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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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Fun With Doubles

Freddie Freeman having doubled 55 times in 2023 without networks breaking into prime time programming even once to issue bulletins on his chase of 60 — a two-base hit total not reached since the 1930s — has got me thinking doubles are baseball’s most underappreciated hit. Ralph Kiner said home run hitters drive Cadillacs. Tim McCarver thought triples were better than sex. Singles are the currency of the realm, accepted anywhere no-hitters are broken up. Nobody talks about doubles despite the descriptiveness they inspire in the moment.

Bottom of the third Sunday at Citi Field. The Mets have just tied the Reds at one on a bases-loaded wild pitch. Thus, Francisco Alvarez is batting with two ducks on the pond. On the mound once the count goes full, Brandon Williamson, no doubt thinking “I don’t want some New York blogger calling me Wild Willie”, throws Alvy a strike. Alvy swings. The ducks scatter, for down the left field line, Francisco has shot a RINGING double. Here comes Brandon Nimmo with the go-ahead run, here comes Francisco Lindor with the go-ahead-by-some-more run. There standing on second, having rung the bell of the playoff-chasing team managed by David Bell, is Francisco Alvarez with his 12th double of the year, or about half his home run total of 23. Is a double really only half as good as a home run? Is it twice as good as a single? Sunday in the third, it was plenty good in its own right.

Bottom of the sixth Sunday. Tim Locastro leads off versus Carson Spiers. Spiers is the nephew of 1995 Met Bill Spiers. Carson’s skipper is the grandson of 1962 Met right fielder Gus Bell. Locastro relates to Spiers by lofting a fly ball above short right field. It doesn’t fly that much, but it stays in the air a spell and it has its eye on No Red’s Land. It falls in. Tim, a burner, sees he can take advantage of the ball’s elusiveness and hustles. It’s a HUSTLE double! A BLOOP double! No such thing as a bloop homer, and you pretty much have to be Marlon Anderson and receive a lot of luck to Van McCoy your way into a home run if you didn’t clear the fence. Triples have to go far, too. Doubles don’t have to travel all day if the right fellow hits the ball in just the right spot. Alas, Locastro didn’t score, as nobody drove or wild-pitched him in. The Mets were leaving a few too many of their crew to fend for themselves on the bases as the day progressed.

Bottom of the seventh Sunday, one inning after Locastro and two other Mets were left on base, a trio of stranded castaways there on LOB Island. Mets are up, 4-2, the contours of the score not having changed much since Alvarez’s ringing double four innings earlier. Jose Quintana’s own version of few-doubles defense — just one, by Joey Votto, to lead off the top of the seventh — has held Cincinnati in check. Now it’s the Mets’ chance to perhaps double their lead and then some.

Jeff McNeil singles.
Mark Vientos gets on via Spiers’s less than effective throw to first.
DJ Stewart walks.

The bases are loaded, and hustling blooper Locastro is up next, but Buck Showalter sees the same ironic opportunity he spied the night before. Batting for Locastro will once again be Daniel Vogelbach. Locastro usually pinch-runs for Vogelbach. Now Vogelbach will pinch-hit for Locastro. If Yakov Smirnoff had been watching the game, he might have thought, “now, how do I get Russia into this situation?” We don’t know about that, but we do know that in Flushing on Sunday, Vogelbach hit for Locastro and belted a BOOMING double off the center field fence. In Russia, double BOOM you!

All the Mets who could score did score. Vogey even made it to second. An instant after he arrived, he was trotting toward the first base dugout, as he knew there had to be another Locastro in there somewhere. Rafael Ortega indeed emerged to pinch-run for the pinch-hitter who hit for his regular pinch-runner, who started and doubled earlier and played until he was pinch-hit for by the guy for whom he’s made a side hustle of pinch-running for. Also, Rafael Ortega is his own grandpa. Furthermore, Ronny Mauricio drove Ortega home, with a single, singles accepted worldwide.

The final would be the Mets doubling up the Reds, 8-4, with doubles serving their understated purpose of providing extra bases, extra cushion and the spice of life. Ringing! Hustle! Booming! So many different kinds! What variety! Even Sunday’s guest of honor, Bartolo Colon, on hand to “retire as a Met” five years since his last major league pitch, stood as emblematic of the power of the double. The 2016 home run in San Diego is the climax of every Colon highlight reel, but it was when Bart kept his batting helmet affixed to his head long enough to double at St. Louis in 2014 that we’d collected enough evidence to believe all those affirmations of Bartolo’s athleticism. Colon doubled four times as a Met, each instance a little less surprising, because, hey, Bartolo was quite an athlete, which is something they rarely say about Daniel Vogelbach.

Pete Alonso is quite a slugger. He has homered 191 times since coming to the majors. His next home run will tie Howard Johnson for fourth on the all-time Met list. When the season began, Pete sat seventh on said chart, behind Carlos Beltran (149) and Dave Kingman (154). It already seems impossible he was behind anybody but a handful of powerful Mets in the same year in which we sit now, and contract-extending fingers crossed, every Met ever will soon be behind him.

Yet when it comes to doubles, Pete is uninterested in a half a loaf. The fifth-most prolific slugger in Mets history is currently tied for 28th on the franchise’s all-time doubles list, sharing space with Joel Youngblood. If you’re busy hitting home runs, you don’t have as much time for doubles, but the Mets’ reigning home run king, Darryl Strawberry is ninth in doubles; their No. 2 home run man David Wright is No. 1 in doubles; and No. 3 circuit clouter Mike Piazza stands eighth in doubles. Hojo? Fourth in home runs, fifth in doubles, and ranking anywhere you care to place him in the hearts of his countrymen.

Pete’s thrilled us with 45 homers to date in 2023. With two weeks to go, his total will pale only in comparison to the 53 he whacked as a rookie in 2019. You don’t look askance at dollars because they’re not 50-cent pieces. BUT…and it’s not a big but…Pete just does not hit doubles at a rate commensurate with what one would intuitively expect from someone who also hits scads of homers, certainly not this year. To go with his 45 home runs, he has 18 doubles.

Is that not a lot? Historically speaking, it’s not. Beset by curiosity, I punched into Baseball-Reference’s Stathead tool a request for every Met who has ever hit at least 30 home runs in a season. There have been 37 such seasons since 1962. In 33 of those seasons, the slugger who’s gone deep 30 times or more has doubled at least half as often. Sometimes they’ve doubled more than they’ve homered (Bernard Gilkey’s team-record 44 doubles in 1996 were accompanied by 30 homers). Sometimes they’ve homered just as much as they’ve doubled (Beltran recorded 33 doubles and 33 homers in 2007, three years after Mike Cameron opened his own distinct version of the 30-30 club). It’s generally a pleasing proportion no matter how you measure it. In 2019, Pete rang and boomed 30 doubles to go with his 53 dingers. In 2021 and 2022, when Pete was homering 37 and 40 times, respectively, each of his double sums was 27.

Four times, a Met has homered 30 or more times but not doubled at least half as often. Once, barring a sudden and sustained reversal of personal trends over the final 13 games, it will be Pete in 2023. Once, it was Darryl Strawberry doubling “only” 18 times versus his 37 homers in 1990, which is pretty close to half (plus Darryl, perhaps feeling a little light in the two-base hit category, tried to make up for it by stealing 15 bags). Twice, it was Dave Kingman, who was famously all-or-nothing in his approach and results. The two years Sky King blasted exactly 37 homers, he took the under on 18½ doubles: 14 two-baggers in 1976, the year he missed just enough time to just miss leading the National League in home runs; and 9 in 1982, the year he missed the ball altogether a league-leading 156 times. Those 156 Ks tied the Mets’ single-season record for strikeouts in the era when hardly anybody struck out so often. In this century, three Mets have exceeded that number, including Pete, who set the Met strikeout record by a wide margin, with 183 in 2019 and not a soul complaining, given that the Polar Bear was homering 53 times and doubling 30 times.

Nobody necessarily ought to be complaining about Pete’s paucity of doubles in 2023, though it does seem symptomatic of what the 2023 Mets aren’t doing as a whole. Sunday excepted, they’re not doubling all that much. Every single year from 1962 through 2022, the Mets have doubled far more often than they have homered. More midsize cars on the road than luxury models are what one would anticipate seeing, right? Yet in 2023, the numerical comparison is closer than it’s ever been. The Mets have hit 196 home runs versus 206 doubles. “Versus” may be the wrong way to put it All those extra-base hits, including the 19 triples Mets have managed, are working together for the greater Metropolitan benefit.

Brandon Nimmo has 26 doubles, which is three more than his 23 homers. Last year he doubled about twice as much as he homered, although homering wasn’t as much a part of his game as it’s become. It’s never occurred to me to yell STOP AT SECOND as he circles the bases. Francisco Lindor leads the team with 33 doubles, though most of the attention he’s elicited is for his 26 homers and 26 steals. When Jeff McNeil won his 2022 batting title, it was largely on the back of his 39 doubles. This year, with his average down more than 60 points, he has 16 fewer doubles. Tied for fifth on the team in two-baggers, behind Pete’s 18, are Mark Canha and Tommy Pham, each with 15. Given that they stopped wearing Mets uniforms in late July, they’re probably not gonna catch Alonso.

The Mets’ sum of 206 doubles is dead last in the National League. Next-to-last are the Milwaukee Brewers, who, with Mark Canha on their side, are en route to winning a division title. David Stearns put together those Brewers and therefore may not take the Mets’ relative inability to double consistently as a sign that anything is off in his new place of employ.

In 2022, when the Mets won 101 games, they doubled 272 times and homered 171 times.

In 2021, when the Mets won 77 games, they doubled 228 times and homered 176 times.

In 2020, when the world conspired to deprive Pete Alonso of several hundred at-bats in which to hit what has become his usual Herculean amount of home runs (what an inconsiderate pandemic), the Mets went 26-34 with 106 doubles and 86 homers. It’s not the representative sample size to which we’ve become accustomed, but even then, doubles were pulling ahead of homers by a comfortable margin after 60 games.

In 2019, the first year of the Bear, the Mets were pretty good — 86-76 — and doubles (280) outlasted home runs (242), even though the Mets, behind prodigious Pete, set their club mark for most homers in a year.

The most doubles the Mets ever socked in a season were the 323 they pulled or slid into second with in 2006, a year that also encompassed a then-team record 200 homers, plus 97 wins. The home run record was surpassed in 2016, when the Mets belted 218. It was the year when it began to be noticed the Mets either scored by homer or not at all, yet they also added on 240 doubles and went to the playoffs. They hit more homers in playoffless 2017 — 224 — and also more doubles — 286. In 1980, when the Mets notoriously could only match Roger Maris with 61 home runs as a team, they still pounded out 218 doubles.

Good years, bad years, all years the Mets double more than they homer, usually with room to spare. This year, a bad year, it will be close. I don’t know what it says, but I do know it was fun to see them double a bunch on Sunday.

They didn’t homer at all. They won, anyway.

Sunday commenced with a blot of bad news, as Jay Horwitz announced the passing of his former deputy Dennis D’Agostino, who was only 66. D’Agostino worked for the Mets in the 1980s, following it up with a long term running public relations for the Knicks. He moved to the West Coast somewhere along the way and served as statistician for SNY’s telecasts when the Mets would travel to Southern California. The man did a lot in sports and, judging by the reaction of people who work in the business, made a lot of friends.

I came to know of Dennis in the very early Eighties when he would visit his alma mater’s radio station, WFUV-FM at Fordham. One on One was their late-night weekend sports show. Three hours of baseball talk in the middle of summer. I couldn’t believe such a thing was on the air, even if you had to stay up until two in the morning to enjoy all of it. Annually, around the All-Star break, they’d do a marathon trivia show and have back alumni. One of them was Dennis, who it was mentioned had a book coming out soon: This Date in New York Mets History.


My tongue hung out at the notion. A book about the Mets? With what happened every day across the not quite two decades they’d been around? I had to have it! Yet I could never find it. Never is a mighty long time when you’re 18, which is what I was when it was published. My soon-to-be brother-in-law tracked it down for me in time for my 19th birthday. I treasured it then. I treasure it now. You know how you can look up pretty much anything about the Mets today, including all kinds of doubles information? Before This Date in New York Mets History, you could keep every newspaper, magazine, almanac, what have you, maybe figure out a way to get your hands on media guides, comb through yearbooks, arrange trips to libraries…

No, you couldn’t look up all that much outside of the Baseball Encyclopedia, which I didn’t have. Besides, that was just numbers. This Date was as anecdotal as it was statistical. It was informed with heart, soul and warmth that you knew was true orange and blue. Reading it, I instantly understood the author was one of us. He didn’t write about the Mets from any level of journalistic remove or vaguely ironic distance. He wasn’t on holiday from loftier pursuits. Dennis D’Agostino created this volume of everything you’d want to know as a Mets fan because he was a Mets fan who wanted to know everything and was kind enough to share it. He watched the games we watched. We wondered the things we wondered. He found us the answers. He put it one place. The title undersells all that rests between the covers of This Date in New York Mets History.

Dennis wrote other wonderful books and clearly did many things in a life that didn’t last long enough. He also took the time to reach out to this reader many years ago when he learned I said something nice about This Date in one of my books. “For however I might have helped or influenced you,” he wrote, “I truly appreciate it.”

Consider my appreciation toward Dennis D’Agostino doubled.

10 comments to Fun With Doubles

  • Joey G

    Wild Willie is right. He was all over the place even in his warm-up pitches. I was surprised that it took the Mets that long to get to him.

    Sad about Dennis D’Agostino. I too was a devotee of One on One on FUV. It was a late-night treat, and also our introduction to the Bob Papas, Mike Breens and Michael Kays. Much better than the high school cafeteria insult-fest that passes for sports talk radio these days.

  • Seth

    I also would not expect someone with 45 homers to be hitting .222. I’m sure there’s precedent for that too, but unfortunately this isn’t then, it’s 2023.

    “…hey, Bartolo was quite an athlete”

    Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d read! Is there something wrong with me, that I don’t see Bartolo’s home run as the greatest thing in the history of baseball? Sorry, Gary.

  • dmg

    Once again, a lovely day at the ballpark – got there early enough for the long-sleeved Big Sexy shirt. A little disappointing that more wasn’t done with Bartolo’s retirement beyond a quick wave to the crowd – but then he doesn’t speak English, does he? At least the video of some of his greatest moments was in rotation all pre-game, in a faux ad for Bartolo “cologne.”
    For the line about triples, McCarver was possibly quoting Luke Gofannon from “The Great American Novel” by Philip Roth – a baseball book that’s not really about baseball, but if you’ve never read comes highly recommended.
    Very likely my last Mets home game of the year, so glad to go out on a win. Lord knows I saw few enough of them this season.

  • Eric

    Rest in peace, Dennis D’Agostino. I didn’t know of him before his death, but his contribution helps explain why Mets fan culture is as rich as it is despite the Mets being a replacement expansion team and not a perennial winner.

    With Alonso, I’d be fine with him dunking in enough singles to bring his batting average up 50 points or so in between his 45 home runs.

    Kudos to the Orioles. After losing 2 games to the Rays to fall back into a virtual tie, the Orioles won 2 to split the series, take the season series, and restore their division lead. The Rays, like the Braves last year, had been doggedly keeping in arm’s reach and waiting for their chance to grab 1st place from the Orioles in a head-to-head.

    The point is the Orioles, an upstart like the Mets last year, passed the test that the Mets failed last September against the Braves, a perennial contender like the Rays, when the Mets only needed to avoid being swept. The Orioles defended their division lead where the Mets lost theirs. Of course, there’s more season left for the AL East standings to change than followed the Mets-Braves series last September. Still, passing the test bodes well for the Orioles looking ahead to the playoffs.

    I believe the Mets would have changed their course for last post-season and this season by winning just 1 game in that Braves series.

  • Bruce From Forest Hills

    Sorry about Dennis D’Agostino. I admit I never heard of him until today, but it sounds like he deservedly had many friends and admirers.

    On the subject of doubles, do you think the rule about ground rule doubles should be changed? I think all the runners on base should score when there’s a ground rule double.

  • Seth

    My psyche just can’t handle any more rule changes. Hey, how about we just get rid of extra innings altogether? If the score is tied after 9, whoever scored the most recent run wins the game. If it’s 0-0 after 9, whoever leads the season series wins the game. Call it the “ghost winner.” Manfred will love it!

  • Will in Central NJ

    In the clearance bin c.1982 at Bamberger’s in Newark, New Jersey, I found Dennis D’Agostino’s book, “This Date in METS History”. It was like finding an unexpected pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My dog-eared copy still sits in a prime location on my Mets bookcase. Rest in Peace, Mr. D’Agostino.

  • JerseyJack

    Really enjoyed reading “This Date …” Too bad there wasn’t a revised edition to cover the ensuing seasons / decades