As the first decade of the 21st century comes crashing to a halt, since no one else is doing it (wink) I felt obligated to come up with some kind of Mets Team of the Decade.
Many popular and some obscure websites are compiling their own Mets Team of the Decade rosters.Â I am going to take a different path.Â If you want a list of who the best Met starting pitchers or first basemen of the past decade have been, you have plenty to choose from elsewhere.
This is going to be a list of the decade’s unsung heroes, it’s set-up relievers and back up middle infielders.Â In compiling my list I favored length of service over 1 shining season because it is after all an All-Decade list, not a best individual season list.Â Without further ado, Grave’s All-Decade Met Role Player Awards:
Best 4-plus out reliever:
Dan Wheeler – There is no such thing as a long reliever anymore, so an unsung hero of any bullpen is that rare guy who is called upon to get 4 or more outs.Â Of all relievers this decade who averaged at least 1 1/3 IP per appearance during their Met careers, Darren Oliver had the best individual season in 2006.Â In 2005, Aaron Heilman had an even better season than Oliver’s 2006 but after that season Heilman’s appearances got shorter and for his career with the Mets his IP/appearance fall under 1 1/3.Â So the winner by virtue of filling this role over two seasons (’03-’04) is Dan Wheeler.Â Wheeler was 4-4 in relief over those two seasons with an ERA of 3.94 and a K/BB of 2.44 in 111 1/3 total IP.
Best ‘pre-hold era’ LH set-up man
John Franco – The ‘hold’ didn’t become an official, accepted stat until the 2002 season.Â Prior to that, there was no specific statistic used to rank or define the job of those relievers who hand the ball to the closer.Â With that in mind, I’ve conveniently (for me) separated this decade into parts for crowning All-Decade set-up relievers.Â For the 2000 & 2001 seasons, Franco was the Mets best LH set-up man.Â Franco pitched in 120 games total during that period, had an 11-6 record with a 3.72 ERA, a 1.339 WHIP and a 2.36 K/BB ratio.Â Franco also finished 30 games, saving 6.
Best ‘hold-era’ LH set-up man
Pedro Feliciano – Since the hold stat was established, the Mets leader in total holds for their career is Feliciano.Â Starting with the 2006 season, Feliciano had 10, 18, 21 & 24 holds respectively for a franchise leading total of 73.Â During the 2006-2009 period, his record was 18-12 with an ERA of 3.04, a 1.291 WHIP and a 2.36 K/BB ratio.Â It’s hard for many of us to remember but Feliciano initially started out as a 4-plus out reliever. In 2003, he appeared in 23 games and threw a total of 48 innings.Â But since then he has evolved (or devolved if you prefer) into more of a LOOGY, and it is largely in that latter role that he has accrued the franchise lead in holds.
Best ‘pre-hold era’ RH set-up man
Turk Wendell – I remember I was with my brother.Â We were sitting in the lobby of a window tinting shop waiting for them to finish their illegal tint job on his car when I heard on the radio that the Mets had traded Dennis Cook and Turk Wendell to the Philadelphia Phillies.Â Neither my brother nor I thought that was a good idea.Â That the team sucked for the next 4 years doesn’t really prove that we were right but I like to pretend it does at parties and in chat rooms.Â For the 2000 season and the portion of the 2001 season that he was with the Mets, Wendell was the team’s best RH set-up man.Â He appeared in 126 games, had a won-loss record of 12-9 with an ERA of 3.56, a WHIP of 1.231 and a 1.81 K/BB ratio.Â Wendell finished 31 games, saving 2.
Best ‘hold-era’ RH set-up man
Aaron Heilman – Heilman has accrued the most total holds of any RH Met reliever during the hold era.Â Starting in 2005, Heilman had 5, 27, 22 & 15 holds respectively through 2008 for a total of 66.Â When he was used exclusively as a reliever from 2006-2008 Heilman threw 249 total innings in 233 appearances.Â His won-loss record was 14-20 during that time with an ERA of 3.90, a WHIP of 1.261 and a 2.30 K/BB ratio.Â He finished 65 games, saving 4.
Best backup middle infielder
Damion Easley – Desi Relaford had the best individual season in this role, starting 14 games at SS and 42 at 2B in 2001, hitting .302/.364/.472, but only filled the role for that 1 year.Â Easley played this role for the ’07-’08 seasons, although he only saw work at SS in 2008 with 3 starts among his 8 appearances there, so he barely qualifies and if you prefer Relaford that’s fine, make your own list.Â Over the 2 seasons Easley played 103 games at 2B, starting 96.Â Overall Easley appeared in 189 games for the Mets hitting .273/.336/.407 with 16 doubles, 16 homers and 70 RBI.
Best backup corner infielder
Fernando Tatis – This category was rough.Â In any one season, Ty Wigginton, Todd Zeile or Tony Clark performed well but in the case of Wigginton he barely played 1B or in the case of Clark he never played 3B.Â Somewhat by default it came down to Julio Franco or Fernando Tatis and I chose Tatis because he hit .296 with 4 HR and 27 RBI in 216 AB as a 1B and 3B combined in ’08-’09.Â Also because as good as Franco was in 2006, he was equally bad in 2007, and I just can’t wrap my head around giving a 47 year old guy a 2 year contract and an All-Decade award.
Best LH pinch-hitter
Marlon Anderson – Anderson filled this role for the franchise for 3 seasons, plus 4 hitless at bats in a 4th season.Â Over 2005 and from his return in ’07 through his release in ’09, Anderson had 155 pinch-hit at bats for the Mets.Â His 42 hits included 6 doubles and 3 HR.Â He also walked 17 times, scored 25 runs and drove in 22.Â His pinch-hitting slash line as a Met was .271/.381/.368.Â Lenny Harris earned serious consideration but his slash line of .259/.323/.317 as a pinch-hitter in ’00-’01 came up short.
Best RH pinch-hitter
Fernando Tatis – Another category in which Tatis beat out Julio Franco.Â Franco had more pinch-hit at bats during his tenure than Tatis did, but Tatis had the superior OPS with .773 compared to Franco’s .691.Â In 53 at bats, Tatis had 14 hits including 2 doubles and 2 HR.Â He walked 5 times, drove in 10 runs and scored 8 as a pinch-hitter.Â By virtue of his winning 2 categories I would declare Fernando Tatis the overall All-Decade Role Player Award winner for the Mets, if not for the next guy.
Best Super Joe
Joe McEwing – Perhaps the only thing I don’t like about Joe McEwing is that Jesse Orosco was traded to get him.Â In his 5 seasons with the Mets (’00-’04), McEwing played every position except catcher and pitcher.Â His offense was hardly impressive.Â In 1048 Met at bats, McEwing had a slash line of .243/.296/.348, but his ability to competently field at every position on the field of play allowed the team tremendous flexibility, both with the 25-man roster and within individual games.Â As an example, in his very first game as a Met Super Joe played CF, LF and SS.Â McEwing played at least 2 positions on the field in 75 of his 502 games as a Met.Â FanGraphs.com has sabermetric fielding data starting only with the 2002 season, and beginning with that season for his entire career McEwing has been a positive fielder at every position except 2B (where he is minus 3.1 UZR for his career).Â Congratulations Joe McEwing, you are the winner of Grave’s All-Decade Met Role Player award.Â Please accept this laurel, and hearty handshake.