Phillies Franchise History: Greatest Player to Wear Each Number
Jose Mesa pitched across three decades during his 19-year career, playing for eight different teams. His best days came as an Indian during the mid-90s. He was an All-Star in 1995 and 1996. In 1995, he led the league with 46 saves in 48 opportunities, finishing 57 games that year. He finished second to Randy Johnson in AL Cy Young voting and fourth in MVP voting behind Mo Vaugh, Albert Belle, and Edgar Martinez.
Mesa eventually made his way to Philadelphia after a rough season in Seattle where he had a 5.36 ERA in 66 games. He made a huge turnaround when he switched to the National League, posting a 2.34 ERA and 2.95 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 71 games. He went 42-for-46 in save opportunities, the fifth-most saves in the NL that year.
Mesa had another strong season in 2002 with a 2.97 ERA and 45 saves, but he also blew nine saves. That was a sign of things to come the next year where his ERA ballooned to 6.52 in 61 outings at age 37. He was worth -1.9 wins above replacement that year, so it’s no surprise the Phillies cut ties with him after the season.
Mesa returned for one final year as a Phillie in 2007. The team hoped to get 2001-2002 Mesa, but instead they got 2003 Mesa. He had a 5.54 ERA in 40 appearances, walking 19 batters and striking out 20. The 41-year-old still made it onto the playoff roster, allowing three runs in 0.1 innings during Game Two of the NLDS.
After the 2007 season, Mesa retired with 1022 career appearances. He racked up 321 saves with 73 holds, posting a career 83.8% save percentage.