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.
Play: Matt Kemp struck out swinging in the 10th inning
Game Result: Mets 5, 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.
Play: Miguel Cabrera struck out swinging in the 9th inning
Game Result: Mets 6, 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.
Play: Jeff Francoeur reached on fielder's choice, Chipper Jones out at home in the 9th inning
Game Result: Mets 4, 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.
Play: Ryan Spilborghs reached on a fielder's choice, Todd Helton out at second in the 9th inning
Game Result: 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.
Play: Orlando Hudson reached on a fielder's choice, Stephen Drew out at home in the 9th inning
Game Result: 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.
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?
Play: Pat Burrell grounded into a double play, Bobby Abreu out at second in the 9th inning
Game Result: Mets 9, 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.
Play: Nomar Garciaparra struck out looking in the 10th inning
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.
Play: Andruw Jones grounded into a double play, Chipper Jones out at second in the 9th inning
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.
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?