In 1962 Major League Baseball welcomed a new team to the National League named the New York Mets. They were greeted with much fan fare, then went on to set a record for the worst record in the 162 regular season format with a mere 40 wins, an underwhelming .250 winning percentage. However this great franchise took the baseball world by storm only several years later becoming World Series Champions as the “Miracle Mets”! The Mets went on to collect their second title in 1986. Let’s review the 24 greatest players in their 50+ year Major League Baseball history.
In the Fall of 2013 Baseball Classics will welcome the Houston Colt .45s-Astros, Los Angeles/Califonia/Anaheim Angels, and New York Mets to the All-Time Greats set. There are many great and exciting players to choose from; here’s who makes the cut for the top 15 position players and 9 pitchers that will be added and their impact on the franchise.
Tom Seaver – “Tom Terrific” is not only the greatest pitcher in Mets history, he’s also considered one of the all-time greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball. He’s racked up every major pitching award leading the league several times in ERA and strikeouts along his amazing 20 year career.
Hall of Fame/Rookie of the Year/Cy Young/All-Star | Wins 311 | ERA 2.86
Dwight Gooden – A 19 year old with tremendous talent, he joined the Mets in 1984 and dominated with a 276 strikeouts on his way to receiving the Rookie of the Year Award. “Doc” Gooden pitched 11 seasons for the Mets and whiffed batters with his lethal 98-mile an hour fastball and wicked curve.
Rookie of the Year/Cy Young/All-Star | Wins 194 | WHIP 1.256 | Strikeouts 2293
Jerry Koosman – “Koos” enjoyed 12 seasons with the Mets, he logged a reliable 200+ innings pitched 10 times. He was a staple on the Miracle Mets 1969 World Series championship team and a beloved member of the franchise ever since.
All-Star | ERA 3.36 | Wins 222 | WHIP 1.259
Ron Darling – One sign he was a great pitcher is that he was able to overcome the unusually high number of walks allowed. He typically kept batters in check with his 5 pitch repertoire and that lowered the amount of hit- per inning pitched. A member of the 1986 Mets and key reason they went on to capture the World Series.
All-Star/Gold Glove | ERA 3.87 | Wins/Losses 136/116 | WHIP 1.335 | HR/9 .9
Sid Fernandez – “El Sid” was nasty against lefties with his crafty, yet whipping angled left-handed arm motion. He pitched 10 seasons for the Mets, best known for keeping the amount of HITS given up to a minimum.
All-Star | ERA 3.36 | Winning Pct. .543 | WHIP 1.144
Al Leiter – A two-time World Series champion, though neither was with the Mets organization. He was a “gamer”, pitched 7 of his 19 Major League Baseball seasons with the franchise that were his best of any of the other teams he played for. When you had a pressure game, Leiter is a safe bet to come through as he did throughout his illustrious career.
All-Star | ERA 3.80 | Wins/Losses 162/132 | WHIP 1.1386 | Strikeouts 1974
David Cone – A gritty and tough mound presence backed up with his talent. Cone pitched the 16th perfect game in Major League Baseball history and pitched for 5 World Series champion teams though not as a member of the Mets. However like Leiter, he pitched most of his career and had his best numbers with the franchise.
Cy Young/All-Star | ERA 3.46 | Wins/Losses/Pct. 194/126/.606 | WHIP 1.256
John Franco – Pitched 14 of his 21 seasons with the Mets and is their all-time saves leader. A team captain and local favorite, Franco shined during his tenure with the Mets. He was a saves league leader in his career 3 times and stingy when it came to giving up the gopher ball.
All-Star | ERA 2.89 | Saves 424 | WHIP 1.333 | HR/9 .6
Jesse Orosco – Pitched in a remarkable 1252 Major League Baseball games, he’s the all-time leader in that category. It’s no wonder he pitched in somany games, especially as a specialist. Orosco was virtually unhittable for most left-handed batters with a side sweeping, nasty release that cut across the zone. Pitched 4 decades which included being a member of the 1986 Champion Mets.
All-Star | ERA 3.16 | Saves 144 | WHIP 1.263 | SO/9 8.2
Mike Piazza – One of the greatest Mets as well as one of the all-time best hitting catchers in Major League Baseball history. A 12-time all-star, he amassed the most Home Runs for any Catcher to ever play. His career launched with the Dodgers as Rookie of the Year, played most of the second half of his career as a leader for the Mets.
Rookie of the Year/All-Star | AVG .308 | HR 427 | RBI 1335
Jerry Grote – Played 12 of his 16 MLB seasons with the New York Mets including as the starting catcher for the 1969 World Series Championship team and that amazing pitching staff. Though he never won a Gold Glove, he was an outstanding defensive catcher.
All-Star | AVG .252 | HITS 1092 | FLD .991
Keith Hernandez – One of the very best Mets of all-time, Hernandez was a high performer with his bat and glove. Had a keen eye at the plate walking more than striking out during his 17-year career. He played more games for the Cardinals, though as great a career he had, fell short of making their Baseball Classics All-Time Greats roster. However there is a perfect landing spot for him on the Mets franchise where he played 7 of his 17 seasons.
MVP/Gold Glove/All-Star | AVG .296 | OPS .821 | HITS 2182
Rusty Staub – Played 9 of his 23 Major League Baseball seasons for the New York Mets plating two different stints. He reached base safely well over 4000 times. Staub was a terrific hitter, later in his career was a pinch hit specialist that all teams feared lurking in the dugout. Though he played most of his career in the outfield, he also played 11 seasons at first base.
All-Star | AVG .279 | HITS 2716 | Walks 1255 | RBI 1466
Edgardo Alfonzo – A great clutch hitter, could play multiple infield positions well. His versatility and knack to drive in game winners throughout his career and ability to play a very dependable second base in the field well deserves to be listed among the Mets All-Time greats.
All-Star | AVG .284 | HITS 1532 | OBS .782
Wally Backman – He hustled while playing 9 of 14 Major League Baseball seasons for the Mets. Backman was a solid number 2 hitter with his above average on base percentage. Though he never was voted to an All-Star team, his consistency and number of games he played for the Mets at 2nd base earns him a spot.
AVG .275 | OBA .349 | HITS 893
David Wright – Outstanding 10-year career and counting. Averages 26 home runs each year, over 100 RBI’s, and over .300 batting average. It’s no wonder he’s a multi-year All-Star with Cooperstown taking notice for future reference. He’s also a great glove man at the hot corner, the best Mets player to field this position.
Gold Glove/All-Star | AVG .301 | OPS .888 | HR 217 | RBI 862
Howard Johnson – Big run producer, Johnson knocked the ball out of the park in big numbers. Not known for a high batting average, instead his ability to get extra base HITS and outstanding on the base paths for this type of hitter; he was a definitely threat to steal a base and did many times.
All-Star | AVG .249 | HR 228 | OPS .786 | RBI’s 760 | SB 231
Jose Reyes – One of the few speedsters on the New York Mets All-Time Greats. However Reyes is a dangerous weapon far beyond that. He has a terrific leadoff batting average and is a triples machine, though has enough pop in his bat to knock one out and rack up two-baggers.
All-Star | AVG .292 | HITS 1521 | SB 418
Bud Harrelson – Long time Mets shortstop was far more of a glove man than a stick man. He joined the team at 21 and played with them for 13 seasons. He could swipe a few bases and considering his batting average; his on base percentage was respectable for the value he brought to the team which included his leadership.
Gold Glove/All-Star | AVG .236 | OBP .327 | Runs 539
Cleon Jones – How about a .340 batting average the same season your franchise win’s it’s first World Series? Jones was a staple for the New York Mets for most of his 13 MLB seasons; a good all-around player and steady contributor.
All-Star | AVG .281 | OPS .744 | Runs 565
Carlos Beltran – 5-tool player Beltran played 7 seasons for the Mets belting 149 home runs and making the All-Star team 4 times. He has shuffled around in his career and battled injuries, though when healthy has been very productive. He won the Rookie of the Year honors coming up with the Royals.
Rookie of the Year/All-Star | AVG .283 | HR 353 | RBI’s 1296 | OPS .857
Mookie Wilson – One of the franchise best leadoff hitters, Wilson roamed the outfield for the Mets for 10 seasons. A catalyst on the base paths, he could leg out a triple and steal bases in batches.
AVG .274 | HITS 1397 | Runs 731 | OPS .700 | SB 327
Darryl Strawberry – Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year for the Mets in 1983, he was a star for the team during his 8 seasons. Played a large role on the 1986 World Series Champion Mets team, though his best season for them was 2 years later when he was narrowly edged out as MVP.
Rookie of the Year/All-Star | AVG .259 | HR 335 | OPS .862 | RBI’s 1000
Ed Kranepool – The only original New York Met to make the Baseball Classics All-Time Greats New York Mets team played all 18 seasons of his career for the franchise. He wasn’t flashy, but wound up with a respectable career as an outfielder and first baseman. He had his moments towards the Mets winning the 1969 World Series.
All-Star | AVG .261 | HITS 1418 | TB 2047
Notable Franchise Names That Missed The Cut
The Mets franchise has some of the finest pitching, Craig Swan had a shining career though breaking into this staff requires more than being a shiny penny. Roger McDowell racked up a good number of saves for the Mets and was impressive. Gary Carter and his Hall of Fame career had 4 really good seasons, but not long enough to be on this team. Kevin McReynolds a very good player for the Mets, but just not quite enough to make this team. Dave Magadan was the toughest decision, though just like his career went trying to make a spot for him between first and third base, ultimately he just couldn’t quite beat out the others.
Here’s the starting lineup I recommend generally starting for the All-Time Great New York Mets:
- SS – Jose Reyes
- OF – Carlos Beltran
- 3B – David Wright
- C – Mike Piazza
- 1B – Keith Hernandez
- OF – Darryl Strawberry
- 2B – Edgardo Alfonso
- OF – Cleon Jones
- P – Tom Seaver
We look forward to adding them to the Baseball Classics All-Time Greats later this year. Do you agree with our top 24 selections for the All-Time New York Mets? Who do you think is the best Mets player to ever play? What’s your favorite memory of this franchise? Let us know in the comments below!