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Mets Top Postseason Home Runs: No. 6 (Benny Agbayani) to No. 10 (Darryl Strawberry)

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 top 10 of the postseason portion. Stick around. These will be fun and (as always) Amazin'.

No. 10 – Darryl Strawberry vs Nolan Ryan (1986 NLCS Game 5 vs Astros)
No. 9 – Darryl Strawberry vs Bob Knepper (1986 NLCS Game 3 vs Astros)

We can lump these two together since they fit into the story of the 1986 postseason so well. For five innings against Bob Knepper in Game 3 of the NLCS and four more against Nolan Ryan in Game 5, the Mets did virtually nothing. They had four hits against Knepper and no baserunners against Ryan.

The breakthroughs came an inning apart but they had a common bond. A home run by Darryl Strawberry.

“Lenny (Dykstra) was telling me on the bench that I was gonna hit a home run,” Strawberry said on the 1986 highlight video A Year to Remember, referring to the game-tying first-pitch three-run bomb against Knepper in the sixth inning. 

I think that says a lot about the kind of hitter Strawberry was. You felt like he was going to homer every time up.

What’s cool about the one against Ryan was that just before the home run, Strawberry took a borderline 3-1 pitch for a strike on the inside corner. He practically tossed his bat away thinking at was Ball 4 and seemed to be unhappy with home plate umpire Joe West. On ABC, Tim McCarver offered a reminder why Strawberry shouldn’t be upset.

“You can’t get upset because you’ve still got a chance to swing the timber,” McCarver said, pointing out that Strawberry could tie the game with a home run.

As he was often in his prime broadcasting days, McCarver was right-on. Two pitches later, Strawberry hit a laser to right on another pitch that was down and in to even the score.

“Is a ball that curls around the pole better than a walk?” McCarver asked. “Strawberry will say yes.”

For his part, Strawberry played it smart. He figured Ryan would try to hit that same spot down-and-in for strike 3.

“I knew he’d come back with (an inside pitch) if the ump was giving it to him,” Strawberry said afterwards.

“When a guy’s going good, you have to be confident and cocky if you’re going to hit him or it’s not going to happen.”

Confident and cocky. A good way to describe Strawberry in those moments and a good way to describe the 1986 Mets.

My favorite stat: Darryl Strawberry had three game-tying home runs for the Mets in postseason play. All other Mets have four game-tying postseason home runs.

My favorite stat: Dykstra had a lot of confidence, even knowing that Strawberry was 3-for-22 versus Knepper and 0-for-10 with 5 strikeouts against Knepper during the regular season in 1986.



No. 8 – Len Dykstra vs Oil Can Boyd (1986 World Series Game 3 vs Red Sox)
So I’m separating the action from the person here, because some of the stories about the moments prior to this home run are ugly and I want to isolate on the moment.

And what a huge moment it was, with the Mets trailing 2-games-to-none entering Game 3 at Fenway Park and all the pressure on them. Davey Johnson won points with the players for canceling their workout on the series off day, but you didn’t really know if that tactic would work until Dykstra led off against Oil Can Boyd, who had said the day before that he hoped to master the Mets.

Mets fans only had to be nervous for two pitches and all the good feelings for Red Sox fans evaporated as soon as Dykstra took an inside fastball and hooked it just inside the Pesky Pole for a home run, the lead, and a change in outlook. 

It took 19 minutes from the time at which Dykstra’s home run landed in the seats until the half-inning ended, at which time the Mets had scored four runs. Game 3 was over before it even really began. So much for mastery.

“I just wanted to hit the ball hard,” Dykstra said. “I didn’t know it would go out of the f---ing ballpark. We had something to prove tonight, not only to the Mets, not only to the Boston Red Sox, but to everybody in baseball.”

My favorite stat: The Mets have hit a leadoff home run in four of their five World Series appearances, with 2000 being the lone exception. You’re about to read about another one.

No. 7 – Tommie Agee vs Orioles (1969 World Series Game 3 vs Orioles)
Paul Blair had Tommie Agee played positioned perfectly … to watch the ball sail straight and well over his head. 

If you check out where the Orioles center fielder was positioned, several strides over to left center field when Agee led off the bottom of the first inning, you’ll see he’s expecting Agee to pull the ball in the air. He’s probably 20 to 30 feet over from what you would call straight away.

Agee’s home run was quite the shot, over the camera well in left center by a good distance. It put the Mets ahead of the Orioles 1-0 after one batter of Game 3 of the World Series. Like Game 3 of the 1986 World Series, this one was over before it started.

Agee’s day is better known for the two catches he made that likely saved five runs – one versus Blair, one versus Elrod Hendricks in what was a 5-0 Mets win. 

Perhaps as valuable as anything Agee did in the field for this game was what Agee did on the bench. Returning to the dugout after hitting the home run, he had a message for his teammates about Orioles starter Jim Palmer.

“I told the guys he wasn’t throwing hard,” Agee told reporters afterwards. “Actually, he was throwing hard, but I think it gives them confidence ot hear that.”

Hitter, fielder, confidence booster. On this day, Agee was the ultimate one-man show.

My favorite stat: Mets to hit a leadoff home run in the World Series are Tommie Agee (1969), Wayne Garrett (1973), Len Dykstra (1986) and Curtis Granderson (2005).  

No. 6 – Benny Agbayani’s Hawaiian Punch! (2000 NLDS Game 3 vs Giants)
I am a firm believer in the idea that having too much depth is never a problem. Got seven good starting pitchers? Great, put two of them in the bullpen and tell them not to complain. Got multiple pitchers who could be closers? Let each of them know there will come a time when you’ll need them, even if they’re not the guy.

And if you have too many position player, tell them things will work out. Players will get hurt or slump. Trades will be made. Your turn will always come.

Or to keep it simple, just tell them about Benny Agbayani and the 2000 Mets.

T.J. Quinn’s game story in the Daily News after Game 3 of the 2000 NLDS reminded me of that. It explained how Bobby Valentine told Agbayani just what I wrote a couple of paragraphs ago.

Agbayani, nearly pushed off the roster at the start of the season, got his chance and then some. He hit a pinch-hit game-winning grand slam in the team’s second game of the season. And then he hit the walk-off home run in the 13th inning of Game 3 to give the Mets a 2-games-to-1 lead over the Giants. This was an epic game, one that lasted 5 hours and 22 minutes and featured unsung heroes at the plate and on the mound (anyone remember the two scoreless innings by winning pitcher Rick White?)

“I just couldn’t believe it," Agbayani said of the ball clearing the fence.

Benny, when it comes to the Mets, and when it comes to being ready for opportunities, you know what they say.

Ya Gotta Believe! 

My favorite stat: The Mets have 3 postseason walk-off home runs. The Giants have only 2.


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