Sarah LangsAs the All-Stars assemble in Minnesota on Monday, the Mets’ lone representative this year will be 2B Daniel Murphy.
David Wright has made the All-Star Game almost every year he’s been in the bigs, but didn’t have the numbers this year. The pitching has been good, but no one on par with the Wainwrights and Kershaws of the league. Thus, a singular Flushing feature representing this year, Murphy.
It’s been more than ten years since the Mets managed just one All-Star. The year was 2003, and the team would win only 66 games on the year. Their All-Star? Armando Benitez.
Last year, the team had Wright and Matt Harvey not only representing the host ballpark and team, but also starting in the game. In 2012, it was Wright and R.A. Dickey, during his Cy Young campaign. The 2011 game featured Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes. The year before that, it was Reyes and Wright — all those years ago when the left side of the infield was the envy of many — most? all? — teams.
Though there have been at least two per year since 2003, we have to go all the way back to 2009 in St. Louis — five years ago now — to find a National League All-Star roster with more than two Mets. That Midsummer Classic had Wright, Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and Johan Santana. The Mets were three games below .500 at the break in 2009, and had hovered around .500 for most of the season to that point. They were also coming off of an 89-win season, albeit sans playoff berth. In other words, their players were in the national conversation.
The year before, in 2008, the Mets had two All-Stars in Wright and Billy Wagner.
Coming off of their 2006 division title, the 2007 squad that went on to lose a 7.5 game lead with 17 to play produced four All-Stars: Reyes, Wright, Beltran and Wagner.
It should come as no surprise that the last time the Mets had more than four All-Stars was in their playoff season of 2006, when they dominated throughout the season. That year, Paul Lo Duca, Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine accompanied Wright, Reyes and Beltran.
How have they arrived back here, to the one All-Star club, after eleven years that included three seasons of 80 or more wins and one playoff berth?
The roster stability between 2006 and 2009 meant that the same names were in the All-Star conversation year to year, though the specific representatives varied a bit — buoyed by Wright. Those were the years when the Mets had signed a number of big name free agents. The players who made it for the Mets in that span, other than Wright and Reyes, had already produced All-Star seasons for other teams beforehand: Santana, Martinez, Wagner, Lo Duca — these were all players people knew outside of Queens.
Other than Wright, that isn’t the case anymore. Murphy is one of the longer-tenured Mets, having debuted in 2008, but he’s never had a season quite like this one. He’s not a household name, though a separate argument could be made that he should be, given his 113 hits, good for third in the NL.
If the point here is that better-known players make the All-Star Game, then perhaps it shouldn’t matter anyway. Although the game determines home field advantage in the World Series, it’s predominantly an exhibition of the most popular players in the league. This goes both ways, though. If the Mets had more homegrown players who could garner the star power Wright can, then maybe they’d also be playing better on the whole.
Of course, a team’s goal in a season shouldn’t be six All-Stars, it should be a playoff berth and a World Series title. But it does seem that the years the Mets put more players on the national stage were also the years they were more competitive, which should come as no surprise.
Sarah is an intern for SNY this summer.