Could the playoff-bound 2015 Mets beat the 2006 Mets, the franchise's last entrant in the postseason? There's only one person who could give an honest answer as to which team is better: David Wright. Back in 2006, he was the Mets' fresh-faced superstar of the future, and he was in the middle of an offensive powerhouse that won 97 games, going wire-to-wire to win the National League East before falling in the NLCS.
In this hypothetical scenario, the 2006 Mets, fresh off of ending the regular season on a high note, travel through time to play the 2015 New York Mets at Citi Field on October 5. Who has the edge?
First base: Carlos Delgado (2006) vs. Lucas Duda (2015)
This is a surprisingly tough comparison. Carlos Delgado, who was second on the team with 38 home runs, came over from the Florida Marlins to be another bat in the three-headed monster of the Mets' lineup. Sandwiched between Carlos Beltran and the young David Wright, Delgado got lots of pitches to hit. Subsequently, he put up 114 RBI while posting an OPS of .909 and a bWAR of 2.7.
Lucas Duda doesn't have the numbers that Delgado has: Duda has 13 fewer home runs, nearly half as many RBI, and 131 strikeouts to Delgado's 120. Say this about Duda, though: Despite being the only offensive threat in a mostly weak lineup through much of the year, he's managed to put up an .814 OPS. Still, Delgado was the better player.
Second base: Jose Valentin (2006) vs. Daniel Murphy (2015)
Jose Valentin was one of the most surprising veteran pickups by then-General Manager Omar Minaya. Valentin (.271/.330/.490, 18 HR, 62 RBI) added pop to the bottom of the Mets' lineup, and was a very good defensive second baseman.
Daniel Murphy in the field could be a frightening thought, especially late in the games, but his bat is the reason why he's been in the everyday starting lineup. Murphy's 36 strikeouts are nearly half that of Valentin's 71. Murphy also posts a higher batting average (.282), though he has a lower OPS. This is where we should think about Citi Field and the problems that it poses to lefties. If a 2006 Valentin played in Citi Field, do you think he'd produce at the same level? It's doubtful.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes (2006) vs. Wilmer Flores (2015)
Wilmer Flores or Ruben Tejada. Doesn't matter here. The fact is that Jose Reyes (5.8 bWAR) blows Tejada (-0.2 bWAR) and Flores (0.7 bWAR) out of the water. Reyes had as many home runs as the other two have combined. Reyes hit .300, stole 64 bases, and was the catalyst of that Mets team.
Third base: David Wright (2006) vs. David Wright (2015)
This is awkward, isn't it? Granted, The 32-year-old Wright has only played in 32 games so far this year—he's still played fewer games than Eric Campbell and his .188 batting average—but should still be considered in this comparison. "Vintage" David Wright was just that, hitting 26 home runs and slugging .531. Would anyone rather see 2015 David Wright at third base? Probably not.
Left field: Cliff Floyd (2006) vs. Michael Conforto (2015)
Another one of the 2006 Mets' lefties with pop, Cliff Floyd played his last year in Queens that year. At 33, Floyd showed signs of slowing down. His 11 home runs was a steep drop-off from the previous year, when he hit 34.
On the other hand, there's Michael Conforto, who hasn't had much time in the majors, but has shown that he can handle major league pitching. Conforto is hitting over 30 points better than Floyd, while hitting three fewer home runs in roughly half as many games. He's shown some promise defensively, too, flashing good range and a solid arm—something that gives him the edge in this comparison.
Center field: Carlos Beltran (2006) vs. Yoenis Cespedes (2015)
This is the hardest comparison to make. On the one hand, Carlos Beltran hit 41 home runs and led the team with an eye-popping 8.2 bWAR. His 41 home runs tied a franchise record, he led all Mets hitters with offensive WAR, and he won a Gold Glove. He was also fifth in the league in OPS (.982), and was the lynchpin of the Mets' offense.
Is Beltran legendary, though? He's up against a myth who has nearly matched him in OPS (.974). With 17 home runs in 50 games, Cespedes would have projected to top Beltran in dingers and RBI if he played a full season for the Mets. But Beltran has the edge in the defense category, and results against Drew Storen vs. Adam Wainwright comparisons aren't apt for this scenario, simply because the postseason hasn't happened yet.
Right field: Shawn Green (2006) vs. Curtis Granderson (2015)
Shawn Green replaced Xavier Nady, who was traded to the Pirates after playing well in right field, so he gets the nod for this game. In 34 games after coming to the Mets, Green didn't do much, hitting just .257 with four home runs, and getting on base at a .325 clip.
Meanwhile, Curtis Granderson has found second life at the top of the Mets' lineup with his ability to work the count, draw walks, and hit some long balls. He also has a huge edge defensively, and should get the nod in this matchup.
Catcher: Paul Lo Duca (2006) vs. Travis d'Arnaud (2015)
While both are catchers, comparing Paul Lo Duca and Travis d'Arnaud is like comparing apples and oranges. Lo Duca was the table-setter out of the two-hole, either moving Jose Reyes over or getting on base for Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, and David Wright. Though he only hit 5 home runs, he hit .318 with a .355 OBP.
Although d'Arnaud has popped just 12 home runs in an injury-shortened season, he has still far out-slugged Lo Duca.
It's really hard to think about the 2006 Mets' bench, mostly because it wasn't much of a factor. The bench included 47-year-old ageless wonder Julio Franco, rookie Lastings Milledge, Endy Chavez (he of the miracle catch), Chris Woodward, and backup catcher Ramon Castro.
By comparison, the 2015 Mets are a deeper team. Michael Cuddyer and Ruben Tejada have had significant time and experience as starters. Juan Uribe has contributed in big spots, while Kelly Johnson has provided pop off of the bench. Juan Lagares provides Gold-Glove-caliber defense and hits lefties well. Speaking of defense, the 2015 bench has platooned and moved around to different positions as needed—not to mention that the late-inning outfield defense of Cespedes, Lagares, and Granderson probably tops that of the Chavez, Beltran, and Green trio.
The 2006 Mets were led by two aces in Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine who didn't have their best years. John Maine led the team with a 3.60 ERA, while Glavine and Steve Trachsel won 15 games apiece. They weren't the top pitching staff in the majors, but didn't need to be with that offense.
On the other hand, the 2015 Mets' rotation may be one of the best in the club's history. Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom at their best could outpitch any of the 2006 starters, while the back-end of the rotation—consisting of Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon, and Jon Niese—is strong as well. The 2015 Mets have a ton of starting pitching depth that oftentimes leaves batters shaking their heads.
Both closers—Billy Wagner and Jeurys Familia—are among the best closers in the game, and it's hard to launch a ninth-inning comeback against either Wagner's heat or Familia's hard sinker.
Getting to the closer is a different story, though. The 2006 Mets lost their dependable setup man, Duaner Sanchez, but had a strong lefty-righty duo in Pedro Feliciano and Chad Bradford. The 2015 Mets' bullpen has promise, especially if Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed pitch up to their potential, although there are some question marks surrounding both pitchers. Still, the edge here goes to the deeper, more dependable bullpen.
Does good pitching beat better hitting? Who would win in a seven-game series?