There's no arguing that Al Leiter was a fighter in his days as a Big League pitcher. Every fifth day, he would go out and give 110 percent, no matter what team he was playing for. From the time he became a regular cog in the rotation (1994), Letier never made fewer than 20 starts in a single season. The left-hander was a true horse.
So prior to the 1998 season, the Mets found a way to pry Leiter away from the division rival Florida Marlins. It cost the Mets A.J. Burnett, plus a four-year, $32 million contract, but Leiter certainly paid back the dividends, and wasted no time doing it.
In his first season in Flushing, Leiter pitched to a 2.47 ERA while striking out over 170 batters. He won 17 games and finished sixth the NL Cy Young award voting that year.
In 1999, Leiter pitched the game of his life. The Mets finished the season tied with the Reds for tops in the wild-card race. This forced a 163rd game—a one-game playoff to decide who was headed to October. Leiter took the ball for this game, and twirled a dominating two-hit shutout, striking out seven in the process. The Mets won the game 5-0, and went on to their first postseason appearance since 1988.
Leiter spent seven quality seasons in the Mets' rotation. He finished with a 3.42 ERA and over 1,100 strikeouts during his tenure. He ranks among the top 10 in just about every pitching category in the history of the Mets franchise. A true winner, and a class act, Leiter was indeed a great pickup for the Mets.