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Most Valuable Metsie

A lot of people think it's a big deal that the Mets have never had a no-hitter in their 44-season history.

I think it's a bigger deal that they've never had an MVP.

The Mets have been to the postseason six times, seriously contended, but not gone a host of others (I'm counting 1970, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, and 1998, but you could also reference other seasons, such as 2001 and 2005 if you wish). They've had the most talented hitters, the most talented pitchers and the most clutch performers. They've had former MVPs. They've had players who left and became MVPs. They probably should have had two players who have since gone on to win MVPs (A-Rod and Vlad) were management so inclined to sign them. They've had Cy Young winners, Rookies of the Year, Gold Glove winners, and Rolaids Relief winners. But they've never had a player whom the voting sportswriters deemed the most significant.

There have been some near misses, most notably on two occasions. In 1969, pitcher Tom Seaver and his 25 wins matched Willie McCovey's .320 BA, 45 HR, 120 RBI campaign in first-place votes (each got 11), but came up 22 points shy in the overall balloting. In 1988, the Mets were the NL East division winner, but had the misfortune of having two candidates, reasonably close in viability in Darryl Strawberry and Kevin McReynolds. Those two split some ballots, allowing Kirk Gibson and his puny 76 RBI to sneak in and win, beating Strawberry out by 36 points.

Keith Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, , Howard Johnson, Mike Piazza and Gary Carter have also performed respectably in the MVP balloting, but none has ever broke through to get real close. Hernandez was runner-up to Ryne Sandberg in 1984. Gooden placed fourth during his Cy Young season of 1985. Carter placed third, just ahead of Hernandez (again the split vote issue) in 1986. Johnson was fifth during his terrific 1989 and 1991 seasons. Piazza was third in 2000, behind the rare teammate 1-2 finish with Jeff Kent earning honors ahead of Barry Bonds.

I always find it fascinating not only who wins the MVP, but who gets the pity points. When I say that, I refer to those at the bottom of the voting list, who may have squeaked in as a "one-vote wonder." I wrote a freelance piece a couple of years ago on players who received one Hall of Fame vote and was told by one rather ordinary competitor that it was the equivalent of being inducted to the Hall of Fame. I imagine those getting the one MVP vote might feel the same way.

Most recently Bret Saberhagen went 14-4 in strike-shortened 1994, earning a pity point. No National Leaguer got a single pity point in 1986, but the voting writers were wise enough to see that Bob Ojeda and his 18 victories were worthy of two pity points, the same number shortstop Bud Harrelson got in 1973, Tug McGraw, Tom Seaver, and Rusty Staub earned in 1972, Seaver got in 1970. Second baseman Ron Hunt was the first Mets player mentioned on an MVP ballot, getting pity-point consideration in 1964.

Cliff Floyd and David Wright will garner their share of votes in the 2005 balloting, the results of which may be announced by the time you read this. It will snap a three-year streak in which no Mets player received any votes, not even a 10th place pity point. That speaks well for the team and for the seasons that these two had that this schneid will be broken. Floyd carried the Mets to the All-Star Break. Wright shouldered the bulk of the offensive load the last two months. The latter likely represents the Mets best chance of nabbing an MVP award in the next 10 years. In fact, if I had to guess, I'd say we'll probably see a Mets MVP before we see a Mets no-hitter. Maybe we'll even luck out and see both in the same year. That would fit the billing of being truly Amazin'.

The truly Metvaluable know... Ten different ex-Mets players have won an MVP award in their career, combining to cop 13 such honors.

2000- Jeff Kent, Giants
1995- Mo Vaughn, Red Sox
1990- Rickey Henderson, Athletics
1989- Kevin Mitchell, Giants
1979- Keith Hernandez, Cardinals
1977- George Foster, Reds
1971- Joe Torre, Cardinals
1965- Willie Mays, Giants
1964- Ken Boyer, Cardinals
1955- Yogi Berra, Yankees
1954- Yogi Berra, Yankees
1954- Willie Mays, Giants
1951- Yogi Berra, Yankees

Seven of these ten had a walk-off RBI for the Mets. The three who did not are Yogi Berra, Ken Boyer, and Rickey Henderson.


Anonymous said…
Check out 1967. Tommy Davis (16-73-.302) got a tenth-place vote. Talk about pity.

I have to weigh in for 1997 as a contending year. 88 wins, four out in the Wild Card, in the race to the final week. The Mets had a better chance of making the post-season than they did in 1989 and, for that matter, 2005. Also, the Mets were four back on Labor Day in 1975 after running in a tight four-team race all summer.

And they were 1-0 after one game in 1979, tied for first.

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