While Dwight Gooden may have had the most potential of any starting pitcher the Mets have ever had, the No. 1 spot belongs to "The Franchise" himself, Tom Seaver.
One of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Seaver was originally drafted by the Dodgers in 1965, but after asking for $70,000, the Dodgers passed on the offer. A year later, he was drafted by the Braves.
However, being that he was already two games into his college season, William Eckert, the Commissioner at the time ruled him ineligible. As a result, a lottery was then created with the Mets, Phillies and Indians being the three participants. The Mets were randomly chosen as the winner and to this day, it has been one of the luckiest moments in Mets history.
After spending one year in the minor leagues, Seaver was brought up to the Mets in 1967. He became the first Met to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award and went 16-13 with a 2.76 ERA. He also made his first of seven consecutive trips to the All-Star Game that year.
In 1968, Seaver went 16-12 with a 2.20 ERA and 205 strikeouts. A year later, in 1969, he helped lead the Mets to their first championship in team history. He also won his first NL Cy Young Award by having arguably best season of his career. He went 25-7 that year with a 2.21 ERA and 208 strikeouts. His 25 wins are still a single season franchise record.
In the 1969 NLCS, Seaver outlasted the veteran Phil Niekro in a 9-5 Mets victory. In the World Series, Seaver did not pitch well as the Mets lost 4-1 in Game 1, but he bounced back and pitched a 10-inning complete-game in a 2-1 win for the Mets in Game 4.
In 1970, Seaver went 18-12 with a 2.82 ERA and 283 strikeouts, which set a single season franchise record. Seaver then broke his own his record in 1971 with 289 strikeouts, which still stands to this day. He also went 20-10 with a career best 1.76 ERA that year. Despite those amazing numbers, Seaver finished a close second place to Ferguson Jenkins in the 1971 Cy Young Award voting, mainly due to Jenkins' 24 wins that year.
Seaver continued his dominance in 1972 with a 21-12 record, a 2.92 ERA and 249 strikeouts. He then won his second NL Cy Young Award in 1973 by going 19-10 with a 2.08 ERA and 251 strikeouts as the Mets became the NL champions.
In the 1973 NLCS against the Reds, Seaver started Game 1 and pitched seven shutout innings, and even drove the only Mets run to support himself. However, he gave up a home run to Pete Rose in the eighth inning before giving up a walk off home run to Johnny Bench as the Reds won 2-1. In Game 5, Seaver pitched well once again and finally got more run support as the Mets won the game 7-2 and clinched the series to move onto the World Series.
In the 1973 World Series, Seaver started Game 3 and pitched well once again, but the Mets bullpen this time did not support him as the A's offense rallied to win 3-2 in 11 innings. Seaver pitched well in Game 6, but Catfish Hunter simply outpitched him as the Mets lost 3-1.
In 1974, Seaver had the first non-winning record of his career. He went 11-11 with a 3.20 ERA and 201 strikeouts. It was also the only year in his original 11 year stint that he did not make the NL All-Star team.
Seaver bounced back in 1975 and won his third and final NL Cy Young Award by going 22-9 with a 2.38 ERA and 243 strikeouts.
In 1976, Seaver went 14-11 with a 2.59 ERA and 235 strikeouts. At this point, more and more of his former teammates were getting traded away or going elsewhere and it was clear that the Mets' core was about to get broken up.
Everything fell apart for the Mets and their relationship with Seaver in 1977. Free agency had begun and Seaver felt that he deserved to be paid as well as the other top pitchers in the game. However, the Mets chairman of the board, M. Donald Grant was very stubborn and did not give in to Seaver's request. Another breaking point occurred when New York Daily News writer Dick Young wrote stories about Seaver supposedly being greedy and how his wife was jealous that former teammate Nolan Ryan was making more money with the Angels and that Seaver's salary should be similar to that.
After hearing his wife get called out by Young, Seaver went to Mets owner Lorinda DeRoulet and General Manager Joe McDonald and told them that he wanted out of New York and he immediately demanded a trade because he felt he would never be able to co-exist with Grant. As a result, Seaver became the headline of the "Midnight Massacre" as he got traded to the Reds for Doug Flynn, Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman on June 15, 1977. Seaver was 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 starts before the trade.
While the Mets did not recover from this trade for the next six years, Seaver stayed with the Reds from 1977-1982. He ended up throwing the only no-hitter of his career in 1978.
In 1983, the Mets traded Charlie Puleo, Lloyd McClendon and Jason Felice to the Reds to re-acquire Seaver in a move that made Mets fans very happy. However, Seaver did not pitch like he did before and went just 9-14 with a 3.55 ERA. Prior to the 1984 season, Seaver was left unprotected in the compensatory draft. General Manager Frank Cashen didn't think that any team would want a high-priced 39-year-old veteran, but the White Sox ended up selecing him.
Seaver then spent two and a half seasons with the White Sox from 1984-1986. He won his 300th career game on August 4, 1985 at Yankee Stadium during "Phil Rizzuto Day."
In 1986, Seaver almost got traded back to the Mets, but manager Davey Johnson vetoed the trade and Seaver ended up getting traded to the AL Champion Red Sox. A knee injury prevented him from pitching in the 1986 World Series, but Seaver still got a loud ovation during the pre-game introductions.
Seaver was left a free agent in 1987 after declining the offer by the Red Sox. He ended up joining the Mets' Triple A affiliate Tidewater Tides in June despite not signing a contract, but did not pitch well in three starts and subsequently announced his retirement.
Seaver then got his No. 41 retired in 1988 and is the only actual player in team history to this date to have his number retired. That same day, he was also inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.
In 1992, Seaver got elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame with a record 98.84 percent of votes. He is the only player so far to have gotten inducted as a Met.
Since retiring, Seaver has spent time as an announcer. He first worked with NBC and also spent some time calling Yankees games. He became a part of the Mets' broadcast team with Gary Thorne from 1999-2005.
Seaver has also made various appearances to Shea Stadium and Citi Field. He threw the last pitch in Shea Stadium's history to Mike Piazza in 2008 and then threw the first pitch in Citi Field's history to Piazza a year later.
Seaver is currently 18th all time in wins with 311 and sixth all time in strikeouts with 3,640. The vast majority of Mets career and single season pitching records all belong to Seaver as well.
Tom Seaver is without question the greatest pitcher the Mets have ever had and should also be considered one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. He is the standard for Mets pitching and will always be considered a legend to all Mets fans.