Posted by Chris J. on March 22, 2008
In a recent column, Howard Megdal says of Johan Santana: "The Mets . . . haven’t had a pitcher of Santana’s caliber in roughly 20 years."
Let's check this against the Play Index - look at Mets starters from 1988-2007 who qualified for the ERA title. Here are the best seasons overall.
Santana has a career ERA+ of 141. In his last six seasons, he's had marks of: 149, 148, 182, 155, 161, and 130. It dropped last year, if you're wondering, because he allowed more homers than normal. Probably a fluke & Shea should reduce it further regardless.
Really, a few seasons are equal to Santana, especially Leiter's 1998, but no one can consistently bring it. Leiter's big season was partially caused by a flukishly small number of hits allowed. I know they had a good defense by 151 hits in nearly 200 innings just ain't normal unless you're striking out way over a batter an inning.
Saberhagen and Martinez had trouble staying healthy with the Mets. Mike Hampton only had one season there. David Cone was never anywhere nearly that good again for the team. Nor was Reed. Viola was below average his other season with the squad.
So the closest they've come to Johan Santana since Gooden flamed out is Al Leiter. Yeah, I'd say the Mets haven't had a starter like him in all that time.
Not an especially surprising conclusion, to put it mildly, but it's fun to look this stuff up sometimes.