An unsung hero of the 2000 New York Mets, backup catcher Todd Pratt gave the team plenty of great at-bats and innings behind the plate.
Mike Piazza put together one of the best seasons of his career for the 2000 New York Mets. The future Hall of Famer smashed 38 home runs, drove in 114, and earned a third-place finish in the MVP vote.
One might think the Mets wouldn’t need a good backup catcher. After all, Piazza started 124 games behind the plate. All the team would need is a journeyman backstop to hold down the fort on his occasional day of rest.
As it turns out, the performance the Mets got from second-string catcher Todd Pratt in 2000 was more than they could have asked for.
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I challenge you to find a career backup catcher who produced more on offense than Pratt. Lifetime, he hit .251/.344/.398. These are the kind of numbers most teams would want from their starter if he’s at least able to provide them with above-average defense and possibly some power.
In the year 2000, Pratt gave the Mets a little of both.
Pratt started 38 games for the Mets behind the plate but appeared in plenty more as a late-inning defensive replacement for the bat-first Piazza. In his 410.1 innings, Pratt had a .997 fielding percentage with a 0.5 WAR. He gunned down 39% of attempted base thieves, adding one more weapon to his arsenal.
The biggest surprise during Pratt’s years with the Mets is how he hit. Coming off of three straight productive seasons at the plate, Pratt received more chances to belt baseballs than ever before in the 2000 campaign. In his 190 trips to the plate, he turned in a .275/.378/.463 slash line complete with a career-best 8 home runs and 25 RBI.
Pratt’s ability to draw a walk, put the ball in play, and even drive the occasional home run made him far from an automatic out like so many other backup catchers in MLB history. Although speaking his name in the same breath as Piazza’s seems ridiculous, he more than held his own during this pennant-winning campaign.
The 2000 Mets were a unique team that benefitted from many healthy campaigns. Six players participated in 136 games or more. Because of this, Pratt actually ended up with more plate appearances than anyone else on the bench aside from trade deadline casualty Melvin Mora.
Pratt was the trusted defensive upgrade Bobby Valentine could turn to late in games. There was also little worry on days when Piazza was on the bench that the team would have a rally killer in the lineup.
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Although we may remember Pratt most for his 1999 NLDS home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks, it’s his consistent contribution in 2000 that got them to the World Series.