Where does Luis Guillorme fit into the Mets infield puzzle?

Sorting out the 2021 Met infield is somewhat like assembling a puzzle. There is an array of pieces, and where they are going to fit is yet to be determined. First base is up for grabs, with Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith duking it out for playing time. The Robinson Cano piece fell off the table, due his suspension for using banned substances. Now Jeff McNeil could slide into second base full time… maybe. At shortstop there is Amed Rosario trying to fend off Andres Gimenez, and third base is uncertain. J.D. Davis, or perhaps a trade target/free agent could end up playing there. Then we have the interesting puzzle piece of Luis Guillorme, who could fit in at 2B, 3B, or short, although perhaps not as a starter at any of those spots.

Guillorme first came to prominence in Spring Training of 2017, when he snatched an errant bat in mid air as it rocketed into the Mets dugout, saving a player or two from a collision with said bat. That incident is in the past, since then the 10th round draft choice has shown he is a major leaguer.

Guillorme has always been known as a defensive force. He has decent range, a good infield arm and off the charts quickness in his hands. He’s made more than his share of highlight level dazzling defensive plays in his years in the minors and with the Mets.

As to batting, Guillorme made big strides last year, although his stats are likely unsustainable. In limited play in the shortened season, he slashed .333/.426/.439 in 68 PA. Guillorme was frequently overmatched by MLB pitching prior to last year, which resulted in his altering of his swing for 2020.

That alteration resulted in a more level swing, which made sense since his build is not the type to produce big power. He has but one homerun in his MLB career. The combination of those incredibly quick hands and the more level swing made for his pretty good offensive numbers. FanGraphs shows 39% of his batted balls in play were hard contact, with soft contact less than 10% of the time in 2020,a pretty good ratio. Some of those hard contact line drives were hit into the gaps, which resulted in Guillorme smacking six doubles in just the 68 AB, making for a pretty good percentage.

Guillorme tends to make the opposing pitchers work, he is a pesky hitter. He is capable of fouling off good pitches to extend the count, and he has a good eye at the plate. All through his career this approach has earned him more than his share of bases on balls, his 2020 OBP was an impressive .426. His batted ball zones look the opposite of a pull hitter, the lefty batter hits 46.3% of his balls in play to the opposite field, with 31.7 to center, and 22% to right field.

So where should Guillorme fit in the Mets 2020 infield plans? An obvious answer would be as a utility infielder, capable of giving good defense at three important positions, second, short and third, and respectable hitting as well. A player who can play three key defensive positions well, like Guillorme can, will always be valuable to a team, especially a contender as the Mets aspire to be. But if he can keep those line drives coming when he bats, he should not be ruled out as a candidate for a starting spot in the infield.

Guillorme will turn 27 years of age during the 2021 season, that is typically when a player is right in his prime.

Davis got a lot of reps at third the past two years. He certainly has good power at the plate, but he is shaky defensively at the hot corner. If he does start at third, Guillorme will get opportunities as a defensive replacement late in the game. If Guillorme keeps spraying out those line drive hits at the same rate as he did this year, it is at least a possibility that he could become the starting third sacker.

If that were to be the case, a Met fan could salivate at the prospect of an infield of Smith/Alonso at first, McNeil at second, Ginenez at shortstop and Guillorme at third. That would be the best defensive infield alignment the Mets have had since the late 90s, when their all-world infield was John Olerud at 1B, Edgardo Alfonzo at 2B Rey Ordonez at short, and Robin Ventura patrolling at third base.

Trevor Bauer is a good fit for the Mets

The Mets starting rotation needs to be upgraded and fortified for the 2021 season. The 2020 rotation figured to be a strong point before last season, then the combination of Zack Wheeler departing for free agency, Noah Syndergaard tearing up his elbow, and Marcus Stroman sitting out the season led to serious underperformance in aggregate for the 2020 starters. One pitcher the Mets could target is Trevor Bauer, arguably the gem of free agent pitching class this year.

Bauer was mostly a middle of the rotation pitcher for his first few years in the league, then in 2018 he broke out with a big season in which he finished 6th in the AL Cy Young vote. He might have finished higher had not his season been shortened by a line shot that struck his leg and fractured it. His 2019 was not as good, but that leg injury might have slowed him down some at the start of the year.

His 2020 season was impeccable. Pitching for Cincinnati in the abbreviated schedule, he racked up a 5-4 record in 73 IP. His ERA was 1.73 and his FIP figure was 2.44. HIs WHIP was 0.79, and hitters batted only .159 against him.

Some may say his competition was not the strongest, but his grouping of NL Central and AL Central divisions finished at exactly .500, as did the other groupings since all games were in the groupings all season.

Bauer throws a variety of pitches, including fastballs, sinking fastballs, cutters, sliders, changeups and splitters. According to FanGraphs his average fastball velocity was 93.8 in 2020. That’s not Jacob deGrom fast, but combined with his command and assortment of secondary pitches, he put up a dominant year. He’s a good candidate to win this year’s NL Cy Young, scheduled to be announced on November 11.

Bauer has gone against the grain with his belief that he might be even more effective if he pitched on three days’ rest instead of the standard four days. It might be possible to occasionally do this with the Mets, meaning a few less starts for the number five pitcher on the staff. Unless the Mets radically improve their SP depth, that would be a good thing.

Aside from his pitching ability, some have questioned his intangibles. On the very pages of this site, phrases like “too much baggage” and “pain in the ass” have been tossed about by commenters and authors. Bauer is intelligent (4.86 GPA in high school, graduated a year early) and opinionated. Some of his actions and declarations have rubbed people the wrong way.

He revealed his dating parameters, which include no long term relationships and no social media posts about him. In addition, he has said “I sleep with other people, I’m going to continue to sleep with other people.” Likely many other ballplayers follow a similar approach, but they don’t broadcast it. Bauer is upfront with his dating partners about his lack of interest in an exclusive relationship.

Some teammates and coaches don’t like him for his penchant for having his own workout routine, but it seems to work for him. He had a notable clash with pitching coach Mickey Callaway when they both toiled for the Cleveland Indians, over this issue. Other teammates, notably several other pitchers on the Indians, said Bauer helped them with their mechanics. But they all said the same thing, that Bauer was willing to help, but he had to be approached first.

Bauer identifies himself as a socially liberal free market capitalist, and such beliefs are likely to offend a small segment of the population. He was also quoted as saying “Climate changed before humans and will change after.” The Mets have employed other players with non-mainstream beliefs, including Curtis Granderson. Granderson was a partisan of some wild conspiracy theories including that the Apollo moon landings were a hoax , and yet he was one of the most popular Mets of his time.

The new regime running the Mets surely has the funds to offer a competitive contract to Bauer. Bauer has expressed interest in playing for a bona fide competitor, and of course the Mets did end up in last place in the NL East. But with Syndergaard likely to return to the mound sometime in the first half of the season, and perhaps some free agent signings on tap, Bauer could well consider the Mets to be a contender. It might be refreshing to have Bauer on the team…especially if he pitches like he did last year.

For Pete’s sake – and the Mets’ sake – Pete Alonso should be traded

Some teams can afford the luxury of two superior players who play the same position. The last-place Mets are not one of those teams, they have a few too many needs that could be filled by dealing either Pete Alonso or Dominic Smith, both first basemen. For this article we will focus on the benefits of trading Alonso, and what might be the reasonable return for his services.

Alonso of course had a monster rookie year in 2019, but he regressed seriously this year. His slash line for 2020 was a subpar .231/.326/.490. Was 2020 an outlier? Or did big league pitchers catch on to a way of pitching Alonso that neutralized him? It is hard to say.

We do know that Smith produced a .316/.377/.616 line, including 10 homers and 21 doubles in the seriously shortened season. He has been consistently good ever since he controlled his sleep apnea medical problem a few years ago. He is a better fielder than Alonso at first base.

Alonso will still have plenty of value, He did still hit 16 homers this year and Statcast recorded an exit velocity of 118.4 on one homer he hit, at the top of velocities this year. He’s relatively young and considered to be an excellent teammate.

There are potential trade partners out there, teams that could use an upgrade at first. We’ll examine three of them, in no particular order, and see what they could offer the Mets.

The Los Angeles Dodgers had the best regular season record in the league this season, but they did have a glaring hole in their lineup at first base. Veteran Max Muncy was the regular first sacker, and his line was an abysmal .192/.331/.389. The Dodgers have plenty of depth at positions such as catcher and starting pitching, areas of need for the Mets.

Will Smith is the starting catcher for the Dodgers, and they are not going to trade him, he could be another Johnny Bench. Veteran catcher Austin Barnes is on the roster, and he saw plenty of action this year because of an injury to Smith. His offense is nothing special, but he is excellent defensively with a DRS of plus five. He would make a good bridge to the Mets highly rated prospect backstop Francisco Alvarez, who is still a few years away from the majors. The Dodgers would have to include someone else in the trade, probably a young pitcher like 21-year-old Clayton Beeter who throws a high 90s fastball with good secondary pitches.

The Dodgers have another catcher in their system, Keibert Ruiz, also 21, the number one prospect in their strong farm system. He is another excellent defensive catcher with good contact hitting skills. The Dodgers could package Ruiz with a lower rated pitching prospect for Alonso.

Cleveland is another team that was hurting at first base this year. Carlos Santana, age 34, assembled a slash line of .199/.349/.350. The Indians might well decline his option for 2021. The Indians of late have been well stocked with pitching. The Mets could dangle Alonso in front of the Indians in exchange for Zach Plesac, 25, who was 4-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 2020. His most dazzling stat was his WHIP figure, a microscopic 0.795. The Mets would have to throw in a pretty good prospect as well as Alonso to get him.

Yet another potential trade partner could be the Tampa Bay Rays. Their main first baseman this year was Ji-Man Choi, who had a .230/.331/.410 line. Alonso would be an improvement. The Rays traditionally do not draw fans very well, but Tampa native Alonso could well put more fans in the seats.

Tampa Bay always seems to have good pitching depth. Lefty Blake Snell has been their top pitcher for a few years. He was dominant in 2018, when he won the AL Cy Young. He had a bad 2019, then bounced back this year with a 4-2 record and 3.24 ERA. The Mets would probably have to sweeten the deal to pry Snell away from Tampa, perhaps adding a fairly highly ranked prospect?

Alonso is a pretty high-character player, but the Mets do have holes to fill. Of course, Alonso or Smith could be used as DH, but nobody knows if the DH will be a permanent feature of NL play. Besides there is no shortage of other candidates to play DH at times for the Mets, such as Robinson Cano and J.D. Davis.

It’s not an exact parallel, but the 1960’s San Francisco Giants had two future Hall of Fame first basemen on the roster at the same time, Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey. They finally traded Cepeda to the Cardinals for a declining Ray Sadecki, and Cepeda won the MVP as the Cards went on to win the WS.

Alonso has been a great addition to the Mets, despite his big hiccup this year. He deserves to be a starting first baseman somewhere, not a part-time 1b/DH.

Zack Wheeler and the ex-Mets who are starring elsewhere

The 2020 Mets have been up and down in this strange 2020 season, often seeming to be a piece or two away from being a powerhouse team. There are a few ex-Mets out there who are having banner seasons, and they could have been those precious missing pieces. The one thing these ex-Mets have in common is that all of these players left the team, either by release, free agency or by being non-tendered.

The Mets starting rotation this year has been feast or famine, with only Jacob deGrom and Seth Lugo being reliable options. The back end of the starting corps has been disappointing. Zack Wheeler had been a fixture in the rotation for a few years, and he had been very good in 2019. That year he was 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA and a WHIP figure of 1.295. He was especially good in the latter half of the year. He was eligible for free agency, but by all accounts, he would have preferred to stay with the Mets should they have made him a competitive offer. As we all know, the Mets did not make a serious effort to sign him and Wheeler signed with Philadelphia. Instead the Mets chose to go the retread route for their rotation, picking up declining starters Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello.

Wheeler has been the bright spot of the Philadelphia staff this season, with a 4-0 record, a 2.47 ERA and a Whip of 1.10 to date. He has been among the ERA leaders all season. He was sharp against the Mets for most of the game on Labor Day, with one bad inning to mar his effort. It still ranks as a quality start, and of course the Phils won the game in extras.

Since the Mets did make a qualifying offer to Wheeler, they did receive a little something in the form of the 69th overall pick in this summers’ draft. That compensation pick turned out to be High School outfielder Isaiah Greene, who is years (if ever) away from playing in the bigs.

Catcher is another position of need for the current edition of the Mets, with starter Wilson Ramos providing anemic offense. His defense, to be charitable, has been subpar. Back in 2018 new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagernen made a series of moves at the beginning of the season, one of which was the release of catcher Travis d’Arnaud. Mr. d’Arnaud caught on with Tampa Bay and had a very productive 2019. This season d’Arnaud signed with Atlanta, and he has been raking at a .317/.369/.545 clip with 6 homers so far. His .914 OPS would look awfully good in the Met batting order. The Mets have mostly been RISP challenged this year, while d’Arnaud has shined in that regard with a BA of .357 in RISP situations. Since d’Arnaud was released, the Mets got nothing back for him.

Fan favorite Wilmer Flores was non-tendered subsequent to the 2018 season. One of the key sparkplugs of the 2015 pennant season, Wilmer was not good defensively, wherever he played for the Mets. He was very productive with Arizona last year, putting up a .317/.361/.487 slash line. Now with the Giants, the 28-year-old Flores has been hitting at a .299/.345/.533 clip. With the DH now in play in the NL, Flores has been a valuable contributor to an improved Giants team.

It’s been a while since Justin Turner was a Met, the third baseman was non-tendered following the 2013 season. In that off season he retooled his swing and he became a star of the launch angle revolution. Once he left the Mets, he became a mainstay of the perennially contending Dodgers. His best year was probably 2017 when he slashed .322/.415/.530.

Turner has tailed off a bit this year, but he is still a contributor to the Dodgers. The 35 year old is currently on the injured list, but he has played 32 games hitting .282/.384/.410. He has been even better than d’Arnaud in RISP at bats, he has hit at a .394 rate in those situations in 2020.

The ex-Mets listed have all thrived this season, and the key ones like Wheeler and d’Arnaud could potentially have turned this season around for the Mets had management been more rational in its operation of the roster.

Tomas Nido should catch a break

Tomas Nido has been a backup catcher with the Mets since 2017, with some stints in the minors interspersed during his tenure. The break that he should catch is a chance to get more playing time. He’s not likely to turn into another J. D. Davis, who blossomed with the Mets after stumbling with the Astros as a reserve. But he could well prove to be an upgrade over the incumbent starter, Wilson Ramos.

Ramos is in his second year with the Mets, with declining production with the bat. In 2019 Ramos put up a SLG figure of .416. That’s a number that could be acceptable with a defense first catcher, which Ramos has never been during his time in MLB. It should be noted Ramos started off fairly well with the bat in 2019, but his figures kept dropping as the season progressed. As for 2020, his slash line is all around ugly at .196/.275/.283. Please note all stats are through Sundays games.

Ramos has just turned 33. He of course plays the most physically demanding of all positions, and catchers tend to reach the end of the line sooner than players at other positions. Ramos was always slow, and now he is pretty much the consensus choice as the slowest position player in MLB ball. He hits a lot of ground balls, his rate is 45.7% of balls hit into play. He’s certainly not going to beat out infield hits, and he is vulnerable to grounding into double plays.

He is not going to be a defensive force either. His DRS last year was minus 11. So far in the shortened season his DRS is right at 0, and no one would be surprised if it fell into negative numbers this year. He is not considered to be a good framer of pitches.

Nido has had 4 starts at the catcher position this year, and so far he has assembled a slash line of .308/.400/.385, in an admittedly small sample. He has shown some good at bats, working the count and picking up a couple of bases on balls. At 26 years of age, he is at a point where improvement in his all around production is possible.

Nido has not really been a defensive whiz, but he does try to frame pitches and he is certainly more agile than Ramos when blocking off-target pitches.

So far this year, Ramos has been a hole in the batting order, and that is something the teetering Mets cannot afford, especially since his defense is lacking as well. Ramos’ contract is up this year, and unless he really turns things around he is not going to be back. If Nido gets to play more he just might see some improvement, as spot assignments really don’t let a player get into a groove. At the very least giving Nido a shot could let the Mets management know if they need to sign another catcher next year, or if Nido could fill the gap until the young catching prospects like Franciso Alvarez are ready for the big time.

The Mets have depth to spare…at DH

The Mets have a load of candidates for the inaugural season of NL DH play. Following is a listing of players who are likely to be on the roster opening day, or in some cases on the so-called taxi squad, whose most productive position at this point in their careers is probably DH. They are more or less ranked in order of expected offensive production for the upcoming season, with the two who were best last year at the top.

1…J.D. Davis split his time mostly between left field and third base last year. He assembled an impressive slash line of .307/.369/.527. He probably had the most productive offensive season in 2019 of any Met not named Pete Alonso or Jeff McNeill. He is right in the midst of his prime years at age 27. However Davis is a distinct liability in the field. Last year he posted a DRS figure of -11 in the outfield, and -9 at third base. Although he has a decent arm (he pitched some in college), his throws to first from 3b were often delivered with a funky motion and a slow release. Davis should see plenty of action this year, sometimes at DH, sometimes in the field, and when he is in the field he’ll be a prime candidate to be replaced by a better fielder late in the game when the Mets are ahead.

2…Dominic Smith is a natural first baseman, but he will see only spot service at that position with Alonso having nailed down that position last year. Smith also played some at left field last year. It was at the plate where Smith shined in 2019. The 25 year old broke out with a .282/.355/.525 line last year, ensuring he will get lots of playing time this year, some at DH. Somewhat surprisingly, Smith was below average in the field at 1b last year, with a DRS at that position of minus three. That was kind of a small sample with Alonso being a fixture at first. In left field, Smith posted a minus 8 DRS, he did seem to improve some defensively in the pasture as the season progressed.

3…Yoenis Cespedes is an enigma. He has power, (31 homers back in 2016, his last full season), but he has not played in two years due to injuries, specifically heel spurs followed by ankle fractures. It’s anybody’s guess if he will be able to play in the field by season’s end, let alone the start of the year. So he is a natural DH candidate in the crowded pool of DHers. The 34 year old outfielder played 35 games back in 2018, and posted a -1 DRS. Two years of rust, surgically repaired lower leg extremities, and father time catching up to him are causes for concern.

4…Robinson Cano is an aging veteran (37) acquired on GM Brodie Van Wagenen’s watch. He played 107 games last year and put up a mediocre slash line of .256/.37/.428. At second base he posted a negative six DRS. Is he the best second baseman on the team? No, not as long as Jeff McNeil suits up. Is he going to play most of the time at 2b? Probably, although he does not deserve it, and he will likely see at least some action at DH.

5…Jed Lowrie was injured for most of 2019. He drew a walk for the Mets in nine games played in 2019, exclusively as a pinch-hitter, at the end of the season. The result was an incredibly feeble .000/.125/.000 slash line. The 36 year old second baseman was not a good fielder in 2018 with a DRS of -5, and he reported to spring training sporting a big leg brace. None of this bodes well for any kind significant contribution this season.

6…Matt Adams will likely start the season on the taxi squad, he toiled for the Nats in 2019 and smacked 20 homers in 111 games. He was signed to a minor league contract during the offseason. He actually put up a positive DRS of four at 1b, a position the Mets were well stocked at. He’ll turn 32 during the season, and unless injuries pile up for the Mets he may not see action with the Mets this year.

7… Melky Cabrera is another player of the type that is far too numerous on the list, a slow, aging, poor fielding player who profiles best as a DH. Cabrera got into 133 games for the Pirates last year, and slashed .280/.313/.399. Not horrible, but that is a low SLG figure for a potential DH. The outfielder had a -15 DRS last year, ugh. He too is likely destined for the taxi squad.

There are lots of positions on an MLB team where it is significant to have good depth. DH is probably the position where depth is least important.

Lenny Dykstra is an equal opportunity jerk

Lenny Dykstra was an excellent ballplayer for the Mets, a clutch hitter who shined in the postseason. However, from all accounts, he is a nasty person. But is he a racist? He was essentially labeled as such by New York Supreme Court Judge Robert Kalish in a recent case brought by Dykstra and his legal team against ex-teammate and current broadcaster, Ron Darling, for libel.

In his 2019 book, “108 Stitches,” Darling had asserted that Dykstra had verbally harassed Red Sox starter Dennis Boyd with racial epithets as he warmed up prior to game three of the 1986 World Series. Darling had bombarded Boyd with “foul, racist, hateful stuff” according to Darlings’ book.

Kalish ruled for Darling, stating that “Dykstra was infamous for being, among other things, racist, misogynist, and anti-gay.” He specifically cited Dykstras’ own book, “House of Nails,” published in 2016. He further ruled that Dykstras’ “reputation for unsportsmanlike conduct and bigotry is already so tarnished that it cannot be further injured.” Based on this, the Judge dismissed Dykstras’ case without examining the facts of the incident in question.

In a sense, the judge took the easy way out. By using the concept of Dykstras’ reputation being so bad that it couldn’t get worse, the judge did not have to determine the veracity of the alleged incident in 1986.

There were plenty of witnesses around as Boyd warmed up that day, and yet no one has come forward to corroborate Darlings’ accusation. Mets such as Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez and Kevin Mitchell have said they don’t remember hearing anything like the vile language Dykstra is alleged to have shouted to Boyd. Even Boyd himself says he doesn’t remember hearing anything that was out of line that day.

Perhaps the judge issued his ruling on a procedural basis (the reputation is so bad it couldn’t get worse) because he was afraid he might have to rule against Darling.

There are numerous incidents that demonstrate that Dykstra is a handful. There is that 1991 DUI conviction stemming from an automobile accident that resulted in serious injuries to Dykstra and some of his Phillies teammates. There were jail sentences for Dykstra in 2012 stemming from an indecent exposure conviction, a drug conviction, a bankruptcy fraud conviction, even a grand theft auto conviction for a scam aimed at car dealers. Dykstra has also admitted he was a steroid user, and even blackmailed, or tried to blackmail, some umpires into giving him a very tight strike zone. There were numerous other scrapes with either the law or common decency, but nothing noticeably racial in nature.

In applying the racist tag to Dykstra, Judge Kalish referred to Dykstra’s book. I did not actually read the “House of Nails” book, for several reasons including the fact that I was not particularly interested in enriching Dykstra by buying it. I did scan various reviews and comments concerning the book, and I found that Dykstra referred to black teammate Mookie Wilson as having bad breath. That seems to be it, and one would have to have an extremely broad definition of racism for that to be considered racist. Again I did not read the book, but surely any major racist action would have come out in the reviews.

So it’s clear that Dykstra is a major jerk who seems to go out of his way to offend people, but it also seems that he is an equal opportunity jerk who manages to offend lots of people of

The 1962 Mets were bad, but were not the worst ever

The very first Mets season, 1962, was a dreadful one. That team, which lost 120 games, is sometimes cited as the worst team ever in modern baseball history. But there is a case to be made for a different team to be the worst, specifically the 1945 Philadelphia NL franchise, which actually used the nickname “Blue Jays,” that year, instead of Phillies.

The ‘62 club set a record with all those losses, and they finished 60 ½ games behind the pennant winning Giants. They even finished 18 games behind the 9th place Cubs. The Mets scored 617 runs (ninth in the league, ahead of only Houston) and gave up a league worst 948 runs, which is a run differential of minus 331. The staff ERA was stratospheric 5.04. The team was charged with a total of 210 errors.

As to the ‘45 Philadelphias, their record was 46-108, 52 games behind the pennant winning Cubs, and 15 games behind seventh place Cincinnati. Their run differential was minus 317. The Phils managed to rack up 234 errors in a shorter 154 game season.

The discerning reader will note that the Blue Jays were not quite as bad as the Mets in most of the statistical categories, so why rank them lower? The answer is that although the teams played only 17 years apart, there was a world of difference in the level of play between 1945 and 1962.

MLB suffered a gradual attrition of players during the war years, with 1945 being the nadir. That was the year that one-armed Pete Gray played 77 games for the AL St. Louis Browns, and managed to bat .218. There were some great NL players in 1945 that were in military service. The entire Cardinal outfield, Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter and the excellent Terry Moore were in the military, as well as fourth outfielder Harry Walker. The heart of the Braves rotation, Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain (“pray for rain”) had been inducted, Spahn in particular was a much decorated battle veteran in the European theater. There were numerous other players, stars, prospects and depth pieces that were not available due to the war.

There was another significant group of excellent players that were not playing in MLB, since this was two years before the color line was broken. Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Jackie Robinson and many others were all playing in the Negro Leagues. The result was that play in 1945 was well below par of other years in the modern era, at least since the deadball era if not earlier.

As to 1962, It actually was a banner year for level of play in the NL. Pitchers like Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson had great years, even the 41 year old Spahn was going strong (3.04 ERA). As to position players Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, and Eddie Matthews were all in their prime years, and even 41 year old Musial could play well with a .330 BA and a .500 SLG in 135 games.

Although most of the individual Mets were not very good, Frank Thomas was an exception. He played 156 games and pounded 34 homers with a SLG figure of .496. In addition 38 year old Gil Hodges was a part-timer who slugged .472, and a 17 year old bonus player named Ed Kranepool had a cup of coffee at the end of the season. Hodges, as the manager, and Kranepool, as a useful platoon first basemen, were both important cogs in that amazing ‘69 team that won the World Series. The Phils, despite having been in the NL from before the beginning of World Series play, had to wait until 1980 for their first WS win.

The bottom line is that both the ‘62 Mets and the ‘45 Philadelphias were bad teams, but the huge gulf in the level of competition from 1945 NL to 1962 NL meant that the Philadelphia team, and not the Mets, have the dubious distinction of being the worst team of the modern era.