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Mets Top Postseason Home Runs: No. 16 (Mike Piazza) - No. 20 (Yoenis Cespedes)

In 2009, I did a project for my website, Mets Walk-Offs and Other Minutiae, celebrating the best home runs in Mets history. I selected the top 60 regular season home runs and the top 15 postseason home runs. The reason I picked 60 was because it represented the top 1% of home runs in Mets history (and 15 just felt right for postseason).

This was fun to do, but it was imperfect. I had one egregious omission. I tended to favor oddities.

It’s time to give that project an update. And why not do it as a top 100?

The Mets have hit 7,671 regular season home runs. The top 80 represent about the top 1%. And the top 20 postseason home runs get us to an even 100 to celebrate.

We're up to the postseason portion. Stick around. These will be fun and (as always) Amazin'.

No. 20 – Yoenis Céspedes hits a missile (2015 NLCS Game 3 vs Dodgers)
In the grand scheme of the Mets win over the Dodgers in the first playoff game at Citi Field, this home run by Yoenis Céspedes didn’t mean much to the final outcome. The Mets were winning by 4 in a game they would go on to win by 6. But how often after a home run do you get to hear the theme from the movie The Natural?

Seemed justified. This was Céspedes’ bat speed at its very best. A no-doubter of no-doubters. Ok, maybe it didn’t knock out any light towers, but it was definitely one of the most impressive-looking home runs in Mets postseason history.

My favorite stat: The Mets scored 13 runs in Game 3 of this series. They totaled 9 runs in the other 4 games of the series (but still won it).

No. 19 – Michael Conforto goes yard x 2 (2015 World Series Game 4)
These could have moved up about 10 spots on the list had the outcome of the game and the series been different. Conforto, then a rookie with 66 games of major league experience showed no nerves and the power befitting the first-round pick that he was. That was a little different from earlier in the postseason. Remember that he was 2-for-22 to the point of his first home run.

My favorite stat: Michael Conforto and Gary Carter are the only Mets to have multiple home runs in a World Series game. The 22-year-old Conforto was also the third-youngest player to hit multiple home runs in a World Series game behind Andruw Jones (19) and Tony Kubek (21).

No. 18 – Robin Ventura gives Bobby Jones a cushion (2000 NLDS Game 4)
It’s funny that Robin Ventura hit .161 in 87 postseason at-bats as a Met, because as memory goes, it feels like he hit 1.000.

That’s because the two most indelible images of Ventura’s postseason career are the grand slam single in the 15th inning against the Braves in Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS and the two-run home run he hit in the first inning of this game against the Giants.

This one is the lesser-known of the two, overshadowed both by his other Metmorable postseason moment and by Bobby Jones pitching a one-hit shutout in this contest (the only hit was a line drive going just over Ventura’s glove).

Nonetheless it gets a proper salute here because this is the place for such salutes. One former Mets writer recently pointed out that Ventura was a great quote when talking about anyone else on the team or talking about the team’s struggles. But he was as boring as heck when talking about himself.

So what did he say about this home run?

“I was just lucky.”

My favorite stat: This is Robin Ventura’s only inclusion in the top 20 postseason home runs (I know, I know … the other one doesn’t count!)

No. 17 – Rusty Staub homers twice in the first 2 innings (1973 NLCS Game 3)
The calm before the storm that was the first 2 innings of this matchup with the Reds belonged to someone who was very good at being calm in the eye of the storm, Rusty Staub.

Staub homered in both the first inning and the second inning of a 9-2 win best remembered for the brawl that began when Pete Rose slid hard into shortstop Bud Harrelson while trying to break up a double play.

“Outwardly, I still don’t feel the excitement,” Staub said afterwards.

Rusty Staub had 3 hits, all home runs in that LCS. He then had 11 hits in the World Series, the most by a Mets player in a postseason series.

I’m going to also give props to a home run that didn’t make the list, one hit by Staub in the first inning of his 4-for-4, 5-RBI game in Game 4 of the World Series. That time he missed batting again in the second inning by one batter. We have no doubt he’d have hit another if he’d gotten the chance.

My favorite stat: 2 players have had two home runs by the end of the 2nd inning of a postseason game – Staub and Willie Aikens (1980 Royals).

No. 16 – Mike Piazza vs John Smoltz (1999 NLCS Game 6)

I remember reading that the 1986 Angels highlight film ends with Donnie Moore throwing his fateful ninth-inning pitch to Dave Henderson, the fade-out coming before Henderson’s dramatic home run.

The 1999 Mets version of that should fade out as Mike Piazza crosses home plate after hitting his game-tying home run against Braves pitcher John Smoltz in the seventh inning of Game 6 of the NLCS.

I’ve referenced the idea of the home run on demand moment and this one definitely represents the ultimate in that. The Mets were down 5-0 after Al Leiter’s brutal first inning and 7-3 after José Hernandez’s two-run single in the sixth inning.

Smoltz was a pitcher who had caused them trouble many times before and now he was being used as a bridge to John Rocker, similar to how Noah Syndergaard was used to get to Jeurys Familia in Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS against the Dodgers.

What followed was the best of the 1999 Mets’ spirit (adjacent to Shawon Dunston’s 15th-inning at-bat in Game 5). Double, double, flyout, single, and suddenly it’s 7-5 and Piazza is at bat as the tying run.

Smoltz fell behind 2-1 and Piazza got a late swing at his fastball. But it was a powerful swing. It cleared the right center field fence by a good distance. It’s an epic home run, made even more impressive by how banged up Piazza had gotten by season’s end (remember he didn’t start The Todd Pratt Game). It made you understand why Bobby Valentine would say “Why can’t we become the first team to come back from a 3-0 deficit?”

Now if we could just scratch everything that came after that.

My favorite stat: The two latest game-tying home runs in Mets postseason history are this one by Mike Piazza and one by Al Weis in the 7th inning of Game 5 of the 1969 World Series (that one rates a little higher).


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