Top 100 Mets: #94 - Jeff Reardon

The Mets have been graced by the careers of a good number of top flight pitchers, to the point that it is one of the things the team is known for. Hurlers such as Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Doc Gooden, Sid Feranndez, David Cone, and in recent years Al Leiter have put forth many player-innings saving runs in the name of the Mets. Here we will recognize part of the Mets legacy of relief pitchers. Number 94 of our Top 100 Mets countdown is Jeff Reardon.

Jeffrey James Reardon would not go on to be remembered for his time as a Met, but any glance at his career stats will show that he began his career as a Met, and before leaving did produce one season of superb baseball. Reardon signed with the Mets in 1977 and just two short years later would pitch at Shea Stadium. His Mets career would not be long lived; he was traded to the Montreal Expos (with Dan Norman) for Ellis Valentine on May 29, 1981.

It is remarkable, how quickly Reardon fit in to the Major Leagues. If he went through any growing pains, it does not reflect in the statistics. In his first year, he would pitch just 20.2 innings, but did so to an ERA of 1.74. The next year, he would pitch a full season as a valuable part of the Mets bullpen.

In 1980, Reardon reached a career high in innings as a setup man for the Mets, and posted an ERA of 2.61. The league ERA was 3.57, so Reardon's was solidly 37 percent better than an average pitcher at preventing earned runs. The model of a power pitching reliever, Reardon struck out 101 batters that season. He would go on to become a closer with good command, but did not display it with the Mets, as he walked 47. He allowed less than one home run per nine innings, which was a pattern he would continue later in his career even as his strikeout rate dropped from it's peak in 1980.

On the whole, Reardon allowed 32 earned runs that year. In comparison, a pitcher pitching to the league average ERA would give up 40 earned runs. Figuring that 10 runs scored or prevented is worth about one win, saving nearly a win in a season is pretty solid work for a reliever.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

1979

Mets

1-2

2

20.2

12

9

10

1.74

1980

Mets

8-7

6

110.1

96

47

101

2.61

1981

Mets

1-0

2

28.2

27

12

28

3.45



Reardon was not the only up and coming reliever on that Mets team: Jesse Orosco, who would go on to become the Mets closer through and past the World Championship year of 1986, made his Major League debut in the same year as Reardon. Believing that they could get by with one of the two relief aces, and seeing a young potential star in Ellis Valentine, the Mets pulled a deal they hoped would give them a piece of a growing puzzle.

Alas, Valentine, who showed early promise, would ultimately disappoint. After slugging over .500 twice for the Expos, not counting his 33 AB debut season in 1975, Valentine hit .261/.272/.390 for the Mets in 506 AB. The Mets let him go as a free agent after the 1982 season. After brief stays with the then California Angels and Texas Rangers, Valentine was out of baseball, at the age of 30.

Reardon did not disappoint at all. Becoming a regular closer in 1982 after saving 10 games in parts of three years as a Met, Reardon went on to 11 years of 21+ saves. He saved 40 games twice, reaching a career high of 41 saves in 1985. The fewest innings he would pitch in any of those years was 42.1, in 1992 for the Boston Red Sox. He pitched at least 73 innings every year from 1982 through 1989, pitching 109 innings while saving 26 games in 1982.

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