25 Greatest Players in New York Mets History
The New York Mets will be celebrating their 50th anniversary next April. In 50 years, they have produced a multitude of great players. They have won two World Series titles and four NL Championships. They have had Cy Young award winners and a batting champion. The Mets have done it all.
When taking a closer look at the many players that have helped them accomplish all of these accolades, dozens of players stand out. Among those dozens, how many actually would be considered a top-25 franchise player? I thought it would be fun to organize a list like that.
In order to compile a list of this magnitude, there have to be some ground rules, otherwise the task becomes impossible. Rule one: The player must have been with the team for four years or more at the very least. By doing this, we rule out the many utility players and short-term free agents. Players like Tommy Herr and Mike Bordick get eliminated from contention due to this.
Rule two: The player must have had some of his formidable years as a Mets player. The Mets have had many Hall of Fame players on their rosters. Nolan Ryan, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray and Rickey Henderson have all been Mets. As much as I'd like to give the Mets credit for Nolan Ryan's seven no-hitters or Willie Mays' 660 home runs, I can't. Therefore, they have to be put on the back burner.
Finally, rule three: personal favorites have to be cast aside. In order to properly compile this, I have to use the statistics and see how each player measures up against the other. As much as I would love to add a Jeromy Burnitz or a John Olerud, I can't. It wouldn't be fair or objective.
There will be some surprises on this list. For example, names like Tommy Agee and Gary Carter are not on it. Their numbers as Mets just don't compare to the rest here. If you're still reading, then let's move on to No. 25.
Author's note: All statistics and resources used in the compilation of this article were from MLB.com/mets, baseball-reference.com, Google and wikipedia. Stats and rankings were used as a guide only and are therefore deemed subjective.
25. The Face After the Franchise
Rusty Staub played in Queens from 1972-1975 and again from 1981-1985. His 399 RBI rank 12th in team history and his 130 doubles rank 16th. He put up solid numbers as a Mets player.
He will be remembered by the fans and fellow players for his heart and his clutch hitting. Never was this more evident than in the 1973 NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds.
In that series, he hit three home runs and separated his shoulder crashing into the wall to rob Dan Dreissen of extra bases. He played the entire World Series with that separated right shoulder and still hit a home run and batted .423 against the Oakland A's.
He became the first Mets hitter to drive in over 100 RBI in a season in 1975 when he finished that year at 105 RBI total.
Since retiring, he has remained active in charities and has owned two restaurants. He has recently added author to his extended resume.
He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1986.
24. The Infielder That Took on Rose
Decades before the Mets had a fiery and emotional leader playing up the middle named Jose Reyes, they had Buddy Harrelson. Harrelson played with the Mets from 1965-1977 and was known for his speed, hustle and grit. He had timely hits and knew how to stretch his hits out by running hard from the box.
His 45 triples rank third all time and his 115 stolen bases rank eighth. At 1,322 games played, only one person, Ed Kranepool, has played more games in a Mets uniform than him. He had several big moments for the Mets. He was an All-Star in 1970 and won a Gold Glove in 1971.
In the 1969 NLCS, he had two hits against the Atlanta Braves. One was a go-ahead triple in Game 1, and the other was an RBI-double in Game 2 of a three-game sweep. One key moment that stands out occurred in Game 3 of the 1973 NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds.
When Pete Rose slid hard into him at second base to break up a double-play, Harrelson took offense and the two began to argue. The two then began to fist-fight, which led to a bench-clearing brawl. The game had to be temporarily stopped as fans were throwing trash onto the field at Rose to show their disapproval.
Above all this, he was the bench coach for the 1986 team under Davey Johnson. This means that Buddy Harrelson has been an important part of every World Series victory the Mets franchise has ever had. He has even spent time as Mets manager during a bad 1991 campaign.
These days, he is co-owner and first-base coach of the Long Island Ducks independent minor league team. He will always be remembered as a Mets great, though.
23. The Other Power-Hitting Mets Catcher
For most fans, when they think of Mets catchers, Jerry Grote or Mike Piazza come to mind. The Mets have been feast or famine in this position. They've either had the Gary Carters or the Paul Lo Ducas.
Most fans would like to forget about one catcher that became a disaster of an outfield experiment.
Before he was shagging and dropping fly balls in left field, Todd Hundley was a premier catcher in the league. Many would argue in his prime that he was second offensively only to Mike Piazza's Dodgers days.
The only thing that could have forced Hundley's bat to move to the outfield was in fact Mike Piazza. After his attempt to play the outfield backfired, the Mets traded him for a key speedster in Roger Cedeno and a lights-out closer in Armando Benitez.
Hundley played with the Mets from 1990-1998. His 124 home runs still rank seventh all time. His 397 RBI rank him 13th in Mets history. He was a force at the plate for several years. Hundley was a two-time All-Star in 1996 and 1997.
Statistically speaking, he was a top power hitter in Mets history that no one ever remembers or gives credit. Perhaps, it is that he ended his Mets career so miserably or his name was mentioned on the Mitchell Report.
Either way, it seems that Todd Hundley is from a chapter in Mets history that fans don't wish to reread. He was the transition into the Piazza and playoff Mets era and a reminder of the front-office failures of the 1990s. Still, his numbers speak for themselves.
22. The Lefty with the Lethal Cutter
When you talk about Mets pitchers, everyone mentions Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan. They all name Doc Gooden and Ron Darling. But no one ever talks about a crafty southpaw that anchored the late '90s and 2000 Mets to the World Series. That lefty is No. 22 on the list: Al Leiter.
Leiter pitched from 1998-2004 for the Mets. In that time, he posted a 3.42 ERA (15th), 95 wins (sixth) and 1,106 K's (seventh). He also pitched 1,360 total innings for the Mets (also seventh). He was just consistently good. During his time with the Mets, he was an All-Star in 2000.
That season he started Game 1 of the World Series for the Mets. He was their big-game pitcher. The previous season, they faced the Cincinnati Reds in a one-game playoff for the Wild Card. Leiter was given the ball for that game and performed beautifully. He threw a two-hit, complete-game shutout en route to a 5-0 Mets win and playoff berth.
In his time in Queens, the Mets learned how to become winners. His previous stops with Florida and the Yankees both led to titles, so he knew how to perform under pressure. During that 2000 World Series, he posted a 2.87 ERA and 16 strikeouts.
He never posted a season in which he earned fewer than 10 wins and a .500 record in his tenure as a Mets ace. That's consistency. He was a quiet but passionate leader on the mound and off the mound. Today, he can be seen as a studio analyst on MLB TV.
21. You Gotta Believe
When fans think of Mets closers, one image comes to mind. Whether it's Jesse Orosco's 1986 ninth-inning leap in the air or the 1973 jump for joy from this man—either way, fans get excited. Tug McGraw was giving fans reason to get excited long before fans were used to the idea of it.
He was more than just a player. He was one of the most beloved people on their favorite team. Fans identified with him. He will forever be remembered for his passion and his heart. His optimism when the chips were down showed how high his character really was.
In 1973, the Mets were out of the pennant race on August 30th. From August 31st to the end of the season, they went 20-8, and McGraw earned 10 saves. The Mets performed another miracle and won the pennant. This sparked McGraw to utter the phrase that everyone now knows during the midst of that playoff push: "You gotta believe!"
It seemed at the time when he started saying it repeatedly in the clubhouse that he was the only that did. Of course, eventually, everyone caught on, and it took on a life of its own. McGraw won a World Series with the Mets in 1969 and was named an All-Star in 1972 during his tenure.
He was traded by the team to the rival Phillies in what turned out to be an enormous mistake. He won another World Series and received another All-Star nomination there.
When he left the Mets, he ranked first all time in saves with 86 (is still fifth even now) and games pitched with 361 (still sixth even now). He will always be remembered for his brave fight with brain cancer that eventually took his life in 2004.
His mantra lives on even to this day. Whenever the Mets (or Phillies for that matter) are in the midst of a rally, the signs and chants begin to appear from all over the stands "You gotta believe!" Tug did, and we all owe him a great thanks for doing so.
The Mets have had several outstanding pitchers. One of the more forgotten ones in Mets history is David Cone. He is known more from his journeyman years with Toronto or the Yankees, but he spent just as much time with the Mets as he did with the Yankees.
His total 194 wins were spread out among five teams (Royals, Mets, Blue Jays, Yankees and Red Sox). Of those wins, 81 were with the Mets. The most wins of his career with one team, the most innings pitched with one team (1,209.1), the most strikeouts he had with one team (1,172) and most starts he's had for one team (169) all came with the Mets.
He was a big part of the Mets' success in 1988, but does that make him a top-25 player? Not really. Let's look at where he ranks among the rest of the best Mets pitchers.
His 3.13 ERA among Mets' history ranks ninth. He ranks eighth in Mets wins with 81. His 1,172 K's rank fifth in Mets history. He ranks 10th all time for innings pitched.
When compared to other Mets greats, he stacks up well. He doesn't rank in the top five overall among pitchers, but he is up there. When factoring in hitters and closers, he still ranks in the top 25 but falls down to No. 20.
As a Mets pitcher, he may be remembered for ripping the Dodgers in the New York Daily News in 1988 and then getting ripped on the field by those same Dodgers in the NLCS. He wore No. 17 to honor Keith Hernandez after the Mets didn't re-sign the star in 1991.
In October of that year, he struck out 19 Phillies to tie Tom Seaver for the Mets single-game strikeout record. To this day, only the Mets have two franchise players to strike out 19 or more in one game.
After he represented the Mets in the 1992 All-Star Game, he was traded for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson.
He failed at a comeback in 2003 and retired in spring training with the Mets. These days, he works as a commentator for the Yankees on the YES Network.
19. K-Mac Was the Mack Daddy
Kevin McReynolds played six seasons with the Mets from 1987-1991 and again in 1994. During this time, he was a major bat in the order to complement Keith Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry. He started out with the San Diego Padres and ended with the Kansas City Royals before coming back to the Mets.
His career totals (211 home runs and 807 RBI) are not great when compared to the rest of baseball, but pretty good overall when lined up to other Mets. Out of his 211 home runs total, his 122 as a Mets player rank him eighth among Mets.
His 456 RBI as a Met rank 10th. Though his 67 stolen bases rank only 18th, he held a record for most swipes without being caught (21 in 1988) until Chase Utley (insert boos here) broke it with 23 in 2009.
He was traded to the Kansas City Royals in 1991 for Brett Saberhagen. In 1994, he was reacquired for Vince Coleman and played out the season in Queens. He was granted free agency but never made it back to the majors.
These days, he has entered into a quiet life away from the camera and the fame, choosing to live in seclusion. He carried himself with integrity and class as a player, and it is no surprise that he has done so after his career as well.
18. El Sid Was El Dominant
Before the Phillies had "The Flying Hawaiian" Shane Victorino, even before the Mets had Benny "and the Mets" Agbayani, they had "El" Sid Fernandez. He wore the No. 50 to honor his home state of Hawaii, where he was born and raised.
His premier seasons were in New York. He finished his career with 114 wins, 98 with the Mets. Those 98 wins rank fifth overall in Mets history. Think about that for a second. All the great pitchers the Mets have had and only four others had more wins than Sid. His 3.14 ERA is 10th in the all-time rankings.
His 1,449 strikeouts rank fourth. Take a minute and let that sink in. Only three names (Seaver, Gooden and Koosman) have struck out more batters in a Mets uniform than Fernandez. Also, he is fourth in games started (250) and fifth in innings pitched (1,584.2). He was a two-time All-Star with the Mets and a World Series winner.
Many knocked his road numbers as his career ERA on the road is nearly two runs higher than at Shea, but when the Mets needed him against Boston in 1986, he came through. He gave up one run in 6.2 innings while striking out 10 for a 1.35 ERA.
After his retirement in 1997, he tried to come back with the Yankees in 2001 to no avail. These days, he spends a lot of time doing charity and playing golf in his native Hawaii.
17. Fonzie Was Too Cool
The Mets have had a few good infielders. Among the ones that should be considered great is Edgardo Alfonzo. Don't believe me? Take a look at the overall numbers.
He was part of "the best infield ever" along with Rey Ordonez, Robin Ventura and John Olerud. He was an All-Star in 2000 and finished second in Gold Glove voting three times.
At the plate, he was even better. His .292 AVG is eighth in Mets history. His 120 home runs rank ninth and only two behind Kevin McReynolds for eighth overall. He ranks seventh in RBI (538) and fifth in hits (1,136). In addition to this, he ranks fifth in runs scored with 614 and fifth in doubles (212).
He will be remembered by a lot of fans for his clutch hits. In his first at-bat against the Reds in their one-game playoff in 1999, he homered to center to give the team an early lead en route to a blowout win.
The very next day, he homered in his first at-bat against Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had two home runs in that game—the two-run shot in the first and a grand slam later in the game to seal a win.
He followed that up in 2000 when he had a two-run double against Robb Nen and the Giants to seal a comeback win.
He still is trying to land somewhere in baseball. Most recently, he played with the Newark Bears in 2010.
16. Beltran Was a Major Bat for Los Mets
The major talk most of the first half surrounded three players: Jose Reyes, Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran. All were involved in trade rumors. In the end, two of them (Beltran and K-Rod) were dealt. Carlos Beltran was more than just trade bait for the Mets, though.
He was a proven power producer in the lineup for several years. Injuries really prevented him from being much higher on this list, but take a closer look at the numbers. He played with the Mets from 2005 to this past July (and maybe again next April) and was part of the change of culture the Mets embraced under Omar Minaya.
In that time, he accumulated 149 home runs. That ranks sixth, only five behind Dave Kingman. He drove in 559 RBI and ranks sixth there too. His 551 runs scored rank eighth and his 878 hits rank 13th. In addition to that, he ranks 11th in stolen bases with 100.
Only four Mets have had 100 or more home runs and 100 or more stolen bases (Howard Johnson, Darryl Strawberry and David Wright are the other three).
When talking about Beltran, everyone forgets how good he was. He made fielding look effortless. He was awarded a Gold Glove three times (2006, 2007, 2008). He was named to the All-Star team five times as a Mets player (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011).
The thing to keep in mind when looking at his overall stats is health. He played 81 games in 2009 and only 64 in 2010. In other words, he's missed an entire season of games. Add his average season numbers to the totals and he is easily in the top five all time.
He still has a chance to add to these stats, as he has not ruled out a return to Queens. Since his departure, there is a lack of depth in the outfield. We'll see if a reunion is in the cards (or the Giants or the Mets).
15. Mex Was the Reluctant Face of the '80s Mets
On June 15, 1983, the St. Louis Cardinals gave the New York Mets, a then-heated division rival, one of the greatest gifts the Mets ever received. His name was Keith Hernandez.
According to Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog's autobiography, he deemed Mex a clubhouse cancer due to multiple disagreements with management.
They traded the former MVP, Gold Glove winner and World Series champion to the lowly Mets. He immediately changed the culture of the team. He led by example on the field. The veteran taught them how to win. That is one lesson that is usually never mentioned when speaking of the 1986 Mets.
During his tenure with the Mets from 1983-1989, he showed them even more. He belted 159 doubles (ranks 11th) to go with his 80 home runs. He drove in 468 RBI (ranking ninth). His .297 AVG ranks third in team history.
Beyond the clutch offense and sweet swing he sported, he brought stellar defense. He was a six-time Gold Glove winner with the Mets and was named to three All-Star Games with the team. Hernandez was named the very first team captain in 1987.
After his retirement in 1990 (with the Indians), he emerged as an author and TV pitchman. He currently works as a Mets broadcaster for SNY. He is eligible this year for the Veterans Committee inductions for the MLB Hall of Fame, since he has been retired more than 20 years.
He is a member of the Mets Hall of Fame and has been since 1997.
14. Ron Was Simply Darling for the '80s Mets
The Mets had sensational pitching in the 1980s: They had Dwight Gooden; they had Sid Fernandez; they had Bobby Ojeda; they later had David Cone. They were full of aces in that decade. One pitcher that never gets talked about in that group is Ron Darling.
He's not thought of as an ace because he never was considered the staff ace in his Mets tenure. But in his prime, he could have been a No. 1 starter on any team in the majors.
He came to the Mets in a minor league trade with the Texas Rangers in 1982. The trade involved him and Walt Terrell for Lee Mazzilli. While Terrell was a good player with the Mets, they got even more value when they traded him for Howard Johnson a few years later (more on that later).
Darling pitched for the Mets from 1983-1991. He was named to the All-Star Game in 1985. He won a Gold Glove in 1989. His rankings among the great pitchers in team history is equally astounding.
He ranks fourth in wins all time. He only trails Seaver, Gooden and Koosman for total wins. He is fifth in starts with 251. He ranks fourth in innings pitched with 1,620. His 1,148 strikeouts rank sixth in team history.
He may be remembered as the starter in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.He received a no-decision in that game and went 1-1 in his three starts in the series. At one point, he went 14 innings without giving up an earned run against Boston. He started Game 1 and Game 4 as well.
In retirement, he has found a home in broadcasting. He works for TBS on Sunday telecasts and playoff games and can be heard regularly on SNY for the Mets.
13. Orosco Was One of Only Two Closers to Celebrate a Mets Title
The Mets have had several premier closers in their history. They've had Armando Benetiz, K-Rod and Brad Lidge to name a few. But when you think of Mets closers, most fans think of Tug, Johnny or Jesse. We looked at the Tugger. We will look at Johnny (can you say foreshadowing?).
For now, let's take at look at Jesse, as in Jesse Orosco. Orosco pitched a total of 24 years in professional baseball. He spent eight of his most notable years (or a third of his career) with the Mets.
He was acquired as the "player to be named later" in a 1979 trade with the Minnesota Twins that sent Mets great Jerry Koosman to the Twins. He was a throw-in.
This trade involved the only two Mets pitchers to stand on the mound to celebrate a Mets World Series win (Orosco in 1986 and Koosman in 1969). That throw-in was a two-time All-Star and spent 1979-1987 accumulating 107 saves for the Mets.
That ranks third in team history. His 506 strikeouts as a reliever rank third among relievers with 10 or more saves (behind only John Franco and Tug McGraw). His 372 games pitched rank fifth all time. He pitched 595.2 innings (ranks third among closers in team history) for the Mets. He was dominant.
Most fans will remember him for throwing his glove into the air and falling to his knees in front of an ecstatic Gary Carter in Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. He was known throughout the league for his longevity.
Though he won a World Series with the LA Dodgers in 1988 and played for a total of nine teams, he will always be remembered as a Mets pitcher.
When looking back on the lore of Mets history, you can't escape one moment: 1986 World Series Game 6. Just hearing that phrase "Game 6 1986" brings a waterfall of memories showering over the average Mets fan.
Each one usually begins with one thing: "It gets through Buckner. Here comes Knight around third and the Mets win it!"
That moment was the culmination of hard work and a little bit of luck. The grounder that got through Bill Buckner and won the game for the Mets (and the series the next day) was hit by a man that was defined by more than one moment. He's Mookie Wilson.
Mookie played for two teams in his 12-year career. No one remembers his Toronto Blue Jays days though. He was and always will be considered a Met. He played with the team from 1980-1988. In that time, he became the all-time leader in a few categories.
His 62 triples (now ranks second) and his 281 stolen bases (now ranks second too) were both team bests until Jose Reyes surpassed him in both stats. He ranks sixth in hits (1,112), sixth in runs (592) and sixth in games played in (1,116).
He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1996, 10 years after the moment that defined his career and cemented his legacy in Mets history.
11. King Kong Was a Beast in Queens
The Mets have had a few power hitters in their time. Players that collectively astonish fans with moonshots off of their bats. These are the guys that when they hit the ball, you know they didn't get cheated.
One such player was Dave Kingman. Kingman was the feast-or-famine type. He either crushed the ball or he struck out trying. When he connected, it was legendary. Kingman spent 16 seasons in the majors, and six of those years were with the Mets. That is the most time he spent with one team.
The team acquired him two separate times. The first time they dealt him was part of the infamous "midnight massacre" on June 15, 1977. On this date, he was traded to San Diego while Tom Seaver was traded to the Reds. He was reacquired in a deal in 1981.
Amazingly, it was thought that he outlived his usefulness in 1983 when the Mets traded for Keith Hernandez on the anniversary of the "massacre." During Kingman's tenure in Queens, he was an All-Star (1976) and a home run champion (1982).
His numbers stack up with the big boppers of Mets history quite favorably. His 154 home runs rank fifth in team history. He ranks in the top 15 in RBI (389 ranks 14th) and SLG% (.453 ranks 13th). It wasn't all good though.
As I mentioned, he was the prototypical feast-or-famine hitter. His 672 strikeouts rank him sixth in that bad stat and he averaged one strikeout a game (664 games played).
To this day, he is revered by Mets fans and baseball fans alike.
10. HoJo Had the Mojo
When you look at the names of the all-time Mets sluggers, one name consistently shows up. You may be surprised to see that the name Howard Johnson appear regularly atop several categories, but people forget how dominant he was in his era.
He was acquired in a trade with the Detroit Tigers in 1985 for Walt Terrell. He, along with Keith Hernandez and a handful of others, brought playoff experience to a young team. Johnson played with the team from 1985-1993.
In his nine seasons with the Mets, he accumulated 192 home runs and ranks third all time in that category. Only Darryl Strawberry and Mike Piazza have hit more homers than HoJo. He ranks fourth in RBI with 629, fifth in games played with 1,154, fourth in runs scored with 627, fourth in doubles with 214 and third all time in stolen bases with 202.
Only Jose Reyes and Mookie Wilson have swiped more bases in Mets history than him. All these numbers suggest that he was a dual-threat.
He could hit it deep if you pitched to him and if you walked him, he'd make you pay for that too. He was lethal. He was a two-time All-Star with the Mets, a three-time member of the 30-30 club and contributed to their title in 1986.
After his playing career was through, he began coaching within the Mets organization. He was the hitting coach at various levels of the franchise, including the majors, from 2001-2010.
This season, he attempted a comeback of sorts at age 50. He played minor league ball for the Rockland Boulders with his son Glen.
9. Johnny Franco Embodied the Spirit of New York
There are legendary players in Mets history that fans gaze at in awe, and then there are legendary players that fans identify with. John Franco was one of the latter. Fans loved him because he was one of them. He was born and raised in Brooklyn and went to college in Queens.
He honored his father, a NYC sanitation worker, by wearing an orange NYC sanitation shirt under his uniform. He was the embodiment of the working man or woman of the city. His determination and generosity spoke volumes of his tough city upbringing.
After successful years with the Cincinnati Reds, he was acquired by the Mets in a trade in December of 1989. He played 14 years for the Mets and earned some impressive totals along the way. His 424 career total for saves is the most in MLB history for a lefty.
Of those 424 saves, 276 were with the Mets. That 276 ranks No. 1 all time in Mets history. He appeared in more games than any other Mets pitcher with 695 games. His 592 strikeouts rank second among closers, only trailing Tug McGraw.
Besides the stats, he was a leader in the clubhouse. When Mike Piazza fist came to the Mets in 1998, Franco gave him the No. 31 that he had been wearing for nearly a decade. He told the fans to support Piazza when he got off to a bad start with the team.
In 2001, he was a leader during the Mets campaign to aid those in need after 9/11. He led the charge to wear hats on the field sporting logos of the NYPD, NYFD and other first responders to the tragedy. He has endeared himself to the franchise and their fans.
His numbers on the field are outstanding, but how much he meant to the team off the field is immeasurable. With that aspect set aside, he still stands tall in the top 10 all time Mets players.
8. David Is the Wright Man for This Generation of Mets
There are fan favorites, and then there are fans that play for their favorite team. David Wright grew up a Mets fan and had the rare chance to play for his childhood favorite. He grew into an outstanding player. He still is playing, so I am sure many will disagree with this ranking, but the numbers don't lie.
When Mike Hampton left for better schools (and more money) in Colorado, the Mets were given an extra draft pick in 2001. They used it to pick David Wright. Since his debut in 2004, he has faced constant scrutiny and unrealistic expectations. He has responded well, though.
He has hit 183 home runs and ranks fourth in that. His .300 AVG is second, only to John Olerud. He has 1,248 hits which rank third all time. He has the most doubles in team history with 281. He has 151 stolen bases, good for sixth all-time (only one from Lee Mazzilli for fifth).
He is second only to Jose Reyes in runs scored with 699. His .508 SLG% ranks third. All this while struggling at the plate, adjusting to Citi Field and battling injuries. He has one thing going for him too: He is still playing. He will add to the totals he has amassed.
On the field, he is a force. Many fans consider him the best third baseman of his generation. He has won two Gold Gloves and is a member of the 30-30 club. In addition to this, he had been an All-Star five times with the Mets.
Off the field, he is a leader. He is known to be the first to get to the practice and the last to leave. He is always respectful to fans and media alike. He is a very valuable member of the team's plans for their future. A rare combination of big-town performance with small-town charm.
If this article was written 10 years from now, he very may well be considered No. 1 or 2 on the list. As for now, being No. 8 for a player still in his prime is pretty impressive.
7. Kranepool Was an Unsung Hero for a Mets Generation
In today's game, there are few players who remain with the team that drafted them for an entire career. Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones come to mind, but this is a dying breed. Free agency has changed the game forever.
Similarly, the Mets have not had many career Mets. Only one player really meets this status. His name is Ed Kranepool. He played with the Mets from 1962-1979—his entire career.
While he wasn't on the Opening Day roster for the inaugural season in 1962, Kranepool did play three games in where he got his first major league hit—a double.
He was an All-Star in 1965 and was a big part of the 1969 Miracle Mets' run. Throughout his first decade with the team, he settled into a platoon role at first base and then again in right field. From 1974-1978, he was relegated to being a pinch-hitter. Still, he handled the role with dignity and grace.
His career numbers are outstanding. He's easily ranked No. 1 in games with 1,853 and at-bats with 5,436. He has the most hits in franchise history with 1,418. He ranks second to David Wright in doubles with 225 and 10th in home runs with 118. He ranks fifth in RBI with 614.
Off the field, he was a man of integrity. When Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn was acquired by the Mets in 1965, Kranepool gave Spahn his No. 21 and wore No. 7 for the rest of his career with the Mets.
Among the clubhouse, he was so respected by the Mets management that he was the only player invited to Mets owner Joan Payson's funeral in 1975. The fans embraced him as a genuine hero and the epitome of success through hard work and a positive attitude.
He has been a member of the Mets Hall of Fame since 1990.
6. Koosman Was the "other Ace" of the Miracle Mets
The 1969 Mets and the 1986 Mets had a lot in common. Earlier, I stated Ron Darling was the "other ace," taking a back seat to Dwight Gooden in the rotation. The same can be said for Jerry Koosman and Tom Seaver.
Seaver is the undeniable franchise ace. Jerry Koosman could have been that to any other team in his era had he not been paired with Seaver. He was that good. He made his debut in 1967 and pitched with the Mets for 12 years (1967-1978).
In that time, he was a two-time All-Star and a World Series winner. His numbers are better than those of most any other Mets pitcher. He ranks second in inning pitched with 2,544.2 and ranks second in starts with 346. His 140 wins are third in team history, as are his 1,799 strikeouts.
I mentioned earlier when writing about Jesse Orosco that there have only been two Mets pitchers on the mound to celebrate a World Series. One was Orosco in 1986, the other was Koosman in 1969. Ironically, they were unintentionally traded for each other.
In 1978, a year after the Midnight Massacre, Koosman was still distraught with the state of the team and demanded a trade after they started 3-15. He was traded to Minnesota for Greg Field and a player to be named later (eventually Jesse Orosco). This ended his tenure with the Mets.
After one title and two trips to the World Series, he finished his Mets career at the top one or two in every major pitching category. He will always be remembered by fans as the "other ace," but he was a force in the Mets rotation for many years.
5. History Has Proven How Great Reyes Has Been
The Mets have had many explosive players in team history. However, not many have had the combination of pure speed and raw emotion that Jose Reyes possesses. He has been a fan favorite since his debut in 2003.
While the big story this season has been his impending free agency, his current place in Mets history has been lost on nearly everyone.
Though he ranks seventh in AVG with .292, he ranks second in at-bats with 4,453. His real value is shown when we look at the non-power stats. He ranks second in hits with 1,300 (only behind Ed Kranepool). He's third in doubles with 222 (three behind David Wright for second).
He passed Mookie Wilson a few years ago for first in triples with 99 and stolen bases 370. He ranks first in runs scored too, with 735. These rankings all suggest that he is the most explosive player in franchise history. He is a four-time All-Star (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011).
On the last day of the 2011 season, he went 1-for-1 and came out of the game in order to preserve the first batting title in Mets history.
While he has been the hot topic for all the wrong reasons, such as talking about his future and his last possible home game in Queens, history will show him to be a better player than the general consensus would state.
He has been a spark to the offense and embraced by the fans as a hero. His accomplishments are cemented in team history. When he retires, whether as a Mets player or not, he will still stand as a top player in their franchise due to the numbers.
4. Mike Piazza Changed the Franchise
When people think of catchers in baseball history that were known for offense, some big names come to mind. Players like Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, Johnny Bench, Roy Campanella and Carlton Fisk are all among the elite offensive catchers that are in the Hall of Fame.
In a few more years, that will change. One name will eventually be added to the Hall and hopefully will be wearing a Mets cap when he goes. That player is Mike Piazza. He was the greatest hitting catcher in the history of the game. He surpassed Carlton Fisk in 2004 for the most home runs by a catcher with 352 at that time.
When the Mets acquired him from the Florida Marlins for Preston Wilson and a handful of players, the team added a franchise player for the next eight years and a man that would be a seven-time Mets All-Star. It didn't start out great, but he eventually found his stroke.
The Mets missed the playoffs in his first year by one game. The next two seasons (1999 and 2000), they made the playoffs consecutive years for the first time in franchise history. Piazza was a mainstay in their lineup for several years.
Even when his knees started to go downhill, he bat was still lethal. While he only ranks 12th in games with 972, he made the most of his at-bats. He hit 220 home runs (ranks second only to Darryl Strawberry), 655 RBI (ranks third behind Strawberry and Wright), had a .296 AVG (which ranks fourth) and he ranks first in SLG% at .542. He will be remembered for several key moments.
First, there were the two Roger Clemens incidents (one where Clemens drilled him in the head forcing him to miss the 2000 All-Star Game, and the other in the World Series where Clemens threw a shard of a broken bat at Piazza).
Secondly, after 9/11, when the Mets hosted an emotional game against rival Atlanta, he hit the decisive home run to win the game and lift the spirits of the fans and a country.
After his retirement, he has stayed close to the Mets organization. He has appeared several times at their stadiums for ceremonies. Just this past summer, he managed the U.S. in the Future Stars Game while sporting a Mets cap.
He has said that if the day comes that he enters the Hall of Fame, he'd prefer to be wearing the Mets logo. Either way, he will be when the Mets induct him into their Hall of Fame eventually. He certainly has earned it.
3. The Strawman Cometh
The Mets have had only one outfield bat that could be considered a game-changer. One outfielder that could launch a home run to the upper decks as easily as he could swipe two bases in back-to-back pitches. An outfielder that had the potential to be elite. That player was Darryl Strawberry.
Strawberry was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 1980, and he showed the Mets everything they hoped for in his rookie season of 1983.
He won the Rookie of the Year award. He followed it up with an offensive tear that Mets fans weren't used to seeing.
After 252 home runs (ranks first), 733 RBI (ranks first), 191 stolen bases (ranks fourth) and a .520 SLG% (ranks second), he can easily be considered the greatest offensive threat in team history. The greatest offensive force the Mets have ever known.
He was a seven-time Mets All-Star, a member of the 30-30 club and a NL home run champion (1988). He played with agility and grace on the field and just the opposite off of it.
Had he stayed on a clearer road, he would certainly have been an MLB Hall of Fame inductee. As it is, he is revered by loyal fans, and he forever cemented his place in the Mets Hall of Fame last year.
2. The Doctor Is "In"
When you think of Mets pitching greats, two names immediately come to mind. One of them is yet to be discussed at length but is known as the "Franchise," and the other is this man, Dwight Gooden. Dr. K, or Doc Gooden as he was often referred to, was a first-round draft pick in 1982.
He debuted in 1984 and blazed his way through lineup after lineup en route to a Rookie of the Year award. He posted a 17-9 record with a 2.60 ERA. When combined with Strawberry the year before, that made back-to-back awards.
The following season, he did even better. He posted a 1.53 ERA and a 24-4 record en route to the Cy Young award—the first for a Mets pitcher since Seaver in 1975.
From 1984-1994, he was the team ace and the one pitcher they relied on to establish dominance. He lost the back end of his dominant Mets career to drugs. After a couple of suspensions, the team didn't re-sign him.
He did manage to find some success after his Mets tenure, but not in the same role. He pitched a no-hitter and won multiple World Series titles, all with the Yankees in the course of three years as a fourth or fifth starter (1996-1998).
He finished his Mets career with great numbers despite the bad ending. His 3.10 ERA ranks sixth all time. He ranks second in wins with 157 and third in starts with 303. He ranks third in innings pitched with 2,169.2. His 1,875 strikeouts rank him second all time in team history, and it is likely that he will stay ranked there for a long time to come.
His standings in team history is cemented. He is a champion and a multiple-award winner. He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame last year with long-time teammate Darryl Strawberry. To this day, he still struggles with addiction.
Despite this bad reputation, he remains beloved by fans all over for what he once was not what he could have been.
1. Tom "Terrific" Was "the Franchise" for a Reason
I mentioned that when a fan thinks of dominant franchise pitchers for the Mets, they think of two men. One is Dwight Gooden and the other is simply known as "the Franchise." Tom Seaver was so dominant that he had multiple nicknames.
Tom "Terrific" Seaver was nicknamed "the Franchise" in a time when the Mets were very bad. Mired in mediocrity and consecutive losing seasons, they signed Seaver as an amateur free agent in 1966. He debuted the following season.
In his rookie year, he went 16-13 with 18 complete games and a 2.76 ERA. He won the Rookie of the Year award and earned an All-Star bid. It was his first of 10 All-Star games as a Mets player.
Two years later, he would lead the charge for the Miracle Mets of 1969 and won his first of three Cy Young awards. That year he posted a 25-7 record with a 2.21 ERA to earn the award. In 1973, he won his second award while posting a 19-10 record and a 2.08 ERA.
In 1975, he won his third Cy Young when he sported a 22-9 record with a 2.38 ERA. His dominance was a rare sight for all baseball fans, let alone Mets fans. All of this while leading his team to two NL pennants and one World Series title.
In 1977, the team refused to negotiate a contract raise for Seaver. He demanded a trade in the wake of an article in the New York Daily News ripping into Seaver's wife that painted her as the antagonist due to jealousy that former teammate Nolan Ryan was making more money in California.
He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, and he ended up pitching a no-hitter with them. To this day, many fans consider this trade the moment the franchise was cursed to never have a no-hitter. The Reds traded him back to the Mets in December of 1982. He pitched one season with them posting a 9-14 record with a 3.55 ERA.
In 1986, he was a member of the Red Sox but was unable to play due to injury. His last professional Mets moment was his ovation at Shea Stadium in Game 1 of that World Series as a member of the opposition. He tried to attempt a comeback in the Mets organization in 1987 but never made it past the minors. He retired as a member of the Mets organization, though.
His Mets totals are staggering. He ranks No. 1 in wins with 198. He ranks first in ERA with 2.57, first in starts with 395, first in innings with 3,045.1 pitched and first in Mets all-time strikeouts with 2,541. His No. 41 is retired by the team.
He is a member of the team Hall of Fame. Additionally, he was a first-ballot MLB Hall of Fame inductee in 1992. He's a member of the 300-win club and the 3,000-strikeout club among MLB pitchers.
After retirement, he has made several appearances in Queens. He still stays active in Cooperstown events. He has dabbled in TV work and most recently owns a highly successful vineyard and has won awards for his wine. Like that fine wine he makes, he has been appreciated more with age.
Every generation has their great players. The Mets have one standout performer who is undeniably the best player in franchise history. His name is Tom Seaver.