Having put together a very good two-and-a-half season stretch with the Mets, veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera now finds himself a member of the Phillies. The Mets were able to snag a legitimate pitching prospect in the trade, which makes for an excellent parting gift for a player who gave the Mets a lot while he was wearing their uniform.
Cabrera was always a pretty easy player to root for, too. The Mets originally signed him to take over at shortstop, and without him, there’s no guarantee that they would have made the postseason as one of the National League’s Wild Card teams in the 2016 season. And on the field, he always looked to be enjoying himself, particularly when it came to his “remove your helmet after you hit a home run” routine.
So with that, let’s look at Cabrera’s top three games with the Mets by WPA, a good metric for exactly this sort of thing. Note that we’re using the Baseball-Reference version of it for this list.
1. September 22, 2016, vs. Phillies, +79.3% WPA
You knew before you got here that it had to be this game, which was a wild one. The Mets were in a good spot when it came to making it to the postseason for the second year in a row, but they weren’t running away with a playoff spot by the middle of September like they had when they won the division the year before.
Having taken an early 2-0 lead over the then-lowly Phillies, the Mets fell behind when Seth Lugo gave up a total of three runs between the fourth and fifth innings to put the Mets behind by one. But Yoenis Cespedes singled in a run to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth, and he hit a solo home run in the seventh to put the Mets back in the lead—a game in which Cespedes racked up +42.5% WPA of his own.
But Addison Reed, who was superb in his Mets tenure, had one of his worst nights in a Mets uniform, as he allowed three runs in one-third of an inning in the top of the eighth, putting the Mets behind once again. The Phillies took that lead into the bottom of the ninth, but Jose Reyes spoiled it when he it a game-tying, two-run home run with Brandon Nimmo on base—the most significant contribution to his +53.9% WPA on the night.
And despite all of that, the game was far from over. In the top of the eleventh, Jeurys Familia—who had thrown the tenth—combined with Jerry Blevins and Jim Henderson to give up two runs to put the Mets behind again.
With all hope seemingly lost, the Mets started a rally in the bottom of that inning. Brandon Nimmo grounded out, pinch hitter Michael Conforto walked, and Reyes singled. And then Asdrubal Cabrera came up and hit a three-run walk-off home run, flipped his bat, raised his arms in a V, and got the double “outta here!” from Gary Cohen—the truest sign of a major Mets moment.
That home run got Cabrera thrown at by the Edubray Ramos, the reliever who gave it up, the following season. Ramos is still with the Phillies, which means the two are now teammates. Baseball!
2. August 3, 2017, vs. Rockies, +33.6% WPA
This one didn’t end well for the Mets, not that it mattered all that much in a lost season. But you certainly couldn’t blame Cabrera for the loss. In total, he went 3-for-5 with a run batted in. But he drove in that run on a double in the top of the seventh, just after the Mets had fallen behind by a run when the Rockies scored a run in the bottom of the sixth.
This game was another one that saw the Mets trail multiple times, but they never led and wound up losing on a walk-off walk issued to Nolan Arenado in the bottom of the ninth.
3. April 16, 2017, vs. Marlins, +31.8% WPA
This one was a loss, too, but again, you couldn’t really blame it on Cabrera. Matt Harvey gave up two runs in six innings of work, a perfectly decent effort, and the Mets’ bullpen didn’t give up anything in the seventh or eighth. So with the team down two in the top of the ninth, Cabrera came up as a pinch hitter with two outs, Travis d’Arnaud on third, and Juan Lagares—pinch running for Wilmer Flores—on second. And he singled through the Marlins’ infield to give the Mets hope in the game.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for that hope to be erased. JT Riddle hit a two-run walk-off home run against Addison Reed, who had another one of his rare awful outings as a Met on a night that Cabrera played the hero.