Welcome to the fifth chapter of Faith and Fear’s historical countdown of the The Top 100 Mets of the 2000s. A full introduction to what we’re doing is available here . These are the more or less best Mets we rooted for as Mets fans during the decade FAFIF came to be. In honor of the 16th anniversary of our February 16, 2005, founding, we thought it would be fun (or at least not too painful) to revisit these guys and recall a little something about them.
60. DANIEL MURPHY, 2008-2009
Also a Met from 2011-2015; missed 2010 due to injury; No. 3 Met of the 2010s
The bat made itself known first. Within days of Daniel Murphy’s August 2, 2008, promotion, the 23-year-old was delivering one base hit for every out. Hit .500, even for a brief spell, and nobody will ask too many questions about your glove. The hot start, executed in a playoff race, sizzled enough to get Murph to season’s end with a .313 average and a leg up on a starting job for 2009. Left field didn’t quite work out, but Daniel made himself too useful to bench. With Carlos Delgado out for the year, Murphy emerged as the Mets’ starting first baseman and their leading slugger. True, that amounted to only a dozen home runs, but Citi Field was new, big and otherwise unconquerable to what healthy Met vets roamed its daunting expanses. Murph, his bat and a lockerful of gloves would be back to make Met history in the decade ahead.
59. TIMO PEREZ, 2000-2003
What a promising regular-season debut for Timo Perez! The September 2000 callup’s speed was eye-opening, as the Phillies discovered that same month, when the rookie zipped around Veterans Stadium’s bases for an inside-the-parker, his first homer in the big leagues. What a National League Division Series for Timo Perez! After Derek Bell exited with an ankle sprain, the kid from the Dominican Republic stepped in as the new starting right fielder, driving in some very big runs in Games Two and Three to help beat the Giants. Oh, and what a National League Championship Series for Timo Perez! A year removed from hitting .174 for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japan Central League, Timo put his stamp all over the Mets’ pennant drive, scoring eight runs in the five-game victory over St. Louis. Nope, there’s no way you can’t say Timoniel Perez didn’t play an enormous role in revving the Mets’ engine and catalyzing their trip to the World Series. And if you don’t run Timo’s story any harder than that into the fall of 2000, you’ll remember Perez’s contributions very fondly.
58. DARRYL HAMILTON, 2000-2001
Also a Met in 1999
Scoffing at the intangibles attached to veteran presence became fashionable as the 2000s grew older and more cynical, but when the decade was young, you could sit back and appreciate the value in a player who’d been around. Witness 35-year-old Darryl Hamilton in the 2000 National League Division Series versus the Giants, specifically in Game Two when the dozen-season major leaguer came off the bench in the tenth inning with two out and nobody on in a tie game at Pac Bell Park and lashed a double off tough reliever Felix Rodriguez. A moment later Darryl crossed the plate with the go-ahead run that held up to knot the series at one. How’d he do that? You don’t play a long time without learning a few things.
57. DENNIS COOK, 2000-2001
Also a Met from 1998-1999
Bobby Valentine didn’t hesitate to go to his prime lefty specialist for the two seasons the 1990s wore down, which might explain why that same southpaw appeared a little worn down himself as the next century got underway, yet Dennis Cook never stopped throwing his heart out for the Mets. Sixty-eight appearances in the pennant-winning season of 2000 and 43 more until he was traded to the Phillies in July of 2001 illustrate how much Bobby Valentine continued to rely on him. And let’s not forget October 2000: 17 batters faced, no earned runs on his ledger.
56. PEDRO ASTACIO, 2002-2003
55. KEVIN APPIER, 2001
Getting an established starter is one of those ideas that always comes off as agreeable in the offseason. It’s even better when it seems to work in the season ahead. Pedro Astacio was the epitome of rotation stability during the sunnier moments of 2002. The NL veteran went 5-1 in his first six outings, highlighted by an April 27 no-hit bid that lasted into the seventh inning against Milwaukee. A week later, with Pedro pitching, the first-place Mets rose to seven games above .500. The Mets leveled off from there, but Astacio gave his new team a dozen professional wins in all, second on the club behind Al Leiter. A spot was open on the Mets’ staff for 2002 because 2001 stalwart Kevin Appier had been traded to Anaheim for Mo Vaughn. Whatever Vaughn could do for the lineup, the 200+ innings Appier produced for the rotation (most among ’01 Mets) would require serious replacing. The former Royal stalwart made 33 starts, won 11 games and went 6-0 in the final third of the season as the Mets made a late lunge at the NL East title.
54. TY WIGGINTON, 2002-2004
The next big thing for Mets fans in 2004 would become one of the biggest things the Mets ever had: third baseman David Wright. But the thing to remember is though David’s debut was heavily anticipated, the guy he’d necessarily replace wasn’t so bad himself. For parts of three seasons, Ty Wigginton became one of the more satisfying Mets to pull for, especially in 2003. With much falling apart around him, Wiggy dug in, taking hold of the third base job after Norihiro Nakamura backed out a deal to come from Japan to New York. In 156 games, Ty totaled 146 hits and eked his way into NL Rookie of the Year voting. Though Wright’s promotion loomed tantalizingly on the horizon in July 2004, Wigginton never let up, no matter that his days were clearly numbered. Over Independence Day weekend, in the Shea portion of that year’s Subway Series, Ty’s bat totally wigged out: 6-for-12 with three homers and six RBIs as the Mets swept the three-game set. By month’s end, Wright had taken over third for the foreseeable future and Wigginton was packed for Pittsburgh. Ty’s major league career would last until 2013 and include an All-Star appearance for Baltimore.
53. DUANER SANCHEZ, 2006; 2008
Missed 2007 due to injury
Once upon a time, relief pitching was an indisputable Met strength. It’s hard to fathom, but it was true during the first four months of the 2006 season. The Mets ran and hid from the National League East, and it was the members of their late-innings corps that made certain nobody would catch them. Leading the charge out of the gate was ex-Dodger Duaner Sanchez, whose first 15 outings encompassed 21 innings and zero runs allowed. The Mets’ record in that span was a crisp 13-2. Sanchez’s spectacular season continued until late July when a late-night cab ride in Miami went awry and the pitcher wound up out for the year. The team’s divisional lead was secure, but in Duaner’s absence, the Mets’ uncharacteristic back-end strength was noticeably sapped.
52. ROBERTO HERNANDEZ, 2005; 2006
In longevity terms, you’d call him a warhorse, clomping his way toward a thousand major league appearances. When you watched the 2005 Mets, you saw him as the pitching staff’s workhorse, taking the ball more than any of the club’s relievers. At some point, you realized that when Roberto Hernandez trotted in from the bullpen, the club might be feeling its oats pretty soon. An unsung acquisition in the offseason that the Mets signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran, righty Roberto became Willie Randolph’s rock of a setup man, pitching 67 times and winning eight games. Though Hernandez left after one season as a free agent, the Mets would grab him back for the 2006 stretch drive, when he’d answer 22 more calls to the bullpen plus three more during the postseason.
51. JULIO FRANCO, 2006-2007
How old was Julio Franco? That felt like it should be answered with a punch line when the 1982 Phillie (who’d played with Tug McGraw, who’d played for Casey Stengel, who’d played for John McGraw) landed on the Mets at age 47, but the veteran’s bat and leadership skills were no joke as the Mets made 2006 a year to remember. Franco was the man who convinced Carlos Beltran to take a curtain call during the season’s first week, immediately changing the tenor of the fans’ relationship with their highly paid superstar. Franco was also a man who appeared intermittently ageless when he got a chance to play, such as when he became the oldest player to homer in a major league game, on April 20 at San Diego. He even stole six bases in ’06 and another couple in ’07. The funny thing about when you produce is nobody asks to see your birth certificate.