To commemorate Billy Wagner's return this week, I compiled a list of his top 10 most valuable pitches as a Met per WPA. It should bring back some pleasant, and not so pleasant, memories during this lost season. A major caveat of relief pitcher WPA is that relievers often create their own high-leverage situations. Walking the bases loaded in the 9th inning then striking out 3 in a row will result in higher WPA figures than a 1-2-3 inning. The Mets won 8 out of the 10 games listed here, with the 2 losses coming within a rough 1 month stretch in 2008.
Chip Ambres singled home Lastings Milledge in the 10th inning and Wagner struck out the side in the 9th, but not before issuing 2 free passes and throwing 1 wild pitch. There were 2 outs in the inning after Kemp struck out. See entry #3 for the final out of the game. I remember this one distinctly, as I was at KeySpan Park watching Moises Alou's rehab game when the Ambres single was shown on the scoreboard to thunderous Coney Island applause.
In an attempt to give the Mets fanbase a collective heart attack, Wagner allowed 2 baserunners in the 9th before striking out the side to end it. This specific strikeout ended the game. Those 3 batters he K'd are pretty good too - Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, and Dan Uggla. See King Hanley's strikeout at entry #5.
Moises Alou homered in the bottom of the 8th to put the Mets ahead 4-3. Wagner closed the door in the 9th despite giving up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs. Frenchy followed with this fielder's choice, and the final play of the game can be found at entry #1.
With the Mets desperate for a win, Wagner surrendered a solo homer to Matt Holliday which tied the game 5-5 in the 9th. Billy tried his best to lose the game, giving up 2 singles following Holliday's blast, but he induced this fielder's choice by Spilborghs and eventually got Scott Podsednik to pop out. Aaron Heilman eventually lost this game in the 13th.
O-Dog's groundout preserved the Mets' 4-3 lead in the 9th inning, temporarily. Conor Jackson's fielder's choice plated the tying run, and Aaron Heilman gave up a sacrifice fly in the 10th in what would be one of Willie Randolph's last games as manager. This game especially sucked because I took off a day from work to attend. I'd rather sit at my cubicle than watch the 2008 Mets Bullpen Horror Show.
Play: Hanley Ramirez struck out swinging in the 9th inning
Game Result: Mets 6, Marlins 5
This save preserved Steve Trachsel's 10th win. I wonder if there's been a worse 16 win season than The Human Rain Delay's 2006?
Garciaparra struck out to end this one, putting the Mets in 1st place in the NL East by 3.5 games.
Wagner was dominant in his first month as a Met, posting a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings pitched. A Paul Lo Duca home run accounted for the game's only run, and Billy induced a double play from Andruw after Chipper led off with a single. Jeff Wincoeur ended the game with a strikeout.
Play: Andruw Jones grounded into double play, Jeff Francoeur out at second in the 9th inning
Game Result: Mets 4, Braves 3
The top 2 spots on this list are Andruw Jones double plays, and this one came immediately after the play at entry #8. The Mets were 4 games up in the NL East following this game. Things were good back then, weren't they?