The New York Mets finished 2016 with a record of 87-75 and lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The 2016 season saw the Mets make their ninth playoff appearance in franchise history. The team received valuable contributions from various players over the course of the season. Last Word On Baseball writer John Jackson will count down the top ten most valuable Mets on a weekly basis. He will also analyze the value they brought to the team this past season. Number 10 on the list is Steven Matz.
Top Ten Most Valuable Mets of 2016
10. Steven Matz
Steven Matz entered 2016 with rookie status, but also as a National League champion. Expectations were high for the 25-year-old Stony Brook product. His 2015 season also set the bar high, as Matz went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in the six games he started.
The southpaw began 2016 very poorly, as he gave up seven runs in 1.2 innings pitched in his season debut against the Miami Marlins. He quickly righted the ship and pitched extremely well into late May. He won seven starts in a row, giving up only six runs in 48 innings.
Matz then fell down to earth a little and didn’t win another game until July 24 against the Marlins. He continued to experience ups and downs until August. His last start was a 7.1 inning shutout against the San Diego Padres. Afterward, he was put on the disabled list for bone spurs on his left elbow. While his season wasn’t over at that moment, setbacks over the next month kept him from coming back. It was confirmed on September 27 that he would be shut down, with no chance of pitching in the playoffs.
Matz’s season did come to a premature end in August. Still, he was able to start 22 games, which is about two-thirds of what a healthy pitcher would start in for a whole season. He finished 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 132.1 innings pitched.
Matz was a contender for the Rookie of the Year Award at the beginning of the season. However, with the emergence of exciting players like Kenta Maeda, Trea Turner, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager he was overshadowed pretty early. He still finished in sixth place, even though he missed about a third of his potential starts.
His record would have looked even better if the Mets had given Matz a respectable amount of run support. Three of his losses came after he gave a quality start of at least six innings and at most three runs given up. On the flipside, Matz had to grind out his wins. He gave a quality start in all nine of his wins. The Mets offense never gifted him a win; he earned them all.
Why He Deserves Tenth on This List
When it comes to a list of valuable Mets of 2016, Matz’s position may be debated by some. He was recently a heralded prospect who has already pitched extremely well early on in his career. Some may feel he is worthy of a higher ranking.
Others may feel he does not belong on this list at all. The Mets were a mediocre team until September. While Matz was healthy, the Mets weren’t performing too well.
In the end, his position was determined by the production he put up and the amount of time he did it in. The Mets may not have been the greatest team while Matz was pitching, but they would most likely have been much worse without him.
Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman also performed extremely well in the time that they filled in for the Mets injured pitchers. Had Matz been injured earlier, there is no guarantee that the Mets makeshift rotation would have stayed intact. Even if it could have, Matz still pitched well.
Honorable Mentions: Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, and Jose Reyes
Lugo, Gsellman, and Jose Reyes did not make this list.
This was simply a matter of innings pitched and games played. Lugo and Gsellman only pitched in 64 and 44.2 innings, respectively. Although Lugo also pitched out of the bullpen in nine games, his real value came in his starts, which were limited to eight.
Reyes played in only 60 games. He came back to the Mets and resumed his role as a spark plug that helped create runs. While his stats were not on par with many other Mets, he would have been considered had he played more, due to the value he brought to the team by his ability to affect the whole lineup.
While these three may not have been the most valuable over the course of the entire season, their value in the short-run was astounding. This trio contributed considerably in the Mets playoff run, and could be the reason why the Mets made the playoffs.
However, Major League Baseball is a marathon rather than a sprint. This list was the most valuable Mets of 2016, meaning the whole 162-game season. If it wasn’t for these players, a playoff run would not have happened.