, after ten years and eleven installments, is Faith and Fear’s countdown of The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s, with links to each of the writeups. (An introduction to the series is available here.)

Nos. 100-91
100. David Aardsma
99. Paul Sewald
98. Ronny Paulino
97. Pedro Beato
96. Chris Young (the pitcher)
95. Luis Hernandez
94. Juan Centeno
93. Collin McHugh
92. Vic Black
91. Kevin Plawecki

Nos. 90-81
90. Daisuke Matsuzaka
89. Shaun Marcum
88. Buddy Carlyle
87. Bobby Abreu
86. Scott Rice
85. Anthony Recker
84. Logan Verrett
83. Rajai Davis
82. Devin Mesoraco
81. Jason Vargas

Nos. 80-71
80. Collin Cowgill
79. Frank Francisco
78. Tyler Clippard
77. Chris Capuano
76. Marcus Stroman
75. Jason Bay
74. Jeremy Hefner
73. Tim Byrdak
72. Robinson Cano
71. Edwin Diaz

Nos. 70-61
70. Eric Campbell
69. Josh Edgin
68. Rafael Montero
67. Hansel Robles
66. René Rivera
65. Michael Cuddyer
64. Jason Isringhausen
63. Neil Walker
62. Dominic Smith
61. Hisanori Takahashi

Nos. 60-51
60. Justin Wilson
59. Rod Barajas
58. John Buck
57. Jordany Valdespin
56. Eric Young, Jr.
55. Jay Bruce
54. Scott Hairston
53. Carlos Torres
52. T.J. Rivera
51. James Loney

Nos. 50-41
50. Juan Uribe
49. Kelly Johnson
48. Josh Thole
47. Mike Baxter
46. Kirk Nieuwenhuis
45. Justin Turner
44. Todd Frazier
43. Robert Gsellman
42. Francisco Rodriguez
41. Pedro Feliciano

Nos. 40-31
40. LaTroy Hawkins
39. Bobby Parnell
38. Mike Pelfrey
37. Wilson Ramos
36. Jerry Blevins
35. J.D. Davis
34. Marlon Byrd
33. Amed Rosario
32. Addison Reed
31. Jenrry Mejia

Nos. 30-21
30. Angel Pagan
29. Carlos Beltran
28. Brandon Nimmo
27. Ike Davis
26. Ruben Tejada
25. Dillon Gee
24. Zack Wheeler
23. Travis d’Arnaud
22. Steven Matz
21. Seth Lugo

Nos. 20-11
20. Asdrubal Cabrera
19. Jeff McNeil
18. Jon Niese
17. Juan Lagares
16. Johan Santana
15. Jose Reyes
14. Jeurys Familia
13. Bartolo Colon
12. Lucas Duda
11. Wilmer Flores

Nos. 10-2
10. Pete Alonso
9. Michael Conforto
8. Curtis Granderson
7. Noah Syndergaard
6. Matt Harvey
5. Yoenis Cespedes
4. R.A. Dickey
3. Daniel Murphy
2. David Wright

No. 1
1. Jacob deGrom

Mets of the 2010s: Jake’s the 1

Welcome to the eleventh and concluding chapter of Faith and Fear’s countdown of The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s. An introduction to the series is available here; you can read the most recent installment here. 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.

It’s no fantasy. Jacob deGrom is all ours.


1. JACOB DeGROM, 2014-2019
In early 2019, in the third start of his sixth major league season, Jacob deGrom was hittable, and for that, I apologize. There was some talk after that frigid Tuesday night versus the Minnesota Twins at Citi Field that maybe Jacob had been tipping his pitches, or perhaps it was simply inevitable imperfection catching up to a pitcher who had just strung together a record 26 consecutive quality starts, including the two scoreless outings with which he commenced defense of his Cy Young status. But I truly believe it was at least partly my fault, because as he went about mowing down the Marlins in the 26th and maybe best of those golden games six nights prior in Miami (7 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 14 SO, plus he hit a home run), I heard myself think a thought that couldn’t have worse karma attached to it had it been manufactured to adverse specifications:

“Geez, I’m running out of ways to write ‘Jacob deGrom was great again.’”

You’d think, after so many outings when we reveled in Jacob’s deGrominance in 2018, that I could have set our blog software every fifth day so it would automatically sprinkle superlatives like “spectacular,” “superb” and “scintillating” into my copy. Instead, I had to strain to keep up with deGrom. I mean, really, after a while you do run out of ways to write ‘Jacob deGrom was great again.’ Against the Marlins, I found an angle I liked. Against the Twins, I found an angle I didn’t want. Then, for a spell, that angle — deGrom as something less than spectacular, superb and scintillating — didn’t go away. Ohmigod, I fretted, I ruined Jacob deGrom’s career, all because I found blogging the most brilliant Met of our time a little challenging.

Fortunately, as Jacob does for his team more than his team does for Jacob, the ace of the staff came to my rescue. His career was stronger than the nehora I’d unintentionally put on him. Jacob deGrom is, I should have known after five seasons following him to the peak of his profession, the personification of a kinehora, the Yiddish phrase uttered to ward off the evil eye or, in our case, the potentially dangerous bats of opponents. All opponent bats are potentially dangerous, I was reminded between April 9 and April 26 (Jake’s ERA in three starts: 9.69). But by May 1 and all the way to September 25 (Jake’s ERA in twenty-seven starts: 2.07), I was reminded deGrom will not easily allow himself to be classified an endangered species.

Before we get carried away with metaphors piled on top of Met-aphors, let us explicitly state Jacob deGrom is Faith and Fear in Flushing’s Tom Seaver Met of the Decade for the 2010s, joining Mike Piazza in receiving our decennial recognition of Metsian excellence. We’ve named the award for Tom Seaver because, well, why wouldn’t we? Tom Seaver is the greatest of Mets, and if we’d been around to conceive and present awards in the 1960s and 1970s, we’re absolutely certain Tom would have been our Met of the Decade both times.

DeGrom’s designation as FAFIF’s TSMOTD was never in doubt once the subject came to mind, which was after the 2018 season, deGrom’s most masterful masterpiece to date. The decade was nine-tenths over, Jacob had just won his third Richie Ashburn Most Valuable Met award (Jake’s ERA in thirty-two starts: 1.70 ERA) and it occurred to the awards committee that he held an almost insurmountable lead over every other Met from 2010 through 2018, pending 2019. Twenty Nineteen only deepened the committee’s commitment to this incredibly obvious choice.

We are declaring deGrom the Met of our decade a few days after Eddie Murphy hosted Saturday Night Live, which I mention because Eddie Murphy and Jacob deGrom share something in common, at least if you’ve repeatedly read (as I have) the book Saturday Night by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad, a history of the show’s first ten years. In discussing the rocky transition from the original Lorne Michael program of 1975-1980 to the doomed Jean Doumanian version of 1980-1981, the authors explained the new executive producer instructed set designer Leo Yoshimura that she wanted her iteration of SNL to transmit “the look of the Eighties”. Not surprisingly, Yoshimura had no idea what that nebulous direction implied, but he went about searching for an answer while Doumanian concentrated on casting the group that was supposed to somehow succeed the legendary Not Ready for Prime Time Players. Her starting lineup consisted of Charles Rocket, Joe Piscopo, Ann Risley, Gail Matthius, Denny Dillon and Gilbert Gottfried. Almost as an afterthought, she also hired a 19-year-old comic from Long Island, not as a full-fledged member of the company, but as a lesser-billed featured player.

“The real look of the Eighties,” Hill and Weingrad wrote of Eddie Murphy the last time he’d go unnoticed, “was about to slip in through the back door.”

Here, then, is the first mention Faith and Fear made of the player we would, nearly six years later, rank as the No. 1 Met of the Teens, from February 6, 2014:

Jacob deGrom ascended three minor league levels last year and could develop into a Gee type starting this year.

Mind you, this was at the end of a paragraph that stoked anticipation first for Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, neither of whom had yet pitched for the Mets but were both generally rated as comers, then confirmed that while we waited for Matt Harvey to return from Tommy John rehab, we also had Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Famila to look forward to among enticing young Met arms.

Then deGrom.

During Spring Training, the collective expertise of FAFIF focused fleetingly on deGrom twice. Once it was because his name was adequately melodic in context; and once it was to complete a thought assessing a future featuring other, more highly regarded pitching prospects:

After enduring five years of nothingness in the standings and staring at six months will (very likely) refuse to include a single Harvey Day, I want to be Syndergaarded and Monteroed and perhaps deGromed as soon as possible, never mind Wheelered as much as possible.

Eddie Murphy’s first appearance on Saturday Night Live was as an extra, sitting on a couch with no dialogue. That was pretty much the role we gave Jacob deGrom. We knew his name, but we didn’t process much more — and we weren’t alone. The prospect industrial complex that assiduously tracks every minor league movement like it’s your online shopping habits didn’t seem to place much priority on this deGrom fellow heading into what would become his rookie season. Nobody among Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, Amazin’ Avenue or Mets Minor League Blog listed him higher than tenth when ranking Mets prospects.

We didn’t even know for sure that 2014 would be Jacob deGrom’s rookie season. He started the year at Las Vegas, and not necessarily to stiff him on service time. The Mets didn’t seem to have any better handle on their own personnel than those who cover them for fun, profit or anything else. Jacob, then 25 and three years removed from his Tommy John rehabilitation, had gone 4-0 in seven starts for the 51s, but he was en route to Flushing to fortify the Mets’ bullpen once it was determined Gonzalez Germen had contracted a virus that would force the reliever to the DL. We were so excited by the righthander’s impending promotion, that this is how we heralded it on May 13:

The Mets announced plans to promote Jacob deGrom…

As understatement goes, this was right down there with the Times reporting, in April of 1966, that the Mets had prevailed in a drawing that allowed them to sign “a right-handed pitcher from the University of California” whose contract with the Atlanta Braves had been voided by the commissioner. The pitcher, according to the Paper of Record, was named George Feaver. You might know him better as George Thomas Seaver. (They also got his college wrong.)

Thirty-eight years later, rumors of Jacob Anthony deGrom’s immediate destination proved similarly inaccurate, though that wasn’t the fault of shoddy reportage. Between the time Germen was diagnosed, on a Monday, and Dillon Gee’s next scheduled start, on a Thursday, Gee was directed to the DL as well, having strained his right lat muscle in his previous start. Thus, deGrom wasn’t going to work out of the bullpen. He was going to take the ball against the Yankees in the 2014 Subway Series finale. On the eve of Jacob’s first major league pitch, one night after Rafael Montero’s maiden voyage, our enthusiasm for his presence was so intense that we framed it this way:

Overall, there was enough [from Montero] to make you want to see more, which is all you can ask of a recalled rookie. We have another one of those tonight, as Jacob deGrom earned a promotion from reliever to starter by being on the premises when it was learned Dillon Gee was going to the DL with a strained right lat muscle. That’s not supposed to be a serious injury (also, Ryan Church is well enough to fly cross-country with a concussion), so I’m willing to believe Gee’s misfortune is temporary and the opportunity it grants deGrom is a bonus.

In one sense, we nailed our forecast, in that Gee, who the Mets thought might miss only a couple of starts, wasn’t back until July. Otherwise, our case of deGrom Fe(a)ver didn’t exactly burn with prescience. When he got his chance to pitch, he immediately generated results that translate today as vintage Jake: seven innings of one-run, four-hit ball in a 1-0 loss that encompassed Derek Jeter’s final Subway Series appearance. Oh yeah, that. Even with us, the farewell to the all-time crosstown Met nemesis rated co-billing with the elevation of the latest Met pitcher. Jeter was kind of hard to ignore, no matter how we would have liked to once Interleague play began.

Under the headline “Hello Jacob, Goodbye Jeter,” we wrote the following of the former:

Gazed upon with Collector’s Cups half full, these are the days of Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero, which produced two days of good sidebar news in a pair of senses. One, of course, is that two reasonably highly touted rookie pitchers were promoted and matched their hype, at least on an introductory basis. DeGrom exceeded it, actually, doing everything he could to win his debut. Not only did he throw seven innings and give up but one run — the product of shaky defense, mostly — but the kid ended the notorious hitless-by-pitchers streak at last. Jacob singled in the third and somewhere, I’d like to believe, Tom Seaver stood on first base snapping his warmup jacket shut as he looked to Eddie Yost to see if the hit-and-run was on. DeGrom also laid down a beautiful bunt, proving the young man was born under the sign of Chub Feeney…or at least the former National League president’s signature on a Spalding baseball.

Of course it’s wonderful that deGrom pitched (and hit) well and Montero pitched well. Of course it will be wonderful when Zack Wheeler settles down a bit and Noah Syndergaard Super 2’s his way up and Matt Harvey recovers and Steven Matz maybe keeps coming. Take those guys, mix in Niese and Gee and whoever else is bubbling under the Hot 100, and you know what you might very well have in the not-too-distant future?

A genuine pitching surplus. And you know what you can do then? Trade for some hitting, because Jacob deGrom and his hurling brethren can’t do it all alone. You can never have enough starting pitching, but you also can never ask your starting pitching to bear the burden of getting outs without somebody on his side getting runs for him.

Well, we certainly intuited that the Mets might make a habit of not scoring for Jacob deGrom, and we definitely gauged correctly that the rookie had a Seaverian knack for helping his own cause. Hey, we even invoked Tom Terrific, quite possibly if unconsciously predicting the day that we’d be naming an award for the old master and presenting it in print to a heretofore unknown who would prove every bit as Cyworthy.

But don’t give us that much credit. DeGrom was just another young pitcher to us, one we couldn’t mention without mentioning like a half-dozen other guys — and we made him share his first FAFIF headline with Derek Fucking Jeter. For all we knew in the aftermath of May 15, 2014, good ol’ Dillon Gee was gonna be fine soon and maybe it would be enough that deGrom could lend a hand in that chronically shaky Mets bullpen.

Yet, as mentioned (and as was predictable), Gee was out a while and the Mets were wise enough to keep letting deGrom make starts for them. Except for a few precautionary DL/IL trips and a month at the end of 2016 when an ulnar nerve problem sidelined him, deGrom has kept making starts for them and for us ever since. He’s been less a mid-rotation Gee type and more an ace-for-the-ages Seaver type. Mostly, he’s been a deGrom type, which we can now define as the top type in the National League at present, never mind on the Mets of the 2010s.

He brings us confidence and serenity, no matter that he inadvertently inspires his teammates to lean back, relax and not score jack on Jake’s behalf. We know that even without the traditional (if somewhat inane) metric of pitcher wins weighing in heavily on his behalf, Jacob went on to be voted Rookie of the Year in 2014 and awarded Cy Youngs in 2018 and 2019. We’ve seen him named to All-Star teams three times. We know the Mets, who don’t always seem to grasp the essentials about their personnel or product, understand the importance of Jacob deGrom. We know they signed him to a long-term extension to keep him pitching for us well into the 2020s. We also know, because we’ve published them alongside previous installments of this series, that the Mets have placed deGrom’s image on the cover of every one of their Official Yearbooks since he broke in with minimal notice.

We watched Jacob dominate the Dodgers in the Mets’ first postseason game in nine years in 2015 and, four games later, we watched him persevere with lesser stuff and keep his and our team alive so they and we could win that Division Series and progress toward a World Series. We’ve seen Jacob deGrom regularly pitch brilliantly without support, suck up a plethora of undeserved NDs and Ls, and pitch brilliantly some more. We’ve seen him brandish every tool we associate with the most talented of position players. Jacob can, within reason, hit; hit with power; run; field; and, oh yes, he can throw. Four-seamers, sliders, changeups…he throws them all and he throws them to the dandiest of effect. Among the cohort of Met pitching prospects in which we used to lump him when we thought to lump him at all, he’s either outlasted or outclassed every one of his contemporaries. At the risk of once again incurring the wrath of the evil eye (kinehora!), he may be the first Met pitcher since Seaver neither encumbered nor defined by discernible flaws. We’re not swearing he’ll be spectacular, superb and scintillating without pause for the rest of his career. But we will testify that he’s been pretty much all that the entire time we’ve seen him in the 2010s.

Jacob deGrom may have filtered into our consciousness through nothing more auspicious than a side entrance, but he’s where we start when we think about the Mets these days, and he’s where we finish when we think about the Mets in this decade.

Mets of the 2010s: 10-2

Welcome to the tenth chapter of Faith and Fear’s countdown of The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s. An introduction to the series is available here; you can read the most recent installment here. 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.

10. PETE ALONSO, 2019
Prior to 2019, no Met rookie had hit more home runs than Darryl Strawberry; no National League rookie had hit more home runs than Cody Bellinger; no rookie from either league had hit more home runs than Aaron Judge; no Met had hit more home runs in a season than Todd Hundley or Carlos Beltran; no rookie had ever led all of baseball in home runs; no Met had ever led all of baseball in home runs; no Met rookie had made the All-Star Game as a position player; no Met had turned the Home Run Derby’s final round into a personal, national showcase; no Met had created on behalf of his teammates a September 11 tribute that skirted MLB’s ridiculous rules about what could be worn during a game; no Met determined that a walkoff celebration was complete without the removal of the game-winning hitter’s uniform top; nobody who loved the Mets had thought to effectively amend the Let’s Go Mets acronym; no Mets fan had any reason to light up at the invocation of a polar bear; and nobody knew quite what to make of a first base prospect named Peter Alonso. After 2019, Peter Alonso was Pete Alonso, and everybody knew what that meant.

9. MICHAEL CONFORTO, 2015-2019
On the night the Mets made Michael Conforto the 10th overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft, 980 different men had played as Mets since the inception of the franchise in 1962. It would take Conforto barely more than a year — or 20 Mets — to rise to the big club. Thus, the first thing Michael did when he made his Met debut on July 24, 2015, was make numerical history, by becoming the 1,000th Met ever. The next night, he collected four hits and a walk, strongly indicating that the chronological trivia associated with the outfielder’s promotion would be a footnote compared to the career that was about to transpire. The first five seasons of Conforto haven’t played out on a straight upward trajectory — he’s been hurt, he’s been benched, he’s been demoted — but he has flourished more than he’s stumbled. Michael was 22 when he came up, and he was still 22 when he hit three home runs in the 2015 postseason (including a pair in Game Four of the World Series). He’s been an All-Star once, topped 25 homers three times and increased his RBI total annually, reaching 92 in 2019, the same year he passed 100 HR lifetime…and he was still only 26.

8. CURTIS GRANDERSON, 2014-2017
If all Curtis Granderson did was play virtually every day that he wore a New York Mets uniform, that would differentiate him from all of his contemporaries. In an era when almost nobody stayed in the Met lineup daily, Curtis was the reason you had to say “almost”. Grandy was the rock of the Mets roster for most of four seasons, especially the two in the middle of his tenure, 2015 and 2016, not coincidentally the two seasons when he helped lead his team into the playoffs. Whether you found him in right or, as necessary, center, you knew you were gonna get solid, heady defense. Wherever he appeared in the batting order — leadoff a lot, but cleanup sometimes — you knew the opposing pitcher was in for a battle. No Met drew more walks in a single year during the decade than Curtis, who worked out 91 bases on balls in 2015. Anecdotally, you’d swear each one ignited or extended a rally. For a while in ’15, the veteran’s walks were the Mets rallies, but he also chipped in 26 homers, 33 doubles and a world of smart baserunning. He went deep three more times in the World Series and drove in a dozen postseason runs overall. A year later, his over-the-shoulder robbery of Brandon Belt’s bid for an RBI double at the center field wall kept the NL Wild Card Game scoreless in the sixth. Yet plucking statistics and highlights from Granderson’s time as a Met seems to undersell what he meant to the franchise. You could just as easily go by Major League Baseball presenting him with the Roberto Clemente Award in 2016, annual recognition of the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team”. Actually, you could have just paid attention to how Curtis played the game and treated people, and you would have gotten the Grand picture.

7. NOAH SYNDERGAARD, 2015-2019
How many minor leaguers show up in the majors with a camera-ready nickname? Noah Syndergaard was already Thor when he received the call to pitch for the Mets for the first time on May 12, 2015, at Chicago, and a discernible portion of the Citi Field crowd five days later came equipped with hammers of the gods to acknowledge the highly touted Thor was home at last (how they got them by security, Odin only knows). Syndergaard had been expected in Flushing since the December day in 2012 when the Mets traded their reigning Cy Young laureate, R.A. Dickey, to Toronto for Thor’s lightning bolt of a right arm. It was an exchange of characters, to be sure. Noah relished being Thor — he dressed up in costume and visited Times Square for promotional purposes just as he was getting very famous — but he was no less enthusiastic about his identity as one of the league’s best young pitchers. He not only won the Mets’ lone successful outing in the 2015 World Series, he literally dared the Kansas City Royals to do something if they didn’t like the way he came high and inside at their pesky leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar (“they can meet me sixty feet, six inches away” became as memorable a phrase as any Dickey ever coined). By 2016, Noah was an All-Star and the clear ace of a Met staff otherwise depleted by injuries. He dueled Madison Bumgarner for seven scintillating shutout innings in an October showdown that required no verbal challenges. Syndergaard’s ensuing seasons would encompass their share of speed bumps, but Thor remained as formidable on a mound as his namesake did in mythology.

6. MATT HARVEY, 2012-2013; 2015-2018
(Missed 2014 due to injury)
Matt Harvey’s ascent to superstar status felt exactly right. It wasn’t just that he was dominating hitters as 2013 got underway, it was how he was doing it. Matt was next in the line that began with Tom Seaver and continued through Doc Gooden. In his second year — and first full campaign — he threw their kind of stuff, radiated their kind of presence, was replicating the caliber of results they regularly posted at their peak, and pulled the spotlight toward him by dint of his performance. Harvey was a homegrown flamethrower like Seaver and Gooden. He was young and robust like Seaver and Gooden were when we were motivated to immediately idolize them. And, when it came to pitching, he was practically fully formed from the outset. In 2013, every fifth day was a Mets fan celebration. We called it Harvey Day. We got hyped up for every one of the 24-year-old’s starts and were rarely let down. In the middle of it all, on July 16, Matt strode to his normal base of operations, and started the All-Star Game at Citi Field. The whole thing was, we learned, too good to last. Matt’s right elbow went awry; Tommy John surgery ended his ethereal ’13 (26 starts, 2.27 ERA) in August; rehab kept him away in ’14; and the Matt Harvey story was never as spectacular again. The pitcher wasn’t bad in 2015. Hell, he was top-notch for seven months, including the postseason (33 starts, 2.79 ERA), even if the November portion did go on a batter or two too long where he was concerned. But by 2016, with another injury in the offing and a stream of headlines that had little to do with pitching, you had to squint in the rearview mirror to make out the Matt Harvey who was everything in 2013. In 2018, the lights went out on the Dark Knight of Gotham. But what a Knight it had been there for a while.

5. YOENIS CESPEDES, 2015-2018
(Missed 2019 due to injury)
At around 3:30 in the afternoon on July 31, 2015, the New York Mets were a scuffling enterprise. By four o’clock, they were a juggernaut. We wouldn’t understand just how mighty they’d become for a couple of weeks, but the fun part was embedded in discovering just how much impact Yoenis Cespedes brought with him from the Detroit Tigers. Traded to the Queens for minor leaguers Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa, Yo instantly changed the composition of the Mets lineup and just as quickly raised the sights of the Mets fans. A summer spent scrounging for offense — lest we forget John Mayberry, Jr., batting cleanup versus Clayton Kershaw on July 23 — was now something else altogether. These were the days and nights of Yoenis Cespedes, his neon compression sleeve, his dead-on-balls accurate arm showing its stuff in left and center, and oh that bat. In a span of 31 games between August 12 and September 14, Yoenis socked seventeen homers and knocked in thirty-seven runs. It was unreal output, except it was real and, indeed, it was spectacular. It drove the Mets to their first division title in nine years and it motivated an otherwise cautious ownership to invest heavily in Cespedes for the rest of the decade and the beginning of the next one. When he was healthy, he was a force. He wasn’t healthy that much after 2016, and by 2019, the Mets were feverishly renegotiating the terms of his contract. On the other hand, for the leap the Mets took at the trade deadline in 2015 and the adrenaline rush that followed, you’d sell your soul and call it a bargain.

4. R.A. DICKEY, 2010-2012
R.A. Dickey’s birthplace is generally listed as Nashville, but Mets fans could have been forgiven for believing this guy came out of nowhere in 2010. R.A. Who? A journeyman righty who had to persevere through injuries and convince an industry that dismissed his abilities reinvented himself as a pitcher, learning and mastering a hard knuckleball few had seen and fewer could hit. That was the pitcher R.A. Dickey. We would learn over three seasons that the person R..A. Dickey wasn’t a reinvention, but an authentic human being you couldn’t have imagined had you tried. His getting batters out was great. His describing the process of getting batters out was even better. We’d heard ballplayers speak in complete sentence and marveled. This fellow came at us in glorious paragraphs laced with multisyllabic eloquence. But if all he did was talk a good postgame, the pleasures of recalling R.A. Dickey as a New York Met wouldn’t so resonate long after his departure, and we wouldn’t have collectively remained a diehard fan of the man from Tennessee. His entire story coalesced unbelievably in 2012 — a searing memoir of his personal battles, a documentary exploring his professional rebirth and, oh yeah, a twenty-win season that ended with his earning the National League Cy Young Award at age 37. So go ahead, print the legend of R.A. Dickey. It has the benefit of being true.

3. DANIEL MURPHY, 2011-2015
(Also a Met in 2008 and 2009; missed 2010 due to injury)
If Mets fandom had a news crawl running across the bottom of its screen for the balance of Daniel Murphy’s stay on the team he liked to refer to as the Metropolitans, the text would have suggested we were living inside an all-Murph format. Maybe Daniel Murphy should be traded… Daniel Murphy needs to play regularly… Daniel Murphy doesn’t have a position… Daniel Murphy hits too well to not play every day… Daniel Murphy is a DH in the wrong league… Daniel Murphy has made himself into a serviceable fielder… Daniel Murphy is still a butcher… Daniel Murphy selflessly plays wherever they put him… Daniel Murphy runs us out of innings… Daniel Murphy is sneaky fast… Daniel Murphy said WHAT? On the debate seemed to go, even once Murph established himself as an above-average hitter whose lively bat outpointed his fundamental shortcomings. If you include postseason action, no Met totaled more hits in 2010s than Daniel, with 810 altogether. And you can’t accurately consider Murphy as a Met without taking into account his 2015 postseason, for that is when the chatter surrounding him changed to awe. Simply put, Daniel Murphy transformed overnight into a slugger for the ages. The Mets played nine games versus the Dodgers and Cubs en route to winning the National League pennant. Daniel homered in seven of them, including the final six in a row; he’d hit only fourteen home runs the entire regular season. The playoff pitchers he tagged were predominantly elite (Kershaw, Greinke, Lester, Arrieta). For good measure, he pretty much stole a run from L.A. in the decisive fifth game of the NLDS, a game the Mets won by one run, as he zipped from second to third on a walk when literally nobody was looking. When it came time to vote for an NLCS MVP, the balloting in Chicago was beyond reproach: Most Valuable Murph it was. The World Series was a different story, with Daniel’s bat going cold, his glove reverting to iron and his exit via free agency imminent. The rest of our days devoted to talking about Murph regarded muttering how he was killing us in some other uniform.

2. DAVID WRIGHT, 2010-2016; 2018
(Also a Met from 2004 to 2009; missed 2017 due to injury)
David Wright played third base for the New York Mets, but he was the Captain. The use of past-tense in the latter half of that summation acknowledges the reality of Wright’s farewell at the end of 2018. Really, he is the Captain, and will be for as long as there are New York Mets. Maybe the title of captain will be handed to somebody else down the line, and maybe that captain will perform the duties of what is technically an honorary position honorably, but just as we’re never going to call any other Met besides Tom Seaver the Franchise, we’re never going to think of anybody but David Wright as the Captain. The Captain wasn’t something Wright played. It was who he was when he played, for David was front and center for his team every waking day and inning in and out of orange and blue. The Mets named him the Captain in Spring Training of 2013, once he signed on to stay a Met for the rest of his career, but he was inherently that individual all along, dating back to 2004. He could politely defer through his youth, demonstrating respect for his established elders to a fault, yet these had long been David Wright’s Mets when we entered the decade, and we were thrilled to root for them that way. David was an All-Star three times in the 2010s, and none of that was honorary. David Wright was the same high-caliber third baseman as always once he became the elder, and he was as lethal a hitter as ever once he got the hang of Citi Field’s dimensions. Yet we probably instinctively remember him mostly at his Met bookends: young, fresh-faced David Wright, the crown prince of Shea Stadium; and wise, relatively old David Wright, whose two great accomplishments from 2015 forward were coming back to hit a World Series home run and, three years later, coming back at all. Somewhere in between his glorious rise and his bittersweet denouement were some fine years when everything was basically as it was supposed to be. The Captain was playing; was starring; was leading; was the Met of Mets. If you stuck with this team from one decade to the next, from one ballpark to the next, part of you will always see David Wright in the present tense. He is the Met of Mets. He is the Captain.

Still to come: the No. 1 Met of the 2010s.

Mets of the 2010s: 20-11

Welcome to the ninth chapter of Faith and Fear’s countdown of The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s. An introduction to the series is available here; you can read the most recent installment here. 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.

20. ASDRUBAL CABRERA, 2016-2018
It couldn’t be said of Asdrubal Cabrera in his first year with the New York Mets that “he did everything but remove the batting helmets of his teammates after they hit a home run,” because Asdrubal did everything for the Mets in 2016, including removing the batting helmets of his teammates after they hit a home run. Yet after that playoff campaign was over, it was clear Cabrera was the Met who most deserved to doff his hat for a year well done. Asdrubal was the everyday shortstop who played through nagging pain, giving the Mets the last of his range; the consistent slugger who set a team record for most home runs at his position (22, plus one as a PH); the clutchest among his mates, delivering the most memorable blow of the season via a three-run, bat-flipping, arm-raising game-winner to foil the Phillies in eleven down the stretch at Citi; and one of the best low-key free agent signings the Mets ever made.

19. JEFF McNEIL, 2018-2019
If your bat plays at every level, sooner or later it — and you — will be taken seriously wherever you go. After five seasons in the minors, including two limited by injury, Jeff McNeil’s bat demanded attention in 2018. At Double-A Binghamton, McNeil was a .327 hitter. Moved up to Las Vegas, Jeff strafed Triple-A pitching at a .368 clip. By July 24, there was nowhere else to go but New York, where the Mets discovered their non-prospect was carrying the bat of their dreams. Sixty-three games while the Mets were otherwise playing out the string revealed the man we’d soon be calling Squirrel could hit pitchers anywhere. McNeil raked .329 for two months as a starting second baseman. The Mets being the Mets, they went out in the offseason and committed to Robinson Cano to play in Jeff’s spot. Undeterred, McNeil made himself useful at four different positions in 2019, rotating among second, third, left and right, starting 123 times somewhere, and challenging for the NL batting crown before finishing fourth. His road to .318 (and a .916 OPS) included a detour to the All-Star Game in Cleveland…where the scoreboard operator posted Jeff’s name alongside Jacob deGrom’s picture. Based on his first two seasons in the bigs, eventually everybody will recognize this guy as a singular offensive force.

18. JON NIESE, 2010-2015; 2016
(Also a Met from 2008 to 2009)
When Jacob deGrom threw his final start of 2019, it could have been presumed he’d clinched his second consecutive Cy Young Award, but it was certain that he’d tied for first under the category heading, “Most Starts by a New York Mets Pitcher in the 2010s”. DeGrom was now on a plateau with none other than Jon Niese, up to that moment the Met workhorse of the decade. For that matter, if you go back twenty full years and include his 2008-2009 introduction, you’ll find no Met pitcher has made more starts in the 21st century than one Jonathon Joseph Niese. Not Leiter. Not Trachsel. Not Santana. Not, for another nine starts of 2020, deGrom. Nope, Niese. Sticking to the decade in question, Niese was the 2010s’ stealthy stalwart, perennially circling the concept of Met ace without ever really claiming the title. On Opening Day 2013, you might have thought different, as Johan Santana was done, R.A. Dickey was traded and Matt Harvey lacked the requisite hash marks to be handed such a plum assignment. The ball wound up in Jon’s left hand, the culmination of five years of steady progress within the Met rotation. In a way, that Monday afternoon at Citi Field was the peak of Niese. Not only was he the winning pitcher versus the Padres to kick off the season, but he was justifying the thought that the best was yet to come. He’d been extended through 2016 the spring before, a solid $25.5-million bet that the southpaw born the same day the Mets last won a World Series would keep getting better in sync with his team. Instead, Niese labored with less and less distinction as time went on — and only through 2015 for the Mets, losing his priority status on a staff soon populated by brighter prospects settling in for their own long haul. Jon ended his initial Met tenure as a middle reliever, albeit in the most recent World Series the Mets played.

17. JUAN LAGARES, 2013-2019
With one glittering exception, the Mets of the 2010s put very little emphasis on defense. The exception, though, proved the rule of what a critical element of baseball defense can be. Juan Lagares’s entire Met career was defined by his glove, certified Gold in 2014, though from the moment he arrived in April of 2013, you knew his fielding had to be valued differently from the kind demonstrated by his teammates. Simply put, Juan was the best center fielder the Mets ever had from a pure, shall we say, center fielding standpoint. He came in on balls, he went back on balls and he snared virtually all those balls. He went up over fences to get them, he dove to the ground to grab them, he took them out of the air on the dead run. Consider that, according to Baseball-Reference, the leading Met by WAR in 2014 was Juan Lagares…a position player whose OPS+ registered as barely above league average. But Juan didn’t lead his team in Wins Above Replacement based on his batting. That’s how Gold his Glove was. Analytics not your thing? “Where extra-base hits go to die” was Gary Cohen’s description of Juan’s leather, and that, too, pretty well covered the breathtaking breadth of what Lagares could do.

16. JOHAN SANTANA, 2010; 2012
(Also a Met from 2008 to 2009; missed 2011 and 2013 due to injury)
For the record, Johan Santana pitched in 50 games for the Mets of the 2010s, and more than a few reflected the form that earned Santana two American League Cy Youngs in the previous decade, not to mention how loftily Johan carried the Mets down the stretch of 2008 (never higher than in the short-rest shutout he threw at the Marlins with a torn meniscus in his left knee and the veritable weight of Shea Stadium on his shoulders). In the ’10s, Santana won a pair of Opening Day starts, the second of them, in 2012, after a year spent rehabbing from surgery on his left shoulder’s anterior capsule. There was a night in 2010 when he shut out the Reds and whacked a home run to complete a 12-pitch at-bat. There was an afternoon in 2012 when he needed only 96 pitches to blank the Padres on four hits. There were plenty of good games for Johan Santana in 2010 and 2012 before and after the injuries that eventually subtracted him from the Mets’ plans for good. But there was one game, on a Friday night in June of 2012, that gets repeated on SNY regularly, and not because it was a good Johan Santana start, but because it was an immortal Johan Santana start. On June 1, 2012, Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. No other decade in which the Mets have played has had one of those. No other pitcher for the Mets has pitched one of those. It was, for a half-century, the holiest grail in franchise lore, and Johan Santana strode to the Citi Field mound and got it for us. More can be said of what the man did during his final two active seasons as a Met, but nothing else need be.

15. JOSE REYES, 2010-2011; 2016-2018
(Also a Met from 2003 to 2009)
Summertime 2011 and, for Jose Reyes, the hitting was easy. He sure made it look that way. From May 24 to July 2, a span of 34 games, Jose slashed .413/.447/.627, raised his season average to a league-best .354, swiped 13 bases and, because he still had the legs that differentiated him from every Met who preceded him, tripled nine times. Those legs also famously sustained hamstring strains, and, indeed, Reyes suffered another one of those in early July — and reaggravated it in August. The otherworldly numbers the Mets shortstop was producing tailed off a bit as summer turned to fall, but he had enough left to secure the first batting title captured by any Met, carving a .337 average into the record books. It was the professional apogee Reyes was swinging and running toward since his mouthwatering 2003 debut and it should have represented an all-time milestone in the life of the franchise. Jose, however, had one foot out the free agent door the day he clinched his crown, soon signing with Miami when the Madoff Mets did not make any kind of discernible offer to keep their homegrown four-time All-Star and soon-to-be-named 50th-anniversary-team shortstop. Reyes would have a second term with the Mets, facilitated by unsavory circumstances (Colorado released him on the heels of a domestic violence suspension). Though it wasn’t an ideal avenue to reunion, Jose contributed tangibly to the 2016 Wild Card push, taking over third base in the absence of his “baseball brother” David Wright. One day after David said goodbye to Mets fans on the final weekend of the 2018 season, Jose did the same. It was as if their shared era, which took place mostly in the preceding decade, had come out of retirement for one overdue final bow.

14. JEURYS FAMILIA, 2012-2018; 2019
Much of the downside of the Met experience in the 2010s was informed by injuries to the anatomy and implosions of the bullpen. But for a three-year interlude, there was Jeurys Familia, who emerged from a 2013 mostly lost to biceps tendinitis and bone spurs to become maybe the best righthanded relief pitcher the Mets ever featured. In 2014, Jeurys served as setup man par excellence to his close friend Jenrry Mejia. When Mejia disappeared from the Mets’ depth chart thanks to multiple PED suspensions, Familia stepped up to ninth innings like they were where he was meant to live. Nobody ever saved more games in a season than Familia, first with 43 in 2015, then 51 in 2016. Nor was any Met pitcher on the mound as often as prelude to the popping of corks. Jeurys finished off the division-winner at Cincinnati on September 26, 2015; the Wild Card clincher at Philadelphia on October 1, 2016; and both postseason series wins in the 2015 postseason. Terry Collins leaned on his closer a ton, perhaps contributing to his sagging at a couple of very inconvenient moments in the 2015 World Series and 2016 Wild Card Game (amounting to three blown saves and a devastating loss), but overall, Jeurys’s tenure as bullpen ace provided Mets fans a rare ninth-inning comfort zone. Of course it didn’t last, because of course there’d be another injury: an arterial clot in his right shoulder that effectively ended Familia’s 2017 and, with it, the Mets’ run as a legitimate contender. Jeurys’s healthy postscript saw him traded to Oakland in 2018; re-signed as a free agent for 2019; and struggle in his old eighth-inning spot, the circle of Met bullpen life squared yet again.

13. BARTOLO COLON, 2014-2016
There were reasons to not be overly excited about Bartolo Colon becoming a Met prior to 2014. Yes, he was past his fortieth birthday. No, his physique didn’t inspire confidence. Sure, he’d been suspended for a PED violation not long before the Mets signed him. And, ugh, he’d been a Yankee at some point. But after three seasons of close quarters with a veteran righthander like no other, none of the theoretical drawbacks sprung to mind. All you remembered about Bartolo Colon was that he mostly kept the Mets in games; that he won more games (44) than any Met starter while he was around; that he fielded his position splendidly; that his at-bats morphed from entertainingly futile to admirably competitive to a frigging May 2016 home run in San Diego (where he’d return as an All-Star two months later); and that he never stopped being very good at what he did while also being wholly unique — a.k.a. “Big Sexy” — as he did it. He was Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets. We were all the better for having been able to say that.

12. LUCAS DUDA, 2010-2017
No Met hit more home runs in the 2010s than Lucas Duda did, totaling 125, which also happen to be the seventh-most hit by any Met in franchise history. They were distributed over portions of eight seasons, but measured by perception, you’d swear they left the yard in three weeklong bursts of about 40 apiece. That’s what Duda being locked in felt like. (It also hinted at what it felt like when he wasn’t.) After four seasons of auditions that didn’t win him much in the way of organizational faith, Lucas at last elbowed aside the intramural competition of Ike Davis and Josh Satin and took over first base all by himself in 2014. When the rest of baseball at a low power ebb, Duda developed into an elite slugger, blasting 30 homers and knocking in 92 runs for a team clawing to reach beyond mediocrity. A year later, Lucas proved his power wasn’t a fluke, walloping another 27 out of the park, including nine during the second-half homestand versus the Dodgers, Padres and Nationals that transformed the Mets from dreamers to doers. Duda’s grand slam put the Mets up early in their NL East clincher at Cincy, and his first-inning three-run job in Chicago all but buried the Cubs in what became the night the Mets won their fifth National League pennant. The quietest Met — you never could tell for sure whether he was fully in on the @wefollowlucasduda joke — later succumbed to injury (as Mets of all personality stripe do) and the Flushing portion of his career petered out with a trade for minor league replenishment when his contract was about to lapse (another fate common to Mets who excelled in the mid-2010s).

11. WILMER FLORES, 2013-2018
The indefatigably boyish Wilmer Flores didn’t need a position most days. He just needed to be Wilmer Flores, and that alone won him the devotion of a fan cohort otherwise choosy about who it chose to support. It might be a leap to call him the Sara Lee of this decade’s Mets, but it really did seem that nobody didn’t like Wilmer Flores. How could you not love this kid? He’d be directed to any of four infield slots and give it his best, none of which could be described as defensively adequate, but he surely didn’t let his struggles with the glove interfere with the magic inherent in his bat. The magic was back repeatedly when there was a chance for Wilmer to singlehandedly win a game. On ten separate occasions, Flores drove in the run that directly ignited celebration. Four of those walkoff RBIs came via home run. One has its own nickname, “Tears of Joy,” which alluded to the fact that Wilmer cried a couple of days earlier when he thought he was about to be traded. When he wasn’t, his BQ (beloved quotient) shot through the roof. When he ended the crucial July 31, 2015, battle with the Nationals with a twelfth-inning homer, well, we were all eternally on the same emotional page with him, the best of Met Friends forevermore.

Mets of the 2010s: 30-21

Welcome to the eighth chapter of Faith and Fear’s countdown of The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s. An introduction to the series is available here; you can read the most recent installment here. 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.

30. ANGEL PAGAN, 2010-2011
(Also a Met from 2008 to 2009)
Angel Pagan was nearly the Met who got away altogether, and that would have been a shame. Drafted in 1999 and signed in 2000, Angel’s flight up the Met system took him through Kingsport, Brooklyn (in the Cyclones’ first year), Capital City, St. Lucie, Binghamton and Norfolk. The next stop for the swift outfielder was obviously going to be Shea Stadium, but the Mets sold him to the Cubs prior to the 2006 season, and the first time Angel saw Flushing, it was as a visitor. The Mets brought him back in 2008, and by 2010 — with Carlos Beltran still rehabbing his right knee — he established himself as an everyday player and flirted with stardom. Pagan finished in the National League Top Ten in singles, triples and steals; turned an 8-2-6-3 triple play; and registered high in defensive metrics. Alas, Angel fell off his game a notch in 2011 and the Mets decided the 30-year-old could get away for good, engineering a swap of centerfielders with San Francisco. Pagan went on to excel for the 2012 world champion Giants. Andres Torres did no such thing in his one year as a Met.

29. CARLOS BELTRAN, 2010-2011
(Also a Met from 2005 to 2009)
The Carlos Beltran the Mets knew at the beginning of the 2010s was an older, slower, bulkier version of the five-tool stud the club signed as a free agent in the middle of the 2000s. He’d missed much of 2009 with a bone bruise to his right knee and would start 2010 on the DL after arthroscopic surgery the team didn’t sign off on. Carlos and the franchise he hopefully dubbed “the new Mets” upon his 2005 arrival rarely seemed to be on the same page. Yet through it all, when he played, he was quite clearly the same Carlos Beltran, perhaps diminished a bit by time and injury, yet matured as the team leader it was hoped he would be. The Beltran of this decade made the hard slides nobody else would. He gracefully shifted to right field from his longtime glamour perch in center without making a prima donna peep. One afternoon in Denver, he socked three homers. By midseason 2011, the 34-year-old was an All-Star selection again. Not too many weeks later, as his contract was expiring, the Mets traded him for a celebrated pitching prospect named Zack Wheeler. A year later, when the Mets celebrated their fiftieth anniversary, he was named the center fielder on the all-time Met team. He’d always looked good in a Mets uniform. He looked even better in memory. By the end of the 2010s, we’d get a whole new view of him when he was named the new manager of the New York Mets.

28. BRANDON NIMMO, 2016-2019
Was that a bat in his hand or was Brandon Nimmo just happy to see us? Brandon Nimmo was happy to see everybody once the Mets’ first-round pick from 2011 made his major league debut after five years in the minors, but his smile really caught everybody’s attention in 2018 when the kid from Wyoming broke through as a regular in Mickey Callaway’s otherwise erratic lineup. Yes, the outfielder did fine things with a bat — socking 17 homers, slugging .483 — but not swinging served him well, too. Brandon led the majors in getting hit by pitches with 22 (a Mets record) and ranked second in the NL with a .404 on-base percentage, elevated by a Top Ten finish in walks. When he wasn’t taking first base when it was practically handed to him, Nimmo showed he was the giving kind, fitting by personality into the team’s holiday party Santa suit and grinning at all comers like every day was Christmas.

27. IKE DAVIS, 2010-2014
Not staying on his two feet seemed to define Ike Davis’s Mets career. Shortly after his 2010 callup from Buffalo, Ike demonstrated a willingness to flip himself over barriers to catch foul pops. The first baseman did it three times inside his first month as a major leaguer, never letting the railing in front of the Mets dugout at Citi Field separate him from making a putout; the last time he did it, it capped a spectacular comeback against the Nationals (the Mets were down, 6-1, yet won, 8-6). With a flair for dramatic defense, nineteen home runs in less than a full rookie year and an undeniable air of confidence, it seemed nothing would stop Ike Davis. “WE LIKE IKE” t-shirts were dotting the Flushing stands in a blink of an Ike. His second year, however, took Davis off his feet altogether. A May collision with David Wright at Coors Field put Ike’s left foot in a walking boot and ended his 2011 after 36 games. The rest of his Met stay was punctuated by the positive — he piled up 32 homers and 90 ribbies in 2012 — but he never found consistency again, probably a symptom of his energy-draining bout with valley fever, a condition that was diagnosed prior to the ’12 season. Before valley fever, Ike was a career .271 hitter. For the rest of his Met tenure, he batted .219. His last big hit as a Met came on April 5, 2014, a pinch-hit, come-from-behind walkoff grand slam…the first of its kind in franchise history. Two weeks later, Davis was traded to Pittsburgh.

26. RUBEN TEJADA, 2010-2015; 2019
Somewhere in an attic in Queens is a painting of Ruben Tejada in which the subject ages. Playing baseball across six seasons for the Mets, however, the infielder seemed forever young. At first, he was. Promoted to the big leagues at twenty, Tejada’s maturity in the field (the rookie successfully called for a pickoff play at second base to end a game in Washington) was belied by an aura that suggested he was a little awestruck by where he was. In September of his first season, he couldn’t hit his first home run without sliding into third first, for he didn’t realize the ball he crushed had left Wrigley Field, or perhaps he simply didn’t believe it was something he was capable of doing. In 2012, after the Mets didn’t make an obvious effort to re-sign NL batting champion Jose Reyes, Ruben took over at short after Jose bolted to Miami. He certainly didn’t appear overmatched by the challenge, fielding splendidly and actually outhitting his predecessor, .289 to .287. Tejada never much developed beyond the 2012 season, but the Mets kept sending him out to short, sometimes second or third. They never really seemed to have a better option. Ruben was good enough to be the starting shortstop for the NL East champs in the second game of the National League Division Series versus the Dodgers in 2015, which is when Ruben Tejada became a Met cause for the ages, getting viciously taken out by sliding slimebag Chase Utley. We would have rallied around any Met in that circumstance, but the eternal boyishness of Tejada made his broken leg that much more offensive to us and cast Utley in an even deeper shade of villainy. Ruben’s final role for the 2015 Mets was to serve as the personification of the bloody shirt when he limped out during pregame introductions — using a Mets-logoed cane, no less — when the NLDS shifted to Citi Field. Winning one for Ruben Tejada, the kid who couldn’t play anymore for himself or for us, became paramount.

25. DILLON GEE, 2010-2015
Maybe nobody ever yelled “YO MAN!” when Dillon Gee pitched for the New York Mets, though it might have been fitting, because for parts of six seasons, Gee gave the Mets a truly yeoman effort. Rising to the majors in September 2010 without the hype that would accompany the next wave of Met hurlers, Dillon merely gave his club a good chance to win whenever he pitched (especially in his seven-inning, two-hit debut at Washington). From late May 2013 to the end of that campaign, he truly put it together, forging a 2.71 ERA in 22 starts and effectively taking up the role of staff ace once Matt Harvey was sidelined. The 21st-round pick who was never high on anybody’s prospect radar began 2014 on the Citi Field mound as the Mets’ Opening Day starter. His yeoman work wasn’t as productive in the season ahead, though, and injury cost him two months of action. Gee was part of the 2015 Mets who hinted they were ready to contend, but ended up spending most of their league championship season in Las Vegas, never to return to the big club again.

24. ZACK WHEELER, 2013-2014; 2017-2019
(Missed 2015-2016 due to injury)
No matter where you look it up, a pair of DNPs rudely interrupt Zack Wheeler’s statistics. Nothing for 2015. Nothing for 2016. A gaping void where postseason exploits could conceivably be listed. Wheeler and the Mets were heading upward together, or so it was thought. Obtained from San Francisco for two months’ worth of Carlos Beltran in the summer of 2011, Wheeler arrived from the minors in June of 2013, the first Met to have been born in the 1990s. His debut start was in Atlanta, not far from where he grew up — and it was a win in the night half of a two-admission doubleheader, the first part started and dominated by Matt Harvey. Harvey was having a dynamite first full year and Wheeler seemed bound to follow. But Zack’s path wasn’t nearly as clear as Matt’s. Tommy John surgery deleted two seasons of progress for the pitcher who’d been picked sixth overall in the nation in 2009. The Mets looked into trading him. Zack asked them to keep him around. He made it back to Flushing in 2017, just in time for the Mets to go on contention hiatus. Wheeler would need a year-and-a-half to find his groove. Finally, with the 2018 Mets deep in the middle of going nowhere, the future star the Mets traded for seven years earlier commenced to shine. His post-All Star break stats were eye-popping: 9-1 with an ERA of 1.68 in eleven starts. He didn’t exactly pick up where he left off in 2019, as he and the Mets again started slowly, but at last the two parties landed on the same encouraging page come July. The Mets chased a Wild Card and Zack, in his last seven starts, posted an ERA of 2.54, striking out nearly a batter per inning. Now that he was established as one of the better starting pitchers in the National League and the Mets were perhaps poised to make a full-season run at glory in 2020, it seemed perversely natural to learn Zack Wheeler would not be around. In December, the free agent righty signed a lucrative five-year contract to pitch for Philadelphia. At last, his timing was exquisite.

23. TRAVIS D’ARNAUD, 2013-2019
Batting practice for the second game of the 2015 NLCS was marked by a touch of whimsy, as Citi Field’s Home Run Apple displayed an immense bandage, signifying where Travis d’Arnaud’s sixth-inning home run the night before off the Cubs’ Jon Lester practically dented the dang fruit. That shot was one of three dingers Travis delivered in the National League playoffs, but winking at a deeper truth was the implication that first aid was required wherever the catcher went. D’Arnaud, acquired with Noah Syndergaard in the trade that sent very recent Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey to Toronto in December 2012, was supposed to fill a perennial void behind the plate and pop balls over fences (bruises to apples were optional). To a certain extent, Travis made good on the expectations he’d carried since the Phillies made him a first-round draft choice in 2007, totaling double-digit round-trippers three times as a Met; serving as a vital cog in the Big Met Machine that took first place for keeps in ’15; and catching every single pitch of the subsequent postseason. But the man simply could not stay healthy. Td’A never caught as many as two-thirds of the games the Mets played in any one season and topped 400 plate appearances only once. It wasn’t anything chronic holding Travis back. Rather, some piece of him always seemed to be getting in the way of a bat or a ball. All of it cost him time and likely drained his development. After showing no signs of shaking off the rust of a mostly missed 2018, the Mets released him in May of 2019. Five months later, he was the starting catcher in the AL playoffs for the Rays, again catching every October pitch.

22. STEVEN MATZ, 2015-2019
If you liked narrative, you had to love Steven Matz, especially on the summer day in 2015 when you first got to know him. Promoted from the minors with nothing left to prove at Triple-A on June 28, Steven brought a massive rooting contingent to Citi Field, attributable to his family’s Suffolk County locale and their allegiance to the orange and blue. Yup, Steven was a Mets fan, a Mets pitcher and, as would be learned three at-bats deep into his major league career, a Mets hitter. When the dust cleared that Sunday afternoon, Matz had gone 3-for-3 with four runs batted in while racking up seven-and-two-thirds innings of five-hit ball to beat Cincinnati, 7-2. What made it all the more memorable was the sight on SNY of Steven’s grandfather — Grandpa Bert — going wild on his boy’s behalf. It was enough of a marker in an injury-abbreviated 2015 to earn Matz starts in each round of the postseason, clear through to the World Series…where the Mets were headed after their four-game sweep of the Cubs in the NLCS, with the fourth game effectively handled by Steven. Once the narrative of Matzmania wore off, the Mets were left with a lefty marooned somewhere between promise and frustration…and a slugger who launched homers in consecutive starts in September 2018.

21. SETH LUGO, 2016-2019
He was drafted in the 34th round. He wore No. 67. Yet more than once in the second half of the 2010s, he was as important to the Mets as any pitcher in the house. The righty whose curveball singlehandedly injected the phrase “spin rate” in to the Mets fan vocabulary, Seth Lugo was exactly what the Mets needed when their rotation developed dangerous holes in 2016. Lugo took the start seven times between August 25 and September 28, and the Mets won all seven of his games en route to clinching the first Wild Card in the National League. By 2019, Seth evolved into the full-time reliever his team simply could not live without. As the summer grew later and the competitive implications of every appearance deepened, Lugo was trusted with the most crucial outs of any game, whatever inning they appeared in. Eight times in August and September, Seth threw outings of two innings, and the Mets went 7-1. A history of elbow issues kept the de facto ace of the pen from pitching daily. Otherwise, the Mets’ year might have lasted well into October.

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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; you can read the most recent installment here. 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.

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, 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, 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 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.

Mets of the 2010s: 50-41

Welcome to the sixth chapter of Faith and Fear’s countdown of The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s. An introduction to the series is available here; you can read the most recent installment here. 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.

50. JUAN URIBE, 2015
49. KELLY JOHNSON, 2015; 2016

No delivery from Amazon Prime was ever as anticipated or yearned for as much as the one Sandy Alderson ordered from Atlanta on July 24, 2015. Is it here yet? Is it here yet? When it arrived, containing precious cargo, there were yelps of joy across the land, for the Mets had finally received reinforcements for their depleted bench. Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson were two veterans gathering dust for the utterly out-of-it Braves. Alderson rescued them from baseball irrelevance, and the duo rescued the Mets right back, bringing trusty bats to a pennant lunge that was desperately flailing in search of traction. To make room on the roster, the Mets demoted Danny Muno and DFA’d John Mayberry, Jr. Nobody wished ill on the departees, but nobody complained that they’d been replaced. Understand that the Mets had barely showed a pulse against Clayton Kershaw on Thursday, July 23. The two were traded for on Friday. On Saturday, Johnson homered in a rout of L.A. On Sunday, Uribe won the series finale in extras. Traction was secure for another week and the Mets’ bench was solid for the rest of the season.

48. JOSH THOLE, 2010-2012
(Also a Met in 2009)
47. MIKE BAXTER, 2011-2013
Two men have caught no-hitters for the New York Mets. Conventionally speaking, it was Josh Thole behind the plate for the entirety of Johan Santana’s history-altering effort of June 1, 2012, remarkable from a catching standpoint when you realize Thole was just off the disabled list and was, for the first time, wearing a hockey-style mask in deference to his recovery from a concussion. Through whatever protective device Josh looked out at his pitcher, he put down the right fingers, set the right target and was right on time to embrace him on the mound after he caught the final strike three of the night. One of the putouts that wasn’t scored a K landed memorably in the glove of the Met in left, Mike Baxter, though it might be more accurately recalled Baxter landed in the grasp of the wall where that ball was surely headed. The moment when Santana’s flirtation with indelible Met immortality appeared most endangered came in the seventh when legendary Cardinal villain Yadier Molina sent a liner deep to left field. It looked like a sure double to everybody but the left fielder. Mike from Whitestone — a Mets fan growing up, you know — gave his body and soul to make the catch that made the first no-hitter in New York Mets history possible. All of Baxter went on the DL. None of him wasn’t instantly a local baseball hero.

46. KIRK NIEUWENHUIS, 2012-2015; 2015
As noted often in Met telecasts, Kirk Nieuwenhuis played high school football, experience that came in handy when the alumnus of Denver Christian in Colorado was asked to pick up essential yardage between home plate and areas beyond the outfield fence. The Air Nieuwenhuis offense executed several memorable bombs during his relatively limited reps on the field. Highlights included a Father’s Day walkoff blast versus the Cubs that turned around the 2013 Mets (at least for a while); a trio of homers on the Sunday before the All-Star break in 2015, especially notable because they came at Citi Field and no Met had ever gone deep thrice in a home game before; and, most crucially, the eighth-inning dinger that donged Jonathan Papelbon on September 8, 2015, vaulting the first-place Mets ahead of the second-place Nationals, 8-7, the climactic moment of a contest the Mets had very recently trailed, 7-1. Not incidentally, all four of the 2015 home runs came after the Mets sold Kirk’s contract to the Angels and then, having missed his obvious intangibles, grabbed it back on waivers a few weeks later. Nieuwenhuis batted .079 before he left Queens, .279 following his return. Explanation? Perhaps it takes even the most talented high school running back a while to find the end zone.

45. JUSTIN TURNER, 2010-2013
Justin Turner was pretty much the ideal Met utility player. Once he was up from Buffalo to stay in 2011, Turner made himself extraordinarily useful. When Rule 5 wonder Brad Emaus flamed out as the projected everyday second baseman, Justin Turner emerged to help plug the resulting hole. When David Wright detoured to the disabled list for an extended absence, Justin filled in at third. When Daniel Murphy went down, Justin’s value only rose. When any Met did anything to create a win worth celebrating, Justin brought a pie to the postgame interview tableau. He even found time to break a club record set by Ron Swoboda (most consecutive games with an RBI by a rookie). There was little Justin Turner didn’t do at least a little bit well as a righthanded bat and versatile infielder coming off the bench for parts of four seasons. Not doing anything remarkably well, however, made the Mets decide Turner was expendable. Non-tendered in December 2013, he was picked up by the Dodgers. He’s stayed in Los Angeles ever since, making one All-Star team, earning MVP votes three times and batting .526 against the Mets in the 2015 NLDS.

44. TODD FRAZIER, 2018-2019
In 2017, for the first time since Robin Ventura appeared on the free agent market nineteen years before, the Mets entered a winter looking to acquire a full-time third baseman. Most of the stability that had reigned at the hot corner was because David Wright had played third forever. It seemed like he always would. His bad back had other ideas, thus the notion of Todd Frazier on the New York Mets came to be. The pride of Toms River fit into Flushing as comfortably as could be hoped. He served de facto clubhouse spokesman for a team in transition and was willing to star in goofy promotional videos as needed. It didn’t hurt that Todd’s flair for hitting fly balls to left coincided with the sportwide emphasis on launch angle and the deployment of baseballs that seemed to have a little extra oomph in them. Though he batted only .233 and struck out more than 200 times in his two seasons as a Met, he totaled 39 home runs, at least a couple of a highly dramatic nature.

43. ROBERT GSELLMAN, 2016-2019
HAR — Hair Above Replacement — wasn’t a problem for a starting rotation that featured Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, yet it could be said the 2016 Mets played to their follicular strength when they promoted Robert Gsellman. He had the flowing locks that were de rigueur on the Met mound, but far more substantially, the righty had the stuff to carry the Mets forward when they came up short in the healthy arms department. Pitching every fifth day as a rookie in the heat of a playoff chase, Gsellman posted a 2.63 ERA in seven starts and played a wholly unforeseen role in the unlikely rush those Mets put on to capture a Wild Card. Robert’s future awaited him in the bullpen, where his outings got shorter but his hair stayed long.

42. FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ, 2010-2011
(Also a Met in 2009)
Even though perennially losing teams try their best to win games, clear up to the ninth inning and maybe later, it’s up for debate how badly an outfit going nowhere needs an elite closer. Yet the Mets of 2010 and 2011, for whom .500 was an aspirational mark, had an all-timer in Francisco Rodriguez. When Frankie — whose 62 saves for the 2008 Angels remains the MLB standard — was on call to pitch as a Met, he usually did his job as desired, notching 25 saves in 2010 and another 23 in 2011. Those were both partial seasons, truncated by caveats. In 2010, nothing Rodriguez did out of the pen got as much attention as what happened between him and the father of his common-law wife: an August 11 altercation that saw the closer arrested for third-degree assault. A brief suspension was followed by the diagnosis of a torn ligament in his right thumb, attributable to the fight. In 2011, K-Rod was back and generally keeping both himself and the Mets out of trouble when it became clear that thanks to a vesting option in his already-lucrative contract that the more he pitched, the more the Mets would have to pay him. In a nod to budgetary restraint, the Mets sent their 2009 All-Star reliever to the Brewers at the break in ’11 for what amounted to salary relief.

41. PEDRO FELICIANO, 2010; 2013
(Also a Met from 2002 to 2004 and 2006 to 2009)
Tony Bennett and Pedro Feliciano could compare notes on what parts of their anatomy they left where. Bennett, though he’s from Astoria, has proclaimed loud and clear that his heart wound up in San Francisco. Feliciano, by all evidence, sacrificed his left arm to the playing fields of Flushing — first Shea, then its successor. The lone survivor from the gruesome bullpen implosion of 2008 just kept pitching once Citi Field opened, breaking his franchise record for most appearances not once but twice, culminating with the 92 times he jogged in from the bullpen at Jerry Manuel’s behest in 2010. Having shown admirable durability, Feliciano signed a two-year deal with the Yankees. Unsurprisingly in hindsight, his durability went on hiatus after leading the majors in appearances three straight years and he never worked for the team in the Bronx. When Pedro was next ready to pitch, he came home to Queens for 25 more games in 2013. Despite having been affiliated with six other major league organizations between 1995 and 2015 (and spending a year abroad with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in Japan), every one of the 484 MLB appearances Pedro Feliciano logged came in a New York Mets uniform. It’s the second-highest total in Mets history, behind only John Franco, and most among any pitcher who never threw in a regulation game for any big league unit but the Mets.

Mets of the 2010s: 60-51

Welcome to the fifth chapter of Faith and Fear’s countdown of The Top 100 Mets of the 2010s. An introduction to the series is available here; you can read the most recent installment here. 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.

60. JUSTIN WILSON, 2019
Signed for depth in the winter. Thrust by necessity to the forefront by fall. Justin Wilson journeyed in a season’s time from journeyman to setup man as the 2019 Mets climbed the ladder of possibility. After most of the veteran’s first half was spent on the injured list, Wilson began making an impact from the port side of the bullpen in July, and eventually manager Mickey Callaway relied on him regularly to pave the way for de facto closer Seth Lugo — or vice-versa, as improvisation, combined with Justin’s hot hand, saw the lefty save the Mets’ day on several key occasions.

59. ROD BARAJAS, 2010
58. JOHN BUCK, 2013

The prizes found inside a pair of cereal boxes the Mets opened twice in the first half of the decade were catchers who came out swinging. Rod Barajas in 2010 and John Buck in 2013 were each veteran backstops whose bats made loud, likable impressions as Mets fans became familiar with their respective forms. Rod provided power unseen from behind the plate since the heyday of Mike Piazza, socking nine balls out of parks in his first 23 games. Buck broke from the gate with even more thunder, totaling 10 HR and 29 RBI by May 3. Of no less import, John nurtured young Matt Harvey to All-Star starter status. Neither Barajas nor Buck could maintain their respective blistering paces, but their reputations as potential game changers stayed strong, and both catchers were successfully sought by contenders before their lone years as Mets were done.

57. JORDANY VALDESPIN, 2012-2013
It’s been a while since they made Characters of the Game like they used to, but in 2012 and ’13, Jordany Valdespin presented himself as a throwback, whether he meant to or not. At bat, he was lightning in a bottle, setting the Met season record for pinch homers (5) as a rookie. In the field, he could be called versatile, posting perfect percentages at four positions, if a dreadful one (.727) as a shortstop. He swiped ten bases in 2012 despite playing fewer than a hundred games. Jordany’s real calling card, though, was his no [bleeps] given personality, starting with the exuberant statement he offered Kevin Burkhardt after his first game-winning hit: “I’m ‘The Man’ right now.” In context, he wasn’t inaccurate. Amid the niceties of baseball protocol, however, it came off as a little gauche, but if you can back it up, you can say you want. Across two seasons, it became progressively harder for JV1, as he liked to be known, to let his game do his talking. Valdespin would get thrown at by opposing pitchers and not have a Met immediately retaliate on his behalf. The celebratory pie-in-the-face he received for an extra-inning grand slam seemed to land a little hard. A t-shirt of his was sliced to ribbons by anonymous clubhouse vandals. There was also the matter of his decision to not wear a cup in a Spring Training game…with Justin Verlander pitching and coming, shall we say, inside. By the middle of 2013, the lightning in the bottle was losing its fizz and after a testy exchange of NSFW words with Terry Collins, Jordany Valdespin could be termed an ex-Met right now.

56. ERIC YOUNG, Jr., 2013-2014; 2015
Speed kills. Speed thrills. Speed was often absent from the Mets’ strategy after Jose Reyes bolted for Miami ahead of 2012, but Eric Young, Jr., was a reminder that a fast pair of feet could really get a team going. EYJ was quite capable of running and did so often. Following his 2013 in-season trade from Colorado, Young took over as starting left fielder and leadoff hitter and sparked the Mets to their best spurt of the year. His 38 steals in 91 games, combined with eight he’d garnered as a Rockie, won him the NL stolen bases title. Eric’s production leveled off in 2014, leading the Mets to let him depart as a free agent, but as they were speeding toward clinching a division title in 2015, they remembered their erstwhile burner and picked him up in late August. His abbreviated second go-round as a Met perfectly encapsulated Young’s skill set. In nine plate appearances, Eric never reached base, yet he crossed the plate nine times in September, each time as a pinch-runner deluxe.

55. JAY BRUCE, 2016-2017; 2018
When he was on, Jay Bruce was a powerful force for the Mets. When he wasn’t, a black hole stood a better chance of getting a base hit. Jay was on a substantial amount of the time during his up-and-down Metropolitan tenure, especially in 2017, when the bat that had made the right fielder a perennial trade target in Cincinnati burned. Bruce entered the ’17 All-Star break with 23 homers for the Mets and was up to 29 in early August when another contender (something New York was no longer) came calling. The Mets sent him to Cleveland, and Jay helped the Indians secure their AL Central crown. When the Mets were the ones acquiring Bruce for a playoff drive in 2016, it had been a different story, as Jay arrived from Ohio ice cold. Still, the sum total of Bruce’s Met experience was positive enough to convince the club to re-sign him as a free agent in 2018. His next term was more reminiscent of ’16 than ’17, which added up to Jay being part of the package sent to Seattle for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz in advance of ’19.

54. SCOTT HAIRSTON, 2011-2012
A part-time outfielder who mashed like a full-time slugger, Scott Hairston tended to get the most out of his select playing opportunities. In 2012, despite starting only 86 times, Hairston hit 20 home runs, becoming only the seventh Met to produce a quantity that high in fewer than 400 at-bats. That was the same season Scott struck for the cycle at Coors Field and contributed a grand slam to a 17-1 rout of the Cubs at Wrigley. His defensive reputation may have kept him glued to the bench when Terry Collins was filling out a lineup card, but his bat had no problem nudging him loose as the innings grew late. In extras in 2012, Scott was a .571 hitter.

53. CARLOS TORRES, 2013-2015
Carlos Torres personified the kind of fabric from which a baseball season is manufactured. Across three years in New York, he often represented the difference between fragility and firmness for Mets teams at different competitive junctures. From the middle of June in 2013 through Labor Day 2015, Carlos was regularly on call and responded to whatever a situation called for. Torres was used mostly out of the bullpen to soak up middle innings, but he was also handy to have for nine starts in 2013 and ready to go when a family emergency prevented Bartolo Colon from pitching in 2014. After plowing through two also-ran seasons, Torres was an essential element of the Mets’ rise to prominence in 2015, most notably when he and Daniel Murphy teamed on an unlikely tenth-inning 1-3-1 putout in Philadelphia in late August; the first “1” in that equation was Torres’s left foot, which absorbed the brunt of Met alum Jeff Francoeur’s line drive up the middle (part of the reason Gary Cohen immediately dubbed the sequence of events “the play of the year”). Carlos himself singled to lead off the thirteenth and score the game’s winning run. In a critical showdown in Washington on September 7, Torres was on in the fourth to bail out Jon Niese. Carlos took care of the Nationals, but after being the Met to endure longest without time missed due to injury, he strained his left calf covering first in the fifth. The bad timing didn’t hurt the Mets’ roll toward October, but it did derail Torres from the club’s pitching plans for the postseason.

52. T.J. RIVERA, 2016-2017
The kid from the Bronx makes good in Queens. That sentence, however brief, wrote itself down the stretch in 2016 when T.J. Rivera emerged from both across the Triborough Bridge and out of nowhere to rush the Mets along to a playoff berth. Despite going unselected in the amateur draft, the Mets took the word of an impeccable source — their former catcher Mackey Sasser, who coached T.J. at Wallace Community College in Alabama — and signed Rivera as a free agent in 2011. Five years later, he was called up to the majors when, as seemed to be the case every summer, the Mets were beset by injuries. Soon settling in at second base in place of a hobbled Neil Walker, Rivera proved a lifeline, batting .333 and pushing the Mets to first place in the National League Wild Card standings. T.J. was the only Met to reach Madison Bumgarner for an extra-base hit in the winner-take-all affair to follow, doubling to lead off the bottom of the fifth of what was still a scoreless game. It remains the most recent postseason extra-base hit off the bat of any Met.

51. JAMES LONEY, 2016
The Mets weren’t exactly angling for another Keith Hernandez in May of 2016 when they found themselves bereft of a full-time first baseman, but they surely needed somebody who knew how to play the position and swing a bat competently. With Lucas Duda sidelined for an indefinite period, they reached out and reeled in James Loney, a ten-year veteran wallowing in the minors for Texas. His contribution to a team trying to get back to the postseason was essential, never more so than when with a playoff spot on the line, James delivered. Loney was up with two out and Curtis Granderson on second in the sixth inning at Philadelphia on October 1, the score knotted at two. Facing reliever David Hernandez, the first baseman launched a three-and-one fastball far over the right field wall to put the Mets by up a pair, the same margin by which they’d bring home the Wild Card three innings later. The joy inherent in his 426-foot accomplishment was summed up in the jubilant bat drop with which James followed up his feat. “That’s called being in the moment right there,” Loney said as the postgame champagne flowed. “There’s just times in those big moments where it’s fun to enjoy it, and you’ve gotta have fun in this game.”