2012 Spring Training is now less than 30 days away for the Mets. With this being said, now is a good time to begin the countdown for the top 50 players in Mets history.
When determining who really were the best Mets ever, the criteria for this should include the players' overall numbers as a Met, the impact they had on the franchise, how much of a fan favorite they each were, the personalities they had and the overall success of the teams they played on.
Ranking all these great players was not an easy task by any means. However, a reasonable list has been determined, and this will be a five-part series, starting with No. 50-41.
Career Numbers as a Met
Games Started: 184
Complete Games: 25
Best Individual Season: 1978 (9-6, 2.43 ERA, 207.1 innings pitched, five complete games, 125 strikeouts)
Despite pitching during one of the worst eras in Mets history, Craig Swan was still one of the best pitchers the Mets had in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Swan only appeared in 16 combined games with the Mets from 1973-1975 before arriving for good in 1976. In that year, he went 6-9 with a 3.54 ERA. His record would have been better had the Mets offense given him more run support.
In 1977, Swan went 9-10 with a 4.23 ERA as the Mets fell to one of baseball's worst teams.
1978 turned out to be Swan's career season. Despite just a 9-6 record, Swan led the National League with a 2.43 ERA. The Mets offense and bullpen certainly denied him of more wins that he should have had, but nonetheless, it was productive season for Swan as he became the Mets ace.
Swan then followed up with another great season in 1979. He went 14-13 with a 3.29 ERA. As the lone solid pitcher for the Mets that year, Swan set career highs in games started, innings pitched, complete games and shutouts. His 14 wins were also by far the most of any Met that year.
Prior to the 1980 offseason, Swan signed a lucrative contract with the Mets, which was the highest in baseball at the time. He started off with a 5-4 record and 2.21 ERA in the first half, but he then suffered a shoulder injury that had him miss a month. After returning, he re-injured his shoulder two weeks later and missed the rest of the season.
1981 was an even worse season for Swan. In his second game of the season, Swan got nailed in the back by catcher Ron Hodges on an unsuccessful throw to second base with a runner on the move. He fractured a rib and missed a month after that. When he returned, he made a few appearances before the 1981 player's strike cancelled two months of the season. When the season resumed, Swan was back on the disabled list and made just one appearance in the second half.
Swan bounced back in 1982 with an 11-7 record and 3.35 ERA. He finished second in the National League Comeback Player of the Year voting to Joe Morgan. At this point, Swan spent some time as a reliever and became skilled at this new role.
1982, however, would be the last good year for Swan. In 1983, he pitched through an arm injury that significantly limited his endurance. He finished the year with a 2-8 record and a 5.51 ERA. Then, in 1984, after just 10 sub-par relief appearances, Swan got released by the Mets in May. The Angels then signed him, but only made two appearances with them, which turned out to be his last. Before his Mets release, he went 1-0 with a 8.20 ERA.
Thanks to the injuries he suffered during his playing career, Swan became very interested in what has become known as "Rolfing." He now has his own practice in Connecticut.
Craig Swan was a good pitcher on some bad Mets teams, but he was still one of the better pitchers in the league during his career.
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .262
Home Runs: 52
Runs Scored: 122
Slugging Percentage: .434
Best Individual Season: 1962 (.266 average, 34 home runs, 94 RBI, .329 OBP, .496 slugging percentage)
Not to be confused with the Frank "Big Hurt" Thomas of the White Sox in the 1990s, this Frank Thomas happened to be one of the better sluggers of his time and set the offensive standard for the Mets.
Thomas had spent 1951-1958 with the Pirates, 1959 with the Reds, 1960-1961 with the Cubs and the latter part of 1961 with the Braves before getting traded to the Mets for a player to be named later prior to the 1962 season.
Thomas was the starting left fielder in the Mets' inaugural game in franchise history and had the best season of any hitter on the worst team in baseball history. He batted just .266 in 1962, but set the Mets' standard with 34 home runs and 94 RBI. Those two single season totals would not be surpassed until 1976 and 1970, respectively. Thomas was a pull hitter, and his swing was designed for the Polo Grounds with its left field porch.
Thomas did not find the exact same success in 1963. His average only fell to .260, but his home run and RBI totals slipped to 15 and 60, respectively. He then played in just 60 games in 1964 before getting traded to the Phillies in August for Gary Kroll and Wayne Graham. Thomas had a .254 average, three home runs and 19 RBI before the trade.
Frank Thomas' Mets tenure may not have been the most memorable, but he certainly deserves credit for establishing the original offensive standard for the Mets.
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .278
Home Runs: Eight
Runs Scored: 308
Slugging Percentage: .337
Best Individual Season: 1975 (.283 average, one home run, 56 RBI, 81 runs scored, 191 hits, 37 doubles, .329 OBP, .348 slugging percentage)
One of the more dependable Mets in the 1970s, Felix Millan was the spark that the Mets needed when they traded for him prior to the 1973 season. By choking up on the bat so high, Millan was always known as someone who would consistently put the ball in play. Had it not been for a short temper, his Mets tenure could have lasted longer than it did.
Millan spent the first seven seasons of his career playing for the Braves. He was indeed on the 1969 Braves team that faced the eventual-world champion Mets in the NLCS. During his Braves years, he made the All-Star team three times (1969-1971) and won two Gold Glove awards in 1969 and 1972.
After the 1972 season, the Mets sent Gary Gentry and Danny Frisella to the Braves for Millan and George Stone. In 1973, Millan led the Mets with a .290 average. He also had three home runs and 37 RBI. His 185 hits that season set a new team record. While choking up so high on the bat led to a lot of hits for Millan, it limited his power dramatically.
In the 1973 World Series, Millan made a critical error in Game 1 that allowed two unearned runs to score.
In 1974, Millan's average fell to .268. He only had one home run with 33 RBI. He did bounce back in 1975 to bat .283 with 37 doubles, one home run and 56 RBI. He broke his own Mets record for most hits in a season with 191 hits. This record, however, would last 21 years. What was even more significant about Millan's season was that he became the first Mets player to play in all 162 games of the season.
Millan put up similar numbers in 1976 with a .282 average, one home run and 35 RBI. 1977, however, was different. He ended up batting just .248 that year with two home runs and 21 RBI.
Millan's fiery temper got the best of him on Aug. 12, when he got into an on-field fight with Pirates catcher Ed Ott. After Ott slid hard into second base to try and break up a double play, Millan yelled at him and hit him with a baseball in his hand. Ott responded by slamming Millan hard into the Three Rivers Stadium turf, which injured Millan's shoulder. This injury was career-threatening, and he never played another game with the Mets or any other major league team.
He then spent three seasons in the Japanese Central League with the Taiyo Whales, but got released after the 1980 season and retired.
Felix Millan will always be remembered as one of the more aggressive players the Mets have had, and he is certainly one of the best second basemen in team history.
Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 189.2
Best Individual Season: 2006 (3-2, 2.24 ERA, 40 saves, 72.1 innings pitched, 70 appearances, 94 strikeouts)
One great left-handed closer once employed by the Mets was the fire-balling Billy Wagner.
Wagner originally threw right-handed, but after suffering two right arm injuries, he taught himself how to throw left-handed.
Wagner originally started his career with the Astros, whom he played with from 1995-2003. He established himself as one of baseball's best and most dependable closers. He then got traded to the Phillies, whom he pitched for from 2004-2005 before signing a four-year contract with the Mets prior to the 2006 season.
In his first year as a Met in 2006, Wagner went 3-2 with a 2.24 ERA and racked up 40 saves. He also struck out 94 batters in just 72.1 innings pitched.
On July 3, Wagner picked up his 300th career save. Wagner pitched well in the NLDS that year by giving up just one run and collecting two saves in three appearances. However, Wagner did not pitch as well in the NLCS, and his ERA in that series was 16.88.
In 2007, Wagner had another great season by going 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA and 34 saves. He struck out 80 batters in 68.1 innings pitched. He had a great first half, which helped him make the All-Star team, but fell apart near the end of the season as the Mets suffered the worst regular-season collapse in baseball history.
In 2008, Wagner went 0-1 with a 2.30 ERA and 27 saves. He went on a profanity-laced tirade towards his teammates following a 1-0 loss in May, which did not help the team's clubhouse chemistry at all. Nonetheless, he pitched well in the first half of the season and made another trip to the All-Star game.
Wagner did not struggle down the stretch this team compared to 2007, but this was because he ended up tearing a ligament in his elbow that would require major surgery. As a result, Wagner was forced to miss the rest of the 2008 season, plus most of the 2009 season as well. In his absence, the Mets were simply unable to find someone else to successfully close games, and it was one of the biggest reasons as to why they missed the postseason for the second consecutive year.
While Wagner recovered from elbow surgery in 2009, the Mets went out and signed Francisco Rodriguez to become the new closer and also traded for J.J. Putz to be the set-up man. Those moves effectively ended Wagner's time with the Mets.
Wagner ended up making two appearances for the Mets in August before getting traded to the Red Sox for Chris Carter and Eddie Lora. He pitched a scoreless inning in each appearance and did not give up a single hit.
After the 2009 postseason, Wagner declined salary arbitration from the Red Sox and signed a one-year deal with the Braves. In April of 2010, Wagner announced he would retire at the end of the season. He got his 400th career save on June 25.
While Wagner is not playing baseball this season, he still has yet to file retirement papers. The Braves, though, released him right before the start of the 2011 season.
Assuming he will not appear in another major league game, Wagner finished his career with a career ERA of 2.31 and 422 saves, which place him fifth all-time and second among left-handed pitchers.
Wagner's time with the Mets was not that long, but he was the dominant closer for the Mets during their postseason run in 2006 and another one of the greatest closers to have been a Met.
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .242
Home Runs: 69
Runs Scored: 246
Slugging Percentage: .392
Best Individual Season: 1967 (.281 average, 13 home runs, 53 RBI, .340 OBP, .419 slugging percentage)
At times, he was "Rocky," but Ron Swoboda was one of the Mets' first great outfielders and a big contributor to the team's success in 1969.
Swoboda batted .228 with 19 home runs and 50 RBI in his rookie season in 1965. His numbers declined a bit in 1966, but picked up in 1967 when he batted. .281 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI.
In 1969, Swoboda began platooning right field with the left-handed hitting Art Shamsky. That year, he was notable for hitting a pair of two-run home runs against Steve Carlton, who had racked up 19 strikeouts that game. The Mets won, 4-3, all thanks to Swoboda.
In the 1969 World Series, Swoboda had the eventual game-winning RBI in the decisive Game 5. In Game 4, he made a spectacular diving catch that became one of the most significant symbols of that World Series.
After another decent season in 1970, the Mets traded Swoboda to the Expos for Don Hahn. Later in 1971, the Expos traded him to the Yankees. Swoboda spent most of those years in the minor leagues. After signing with the Braves in 1974, Swoboda got released before the season started and he subsequently retired.
Since retiring, Swoboda has become an announcer in various baseball capacities.
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .240
Home Runs: 124
Runs Scored: 340
Slugging Percentage: .438
Best Individual Season: 1996 (.259 average, 41 home runs, 112 RBI, 85 runs scored, 32 doubles, .356 OBP, .550 slugging percentage)
Todd Hundley may not have had a legendary overall career, but he was arguably one of the Mets' best hitters throughout the 1990s and became by far the best power-hitting catcher the Mets have ever developed.
Hundley first came up in 1990, but did not start regularly until 1992. He was originally a light-hitting catcher who possessed good defensive skills. 1992 and 1993 did not show much of Hundley's ultimate potential, as he hit below .230 in both years and did not show a lot of power (seven home runs in 1992, 11 in 1993) as the Mets fell to one of baseball's most underachieving teams those years.
Hundley started to turn the corner in 1994 with a .237 average, 16 home runs and 42 RBI until the strike wiped out the rest of the season. He finished his 1995 season with a career high .280 average, 15 home runs and 51 RBI. Those numbers, however, may have been deceiving because he missed well over a month that year with a sprained wrist. After 1995, the waiting period for Hundley to blossom was finally over.
1996 showed Hundley adding a new dimension to his game that transformed him from an average catcher to one of baseball's best. As he made his first All-Star team that year, Hundley became a clubhouse leader by hitting a Mets record 41 home runs while driving in a career-high 112 RBI. His home run total also set a Major League single season record for both catchers and switch-hitters, which have both since been broken.
What was interesting about this season was that the vast majority of Hundley's success came against right-handed pitching, as he hit 35 of the 41 homers against righties and also hit .286 against them in comparison to six home runs and just .194 against southpaws. This was always the case for Hundley, who consistently struggled from the right side. In fact, just 18 of his 124 career home runs as a Met were against lefties.
Thanks to this monstrous season, Hundley was rewarded with a new four-year $21 million contract. Hundley followed up his career year with another very solid season in 1997, as he led the Mets to coming within a few games of a playoff berth before a nagging elbow injury he had most of the season became too painful. Hundley raised his average to .273, hit 30 home runs and drove in 86 RBI as he made another All-Star team.
The other 1996 stars, Bernard Gilkey and Lance Johnson, both struggled, and Hundley was the only one of the three to have a successful follow-up season, which raised his Mets legacy above that of a traditional one-year wonder.
This year was also tumultuous for Hundley, as he clashed with new manager Bobby Valentine over rumors that he was drinking and partying too late at night throughout the year, and as a result, not getting enough rest. Hundley denied all of this and was very outspoken in the local papers. He ended the year making a cameo appearance on a Saturday Night Live sketch.
Through most of 1998, Hundley had to recover from the elbow injury and watched the Mets trade for Mike Piazza, which infuriated him. Hundley finally returned in July, but this time as a left fielder. This experiment did not work out well, as he played in only 53 games and hit just .161 in that span. At the end of the season, Hundley was mostly pinch-hitting as a backup catcher.
In the offseason, the Mets decided to sign Piazza long-term and sent Hundley packing to the Dodgers. He spent time there and with the Cubs before retiring after the 2003 season. In 2007, he was listed on the Mitchell Report, which raised questions as to whether his best years in 1996 and 1997 were tainted by steroid use. Hundley has not addressed the rumors.
Although Hundley only had two particularly strong seasons during his career, he became a fan favorite and team leader, especially in 1997 when the Mets started contending once again. His eventual loss halfway through that September affected the Mets offense, and that may have been a huge reason why they missed the postseason.
Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 600.0
Games Started: 88
Complete Games: Seven
Best Individual Season: 2008 (16-7, 2.53 ERA, 234.1 innings pitched, three complete games, two shutouts, 206 strikeouts)
One former Cy Young winner the Mets are fortunate to have is Johan Santana, who, despite currently being injured, is still the team's ace.
Santana was originally a centerfielder who converted to a pitcher due to his arm speed. He was first drafted by the Astros, but then got left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft following the 1999 season. As a result, the Twins picked him up.
Santana first appeared with the Twins as a reliever. He was mostly a long reliever until 2003, when he was brought into the starting rotation.
In 2004, Santana won his first AL Cy Young Award and had one of the greatest second halves in baseball history by going 13-0 after the All-Star break. He finished that season with a 20-6 record, a 2.61 ERA and a league-leading 265 strikeouts.
After another solid season in 2005, Santana won his second AL Cy Young Award in 2006. This season was even more impressive because he won the pitching Triple Crown by leading all of baseball in wins (19), ERA (2.77) and strikeouts (245). He became the first pitcher to win the Triple Crown with fewer than 20 wins.
Santana then had yet another strong season in 2007 before getting traded to the Mets in the offseason in a blockbuster deal. The Mets sent Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey to complete the trade. Then, the Mets signed Santana to a six-year, $137.5 million contract.
In 2008, Santana pitched decently during the first half of the season, but pitched even better during the second half. He finished with a 16-7 record, a 2.53 ERA and 206 strikeouts in 234.1 innings pitched. He capped his great season with a complete game three-hit shutout on only three days' rest against the Marlins in the second-to-last game of the season.
It was then revealed that Santana had a torn meniscus in his knee, which he had surgery on after the season. Santana finished third in the 2008 NL Cy Young voting behind Brandon Webb and the winner, Tim Lincecum.
In 2009, Santana got off to a great start, but suffered a tough loss in second start of the year. It was his first loss since late June of 2008. Santana made his first NL All-Star team that year and finished 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA before missing the rest of the season in late August due to bone chips being found in his elbow.
In 2010, Santana got off to a rocky start and suffered his worst career performance in early May against the Phillies. He then pitched a lot better until he got hurt yet again in early September, this time with a strained pectoral muscle. He ended up having shoulder surgery a few weeks later and has not made a major league appearance since. He finished the year with an 11-9 record and a 2.98 ERA in 199 innings pitched.
Santana was scheduled to be ready by the second half of the 2011 season, but he is still rehabbing and could potentially make a few starts at the end of the season. If not, hopefully, he will be ready to go for the 2012 season.
Although his Mets contributions have been rather underwhelming compared to original expectations, Johan Santana is the Mets' current ace, and hopefully, better seasons for him are on the way.
Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 486.2
Games Started: 79
Complete Games: Four
Best Individual Season: 2005 (15-8, 2.82 ERA, 217 innings pitched, four complete games, one shutout, 208 strikeouts)
Yet another former Cy Young winner the Mets were thankful to have was Pedro Martinez.
Martinez first came up with the Dodgers and played with his older brother, Ramon Martinez. Pedro had what it took to be a great starting pitcher, but Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda thought it would be better to have him in the bullpen due to his small stature. Martinez first came up with the Dodgers as a September call-up in 1992 and pitched in Los Angeles in 1993 before getting traded to the Expos for Delino DeShields.
Once he went to Montreal, Martinez developed into one of the best pitchers in baseball. He won his first and only NL Cy Young Award in 1997 with a 17-8 record, a 1.90 ERA, 305 strikeouts and 13 complete games. However, after this memorable season, Martinez was approaching free agency, and the low-budgeted Expos traded him prior to the 1998 season to the Red Sox for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas, Jr.
After arriving in Boston, Martinez signed a new six-year contract with the Red Sox. He went 19-7 in 1998 and finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting to Roger Clemens.
A year later, Martinez had one of the best pitching seasons ever. He won the pitching Triple Crown in 1999 by going 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. As a result, he was unanimously selected for his first AL Cy Young Award and second overall. He even finished a close second place in the AL MVP voting to Ivan Rodriguez.
In 2000, Martinez was even better. He won his third Cy Young Award in a four-year span by going 18-6 with a remarkable 1.74 ERA. He then stayed in Boston through 2004 and helped the Red Sox break their 86-year World Series drought in his final year in Boston.
After winning his first and only World Series, Martinez signed a four-year $53 million contract to become the Mets' new ace. His signing turned out to be pivotal, as it helped the Mets land Carlos Beltran as well during the same offseason.
In 2005, Martinez went 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA. He made his first All-Star team as a Met that year, and seventh overall. He also had 208 strikeouts and led the league with a 0.95 WHIP.
Martinez had another promising start in 2006, but in May, during a game in Florida, Martinez was told by an umpire to change his undershirt. While heading into the clubhouse to do so, Martinez slipped and hurt his hip, although this injury did not really affect him significantly until later. Martinez had started the year with a 5-1 record, but only went 4-7 during the last four months of the season.
He also missed a month due to that same hip injury, as well as another two months later in the season due to a calf injury, which sidelined him throughout the postseason. Martinez finished the 2006 season with a 9-8 record and a 4.48 ERA.
At the end of the 2006 season, it was also discovered that Martinez had a torn rotator cuff. As a result, he was forced to miss the vast majority of the 2007 season. While rehabbing, Martinez considered retirement if the rehabbing did not go thoroughly well. However, he returned to the mound in early September of 2007 and went 3-1 in five starts with a 2.57 ERA only to see his Mets team ultimately collapse and narrowly miss the postseason in heartbreaking fashion.
When the Mets traded for Johan Santana before the 2008 season, the Mets were projected to be one of the best teams in the National League with Santana and Martinez leading the rotation. However, 2008 was a year to forget for Martinez. He got injured just four innings into his first start of the season and missed the next two months with a strained left hamstring.
When he returned, his fastball lost velocity, and Martinez simply wasn't the same pitcher as before. He ended up suffering his first losing record ever at 5-6, and he finished with a career-worst 5.61 ERA.
After the 2008 season, Martinez remained un-signed through most of 2009. However, the Phillies of all teams decided to sign Pedro to a one-year $1 million contract in July. He made a few starts for the Phillies that year, including one against his former Mets team that he ultimately won.
There was a lot of hype in the 2009 World Series, as Martinez and his Phillies faced the Yankees. However, Martinez struggled in the World Series and the Yankees ultimately won it all.
Pedro Martinez may not have done as much as the Mets and their fans had hoped he would do, but Martinez certainly became a symbol of the improvement the Mets made between their poor seasons between 2002-2004 and their better seasons between 2005-2008.
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .267
Home Runs: 45
Runs Scored: 125
Slugging Percentage: .469
Best Individual Season: 1970 (.288, 22 home runs, 97 RBI, .348 OBP, .515 slugging percentage)
Donn Clendenon's Mets tenure was not the longest, but it was certainly one of the most productive at such a critical time in team history.
Clendenon's career began with the Pirates, with whom he spent the 1961-1968 seasons. He finished second in the 1962 Rookie of the Year voting to Ken Hubbs.
After the 1968 season, the Pirates left Clendenon unprotected from the expansion draft and he was selected by the Expos. The Expos then traded him to the Astros.
However, Clendenon and Astros manager Harry Walker did not get along, and Clendenon did not report to the Astros. As a result, Clendenon was traded back to the Expos.
In June 1969, Clendenon got traded again, but this time to the Mets. Clendenon got off to a slow start with the Mets, but as the season progressed, so did Clendenon's hitting. He split time with Ed Kranepool as the right-handed hitting counterpart. As a result, he only started against left-handed pitchers. He finished the season with a .248 average, 16 home runs and 51 RBI.
In the postseason, Clendenon did not start once against the Braves' right-handed pitchers.
However, in the World Series, the Orioles had some lefties, and this gave Clendenon a chance to shine. He homered in Games 2, 4 and the deciding Game 5. For the series, he batted .357 with three home runs and four RBI en route to World Series MVP honors. His three home runs in a five-game series are still the most in World Series history. Ryan Howard tied the mark in 2008.
Clendenon followed up with a strong 1970 season. He raised his average to .288 with 22 home runs and a then-team record 97 RBI. He also set another team record by driving in seven runs on July 28 of that year. That record, however, has since been broken by another Mets first baseman in 2008.
Clendenon did not play as much in 1971 with Kranepool having a career season. With other first base prospects in the minor leagues, Clendenon became expendable and was released after the 1971 season. He played for the Cardinals in 1972, but saw limited playing time behind Matty Alou. He ended up being released in August of that year and subsequently retired.
After retiring, Clendenon earned a Juris Doctorate in 1978 at Duquesne University. He then became a lawyer while also battling drug addiction. While going through treatment for his addiction, it was discovered that he had leukemia. Clendenon ended up passing away unfortunately in 2005.
Donn Clendenon's time with the Mets was brief, but he will always be remembered as the MVP of the first World Championship team the Mets ever had.
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .271
Home Runs: 18
Runs Scored: 86
Slugging Percentage: .386
Best Individual Season: 1986 (.298 average, 11 home runs, 76 RBI, 24 doubles, .351 OBP, .424 slugging percentage)
If there is one person that is associated with both the Mets and the 1986 World Series, it would be Ray Knight. It is only fitting that his name appears after the Mets' first World Series MVP.
Knight originally came up with the Reds and spent 1974-1981 with the team. He did not get much playing time until 1979, when Pete Rose signed with the Phillies. He appeared in the 1980 All-Star Game, but got traded a year later to the Astros when Johnny Bench converted to third base.
Knight played both first base and third base with the Astros and made the All-Star team again in 1982. He hit well in 1983, but not as well in 1984. As a result, the Astros decided to trade him to the Mets at the end of August 1984 for three prospects.
Knight batted .280 in 27 games for the Mets at the end of 1984. He also had one home run and six RBI. He struggled though in 1985 while sharing third base with Howard Johnson. He batted just .218 with six home runs and 36 RBI.
After the Mets were unable to trade Knight to the Pirates prior to the 1986 season, Knight proved his critics wrong that year. Knight got off to a great start in April by hitting six home runs and driving in 12 RBI for the month. In one of the season's more memorable moments, Knight started a bench-clearing brawl with his former Reds teammates after Eric Davis slid hard into third base while trying attempting a stolen base.
Knight finished the 1986 season with a .298 average, 11 home runs, 76 RBI and a .351 OBP. He also won the 1986 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. However, he saved his best for the postseason. He struggled during the NLCS against the Astros, but was red-hot during the World Series.
Knight played a critical role in Game 6 of the World Series. In the 10th inning, he drove in Gary Carter and eventually scored the winning run on Mookie Wilson's famous ground ball that skipped past Bill Buckner. In Game 7, Knight hit a tiebreaking home run, which helped the Mets ultimately win the World Series. For his efforts, Knight was chosen as the World Series MVP.
After the 1986 season, Knight wanted to re-sign with the Mets, but the Mets were unwilling to negotiate a multi-year contract with him. Knight was heartbroken, but ended up signing with the Orioles. He became the first World Series MVP to go to a new team after winning the award.
Knight spent the 1987 season with the Orioles, but got traded after the season to the Tigers, whom he spent 1988 with before retiring.
After retiring, Knight briefly became an ESPN broadcaster, but soon became a coach for the Reds. He later replaced his former manager, Davey Johnson, as the Reds' new manager from 1996-1997. However, the Reds struggled in 1997, and Knight was fired midseason in favor of Jack McKeon. Knight is currently a broadcaster for the Nationals.
Knight was one of the few 1986 Mets to not appear at the 20th Anniversary Celebration in 2006. While most of those that did not attend had legitimate reasons why they could not show up, Knight later stated that he had a prior commitment, but many people have speculated that he decided not to go because he was still bitter towards the Mets for not re-signing him after 1986.
Although his time with the Mets was relatively short, Ray Knight certainly made the most of his short stay with the Mets and became a World Series hero in 1986.