Believe it or not, the New York Mets have had years where defense was a strength. We look back at the three greatest defensive seasons in team history.
If you ask any fan of the New York Mets what the current number one strength of the team is, almost no one will answer “defense.” Over the past several seasons, the Mets have continuously been plagued by poor team defense at nearly every position.
Their defense has cost them everything from a heartbreaking Subway Series loss to the Yankees (I don’t need to remind anyone about Luis Castillo‘s dropped pop-up, even though I just did) to a pivotal World Series game in 2015.
But enough about their defensive failures for one article. Individual players like Keith Hernandez, Tommie Agee, Carlos Beltran, and David Wright, among others, have all made headlines for winning a Gold Glove award while playing in Flushing. Over their 58-year history, the Mets have also, believe it or not, had several seasons where the defense was a notable strength.
Though the Mets hope to field a defensively competitive team this year, the team’s overall defense will probably not make history in 2020. So let’s look back at a few seasons in Mets history where their team defense made major headlines, for the right reasons.
Number 3: 2007/2008
These two seasons rank among the better defensive seasons in Mets history primarily because of David Wright and Carlos Beltran, who each won a Gold Glove at their respective positions in both years.
So much has already been written about Wright’s place in Mets lore, and I’ll add to the narrative by reiterating that he is, undoubtedly, the best third baseman in franchise history. Wright has had many stellar defensive highlights over the years, including this catch from 2005 that I genuinely think is the greatest catch ever made.
His 2007 and 2008 seasons were no different. They frequently featured his signature play that he never seemed to miss, which I affectionately dubbed the “charging barehand scoop-and-throw to first.”
These two years, he also finished among the league leaders in double plays turned and fielding percentage. Though Wright had lost a few steps by the time he finally hung up his uniform at the end of the 2018 season, he was always steady and reliable at third base.
In a similar fashion, Beltran patrolled center field for the Mets as smoothly as any outfielder they’ve ever had. He made every play look easy, even ones where the ball clearly took an unusual path in the air en route to his glove.
In ’07 and ’08, Beltran was among the top NL outfielders in fielding percentage, several “range factor” stats that all seem to indicate “best range,” defensive WAR, and outfield assists. In addition to winning the NL Gold Glove in 2007 and 2008, Beltran also won the award in 2006, giving him three straight in a Mets uniform.
More intangibly, Beltran’s seemingly effortless ability to perfectly track every ball hit to him made watching him in center field a pleasure throughout his Mets career.