You can’t win if you don’t score runs and the easiest way to score a run is to hit a home run. In the first season with the New York Mets calling Citi Field home, dingers, dongs, and round-trippers were hard to come by.
I’m not sure what the average Mets fan remembers most from 2009. This was a down year for the club, going 70-92. After the heartbreak of the previous three seasons which included postseason failures and regular seasons collapses, the 95 home runs hit by the team probably went unnoticed most.
Social media wasn’t nearly as popular in 2009 as it is today so numbers like these were probably overlooked. Thanks to the power of the internet, we can look back at the power outage from one of the most forgettable seasons in recent team history.
The Mets suffered a severe power outage in 2009
Paula Cole used to ask, “Where have all the cowboys gone?”
We can do the same with the Mets and replace cowboys with home runs, at least back in 2009.
Shea Stadium was never a particularly hitter-happy place. Despite having some terrific offenses over the years, the Mets rarely had teams that relied heavily on the long ball to secure a victory. The franchise has traditionally been pitching first, home runs somewhere in the teens. They took this lack of care for home runs to the extreme in 2009 in a not-so-intentional way.
If you know your recent Mets history well, you already know some of the home run numbers posted by players on this roster. With 12 home runs, Daniel Murphy led the club. In second place, we had a four-way tie between David Wright, Gary Sheffield, Carlos Beltran, and Jeff Francoeur with only 10.
It should be noted that Beltran played in only 81 games. Sheffield, a member of the 500 home run club who hit the historic shot this season with the Mets, was a fraction of the slugger he once was. Wright’s 10 home runs were the biggest surprise of all. Although he had a relatively good season otherwise, the outfield fences were just a tad too far.
The 2009 season was one featuring plenty of injuries. Jose Reyes, while not a prolific home run hitter, only played in 36 games for the Mets. A guy we think of more when the letters HR appear, Carlos Delgado, finished off his major league career with the Mets this season with 4 home runs in only 112 plate appearances.
With this in mind, it makes some sense as to why the Mets did what they did the following offseason when they signed Jason Bay to his infamous contract. Unfortunately, in 2010, Bay would add only 6 home runs in 401 trips to the plate.
While it is the 2009 Mets we remember most for not hitting many home runs, the 2010 squad wasn’t much better. Wright did surge back to 29 and rookie Ike Davis added 19 to get the team total up to 128.
The rest of the offseason was yet again short on home run pop. Catcher Rod Barajas was third with 12 home runs. It should have been expected, though. Up the middle, the Mets had Reyes at shortstop and the light-hitting Luis Castillo as their second baseman. With Francoeur and Angel Pagan taking up two of the outfield spots and Beltran out with only 64 games played, souvenir baseballs weren’t so common for the second straight year.
You might think Murphy’s 12 home runs were the lowest in any single season to lead the club in franchise history. You’d be half right. Even in all shortened seasons due to strikes, lockouts, and pandemics, someone reached the teens except for the 1977 season.
We all know what the 1977 campaign represents in Mets history. Lost in all of the chaos is the three-way tie between Steve Henderson, John Milner, and John Stearns with 12 home runs each to lead the club. The math adds up (or doesn’t) real quick and in 1977 the club only managed to smack 88 home runs. They wouldn’t have Citi Field to blame for it either.