On Monday night when the Mets hammered eight home runs, it is easy to forget that the player of the game might actually have been reliever Sean Gilmartin. But this type of performance is nothing new for a player who has become one of the most pleasant surprises in a season filled with them.
While Jeurys Familia is undoubtedly the team's most valuable reliever, Gilmartin may be the most consistent member of the bullpen. His excellent 2.34 ERA is supported by a 2.67 FIP, and his 42.1 innings pitched is third among relievers, behind only Familia and Carlos Torres. Although there was talk of using him as a LOOGY, the 25-year-old southpaw is slaying righties and lefties at an eerily similar rate; righties have a combined .605 OPS against Gilmartin, while lefties have a .607 OPS. The fact that these contributions are coming from a player whom the Mets essentially stole from the Minnesota Twins via the Rule 5 draft makes Gilmartin's rise even more fascinating.
So where does Sean Gilmartin rank among the best Rule 5 selections in franchise history? According to Baseball Reference, the Mets have selected 35 players during the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft, starting with Bob Moorehead in 1961. The vast majority of those players ended up either being returned to their original team or staying with the Mets and making no impact whatsoever.
By far, the most successful Rule 5 pick was third baseman Wayne Garrett, whom the Mets pilfered from the Atlanta Braves before the 1968 season. One year later, Garrett was a member of the World Series champion Miracle Mets. Although he struggled as a rookie, Garrett was a key cog during the playoffs, batting .357/.500/.714 in 19 plate appearances. All told, the 35th greatest Met of all time played eight seasons with the franchise, manning third base, second base, and shortstop while batting .237/.348/.343 with 55 home runs over 3,361 plate appearances. Those stats may not seem like anything special, but his 14.3% walk rate and 17.6 career fWAR are numbers at which one should not sneeze.
After Garrett, the Mets' list of notable major league Rule 5 selections is quite short. In fact, it may be that Sean Gilmartin is already the second best Rule 5 selection the Mets have ever made. Of the 35 major league Rule 5 selections in franchise history, only a handful of names stand out.
- Kelly Stinnett earned 0.5 fWAR over parts of three seasons in Flushing, hitting .229/.324/.335 with six home runs in 410 plate appearances.
- Darren O'Day pitched just three innings in orange and blue, then went on to become an All-Star for the Orioles after the Mets mistakenly let him go.
- Eric Valent hit for the cycle as a member of the Mets, but he was selected in the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 draft.
- Pedro Beato pitched 71 mediocre innings for the Mets before being traded to Boston for Kelly Shoppach.
- The selection of Rocky Cherry alerted Mets fans to the fact that there was a baseball player named Rocky Cherry.
- And remember Brad Emaus? Well he sort of remembers you too.
Although fWAR is not the best stat to judge a relief pitcher's season, the fact that Gilmartin's 0.7 fWAR ranks him 21st among all National League relievers this season is indicative of his positive value on the Mets' roster. And, given the dearth of quality Rule 5 selections in franchise history, having positive value is already enough to put him near the head of the class. Considering the fact that Gilmartin is under team control for an additional five seasons, it seems likely that he will soon be able to claim the much-sought-after title of the Mets' second-best-ever selection in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft.