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New York Mets: Predicting the Next 10 Mets Hall of Fame Inductees

Shale BriskinContributor IIIJune 6, 2012

New York Mets: Predicting the Next 10 Mets Hall of Fame Inductees

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    This past Sunday, June 3, former Mets closer John Franco finally got his long awaited induction into the Mets' Hall of Fame.

    He became just the 26th member of this exclusive club; a club that includes the best of the best in Mets history. With 424 career saves (including 276 across his 15 years in a Mets uniform), it was only a matter of time before Franco, who was arguably the greatest closer in Mets history, got the induction he deserved.

    Some of Franco's former teammates were present at the induction, including pitchers David Cone, Dwight Gooden and Al Leiter, infielder Edgardo Alfonzo, first baseman Todd Zeile and outfielders Darryl Strawberry and Mookie Wilson.

    Former Mets first baseman Ed Kranepool was present at the induction as well. It was a great honor for Franco, who had grown up a Mets fan and is now enshrined into the same Hall of Fame that his childhood idols are a part of.

    Now that Franco's induction has passed, it's time to look forward toward the next probable members of the Mets Hall of Fame.

    Since the vast majority of Franco's time with the Mets was during the 1990s, the Mets might not be planning on inducting any players from the 1980s at any point in the future. Hopefully this is not the case, because there are still a good number of players from the 1980s that deserve to be a part of the Mets' Hall of Fame. If the Franco induction is the start of recognizing the Mets of the 1990s, however, we will certainly see more players from that era get inducted very soon.

    Regardless of what direction the Mets choose to go in, here are, in no particular order, 10 former Mets players and coaches that are most deserving of the honor.

    Note: Former Mets Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes are both still in the midst of their careers, which is why they will not be featured in this slideshow.

1. Howard Johnson

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    Ray Knight may have been the 1986 World Series hero, but when he departed after the championship season, Howard Johnson stepped into the third base position and became one of the best hitters in Mets history—not to mention 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. 

    Knight was not re-signed by the Mets, however, 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 received 42 points in the MVP voting. His home run total also broke a 53-year-old record formerly held by Ripper Collins, for most home runs by a switch-hitting National League shortstop. 

    Johnson did not find the same success in 1988, but still managed to hit 24 home runs, despite driving in only 68 RBI and batting .230. Johnson struggled late in the season, though, and found himself playing shortstop sometimes in order 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, 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 shortstop more often 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 (a record then 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 struggled with injuries. He finished with just a .223 average, seven home runs and 43 RBI. His season ended in August after he fractured his wrist.

    The 1993 season did not go 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 with the Mets was up.

    He played with the Rockies in 1994 and the Cubs in 1995, but struggled 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 served as hitting coach in 2007, remaining with the Mets through 2010. 

    For many years, Howard Johnson was the greatest third baseman the Mets had ever had, at least until David Wright came up in 2004. 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.

    Johnson is someone who is well deserving of a Mets' Hall of Fame induction, and hopefully this will happen sooner or later.

2. Ron Darling

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    Although overshadowed during his 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 very 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 1984, Darling's first full season, he won 12 games and finished with a 3.81 ERA, as he teamed up with Dwight Gooden to form what was then baseball's most formidable 1-2 punch.

    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 statistically. He was 16-6 and lowered his ERA to 2.90. He also made his first All-Star team that year, though he 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, and finished fifth. In that postseason, Darling did not pitch well in Game 3 of the NLCS vs. the Astros, but the Mets managed to come from behind and win the game.

    He came up big in the World Series, however, picking up the slack as Dwight Gooden was all of a sudden struggling. Darling pitched very well in Game 1, though the Mets lost 1-0 to Bruce Hurst.

    In Game 4 of the series, Darling extended his scoreless streak to 14 innings and pitched well once again, and the Mets won 6-2. And even though he was relieved early in Game 7, the Mets still won the championship and all that was bad was forgotten.

    Despite winning 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, as the Mets were attempting to fight off the Cardinals for the division. His team ultimately failed to win 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. As the playoffs began, however, Darling struggled mightily against the Dodgers in the NLCS.

    He won Game 3 as the Mets made a late comeback, finishing 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 from the game in only the second inning. Hershiser, meanwhile, pitched a five-hit shutout and gave the Dodgers a trip to the World Series, which they ultimately won. The Mets would not make it back to the playoffs for another 11 years.

    The struggles for Darling only really began after the 1988 postseason, as he was inconsistent in 1989, finishing 14-14 despite a 3.52 ERA. On a brighter note, he did become the first and only Mets pitcher to win a Golden 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 that July he was traded to the Expos. Two weeks later he was traded again, this time to the A's, where he pitched until he retired after playing through 1995.

    Darling is fourth in Mets history in wins, sixth in strikeouts, ninth in complete games, and sixth in shutouts.

    He was a very important member of the Mets rotation in the 1980s, and he is rightfully deserving of a Mets Hall of Fame induction in the near future. Furthermore, he has been a wonderful announcer over the past few years, something that should only boost his eligibility.

    The Mets might try to buy some time with Darling (depending on how long he stays in the announcer's booth) before inducting him, so it will be interesting to see how that unfolds.

3. Sid Fernandez

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    One of the best southpaws in Mets history, Sid Fernandez was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He pitched briefly with the team as a September call-up, before getting traded to the Mets prior to the 1984 season. Fernandez was traded along with Ross Jones for Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz.

    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 gave up only 108 hits. Both of those ratios were by far the best in the league. The reason behind his win-loss total was that 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. Though he pitched much better at home than on the road, Fernandez would prove to be clutch in the postseason.

    After taking the loss in his only NLCS start by simply getting out-pitched by the Houston Astros' Mike Scott, Fernandez was moved to the bullpen for the World Series, where he provided added depth. In Game 5, after Dwight Gooden struggled, Fernandez was brought in and he pitched four solid innings.

    Fernandez's biggest moment, though, occurred in the decisive Game 7 of the series. After Ron Darling struggled, Fernandez came in and retired seven consecutive batters. The Mets offense rallied later in the game, and were ultimately able to clinch the World Series title.

    In 1987, Fernandez had another great start and made his second and final trip to the All Star Game. He did not pitch as well after the All Star break, however, and he missed a few weeks in August due to shoulder tendinitis.  Fernandez was still able to go 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 and finished 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 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, 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. His success that year was not enough to save his team from becoming one of the worst in baseball, however.

    During his final season as a Met, in 1993, Fernandez missed half of the season when he injured his knee while covering first base. After returning to play, 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, and 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.

    With this being said, Fernandez is very worthy of a Mets' Hall of Fame induction, and hopefully the Mets will recognize his contributions and induct him. He pitched in a Mets uniform for 10 years and put up great numbers during that time.

4. Kevin McReynolds

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    Although he was not on the 1986 championship team, one of the best Mets hitters in the 1980s was Kevin McReynolds.While overshadowed within the Mets' offense by superstars Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry, McReynolds quietly put together a string of solid seasons with the Mets.

    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, winning 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 retired after that season.

    Kevin McReynolds may not have had as many memorable moments as some of his former Mets teammates, and was not quite a fan favorite due to the fact that he was notorious for not being particularly friendly with the fans and the media. Nonetheless, he was definitely one of the better outfielders the Mets have ever had.

    McReynolds' general attitude and personality may hinder his chances of making the Mets' Hall of Fame, but from a statistical and on-field perspective, McReynolds certainly deserves the honor—and that's what should really matter.

5. Jesse Orosco

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    When the Mets traded Jerry Koosman after the 1978 season, Mets fans were probably all upset with the decision. Looking back, it turned out to be a pretty good move.

    In that deal, the Mets got a left-handed reliever named Jesse Orosco. Orosco turned out to be a very important piece of the Mets bullpen for years to come. In his first full season in 1982, Orosco finished 4-10 with a 2.72 ERA while being Neil Allen's set-up man.

    After Allen got traded in the Keith Hernandez deal, Orosco became the closer and had a career year, winning 13 game in relief, saving 17 and finishing with a minuscule 1.47 ERA. He made his first of two consecutive trips to the All-Star game that year as well.

    Orosco had another strong season in 1984, as he won 10 games in relief and saved a career high 31 games as the Mets began to start contending for the playoffs. The saves total was a Mets record until John Franco came around. 1984 was Orosco's last year as the Mets' sole closer, however.

    As of 1985, the Mets teamed up the young Roger McDowell with Orosco to form a lethal right-left closing duo. As a result, Orosco and McDowell shared closing duties, depending on the respective matchups. Orosco saved 17 games in 1985, and had a solid 2.73 ERA as well.

    In 1986, Orosco racked up 21 saves and was very clutch throughout the playoffs that year. "Messy Jesse" won three games in the NLCS against the Astros, including the final out in Game 7.

    He then saved two more crucial games in the World Series, and the sight of him flinging his glove in the air when the Mets were champions is an image that anyone who saw it will never forget. Those moments will be by far the biggest memories in Orosco's legacy.

    Orosco stumbled a bit in 1987, and went just 3-9 with an ERA close to 4.50. He saved 16 games that year, but ended up getting traded to the Dodgers after that season. He then went on to become a journeyman, making stops with the Indians, Brewers, Orioles, Cardinals, Dodgers again, Twins, Yankees and Padres, before finally retiring after 2003.

    He even made a very brief reappearance with the Mets for 2000 spring training, but got traded to the Cardinals before the season began.

    Orosco is baseball's all time leader in games pitched (1,252), and fifth in that category in Mets history. He's also third in team history in saves with 107. The Mets may not have had as much success in the 1980s if Orosco had not been a part of it.

    Due to his critical contributions in the 1986 postseason, it's only fitting that the Mets recognize his efforts by inducting him into their Hall of Fame in the near future.

6. Mike Piazza

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    As the shift goes towards the Mets of the 1990s and 2000s, no former Met in team history is more deserving of a Mets' Hall of Fame induction than Mike Piazza, who was the face of the franchise from 1998-2005. It would be very difficult to argue that any other player during those years did more for the Mets than he did.

    Already boasting a reputation as one of the game's most feared power hitters, Piazza came to New York in 1998, when the Mets were in dire need of a catcher after Todd Hundley was injured. 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 that included a .328 average, 32 home runs and 111 RBI, the Mets decided to trade Hundley and sign Piazza to a seven-year, $91 million deal with the Mets, a deal that 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. His RBI total that year set a new Mets record. He finished seventh in the 1999 NL MVP voting.

    He followed that up with an even better season in 2000, hitting .324 with 38 home runs and 113 RBI. He led the team to its first World Series since 1986, and certainly did his part during those two postseasons, hitting clutch home runs and being the one feared hitter the Mets had at the time. He finished a very close third place in the 2000 NL MVP voting,  behind Barry Bonds and MVP winner Jeff Kent, both of the San Francisco Giants.

    Piazza had two more great seasons in 2001 (.300 average, 36 home runs, 94 RBI) and 2002 (.280 average, 33 home runs, 98 RBI), 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, a move that did not turn out as well as the Mets had hoped. The one memorable moment of Piazza's 2004 season was when he broke Carlton Fisk's all-time home run record for catchers.

    Piazza's last year in 2005 was bittersweet because he was such a fan favorite, but the fans also knew that he would never again be the feared hitter that he once was. Piazza spent his last two seasons in San Diego and Oakland respectively, before finally retiring.

    Countless home runs and clutch hits will forever remain etched in the minds of the Mets fans that were fortunate enough to watch him play, though probably 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.

    Mike Piazza being inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame is pretty much a guarantee. His career numbers as a Met are amongst the best, if not the best.

    He is eligible to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame beginning in 2013, and it's fair to predict that once this occurs the Mets will retire his No. 31 and induct him into the Mets Hall of Fame as well.

    However, the Mets may also decide to wait and put him in the Mets Hall of Fame at the same time as some of his teammates, such as Edgardo Alfonzo and Al Leiter, as well his manager, Bobby Valentine.

    Regardless, Piazza will surely get inducted and have his number retired within the next few years.

7. Edgardo Alfonzo

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    By far the best overall athlete the Mets have ever had at second base, Edgardo 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, he 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. As a result, 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, as 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 six scored 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 average of .324 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 of play due to a lower back strain.

    Alfonzo shifted back to third base in 2002 to accommodate the disappointing arrival of Golden 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 and he finished with 16 home runs and 56 RBI. 

    After the 2002 season, Alfonzo signed with the Giants for 2003. He played there from 2003-2005 before moving on to play for the Angels in 2006. After getting released in May of that year, Alfonzo caught on with the Blue Jays, but was released again after just 12 games. In the end, Alfonzo found himself 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, spending time with the Long Island Ducks, Yomiuri Giants and Newark Bears. 

    Although his prime only lasted for about four seasons (1997-2000), Alfonzo will always remain a fan favorite for those that were fortunate enough to get 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.

    Alfonzo will definitely get inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame within the next few years. Getting in or not will not be an issue for him because he is still the best second baseman in franchise history and one of the most clutch Mets ever.

8. Al Leiter

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    If one were to think of Mets pitching in the late 1990s and early 2000s, one name definitely stands out, and that would be left-hander Al Leiter, who became the Mets' ace throughout his tenure.

    A year after helping the Florida Marlins win their first championship in 1997, Leiter was traded to Mets during a typical Marlins fire-sale, where the Marlins would unload all of their high-priced players.

    One of those players the Mets happened to trade was a young AJ Burnett. Leiter became the Mets' ace instantly and had one of his best seasons in 1998, going 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA. Those 17 wins were a career high for Leiter, as he led the Mets to within one game of a playoff berth.

    Leiter did not do as well in 1999, with a 13-12 record and an ERA of 4.23, but he turned in the best game of his career when the Mets needed it.

    He pitched in the National League Wild-Card clinching game—an extra game added to the regular season because the Mets and Cincinnati Reds finished in a tie. That day, Leiter threw a two-hit complete game shutout, and the Mets won 5-0 to advance to the postseason for the first time in 11 years.

    Leiter had a much better season in 2000, making his second All-Star team (his first as a Met). He went 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA as he and Mike Hampton teamed up to lead the Mets to the World Series. He pitched well in both Game 1 and Game 5 of the Fall Classic, but the Mets lost both games anyway, and eventually lost the series 4-1.

    The Mets' offense did not give Leiter as much support in 2001 as he finished 11-11 despite a 3.31 ERA. Similarly, in 2002, Leiter finished 13-13 with a 3.48 ERA. However, during 2002, Leiter became the first pitcher in baseball history to defeat all 30 current MLB teams.

    Leiter had a bounce-back year in 2003, going 15-9 with an ERA just under 4.00. However, despite his strong season, the Mets played poorly and lost 95 games. His last season with the Mets was in 2004, and he was 10-8 that year with a 3.21 ERA on another underachieving team.

    After 2004, Leiter's option was declined, and he spent 2005 with both the Marlins and the Yankees before retiring after the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Leiter has since become a broadcaster, first for the YES Network—much to the displeasure of Mets fans—and eventually the MLB Network. He was even booed for his YES Network affiliation when he was introduced after Shea Stadium's final game in 2008.

    Leiter was arguably the best left-handed starting pitcher the Mets have had since the days of Bob Ojeda and Sid Fernandez. He was a workhorse, and made significant contributions towards the Mets' success in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

    Leiter will get inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame possibly at the same time as or after the inductions of former teammates Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo.

9. Bobby Valentine

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    Arguably the Mets' third greatest manager after Davey Johnson and Gil Hodges, Bobby Valentine took over an underachieving team at the end of 1996 and transformed them into contenders a year later.

    His first full season in 1997 saw him turn the Mets into surprising contenders who fell only a few games short of making the Wild Card. That year was not easy for Bobby V, as Todd Hundley and Pete Harnisch clashed with him, and then there was the Carl Everett child abuse case the team had to deal with in August.

    1998 saw the Mets come within one game of a playoff berth but the controversy continued. Hundley still clashed with Valentine after rumors spread that Valentine believed Hundley had a drinking problem.

    1999 was a better year for Valentine and the Mets, as they made the playoffs for the first time since 1988. In one fascinating game that year, Valentine was ejected and reappeared infamously in the dugout wearing a fake mustache, which was pretty funny.

    More people clashed with Valentine that year, including Rickey Henderson and the infamous Bobby Bonilla, who contributed little that year during his second stint as a Met. Both players would be run out of town the following year.

    In 2000, Valentine took the Mets to the World Series and silenced the critics by doing so. By then, his longtime feud with GM Steve Phillips became public knowledge, and it only got worse. 2001 showed Valentine leading the Mets past the events of 9/11, and he was right in the middle of it all with his many efforts to help victims.

    Valentine's last year as a Met was in 2002, when the Mets stumbled and finished in last place. More controversy ensued as several Mets were found to be smoking marijuana during the season and the feuding with Phillips got to a climax. In the end, Valentine was fired and replaced by Art Howe, who only made the Mets worse during his two-year stint.

    Bobby Valentine is second amongst managers in team history in games managed, second in wins, the leader in losses, and third in winning percentage. He is also tied with Davey Johnson for being the longest tenured manager (7 seasons).

    With this being said, it's only a matter of time until Valentine's name is announced at a future induction, most likely alongside some of the players he managed. Valentine's current managerial job with the Red Sox might cause his eventual induction to get postponed though, at least until he is not managing another team.

10. Armando Benitez

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    Armando Benitez was a critical member of the Mets bullpen in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Many fans remember him more for giving up a bunch of late inning home runs, but from a statistical perspective, Benitez was a solid closer who was very unappreciated.

    Benitez originally came up with the Baltimore Orioles, a team he was with from 1994-1998. He gave up the infamous home run that 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 of 41 saves. In the NLDS, he gave up a game-tying home run to J.T. Snow in Game 2, but then pitched well during the NLCS and did not give up an earned run the entire series. In the World Series, Benitez failed to pick up the save during 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 of 43 saves, a record 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 were fed up with the late-inning meltdowns, and Benitez was traded to the New York Yankees right after the All Star break. 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 well known for the big home runs he gave up than for 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.

    Unlike all the other former players mentioned in this slideshow, Benitez's chances of making the Mets' Hall of Fame are not that great. Hopefully at some point, however, the Mets will realize that he was a better closer than he's been given credit for, and do the right thing.

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