The 2018 season seems like just another unremarkable season on paper: another sub-.500 season, a fourth place finish in the division, and another season wasted after a hot start. However, 2018 was more than that. There were personal accomplishments, players etching their names into Mets history, and, of course, bittersweet goodbyes. With the calendar about to turn to 2019, let’s take a look back at the year that was and the moments that made us stand up and cheer.
10. Jose Bautista’s walk-off grand slam
Jose Bautista was not a Met for long, but he delivered a memorable moment on July 6 against the Rays. It was a Jacob deGrom night, so naturally the Mets could not score and needed some heroics in the ninth inning. Despite being known for home runs and bat flips, the man they call Joey Bats never had a walk-off home run over the course of his career. That all changed on the first pitch he saw from Tampa pitcher Chaz Roe. With two outs he crushed a ball to left to give the Mets a 5-1 victory, and he finally got to experience jumping into a pile of ecstatic teammates waiting to greet him at home plate.
9. Noah Syndergaard ends the season on a high note
Noah Syndergaard had a bit of an uneven year by his insane standards. He dealt with both a finger injury and hand, foot, and mouth disease that cost him considerable time. He did finish the year on the upswing however, and put together a respectable season. He bookended his September by pitching a complete game in both his first and last starts of the month, and he defeated the eventual World Series champs that month as well. It was Syndergaard who was on the mound to end the season and he did not disappoint. He pitched a complete game and earned his first career shutout in the Mets 1-0 victory over the Marlins. There was also a bit of a funny moment when he broke his bat on a swing-and-a-miss, and to put the finishing touch on the season, he induced a fly out from new villain Peter O’Brien to end the game. Overall, it was a nice reminder that when Syndergaard is on he remains one of the best in the league.
8. Jeff McNeil’s hit streak
Ever since his debut on July 24, all Jeff McNeil did was hit. He picked up his first in his debut and never slowed down. On August 22, McNeil picked up his eighth straight hit but failed to tie the Mets record which stood at nine consecutive hits. Despite not tying the record, he did however put his name in record books on August 21, when had his second four-hit night of his young career. He is the first Met in history to have two four-hit nights over the course of their first twenty-seven games in the majors. After a disappointing first half of the season, McNeil was a nice surprise in the second half of the year and hopefully can pick up where he left off in 2019.
7. Michael Conforto and Todd Frazier go back-to-back for a walk-off win
On September 13 both the Mets and Marlins were just playing out the end of the season. In the first game of a doubleheader, the Mets were down to their final out when Michael Conforto came to bat. Conforto’s season did a complete 180 after the All Star break, and he looked like the All-Star Conforto from 2017. He saved the Mets from a loss on this day when he blasted a home run into the right field seats to tie the game. One batter later, Todd Frazier ended the game with a blast of his own. The two home runs helped lead the Mets to an improbable victory, but this moment stands out because of umpire Tom Hallion. Hallion was standing on home plate after Frazier completed his trip around the bases which forced Frazier and the team to celebrate around him.
6. Steven Matz goes yard in consecutive starts
Of course Conforto and Frazier were not the only ones to hit home runs in that game. Steven Matz got the start but he left an impression with his bat. He hit his first career home run in the second to tie the game.
His next start came against the Phillies and Aaron Nola. He helped his good friend Jacob deGrom out when he took Nola deep to put the Mets on the board. He became the first Mets pitcher since Ron Darling to hit home runs in consecutive starts. Matz also made an insane behind-the-back grab to start a double play in the game against Philadelphia.
Overall it was a solid year for Matz who stayed relatively healthy for the first time in his major league career and hopefully he can keep improving going forward.
5. The Little League Classic
The Little League Classic itself was a good game. We got the first appearance of Vargy who pitched well against the Phillies and Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith, and Jeff McNeil all helped lead the offense to a win. However, the Little League Classic went far beyond the game. The interactions with the kids was a much needed reminder that baseball is game and it is allowed to be fun.
4. Wilmer Flores breaks Mets record for most walk-off RBIs
Unbeknownst to fans, this was to be Wilmer Flores’s last season in a Mets uniform. During his time with the Mets he became known as the walk-off king and in 2018 he made it official. On July 9, in a tie game against the Phillies, Flores came up to bat in the bottom of the tenth. After originally thinking he was hit by a pitch, he instead ended the game with a walk-off home run that struck the left field foul pole. This home run was the tenth walk-off RBI of Flores’s career which put him one ahead of David Wright for the franchise lead. Sadly he won’t get the chance to add to that total but for now Walk-Off Wilmer has left his mark in Mets history.
3. Brandon Nimmo inside-the-park home run
With injuries to Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares, Brandon Nimmo got the chance to be an every day player and he delivered. When the Mets played the Rockies on June 18, it was a bit of a home game for Nimmo who grew up two hours away from the stadium. With his family in the stands, Nimmo led off the game with a blast to center. It hit the wall and bounced away from the outfielders. Dashing around the bases, Nimmo never stopped running and beat the throw home for the inside-the-park home run. To top it off he hit an old fashioned home run later in the game much to the delight of his family, and his patented megawatt smile never seemed to leave his face.
2. Jacob deGrom’s last start against the Braves
Pick any Jacob deGrom start this season and it will most likely be worthy of this list. Trying to pick the best of the bunch is almost an impossible task. Every start was like a carbon copy of the others and he never had a day where he fell apart. There were starts where he overwhelmed the hitters and others where he battled them, but he never faltered on his way to winning the Cy Young. His final start against the Braves was the exclamation point at the end of a brilliantly crafted sentence. It was also emblematic of his season as a whole. For eight innings he dominated the Braves, and despite the losing season he put a charge into the Citi Field crowd. Going into the game deGrom needed ten strikeouts to get to 1,000 for his career, and on the final pitch he threw in 2018, he froze Ronald Acuna Jr. and achieved exactly that. It was the perfect ending for one of the few bright spots of the 2018 season.
1. David Wright’s final bow
This past season will always hold a touch of sadness since it is the year we said goodbye to the Captain. It was a bittersweet night but it gave fans one last opportunity to show David Wright what he has meant to the organization. He did not get a hit but there was a beautiful moment with his daughter before the game, and he manned the left side of the infield with Jose Reyes one final time. The ending of an amazing career came far sooner than anyone anticipated, but for one last night number five was in the lineup once again and nothing else in 2018 could possibly top that moment.
Honorable mentions: A glimpse of the past and future
- Ass in the jackpot. The 2018 season mercifully brought an end to Terry Collins’s managerial tenure, but a video was leaked from the night Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley. The video had full audio of Collins going ballistic on umpire Tom Hallion while Hallion calmly gifted the world the phrase “ass in the jackpot.” Obviously the phrase is the standout here but it also showed another side of Collins and how much he truly cared about his team.
- Peter Alonso. The Mets first base prospect had a couple of big moments in 2018 as he works his way toward making the big league club next season. He hit a walkoff home run to end the Mets tenure in Las Vegas and to close Cashman Field, but he is most remembered for the monstrous blast he hit in the Futures Game.
Quirkiest play of the year: Jerry Blevins RBI single
RBI-singles are not an uncommon occurrence over the course of a season, but Jerry Blevins’s stands out for several reasons. On August 16, the Mets’ offense exploded against the Phillies. With the game already out of hand, Mickey Callaway tried to show mercy to Philadelphia and allowed Jerry Blevins to bat for himself. With infielder Scott Kingery on the mound, Blevins picked up his first major league hit to put the Mets ahead 22-4. They would go on to win 24-4, but with the game exclusively broadcast on Facebook this highlight might have been overlooked. So here it is again. An infielder pitching to a relief pitcher with a score more suited for football. Baseball is weird.
The 2018 season was quite the emotional roller coaster and despite the disappointing finish it still offered plenty of highlights. Some of the names and faces will change in 2019 but here is to many more exciting Mets moments in the new year.