We continue our project by putting together the New York Mets all-time 25-man roster.
The New York Mets may be the little brother in New York, but they’ve had some great teams throughout the years. They’ve had a ton of excellent pitching, with multiple Cy Young Award winners. They won five NL Pennants and three World Series since coming into existence back in 1962.
The Miracle Mets won it all in 1969 after coming out of nowhere to win the NL East. They beat the Atlanta Braves in the first-ever NLCS and then the Orioles. The 1973 Mets went on a late run after battling injuries to barely win the NL East. They beat the Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds but couldn’t quite best Oakland.
Then came some lean years with a lot of turnover. They traded Tom Seaver in 1977 and continued to be, well, awful. In the 1980s, Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday bought the team. They upgraded Shea Stadium and brought in Frank Cashen to become the GM.
Cashen rebuilt the team by drafting well and adding power arms through both the draft and trades. In 1986, everything came together and the Mets won their second world championship. A dynasty was thought to be brewing, but they would only win one more division title two years later.
The 90s led to the end of the 80s team and the worst team money could buy. They rebuilt again and in 1999 made the NLCS and won the 2000 pennant. The Mets won the NL East in 2006 and almost went on another run of success. However, two straight September collapses ended that.
The most recent version has been rebuilt like the 1986 team with young power arms. That’s led to back-to-back playoff appearances and a pennant.
In the 1990s Mike Piazza was the best catcher in the game. He was perennial All-Star. He could hit for average and power. Things were souring as he hit free agency with the Los Angeles Dodgers. That led to a trade with the Florida Marlins. The Marlins were a bit of way station though because they couldn’t keep him.
Enter the Mets, who needed a big bat, especially behind the plate where Todd Hundley was battling injuries. The Mets swung the deal that changed the fortunes of the franchise by sending Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall and Geoff Goetz for Piazza on May 22 1998.
All Piazza would do from there is make seven All-Star teams in the eight years he was a Met. He won the Silver Slugger four times. He drove in 100 runs twice and had over 30 homers four times.
Piazza is third all time in homers and RBI for the Mets in their history. He was the guy on a Mets team in 1999 that made the Wild Card and almost beat the Atlanta Braves in NLCS. He was the guy on the team that was the big bat on an NL Pennant winner in 2000.
He was also the guy who hit the most dramatic homer in Mets history in the first game for the Mets after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Keith Hernandez was an MVP and a world champion with the St. Louis Cardinals. But by 1983, the relationship with him and Cardinals skipper Whitey Herzog deteriorated and it was time for a change.
At the deadline during the 1983 the Cardinals shipped Hernandez to the Mets in exchange for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey. Hernandez provided some much needed leadership on a young and developing team.
The trade also signified that the franchise wanted to make a turn and try to get better and it proved to the fan base that they were doing just that.
All Hernadnez would do for the Mets is become their captain on their 1986 world championship team. He would make three All-Star teams and win five Gold Gloves at first base. Hernandez helped change the way we look at first base defensively now.
Hernandez only played with the team from 1983-1989 but ranks ninth in franchise history in RBI. His impact on the team in 80s is why he finds himself here.
Alfonzo was very underrated player and a huge part as to why the Mets made the playoffs back in 1999 and 2000. Alfonzo came up as a utility infielder but then was given his shot to start at third base. His ability to play second helped when Robin Ventura became a free agent and gave the Mets one of the best infields ever in 1999.
Alfonzo hit over .300 four times as a Met. His age 26 season in 2000 may be among the best seasons of any second baseman ever. Alfonzo hit .324 with a .967 OPS. He had 40 doubles, 25 homers and drove in 94 runs with an OPS+ of 147. He also hit one of the biggest homers in Mets history with a grand slam in game one of the 1999 NLDS.
Alfonzo only made one All-Star team (you guessed it, 2000). He won the Silver Slugger that year as well and was Top 15 in MVP voting three times. Back problems started to derail his career after that and the Mets let him go as a free agent after the 2002 season. His career ended after 2006.
Alfonzo is still a part of the Mets organization as a coach with the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ Penn League affiliate.
All David Wright has done since he came up in 2004 is be the face of the franchise. The former first round pick is the first Mets star that will spend his entire career with the club.
Wright is in the top 10 in a ton of offensive categories in Mets history. He is first all time in WAR. He is third in batting average, fourth in OBP, seventh in slugging, fifth in OPS, first in runs, hits total bases and doubles and just 10 behind Darryl Strawberry in homers.
Wright has made seven All-Star teams and driven in over 100 runs five times and has had an OPS over .900 five times throughout his career.
Wright has also won two Gold Gloves and been top 10 in the MVP voting four times. He earned the nickname Captain America after being a part of Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Neck injuries and spinal stenosis have plagued him over the past two seasons although he ended up being a big part of the Mets’ 2015 NL pennant run. The question for him is whether or not he’ll be able to continue to play with three years left on his deal. Even if he’s not he may be the best position player the Mets have ever had.
The Mets had one of the best left sides of the infield in the game come up at the same time with Wright and Jose Reyes. Reyes quickly emerged as one of the premiere shortstops in the game.
Reyes led the NL in steals three times as a Met. He led the NL in triples four times and hits once back in 2008. Before leaving as a free agent after the 2011 season, Reyes led the NL in hitting with a .337 average.
Reyes ranks fifth in Mets history in WAR, seventh in batting average, second in runs, total bases,and doubles. He ranks third in hits and is the Mets’ all-time leader in triples and stolen bases.
After three other stops, Reyes came back to the Mets in 2016 after being cut by Colorado due to a domestic violence incident. Reyes will be with the Mets for 2017 as a utility infield option and ironically may start at third if Wright is unable to play. Reyes doesn’t have the speed he once had, but could be an important part of the 2017 Mets.
He may be remembered for taking strike three to end the 2006 NLCS, but Carlos Beltran was one of the best free agent signings the New York Mets ever made in their franchise history.
Beltran was a four time All-Star as a Met and a big part of the free agent signings that brought the Mets back to relevancy and winning the NL East back in 2006. Beltran drove in 100 or more runs three times as a Met and in 2006 hit 41 homers and had an OPS of .982.
Beltran ranks third in WAR, sixth in OBP, fourth in OPS+, sixth in homers and RBI in Mets history. Injuries began to take a toll on him during his final few years as a Met. That caused them to move Beltran to right field. In his final year of his deal Beltran made the NL All-Star team and the Mets moved him to the Giants at the deadline for Zach Wheeler.
Beltran is currently a free agent after putting up an All-Star season for the crosstown Yankees and Rangers.
Teams are currently shifting a lot of their focus back to building their clubs through the draft. When Frank Cashen built the Mets back up in the 1980s, part of how he did it was capitalizing on their high draft picks. One of them was a skinny outfielder from California named Darryl Strawberry.
All Strawberry did in 1983 was come up and win NL Rookie of the Year. He then made the All-Star team every year after as a Met from 1984 through 1990. He hit over 30 homers three times and drove in over 100 runs three times. He posted a 30/30 season in 1987. In 1988, he led the NL in slugging, OPS and OPS+.
Strawberry is second in Mets history in WAR, second in slugging and third in OPS. Strawberry is the Mets all time leader in homers with 252. He is second in RBI, walks and fifth in stolen bases.
After Strawberry left as a free agent, he would only make one more All-Star team and play in over 100 games just twice. He has survived cancer and been to jail, but still goes down as one of the best position players the Mets have ever had, possibly the best offensive player in team history.
Sometimes a super utility guy ends up being more than that for your team. Ben Zobrist emerged as a star for the Tampa Bay Rays playing multiple positions. Before 1985, Frank Cashen made a trade with the Detroit Tigers sending pitcher Walt Terrell for a player who could play multiple positions in Howard Johnson.
Johnson was that in 1986, playing a part in the Mets winning the title. He was given more of a permanent role in 1987 and became an instant switch-hitting power threat for the Mets.
From 1987 through 1991, Johnson made two All-Star teams. He hit over 30 homers twice and stole 30 or more bases three times. In 1991, he led the National League with 38 homers and 117 RBI. He finished top 10 in MVP voting three times.
Johnson’s production would fall off significantly after that 1991 season, but during that time Johnson was one of the most productive third baseman/outfielders in the game.
Johnson would serve as hitting coach in the Mets organization from 2001-2007. He would serve as Mets hitting coach from 2007-2011.
The mid and late 1970s involved a lot of losing for the New York Mets, but one constant was there for the team as a perennial All-Star and that was catcher John Stearns. It wasn’t like it is today how in New York I can watch every single one of Mike Trout‘s games with the Angels. You didn’t get to see everyone all the time except for national TV games and the All-Star Game.
Stearns came over from the Phillies in 1974 in the trade that saw Tug McGraw head down the Jersey Turnpike. Stearns would finally have the starting spot all to himself in 1976. Stearns only hit double digit homers twice in a season during his career but was the rare catcher who could steal a base. He stole 25 in 1978.
Stearns ended up making four All-Star teams as a Met representing one of the lone bright spots during a time of transition for the club.
After 1982, an elbow injury would hamper him and effectively end his career. After 1984, they acquired Gary Carter.
Stearns would come back to the organization as part of the coaching staff in 1999 and 2000.
It’s kind of hard to do an all-time Mets team and not include Ed Kranepool. Kranepool grew up in the Bronx and signed with the Mets in their infancy in 1962. Kranepool would remain a Met through the 1979 season. He came up in 1962 as a 17-year-old and played 17 years for the club. (Imagine what you were doing at 17. Pretty impressive.)
Kranepool would eventually earn a starting job and even was the Mets All-Star representative in 1965. Kranepool ended up having six seasons where he and an OPS+ over 100. He never led the league in anything but he was one of those guys who would be with the team every year and contribute either as an outfielder or a first baseman.
From 1974 through the end of his career he was basically limited to a pinch hitting role, but it’s something that he excelled at. In 1974, Kranepool hit .486 as a pinch hitter which is an all-time record.
All told, Kranepool is second in franchise history in hits and first in games. He is ninth in runs and third in total bases. Kranepool ranks 10th in homers and fifth in RBI.
The Mets teams that won in 1969 and into the early 70s weren’t the best offensively, but they had pitching. One of the things that helps your pitching staff is having a quality shortstop who can make some plays defensively and add a little bit offensively.
Bud Harrelson was that guy for the Mets during that time period. He didn’t have a ton of power. He only hit seven homers for his entire career. He never hit more than 18 doubles in a single season of his career either.
Harrelson’s best year came in 1971 when he won the Gold Glove at short and made his second career All-Star team (the other time was 1970). I had a feeling that if the WAR stat existed while he was playing he would’ve been a sabermetric favorite.
Harrlelson is the Mets All-Time leader in defensive WAR. He played the third most games in Met history and is third in triples. Of course everyone remembers him for the fight in the 1973 NLCS with Pete Rose.
Harrelson became a minor league manager with the Mets and became the third base coach in 1985. Harrelson managed for parts of the 1990 and 1991 seasons.
Cleon Jones was a consistent producer for the Mets in the 1960s and early part of the 1970s. Jones was a huge part of the Mets offense and one of their most productive hitters during that time. Jones had cups of coffee in 1963 and 1965 but was finally up to stay in 1966 after finishing fourth in Rookie of the Year voting.
Jones lone All-Star appearance came in 1969, but what a season for him. Jones hit a whopping .340 with a career high .905 OPS. He would play a big offensive part for the Mets in that season’s NLCS, hitting .429. Jones never hit more than 14 homers in season, but hit over .270 six times throughout his time with the Mets.
Jones played in the fifth most games in Mets history. He is seventh in runs, fourth in hits, and eighth in total bases and RBI. He could throw as well, ranking in the top 10 in outfield assists three times during his time with the Mets.
Jones would see his Mets career end in 1975 when he was released during that season.
One of the first pieces of those excellent 1980s teams was drafted in 1977. That guy was a speedy outfielder from South Carolina named Mookie Wilson. Wilson would come up to stay in 1981 and finish fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year race.
Wilson would add a huge element of speed to the club, the kind of speed the Mets never had really had before. Wilson stole over 50 bases in 1982 and 1983 and 46 in 1984. Wilson consistently hit between .270 and .300 throughout his Met career. He found himself sharing the outfield at times with players like Lenny Dykstraand Kevin McReynolds.
Wilson will forever live in Mets history as the hitter in 1986 who was up when Bob Stanley uncorked a wild pitch to tie Game six of the World Series against the Red Sox and then hit a grounder that went underneath Bill Buckner‘s legs to give the Mets the win. Wilson would be traded at the trade deadline of 1989 to the Blue Jays after hitting just .205.
Mookie ranks ninth in Mets history in WAR, sixth in runs and hits, seventh in games and now second in stolen bases behind Jose Reyes.
It would be insane to have an all-time Mets roster and not include Tom Seaver on it. Seaver was one of the greatest right handed pitchers in baseball history and the Mets were literally lucky to get him. Seaver had signed with the Braves but had his contract voided because his college team played two games against a pro team. The Mets won his rights and the rest is history.
Seaver was a 10-time All-Star with the Mets. He led the league in strikeouts five times as a Met. He led in ERA three times and wins twice. He even posted a sub-1.00 WHIP three times. He won Rookie of the Year in 1967 and won three Cy Young Awards as a Met.
Seaver became the face of the franchise. Even when the team wasn’t good, they still had Seaver to watch.
But that time came to end in June of 1977 when Seaver wanted to re-negotiate his contract and the Mets said no, shipping him to the Cincinnati Reds. The Mets re-acquired him from the Reds in 1983 and he pitched for the club that season. He would be claimed by the White Sox in the free agent compensation draft after the season.
Ironically, the White Sox claiming of Seaver led to the start of our next pitcher’s career.
The Mets rebuild in the 1980s was based on power arms and no one’s arm was more powerful than that of Dwight Gooden. Gooden came up in 1984 and immediately set the baseball world on its ear.
Gooden won Rookie of the Year, striking out 276 batters and winning 17 games. His next season was even better would be even better, winning 24 games with a 1.63 ERA and winning the NL Cy Young Award. “Dr. K” would make the All-Star team in four of his first five years.
Gooden could have had one of the best careers ever, but drug abuse and arrests got in the way. Gooden would be suspended until June in 1987 and got injured in 1989. He would get suspended again in 1994 and for all of 1995 for drugs.
Gooden is seventh in Mets history in ERA. He is second in wins and seventh in WHIP. He is also second in WAR among pitchers. He is second in strikeouts and third in complete games.
The Mets of the 1960s and 1970s didn’t just have Tom Seaver in their rotation. Jerry Koosman was an crucial part of those rotations that led to two pennants and one World Series during his time as a Met.
Koosman came up in 1967 for a cup of coffee but became an All-Star within his first two full seasons in 1968 and 1969. Koosman would only win 20 games one time during his tenure with the Mets in 1976 where he finished second in the Cy Young voting. The next year, he would end up losing 20.
Koosman wasn’t a big strikeout guy. He only struck out over 200 hitters once, but he was still effective. He would give up a lot of hits, but not a lot of walks per inning.
He ranks third among Mets pitchers in WAR, sixth in ERA, and pitched the second most innings in club history.
Koosman would find himself dealt to the Twins in 1978 for Greg Field and a player to be named later. That player was Jesse Orosco. (More on him later.)
Walt Terrell didn’t make this list but he was a part of two transactions that brought two players in that were a part of this list. Right before the 1982 season was set to begin, the Mets made a blockbuster trade, sending fan favorite Lee Mazzilli to the Texas Rangers for Terrell and the Rangers first round pick the year before. That pick was Ron Darling.
Darling would come up late in 1983 but become a mainstay in the Mets’ great rotations of the 1980s beginning in 1984. The only thing Darling ever led the league was walks in 1985, but still managed to make his lone All-Star appearance that season.
Darling would pitch over 200 innings every year from 1984-1989. He would finish fifth in Cy Young Award voting in 1986 and won a Gold Glove in 1989.
The right-hander ranks ninth in club history in WAR, fourth in wins and innings pitched, sixth in strikeouts and shutouts.
You can catch Darling as an analyst for the Mets on SNY.
The 1997 Mets won 88 games and you could tell that the team was starting to build something that resembled a contender. The Florida Marlins had beaten them out for the Wild Card and won the World Series but started to tear their team down because of owner Wayne Huizenga.
The Mets and Marlins made a deal early in the off-season that sent reliever Dennis Cook to Queens, but the Mets were still looking for another piece to help anchor their rotation. In early February, the two teams struck a deal with the Mets sending prospects Rob Stratton, A.J. Burnett and Jesus Sanchez to Florida in exchange for Al Leiter
All Leiter would do for the Mets is be a huge part of their rotation through the 2004 season.
Leiter won at least 10 games every year with 10 being the fewest in his last season at age 38. He would make an All-Star team in 2000 when he won 16.
Leiter ranks fourth in franchise history in WAR, sixth in wins, seventh in strikeouts and eighth in ERA+.
Every team has a long man in their bullpen, so for the sake of this exercise we are taking a starter and throwing him in the bullpen.
Much like the current Mets as they were being built, the Mets of the 1980s got their arms through trades and the draft. This next hard throwing left-hander was a part of a trade.
Before the 1984 season, the Mets sent Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Ross Jones and big hard-throwing left-hander named Sid Fernandez.
“El Sid” would become more of mainstay in the rotation in 1985 and would be there to stay through the 1993 season.
Fernandez would make the All-Star team in 1986 and 1987. He led the league in hits per nine innings three times and K/9 in 1985 with 9.5.
Fernadnez ranks fifth in WAR and wins in franchise history. Fernandez ranks fourth in WHIP with a 1.113 and fifth in K/9 with a 8.22. He threw 1584.2 innings as a Met which places him fifth all time in that category as well.
The way relievers were used in the 1980s is way different than now during the regular season. You won’t see relievers throwing 128 innings and winning 14 games anymore. That’s what Roger McDowell did for the Mets in 1986 as the combination of him and Jesse Orosco helped to finish off games during that world championship season.
McDowell was the Mets’ third round pick in 1982 and he found himself a part of the big league bullpen three years later. In his rookie year of 1985, McDowell would finish sixth in Rookie of the Year balloting and even finished in the top 10 of MVP balloting in 1986.
McDowell would save between 15 and 25 games every year he was a Met. The sidearming right-hander finished a whopping 52 games back in 1986. He ranks fifth in Mets history in games finished.
As the Mets began to dismantle their 1986 team, McDowell found himself out the door with Lenny Dykstra to Philadelphia in exchange for Juan Samuel in 1989.
The 2005 Mets had a ton of problems closing games. Braden Looper just wasn’t an effective closer and this was one of the many reasons that the Mets failed to meet their ultimate goal of making the playoffs.
That offseason, the Mets went all-in getting Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca, but they still needed a closer. That’s where Billy Wagner came in, and the Mets managed to ink the lefty fireballer to a free agent contract.
All Wagner would do was make two All-Star teams and finish sixth in the Cy Young vote in 2006.
Wagner saved 101 games as a Met which places him fourth on the all-time franchise list. He is also 10th in Mets history in games finished. He struck out a pretty impressive 230 batters in 189.2 innings and had an ERA+ of 183.
Wagner saved over 40 games in a season twice for the Mets and became the second Met ever to accomplish that feat.
Tug McGraw was one of the original bullpen firemen and one of the faces of the Mets franchise during the 1960s and 1970s. Like many relievers, McGraw came up as a starter. In fact, he would start at least one game ever year as Met except for two. McGraw threw over 100 innings out of the bullpen four times.
McGraw would only make one All-Star team as a Met, but his impact on the team and the franchise went beyond that. He was the one who started the rallying cry of “Ya Gotta Believe” in 1973 as the Mets made a furious comeback and won the NL East and the pennant.
Tug pitched in 361 games as a Met which places him sixth in franchise history. His 86 saves place him sixth in Mets history as well.
McGraw did not have a great 1974 season by any stretch and the Mets thought he was damaged goods and shipped him to the Phillies in a package that included John Stearns coming back the other way. McGraw would go on to pitch until 1984 and be a part of a Phillies pennant winner.
Before the 1990 season, the Mets decided to shakeup their bullpen a little bit. Their target? A New York native that was saving a ton of games and making All-Star teams. The Mets and Reds swung a deal sending Randy Myers to Cincinnati in exchange for John Franco.
Franco would make the All-Star team in 1990 and lead the league in saves. Franco would go on to lead the league in saves one more time during his tenure with the Mets that saw him remain with the club through the 2004 season. He would remain the club’s closer until the1999 season. Franco recorded his 300th career save as a Met.
Franco is tied for seventh with Dwight Gooden on the team’s ERA list. He ranks 10th in K/9 ratio with a 7.58. Franco pitched the most games a Met ever with 695. He is first in saves with 276 as a Met.
Franco would pitch in 2005 for Houston but would get released and that would end his career. Franco would pitch through a lot of lean years with the Mets, but they always had him to count on at the end of games.
The Mets didn’t think that John Franco should be their closer anymore. He started to lose some effectiveness, so the Mets decided to make a move before the 1999 season. In a three-team deal, they landed outfielder Roger Cedeno and power arm reliever Armando Benitez.
Benitez was installed as a closer and became the first Met ever to save 40 games in a season. Benitez would come up small at times in big games and would be a “cardiac closer” by taking three-run leads and whittling them down to one, but all in all he would be one of the top closers in Mets history.
Armando would lead the NL in games finished in 2000.
Benitez has the second most saves in Mets history and is second in games finished. Benitez ranks fourth in Win Probability Added.
He would make one All-Star team as a Met in 2003 in his final year with the club. The Mets would trade Benitez to the Yankees where he would be a setup man for them for not even a month before the Yankees would deal him to the Mariners.
Benitez would bounce around after that pitching for three teams, including the Marlins twice, before finishing his career in 2008.
The major league record holder for games pitched and one of the few four-decade men in baseball history got his start with the Mets. Jesse Orosco came over as the player to be named in the Jerry Koosman trade back in 1979.
Orosco would come up in that year but wouldn’t be a full fledged member of the bullpen until 1982. From 1982 through 1987, the fewest innings Orosco would throw is 77 and topped the 100 inning mark twice.
He would make the All-Star team in 1983 and 1984 and finished third in Cy Young voting in 1983 after posting a 13-7 record with a 1.49 ERA and 17 saves.
Orosco has the second best ERA in team history at 2.73. His 7.64 K/9 ratio is eighth in franchise history. He pitched in the fifth most games in team history and his 107 saves rank third in team history. His 3.20 FIP is eighth.
Orosco would find himself in L.A. as a part of a three team deal with the Dodgers and A’s. Orosco would find his way back to the Mets before the 2000 season but was traded during Spring Training.