"Oh, the pain!" WFAN host Joe Beningo's trademark phrase has never been more fitting than now when describing the New York Mets, who dropped five in a row and 11 of 12.
However, rookie phenom Jordany Valdespin gives us Mets fans a reason to keep watching the games even though the postseason is now a major long-shot.
Put A Fork In 'Em. They Are Done.
It's tough to put a positive "spin" on the Mets' post-All-Star break woes, but Valdespin has New York baseball fans smiling as we head into the stretch run of the season.
The 24-year-old rookie hit a pinch-hit home run to lead off the eighth inning on July 24 at Citi Field to set a new franchise record with five pinch-hit homers.
Mark Carreon and Danny Heep both held the previous team record of four, accomplished in 1989 and 1983, respectively.
There's a serious murmur among fans at Citi Field when Valdespin comes to bat, and a little electricity is exactly what this team needs right now. Valdespin creates a buzz in the ballpark, and he ignites the offense.
The Mets desperately need signs of life right now, and this young man brings a confident swagger that will be fun to watch in the future. "I've always thought one of the things he always has created, by putting him in the game at certain times, he has the chance to do some damage, and he's done that," said Collins in a Mets.com report.
Valdespin is just two away from the MLB record of seven pinch hit home runs in a season, set by Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Dave Hansen in 2000 and tied by Pittsburgh Pirates hitter Craig Wilson in 2001.
With two months left to go on the season, it appears, on paper at least, that Valdespin will tie or perhaps break the record. However, Lucas Duda getting shipped to Triple-A Buffalo, will lead to more playing time for Valdespin, which likely means less pinch hit at-bats.
Think about it. The best players are going to be starting games, and not coming into games late as pinch-hitters. Valdespin's phenomenal play of-late will probably lead to him not notching the MLB record for pinch hit homers.
Valdespin's at-bats may not be "must watch" on the same level as Daryl Strawberry in his prime, but there's a lot to like about this kid.
One of the top storylines to watch down the stretch, as Daniel Murphy continues to show that he has no power, is how the Mets will handle the situation at second base. Murphy is a legit .300 hitter and did a serviceable job at second base this season, but Valdespin's emergence puts him in line as the second baseman of the future.
Murphy could be used as trade bait to bring back a young pitcher, and Valdespin could take over at second base.
Eric Holden is a lifelong New York Mets fan. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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