Billy Wagner's Most Valuable Pitches

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.

10. 7/22/2007
Play: Matt Kemp struck out swinging in the 10th inning
WPA: .166
Game Result: Mets 5, Dodgers 4

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.

9. 8/2/2006
Play: Miguel Cabrera struck out swinging in the 9th inning
WPA: .172
Game Result: Mets 6, Marlins 5

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.

8. 8/8/2007
Play: Jeff Francoeur reached on fielder's choice, Chipper Jones out at home in the 9th inning
WPA: .184
Game Result: Mets 4, Braves 3

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.

7. 5/23/2008
Play: Ryan Spilborghs reached on a fielder's choice, Todd Helton out at second in the 9th inning
WPA: .184
Game Result: Rockies 6, Mets 5

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.

6. 6/12/2008
Play: Orlando Hudson reached on a fielder's choice, Stephen Drew out at home in the 9th inning
WPA: .185
Game Result: Diamondbacks 5, Mets 4

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.

5. 8/2/2006
Play: Hanley Ramirez struck out swinging in the 9th inning
WPA: .185
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?

4. 6/13/2006
Play: Pat Burrell grounded into a double play, Bobby Abreu out at second in the 9th inning
WPA: ..193
Game Result: Mets 9, Phillies 7

In a rare 5-out save, Wagner induced a double play by Chase Utley to end the 8th and then another by Burrell in the 9th.  Aaron Rowand struck out to end the game.

3. 7/22/2007
Play: Nomar Garciaparra struck out looking in the 10th inning
WPA: .246
Game Result: Mets 5, Dodgers 4

Garciaparra struck out to end this one, putting the Mets in 1st place in the NL East by 3.5 games.

2. 4/29/2006
Play: Andruw Jones grounded into a double play, Chipper Jones out at second in the 9th inning
WPA: .304
Game Result: Mets 1, Braves 0

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.

1. 8/8/2007
Play: Andruw Jones grounded into double play, Jeff Francoeur out at second in the 9th inning
WPA: .458
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?

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