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 was Steven Matz, number nine was Neil Walker, number eight was Jacob deGrom, number seven was Curtis Granderson, number six was Asdrubal Cabrera, number five was Jeurys Familia, number four was Addison Reed, and number three is Bartolo Colon.
Top Ten Most Valuable Mets of 2016
3. Bartolo Colon
Bartolo Colon finished his two-year contract with the Mets in 2015 after a great playoff pitching performance out of the bullpen, during which he pitched in seven games (8.2 innings) to a tune of 2.08 ERA. In the 2015 regular season, he started 31 games for the second year in a row and also pitched two games out of the bullpen.
Colon was truly a reliable innings-eater and showed versatility as a reliever. The Mets also needed a fifth starter to pitch while Zack Wheeler recovered from Tommy John surgery. Therefore, the Mets re-signed Colon to a one-year, $7.25 million contract to come back in 2016.
Bartolo Colon was only supposed to start for the first half of the season, but things changed in a hurry and Colon became an asset for the Mets.
April and May
Colon was not the Opening Day starter like he was in 2015, but rather he came out of the bullpen to pitch 1.1 innings of scoreless ball. While that appeared to be an early taste of what he would be doing in the second half of the season, it actually ended up being his only relief appearance. He started four games in April, delivering two quality starts, and two starts of at least five innings and at most three runs given up. He finished the month at 1-1, with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.
Colon put on a similar performance across six May starts. Four of those games were quality starts, highlighted by an eight-inning shutout on May 2 against the Atlanta Braves. His other two starts were subpar, as he gave up five runs in five innings and three runs in 4.2 innings in back-to-back starts. In the 4.2 inning game against the Washington Nationals, Colon walked five batters for the first time in 10 years and walked back-to-back batters twice, something he hadn’t done even once in nine years. While that game was sloppy, it actually showed how good his control has been throughout his career. Overall, he ended May at 3-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.
June and July
While April and May were similar months of production for Colon, June and July were opposite. In June, Colon had his best month in limited playing time. He actually started five games, but only made an impact in four. He was taken out during one of them after four pitches, due to a right thumb contusion which he sustained on a come-backer. In his other four starts, he shined, going at least seven innings three times and giving up no more than two earned runs, which happened once. He finished the month at 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP.
July was tough for Colon, as he put up three terrible starts, including one game in which he went 4.2 innings and allowed 10 hits, six runs, and no walks. In another, he lasted 4.1 innings and gave up eight hits, six runs, and two walks. In the third, he went five innings, giving up seven hits, five runs, and one walk. The other half of his starts were great, however, as he went a combined 18.2 innings and allowed only 11 hits, three earned runs, and five walks. He finished July at 3-2 with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP.
June and July featured Colon at his best and his worst. August, September, and October, however, looked more like April and May. In his final 12 starts of the season, he recorded eight quality starts. Only one start was really bad – a 2.1 inning, eight-hit, and seven-run implosion against the Miami Marlins on September 26. That was easily his worst start of the year.
All three months were pretty good and consistent for Colon. In August, he went 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. He followed that up with a 2-1 record in September, to go along with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. Colon did even better if you throw away the 2.1 inning disaster at the end of the month. In October, he made one start, going five innings while giving up five hits, two runs, and no walks. He also picked up his 15th win of the season.
Bartolo Colon ended the season at 15-8 in 34 games played (33 starts) and 191.2 innings pitched. He collected 128 strikeouts and put up a 3.43 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP after giving up 200 hits, 81 runs, 73 earned runs, 24 home runs, and 32 walks. This was all good for 3.4 WAR.
This was Colon’s best season with the Mets in terms of wins, losses, ERA, WHIP, WAR, starts, and games played.
His 33 starts were the most he has made in a regular season since 2005, when he was with the Los Angeles Angels. That was valuable in itself, as every Mets starter going into the season dealt with injuries at one point or another. Even Noah Syndergaard, who pitched in 31 games (30 starts), had question marks around him as he dealt with bone spurs.
Colon offered consistency, veteran leadership, and good pitching even as he celebrated his 43rd birthday in May. He also brought a lively presence to the team, highlighted by his first career home run, which was one for the ages.
Why He Deserves Third on This List
At first glance, Colon may not look like the third most valuable Met of 2016. A 3.43 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 128 strikeouts are good, but is it really good enough to rank him third most valuable on an 87-win team like the Mets?
His real value comes from the fact that he was the one staple the Mets had in the rotation. While Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz went down at different points of the season, Colon was there to keep the Mets alive. Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo came to the rescue to fill in for the injured section of the rotation, and did so admirably. However, if Colon went down, the Mets most likely would’ve needed to rely on Rafael Montero, who struggled mightily after a while. Colon was the glue that kept the team from falling apart towards the end of the season.
He did outstanding compared to his expectations as well. He is in his forties and was pegged to be in the bullpen for a large chunk of the season. Instead, he started 33 games and did so to the tune of a 3.43 ERA, a huge improvement over the 4.16 ERA he had in 2015 and the 4.09 ERA he had in 2014. Pitchers typically don’t improve in their forties, but Colon did.
Colon most likely wouldn’t be ranked third on a list for many other teams, or even for the Mets in a different year. However, in 2016, Colon’s pitching was as valuable as it could get for the situation the Mets were in. That’s why Terry Collins named him to his fourth All-Star game.