New York Mets: Top 10 First Baseman in Team History
In part four of the greatest Mets in team history by position, we move on to first base. As a power position, the Mets have certainly had their fair share of sluggers hold down the fort, while others have been more contact and defense-oriented. Nonetheless, the Mets have always had some stability and even some leadership at this position during certain eras.
Ike Davis is currently the Mets first baseman, not just for now, but for the future. Davis is a talented lefty who can hit long home runs on a consistent basis and is also destined to win many Gold Gloves for his amazing defense. He is a future All-Star for sure, if not this year, then definitely within the next few years.
Assuming Davis has a few 30+ home run and 100+ RBI seasons, which he is unquestionably destined for starting this year, he will make this list very soon. However, one full professional season just isn't long enough to be considered at the moment.
For now, here are the top 10 first baseman in Mets history.
Honorable Mention: Rico Brogna
The Mets were certainly not the best team in baseball during the mid-1990s. However, one of their better positions happened to be at first base, thanks to the production of Rico Brogna.
Originally scouted as a quarterback for Clemson, Brogna ended up choosing baseball and signing with the Tigers in 1988 after being drafted 26th overall.
Brogna made his MLB debut in August of 1992, but due to the presence of slugger Cecil Fielder, Brogna was not destined to get many opportunities with the Tigers. As a result, the Tigers traded him to the Mets right before the start of the 1994 season for minor leaguer Alan Zinter.
Brogna started the 1994 season in the minors, while David Segui was the Mets' opening day first baseman. However, Segui did not hit as well as expected, and Brogna was called up in June.
He then played regularly for the next two months until the eventual players' strike wiped out the rest of the season. In 131 at-bats, Brogna batted .351 with 7 home runs and 20 RBI. He also posted a .380 OBP and .626 slugging percentage.
Due to his breakout rookie campaign, Brogna was given the everyday job at first base for 1995 while Segui was traded to the Expos. Brogna immediately became part of the Mets' offensive core that year along with Jeff Kent, Todd Hundley and Edgardo Alfonzo.
Due to the presence of many feared National League sluggers at first base, Brogna's season was good, yet overshadowed. He batted .289 and led the Mets with 22 home runs and 76 RBI. He also had a strong .342 OBP over 134 games.
Brogna was even better defensively, as he led the led the league with a .998 fielding percentage at first base and committed only 3 errors all season. However, Brogna ended up getting snubbed for the Gold Glove Award, and Mark Grace of the Cubs was chosen for the honor.
Due to his 1995 accomplishments, the Mets were expecting even larger numbers from Brogna in 1996. However, it was not meant to be, as Brogna only appeared in 55 games and ended up having shoulder surgery in July, which ended his season. His average slipped to .255, and he only hit 7 home runs and drove in 30 RBI.
As a result, Butch Huskey, an original infielder who was converted to right field, ended up playing first base for most of the latter half of the season. This ended up working out for the Mets, more or less because Huskey had been sharing right field with both Carl Everett and Alex Ochoa.
After the 1996 season, the Mets decided to trade Brogna to the Phillies for relievers Ricardo Jordan and Toby Borland. The Mets were not sure if or when Brogna would recover from surgery, so they parted ways with him and acquired John Olerud from the Blue Jays to take over first base. In 1991, Brogna was diagnosed with a severe from of spinal arthritis, so his health had always been questionable from the beginning.
This ended up being a great move for the Mets because Olerud became a team leader and posted numbers better than Brogna's. However, both relievers the Mets acquired failed miserably in 1997, which was why the trade ended up backfiring on the Mets, who were looking for more support in the bullpen.
Brogna played with the Phillies from 1997-2000 and continued posting 20+ home run seasons and solid defense at first base. However, injuries got the best of him again in 2000, and he was placed on waivers in August.
After spending brief stints with the Red Sox and Braves, Brogna retired after the 2001 season and began a new career as a high school football coach in his native Connecticut. He has since become a football coach at Wesleyan University.
Brogna's time with the Mets was rather brief, but he had a great season in 1995 and provided some stability on some losing teams during a time when the front office was more or less chaotic. This is why he is an Honorable Mention.
10. Dave Magadan
Starting off the countdown is Dave Magadan, who was a Met from 1986-1992.
Magadan was not a typical first baseman. He did not possess much power in particular, but was a very good contact hitter, particularly when he batted .328 in 1990. But being a singles hitter is not the best fit for a first baseman, generally speaking. Nonetheless, Magadan did a fine job manning first base after the Keith Hernandez era ended.
Magadan was first called up in September of 1986 and made his major league debut by pinch-hitting for Kevin Elster, doubling in his first at-bat. He also started at first base in what turned out to be the NL East clinching game for the Mets that year. He got three hits and collected two RBI in that game.
After the season, Magadan had a hard time finding a regular job with Hernandez at first base and Howard Johnson at third base. However, manager Davey Johnson moved Johnson to shortstop for 30 games just to give Magadan more at-bats in 1987 and 1988. He was also a good pinch-hitter and spot starter in case a regular needed a breather.
When Hernandez got hurt, Magadan became the regular first baseman in 1989. He batted .286 that year with four home runs and 41 RBI. His defense was not as good as Hernandez', but he held his own compared to what the scouting reports said.
Once Hernandez left after the 1989 season, Magadan was not given the full-time job because the Mets ended up trading for Mike Marshall. However, Marshall struggled in the first half of the season, and Magadan was given the job back.
He ended up having his best season as a Met by finishing third in the NL with a .328 average. He also contributed six home runs, 72 RBI and a .417 OBP.
Magadan's 1991 season was not as good as 1990, but then again, the Mets as a team became a lot worse that year. Magadan's average slipped to just .258, and he had just four home runs and 51 RBI.
Once Frank Cashen handed the GM position to Al Harazin, Eddie Murray soon became the Mets' new first baseman, and Magadan was shifted to third base. In his final Mets season, Magadan batted .283, but had just three home runs and 28 RBI.
After the season, he signed with the expansion Florida Marlins,with whom he spent three months until he got traded to the Mariners. However, Magadan ended up getting traded back to the Marlins in the off-season and spent the 1994 season there. He then moved onto the Astros in 1995, the Cubs in 1996, the A's from 1997-1998 and the Padres from 1999-2001 before retiring.
Magadan is currently the hitting coach of the Red Sox, a position he has held since 2007.
Dave Magadan was certainly not the best first baseman in Mets history, but he was a bright spot during a negative transition within Mets history.
9. Eddie Murray
Best known during his years with the Baltimore Orioles, Hall of Famer Eddie Murray was one of the best first basemen and switch-hitters to ever play baseball.
He also happened to be the Mets' first baseman from 1992-1993. During those two seasons, the Mets were simply terrible, but Murray was one of very few bright spots at that time.
After spending 11 memorable seasons with the Orioles from 1977-1988 and the next three seasons with the Dodgers, new Mets GM Al Harazin signed Murray to a two-year contract during the 1991-1992 off-season.
Despite batting .261 in 1992, Murray hit 16 home runs and drove in 93 RBI during a year when basically no one besides him and Bobby Bonilla actually hit well. This season also included Murray's 400th career home run.
While the Mets as a team were even worse in 1993, Murray was second on the team behind Bonilla with 27 home runs and led the team with 100 RBI. This was particularly significant because of how chaotic and tumultuous the year was for the Mets.
Murray even led the team with a .285 average, which goes to show how much the rest of the team struggled. Due to all the chaos, it was no surprise that Murray no longer wanted to be a part of it.
After 1993, Murray spent 1994-1996 with the Indians before being traded back to the Orioles in what became a brief second stint for him. He reached 3,000 career hits in 1995 and hit his 500th career home run fittingly with the Orioles.
Murray spent his last season with the Angels and later the Dodgers in 1997 before retiring. He has the second-most career home runs for a switch-hitter behind Mickey Mantle.
Eddie Murray's time with the Mets was brief and probably not the most enjoyable within his career. However, he was a bright spot in two of the darkest years in Mets history, and his contributions should not be forgotten.
8. Todd Zeile
Journeyman infielder Todd Zeile's overall career was not spectacular, but he was certainly a big contributor to the Mets' success in 2000 when they won the NL Pennant. The success he had with the Mets may have only lasted a year, but he will not be forgotten as the first baseman of one of the best teams in Mets history.
Zeile originally started his professional career as a catcher with the Cardinals in 1989. Manager Joe Torre felt Zeile could have a longer and more productive career if he became an infielder, so Zeile eventually became a third baseman.
Zeile stayed with the Cardinals through 1995, until he was traded to the Cubs in the latter half of the year. He then split the 1996 season with the Phillies and Orioles, before going to the Dodgers in 1997. He stayed in Los Angeles until he was traded as part of the Mike Piazza deal to the Marlins in May of 1998. Like Piazza, Zeile's stay with the Marlins was brief, as he was soon shipped to the Rangers, where he played through 1999.
After the 1999 season, Zeile was a free agent and signed a multi-year contract with the Mets to become their new first baseman. The previous first baseman John Olerud had already signed with the Mariners, so the Mets were looking for a good replacement. Zeile was not as good of a player or as much of a fan favorite as Olerud, but in 2000, he certainly held his own.
Although his contributions that year were overshadowed by those of Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo, and Robin Ventura, Zeile put together a solid season. He batted .268 and finished with 22 home runs and 79 RBI as a solid 6 hitter. He also had a respectable .356 OBP that year.
After struggling in the Division Series, Zeile hit well in the NLCS against his former Cardinals. He batted .368 in 19 at-bats and drove in 8 runs during the series.
In the 2000 World Series, Zeile was part of an unfortunate moment for the Mets in Game 1. With Timo Perez on first, Zeile hit a fly ball that Perez thought was a home run. As a result, Perez jogged slowly, but the ball bounced off the fence and Perez ended up being thrown out at home plate in what may have been a turning point in the series. The Mets ended up losing that game and eventually the series.
With the 2000 season behind, Zeile was once again counted on to be a productive hitter in 2001. However, the results this time were not as good.
His average was very similar at .266, but his production fell to just 10 home runs and 62 RBI. That year, Zeile started to get booed more and it was clear that GM Steve Phillips was bound to make some personnel changes after the Mets failed to make the 2001 postseason.
In January 2002, Zeile got traded yet again, but this time to the Rockies along with popular outfielder Benny Agbayani in exchange for three players, one of them being former Met Alex Ochoa. They all immediately got shipped to the Brewers in the deal that brought Jeromy Burnitz back to the Mets.
After spending 2002 in Colorado, Zeile signed with the Yankees in 2003 and was briefly reunited with Ventura. However, he got released in August of that year and was signed by the Expos a few days later to finish the season. Zeile had planned on retiring after 2004 beforehand, and he ended up spending his last professional season with the Mets in a second stint.
During his victory lap 2004 season, Zeile mostly filled in occasionally at both first and third base. He batted just .233 for the year and finished with 9 home runs and 35 RBI.
On September 18, manager Art Howe let Zeile start at catcher, which was the first time Zeile had played the position in 14 years, which is currently the third-longest streak in baseball history. He also got one more start behind the plate in the final game of the season. In his final at-bat as a major league player, Zeile hit a 3-run home run off Claudio Vargas and caught a pop-up during his final play.
Since retiring, Zeile has become very involved with acting and film production. He also founded Green Diamond Entertainment while with the Mets. Zeile has also been seen occasionally at Citi Field during the past few seasons as a member of the Mets' Alumini Association.
Todd Zeile did not have the monstrous power or the glamour of a typical first baseman, but his contributions in 2000 were solid, and he will always be remembered by Mets fans as a key member of that team.
7. Dave Kingman
One of the most feared sluggers in the past fifty years, Dave Kingman became the first genuine slugger the Mets had ever had.
Known for his monstrous power and breathtaking 500 ft homers, "Kong" made the most of his two brief stints with the team. However, when he wasn't hitting home runs, the free-swinging Kingman always racked up a lot of strikeouts. Furthermore, his batting average and OBP were both consistently on the low side.
After spending the first four years of his career with the Giants from 1971-1974, Kingman was sold to the Mets following the 1974 season. He immediately became a force for the Mets' offense by setting a then-franchise record with 36 home runs to go along with 88 RBI. During that season, Kingman split time between left field and first base.
Kingman was even better in 1976. His average rose from .231 to .238, and he broke his own record with 37 home runs. He was named an All-Star that year and started in right field during the game.
Kingman's 1977 season was rather odd. He only had 9 home runs in June by the time he became part of the "Midnight Massacre." After the Mets infamously traded away Tom Seaver, Kingman was then sent to the Padres for future Mets manager Bobby Valentine.
In September, the Angels claimed Kingman off waivers and six days later, he was sent to the Yankees, where he finished the season. Although the Yankees won the 1977 World Series, Kingman was not included on the roster. That year, he became the only person in history to play in all four divisions at that time.
Kingman then played the next three seasons with the Cubs and led the league in 1979 with 48 home runs. He then got traded back to the Mets prior to the 1981 season in an attempt by the Mets' new ownership to please the fan base.
He had just 22 home runs and 59 RBI in 1981, but returned to his normal self the following year by hitting 37 home runs, which once again led the league, and driving in 99 RBI. In his final Mets season in 1983, Kingman batted below .200 and did not play as much, especially after the Mets acquired Keith Hernandez. He finished with only 13 home runs and 29 RBI.
Kingman spent his final three seasons mostly as a designated hitter with the Oakland A's. After playing twenty minor league games within the Giants organization in 1987, he retired. He finished his career with 442 home runs, yet only got voted on three Hall of Fame ballots during his first year of eligibility. As a result, he became the first player with over 400 home runs to not get a Hall of Fame induction.
Dave Kingman's Mets tenure was not the longest, and the teams he played on certainly were not particularly good, but Kingman was a fan favorite and those that saw him will probably never forget some of the long home runs he hit.
6. John Milner
Known as "The Hammer", John Milner was a key contributor to the Mets through most of the 1970s. Milner was a highly touted prospect and made his MLB debut in September of 1971.
In his first full season in 1972, Milner mostly played left field, but filled in for Ed Kranepool occasionally at first base. Although he batted just .238, he hit 17 home runs and drove in 38 RBI. This rookie campaign was solid, but ultimately, his teammate, Jon Matlack ended up being the Rookie of the Year.
During the 1973 NL pennant run, Milner played a lot more at first base and had one of his best seasons as a Met, hitting 23 home runs and driving in 72 RBI, despite just a .239 average.
In 1974, Milner raised his average to .252 and had 20 home runs and 63 RBI. He played more games that year than any other year during his Mets tenure and was placed exclusively at first base.
In 1975, Milner regressed a bit and only appeared in 91 games. He batted .191 with just 7 home runs and 29 RBI that year.
Milner's other strong year as a Met was in 1976. He was moved back to left field, while Ed Kranepool began playing more. Milner batted .271, the highest average he ever had as a Met. He also contributed 15 home runs and a career high 78 RBI.
He followed this up with another solid season in 1977, which turned out to be his last as a Met. In his swan song, Milner batted .255 with 12 home runs and 57 RBI.
After the 1977 season, Milner was traded to the Pirates in a very complex trade orchestrated by Joe McDonald. It was there that he became a dependable pinch-hitter for the 1979 World Champions. He also played with the Expos for portions of the 1981 and 1982 seasons before returning to Pittsburgh for the rest of the 1982 season.
One notable fact about Milner's career is that he hit ten career grand slams, three of them as a Met.
Milner passed away in 2000 after succumbing to lung cancer.
John Milner will always be remembered for being one of the better hitters the Mets had in the 1970s.
5. Donn Clendenon
Donn Clendenon's Mets tenure was not the longest, but it was certainly one of the most productive at such a critical time in team history.
Clendenon's career began with the Pirates, with whom he spent the 1961-1968 seasons. He finished second in the 1962 Rookie of the Year voting to Ken Hubbs.
After the 1968 season, the Pirates left Clendenon unprotected from the expansion draft and he was selected by the Expos. The Expos then traded him to the Astros.
However, Clendenon and Astros manager Harry Walker did not get along, and Clendenon did not report to the Astros. As a result, Clendenon was traded back to the Expos.
In June 1969, Clendenon got traded again, but this time to the Mets. Clendenon got off to a slow start with the Mets, but as the season progressed, so did Clendenon's hitting. He split time with Ed Kranepool as the right-handed hitting counterpart. As a result, he only started against left-handed pitchers. He finished the season with a .248 average, 16 home runs and 51 RBI.
In the postseason, Clendenon did not start once against the Braves' right-handed pitchers.
However, in the World Series, the Orioles had some lefties, and this gave Clendenon a chance to shine. He homered in games 2, 4 and the deciding game 5. For the series, he batted .357 with 3 home runs and 4 RBI, en route to World Series MVP honors. His three home runs in a five-game series is still the most in World Series history. Ryan Howard tied the mark in 2008.
Clendenon followed up with a strong 1970 season. He raised his average to .288 with 22 home runs and a then-team record 97 RBI. He also set another team record by driving in seven runs on July 28 of that year. That record however has since been broken by another Mets first baseman in 2008.
Clendenon did not play as much in 1971, with Kranepool having a career season. With other first base prospects in the minor leagues, Clendenon became expendable and was released after the 1971 season. He played for the Cardinals in 1972, but saw limited playing time behind Matty Alou. He ended up being released in August of that year and subsequently retired.
After retiring, Clendenon earned a Juris Doctorate in 1978 at Duquesne University. He then became a lawyer while also battling drug addiction. While going through treatment for his addiction, it was discovered that he had leukemia. Clendenon ended up passing away unfortunately in 2005.
Donn Clendenon's time with the Mets was brief, but he will always be remembered as the MVP of the first World Championship team the Mets ever had.
4. Carlos Delgado
Although he was not around for an extended period of time, Carlos Delgado was nonetheless one of the best first basemen the Mets have ever had.
Delgado spent the bulk of his career with the Blue Jays from 1993-2004. During that time, he was one of the most feared left-handed sluggers in baseball.
He was an All-Star in 2000 and 2003, and during his Blue Jay years, and he hit at least 30 home runs in ten consecutive seasons and drove in at least 100 RBI in seven of ten full seasons. He also led all of baseball in RBI in 2003 with 145.
After the 2004 season, the Blue Jays decided to not pursue Delgado. As a result, Delgado signed a four-year deal with the Marlins. He had a solid 2005 season with the Marlins before getting traded after the season to the Mets in one of the Marlins' many "fire sales." The Mets sent a young Mike Jacobs and two pitching prospects to Florida for Delgado.
Delgado's transition to New York was quite successful in 2006. He batted .265, hit 38 home runs and drove in 114 RBI as the feared cleanup hitter the Mets needed. He also had a .548 slugging percentage.
Along with career seasons from Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes, plus the continued growth of David Wright, the Mets had one of the most explosive offenses that year. Unfortunately, the season came to a bitter end with an NLCS series loss to the Cardinals.
2007 was not as good for Delgado. He slipped to a .258 average, hit just 24 home runs and only drove in 87 RBI. He struggled mightily in the early portion of the season, and never seemed to really get it going throughout the year.
Delgado's 2008 season started off similarly to what 2007 was for him. He was batting just .235 by May, but all of a sudden, in the middle of June, Delgado's bat simply woke up. The turning point of his season was on June 27 when he set a new Mets record by collecting 9 RBI in a single game.
From June to September, Delgado hit 30 home runs. He also collected 65 RBI in a 65 game span. Delgado was a huge reason as to why the Mets were still contending for the postseason, which ultimately failed as the Mets didn't earn a bid.
Delgado finished the season with a .271 average, 38 home runs and 115 RBI. He finished ninth in the NL MVP voting.
Thanks to his 2008 resurgence, the Mets picked up Delgado's $12 million option for 2009. With the Mets playing in a brand new stadium, Delgado was expected to continue being a productive slugger, but that all came to an end when Delgado was placed on the disabled list with a hip injury. He was supposed to be out for around 10 weeks, but he never played again with the Mets.
In 2010, Delgado had another hip surgery and did not play in a major league game despite signing a minor league deal with the Red Sox. However, he only had 13 at-bats in this brief stint.
On April 13, 2011, Delgado announced his retirement. He finished with 473 career home runs, the most ever for a Puerto Rican born player.
Carlos Delgado's Mets tenure only lasted slightly over three seasons, but he was still one of the best players to ever play the position for the franchise.
3. John Olerud
Like Delgado, John Olerud's Mets tenure was a lot shorter than many fans would have wanted, but he certainly made the most of it and became a fan favorite.
Olerud was originally drafted by the Blue Jays, whom he played for from 1989-1996. His breakout year was in 1993 when he led the American League in batting with a .363 average.
He won two World Series with the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993. Despite his success, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston criticized Olerud for being too patient at the plate. As a result, the Mets struck a deal in December of 1996 and received Olerud for journeyman pitcher Robert Person.
Gaston felt that Olerud would crumble under the New York pressure. However, Olerud rose to the challenge and became the dependable backbone of the Mets' offense in 1997.
With Todd Hundley missing a good chunk of the season with elbow problems and Bernard Gilkey struggling to duplicate his career numbers from 1996, Olerud carried the team on an improbable run towards postseason contention. The Mets ultimately finished third in the division that year, but Olerud had a great season with a .294 average, 22 home runs and a team-leading 102 RBI.
Olerud was even better in 1998. The trade for Mike Piazza that year may have been the defining moment, but Olerud arguably had the best season on the team. He shattered Cleon Jones' single season batting average record of .340 by batting .354. He also hit 22 home runs and drove in 93 RBI. His .447 OBP and 138 runs created that year are also team records.
During his contract season in 1999, Olerud delivered another great season by batting .298 with 19 home runs and 96 RBI. He also set more team records that year with 125 walks. Furthermore, he became just the second Met to play in all 162 games that season. He was once again a dependable contributor to the team's success, as he played in the postseason for the first time since his Blue Jays championship years.
While many Mets fans wanted Olerud to stay, he ended up signing a three-year deal with the Mariners to be closer to home. He ended up earning three Gold Gloves in 2000, 2002 and 2003. Midway through the 2004 season, Olerud was traded to the Yankees to fill the void created by Jason Giambi's injury. He then spent his final season in 2005 with the Red Sox before retiring.
John Olerud may have only been a Met for three years, but he was reliable, both offensively and defensively. His arrival was a significant turning point in Mets history between the losing seasons the Mets had in the early and middle 1990s to the success the Mets had from 1997-2000.
2. Ed Kranepool
If anyone defines a Mets first baseman, it would be Ed Kranepool. No one has spent more time in a Mets uniform than 'Steady Eddie", and because of his longevity, he is definitely one of the greatest first basemen the Mets have ever had.
A Bronx native, Kranepool was drafted out of high school by the Mets at just 17 years old. He hit well in the minor leagues and received a late season call-up in 1962.
In 1963, Kranepool originally split time at first base with Marv Thorneberry, but when Thoneberry was demoted to the minor leagues, Kranepool became the everyday right fielder until he was demoted himself in July due to his lack of offense. He was brought back up in September and hit well enough to get his average above .200.
In 1964, Kranepool started the season in right field, but when Joe Christopher started to hit well, Kranepool was again demoted to the minor leagues, only to see himself called back up after only 15 games. He then played the rest of the season at first base and finished with a .257 average, 10 home runs and 45 RBI.
In 1965, Kranepool gave up his original number 21 to the legendary Warren Spahn and switched to his more familiar number 7. He made his only All-Star team that year as the lone Mets representative and finished with a .253 average, 10 home runs and 53 RBI.
A year later, Kranepool led the team with a career high 16 home runs to go along with 57 RBI and a .254 average. That year, the Mets avoided finishing in last place for the first time ever.
Kranepool's 1967 season was similar, as he finished with a .269 average, 10 home runs and 54 RBI. A year later, with Gil Hodges managing the team, a platoon system was established, which cut into everyone's playing time including Kranepool.
Starting that year and throughout Hodges' managerial tenure before his death, Kranepool only started against right-handed pitchers. He struggled that year, batting just .231 and only had 3 home runs and 20 RBI.
1969 was definitely the most fun season of Kranepool's career, as the Miracle Mets won the World Series. Platooning with Donn Clendenon, Kranepool batted just .238 for the year with 11 home runs and 49 RBI. However, he was clutch when it mattered, as evidenced by the home run he hit in Game 3 of the World Series.
1970 was not as fun for Kranepool. He was batting .118 through June and got sent to the minor leagues. He considered retirement, but decided to accept the assignment. He ended up getting called back up, but didn't play much at the end of the season. As a result, he only had 47 at-bats all year with a .170 average and just three RBI.
In 1971, Kranepool bounced back and had one of his best seasons. He raised his average to .280 and finished with 14 home runs and a career high 58 RBI. The 1970 demotion turned out to be a turning point for Kranepool, as he became a good utility hitter that could play both first base and the outfield.
Kranepool put up his more typical numbers in 1972 with a .269 average, 8 home runs and 34 RBI. In 1973, he lost his starting job at first to John Milner, but still played in 100 games while backing up both Milner and Cleon Jones in left field. Kranepool only made one appearance in the 1973 NLCS against the Reds and drove in the first two runs of the series-clinching game. He was hitless in three at-bats in the World Series that year against the A's.
By 1974, Kranepool started playing more in the outfield in a utility role. He also became a successful pinch-hitter. He finished the season with a .300 average, 4 home runs and 24 RBI.
He was even better in 1975, as he batted a career high .323 along with 4 home runs and 43 RBI. His .370 OBP that year was also a career high.
After the 1975 season, original Mets owner Joan Payson passed away, and Kranepool was the only Mets player to be invited to her funeral.
Kranepool returned as the starting first baseman in 1976 and batted .292 with 10 home runs and 49 RBI. However, he went back to the bench after that season.
1977 would turn out to be Kranepool's last strong season, and he finished with a .281 average, 10 home runs and 40 RBI.
By 1978, almost all of Kranepool's 1969 teammates had been traded away, and by 1979, Jerry Koosman was traded as well, which left Kranepool as the lone 1969 representative left on the team. He did not hit as well in both 1978 and 1979 by batting .210 and .232 respectively and combining for five home runs and 36 RBI in the last two seasons of his career.
After 1979, Kranepool decided to retire at just 34 years old. At the time, he held eight team records, three of which remain records today. Those include at-bats (5,436), hits (1,418) and total bases (2,047). He has also played in more games (1,853) than any other Met.
With an over 500 game gap behind Kranepool and Bud Harrelson, who is second with 1,322 games played, this record could last for many more years. It's quite a testament to Kranepool's longevity with the Mets.
After retiring, Kranepool became interested in buying part of the team when the late Joan Payson's family decided to sell the franchise after 1979. However, Kranepool and his group lost to Fred Wilpon and Doubleday & Co.
Kranepool has since become a stockbroker and restaurateur in the post-baseball phase of his life. He was inducted into the Mets' Hall of Fame in 1990, and still makes occasional appearances at Mets games. Only someone as devoted as Kranepool would do as much as he has for the Mets for fifty years.
Ed Kranepool never produced huge numbers for the Mets, but he was a reliable player and arguably the "Iron Man" of the Mets' franchise. His 18 seasons in a Mets uniform speak for itself, and few others have made an impact on the Mets as much as he has since 1962.
1. Keith Hernandez
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.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!