New York Mets wasted a good bullpen performance in 2002
By Tim Boyle
The 2002 New York Mets weren’t known for much, but their bullpen came together for a pretty solid season.
It’s not easy finding a good bullpen. Even the best teams in baseball can struggle to find enough bodies to trust. In 2002, the New York Mets were able to put plenty of faith in their relief corps.
Unfortunately, despite their strong effort, the Mets relievers in 2002 didn’t get to reap the rewards of playing winning baseball.
What made the bullpen so productive? They had four guys with 45+ innings pitched and an ERA below 3.00. If we lower the bar to an ERA of 3.60, we find yet another name to add to our list.
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You probably remember a few members of this bullpen. Armando Benitez was the closer, turning in what was one of his better years. In 67.1 innings of work, Benitez earned 33 saves while posting a 2.27 ERA. He had a record of 1-0 and a strikeout rate of 10.6 per nine.
Getting the ball to Benitez was easier than expected. A 24-year-old Grant Roberts stepped up and had the best ERA of any reliever with the 45 inning qualifier. At 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA, he had a season that put him on the radar for future big innings.
Veterans Mark Guthrie and David Weathers also helped out a ton. Guthrie finished 5-3 with a 2.44 ERA while Weathers was at 6-3 with an ERA of 2.91.
Finally, there was Scott Strickland at 6-9 with a 3.59 ERA. The nine losses definitely stand out in a negative way. However, he wasn’t a gas can in relief as his other numbers indicate.
We can extend the praise a little further. Veteran Steve Reed pitched to a 2.08 ERA in his 26 innings of work. Youngster Jamie Cerda completed 25.2 frames and had an ERA of 2.45.
This Mets club was limited on offense and didn’t get enough out of their starting rotation.
Benitez, Guthrie, Roberts, and Weathers were all in the team’s top ten of WAR this season. This is as much a testament to their productivity as much as it is a knock against the rest of the team. Backup catcher Vance Wilson, who hit .245, was number eleven.
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In life, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. In baseball, the biggest waste is a bullpen like the one the 2002 Mets put together.