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New York Mets: Top 10 Former Players Who Deserve a Mets Hall of Fame Induction

Shale BriskinContributor IIIJanuary 10, 2017

New York Mets: Top 10 Former Players Who Deserve a Mets Hall of Fame Induction

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    NEW YORK - JULY 31:  (L-R) Former players Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden join former manager Davey Johnson and former general manager Frank Cashen during a press conference for their induction into the New York Mets Hall of Fame prior to the game aga
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The New York Mets have never been the team that enjoys retiring numbers for every premier player they have had. To date, only one player, Tom Seaver has had his number retired.

    But the Mets do have their own Hall of Fame that they have used to recognize certain players, announcers and executives that have all had significant impact on the franchise's history.

    They have even decided to showcase replicas of each person's plaques as part of the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum in Citi Field.

    As of the 2011 season, twenty-five people have been inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame. 15 of which are former players Gil Hodges, Bud Harrelson, Rusty Staub, Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Jerry Grote, Tug McGraw, Mookie Wilson, Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Tommie Agee, Dwight Gooden, and Darryl Strawberry.

    The rest are executives (original Mets owner Joan Payson, original GM George Weiss, club pioneer William Shea, GM Johnny Murphy, and GM Frank Cashen), mangers Casey Stengel, Hodges, and Davey Johnson, and announcers Ralph Kiner, Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson.

    With Gooden, Strawberry, Cashen and Johnson all inducted last August, the next inductions are only a matter of time, and plenty of former Mets are certainly worthy of this honor. Here are the top 10 former Mets that are destined to be enshrined into the Mets Hall of Fame.

    Note: Current Mets, such as David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran are not yet eligible for such a discussion at this point because they are still in their playing careers. This list features only former Mets who have retired.

Honorable Mentions

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    FLUSHING, NY - OCTOBER 27:  Pitcher Roger McDowell #42 of the New York Mets on the mound during game 7 of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Shea Stadium on October 27, 1986 in Flushing, New York. McDowell earned the victory as the Mets w
    T.G. Higgins/Getty Images

    There are a few former Mets players who did not make the Top 10, but are definitely up for consideration nonetheless.

    Roger McDowell was one of the most dependable right-handed relievers the Mets have ever had, and one of baseball's best during the 1980s. Although he was overshadowed by closer Jesse Orosco, McDowell's numbers were very good and he picked up a lot of saves himself.

    He even won a Mets record 14 times in relief in 1986. His Mets legacy could have been even greater had the team not infamously decided to send him with Lenny Dykstra to Philadelphia in 1989. It would be no surprise to see McDowell getting a Mets Hall of Fame induction.

    Another 1980s Met who could get some recognition is second baseman Wally Backman. He played nine seasons with the Mets and was the starting second baseman from 1984-1988, when the Mets had their most successful stretch in team history.

    Backman did not have any power and could not hit from the right side, but he was a speedster and got on base at a good rate while batting left-handed. His grit and hustle instantly made him a fan favorite.

    There's a good chance that Backman could get inducted, but with most of his 1980s teammates already inducted, time could be running out for him before the 1990s players get their share of recognition.

    A little more than a decade later, another hard-throwing reliever came to the Mets and eventually took John Franco's role as closer. That would be Armando Benitez. He became the closer halfway through 1999 and held the position until he was run out of Shea Stadium after the 2003 All-Star break.

    During that time, Benitez racked up 160 saves, including 41 in 2000 and a Mets record 43 in 2001. His ERA was always solid and never got above 3.80 in any season.

    However, Benitez was always known for blowing saves when under the most pressure and that will always be part of his legacy. Nonetheless, Benitez earns every right to be an inductee in the near future.

    From 1997-2001, Rick Reed was one of the most dependable starters for the Mets. He ate up innings and consistently threw strikes. He was a big factor in the team's success in 1999 and 2000 and started the only game the Mets won in the 2000 World Series.

    However, the two time All-Star's legacy will always be under the radar and overshadowed by others on the pitching staff, but when the Mets needed Reed to win a big game, he always delivered the very best he could offer. A Mets Hall of Fame induction for Reed is definitely possible in the near future.

    Another Mets starter who could get some recognition is Bobby Jones, who was the Mets' ace from 1994-1997 and was with the team through 2000. Jones was not a flashy player, but he was effective and was a mainstay in the Mets rotation. He peaked in 1997 by winning a career high 15 games and making his only All-Star appearance.

    However, his biggest game was one of his last during the 2000 postseason, when he threw a complete game one-hitter against the Giants to clinch the Division Series. A Mets Hall of Fame induction could happen for Jones, but don't count on it for sure.

    Rey Ordonez was the National League's version of Omar Vizquel when he won three consecutive Gold Gloves from 1997-1999.

    Despite being a fan favorite until he decided to mouth off at fans before his Mets tenure ended, Ordonez was anything but reliable at the plate and he did not have the speed and smarts that Bud Harrelson, another weak hitting Mets shortstop had. Thus, being a one-dimensional defensive guru does not help Rey-Rey's chances of being inducted.

    Finally, a forgotten member of the Mets teams in the late 1960s and 1970s was Jon Matlack, the 1972 National League Rookie of the Year.

    He had great numbers, but it seems as if the ship has sailed for Matlack and others from his era. The Mets, as they should, have decided to start honoring players from more recent years.

10. Todd Hundley

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    Right fielder Todd Hundley of the New York Mets runs to a base during a game against the San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California. The Padres won the game 12-5.
    Jason Wise/Getty Images

    If there is one hitter that represented the Mets through most of the 1990s, it would be catcher Todd Hundley. Always viewed as Gary Carter's long-term replacement, Hundley first came up in 1990, but did not start regularly until 1992.

    He was originally a light-hitting catcher who possessed good defensive skills. 1992 and 1993 did not show much of Hundley's ultimate potential, as he hit below .230 in both years and did not show a lot of power (7 home runs in 1992, 11 in 1993) as the Mets fell to one of baseball's most underachieving teams those years.

    Hundley started to turn the corner in 1994 with a .237 average, 16 home runs and 42 RBI until the strike wiped out the rest of the season. He finished his 1995 season with a career high .280 average, 15 home runs and 51 RBI.

    Those numbers, however, may have been deceiving because he missed well over a month that year with a sprained wrist. After 1995, the waiting period for Hundley to blossom was finally over.

    1996 showed Hundley adding a new dimension to his game that transformed him from an average catcher to one of baseball's best. As he made his first All-Star team that year, Hundley became a clubhouse leader by hitting a Mets record 41 home runs, while driving in a career high 112 RBI.

    His home run total also set a Major League single season record for catchers, which has since been broken. What was interesting about this season was that the vast majority of Hundley's success came against right-handed pitching, as he hit 35 of the 41 homers against righties and also hit .286 against them, in comparison to 6 home runs and just .194 against southpaws.

    This was always the case for Hundley, who consistently struggled from the right side. In fact, just 18 of his 124 career home runs as a Met were against lefties.

    Thanks to this monstrous season, Hundley was rewarded with a new four year $21 million contract. Hundley followed up his career year with another very solid season in 1997 as he led the Mets to coming within a few games of a playoff berth before a nagging elbow injury he had most of the season became too painful.

    Hundley raised his average to .273, hit 30 home runs and drove in 86 RBI as he made another All-Star team.

    The other 1996 stars, Bernard Gilkey and Lance Johnson, both struggled and Hundley was the only one of the three to have a successful follow-up season, which raised his legacy above that of a traditional one year wonder.

    This year was also tumultuous for Hundley as he clashed with new manager Bobby Valentine over rumors that he was drinking and partying too late at night throughout the year, and as a result, not getting enough rest.

    Hundley denied all of this and was very outspoken in the local papers. He ended the year making a cameo appearance on a Saturday Night Live sketch.

    Through most of 1998, Hundley had to recover from the elbow injury and watched the Mets trade for Mike Piazza, which infuriated him. Hundley finally returned in July, but this time as a left fielder.

    This experiment did not work out well as he played in only 53 games and hit just .161 in that span. In the offseason, the Mets decided to sign Piazza long-term and sent Hundley packing to the Dodgers.

    He spent time there and with the Cubs before retiring. In 2007, he was listed on the Mitchell Report, which raised questions as to whether his best years in 1996 and 1997 were tainted by steroid use. Hundley has not addressed the rumors.

    Although Hundley only had two strong seasons during his career, he became a fan favorite and team leader, particularly in 1997 when the Mets started contending once again. His eventual loss halfway through that September affected the Mets offense, and that may have been a huge reason why they missed the postseason.

    Some may be curious about his supposed steroid use, but Hundley was the Mets' first offensive superstar since Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson, and gave the fans one reason to care about the Mets during the mid-1990s. Thus, he should definitely get into the Mets Hall of Fame at some point.

9. Manager Bobby Valentine

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    28 Feb 2002 : Manager Bobby Valentine of the New York Mets during the Spring Training game against the St.Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. The Cardinals won 5-2. DIGTAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Eliot Schechter/Getty Images
    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Arguably the Mets' third greatest manager, behind 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 lead the Mets into surprising contenders that only fell short a few games 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 and 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 Bobby V 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 Bobby V that year including Rickey Henderson and the infamous Bobby Bonilla, who contributed little that year during his second Mets stint. Both would be run out of town the following year.

    In 2000, Bobby V took the Mets to the World Series and silenced the critics by doing so. By then, his longtime feud with GM Steve Phillips became to known to all and it only got worse. 2001 showed Bobby V 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.

    Bobby V'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 and in the end, Bobby V 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 Bobby V's name is announced at a future induction, most likely with some of the players he managed.

8. Lenny Dykstra

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    FLUSHING, NY - OCTOBER 27:  Outfielder Lenny Dykstra #4 of the New York Mets at bat during game 7 of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Shea Stadium on October 27, 1986 in Flushing, New York. The Mets won the series 4-3.  (Photo by T.G. H
    T.G. Higgins/Getty Images

    Another key cog in the Mets mid to late 1980s success, Lenny Dykstra came up as the leadoff hitting sparkplug the team needed to win. Dykstra did not play much in 1985, but during his first full season in 1986, he hit .295 with 8 home runs, 45 RBI, a team-leading 31 stolen bases, and a .377 OBP.

    Known as Nails, his role was to get on base, so that the big hitters like Keith Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry could drive him in. Dykstra played a solid center field and played a huge role in the 1986 World Series by hitting two very clutch home runs.

    He followed up the championship season by hitting .285 with 10 home runs, 43 RBI, 27 stolen bases, and a .352 OBP in 1987. In 1988, he hit .270 with 8 home runs, 33 RBI, 30 steals, and a .321 OBP in 1988.

    At this point, Dykstra was platooning in center field with Mookie Wilson with the slugging Kevin McReynolds being a fixture in left field. With this conundrum of playing time, the Mets apparently felt that one of Dykstra or Wilson had to go.

    As it turns out, both got traded in 1989. Dykstra, along with Roger McDowell was sent to the Phillies for Juan Samuel in one of the worst trades in franchise history.

    Dykstra spent the rest of his career with the Phillies by leading them to the 1993 World Series and becoming a fan favorite there, while Samuel was gone after the 1989 season and did close to nothing in his short stint with the Mets.

    Dysktra is one of the few 1986 key players on the Mets that has not been recognized as part of the Mets Hall of Fame, despite his relatively shorter tenure. Thus, it seems only fair that he gets his induction in the near future. It would be surprising if he did not.

7. Ron Darling

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    SAN DIEGO - 1988:  Pitcher Ron Darling #12 of the New York Mets on the mound during a 1988 season MLB game against the San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Although overshadowed 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 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 1-2 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 as he finished 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 all of a sudden was 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. And 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, and they 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. However, as 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 and 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.

    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 rightfully deserves a Mets Hall of Fame induction in the near future. Furthermore, he has been a wonderful announcer the past few years, so that should only boost his eligibility.

6. Jesse Orosco

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    SAN DIEGO - 1986:  Jesse Orosco #47 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the MLB game against the San Diego Padres at Jack Murphy Stadium during the 1986 season in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    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 who 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 has he won 13 game in relief, saved 17 and finished 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 became a Mets record, until John Franco came around. However, this was Orosco's last year as the Mets' sole closer.

    Starting in 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, but had a good 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 2 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 the 2000 spring training, but got traded to the Cardinals before the season began.

    Orosco is baseball's all time leader in games pitched with 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 the Mets Hall of Fame, which should happen in the near future. 

5. Al Leiter

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    21 Oct 2000: Starting pitcher Al Leiter winds up for the delivery against the New York Yankees during game one of the World Series at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. <DIGITAL IMAGE> Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/ALLSPORT
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    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, in which 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 his ERA went up to 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, and 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 Game 1 and Game 5 of the Fall Classic, but the Mets lost both games, and eventually 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, in that year, Leiter became the first pitcher in baseball history to defeat all thirty 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 the Marlins and Yankees before retiring after the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Leiter has since become a broadcaster 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. However, he was the one staple in the Mets rotation during their late 1990s and early 2000s success, and he should definitely get into the Mets Hall of Fame at some point.

    Leiter is seventh in team history in innings pitched, sixth in wins and seventh in strikeouts, all of which are solid rankings that deserve an induction in the near future for arguably the Mets' best left-handed starter since the duo of Bob Ojeda and Sid Fernandez in the 1980s. (Note: Santana is not quite there yet as a Met)

4. Edgardo Alfonzo

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    Edgardo Alfonzo may not have had the limelight of Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura or John Franco, but the Mets' success in the late 1990s and early 2000s would not have been the same without the Fonz.

    Alfonzo was originally a third baseman that played shortstop and second base occasionally but eventually became the Mets' greatest second baseman, which says a lot about their history at that position, before moving back to third in 2002.

    Alfonzo broke into the majors in 1995 as a utility infielder and became the starting third baseman in 1997 once Butch Huskey was permanently moved to the outfield. Alfonzo hit .315 that year, which led the team, and followed up by hitting 17 home runs with 78 RBI in 1998 while successfully manning the hot corner.

    In 1999, Alfonzo shifted to second base when Ventura arrived and went on to have his best season. He set career highs with 27 home runs and 108 RBI and won his first and only Silver Slugger Award.

    He also 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 set a career high with a .324 average to go along with 25 home runs and 94 RBI. He made his only All-Star team that year and was clutch once again in the postseason.

    Alfonzo's last two Mets years were mediocre, and he signed with the Giants in 2003. He has spent time with the Angels and Blue Jays as well.

    Once the 1980s inductions are completed, Alfonzo should certainly be one of the first Mets from the late 1990s-early 2000s to receive a Mets' Hall of Fame induction. He is arguably the best second basemen the Mets have ever had and one of the best overall infielders as well.

    His 1999 and 2000 seasons were by far his best, but his consistent rate of getting on base also made the jobs of teammates like Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura easier. It's only a matter of time until Alfonzo gets properly honored.

3. John Franco

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    The second-longest tenured Met in history, and longest among pitchers, John Franco is without question someone that deserves a Mets' Hall of Fame induction. He has the most saves among Mets pitchers and also has the most saves in MLB history for a left-handed pitcher with 424. 

    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 many saves, averaging 26.8 saves per year through the decade. That number would have been higher had Franco not been hurt during parts of the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

    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 2.53 ERA.

    He saved 30 games in 1991, 25 combined in 1992 and 1993, 30 in 1994, 29 in 1995, 28 in 1996, 36 in 1997, which broke his own record, and 38 in 1998, breaking his own record once again.

    In each of these seasons except for 1993 and 1998, his ERA was below 3.00, which shows how dominant Franco was against the National League. However, compared to other premier closers at the time, Franco was rather underrated and his overall numbers usually went unnoticed.

    After the arrival of Armando Benitez, Franco converted to a set-up man (and eventually, team captain) for the rest of his Mets years before spending a year in Houston, and subsequently retiring and becoming the team ambassador he is today.

    Many non-Mets fans would probably not know that Franco is fourth all-time in saves. Only Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, and Lee Smith have more saves at the moment.

    Franco may not have had neither the noticeable dominance that other closers of his time had, nor the postseason experiences that defined other Mets closers like Tug McGraw and Jesse Orosco, but Franco nonetheless is one of baseball's greatest closers, and for that reason alone, he deserves to be inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame.

    It would certainly make up for the fact that 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.

    John Franco being inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame is pretty much inevitable. He was the Mets' icon during most of the 1990s and has done so much for the franchise as a player, mentor and club ambassador. Look for Franco to be another one of the first Mets of the 1990s and 2000s to be inducted.

2. Howard Johnson

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    Howard Johnson was one of the Mets' greatest hitters during his tenure.

    Although overshadowed by Ray Knight during the 1986 championship season, HoJo was an offensive force for the Mets during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

    A solid third baseman that also played some shortstop, HoJo set some Mets records that have since been broken, including a then-record 117 RBI in 1991. He had good power, best shown also in 1991 with 36 home runs, which led the National League.

    He made two All-Star teams and ended his Mets tenure as its best all-around third baseman, and some may say he still is at this moment, being that David Wright is just entering his prime. 

    Johnson is currently third in Mets history in home runs, fourth in RBI, fourth in runs scored, third in doubles, and fifth in total bases.

    Thanks to the numbers he has put up, Johnson certainly deserves to be inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame. With most of the core 1980s players already inducted, it should only be a matter of time until Johnson gets his call. 

1. Mike Piazza

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    While there's a good chance that Howard Johnson is the next Met to be inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame, no one is more deserving than Mike Piazza, the greatest offensive catcher of all time.

    Already with 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 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, the Mets decided to trade Hundley and sign Piazza to a seven-year, $91 million deal with the Mets, which 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 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

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

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

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