New York Mets: The Top 50 Greatest Players of All Time, Part 2 (40-31)
The countdown of the 50 greatest players in New York Mets history continues with this Part Two portion in which the 31st to 40th greatest players will be named.
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 is the second segment of a five-part series. Here are the 31st to 40th greatest players of all time in Mets history.
40. Robin Ventura
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Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .260
Home Runs: 77
Runs Scored: 291
Slugging Percentage: .468
Best Individual Season: 1999 (.301 average, 32 home runs, 120 RBI, 38 doubles, .379 OBP, .529 slugging percentage)
One third baseman that deserves more credit for his accomplishments as a Met than he has gotten is Robin Ventura.
Before signing with the Mets, Ventura had spent a decade with the Chicago White Sox from 1989-1998. During his time there, he won five Gold Glove Awards and made the All-Star team in 1992.
In one memorable moment in 1993, Ventura got hit by a pitch from the legendary former Met Nolan Ryan and charged the mound. However, it was Ryan who punched Ventura six times in the head before the two were separated.
After the 1998 season, the Mets signed Ventura to a four-year contract to be their new third baseman. Incumbent third baseman Edgardo Alfonzo was moved to second base to replace the departure of the disappointing Carlos Baerga.
Ventura went on to have one of his best career seasons in 1999. He batted .301 with 32 home runs and a career-high 120 RBI. He also had a .379 OBP and a career-high .529 slugging percentage. He won his sixth and final Gold Glove Award that year; it was his first in the National League.
Ventura provided many memorable moments that year. On May 20, he became the first player to hit a grand slam in each game of a doubleheader. He then provided the "Mojo Risin" rally cry for the Mets that year and played despite eventual torn cartilage in his knee.
While Ventura was clutch throughout the season, his biggest moment as a Met occurred in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. The Mets were down 3-2 in the bottom of the 15th in a game that was long and full of rain. Then, with the bases loaded, Ventura launched a grand slam out of the park. However, it would not end up being a grand slam because only one runner came across the plate.
While Ventura ran to second base, backup catcher Todd Pratt hoisted him in the air, so Ventura was unable to complete his trip around the bases. As a result, the hit became known as a "Grand Slam Single." The Mets unfortunately lost Game 6 and the series after this memorable victory. Nonetheless, it was still one of the most memorable moments in team history.
Ventura was not able to find the same level of success in 2000, as he was recovering from both knee and right shoulder surgery. He committed more errors and missed some time in July due to shoulder inflammation. Ventura's average dropped significantly to just .232, but he also had 24 home runs and 84 RBI. He had a strong finish to his season though and hit his only World Series home run against the New York Yankees that year.
In his third and final season as a Met, Ventura struggled. He batted .237 with 21 home runs, but had just 61 RBI. After the 2001 season, Ventura was traded to the Yankees for David Justice, who in turn was traded to the Oakland A's for Mark Guthrie.
He made an appearance at Shea Stadium for the stadium's last game in September 2008 alongside other legendary Mets, including teammates Mike Piazza, Alfonzo, Todd Zeile, John Franco and Al Leiter.
39. Carlos Delgado
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Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .267
Home Runs: 104
Runs Scored: 271
Slugging Percentage: .506
Best Individual Season: 2008 (.271 average, 38 home runs, 115 RBI, 32 doubles, .353 OBP, .518 slugging percentage)
Although he was not around for an extended period of time, Carlos Delgado was nonetheless one of the best first basemen the Mets have ever had.
Delgado spent the bulk of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays from 1993-2004. During that time, he was one of the most feared left-handed sluggers in baseball.
After the 2004 season, the Blue Jays decided to not pursue Delgado. As a result, Delgado signed a four-year deal with the Florida Marlins. He had a solid 2005 season with the Marlins before getting traded after the season to the Mets in one of the Marlins' many "fire sales." The Mets sent a young Mike Jacobs and two pitching prospects to Florida for Delgado.
Delgado's transition to New York was quite successful in 2006. He batted .265, hit 38 home runs and drove in 114 RBI as the feared cleanup hitter the Mets needed. He also had a .548 slugging percentage.
Along with career seasons from Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes, plus the continued growth of David Wright, the Mets had one of the most explosive offenses that year. Unfortunately, the season came to a bitter end with an NLCS series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
2007 was not as good for Delgado. He slipped to a .258 average, hit just 24 home runs and only drove in 87 RBI. He struggled mightily in the early portion of the season, and never seemed to really get it going throughout the year.
Delgado's 2008 season started off similarly to how 2007 was for him. He was batting just .235 by May, but all of a sudden, in the middle of June, Delgado's bat simply woke up. The turning point of his season was on June 27 when he set a new Mets record by collecting nine RBI in a single game.
From June to September, Delgado hit 30 home runs. He also collected 65 RBI in a 65-game span. Delgado was a huge reason as to why the Mets were still contending for the postseason, which ultimately failed as the Mets didn't earn a bid.
Delgado finished the season with a .271 average, 38 home runs and 115 RBI. He finished ninth in the NL MVP voting.
Thanks to his 2008 resurgence, the Mets picked up Delgado's $12 million option for 2009. With the Mets playing in a brand new stadium, Delgado was expected to continue being a productive slugger, but that all came to an end when Delgado was placed on the disabled list with a hip injury. He was supposed to be out for around 10 weeks, but he never played again with the Mets.
In 2010, Delgado had another hip surgery and did not play in a major league game despite signing a minor league deal with the Boston Red Sox. However, he only had 13 at-bats in this brief stint.
On April 13, 2011, Delgado announced his retirement. He finished with 473 career home runs, the most ever for a Puerto Rican-born player.
Delgado's Mets tenure only lasted slightly over three seasons, but he was still one of the best players to ever play the position for the franchise.
38. Armando Benitez
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Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 347
Best Individual Season: 2001 (6-4, 3.77 ERA, 43 saves, 76.1 innings pitched, 73 appearances, 93 strikeouts)
Armando Benitez was a critical member of the Mets bullpen in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Benitez originally came up with the Baltimore Orioles, a team he was with from 1994-1998. He gave up the infamous home run Jeffrey Maier caught in the 1996 ALCS. But Benitez improved and became a solid setup man in 1997 and then the Orioles closer in 1998.
After the 1998 season, Benitez was traded to the Mets for Charles Johnson. In 1999, Benitez started off as John Franco's setup man, but after Franco got hurt that year, Benitez became the new closer and remained at that post when Franco returned. He finished the year with a 4-3 record, a 1.85 ERA and 22 saves. He pitched very well in the 1999 postseason and only gave up one run in both series combined.
In 2000, Benitez had another great season by going 4-4 with a 2.61 ERA and a then-Mets-record 41 saves. In the NLDS, he gave up a game-tying home run to J.T. Snow in Game 2, but he then pitched well during the NLCS and did not give up an earned run in that series. In the World Series, Benitez failed to pick up the save in his first opportunity but got a save in the only game the Mets won.
In 2001, Benitez kept improving overall but started to hear some boos late in the season after giving up a few too many big home runs. Nonetheless, he went 6-4 with a 3.77 ERA and a new Mets-record 43 saves, which still stands today.
In 2002, Benitez went 1-0, lowered his ERA to 2.27 and racked up 33 saves. However, by 2003, fans got more fed up with the late-inning meltdowns, and Benitez got traded right after the All-Star break to the New York Yankees. Ironically, he was the only Met that year to make the All-Star team. He was 3-3 with a 3.10 ERA and 21 saves before the trade.
Benitez may have been more known for the big home runs he gave up than all the saves he collected within a four-and-a-half-year span, but he still holds the Mets' single-season saves record and should be considered one of better closers the Mets have had in recent years.
37. Rick Reed
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Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 888.2
Games Started: 140
Complete Games: 8
Best Individual Season: 1997 (13-9, 2.89 ERA, 208.1 innings pitched, two complete games, 113 strikeouts)
Known as "the poor man's Greg Maddux," Rick Reed was one of the best control pitchers the Mets have had in recent years and a dependable innings-eater for the Mets during his five-year stay.
Reed first came up with the Pittsburgh Pirates, whom he played for from 1988-1991. However, he did not see much time in the major leagues during any of those years.
Reed then played for the Kansas City Royals in 1992 and part of 1993 before signing with the Texas Rangers in August of 1993. He remained in Texas until May of 1994 when he was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched for the Reds organization through 1995.
During the MLB players strike in 1994-1995, Reed made a bold decision to become a replacement player in 1995 during the strike. However, he did not pitch particularly well and got released.
The Mets then signed Reed to a minor league contract in 1996. He spent the entire year with the Norfolk Tides, the Mets' Triple-A affiliate, and improved his pitching with the help of eventual Mets manager Bobby Valentine and pitching coach Bob Apodaca. When Valentine and Apodaca were promoted to the Mets in August of 1996 following the firing of Dallas Green, Reed's moment to shine was just around the corner.
Going into spring training in 1997, Reed was not one of the most likely pitchers to crack the Opening Day rotation. However, Valentine, the new Mets manager, had a lot of confidence in Reed, who ended up getting the last spot in the starting rotation. This upset a good number of players, most notably longtime closer John Franco, who was the Mets' representative in the players union.
However, Reed put that aside and had his long-awaited breakout season that year.
During the 1997 season, Reed went 13-9 with a 2.89 ERA, which was the sixth best in the league. He became known for his great command, as illustrated by his 113-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Reed was even better in 1998 as he became a low-profile, but dependable workhorse. He could outperform his more high-profile teammates, but still remained low key at all times. He won a career-high 16 games (16-11 overall) and finished with a 3.48 ERA. He made his first trip to the All-Star Game that year and had an excellent 153-29 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
However, being that Reed consistently threw strikes, he was also prone to the long ball. He gave up 30 home runs that year.
Reed had another solid season in 1999. He went 11-5 that year with a 4.58 ERA. He pitched well during his two postseason starts by winning one and taking a no-decision during the other. He gave up just two runs in each of those outings.
In 2000, Reed continued his success by going 11-5 and lowered his ERA to 4.11. He pitched well during his first postseason start that year in the NLDS, but did not make it past the fourth inning in his only start during the NLCS. In the 2000 World Series, Reed was the starting pitcher in the only game the Mets won. He pitched six innings and gave up just two runs and six hits, but the Mets offense rallied late for the win.
Prior to the 2001 season, Reed had signed a new three-year contract to remain a Met. Unfortunately, this turned out to be short-lived. Reed made his second and final appearance in the All-Star Game that year and went 8-6 with a 3.48 ERA before getting traded to the Minnesota Twins at the trade deadline for Matt Lawton.
Reed may not have been one of the biggest names among the pitchers the Mets have had, but he was certainly one of the more durable pitchers in recent Mets history and someone who certainly exceeded his expectations.
36. Bobby J. Jones
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Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 1,215.2
Games Started: 190
Complete Games: 10
Best Individual Season: 1997 (15-9, 3.63 ERA, 193.1 innings pitched, two complete games, one shutout, 125 strikeouts)
Bobby Jones was never a flashy pitcher, but he quietly contributed to the Mets and was arguably the team's best starter in the mid- and late 1990s.
A Fresno, California native, Jones was drafted by the Mets in 1991. He was a compensatory pick following the departure of Darryl Strawberry. Many fans were disappointed to see Strawberry leave, but Jones turned out to be one of the best draft picks for the Mets in the 1990s.
Jones made his professional debut on August 14, 1993 and picked up his first career win that day against the eventual NL champion, the Philadelphia Phillies. In nine starts that season, Jones went 2-4 with a 3.65 ERA.
In his first full season in 1994, Jones became a mainstay in the Mets rotation and had a breakout year. He went 12-7 that year with a career-best 3.15 ERA. His wins and ERA were both top 10 in the league.
In 1995, Jones went 10-10 with a 4.19 ERA. He was the only Mets pitcher that year to have at least 10 wins. He also led the team with a career-high 127 strikeouts.
Jones followed this up with another strong season in 1996, going 12-8 with a 4.42 ERA.
Jones' career season arrived in 1997. He got off to a great start and was already 10-2 by June. He made his first only trip to the All-Star Game that year and in his only inning of pitching, struck out both Ken Griffey Jr. and Mark McGwire.
Jones' early season dominance was critical as he helped propel the Mets just a few games shy of postseason contention, something that the Mets weren't even close to since Jones had become a part of the team. Despite struggling a bit after the All-Star break, he won a career-high 15 games and finished 15-9 with a 3.63 ERA.
In 1998, Jones went 9-9 with a 4.05 ERA. At this point, the Mets rotation was really coming together as Jones, Rick Reed and Al Leiter all had great seasons in the late 1990s.
By 1999 though, the Mets rotation had gotten crowded following Masato Yoshii's breakout season in 1998, plus the addition of the former Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser. As a result, Jones ended up being the odd man out. He struggled with injuries that year and only made nine starts with just 12 total appearances. He went 3-3 with a 5.61 ERA and was left off the postseason roster.
In 2000, Jones continued to struggle in the early part of the season and was even sent down to the minor leagues. However, he returned to the rotation in late June and improved his pitching down the stretch. Despite a high 5.06 ERA, Jones went 11-6 that year and was included as the Mets' fourth starter on the postseason roster.
In Game 4 of the 2000 NLDS, Jones made his first career postseason start and pitched by far the greatest game of his career. He pitched a complete game, one-hit shutout as the Mets clinched the series and moved onto the NLCS. The only hit he gave up was a fifth inning double to former Mets teammate Jeff Kent. It was certainly a wonderful moment for Jones as he overcame two inconsistent seasons to win the biggest game of his life.
Jones then made two more postseason starts. Those starts, however, were not as good. In the NLCS, Jones was pulled after just four innings and gave up six runs and four hits before his exit. In his only World Series appearance, Jones gave up a run in each of the first three innings and ended up taking the loss. This would end up being his final game in a Mets uniform.
Following the 2000 season, the Mets allowed Jones to become a free agent and he signed with the San Diego Padres. After two disappointing seasons in San Diego, Jones retired following the 2002 season.
Despite not being one of the most dominant pitchers in the league during his time, Bobby J. Jones was a dependable starting pitcher for the Mets in the 1990s and arguably the best starting pitcher the team had throughout the decade.
35. Dave Kingman
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Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .219
Home Runs: 154
Runs Scored: 302
Slugging Percentage: .453
Best Individual Season: 1976 (.238 average, 37 home runs, 86 RBI, .286 OBP, .506 slugging percentage)
One of the most feared sluggers in the past 50 years, Dave Kingman became the first genuine slugger the Mets had ever had.
Known for his monstrous power and breathtaking 500-foot homers, "Kong" made the most of his two brief stints with the team. However, when he wasn't hitting home runs, the free-swinging Kingman always racked up a lot of strikeouts. Furthermore, his batting average and OBP were both consistently on the low side.
After spending the first four years of his career with the San Francisco Giants from 1971-1974, Kingman was sold to the Mets following the 1974 season. He immediately became a force for the Mets offense by setting a then-franchise record with 36 home runs to go along with 88 RBI. During that season, Kingman split time between left field and first base.
Kingman was even better in 1976. His average rose from .231 to .238, and he broke his own record with 37 home runs. He was named an All-Star that year and started in right field during the game.
Kingman's 1977 season was rather odd. He only had nine home runs in June by the time he became part of the "Midnight Massacre." After the Mets infamously traded away Tom Seaver, Kingman was then sent to the San Diego Padres for future Mets manager Bobby Valentine.
In September, the California Angels claimed Kingman off waivers and six days later, he was sent to the New York Yankees, where he finished the season. Although the Yankees won the 1977 World Series, Kingman was not included on the roster. That year, he became the only person in history to play in all four divisions at that time.
Kingman then played the next three seasons with the Chicago Cubs and led the league in 1979 with 48 home runs. He then got traded back to the Mets prior to the 1981 season in an attempt by the Mets' new ownership to please the fanbase.
He had just 22 home runs and 59 RBI in 1981, but returned to his normal self the following year by hitting 37 home runs, which once again led the league, and driving in 99 RBI. In his final Mets season in 1983, Kingman batted below .200 and did not play as much, especially after the Mets acquired Keith Hernandez. He finished with only 13 home runs and 29 RBI.
Kingman spent his final three seasons mostly as a designated hitter with the Oakland A's. After playing 20 minor league games within the Giants organization in 1987, he retired. He finished his career with 442 home runs, yet only got votes on three Hall of Fame ballots during his first year of eligibility. As a result, he became the first player with over 400 home runs to not get a Hall of Fame induction.
Dave Kingman's Mets tenure was not the longest, and the teams he played on certainly were not particularly good, but Kingman was a fan favorite and those that saw him will probably never forget some of the long home runs he hit.
34. John Olerud
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Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .315
Home Runs: 63
Runs Scored: 288
Slugging Percentage: .501
Best Individual Season: 1998 (.354 average, 22 home runs, 93 RBI, 36 doubles, .447 OBP, .551 slugging percentage)
John Olerud's Mets tenure was a lot shorter than many fans would have wanted, but he certainly made the most of it and became a fan favorite.
Olerud was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays, whom he played for from 1989-1996. His breakout year was in 1993 when he led the American League in batting with a .363 average.
He won two World Series with the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993. Despite his success, Olerud was widely criticized for being too patient at the plate. As a result, the Mets struck a deal in December of 1996 and received Olerud for journeyman pitcher Robert Person.
Many people predicted that Olerud would crumble under the New York pressure. However, Olerud rose to the challenge and became the dependable backbone of the Mets offense in 1997.
With Todd Hundley missing a good chunk of the season with elbow problems and Bernard Gilkey struggling to duplicate his career numbers from 1996, Olerud carried the team on an improbable run towards postseason contention. The Mets ultimately finished third in the division that year, but Olerud had a great season with a .294 average, 22 home runs and a team-leading 102 RBI.
Olerud was even better in 1998. The trade for Mike Piazza that year may have been the defining moment, but Olerud arguably had the best season on the team. He shattered Cleon Jones' single-season batting average record of .340 by batting .354. He also hit 22 home runs and drove in 93 RBI. His .447 OBP and 138 runs created that year are also team records.
During his contract season in 1999, Olerud delivered another great season by batting .298 with 19 home runs and 96 RBI. He also set more team records that year with 125 walks. Furthermore, he became just the second Met to play in all 162 games that season. He was once again a dependable contributor to the team's success, as he played in the postseason for the first time since his Blue Jays championship years.
While many Mets fans wanted Olerud to stay, he ended up signing a three-year deal with the Seattle Mariners to be closer to home.
John Olerud may have only been a Met for three years, but he was reliable, both offensively and defensively. His arrival was a significant turning point in Mets history between the losing seasons the Mets had in the early and mid-1990s to the success the Mets had from 1997-2000.
33. Bob Ojeda
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Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 764.0
Games Started: 140
Complete Games: 17
Best Individual Season: 1986 (18-5, 2.57 ERA, 217.1 innings pitched, seven complete games, two shutouts, 148 strikeouts)
One of the final pieces to the 1986 championship team was Bob Ojeda. He was a critical acquisition that year and the postseason run may not have been the same without his contributions.
Ojeda first pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1980-1985, but once the Boston rotation got rather crowded, Ojeda was moved to the bullpen. He pitched well enough in this role to get traded to the Mets prior to the 1986 season. One of the players that was traded from the Mets to the Red Sox in this deal was Calvin Schiraldi, who would play a pivotal role in the 1986 World Series.
Ojeda had a career season in 1986 by going 18-5 with a 2.57 ERA. His ERA total was the second best in the league. In the postseason, Ojeda pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the NLCS to get the Mets their first postseason win in 13 years. In Game 6, he gave up a few early runs and ended with a no-decision, but the Mets ended up winning this memorable 16-inning game to move onto the World Series.
In the World Series, with the Mets down 2-0 after losing twice at home, Ojeda went back to Fenway Park and pitched very well in a 7-1 win. In Game 6, the Mets needed Ojeda to save them again. This time, Ojeda wasn't as effective by giving up two early runs, but the Mets would end up making the greatest postseason comeback ever and win not only that game, but Game 7 as well to win it all.
In 1987, Ojeda went 3-5 with a 3.88 ERA in his first 10 starts, but then missed the rest of the season due to elbow surgery. He then bounced back in 1988 and went 10-13 with a 2.88 ERA. However, right when the Mets clinched the NL East title, Ojeda accidentally sliced off the tip of his left middle finger thanks to electric hedge trimmers. After microsurgery reattached his finger tip, he missed the entire postseason.
After recovering from his accident, Ojeda had another good season for the Mets in 1989. He went 13-11 with a 3.47 ERA that year. This, though, would become his last quality season. In 1990, Ojeda ended up being moved to the bullpen for most of the year and went 7-6 with a 3.66 ERA before getting traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason for Hubie Brooks.
Since retiring, Ojeda has spent some time coaching and is now the pregame and postgame analyst for Mets games in the SNY studio. Prior to his current job, Ojeda also made appearances at Shea Stadium for both the 1986 team's 20th anniversary in 2006 and Shea Stadium's last game in 2008.
Bob Ojeda may have only had one excellent season as a Met, but the season he had that year was critical to the team's success and the Mets may not have won the World Series had it not been for Ojeda's pitching.
32. Kevin McReynolds
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Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .272
Home Runs: 122
Runs Scored: 405
Slugging Percentage: .460
Best Individual Season: 1988 (.288 average, 27 home runs, 99 RBI, 30 doubles, .336 OBP, .496 slugging percentage)
Although he was not on the 1986 championship team, one of the best Mets hitters in the 1980s was Kevin McReynolds.
McReynolds began his professional career with the San Diego Padres, whom he played for from 1983-1986. The Mets traded away a young Kevin Mitchell, plus Stan Jefferson and Shawn Abner for McReynolds, Gene Walter and Adam Ging after the 1986 World Series.
While Mitchell would eventually develop into a great hitter with the San Francisco Giants and win the NL MVP Award in 1989, McReynolds became one of the Mets' most reliable hitters in the late 1980s. He became the Mets' everyday left fielder in 1987 and finished the season with a .276 average, 32 doubles, 29 home runs and 95 RBI.
McReynolds then had a career season in 1988 as the Mets won the NL East title. He raised his average to .288, hit 27 home runs and drove in 99 RBI. He was also 21-of-21 in stolen base attempts, which set a new MLB record. Those numbers helped him finish in third place for the NL MVP voting behind teammate Darryl Strawberry and eventual winner Kirk Gibson of the Los Angeles Dodgers. McReynolds batted .250 in the 1988 NLCS, but hit two home runs and drove in four RBI in 28 at-bats.
McReynolds had another solid season in 1989 and finished with a .272 average, 22 home runs and 85 RBI. His contributions were counted on even more heavily after Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson were traded away. On August 1, McReynolds became the fifth Met in team history to hit for the cycle.
In 1990, McReynolds batted .269 with 24 home runs and 82 RBI. It was his last solid season as his numbers dropped in 1991. Without Strawberry around to protect him in the lineup, McReynolds' average that year fell to .259 and he had only 16 home runs and 74 RBI.
After the Mets' failures of 1991, new GM Al Harazin decided to change the team in significant ways. He traded McReynolds, along with Gregg Jefferies and Keith Miller to the Kansas City Royals for Bret Saberhagen and Bill Pecota.
McReynolds spent 1992-1993 with the Royals before returning to the Mets prior to the 1994 season in exchange for the disappointing Vince Coleman. At this point, McReynolds became more of a part-time player. He batted .256 with four home runs and 21 RBI in 1994. He then retired after the season.
Kevin McReynolds may not have had as many memorable moments as some of his former Mets teammates, but he was definitely one of the better outfielders the Mets have ever had.
31. Sid Fernandez
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Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 1,584.2
Games Started: 250
Complete Games: 23
Best Individual Season: 1989 (14-5, 2.83 ERA, 219.1 innings pitched, six complete games, two shutouts, 198 strikeouts)
One of the best southpaws in Mets history, Sid Fernandez was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and pitched briefly with the team as a September call-up before getting traded to the Mets along with Ross Jones for Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz prior to the 1984 season.
Fernandez spent 1984 going back and forth between the Mets and their Triple-A affiliate, the Tidewater Tides. As a Met, Fernandez went 6-6 with a 3.50 ERA that year.
In 1985, Fernandez found more time on the major league roster and went 9-9 with a 2.80 ERA. He immediately became known as a pitcher that consistently struck out many batters. In fact, in 170.1 innings, Fernandez struck out 180 batters and only gave up 108 hits. Both of these ratios were by far the best in the league. The reason for his win-loss total was because he gave up a lot of walks.
In 1986, Fernandez went 16-6 with a 3.52 ERA and 200 strikeouts and made his first trip to the All-Star Game. He pitched much better at home than on the road, but Fernandez would prove to be clutch in the postseason.
After taking the loss by simply getting out-pitched by the Houston Astros' Mike Scott in his only NLCS start, Fernandez was moved to the bullpen for the World Series to provide added depth. In Game 5, after Dwight Gooden had struggled, Fernandez was brought in and pitched four solid innings.
Fernandez's biggest moment, though, occurred in the decisive Game 7. After Ron Darling struggled, Fernandez came in and retired seven consecutive batters. The Mets offense rallied later in the game and it was enough to give the Mets the World Series title.
In 1987, Fernandez had another great start and made his second and final trip to the All-Star Game. However, he did not pitch as well after the All-Star break and missed a few weeks in August due to shoulder tendinitis. Nonetheless, Fernandez went 12-8 with a 3.81 ERA for the season.
In 1988, Fernandez got off to a poor start, but pitched well later in the season to finish 12-10 with a 3.03 ERA and 189 strikeouts. He was selected to start in the pivotal Game 5 of the NLCS, but fell apart in the fourth inning and then gave up a three-run home run that got him removed from the game.
Despite his poor postseason start, Fernandez came back in 1989 and had the best season of his career. He began in the bullpen, but was quickly moved back into the rotation. He finished with a 14-5 record, a 2.83 ERA and 198 strikeouts. He also set a Mets record by striking out 16 batters in a game, which is the most by a left-handed pitcher in team history. He even improved his numbers on the road that year.
In 1990, Fernandez did not get much run support and finished with a career-worst 9-14 record, despite a 3.46 ERA and 181 strikeouts. A year later in 1991, Fernandez missed most of the season with a broken arm, and after returning in July and going 1-3 in eight starts with a 2.86 ERA, he missed the rest of the season due to knee injuries.
In 1992, Fernandez bounced back with a 14-11 record, a career-best 2.73 ERA and 193 strikeouts. However, his success that year was not enough to save his team from becoming one of the worst in baseball.
During his final season as a Met in 1993, Fernandez missed half of the season with a knee injury while covering first base. After returning, he went 5-6 with a 2.93 ERA in 18 starts. The Mets as a team were even worse that year and at that point changes had to be made. As a result, Fernandez opted for free agency as the Mets began to rebuild.
One notable fact about Fernandez is that his career total of 6.85 hits per nine innings is the fourth best in MLB history, behind Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax and Pedro Martinez.
Sid Fernandez is one of the best left-handed pitchers the Mets have ever had and he deserves more recognition for what he accomplished during his career.