Opening Day 2011 will be the 50th Opening Day in Mets history. To honor that, around here we’ll be counting down the top 50 Mets in team history, one every weekday from now until we’ve done ‘em all. Today, #9, Jon Matlack:
During his seven year Mets career, Jon Matlack was among the best pitchers in the National League. Among NL pitchers in the 1970s, he has the 9th most wins above replacement, ranks 7th in ERA, 3rd in FIP, and 4th in shutouts. His win-loss record, however, was a less than stellar 82-81, and the Mets actually had a losing record in games started by Matlack. This happened because he received no help from his teammates — and I mean no help. His Mets companions scored just 3.6 runs per game for him, and he lost 37 times in quality starts, or just over 5 times a season. Just to compound things, they also played shoddy defense behind him, as a significantly higher than normal percentage of Matlack’s runs were unearned.
This lack of support apparently annoyed Matlack at times:
Matlack, whose 14-8 record, along with Koosman’s 17-8, indicates that the Mets have reserved most of their ineptitude for Seaver and Lolich, hit the ceiling in June when Dave Kingman misjudged a fly ball to right field, allowing the weak-hitting Giants to score five runs in the first inning. “The trouble with this club,” Matlack said later, “is that you don’t have to take fly balls in practice. If you did, you might catch that ball.”
Maybe his team didn’t score for Matlack because he said mean things about them in the newspaper.
Anyway, his win-loss record says far more about his teammates than it does about him: He was absolutely an ace, and one of the 70s’ top pitchers. People mention Seaver, Koosman and Gooden as the great Mets pitchers, but Jon Matlack can and should be mentioned in the same breath.
Best seasons by a non-Seavarian Mets pitcher, by wins above replacement. Yes, Tom Seaver really does have
10 8 of the top 18: