The New York Mets have a chance to finish in last place in the NL East standings this year. Their last time there was surprisingly much longer than many of us probably realized.
The NL East does have some decent parity. Even the Atlanta Braves have had some down years in recent memory. The Mets had plenty of them, too. From 2009-2014, they never once finished with a winning record. However, in each of those seasons, the team found itself finishing no lower than fourth in the division.
To find the last time the Mets actually finished last in the division we have to go all the way back to 2003.
The last NY Mets team to finish last in the NL East standings was the miserable 2003 club
The .410 winning percentage for the 2003 Mets is the lowest for the ball club since 1993. We recall the 2003 Mets being awful. In the wild card era, they remain the worst the franchise has had to offer.
Those 66-95 Mets mercifully didn’t make us sit through a 162nd game. Steve Trachsel led the club with a 4.4 WAR. It was the first season under Art Howe in the post-Bobby Valentine era.
Similarities between the 2023 Mets and the ones from 20 years earlier aren’t extensive. Each did have a trade deadline fire sale. The 2003 club was far more rundown already with far less anticipation. Mike Piazza only appeared in 68 games for the club. It was a season of transition with a solid bullpen yet no real firepower on the offense. Cliff Floyd and Jeromy Burnitz shared the club’s home run title with 18 long balls. Burnitz swatted his in only 65 games.
If there is any commonality to discover between the 2003 team and the 2023 version, it was a signal of how veterans nearing the end of their career might not be the way to go. The Mets traded Roberto Alomar away midseason. The year would be Mo Vaughn’s last stand with only 96 plate appearances for the big guy.
The rotation had 37-year-olds Tom Glavine and Al Leiter in it along with Trachsel and Jae Weong Seo who somehow tossed a runner-up 188.1 innings for the ball club.
Jose Reyes did make his MLB debut and provide hope for the future. David Wright was on the way, too, much like many of the current Mets prospects we’re waiting to see debut.