When I think of the Modern Era, I think of 1990 to the present. There have been hundreds of players that have worn the orange and blue. In this article, I will share the best from each position based on the stats and what they meant to the team.
The players that are eligible for candidacy are those who wore the Mets’ jersey in the year 1990 and after. I will go position by position with a brief explanation of each. Let’s get the show on the road.
Catcher- Mike Piazza
Explanation: This is going to be one of the easiest ones to call of the bunch. Piazza is arguably the Mets’ best hitter in franchise history, and he was capable of changing a game with one swing.
The defining moment for me was in the first game after September 11. Piazza lifted the city on his shoulders and delivered a bomb well over the center field wall at Shea Stadium.
He also carried the team on his back to the World Series in 2000, and that was a team that most of us would admit had no business being there. Piazza closed the doors of Shea and opened those at Citifield, so that shoes what the Mets’ brass thinks of him.
First Basemen- John Olerud
Explanation: There aren’t many guys who had a more fluent swing in a Mets’ uniform than John Olerud. He was famous for wearing the helmet in the field, but he really proved his value with his bat.
He had an excellent gage of the strike zone, and he was unbelievable with on base percentage. In 1998, Olerud hit .354, but what was even more impressive about it was the fact that he hit for a .447 on base percentage.
Mike Piazza would give him a lot of credit for helping him have runs to drive in, and Olerud played an excellent Robin to Mike’s batman.
Second Basemen- Edgardo Alfonzo
Explanation: Fonzie was an excellent all around player during his time with the Mets. He was more known for his average, although he was capable of hitting the long ball from time to time. In fact, Fonzie hit 25 homers in consecutive seasons, ranging from 1999-2000.
In his eight years with the Mets, Alfonzo posted over 1,100 hits and 200 doubles, which is why he is the best second basemen I have ever seen the Mets possess.
Third Base- Howard Johnson
Explanation: Before everyone screams for David Wright, just hear me out for a second. Johnson’s days with the Mets began 24 years ago in 1985, when he hit a dismal .242, but the alarming number was the 11 homers.
As the years progressed though, HOJO started sending more balls over the fence, and he was a pivotal part of the Mets’ world championship team in 1986. He currently owns two Mets’ records, including most intentional walks in a season (25) and 15 sacrifice flies, which is a record that he shares with former Mets’ catcher Gary Carter.
He hit several huge homers that will be remembered by Mets’ fans forever. He now serves as the tutor for the Mets’ young team, and that speaks volumes about what kind of layer he was.
Shortstop- Jose Reyes
Explanation: What can you say about Reyes? Despite the fact that he is injured right now, he has been one of the most exciting players in the game since he was called up in 2003 at age 20. Although patience was an issue at the beginning of his career, Reyes has become a prototypical lead off man for the Mets.
He is just 40 hits away from 1,000 for his major league career, and he has clobbered 162 doubles and 73 triples already. He is just a solid all around hitter who seems to improving every day.
Left Field- Bernard Gilkey
Explanation: Only five players in Mets’ history have played more games in left field than Bernard Gilkey did, and many people don’t remember what kind of player that he was. His best year with the team was 1998 when Gilkey clobbered 30 homers, 117 RBI and scored 108 runs.
He also owns the record for most doubles in a season with 44 for the Mets, although David Wright may break that record before we know it. In that same 1996 season, Gilkey tied Howard Johnson’s RBI record with 117, although that was broken by Mike Piazza in 1999.
Center Field- Carlos Beltran
Explanation: Many people have accused Beltran of being a streaky player, but when the season is said and done, he always has exceptional numbers. He is one of the most underappreciated players in baseball, most likely because he goes about his business in such a quiet and graceful manner.
Beltran has already hit 123 homers in just over four seasons with the Mets. One of the most impressive things about Beltran is that he has 90 stolen bases to go along with only 15 caught stealing. He tied Todd Hundley’s record for homers in a season with 41 in 2006, and in the same season, he established a new club record for runs with 127.
Right Field- Darryl Strawberry
Explanation: I was really reluctant to give the honor to Strawberry, seeing as his last year with the Mets was 1990, but the list of guys who have been a part of the revolving door in right field is downright dreadful. When Jeromy Burnitz is fifth on your all time list for games started in right field, you know you have a problem.
One year or not, Strawberry was one of the most dominant players in Mets’ history. While he hit as many as 39 homers in a season, Strawberry also established many other records that have since been broken. He once had the records for homers, RBI, runs, walks and total bases (all of which were in individual seasons.)
Disagree with my picks? Want to tear my head off about not picking David Wright? Go for it. It’s all part of the game.