New York Mets: Top 50 Greatest Players of All Time, Part 4 (No.20-11)
The countdown of the 50 greatest players in New York Mets history continues with Part Four, in which the 11th to 20th greatest players will be named.
When determining who really were the best Mets ever, my criteria included the players' overall numbers as a Met, the impact they had on the franchise, how much of a fan favorite they 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 fourth segment of a five-part series. Here are the 11th to 20th greatest players in Mets history.
20. Bud Harrelson
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .234
Home Runs: 6
Runs Scored: 490
Stolen Bases: 115
Slugging Percentage: .287
Best Individual Season: 1970 (.243 average, 1 home run, 42 RBI, 72 runs scored, 138 hits, 18 doubles, 23 stolen bases, .351 OBP, .309 slugging percentage)
The Mets' standard at shortstop for many years was Derrel McKinley Harrelson, simply known as Bud. A defensively oriented shortstop with a lot of heart, Harrelson played from 1965-1977 and is by far the longest-tenured shortstop in team history.
Harrelson first came up in 1965, but only batted .108 in 19 games. He then appeared in 33 games in 1966 as Roy McMillan's backup. He batted .222 that year.
Harrelson did not get a regular starting job until 1967. He batted .254 for the year with one home run and 28 RBI. He anchored the Mets defense for the first of 13 consecutive seasons.
In 1968, Harrelson batted .219 with no home runs and 14 RBI. He followed this up with a .248 average, no home runs and 24 RBI during the Mets' championship run in 1969. That year, the switch-hitting Harrelson was one of the few regulars to start every day and not be in a platoon.
Harrelson only collected two hits in the 1969 NLCS, but both were extra-base hits and he had three RBI in the series. He had three hits during the World Series.
In 1970, Harrelson made his first All-Star team, batted .243, hit one home run and collected a career-high 42 RBI.
In 1971, Harrelson had arguably his most complete season. He batted .252 with no home runs and 32 RBI. He made his second All-Star team and won his only career Gold Glove award that year.
In 1972, Harrelson's average fell to .215. He also had one home run and 24 RBI. He followed this up with a career-high .258 average, along with no home runs and 20 RBI in 1973.
Perhaps Harrelson's most memorable moment occurred during the 1973 NLCS against the Reds. After Jon Matlack's complete game victory in Game 2, Harrelson commented that Matlack made the Big Red Machine look like him at the plate. Prior to Game 3, Reds second baseman Joe Morgan told Harrelson that Pete Rose was not happy with the comment.
In the fifth inning, with Rose on first, Morgan grounded into a double play. Rose slid hard into second base, which resulted in a brawl between Harrelson and Rose that cleared both benches. Fans in left field started throwing objects onto the field and manager Yogi Berra along with a few of his players were summoned to calm the fans. The Mets would end up winning the series, but lost in the World Series to the Oakland A's.
Harrelson's average fell in 1974 to just .227. He added one home run and just 13 RBI. He missed most of the 1975 season thanks to knee surgery and only appeared in 34 games that year.
In 1976, Harrelson batted .234 with one home run and 26 RBI. By that time, most of his 1969 and 1973 teammates had retired or gone elsewhere and Harrelson's time was coming to an end as well.
Harrelson's last season with the Mets was during the infamous 1977 season. He batted just .178 with one home run and 12 RBI before getting traded to the Phillies in the offseason.
Harrelson spent 1978 and 1979 with the Phillies and 1980 with the Rangers before retiring. He soon became a Mets minor league coach and in 1985, after Bobby Valentine accepted the Rangers' managerial position, Harrelson became Davey Johnson's third base coach. He would get his second championship with the Mets as a coach in 1986. As a result, he is the only person to be a member of both the 1969 and 1986 championship teams. He was also inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1986.
In 1990, after Johnson was fired, Harrelson replaced him as the new manager. He led the Mets that year to a second-place finish and earned another season as manager. 1991 however, was certainly not as good for Harrelson and the Mets. The veteran team underachieved mightily and collapsed in the second half before Harrelson himself was fired with a week left in the season.
Since then, Harrelson has stayed active as part of the Mets Alumni Association. He makes occasional appearances at Citi Field and was there in 2009 for the 40th anniversary of the 1969 team.
19. Edgardo Alfonzo
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .292
Home Runs: 120
Runs Scored: 614
Slugging Percentage: .445
Best Individual Season: 2000 (.324 average, 25 home runs, 94 RBI, 109 runs scored, 176 hits, 40 doubles, .425 OBP, .542 slugging percentage)
By far the best overall athlete the Mets have had at second base, Alfonzo could hit for both power and average. He ran the bases intelligently, and was always one of the best defensively from both a fielding and throwing perspective.
Alfonzo broke into the majors in 1995 as a utility infielder. At just 21 years of age, Fonzie batted .278 with four home runs and 41 RBI. He played mostly at third base, but also filled in at second base and shortstop.
In 1996, with Rey Ordonez as the new shortstop, Jose Vizcaino shifted to second base and Jeff Kent moved to third base, Alfonzo was the one left on the bench. His average fell to .261 and he finished with four home runs and 40 RBI. After Kent and Vizcaino got traded, Alfonzo played more at second base.
In what turned out to be his breakout season, Alfonzo became the starting third baseman in 1997 once Butch Huskey was permanently moved to the outfield. Alfonzo hit .315 that year with 10 home runs, 72 RBI, 27 doubles and a .391 on-base percentage. At this point, Alfonzo became one of the most promising young players on a much-improved Mets team.
In 1998, Alfonzo followed up his breakout season with another solid season. He batted .278 with 17 home runs, 78 RBI and 28 doubles.
In 1999, Alfonzo shifted to second base when Ventura arrived and went on to have one of his best seasons. He set career-highs with 27 home runs and 108 RBI and won his first and only Silver Slugger Award. He also had 123 runs scored, 191 hits, 41 doubles, a career high 315 total bases, and a .385 on-base percentage. He had many clutch hits and set a Mets record by going 6-for-6 with three home runs and scoring six runs in a game against the Astros. He even appeared on a Sports Illustrated cover as part of the "Best Infield Ever."
In 2000, Alfonzo had his career year. He set a career-high with a .324 average to go along with 25 home runs and 94 RBI. He also had 109 runs scored, 176 hits, 40 doubles, a remarkable career high .425 on-base percentage and a career high .542 slugging percentage.
He made his only All-Star team that year and was clutch once again in the postseason. Many fans would point to Mike Piazza's success as the reason why the Mets made the World Series that year, but Alfonzo's significant contributions were just as critical.
In 2001, Alfonzo failed to duplicate his 1999 and 2000 success. His average fell to just .243, and he only had 17 home runs and 49 RBI. He missed almost a month with a lower back strain.
Alfonzo shifted back to third base in 2002 to accommodate the disappointing arrival of Gold Glove second baseman Roberto Alomar. In what turned out to be his final Mets season, Alfonzo raised his average to .308, but his run production did not improve as he finished with 16 home runs and 56 RBI.
After the 2002 season, Alfonzo signed with the Giants in 2003. He played there from 2003-2005 before moving onto the Angels in 2006. After getting released in May of that year, Alfonzo caught on with the Blue Jays, but got released again after just 12 games. In the end, Alfonzo was back in the Mets' minor league system on their Triple-A team trying to get back to the majors.
Since 2007, Alfonzo has bounced around and spent time with the Long Island Ducks, Yomiuri Giants and Newark Bears.
Although his prime only lasted around four seasons from 1997-2000, Alfonzo will always remain a fan favorite for those that were fortunate to watch him. He did not play second base as much as others over the years, but his 1999 and 2000 seasons were by far the best of anyone to have played the position for the Mets. Furthermore, since 2001, the Mets have yet to have a second baseman as good as Alfonzo was.
18. Jon Matlack
Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 1,448
Games Started: 199
Complete Games: 65
Best Individual Season: 1972 (15-10, 2.32 ERA, 244 innings pitched, 8 complete games, 4 shutouts, 169 strikeouts)
One of the more forgotten great starting pitchers in Mets history has got to be Jon Matlack.
Matlack was drafted in 1967 by the Mets and made his professional debut midway through 1971. In seven appearances that year, he went 0-3 with a 4.14 ERA.
In 1972, Matlack made the Mets' roster out of spring training and had a breakout rookie campaign that year. He went 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA and won the 1972 NL Rookie of the Year Award. On September 30, he gave up Roberto Clemente's 3,000th and final career hit.
In 1973, Matlack's record slipped to 14-16 and his ERA increased to 3.20, but he pitched well late in the season as the Mets won their division. He also struck out 205 batters that year. He then pitched the best game of his career during the 1973 NLCS against the Reds. In Game 2, Matlack pitched a complete-game two-hit shutout as the Mets won 5-0.
In the 1973 World Series, Matlack pitched well in Game 1, but suffered a hard luck 2-1 loss due to a Felix Millan error. In Game 4, Matlack pitched eight solid innings and gave up just one run and three hits as the Mets won 6-1. However, in the decisive Game 7, Matlack did not pitch well in a 5-2 loss and gave up two home runs before being removed after just 2 2/3 innings.
In 1974, Matlack went 13-15 with a 2.41 ERA. Had the Mets offense given him more run support, his record would have been better. He made his first of three consecutive trips to the All-Star Game that year. Matlack then went 16-12 with a 3.38 ERA in 1975 and 17-10 with a 2.95 ERA in 1976. He finished sixth in the Cy Young Award voting in 1976.
In 1977, Matlack fell to just 7-15 with a 4.21 ERA on a Mets team that simply began to fall apart. After the 1977 season, Matlack was traded to the Rangers as part of a four-team deal. He then pitched the rest of his career from 1978-1983 with the Rangers before retiring.
Since retirement, Matlack has been a pitching coach in various capacities. He is currently the Tigers' minor league pitching coordinator.
Jon Matlack may not have been the biggest name in Mets pitching during the 1970s, but he was a great addition to the 1973 National League Champions and pitched well in some meaningful games.
17. Cleon Jones
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .281
Home Runs: 93
Runs Scored: 563
Stolen Bases: 91
Slugging Percentage: .406
Best Individual Season: 1969 (.340 average, 12 home runs, 75 RBI, 92 runs scored, 25 doubles, .422 OBP, .482 slugging percentage)
One of the most remembered outfielders in the first quarter-century of Mets baseball will always be Cleon Jones.
Drafted by the Mets, Jones originally got called up in September of 1963, but had just two hits in 15 at-bats. He spent all of 1964 in the minor leagues before getting called up again in 1965. He played the first month of the season before getting demoted in May. He was then re-called in September and finished the year with a .149 average, one home run and nine RBI.
In 1966, Jones became the everyday center fielder for the Mets. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting with a .275 average, eight home runs, 57 RBI and 16 stolen bases. In 1967, Jones' average fell to .246 and he finished with just five home runs and 30 RBI. He shared time in center field with Larry Stahl due to his struggles.
Prior to the 1968 season, the Mets traded for Jones' childhood friend, Tommie Agee. Agee, being a former Gold Glove Award winner, was given center field and Jones moved to left field. That year, Jones raised his average to .297, set a career high with 14 home runs and drove in 55 RBI. He also set more career highs with 29 doubles and 23 stolen bases.
Despite those numbers, 1969 would become Jones' career season. As the Mets went on to win the World Series that year, Jones set a new Mets standard with a .340 average. He also had 12 home runs, a career high 75 RBI, 25 doubles, 16 stolen bases, and a remarkable .422 OBP. He made his only All-Star team that year. Jones hit .429 in the NLCS against the Braves, but had just three hits in the World Series. Nonetheless, he caught the final out of the series by famously dropping to one knee.
A turning point in the 1969 season occurred in late July when Jones failed to run out a fly ball. Manager Gil Hodges then came out and walked to left field. He then walked back to the dugout with Jones behind him. People originally thought Jones was injured, but sources later believed Hodges removed Jones for a lack of hustle. Nevertheless, it was a turning point for the Mets and it propelled them to their championship.
In 1970, Jones batted .277 with 10 home runs and 63 RBI. He then batted .319 in 1971, good enough for seventh in the National League, tied his career high with 14 home runs and drove in 69 RBI.
Jones struggled in 1972 as he saw his average drop to just .245. His five home runs and 52 RBI that year were also on the low side. He platooned with John Milner that year in left field.
In 1973, Jones bounced back by batting .260 with 11 home runs and 48 RBI. He then batted .300 in the NLCS and .286 in the World Series that year. However, this time, the Mets did not finish the season with a championship.
Jones' last great year with the Mets was in 1974. He batted .282 with 13 home runs and 60 RBI. But right when 1975 started, everything went downhill for Jones.
He missed the first two months of the season with a knee injury and was in Florida during this time for extended Spring Training. While he was there, he was arrested for indecent exposure after police found him sleeping in a van with a 21-year old girl. The charges were later dropped, but the Mets' chairman M. Donald Grant fined Jones $2,000 for his actions, which was by far the largest fine the Mets had ever given a player. Jones was also forced to apologize at a press conference.
After returning to the field that year, Jones was batting .240 in 50 at-bats before asking for his release, which he got. He did not get along with manager Yogi Berra and this had a significant effect as to why his Mets career ended when it did.
Jones was signed by the White Sox in 1976. He batted .200 in 13 games, got released after that and subsequently retired.
Jones was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1991. He still makes appearances at Citi Field and was there in 2009 during the 1969 Mets' 40th Anniversary tribute.
Cleon Jones was one of the Mets' most dependable outfielders for a decade and his steady contributions will always be remembered by the fans that were fortunate enough to watch him play.
16. Gary Carter
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .249
Home Runs: 89
Runs Scored: 272
Slugging Percentage: .412
Best Individual Season: 1985 (.281 average, 32 home runs, 100 RBI, 17 doubles, 83 runs scored, .365 OBP, .488 slugging percentage)
The final piece of the Mets' 1986 championship team arrived when Gary Carter was traded from the Montreal Expos to the Mets in 1985.
Arguably one of the best catchers of his era, Carter gave the Mets the offensive boost they needed with 32 home runs and 100 RBI in 1985.
He dropped to 24 home runs the following year but still collected 105 RBI and delivered some of the most clutch hits during the 1986 postseason. It was Carter's single that started the Mets' Game 6 rally vs. the Red Sox, and he hit a crucial home run in the deciding Game 7.
A three-time All-Star, Carter's hitting declined after the World Series, and he had poor offensive seasons in 1988 and 1989 before he got cut loose. He spent a year each with the Giants, Dodgers and Expos again before retiring.
Defensively, Carter was pretty good and successfully handled one of the best pitching staffs the Mets have ever had. But his clutch hits in 1985 and 1986 are what Mets fans will remember most.
Among Mets catchers, Carter is fifth in games played, third in home runs, fourth in RBI, and fifth in hits and runs scored. It should be noted though that among the Mets' top 5 overall catchers, Carter's tenure was the shortest.
As a Met, Carter batted .249, with 89 home runs and 349 RBI. Why Carter made the #2 spot though was because of his much-needed offense in 1985 and 1986, as well as the clutch postseason home runs he hit. His leadership should not be forgotten either, as he was named a team co-captain alongside Keith Hernandez in 1988.
For his career, Carter hit 324 home runs and drove in 1,225 RBI. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003. He wanted to go in as a Met, but the Hall of Fame committee ended up denying his request and inducted him as an Expo. Most likely, this was done because the Expos eventually moved to Washington and became the Nationals in 2005. The Mets ended up giving him a replica plaque depicting him as a Met.
At the time of his retirement, Carter was the best all-around catcher the Mets had ever had. He got inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 2001 and is still a fan favorite today.
Unfortunately, Carter lost his battle with brain cancer and passed away on February 16, 2012. To honor him, the Mets will have a patch on the right sleeve of their jerseys that includes the number 8 and the word "KID" inscribed onto it.
15. Ron Darling
Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 1,620
Games Started: 241
Complete Games: 25
Best Individual Season: 1985 (16-6, 2.90 ERA, 248 innings pitched, 4 complete games, 2 shutouts, 167 strikeouts)
Although overshadowed at the time by Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling was one of the most dependable Mets starters during the middle and late 1980s. Darling came to the Mets in a smart trade made by GM Frank Cashen. He sent the popular Lee Mazzilli to the Texas Rangers for Darling and fellow right hander Walt Terrell.
In Darling's first full season in 1984, he won 12 games and finished with a 3.81 ERA, as he teamed up with Dwight Gooden to form baseball's most formidable one-two punch at the time.
In 1985, Darling had another fine season. Although Gooden got all the attention for his Cy Young Award and 24-4 record, Darling's season was not too far behind. He was 16-6 and lowered his ERA to 2.90. He also made his first All-Star team that year, but did not participate.
In the 1986 championship season, Darling was 15-6 and had a career-best 2.81 ERA. He even received a few Cy Young votes for the only time in his career, finishing fifth. In that postseason, Darling did not pitch well in Game 3 of the NLCS vs. the Astros, but the Mets came from behind and won that game.
However, he came up big in the World Series, picking up the slack as Dwight Gooden suddenly began struggling. Darling pitched very well in Game 1, but lost 1-0 to Bruce Hurst.
In Game 4, Darling extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings and pitched well once again as the Mets won 6-2. Even though he was relieved early in Game 7, the Mets still won the championship and all was forgotten.
Even though he won 12 games in 1987, Darling regressed a bit as he struggled throughout the first half of the season. After the All-Star break, he won six straight starts, but got injured at the worst possible time in September when the Mets were trying to fight off the Cardinals for the division.
In 1988, Darling bounced back in a big way and won a career-high 17 games with an ERA of 3.25. He struggled on the road that year though, as 14 of his wins came at Shea Stadium. When the playoffs began, Darling struggled mightily against the Dodgers in the NLCS.
He won Game 3 as the Mets made a late comeback and won 8-4, but when everything was on the line in Game 7, Darling did not pitch like he did in the 1986 playoffs.
Matched up once again against the 1988 NL Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser, Darling gave up six runs and was removed in the second inning, while Hershiser pitched a five-hit shutout that gave the Dodgers a trip to the World Series, which they eventually won. The Mets would not make it back to the playoffs after that game for 11 years.
The struggles for Darling only began after the 1988 postseason, as he was inconsistent in 1989 and finished 14-14, despite a 3.52 ERA. On a brighter note, he did become the first and only Mets pitcher to win a Gold Glove.
In 1990, Darling was sent to the bullpen for the first time in his career and endured his first losing season. 1991 wasn't much better for him and in July, he got traded to the Expos. He subsequently got traded again to the A's two weeks later, where he pitched until he retired after 1995.
Since retiring, Darling has become an announcer and has been a Mets' commentator since 2006. He has even won an Emmy Award as the "Best Sports Analyst."
Ron Darling may have been overshadowed by some of his teammates during his time, but he is still one of the best pitchers the Mets have had, and certainly a critical member for the Mets in the late 1980s.
14. Mookie Wilson
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .276
Home Runs: 60
Runs Scored: 592
Stolen Bases: 281
Slugging Percentage: .394
Best Individual Season: 1982 (.279 average, 5 home runs, 55 RBI, 90 runs scored, 178 hits, 25 doubles, 9 triples, 58 stolen bases, .314 OBP, .369 slugging percentage)
Mookie Wilson became a staple for the Mets throughout the 1980s. He could play left field and center field, and was also comfortable with batting at various spots in the lineup.
Wilson first came up in 1980 as a September call-up. He batted .248 in 105 at-bats with no home runs and four RBI. He played more in 1981 and finished with a .271 average, three home runs, 14 RBI and 24 stolen bases.
However, 1982 would be Wilson's breakout season. He became the everyday center fielder and batted .279 with five home runs, a career high 55 RBI, 25 doubles, nine triples, and a career high 58 stolen bases.
Wilson followed this up in 1983 with a .276 average, seven home runs, 51 RBI, 25 doubles and 54 stolen bases. In 1984, Wilson batted .276 with a career high 10 home runs, 54 RBI, 28 doubles, a career high 10 triples, and 46 stolen bases.
In 1985, Wilson batted .276 for the third consecutive year, and finished with six home runs and 26 RBI. He missed two months of the season though with shoulder surgery.
In 1986, thanks to an eye injury that caused him to miss the first month of the season, as well as the emergence of Lenny Dykstra, the Mets had a logjam in the outfield. However, this was solved when George Foster got released later that summer. As a result, Wilson split time between left field and center field. He finished the year with a .289 average, nine home runs, 45 RBI and 25 stolen bases.
He saved his best moments though for the postseason. Although he batted just .115 in the NLCS and .269 in the World Series, Wilson's biggest moment also turned out to be one of the biggest moments in Mets history.
In Game 6, it was Wilson who had to leap away from Bob Stanley's wild pitch that allowed Kevin Mitchell to score the tying run. That same at-bat, Wilson was part of arguably the Mets' greatest moment ever. He hit a ground ball through Bill Buckner's legs that allowed Ray Knight to score the winning run and force a Game seven that the Mets ultimately won. Wilson became a Met hero after the series.
Wilson batted .299 with nine home runs, 34 RBI, and 21 stolen bases in 1987. He then batted .296 with eight home runs, 41 RBI, and 15 stolen bases in 1988 as the Mets made the playoffs again.
As 1989 approached, the Mets decided to rebuild. As a result, Wilson was unfortunately one of the main players the Mets traded that year. He was shipped to the Blue Jays for Jeff Musselman and Mike Brady at the deadline. He then spent the rest of 1989, as well as 1990 and 1991, with the Blue Jays before retiring.
Wilson was inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame in 1996. A year later, he became Bobby Valentine's first base coach, a position he held through 2002. He then worked in the Mets' minor league affiliates before returning as the first base coach in 2011 under Terry Collins. This move definitely put some smiles on the faces of Mets fans.
Mookie Wilson was one of the best outfielders to ever wear a Mets uniform and the 1986 World Series may not have been the same without him.
13. Tug McGraw
Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 792.2
Best Individual Season: 1972 (8-6, 1.70 ERA, 27 saves, 106 innings pitched, 54 appearances, 92 strikeouts)
If there's one reliever who really set a standard for the Mets, it would be Tug McGraw, one of the best closers in Mets history and one of the best in the league during his career.
McGraw signed with the Mets in 1964 as an amateur free agent after graduating from college. After just one solid season in the minor leagues, McGraw made the major league club in 1965 without ever going through Double-A or Triple-A. In his rookie season, McGraw went 2-7 with a 3.32 ERA. He was mostly in the starting rotation that year.
After the 1965 season, McGraw was briefly enlisted in the Marine Corps reserves.
In 1966, McGraw went 2-9 with a 5.34 ERA. He then made just four starts in 1967 but struggled with an 0-3 record and a 7.79 ERA. As a result, McGraw spent most of 1967 and all of 1968 in the minor leagues.
When McGraw came back up to the Mets in 1969, he was mostly a reliever but filled in briefly as a starter when Jerry Koosman got hurt. McGraw's improvement was noticeable, as he went 9-3 with a 2.24 ERA and 12 saves while sharing closing duties with Ron Taylor.
In his only postseason appearance in the 1969 playoffs, McGraw pitched three scoreless innings and picked up the save in Game 2 as the Mets won 11-6. He did not pitch in the World Series.
In 1970, McGraw went 4-6 with a 3.28 ERA and 10 saves. He then went 11-4 with a 1.70 ERA and eight saves in 1971. The wins and ERA both became career highs.
By 1972, McGraw asserted himself as one of baseball's best closers by having a career season. He went 8-6, tied his career high with a 1.70 ERA and set another career high with 27 saves. He made his first trip to the All-Star game that year as well.
McGraw then went 5-6 with a 3.87 ERA and 25 saves in 1973. However, those numbers don't reflect the impact he had on the Mets that year as a clubhouse leader.
The Mets had been struggling through the summer but after board chairman M. Donald Grant delivered a speech to the team, McGraw told his teammates, "Ya gotta believe." This became the rally cry for the Mets as they surged through September and ended up winning the division in surprising fashion. McGraw certainly did his part by going 3-0 with an 0.57 ERA and ten saves down the stretch.
In the 1973 postseason, McGraw continued his late-season dominance and did not allow a run in five combined innings during the NLCS. In the World Series, he blew the save in Game 2 but then pitched three scoreless innings for the win. He finished the World Series with a 2.63 ERA in 13.2 innings pitched.
In 1974, McGraw went 6-11 with a 4.16 ERA and three saves. He missed a month with a strained muscle in his back and eventually developed a shoulder injury, which turned out to be a cyst.
Nonetheless, the Mets' front office got worried about McGraw's future and decided to trade him to the Phillies with Don Hahn and Dave Schneck for John Stearns, Mac Scarce and Del Unser. McGraw himself later referred to the trade as a "Jack Daniels trade."
In other words, the trade may have been conducted on impulse without the organization really thinking it through.
Although Stearns developed into a solid catcher, the Mets would certainly regret trading away McGraw. He made his second and final trip to the All-Star game in 1975. In 1980, he helped the Phillies win their first ever World Series. He remained with the Phillies until he retired after the 1984 season.
McGraw finished his career with a 96-92 record, a 3.14 ERA and 180 saves. As a Met, he was 47-55 with a 3.17 ERA and 85 saves through nine seasons.
In 1993, McGraw was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.
During his Mets career in 1966, McGraw had a brief relationship with a woman named Betty D'Agostino, who would give birth to McGraw's only son, country singer Tim McGraw. McGraw and D'Agostino broke off contact soon after they met. McGraw did not tell his son he was his father until Tim was 17 years old, but they later developed a close relationship.
In 2003, McGraw became hospitalized with a brain tumor and was told he had three weeks to live. He ended up surviving nine more months after the diagnosis and made a final appearance at Shea Stadium that year during the Mets' 1973 team's 30th Anniversary celebration. McGraw passed away on January 5, 2004.
During the Mets' 2004 season, every player and coach wore a "Ya Gotta Believe" patch on the left shoulder.
McGraw was the first great homegrown reliever in Mets history and played critical roles for the team, particularly in 1973 with his "Ya Gotta Believe" rally cry and the dominance he had late in that season. At the time of his retirement, he was arguably the best closer in Mets history, but right now, another left-handed closer who happened to idolize McGraw while growing up should be considered more deserving of the top spot.
12. Carlos Beltran
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .280
Home Runs: 149
Runs Scored: 551
Stolen Bases: 100
Slugging Percentage: .500
Best Individual Season: 2006 (.275 average, 41 home runs, 116 RBI, 127 runs scored, 38 doubles, .388 OBP, .594 slugging percentage)
Although he had his ups and downs, Carlos Beltran is arguably the greatest center fielder the Mets have ever had.
Beltran originally came up with the Royals in 1998 and he was there until he got traded to the Astros midway through the 2004 season. He then had one of the best postseasons in MLB history. As a result, the Mets signed him to a seven-year and $119 million contract, which became the largest in team history at the time.
Beltran's 2005 season was rather disappointing. Despite making the All-Star team, Beltran batted .266 with just 16 home runs and 78 RBI. The Mets were expecting a lot more out of him than just those numbers. To add injury to insult, Beltran endured a scary head-on collision with Mike Cameron in San Diego.
Beltran made up for his 2005 struggles in 2006 by having one of the best single seasons in team history. He hit a respectable .275 with 41 homers—which tied Todd Hundley's team record set in 1996—116 RBI, 38 doubles and a .982 OPS. He won his first of three consecutive Gold Gloves, made another All-Star team and made one spectacular catch after another during that stretch. Beltran that year also proved to be clutch by hitting a few walk-off home runs. However, many people will remember Beltran freezing at a Adam Wainwright curveball, which ended the Mets' season that year in the NLCS.
Beltran proved his 2006 season was not a fluke in 2007. That year, he batted .276, with 33 home runs and 112 RBI. He also had a .353 OBP and a .525 slugging percentage. He made his fourth consecutive trip to the All-Star Game, won his second Silver Slugger award, and won his second Gold Glove award that year.
In 2008, Beltran had another strong season. He raised his average to .284 and finished with 27 home runs and 112 RBI. He also had 116 runs scored, 40 doubles, and a .376 OBP. He won his third consecutive Gold Glove Award as well. Beltran also notably hit the last Mets home run in Shea Stadium history during the season's final game. Unfortunately, the Mets would lose that game and miss the postseason for the second consecutive season.
With the Mets moving into Citi Field, Beltran was expected to hit even better than he did in 2007 and 2008. He gave the fans what they were looking for and had a great first half to his 2009 season. He was batting .325 with 10 home runs, 48 RBI and a .415 OBP at just 81 games played before a painful knee injury ended his season. Ironically, this injury trend became very familiar for almost all of the team's star players that year. He made his fourth All-Star team as a Met, but did not play due to the injury.
In 2010, Beltran went against the Mets' wishes and had surgery on his knee without the team's consent. His recovery process took a while and he wasn't back on the field in a Mets uniform until right after the All-Star break on July 15.When Beltran got back on the field, the Mets had already found a new center fielder in Angel Pagan, but because of Beltran's high profile, Pagan moved to right field so Beltran could play his natural center field. This did not turn out to be the wisest move as Beltran at times looked lost in the outfield and could not run as fast as before due to the knee.
In 64 games that year, Beltran batted .255 with seven home runs and 27 RBI. His hitting was considerably more consistent from the right side as he looked to have lost his left-handed power. Despite the .255 average, Beltran had solid .341 OBP that year.
In 2011, Beltran was expected to get traded at the deadline if he was hitting well. Sure enough, he stayed healthy and got traded to the Giants for prospect Zack Wheeler. Before the trade, Beltran was batting .289 with 15 home runs, 66 RBI and 30 doubles. He also made the All-Star for the fourth time as a Met.
Carlos Beltran's legacy may be viewed more highly by some than others, but it would be very tough to argue that the Mets at one time had a better all-around center fielder than him.
11. Ed Kranepool
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .261
Home Runs: 118
Runs Scored: 536
Slugging Percentage: .377
Best Individual Season: 1966 (.254 average, 16 home runs, 57 RBI, 15 doubles, .316 OBP, .399 slugging percentage)
If anyone defines a Mets first baseman, it would be Ed Kranepool. No one has spent more time in a Mets uniform than "Steady Eddie," and because of his longevity, he is definitely one of the greatest first basemen the Mets have ever had.
A Bronx native, Kranepool was drafted out of high school by the Mets at just 17 years old. He hit well in the minor leagues and received a late season call-up in 1962.
In 1963, Kranepool originally split time at first base with Marv Thorneberry, but when Thorneberry was demoted to the minor leagues, Kranepool became the everyday right fielder until he was demoted himself in July due to his lack of offense. He was brought back up in September and hit well enough to get his average above .200.
In 1964, Kranepool started the season in right field, but when Joe Christopher started to hit well, Kranepool was again demoted to the minor leagues, only to see himself called back up after only 15 games. He then played the rest of the season at first base and finished with a .257 average, 10 home runs and 45 RBI.
In 1965, Kranepool gave up his original No. 21 to the legendary Warren Spahn and switched to his more familiar No. 7. He made his only All-Star team that year as the lone Mets representative and finished with a .253 average, 10 home runs and 53 RBI.
A year later, Kranepool led the team with a career high 16 home runs to go along with 57 RBI and a .254 average. That year, the Mets avoided finishing in last place for the first time ever.
Kranepool's 1967 season was similar, as he finished with a .269 average, 10 home runs and 54 RBI. A year later, with Gil Hodges managing the team, a platoon system was established, which cut into everyone's playing time including Kranepool.
Starting that year and throughout Hodges' managerial tenure before his death, Kranepool only started against right-handed pitchers. He struggled that year, batting just .231 and only had 3 home runs and 20 RBI.
1969 was definitely the most fun season of Kranepool's career, as the Miracle Mets won the World Series. Platooning with Donn Clendenon, Kranepool batted just .238 for the year with 11 home runs and 49 RBI. However, he was clutch when it mattered, as evidenced by the home run he hit in Game 3 of the World Series.
1970 was not as fun for Kranepool. He was batting .118 through June and got sent to the minor leagues. He considered retirement, but decided to accept the assignment. He ended up getting called back up, but didn't play much at the end of the season. As a result, he only had 47 at-bats all year with a .170 average and just three RBI.
In 1971, Kranepool bounced back and had one of his best seasons. He raised his average to .280 and finished with 14 home runs and a career high 58 RBI. The 1970 demotion turned out to be a turning point for Kranepool, as he became a good utility hitter that could play both first base and the outfield.
Kranepool put up his more typical numbers in 1972 with a .269 average, 8 home runs and 34 RBI. In 1973, he lost his starting job at first to John Milner, but still played in 100 games while backing up both Milner and Cleon Jones in left field. Kranepool only made one appearance in the 1973 NLCS against the Reds and drove in the first two runs of the series-clinching game. He was hitless in three at-bats in the World Series that year against the A's.
By 1974, Kranepool started playing more in the outfield in a utility role. He also became a successful pinch-hitter. He finished the season with a .300 average, 4 home runs and 24 RBI.
He was even better in 1975, as he batted a career high .323 along with 4 home runs and 43 RBI. His .370 OBP that year was also a career high.
After the 1975 season, original Mets owner Joan Payson passed away, and Kranepool was the only Mets player to be invited to her funeral.
Kranepool returned as the starting first baseman in 1976 and batted .292 with 10 home runs and 49 RBI. However, he went back to the bench after that season.
1977 would turn out to be Kranepool's last strong season, and he finished with a .281 average, 10 home runs and 40 RBI.
By 1978, almost all of Kranepool's 1969 teammates had been traded away, and by 1979, Jerry Koosman was traded as well, which left Kranepool as the lone 1969 representative left on the team. He did not hit as well in both 1978 and 1979 by batting .210 and .232 respectively and combining for five home runs and 36 RBI in the last two seasons of his career.
After 1979, Kranepool decided to retire at just 34 years old. At the time, he held eight team records, three of which remain records today. Those include at-bats (5,436), hits (1,418) and total bases (2,047). He has also played in more games (1,853) than any other Met.
With an over 500 game gap behind Kranepool and Bud Harrelson, who is second with 1,322 games played, this record could last for many more years. It's quite a testament to Kranepool's longevity with the Mets.
After retiring, Kranepool became interested in buying part of the team when the late Joan Payson's family decided to sell the franchise after 1979. However, Kranepool and his group lost to Fred Wilpon and Doubleday & Co.
Kranepool has since become a stockbroker and restaurateur in the post-baseball phase of his life. He was inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame in 1990, and still makes occasional appearances at Mets games. Only someone as devoted as Kranepool would do as much as he has for the Mets for fifty years.
Ed Kranepool never produced huge numbers for the Mets, but he was a reliable player and arguably the "Iron Man" of the Mets' franchise. His 18 seasons in a Mets uniform speak for itself, and few others have made an impact on the Mets as much as he has since 1962.
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