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New York Mets History

Mets Records: Terry Leach and his incredible winning 1987 season

1988: Terry Leach of the New York Mets pitches during a game in the 1988 season. (Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
1988: Terry Leach of the New York Mets pitches during a game in the 1988 season. (Photo by: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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Here’s a New York Mets trivia question for you: which pitcher holds the record for the highest winning percentage in a single-season?

Tom Seaver is an easy guess. You could also say Dwight Gooden and not look like a fool. The actual answer is Terry Leach. Since the Mets first came to be in 1962, no pitcher has had enough innings to qualify and posted a higher winning percentage than what Leach accomplished in 1987.

At 11-1, Leach posted a near-impossible winning percentage of .917. It would take a perfect record and enough innings by a pitcher to ever top this.

What made Terry Leach’s 1987 season with the Mets so special?

Leach is, admittedly, not a member of Mets history I know all that much about. I only have a few memories from the 1980s and most involve toilet training.

In parts of seven seasons with New York, Leach was 24-9 with a 3.11 ERA. He pitched in relief and occasionally started for the club. When he had his magnificent season in 1987, the Mets gave him more opportunities than ever to start the game on the mound.

Leach made 12 of his 21 career starts in 1987. He wouldn’t make his first start until June 1 when he won his fourth game of the season. Leach had already secured three victories in relief in May, wrapping up the first two months of the season with a 2.37 ERA.

During the peak summer months, the Mets used Leach almost exclusively as a starter. On July 2, he pitched a two-hit shutout on the road against the Cincinnati Reds. He finished the first half of the season with an 8-0 record.

It wasn’t until August 15 when Leach finally had a loss added to his stat sheet. In a start at Wrigley Field versus the Chicago Cubs, he failed to make it through the fifth inning. The Mets dropped the game and Leach’s flawless record now had a loss on it.

Leach would make his next start, but struggle early yet again. He received a no-decision this time and was moved back to the bullpen for the remainder of the season.

The final month was much better for Leach than August. Back in a relief role, he would pick up his final win of the year on September 8th in a game where he also received a blown save.

Nevertheless, he still came away with a win. This was 1987, after all. Everything was going his way in the wins department. He unique delivery to the plate seemed to fool batters enough where he was able to outpitch his opponent.

The 1987 Mets were a team history has forgotten. Sandwiched between the 1986 championship and the 1988 run to the NLCS, it was a team built mostly on clobbering baseballs and scoring runs.

The first great defensive Mets season. Next

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An underrated aspect of the team in this particular year was how well Leach performed. Even though wins and losses are sometimes out of a pitcher’s control, Leach sure seemed to have a lucky charm in 1987, the year of the rabbit. In his case, maybe it was just the rabbit’s foot.

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