It is finally official. The Wilpon era has ended. Now that Jeff and Fred are no longer calling the shots, we can close the book on how bad they were as owners. In 2002 Fred Wilpon bought out Nelson Doubleday. From that season until the end of the 2020, the Mets have been one of the worst teams in baseball. The numbers don’t lie.
Legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells said, “You are what your record says you are.” This is the first stat to look at. In the 19 seasons under Wilpon control, the Mets were 1458-1516. This ranks 18th among all MLB teams and averages out to 79-83 per season. In 2010 and 2014, the Mets had this exact record.
However, a case can be made that this is the wrong metric to use. After all, the Rays are only slightly better than the Mets in terms of record, but they have entered the postseason quite a bit. If you look at teams below the Mets, you see a number of World Series winners. Even those who haven’t won a championship include the Texas Rangers, who have had many good seasons.
If overall record isn’t a good statistic, a better one would be to look at seasons in which the team had at least a .500 record. The logic is that a team over .500 is considered to be a mediocre to great team, while a team below .500 is considered to be anywhere from poor to horrendous. The Mets have only had a record of .500 or above in 7 of the 19 seasons under Wilpon control. That puts them in a tie for 22nd place with the Mariners.
While the Mets are among the 17 teams not to go all the way during these 19 years, they can at least say that they made the made the World Series once in 2015. 11 teams since 2002 haven’t been so fortunate. However, a closer look shows that many of these fanbases were overall in a better emotional state than the Mets. The Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Series, so they just missed the cutoff. The Braves had won the pennant 5 times in the 90’s so they were also not exactly in mourning.
Arguably the best way to look at how bad the Mets have been under the Wilpon’s is to look at postseason appearances. This is where things get very depressing. The Mets only made the playoffs three times under the Wilpon’s. How bad was this? The only teams to make the postseason fewer times were the Marlins, Royals and Mariners… and two of them picked up World Series rings.
While it is clear the Mets were not the worst team during this era (That is reserved for the Mariners), they clearly had a terrible run. When you go to the postseason as many times as the Pirates and Orioles, something has clearly gone wrong. The Cardinals, Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox have been the most successful teams over the last couple of decades. If the Mets can enter that class, it would be fantastic. Even if Steve Cohen turns the Mets into a middle of the pack team, like the Nationals, Rays, Rangers, Tigers or Indians, that would be a major improvement.
(David Weiss is a lifelong Mets fan. He has lived in Israel since 2008 and runs the Facebook page Jewish Mets Fans.)