Best Mets player to never appear in the postseason is Johan Santana
By Tim Boyle
The best player in New York Mets history to never appear in a single playoff game for the franchise is also the only guy to throw a no-hitter, Johan Santana.
Johan Santana accomplished quite a lot in his MLB career. Before even joining the New York Mets in 2008, he made four trips to the postseason with the Minnesota Twins and took home a pair of Cy Young Awards.
Once in New York, the trips to October ceased.
Santana arrived at the worst possible time for the Mets. In 2008, the team collapsed late in the year for the second straight season. Over the next few years, the team continued to decline with Santana’s injuries piling up along the way.
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We remember Santana best for pitching the first no-hitter in franchise history. However, it’s his lack of a postseason appearance for the organization that stands out just as much.
The Mets made the postseason at least once each decade, often scattering those appearances along the way. Many of the best players in the late 1970s were left over from the 1973 season and the top players in the early 1980s were around to appear in the 1986 postseason.
The few notable Mets during that time period we never saw in the postseason don’t compare to what Santana was able to do in his brief time with the club from 2008-2012. His 46-34 record with a 3.18 ERA is notable for any era. It’s a shame he never got to see any action after game 162.
The time between the 2006 postseason and the return in 2015 didn’t include many players nearly as great as Santana. Many who came and went during that time period were busts (Jason Bay) or good but not great players (Angel Pagan).
This playoff-absent era was the time of Ike Davis’ rise and fall as well as the premature ending to Justin Turner’s time in Flushing. We saw the unexpectedly awesome Cy Young season from R.A. Dickey, too.
All of these memorable Mets still fall short on what Santana did in his time wearing blue and orange.
It’s a legacy no player wants to have in any city. When Santana came to the Mets, he was supposed to push them over the edge. Had they made it to October in any of his healthy years, I can imagine an amazing playoff run out of his mighty left arm.
As upsetting as it is for Santana to never appear in a playoff game for the Mets, he may not be the player with the worst luck. For that title, I turn to four-time All-Star John Stearns.
Stearns had a good career with the Mets, but also appear in 100+ games only three times in his career. All but his first MLB game took place in orange and blue. He’s as much of a Met as anyone else to put on a facemask.
The ten years Stearns spent in Flushing spanned from 1975 to 1984. By two years on each end he missed a World Series appearance.
For the record, Stearns is the only player in the team’s top 24 in WAR to have never appeared in a playoff game for the organization. At his best, he wasn’t nearly as threatening to the opponent as Santana was whenever he stepped onto the mound. For this reason, I think Mr. No-han gets the dubious honor.
Santana, more than most, has a career marked by what-ifs. The man barely got to pitch into his 30s and at the time of his most devastating injuries in a Mets uniform appeared on track to make it into Cooperstown.
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Like many greats of the game, Santana never got to see World Series action. His stay in New York was meant to provide the team with the ace they desperately needed. He certainly did live up to expectations, but the baseball gods had other ideas about seeing Santana have his Mets postseason moment.