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Look Who's Number Won

7 More Things I Learned While Putting Nelson Figueroa's 2 Wins As a Mets Starter Into Perspective

(A continuation of :

* Tom Seaver has held the Mets STARTERS wins record for a long time

On June 8, 1969, Tom Seaver struck out 14 Padres in a 3-2 victory, his 41st as a Mets starter, breaking the previous record for most wins by a Mets starting pitcher. Three weeks later, he'd win his 44th game, breaking the mark for most wins by a Mets pitcher OVERALL, both records set by Al Jackson. On July 4, 1975, Seaver officially put the starting pitcher's mark out of reach with his 158th victory, a 4-3 triumph in Philadelphia, won on Jerry Grote's 2-run home run with two outs in the ninth, off former teammate Tug McGraw. He could have stopped there and still had the mark, as the second-closest Mets starter, Dwight Gooden, finished at 157.

To put Seaver's mark of 198 wins as a Mets starter in its proper place: Nelson Figueroa (or even Johan Santana) could win 20 games in each of the next nine seasons, and he'd still trail Seaver in Mets starters wins.

* Speaking of Tug McGraw, he was better off in the bullpen

Tug McGraw won seven games as a Mets starter, and in those games, he was outstanding, posting an ERA of 1.56.

Unfortunately, McGraw LOST 21 games as a Mets starter, and in those contests, he was mediocre, posting an ERA of 6.33.

The good thing is that Tug McGraw found his niche and made the most of it.

* Rick Aguilera might have been better off a starter

Rick Aguilera also made the most of his niche, as a pretty solid closer for other teams. It should not be overlooked that he was pretty good as a Mets starter- 29-18 overall- and he got those wins in only 59 starts. Yes he got great run support in both 1986 and 1987 (better than 5 runs per game), but he kept his ERA down at a very respectable level as well.

* Terry Leach was pretty darn good too

Terry Leach made 18 starts in his Mets career and won 11 of them. That's called winning 61 percent of your starts. Tom Seaver didn't do that. Nor did Dwight Gooden. Granted, the volume was higher, but among those 18 starts were a 1-hit shutout of the 1982 Phillies, a 3-hit shutout of the 1985 Giants, and a 2-hit shutout of the 1987 Reds. That's an average of one shutout every six starts. Tom Seaver averaged 1 shutout every 9.4 starts. Just saying...

* I can argue that Tom Hausman was "better" than Warren Spahn

Yes, I know that it's foolish to make judgments on starting pitchers based on their win totals, but this topic is much more fun, and reader-friendly for me than writing about ERA+ or VORP. Besides, where else can you read about how Tom Hausman had more wins as a Mets starter (5) than Hall of Famer Warren Spahn (4).

Quick quiz: Who had more wins as a Mets starter?
* Mike Hampton or Dave Mlicki
* Pete Falcone or Orlando Hernandez
* Mike Scott or Victor Zambrano
* Frank Viola or Pat Zachry
(answers at the end)

* Anthony Young was the Eric Hillman of his time
Monday, we made mention of Eric Hillman's 4 wins in 36 Mets starts (the 2nd-fewest wins ever recorded in the career of a pitcher who made 36+ starts). Today we make mention (and do nothing more) that Anthony Young made 31 starts as a Met. He won 3.

* The line of demarcation for a Mets starter is 78 wins

If you were giving gut-instinct grades on Mets starting pitchers, the bell curve should begin to swoop downward once you hit David Cone. The top winners among Mets starters are Tom Seaver (198), Dwight Gooden (157), Jerry Koosman (138), Sid Fernandez and Ron Darling (98), Al Leiter (95), Jon Matlack (81) and David Cone (78). After that, there's a drop-off, at least by my gut-instinct grading system, to Bobby Jones (74), Steve Trachsel (66), Tom Glavine (61, but gets an F regardless), Rick Reed (59- gets a higher grade than the previous 3, and Craig Swan (55).

* They should call the song "One Shining MoMet"

Grover Powell pitched in 20 games for the 1963 Mets. The Mets won two of them. In one, on August 20, he made his first major-league start and shut out the Phillies, 4-0. The future was bright, but brief. He hurt his arm that winter and never pitched in the majors again after that, retiring with one win. Keith Olbermann, in his pre-politics book "The Big Show" (with Dan Patrick) tells how Powell died young, of leukemia at age 45, and the picture from his Mets baseball card is on his tombstone. On his Baseball-Reference page, it mentions that his uniform number (41) has since been retired, albeit for other reasons. I still think that's pretty neat.

Dick Rusteck pitched in 8 games for the 1966 Mets. The Mets won one of them. In that game, which happened to be his MLB debut, Rusteck pitched a 4-hit shutout, against a Reds lineup that included Pete Rose and Tony Perez. Rusteck also hurt his arm not long afterwards, and that win would be his one and only. He's also the one and only Mets pitcher to throw a shutout in his major-league debut.

Roy Lee Jackson lasted a little longer than that, pitching 40 games over parts of four seasons with the Mets. Of his 14 starts, he only won once, but what a win it was. Jackson had never struck out more than 6 batters in any appearance, but on July 19, he struck out 12 Reds, allowing only 3 hits in a 13-3 victory. His name may look a little odd on the list 17 Mets pitchers to have had a 12 strikeout game (Tom Seaver did it 24 times), but it's there nonetheless.
Answers to the "Who had more wins as a Mets starter?" quiz

* Mike Hampton or Dave Mlicki (Mlicki, 17-15)
* Pete Falcone or Orlando Hernandez (Falcone, 22-18)
* Mike Scott or Victor Zambrano (Scott, 13-10)
* Frank Viola or Pat Zachry (Zachry, 39-38)


SS said…
Really really great stuff. Most enjoyable. I wish I had something meaningful to add!

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