New York Mets: Top 50 Greatest Players of All Time, Part 5 (No.10-1)
The countdown of the 50 greatest players in New York Mets history concludes with Part Five, in which the top ten 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.
To recap this five-part series, here are links to the first four installments:
No. 50-41: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1040520-new-york-mets-the-top-50-greatest-players-of-all-time-part-1-50-41
No. 40-31: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1060825-new-york-mets-the-top-50-greatest-players-of-all-time-part-2-40-31
No. 30-21: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1111196-new-york-mets-the-top-50-greatest-players-of-all-time-part-3-no-30-21
No. 20-11: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1119820-new-york-mets-the-top-50-greatest-players-of-all-time-part-4-no20-11
Ranking all these great players was not an easy task by any means. However, a reasonable list has been determined, and this is the final segment of a five-part series. Here are the ten greatest players in Mets history.
10. Jose Reyes
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .292
Home Runs: 81
Runs Scored: 735
Stolen Bases: 370
Slugging Percentage: .441
Best Individual Season: 2011 (.337 average, 7 home runs, 44 RBI, 101 runs scored, 181 hits, 31 doubles, 16 triples, 39 stolen bases, .384 OBP, .493 slugging percentage)
Many Mets shortstops could certainly hold their own in the field but none of them were able to hit as well as Jose Reyes.
Reyes was originally signed by the Mets in 1999 and made his MLB debut in June of 2003. The original plan was to have Rey Sanchez, who replaced Rey Ordonez after 2002, be the Mets shortstop that year and let Reyes develop a little more in the minors. However, Sanchez was a bust and Reyes was brought up just in time.
Reyes went 2-4 in his first MLB game and hit a grand slam for his first career home run. Unfortunately after just 69 games, Reyes' season was cut short due to an ankle sprain. He batted .307 for the year with five home runs and 32 RBI. He also added 13 stolen bases.
In 2004, Reyes was unwisely moved to second base in order to accommodate the arrival of Kaz Matsui. This was not a fun season for Reyes, who looked awkward at second base and missed most of the season with hamstring and fibula injuries. He only appeared in 53 games that year and batted .255 with two home runs, 14 RBI and 19 stolen bases.
In 2005, Reyes was moved back to shortstop, while Matsui, who struggled in 2004 was shifted to second base. During his first full season, Reyes had a breakout year. He batted .273 with seven home runs, 58 RBI, 24 doubles, 13 triples and 60 stolen bases. His triple and stolen base totals both led the league.
He did not show a lot of patience at the plate as he only drew 27 walks in a Mets' record 733 plate appearances. In fact, Reyes appeared in all but one game that year.
Reyes had his best overall season to date in 2006.
He batted .300 with a career-high 19 home runs and 81 RBI out of the leadoff spot. He also added 122 runs scored, 194 hits, 30 doubles, 17 triples, 64 stolen bases and a .354 OBP, once again leading the league in triples and stolen bases.
Reyes won his only Silver Slugger award and made his first All-Star team, but missed the game due to an injury. He even had a three-home run game that year, and is the most recent Met to do so.
Reyes had another solid season in 2007. His average, home runs and RBI slipped to .280, 12 and 57, respectively. But he had 119 runs scored, 191 hits, 36 doubles, 12 triples and a career-high 78 stolen bases, which again led the league and became a new Mets record.
He made his second All-Star team that year as well. Unfortunately, Reyes struggled mightily in September and was widely criticized during the Mets' infamous collapse that year.
In 2008, Reyes had yet another great season. He batted .297 with 16 home runs, 68 RBI, 113 runs scored, a career and league-high 204 hits, a career high 37 doubles and 19 triples, and 56 stolen bases. His triples total led the league. That year, Reyes broke Mookie Wilson's career triples and stolen bases records, which he still holds today.
With the Mets moving to Citi Field in 2009, Reyes' expectations were even higher. However, 2009 was a year to forget for Reyes.
In early May, he was placed on the disabled list with a calf injury. He was expected to return after a few weeks, but re-injured himself while rehabbing. He, along with a good number of other Mets, missed the rest of the season. He finished the year with a .279 average, two home runs, 15 RBI and 11 stolen bases in 36 games.
2010 did not get off to a good start for Reyes, in regards to his health. He was told to not participate in spring training due to a hyperactive thyroid gland. He missed the first few weeks while on the disabled list and later missed some time in July due to another leg injury. At one point, he batted exclusively right-handed, which did not end up working well.
However, Reyes later got healthy and showed signs of the player he had been from 2005-2008. He ended the season with a .282 average, 11 home runs, 54 RBI, 29 doubles, 10 triples and 30 stolen bases. He made his third All-Star team but did not play due to an injury.
Reyes' 2011 season began with a lot of talk about his future, being that his option was picked up and he is in the last year of his current contract. There was also talk about his history with injuries.
Despite all those talks, Reyes had an amazing comeback season. He set career highs with a league-leading .337 average, a .384 OBP and a .493 slugging percentage. He also contributed seven home runs, 44 RBI, 181 hits, 31 doubles, 16 triples and 39 stolen bases.
Unfortunately, in the last offseason, Reyes decided to take his talents to the Miami Marlins, who signed him to a six-year contract. It will be unusual to see him playing shortstop for another team, but the Mets should be grateful for the contributions he gave to them for nine seasons.
Jose Reyes is by far the best all-around shortstop the Mets have ever had, and hopefully, the Mets can one day find another shortstop that will be just as good as him.
9. John Franco
Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 702.2
Best Individual Season: 1997 (5-3, 2.55 ERA, 36 saves, 60 innings pitched, 59 appearances, 53 strikeouts)
While some of the best closers in Mets history have helped the Mets win championships, none were around and did as much for the team within a 15-year span like John Franco did.
Thus, he should be considered the greatest relief pitcher the Mets have ever had.
Coming to New York from the Reds in a trade for Randy Myers before the 1990 season, Franco was already an established closer and picked up where Myers left off.
Arguably the best overall Met throughout the 1990s, Franco began turning in one successful season after another and racked up tons of saves, averaging 26.8 saves per year through the decade.
Franco's first great year was 1990, when he made his only All-Star appearance and saved 33 games, setting a new Mets record while posting a 5-3 record and a 2.53 ERA.
In 1991, Franco went 5-9 with a 2.93 ERA and 30 saves. He then went 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA and 15 saves in 1992 and 4-3 with a 5.20 ERA and 10 saves in 1993, but missed a good chunk of each of those seasons due to elbow injuries.
In 1994, Franco started to enter his prime and went 1-4 with a 2.70 ERA and 30 saves. He followed this up with a 5-3 record, 2.44 ERA and 29 saves in 1995.
In 1996, Franco was 4-3 with a 1.83 ERA and 28 saves. He got his 300th career save in late April of that year and a few weeks later, on "John Franco Day," Franco himself got ejected after participating in a bench-clearing brawl, along with eight other players.
In perhaps his best season as a Met, 1997, Franco went 5-3 with a 2.55 ERA and 36 saves, which broke his own Mets record.
In 1998, Franco was 0-8 with a 3.62 ERA and 38 saves, which broke his own team and personal record.
Throughout the 1990s, Franco was dominant against the National League. However, compared to other premier closers at the time, Franco was rather underrated, and his overall numbers usually went unnoticed. As a result, he was snubbed from the All-Star game more than he should have been.
Franco was always a popular player during his time with the Mets. He was also very active with the MLB Players' Union, and he spent some time as the Mets representative.
In 1998, after Mike Piazza was acquired, Franco voluntarily gave up his No. 31 and switched to 45 in honor of Tug McGraw so Piazza could have his usual number.
After the arrival of Armando Benitez, Franco converted to a set-up man (and eventually, team captain) for the rest of his Mets years. In 1999, Franco was 0-2 with a 2.88 ERA and 19 saves. He missed part of the season due to injuries, which led to Benitez becoming the new closer. He finally made it to the postseason that year and had a 1.69 ERA in the playoffs.
In 2000, Franco was 5-4 with a 3.40 ERA and four saves. He pitched well in the NLDS that year but struggled in the NLCS, as illustrated by his 6.75 ERA in that series. In the World Series, he was the winning pitcher in the only game the Mets won.
In 2001, Franco went 6-2 with a 4.05 ERA and two saves. The 9/11 attacks hit the Brooklyn native hard, and he was very active in the relief efforts.
After missing all of 2002 with injuries, Franco came back in 2003 and went 0-3 with a 2.62 ERA and the last two saves of his Mets career.
In his last season in New York in 2004, Franco was 2-7 with a 5.28 ERA.
By then, the Mets organization was chaotic and the late 1990s to early 2000s core slowly got broken up.
Franco spent a year in Houston in 2005 before subsequently retiring and becoming the team ambassador he is today.
Many non-Mets fans would probably not know Franco is fourth all time in saves and first among left-handed pitchers. Only Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith currently have more saves.
Franco may not have had the noticeable dominance that other closers of his time had nor the postseason experiences that defined other Mets closers like McGraw and Orosco, but Franco nonetheless is one of baseball's greatest closers and his 424 career saves speaks for itself.
Franco was on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2011 but because he received less than 5 percent of the vote, he will unfortunately never appear on a regular Hall of Fame ballot ever again—unless the Veterans Committee decides to give Franco a second chance down the road. However, the Mets will induct Franco into the Mets' Hall of Fame this summer, which is a well-deserving honor for him.
Franco may not have won a championship with the Mets, but his contributions to the franchise have been very significant, and he should be considered the greatest closer the Mets have ever had.
8. Jerry Koosman
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 2,544.2
Games Started: 346
Complete Games: 108
Best Individual Season: 1976 (21-10, 2.69 ERA, 247.1 innings pitched, 17 complete games, 3 shutouts, 200 strikeouts)
Next is Jerry Koosman, who is without question the greatest left-handed starter the Mets have ever had.
Koosman was drafted by the Mets in 1964 and made his professional debut in 1967. In three starts and nine total appearances that year, he went 0-2 with a 6.04 ERA after leading the International League in strikeouts.
In his first full rookie season in 1968, Koosman went 19-12 with a 2.08 ERA and 178 strikeouts. He made his first trip to the All-Star Game and finished second place in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
In 1969, Koosman asserted himself as the left-handed counterpart to Tom Seaver in the Mets' rotation. He went 17-9 with a 2.28 ERA and 180 strikeouts. He made his second and final All-Star Game appearance that year.
In the 1969 NLCS, Koosman did not pitch well in Game 2, but the Mets offense rallied to win that game 11-6.
Koosman, however, hit his stride in the World Series.
While Seaver struggled during the series, Koosman picked up the slack and won both Games 2 and 5. He pitched over eight innings in Game 2 and went the full distance in game 5, leading the Mets to the World Series title.
In 1970, Koosman went 12-7 with a 3.14 ERA. He then had two unexpected losing seasons in 1971 (6-11, 3.04 ERA) and 1972 (11-12, 4.14 ERA).
He also had another losing season when he went 14-15 with a 2.84 ERA in 1973. However, a lack of run support had a lot to do with that.
Nonetheless, Koosman pitched well in most clutch situations.
In the 1973 NLCS, Koosman threw a complete game in Game 2 as the Mets beat the Reds 9-2. In the World Series, Koosman started Game 2, but got shelled and was removed in the third inning, but the Mets rallied later on for a 10-7 win. He then won Game 5 as he pitched six and a third scoreless innings as the Mets won 2-0.
In 1974, Koosman went 15-11 with a 3.36 ERA and 188 strikeouts. He followed this up by going 14-13 with a 3.42 ERA in 1975.
1976 turned out to be Koosman's career season. He went 21-10, with the 21 wins being a career high, and had a 2.69 ERA, as well as a career high 200 strikeouts. He finished second in the NL Cy Young Award voting, losing to Randy Jones.
However, that was Koosman's last good year as a Met. After going 8-20 with a 3.49 ERA in 1977 and a very underachieving 3-15 with a 3.75 ERA in 1978, Koosman was traded to the Twins for Jesse Orosco and Greg Field. Koosman was the last pitcher of the 1969 and 1973 teams to leave the Mets, with Ed Kranepool departing via retirement a year later.
Koosman got inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1989 and has made a few appearances recently at Citi Field, most notably during the 1969 Mets team's 40th Anniversary Celebration.
Jerry Koosman is certainly the best left-handed pitcher in Mets history and only time will tell whether another left-hander can do more for the Mets than he did.
7. Howard Johnson
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Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .251
Home Runs: 192
Runs Scored: 627
Slugging Percentage: .459
Best Individual Season: 1989 (.287 average, 36 home runs, 101 RBI, 104 runs scored, 164 hits, 41 doubles, 41 stolen bases, .369 OBP, .559 slugging percentage)
Ray Knight may have been the 1986 World Series hero, but with his departure after the championship season, Howard Johnson stepped into third base and became one of the best hitters in Mets history, and certainly one of the best in the league during his time.
Johnson, who is also known by his nickname, "HoJo," originally came to the Mets in exchange for Walt Terrell prior to the 1985 season. He batted .242 that year with 11 home runs and 46 RBI while platooning with Ray Knight at third base. In 1986, Knight got more playing time because Johnson had struggled at the plate for most of the season.
Johnson finished the 1986 season with a .245 average, 10 home runs and 39 RBI. He also did not play much in the postseason, as Ray Knight became the World Series MVP.
However, Knight was not re-signed by the Mets and Johnson became the starting third baseman. He broke out in 1987 and batted .265 with 36 home runs and 99 RBI. He also added 32 stolen bases as he and Darryl Strawberry became the first Mets to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season.
As a result, Johnson even received 42 points in the MVP voting. His home run total also broke a 53-year-old record that Ripper Collins had among switch-hitting National League shortstops.
Johnson did not find the same success in 1988, but he still hit 24 home runs despite driving in only 68 RBI and batting .230. Johnson, though, struggled late in the season and found himself playing shortstop sometimes to let the young Gregg Jefferies get some time at third base. He only had one hit in the NLCS that year.
Johnson then continued his trend of hitting very well in odd-numbered years. In 1989, Johnson had one of his two best seasons and made his first All-Star team and even started the game at third base.
His numbers that year were better than his 1987 numbers, as he became the third player in MLB history to have multiple 30 home run and 30 stolen base seasons. He finished the year with a .287 average, 41 doubles, 36 home runs and 101 RBI. He also had a career-high 41 stolen bases, 104 runs scored and a .559 slugging percentage. As a result, Johnson won his first Silver Slugger award.
Johnson then had a decent season in 1990. He batted .244 with 23 home runs and 90 RBI. He also had 37 doubles and 34 stolen bases. He played more shortstop that year and only batted .208 from the right side, which did not help his numbers.
In 1991, HoJo would again have a phenomenal season. He led the National League in both home runs and RBI with 38 and 117, respectively. The RBI total set a new Mets record that Bernard Gilkey would tie in 1996, but was broken by Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura in 1999. He made his second All-Star team and won his second Silver Slugger award. He also had 34 doubles, 30 stolen bases and a .535 slugging percentage.
Johnson would have gotten more MVP consideration, but the Mets as a team were so bad that year that Johnson was simply a one-man show. The one downside to this season was that Johnson also had 31 errors at third base, which led to him becoming an outfielder.
As the Mets' new center fielder in 1992, Johnson struggled at the plate and with injuries. He finished with just a .223 average, seven home runs and 43 RBI. His season ended in August after a fractured wrist.
The 1993 season was not much better for Johnson or the Mets. Johnson finished that year with a .238 average, seven home runs and 26 RBI as the Mets lost over 100 games. After the 1993 season, Johnson's time was up with the Mets.
He played with the Rockies in 1994 and the Cubs in 1995, but struggled in both years as a bench player. He did not make a major league roster in 1996 and decided to retire as a Met in spring training of 1997.
Since retiring, Johnson has been a coach, mostly within the Mets organization. He was most notably the Mets' first base coach and later hitting coach starting in 2007 and he remained with the Mets through 2010.
For many years, Howard Johnson was the greatest third baseman the Mets had ever had. He was one of the best power hitters in the league during his prime and was a consistent force on both very good and very bad Mets teams.
However, there is another third baseman that is on his way to having an even better career as a Met than Johnson.
6. David Wright
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .301
Home Runs: 184
Runs Scored: 700
Stolen Bases: 151
Slugging Percentage: .509
Best Individual Season: 2007 (.325 average, 30 home runs, 107 RBI, 113 runs scored, 196 hits, 42 doubles, 34 stolen bases, .416 OBP, .546 slugging percentage)
David Wright is the current face of the franchise and a five-tool player that may soon become the best Mets position player.
A highly-touted prospect, Wright got called up to the Mets in July of 2004 and hit 14 home runs in just 263 at-bats. He also had a .293 average and 40 RBI. That season, Mets fans realized that their third baseman of the future was here.
In 2005, Wright batted .306 with 176 hits, 42 doubles, 27 home runs, 102 RBI, 17 stolen bases, a .388 OBP and a .523 slugging percentage.
He followed up in 2006 with a .311 average, 181 hits, 40 doubles, 26 home runs, 116 RBI, 20 stolen bases, a .381 OBP and a .531 slugging percentage. He made his first of five consecutive All-Star appearances that year but struggled in the second half of that season.
Wright did not elevate himself as one of baseball's best players until 2007, when he set a career high by hitting .325 to go along with 113 runs scored, 196 hits, 42 doubles, 30 home runs, 107 RBI, 34 stolen bases, a remarkable career-high .416 OBP and a career-high .546 slugging percentage.
He became only the third Met to have 30 home runs and 30 steals in a season joining Johnson and Strawberry. He also won the first of two straight Silver Sluggers and Gold Glove Awards that year.
In 2008, Wright hit .302 and set career highs with 33 home runs and 124 RBI, which tied the Mets' RBI record set by Mike Piazza in 1999. He also had 115 runs scored, 189 hits, 42 doubles, 15 stolen bases, a .390 OBP and a .534 slugging percentage.
Although 2009 was a disappointing season for Wright (10 home runs, 72 RBI), he still hit .307 to make it five straight seasons of hitting above .300. He also had 39 doubles, 27 stolen bases and a .390 OBP. However, his slugging percentage fell almost 100 points to just .447.
Wright then bounced back in 2010 with 29 home runs and 103 RBI, though he set a career low with a .283 average and raised his strikeouts to 161. He added 36 doubles, 19 stolen bases, a .354 OBP and a .503 slugging percentage.
In 2011, Wright missed over two months with a stress fracture in his lower back. He finished the season with just a .254 average, 14 home runs and 61 RBI. Thanks to his injury, 2011 was also the first year since 2005 that Wright did not make the All-Star team.
Wright has a .583 average with one home run and four RBI so far at the start of the 2012 season, but there is a very good chance he will go on the disabled list for at least a few weeks due to an injured right pinky finger.
Assuming he plays with the Mets for his entire career, Wright is on pace to become not only the best third baseman in Mets history, but he may also become the best position player to wear a Mets uniform.
The sky is the limit for Wright's potential, and only time will tell how successful he will be in the years to come.
5. Keith Hernandez
T.G. Higgins/Getty Images
Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .297
Home Runs: 80
Runs Scored: 455
Slugging Percentage: .429
Best Individual Season: 1984 (.311 average, 15 home runs, 94 RBI, 83 runs scored, 171 hits, 31 doubles, .409 OBP, .449 slugging percentage)
Ed Kranepool may have the longevity and many records of Mets first basemen, but no other first baseman in team history had the impact of Keith Hernandez.
Hernandez came to New York in a trade that gave Mets fans hope that success was right around the corner. A former co-MVP, Hernandez became the heart and soul of the lineup, as well as a clubhouse leader during the 1980s.
After he arrived from the Cardinals in the middle of 1983, Hernandez batted .306 with 9 home runs and 37 RBI.
His first full season in 1984 would be his best as a Met. He hit .311 with 15 home runs and 94 RBI and won his second Silver Slugger Award and the first of six consecutive Gold Gloves with the Mets. He finished with 11 consecutive Gold Gloves through his career.
Hernandez's 1985 and 1986 seasons were also solid, as he hit over .300 in both and had a .413 OBP during the 1986 championship season. Hernandez's 1987 season would be his last great year, as he hit .290 with a career-high 18 home runs and 89 RBI.
As a result of his presence and the impact he had as a team leader, Hernandez was made the first ever team captain in 1987. Catcher Gary Carter then became a co-captain a year later.
Hernandez then declined and battled injuries in both 1988 (.276, 11 home runs, 55 RBI) and 1989 (.234, 4 home runs, 19 RBI). He appeared in just 95 games in 1988 and 75 games in 1989. After his contract was up, Hernandez signed with the Indians for the 1990 season before retiring.
Mex is currently one of the Mets' beloved announcers and will always be a fan favorite and remembered for being the glue of the Mets in the 1980s. Seinfeld fans also may remember the cameo he made in two episodes.
4. Dwight Gooden
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 2,169.2
Games Started: 303
Complete Games: 67
Best Individual Season: 1985 (24-4, 1.53 ERA, 276.2 innings pitched, 16 complete games, 8 shutouts, 268 strikeouts)
Dwight Gooden carried the Mets during their most dominant winning years in the 1980s and although his career could have ended better, the contributions he made to the Mets were special.
Gooden was drafted by the Mets in 1982 and made the major leagues two years later at just 19 years old. In 1984, Gooden went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA and a career high 276 strikeouts. He made his first trip to the All-Star Game that year and also won the NL Rookie of the Year Award. He was the second consecutive Met to win the honor following Darryl Strawberry in 1983.
If everyone had thought Gooden was amazing in 1984, he turned it up a few notches in 1985. During his career season, Gooden won the pitching Triple Crown by going 24-4 with a remarkable 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts.
That year, he also won his only NL Cy Young Award and he still remains the youngest player to ever win the award. In July, he made his second consecutive All-Star Game appearance.
In 1986, Gooden went 17-6 with a 2.84 ERA and 200 strikeouts as he helped lead the Mets to their World Series win. He made his third consecutive trip to the All-Star Game as well and became the youngest pitcher to ever start an All-Star Game.
In the 1986 postseason, Gooden lost a 1-0 pitcher's duel with the 1986 Cy Young Award winner and former Met Mike Scott and then took a no-decision in Game 5 after pitching ten innings and giving up just one run.
Similarly to former Mets ace Tom Seaver in the 1969 and 1973 World Series, Gooden did not pitch like an ace in the 1986 World Series. He did not get past the fifth inning in either of his two starts, but the Mets, in dramatic fashion, ended up winning the World Series in seven games.
Gooden was one of the few Mets players that were not present at the World Series victory parade. The Mets announced that he overslept, but as it turned out, Gooden did not make it due to a cocaine binge.
A couple months later, Gooden's long legal history began.
He was arrested for fighting with police in December 1986, and things only got worse for him when he tested positive for cocaine during the 1987 spring training. As a result, Gooden checked into rehab to avoid a suspension and did not make his first start of the 1987 season until June.
After he returned, Gooden went 15-7 with a 3.21 ERA—pretty good for someone who had missed two months.
In 1988, Gooden went 18-9 with a 3.19 ERA as the Mets made the postseason for the second time and final time in his Mets career. He also made his final trip to the All-Star Game that year.
In Game 1 of the 1988 NLCS, Gooden squared off against Cy Young Award winner Orel Hershiser and the game turned out to be a great pitching duel. Although Gooden exited with the Mets trailing 2-0, the Mets offense rallied to a 3-2 win.
In Game 4, Gooden took a 4-2 lead into the ninth inning, but he allowed a game-tying home run to Mike Scioscia and the Mets bullpen pitched poorly as the Mets lost 5-4.
He then pitched three shutout innings in Game 7 after Ron Darling got removed, but the Mets lost that game 6-0 and their hopes of going back to the World Series were gone.
In 1989, Gooden went 9-4 with a 2.89 ERA, but missed two months due to a shoulder tear. He then bounced back in 1990 by going 19-7 with a 3.83 ERA and 223 strikeouts.
In 1991, Gooden went 13-7 with a 3.60 ERA, but missed a few starts to due to injuries.
By 1992, Gooden's career began to decline. He suffered his first losing season by going 10-13 with a 3.67 ERA. The Mets offense that year was terrible and did not give him much run support. The only good thing about his season that year was that he won his first and only NL Silver Slugger Award.
Gooden was always a good hitter for a pitcher, so it was nice to see him get awarded for this.
Gooden and his team did not fare any better in 1993.
In April, Vince Coleman accidentally hit Gooden in the shoulder while swinging a golf club. That year, Gooden was a diappointing 12-15 with a 3.45 ERA.
In 1994, Gooden had a 3-4 record and a 6.31 ERA before he tested positive for cocaine for the second time. He was suspended 60 days. During the suspension, he tested positive again and got his suspension extended through the entire 1995 season.
The following day, Gooden's wife found him with a loaded gun to his head. At this point, Gooden's time with the Mets was over.
Gooden then signed with the crosstown Yankees in 1996 and was reunited with former teammate Darryl Strawberry. He ended up pitching a no-hitter in May of 1996 to the dismay of Mets fans, who had hoped he would have done that while he was in Queens.
He stayed with the Yankees in 1997 before playing with the Indians from 1998-1999 and splitting 2000 with the Astros, Devil Rays and Yankees.
He retired in 2001 after the Yankees cut him during spring training. Since retirement, Gooden has battled various legal issues, mostly due to drunk driving and probation violations.
Gooden made his first appearance at Shea Stadium seven years after he pitched there for the Yankees in 2001. He then was at Citi Field at the christening of the new stadium in 2009.
In 2010, he was one of four people to get inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, which he considered to be quite an honor.
Dwight Gooden's career may not have been as a great as it could have been if he had he not gotten distracted by drug use, among other things. Nevertheless, he is by far one of the greatest pitchers to ever wear a Mets uniform.
3. Darryl Strawberry
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Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .263
Home Runs: 252
Runs Scored: 662
Stolen Bases: 191
Slugging Percentage: .520
Best Individual Season: 1987 (.284 average, 39 home runs, 104 RBI, 108 runs scored, 151 hits, 32 doubles, 36 stolen bases, .398 OBP, .583 slugging percentage)
Being the best position player the Mets have ever developed, Darryl Strawberry is also the best outfielder the Mets have ever had, and by a wide margin. He was one of the best hitters in the game during the 1980s and certainly made the most of his stay as a Met.
Strawberry won the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year by batting .257 with 26 home runs and 74 RBI. He followed this up with a .251 average, 26 home runs, 97 RBI, 27 doubles and 27 stolen bases in 1984. That year, he made his first of eight consecutive trips to the All-Star Game.
In 1985, Strawberry raised his average to .277 and had 29 home runs, 79 RBI and 26 stolen bases. He missed a month that year with a thumb injury.
He had another solid season as the feared cleanup hitter in the Mets lineup in 1986, when they won the World Series. He finished the season with a .259 average, 27 home runs and 93 RBI. He batted just .227 in the NLCS and .208 in the World Series, but despite that, he also had three home runs and six RBI in both series' combined.
In 1987, Strawberry took his game to another level and had his best season. He set career highs with a .284 average, 39 home runs, 104 RBI, 32 doubles, and 36 stolen bases. He also had a career high .398 OBP and .583 slugging percentage. He and teammate Howard Johnson became the first teammates from a single year to hit over 30 home runs and steal over 30 bases.
In 1988, Strawberry batted .269 with 39 home runs, 101 RBI, 29 stolen bases and a league-leading .545 slugging percentage. He also finished a close second place in the NL MVP voting behind Kirk Gibson and ahead of teammate Kevin McReynolds.
In the 1988 NLCS, Strawberry hit .300 with one home run and six RBI, but this time, the Mets were not fortunate enough to make the World Series.
Strawberry's numbers fell off a bit in 1989. His average dropped to just .225 and he had 29 home runs and just 77 RBI that year.
In what turned out to be his final season as a Met, Strawberry batted .277 with 37 home runs and established a new career high with 108 RBI in 1990.
After the season, Strawberry was seeking a long-term deal and stated that if manager Davey Johnson was not brought back, he would leave the Mets. This from a player that had already been treated for alcoholism and had issues with his wife.
The Mets offered three years and $9.1 million, but Strawberry saw that as an insult. He ended up with the Dodgers, who gave him five years and $20.3 million, which Strawberry found acceptable.
He then spent 1991-1993 with the Dodgers, 1994 with the Giants and 1995-1999 with the Yankees before retiring. During this portion of his career, Strawberry was making more headlines with his personal life than his baseball career.
He battled cancer and a cocaine addiction.
Strawberry hit 252 home runs as a Met (335 for his career), which is more than anyone in team history. His 733 RBI are also a Mets record. He is fourth all time in stolen bases, seventh in games played, third in runs scored, and third in total bases.
Since retiring, Strawberry battled more personal problems and even spent some time in jail for various charges. However, he is on a better path now, and hopefully, this good trend can continue for him.
He was finally elected into the Mets' Hall of Fame in 2010, alongside Dwight Gooden, Davey Johnson and Frank Cashen.
Darryl Strawberry could have turned into a Hall of Fame hitter with his tremendous potential, but despite the personal problems he had later in his career, he is by far the greatest outfielder the Mets have ever had.
2. Mike Piazza
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Career Numbers as a Met
Batting Average: .296
Home Runs: 220
Runs Scored: 532
Slugging Percentage: .542
Best Individual Season: 2000 (.324 average, 38 home runs, 113 RBI, 90 runs scored, 156 hits, 26 doubles, .398 OBP, .614 slugging percentage)
The greatest offensive catcher of all time happened to also be both the best catcher and best overall hitter to ever wear a Mets uniform.
Already with a reputation as one of the game's most feared power hitters during his Dodgers years, Piazza came to New York in 1998 when the Mets were in dire need of a catcher while Todd Hundley was hurt. They got all that and a lot more.
Teammates welcomed him with open arms. John Franco gave up his No. 31 for Piazza and moved to No. 45. Hundley became an outfielder when he returned so Piazza could remain the catcher.
After a solid 1998 season in which he hit .348 with 23 home runs and 76 RBI after being traded (.328 average, 32 home runs and 111 RBI across the entire season), the Mets decided to trade Hundley and sign Piazza to a seven-year, $91 million deal. This instantly transformed the Mets into dangerous contenders.
Piazza continued to produce during his prime and hit .303 with 40 home runs and 124 RBI in 1999, as he led the Mets to their first postseason since 1988. The RBI total set a new Mets record.
He followed that up with an even better season in 2000, hitting .324 with 38 home runs and 113 RBI. He also had a .398 OBP and an amazing .614 slugging percentage. He led the team to its first World Series since 1986, and Piazza certainly did his part during those two postseasons by hitting clutch home runs and being the one feared hitter the Mets had at the time.
He finished third in the 2000 NL MVP voting behind Barry Bonds and the winner, Jeff Kent.
Despite the wonderful moments he had during the 2000 season, fans will also never forget about the rivalry he had with Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens.
In July, during a doubleheader, Clemens threw a pitch that hit Piazza in the head, which caused Piazza to miss the All-Star game. Later, in the World Series, Clemens threw a piece of Piazza's bat at him as Piazza jogged to first base on a foul ball. Piazza picked up the piece of the bat and walked towards Clemens, but nothing happened as both benches cleared and no fights occurred.
Piazza had two more great seasons in 2001 and 2002 before injuries and his knees in particular began to affect his playing. He missed most of the 2003 season with a groin injury and played half of 2004 as a first baseman, which did not turn out as well as the Mets had hoped. At that point, his offensive numbers were down and the team realized it could no longer expect him to carry the offense as much as he used to.
His last year in 2005 was bittersweet because he was such a fan favorite, but the fans also knew that he would not be the feared hitter he was ever again, and Piazza spent his last two seasons in San Diego and Oakland, respectively, before retiring.
Countless home runs and clutch hits will forever remain etched in the minds of Mets fans that were fortunate enough to watch him play, none more significant than the home run he hit against the Braves in 2001 during the first sports game in New York after 9/11.
Throughout his career, Piazza was one of the best hitters in all of baseball.
He finished his remarkable career with a .308 average, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI.
No other catcher has ever hit over 400 career home runs. As a Met, in 972 games, he batted .296 with 220 home runs and 655 RBI. Those numbers probably would have been even higher, had Piazza not missed most of the 2003 season.
Piazza is 11th in team history in games and second among catchers behind Jerry Grote. He is also ninth in runs scored, eighth in hits, sixth in doubles, second in home runs, third in RBI and fourth in total bases.
All of those numbers are also records for Mets catchers, as Piazza's legacy has set the new standard for what it takes to be considered a great offensive catcher.
A soon-to-be Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza transformed the Mets from underachievers into successful contenders when he arrived in New York, and his Mets legacy has instantly become one of the greatest ever, not just amongst catchers, but amongst all players throughout the team's history.
1. Tom Seaver
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Career Numbers as a Met
Innings Pitched: 3,045.2
Games Started: 395
Complete Games: 171
Best Individual Season: 1969 (25-7, 2.21 ERA, 273.1 innings pitched, 18 complete games, 5 shutouts, 208 strikeouts)
While the Mets have had many great players in their franchise history, it's been clear for years that the No. 1 spot belongs to "The Franchise" himself, Tom Seaver.
One of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Seaver was originally drafted by the Dodgers in 1965, but after asking for $70,000, the Dodgers passed on the offer. A year later, he was drafted by the Braves.
However, being that he was already two games into his college season, William Eckert, the Commissioner at the time ruled him ineligible. As a result, a lottery was then created with the Mets, Phillies and Indians being the three participants. The Mets were randomly chosen as the winner and to this day, it has been one of the luckiest moments in Mets history.
After spending one year in the minor leagues, Seaver was brought up to the Mets in 1967. He became the first Met to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award and went 16-13 with a 2.76 ERA. He also made his first of seven consecutive trips to the All-Star Game that year.
In 1968, Seaver went 16-12 with a 2.20 ERA and 205 strikeouts. A year later, in 1969, he helped lead the Mets to their first championship in team history. He also won his first NL Cy Young Award by having arguably best season of his career. He went 25-7 that year with a 2.21 ERA and 208 strikeouts. His 25 wins are still a single season franchise record.
In the 1969 NLCS, Seaver outlasted the veteran Phil Niekro in a 9-5 Mets victory. In the World Series, Seaver did not pitch well as the Mets lost 4-1 in Game 1, but he bounced back and pitched a 10-inning complete-game in a 2-1 win for the Mets in Game 4.
In 1970, Seaver went 18-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 283 strikeouts, which set a single season franchise record. Seaver then broke his own his record in 1971 with 289 strikeouts, which still stands to this day. He also went 20-10 with a career best 1.76 ERA that year.
Despite those amazing numbers, Seaver finished a close second place to Ferguson Jenkins in the 1971 Cy Young Award voting, mainly due to Jenkins' 24 wins that year.
Seaver continued his dominance in 1972 with a 21-12 record, a 2.92 ERA and 249 strikeouts. He then won his second NL Cy Young Award in 1973 by going 19-10 with a 2.08 ERA and 251 strikeouts as the Mets became NL champions.
In the 1973 NLCS against the Reds, Seaver started Game 1 and pitched seven shutout innings, and even drove the only Mets run to support himself. However, he gave up a home run to Pete Rose in the eighth inning before giving up a walk-off home run to Johnny Bench as the Reds won 2-1.
In Game 5, Seaver pitched well once again and finally got more run support as the Mets won the game 7-2 and clinched the series to move onto the World Series.
In the 1973 World Series, Seaver started Game 3 and pitched well once again, but the Mets bullpen this time did not support him as the A's offense rallied to win 3-2 in 11 innings. Seaver pitched well in Game 6, but Catfish Hunter simply out-pitched him, as the Mets lost 3-1.
In 1974, Seaver had the first non-winning record of his career. He went 11-11 with a 3.20 ERA and 201 strikeouts. It was also the only year in his original 11 year stint that he did not make the NL All-Star team.
Seaver bounced back in 1975 and won his third and final NL Cy Young Award by going 22-9 with a 2.38 ERA and 243 strikeouts.
In 1976, Seaver went 14-11 with a 2.59 ERA and 235 strikeouts. At this point, more and more of his former teammates were getting traded away or going elsewhere and it was clear that the Mets' core was about to get broken up.
Everything fell apart for the Mets and their relationship with Seaver in 1977.
Free agency had begun and Seaver felt that he deserved to be paid as well as the other top pitchers in the game. However, the Mets chairman of the board, M. Donald Grant was very stubborn and did not give in to Seaver's request.
Another breaking point occurred when New York Daily News writer Dick Young wrote stories about Seaver supposedly being greedy and how his wife was jealous that former teammate Nolan Ryan was making more money with the Angels and that Seaver's salary should be similar to that.
After hearing his wife get called out by Young, Seaver went to Mets owner Lorinda DeRoulet and General Manager Joe McDonald and told them that he wanted out of New York and he immediately demanded a trade because he felt he would never be able to co-exist with Grant.
As a result, Seaver became the headline of the "Midnight Massacre" as he got traded to the Reds for Doug Flynn, Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman on June 15, 1977. Seaver was 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 starts before the trade.
While the Mets did not recover from this trade for the next six years, Seaver stayed with the Reds from 1977-1982. He ended up throwing the only no-hitter of his career in 1978.
In 1983, the Mets traded Charlie Puleo, Lloyd McClendon and Jason Felice to the Reds to re-acquire Seaver in a move that made Mets fans very happy. However, Seaver did not pitch like he did before and went just 9-14 with a 3.55 ERA.
Prior to the 1984 season, Seaver was left unprotected in the compensatory draft. General Manager Frank Cashen didn't think that any team would want a high-priced 39-year-old veteran, but the White Sox ended up selecting him.
Seaver then spent two and a half seasons with the White Sox from 1984-1986. He won his 300th career game on August 4, 1985 at Yankee Stadium during "Phil Rizzuto Day."
In 1986, Seaver almost got traded back to the Mets, but manager Davey Johnson vetoed the trade and Seaver ended up getting traded to the AL Champion Red Sox. A knee injury prevented him from pitching in the 1986 World Series, but Seaver still got a loud ovation during the pre-game introductions.
Seaver was left a free agent in 1987 after declining the offer by the Red Sox. He ended up joining the Mets' Triple A affiliate Tidewater Tides in June despite not signing a contract, but did not pitch well in three starts and subsequently announced his retirement.
Seaver then got his No. 41 retired in 1988 and is the only actual player in team history to have his number retired. That same day, he was also inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.
In 1992, Seaver got elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame with a record 98.84 percent of votes. He is the only player so far to have gotten inducted as a Met.
Since retiring, Seaver has spent time as an announcer.
He first worked with NBC and also spent some time calling Yankees games. He became a part of the Mets' broadcast team with Gary Thorne from 1999-2005.
Seaver has also made various appearances to Shea Stadium and Citi Field. He threw the last pitch in Shea Stadium's history to Mike Piazza in 2008 and then threw the first pitch in Citi Field's history to Piazza, a year later.
Seaver is currently 18th all time in wins with 311 and sixth all time in strikeouts with 3,640. The vast majority of Mets career and single season pitching records all belong to Seaver as well.
Tom Seaver is without question the greatest pitcher the Mets have ever had and should also be considered one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. He is the standard for Mets pitching and will always be considered a legend to all Mets fans.