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NYBD Top 50 Mets of All Time

By Mike Silva ~ December 30th, 2010. Filed under: Top 50 Mets of All Time.

Let’s take another look at the history of the Mets. I recently gave you my “Top 10 Teams in Mets History” list, now today I will give you to Top 50 Players in Mets history. Doing any type of list is difficult as it’s subjective, unless you use some sort of metric, or point system, to create it. I wanted to use three areas:

1.      Statistics (Mets Career)

2.      Length of Mets Career

3.      Intangibles

I didn’t see all these players, and some I saw after their prime, but I used my research, knowledge, conversations with individuals who did watch them over the years. Hopefully this list does a good job of combining the tangible and intangible value of the best players in Mets history.

Let the debate begin.

1. Tom Seaver (RHP) - No Brainer. The only Hall of Famer in Mets history. Won 198 games and struck out over 2,500 batters in orange and blue. His 19 strikeout game will always be remembered. Would probably have 300 wins in a Mets uniform if not for Dick Young, M. Donald Grant, and a little snafu by Frank Cashen after the 1983 season. Truly a master at the art of pitching.

2. Darryl Strawberry (OF) - Never quite lived up to the “black Ted Williams” moniker, but is the most feared cleanup hitter in team history. Rookie of the Year, Six All Star Appearances, and was robbed of the MVP in 1988. Rare combination of speed and power (30/30 in 1987) as he hit 252 homers and stole 191 bases with the team. Remember him now more for the good times than the bad exit in 1990. The ultimate “what if” in team history. I suspect he would be the second Mets Hall of Famer if he stayed clean.

3. Dwight Gooden (RHP) - Sometimes he is unfairly judged by what he should have been, instead of what he did. A .649 winning percentage is higher than Seaver’s. Won Rookie of the Year in 1984, and had one of the best seasons in modern history in 1985 (24-4, 1.52 ERA). The league average pitching after 1988 shouldn’t overshadow his accomplishments. Was it drugs or over usage that did him in? I say a combination of both, as Doc might have seen decline physically even if he stayed away from drugs.

4. David Wright (3B) - Will eventually go down as the best position player in Mets history. Wright is this team’s version of Mike Schmidt. No other player in team history can hit for average, power, and run like Wright. He proved in 2010 that he can hit at Citi Field, and unless something catastrophic happens, will be #2 on this list by the end of his tenure.

5. Mike Piazza (C) - The Mets didn’t get the Dodgers version of Piazza, but that was because age caught up with him (no pun intended) after 2002. His 1998 to 2002 is right up there with Wright and Strawberry. I knocked him down a peg because he wasn’t homegrown, but nonetheless was the heart and soul of the team during his tenure. Many criticize him for his throwing, but he called a good game, and blocked the plate with the best receivers in baseball. His flair for the dramatic might be second to none on this list. Who can ever forget his homer against the Braves post 9-11, against Houston in the Dome in ’98, or to cap off that 10 run eighth inning against the Braves in 2000? The Mets should retire his number in the very near future.

6. Jerry Koosman (LHP) - Could easily have the same win totals as a Bert Blyleven, or at the very least, Jack Morris. If he did, I suspect there would have been more debate about his Hall of Fame worthiness. It’s not easy to be a .500 pitcher (140-137) with a 3.08 ERA. That’s what Koosman did during his Mets tenure. The 108 complete games were also very impressive. Won two games against the Orioles in 1969. Without Koosman’s Game 2 performance that year we may never have a seen miracle.

7. Keith Hernandez (1B) - The ultimate team leader in Mets history. He was to the Mets what Mark Messier was to the Rangers in the nineties. Some have made a case that he belongs in the Hall of Fame, but I would settle for the team retiring his number 17. Clutch hitter, great eye at the plate, and one of the best defensive first basemen in the history of the league. Mex was a thinking man’s player, and I wonder if he legs didn’t give out after 1987 if the Mets would have won another title.

8. Carlos Beltran (OF) - Will always get knocked for his demeanor. Very similar to Kevin McReynolds, but “Big Mac” never put up Beltran’s numbers. By far the best defensive centerfielder in baseball during his Mets tenure, and has the bad knees to prove it. When you factor in his Gold Glove defense, 2006 (41 homers, 116 RBI. .275 batting average) might be the most complete season by a position player in Mets history.

9. Edgardo Alfonzo (2B/3B) - If only he didn’t hurt his back in 2001. If Piazza was the heart and soul of those late nineties Mets, then Alfonzo the “leader by example” as he was the model of what you would want in a player. Hit for average, power, and outstanding defensively. How many players could say they are above average defenders at second and third? Alfonzo was both, and moved positions for the good of the team twice. Wasn’t the same after 2001, but his 1999-2000 seasons were special. Was probably the one hitter on that team you wanted up with two outs and runners in scoring position.

10. Al Leiter (LHP) - Some may quibble because he left on bad terms in 2004, but Leiter was the ace of the staff for seven years. Will always remember his performance against Cincinnati in game number 163 in 1999. Just missed out on 100 wins with the team, but could be counted on for double digit wins, and about 200 innings of quality baseball each year. Give me one starter not named Seaver to pitch a big game, and it would be Al Leiter.

11. John Franco (LHP) - The overall numbers are very solid (276 saves, 3.10 ERA), but Franco was the ultimate “cardiac closer,” which shouldn’t be a surprise considering his career Mets WHIP of 1.365. With that said, Franco was a tough as they come on the mound. He may have blown saves, but he battled every night, and would be by his locker after a tough loss. We have seen many come through these parts that hide when the lights shine the brightest. I wonder if he was pitching the ninth inning, instead of Armando Benitez, in Game 1 of the 2000 World Series, if the Yankees would have come back. Could make an argument for Top 10, but decided to go with Leiter over Franco.

12. Gary Carter (C) -  Helped develop a young pitching staff, clutch hitter, and produced offensively at a position not known for it. His big years came in Montreal, but he helped bring a championship to New York. Fizzled after age 32, but the haul was worth his final two productive seasons. His production in 1985 and 1986 were right up there with Piazza, and probably better, if you factor in his defense.

13. David Cone (RHP) - Over .600 winning percentage with the Mets. His 20 win season in 1988 was right up there with Gooden and Seaver for one of the best in team history. The Mets got the young, immature, and hot headed Cone, or the numbers could have been better. Who could forget his 19 strikeout game the last day of 1991 while the cops were waiting to question him for rape? He would mature and become a key component of the late nineties Yankees dynasty, pitching a perfect game for them in 1999. Amazing that many remember him for his time with the Yankees, but the majority of his production came with the Mets.

14. Jose Reyes (SS) - His talent is such that he could be Rickey Henderson, but as of yet Reyes has never put his combination of speed, power, and plate discipline together for a full season. Has the tools to win a Gold Glove, but can’t concentrate consistently in the field. With that said, since he became the everyday shortstop in 2005, the Mets win when Reyes gets on base. Not many players can hit .300, with 20 homers, and 50+ stolen bases. Talent alone has put him in the Top 15, but he should be in the Top 10.

15. Ed Kranepool (1B/OF) - His career is more quantity than quality, but you can’t dismiss someone who played 18 years in the big leagues for one team. Perhaps his undoing was the fact he played for the Mets, as they rushed him to the majors at the age of 17. Was the team leader in many offensive categories for years, and a pinch hitter extraordinaire later in his career.

16. Ron Darling (RHP) - Won 99 games which is fourth in team history. Always seemed to battle himself ala John Maine. Came up small in both Game 7 opportunities (‘86 World Series, 88′ NLCS), but if it weren’t for his pitching the Mets wouldn’t have played in either one. He was good for 15 wins, 3.50 ERA, and 220 innings. Some may called that an “ace” by today’s standards.

17. Sid Fernandez (LHP) -  I will never forget his 16 strikeout performance in Atlanta that he lost on a Lonnie Smith ninth inning homer. Won 98 games, good for fifth in team history, but his stingy 3.14 ERA probably should have resulted in more wins. Maybe the unluckiest pitcher in team history.

18. Howard Johnson (3B/SS) - Was better in odd years than even years. Was a 30/30 man in 1987 when everyone was worried how the team would survive after Ray Knight signed with Baltimore. Achieved the feat in ’89 and ’91. The organization has struggled at third base throughout its history, but HoJo was the gold standard at the position before David Wright came along. His career totals of 192 homers, 629 RBI, 202 stolen bases, and .801 OPS aren’t that far off from Wright’s. The difference was Johnson was a late bloomer, and lacked the consistency of D-Wright.

19. Jon Matlack (LHP) - Another victim of the anemic offense of the seventies Mets. Career ERA with the team of 3.03, yet was only 82-81 during that time. Was Rookie of the Year in 1972, and probably had his best season in 1974 when he posted a 2.41 ERA, but was only 13-15. Koosman and Matlack give the Sabermetrician claim that “wins don’t matter” some merit when you look at their peripherals.

20. Johan Santana (LHP) - This story is still in progress, but we probably won’t see Santana again until July 2011. To date he is 40-25, with a 2.85 ERA. His performance down the stretch in 2008 was classic, as he dragged the Mets to the finish line. Knowing that he’s pitched like this with bone chips in his elbow, torn meniscus, and a shoulder injury makes it even more impressive.

21. Jesse Orosco (LHP) - Amazing career that lasted 24 seasons, and some thought he was done when the Mets traded him after the 1987 season. 107 saves in eight years with a 2.73 ERA. His 1983 season might be the best for any Mets reliever as he finished third in the Cy Young voting (13 wins, 17 saves, 1.47 ERA). Might be the real MVP of the ’86 NLCS and World Series as it seemed he got the call every night. That 16th inning performance in Game 6 in Houston was about as gutty as it gets.

22. Tom Glavine (LHP) - Everyone remembers Game 162 in 2007, but forgets how he anchored the staff from late 2005 to 2007. Give him credit for adjusting late in his career, and compiling a 41-28, 3.93 record during that period. He was exceptional during the ’06 playoffs when the rotation was in shambles. The Mets didn’t get the Tom Glavine of Atlanta, but you could see why he was a Hall of Famer by how he went about his craft. One game should not define his Mets career.

23. Tug McGraw (LHP) - He reminded me of the seventies version of John Franco when I was watching a recap of the 1973 season. His “You Gotta Believe” chant is still being used today. Garnered 86 saves during a time where closers were expected to go more than one inning. Was good as any reliever in Mets history from 1969-1972. Not many players can be loved in both New York and Philadelphia, but Tug accomplished that with near identical pitching lines, and a championship in both towns.

24. Rusty Staub (OF/PH) - The heart and soul of the team when he was acquired from Montreal after the 1971 season. Impressive walk to strikeout ratio (333 to 204), with 75 homers, and 399 RBI during his Mets career. Put on a show during the ’73 playoffs (4 homers, 11 RBI, OPS of 1.096). Foolish trade sent him to Detroit after the ’75 season for Mickey Lolich. Would return in 1981 and become one of the best pinch hitters in team history. Too bad he retired a year early, or could have been a part of the ’86 championship club.

25. Kevin McReynolds (OF) - Even though they traded Kevin Mitchell - who would win the 1989 NL MVP - for McReynolds, he was steady on both sides of the ball. Perhaps his personality was the reason some fans complain about that deal, but Mitchell came into his own as McReynolds began to decline. Had an MVP type season in 1988 with the important task of protecting Darryl Strawberry in the lineup. Without his production the Mets best hitter would have rarely gotten an opportunity to punish the opposition. Probably the best defensive left fielder in team history, with a good arm to boot. It would be fun watching him man Citi Field in his prime.

26. John Olerud (1b) -My favorite player from the nineties, as Olerud was an OBP machine. He fit that offense perfectly, and benefited from hitting in front of Mike Piazza. Only Keith Hernandez was better defensively at first. Will never forget the second half of 1998 where it seemed he was always on base, and just missed winning the batting title with his .354 average. Only played three years in New York, but had a .315 batting average, and OPS of .926 at that time. Huge mistake letting him sign with Seattle in 2000.

27. Bob Ojeda (LHP) - A huge part of those eighties Mets. Won 18 games in 1986, and pitched a pivotal Game 2 in Houston, and Game 3 in Fenway. No Ojeda and the Mets don’t win in 1986. His alleged hedge trimmer accident in 1988 was a big reason why they lost to the Dodgers in the NLCS. Won 51 games in five years with a 3.14 ERA. He deserves this high billing just for his ’86 performance alone.

28. Rick Reed (RHP) - One of the better “scrapheap” pickups in team history. Went 59-36 from 1997 to 2001. Didn’t have overpowering stuff, but great location. I was at two June of ’98 starts where he nearly threw no hitters.  Pitched well in a huge game against the Pirates the last weekend of 1999 as well. Could always be counted on for a quality start, and the record proves it.

29. Carlos Delgado (1B) - Probably the most prolific cleanup hitter in team history next to Strawberry. His 2006 and 2008 seasons were right up there with all the great offensive performances in history. Combined in those seasons he hit 76 homers, and drove in 229 runs. Had 4 homers, 11 RBI, and an OPS of 1.199 during the 2006 playoffs. A big time player that was slowed by a hip injury, or the numbers would have been far better.

30. Jerry Grote (C) - Was a defensive cog behind the plate for 12 years. Didn’t hit much (career batting average of .252), but did enough to make a couple of All Star Teams. Known to be very competitive and gave those late sixties/early seventies Mets teams some “spit and vinegar.” If not for the fact he played at the same time as Johnny Bench he would have a few Gold Gloves to his name.

31. Todd Hundley (C) - Did he juice? Who knows, but he came up a skinny kid in 1990 known for his defense, and set the record for most homers as a catcher (40 in 1996) just a few years later, until it was broken by Javy Lopez in 2003. 71 homers, 198 RBI, and a .922 OPS over two years are dominant for a catcher. Only Piazza was better offensively during that time. Will always give him credit for trying to play the outfield in ‘98, although it was painful to watch.

32. Armando Benitez (RHP) - Probably the best regular season closer in team history, but will always be remembered for blowing Game 1 of the 2000 World Series. 160 Saves over five years with a 2.70 ERA, and over 11 strikeouts per nine innings, but his postseason failings knock him down on the list. Perfect example of how pitching is just as much mental as physical.

33. Bobby Jones (RHP) - Will always be remembered for his one hitter in Game 4 of the 2000 NLDS against San Francisco. Won 74 games in a Mets uniform posting a respectable 4.13 ERA. In his prime he was a league average pitcher that gave you 195 innings, and 15 victories. Sounds an awful lot like Jon Garland, who many Mets fans clamored for this offseason. It’s not easy to win double digit ballgames in this league with his stuff.

34. Cleon Jones (OF) - Was the Mets offense, along with Tommie Agee, in 1969 (12 HR, 75 RBI, .904 OPS). Would have been interesting to see how he fared as a complementary player on a good offensive team. Career .281 batting average with a .744 OPS isn’t shabby when you consider what surrounded him in the lineup.

35. Mookie Wilson (OF) - Played ten years in New York, and did his best work when he split time with Lenny Dykstra. A popular Met because he was one of the few left from the dark days. His Game 6 at bat against Bob Stanley was classic, as the strikeout prone Wilson managed to stay alive, barely, until the wild pitch. I think he wouldn’t be viewed as favorably today because of the obsession with OBP. Wilson was a useful player when used in the platoon role. I bump him up because of his “Q Rating” with the fan base.

36. Dave Magadan (1B/3B) - Toiled behind Keith Hernandez for three seasons until given his chance in 1990. Never developed the power that many thought his 6’3” frame would yield, but would have been a “Moneyball” favorite for his good eye at the plate if such a term existed then. Had a glass half empty Mets career because he wasn’t Keith Hernandez, which is patently unfair. Overall spent seven seasons playing first and third for the Mets, hit .292 and had an outstanding .391 OBP. Best season was 1990 when he hit .328, and contended for the NL batting title. No surprise the Mets took off that year when Magadan was inserted into the lineup every day. Lack of power regulated him to a backup role after leaving the Mets in 1992.

37. Lenny Dykstra (OF) - We all laugh at his off the field exploits today, but Dykstra might have been the most popular Met of that eighties team. Was everything you wanted in a leadoff hitter: got on base, patient, speed, and even a little pop. He could have spent a decade producing as he did in 1986 (.295 BA, 8 homers, 58 walks, 55 strikeouts), and would have been an All Star. Instead, he decided to “enhance” himself, which resulted in a payday, but a truncated career. His home run off Dave Smith in the ’86 NLCS was the turning point of that series. He also got the Mets started with a homer in Game 3 at Fenway in the World Series. The problem was it seemed to make him swing for the fences the rest of his Mets career. Davey Johnson finally lost patience, and the Mets made that disastrous trade sending him to the Phillies for Juan Samuel.

38. Robin Ventura (3B) - Chants of “MVP’ rained down on Ventura throughout his ’99 campaign (32 homers, 120 RBI, .301 batting average, Gold Glove). That year might be the best overall individual season for any Mets third basemen. Who can forget his penchant for Grand Slams, including the famous “Grand Slam Single” in the 1999 NLCS. Injuries slowed him the final two years of his contract, but he still provided great defense, leadership, and clutch hitting. Personified what the 99-00 Mets were all about.

39. Frank Viola (LHP) - The local St. John’s product was the last 20 game winner in Mets history, as he went 20-12 in 1990. Was acquired from the Minnesota Twins at the 1989 trade deadline for five players, most notably Rick Aguilera, but never lived up to his “co-ace” status outside of the ’90 season. Regardless, he gave them tons of innings in two and a half seasons (566 to be exact), and hurled 12 complete games. An ace in 1990, but performed like a #3 starter the rest of his tenure. Pitched against Ron Darling in one of the greatest college baseball games ever.

40. John Stearns (C) - Was a two sport athlete at the University of Colorado. The Phillies drafted him number two in the nation, and he was also drafted by the Buffalo Bills. Had power, good eye, and even some speed (stole 25 bases in 1978). Known for tackling Braves mascot “Chief Noc a Homa.”  His ’77-’78 numbers (27 homers, 128 RBI, .367 OBP, 34 steals) were probably the best for a Mets catcher not named Carter, Piazza, or Hundley, but the reckless play caught up to him as he fizzled shortly thereafter. Younger fans might remember him as the Mets bench coach under Bobby Valentine who yelled “the monster is out of the cage” before the 2000 NLCS. Runs Mets Fantasy Camp each year, and I can tell you from personal experience that he hasn’t lost his passion for the game.

41. Pedro Martinez (RHP) - Was more valuable off the field than on, but still had one of the best pitching seasons in Mets history in 2005 when he went 15-8, with a 2.52 ERA. His starts were an “event” which can only be said for two others in Mets history, and they are in the Top 10. If not for a porous bullpen, and a manager who failed bullpen management 101, Martinez would have won 20 games, and maybe the Cy Young that year. The shoulder injury made the rest of his Mets career very pedestrian, but without the Pedro signing the Mets probably never get Carlos Beltran, or have their three year run from 2006-2008 where they were NL favorites.

42. Bobby Bonilla (OF/3B/1B) - The most hated Met in team history, but still produced during his first stint with the team. Everyone says Bonilla didn’t produce like he did with the Pirates, but the numbers are very similar, and he developed better power during his Mets days. His ’95 season (18, 53, .325 batting average), would have been one of the better performances in Mets history if he wasn’t traded to Baltimore. Would have been served better as a second banana than the main offensive cog. He seemed to fit that role well in Pittsburgh, Florida, and Baltimore.

43. Lee Mazzilli (OF/PH) - Another “Moneyball” player before its time. Produced an .811 OPS from 1978 to 1980, .374 OBP, and hit a dramatic homer in the All Star Game. Better known for returning in 1986, and becoming a pinch hitting extraordinaire off the bench. Great story of local boy who becomes a star, gets traded, and comes back at the tail end of his career to win a championship. Don’t forget he produced Ron Darling and Walt Terrell, who ultimately was flipped for Howard Johnson.

44. Tommie Agee (OF) - His defense highlights the ’69 series. Great two year stint from 1969-1970, averaging 25 homers, 75 RBI, and a .280 batting average, along with a Gold Glove. A knee injury caught up with him and he was never the same after 1970. If he would have stayed healthy I could have seen him most up on this list past Wilson and Dykstra. Agee and Cleon Jones were the Mets offense those years.

45. Bret Saberhagen (RHP) - Had some dominant performances, but was injured, and better known for that foolish bleach incident in the clubhouse. If not for the ’94 strike, might have had one of the best pitching season in Mets history. Was 14-4 with a 2.74 ERA in a very offensive year, and walked only 13 batters in 177 innings. Yes, that isn’t a typo, 13 batters. The return the Mets got from Colorado in that midseason trade in ’95 was abysmal. Overall had a 3.16 ERA during his Mets career, and would have been right up there with some of the best pitchers if he stayed healthy.

46. Nolan Ryan (RHP) - We could have debated who was #1, Ryan or Seaver, but the trade that sent Ryan to Anaheim for Jim Fregosi ended that. I am not sure Ryan was built for New York, and I have heard some interviews where he believed leaving the Mets was good for his career. Was a below league average pitcher during his Mets tenure, but had huge 7 inning/2 run relief performance in Game 3 of the NLCS in ’69. Look at that Braves lineup and tell me if that is an easy task for a young pitcher. Played a valuable enough role as the sixth starter/middle reliever during his tenure that he belongs on this list.

47. Craig Swan (RHP) - Played for some lousy Mets teams, and was gone by the time things turned around. Despite playing in one of the worst periods in Mets history still had respectable career numbers (59-71, 3.72). Shoulder problems derailed him, or perhaps he could have been a backend veteran starter on the ‘84 team. Still trying to figure out how he won 14 games for that awful 1979 Mets team.

48. Jeff Kent (2b/3b) - I believe Kent is a Hall of Famer, but unfortunately will go in as a member of the San Francisco Giants. The trade of David Cone for Kent and Ryan Thompson in 1992 turned out to be one of Al Harazin’s best, although I would have preferred the Mets sign Cone to an extension. Kent was still maturing, and New York wasn’t the right environment for a country boy. Didn’t have a position as he moved from second to third (switching positions is a Mets trait throughout their history), but still averaged about 15 homers, 70 RBI, and a .280 batting average during his Mets career. I wonder how things would have worked out if the Mets gave Kent one more season, instead of trading him for the over the hill Carlos Baerga.

49. John Milner (1b/OF) - One of the underrated offensive players in Mets history. As I have mentioned before, the seventies wasn’t a decade of offense for the team. Had good left handed pop hitting 23 homers for the ’73 squad, splitting time between first and the outfield. Hamstring injuries kept him off the field at various points during his career..

50. Bud Harrelson (SS) -  The Rey Ordonez of the sixties and seventies. Good field/no hit, but was very important to those Mets teams for his leadership. Finished in the top 25 of MVP three times, won a Gold Glove, and appeared in two All Star Games. Was a shortstop when the gold standard for the position was Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese, not Alex Rodriguez.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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40 Responses to NYBD Top 50 Mets of All Time

  1. RonOK

    Mike, very thorough. There are some names that you included that surprise me (John Milner, Bobby Jones) and others that you left off — i.e., Rey Ordonez. But no matter what list you produce, tere will be disagreements.

    I don;t necessarily agree with the order - especially the Top 10 … mine would be:

    1. Seaver
    2. Piazza
    3. Wright
    4. Hernandez
    5. Reyes
    6. Alfonso
    7. Gooden
    8. Strawberry
    9. Olerude
    10. Staub

  2. Joe A.

    Nice list. I think you got the top 5 exactly right.

    Way too hard on Reyes though. He is easily top 10. Others that are too low for my liking: Olerud, Agee, C. Jones, Maz, Mookie - they are all easily top 25 guys for me.

    Biggest omissions: Backman, Kingman

    Guys who I think you have too high: Leiter, Glavine, Santana, Ojeda, Viola (maybe I just have a problem with lefty starters).

    And Nolan Ryan isn’t even close to top 50. There’s at least 20 guys I’d rank ahead of him who are not on your list.

  3. MookieLJL

    Billy Wagner should be in the top 50. The knock on him would be his short stint with the team but the same can be said of Saberhagen and Wagner was healthier and better than Sabes while with the Mets.

  4. Kingman26

    How is Kingman not on this list. 172 HRs as a Met.

  5. Mike Silva

    Because I felt Kingman was too one dimensional. Mainly a below league average hitter that belted homers. 1976 was his best season.

    I guess you could make the argument for Kingman, but I see him as someone just outside the Top 50. Who would you replace for Kingman?

  6. Mike Silva

    Joe A.

    You might be right regarding Reyes. If he had solid 09-10 I might have moved him ahead of Alfonzo, but right now, I pushed him back. Plus Fonzie played a big part in 2 postseason clubs, and a pennant winner.

  7. KBH

    I would replace Nolan Ryan with Kingman since you asked. If Nolan Ryan stopped playing baseball the day after he was traded by the Mets, you would not even have considered him for this list (nor would anyone reading this remember his name). He was a strong 6th starter/middle reliever? Come on. Otherwise, very nice job.

  8. Jay

    Great read. Rather than debate your choices or order I’ll just thank you for bringing some great Mets memories out from dusty hiding spots in the back of my mind.

    Craig Swan, for being a bright light in a dark era, will always hold a special place in my Mets fan heart and it’s great to see him make your top 50. The year before he won the 14 games you note he won the league ERA title! Clearly he was no Tom Seaver but having him around while in recovery from the loss of Seaver made it slightly more bearable.

  9. Mike Silva

    Fair point KBH, but Ryan was very important to that 69 team out of that bullpen. His Game 3 performance against Atlanta most notably. I would argue his 69 was bigger than anything Kingman ever did.

  10. Troublesome

    Pretty good list, I agree completely with the top 9. Kingman definitely needs to be on here though imo. I would also have Backman on there, he didn’t produce much but simply for his popularity. Pedro Feliciano could even be warranted over many of these guys. Lance Johnson could crack the very bottom even though he was only here for a season and a half, he was pretty awesome during that time. Same with Bernard Gilkey…only 2 and a half seasons, but he had a monstrous ’96. Ordonez I woulda considered for one of the bottom spots just off his amazing defense, but he was pretty atrocious offensively and his “too stupid” comment really knocks him down.

  11. Bomber

    Two points:
    1. It’s time we mets fans asked ourselves a hard question: Was piazza juiced? No, he hasn’t been mentioned in existing indictments, but that doesn’t mean he was clean. As much as I love big mike and his team, I think he was juiced. Yes, a man is guilty until proven innOcent, but These fan-talks, and HoF ballots mind you, are not a court of law.

  12. Mike Silva


    Thanks for the kind words! Glad I could dust off some memories

  13. Stu B

    Great job, Mike, but there’s one glaring omission that I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned - Felix Millan. Without his defense, durability, and execution of the fundamentals as a no. 2 hitter, the Mets never win the ’73 NL pennant. Gentry and Frisella for Millan and George Stone (another key piece of the ’73 team) was one of the best trades in team history. IMO, he should make the list over Ryan and Saberhagen, who loses points due to his poor character - remember that stupid bleach incident?

  14. Kevin Buckley

    Thanks for an epic effort and for rekindling many fond memories.
    Having been a Mets fan from Day One, I don’t need to tell you that the early days were very, very bleak. The first “real” ballplayer the Mets had was Ron Hunt, 2B. Hunt’s tenure from 63-66 was often the lone bright spot. Hunt was a solid all-around ballplayer. Hunt would have fit right in with the better Mets teams but his supporting cast in his four years with the Mets was simply dreadful.
    Hunt and Jim Hickman, who really only came into his own later in his career, were traded to the Dodgers in November of 1966 for Tommy Davis and Derrell Griffith.
    Hunt went on to play another 9 years after leaving the Mets and no one in baseball was tougher or “scrappier.” Year after year Hunt led the league in HBP.

  15. Stu B

    @Bomber: It doesn’t matter whether Piazza was juicing. There’s no way to prove it, and it wasn’t against the rules when he played.

  16. Howard Megdal

    Will echo the Kingman chorus- his OPS+ of 108 among Mets with at least 2000 PAs is 19th, only players on your list (along with Steve Henderson!) ahead of him.
    Bonilla was sixth on that list, by the way. Wonder if he is too low at 42.
    Great list! Looking forward to discussing it on this week’s show.

  17. azulnaranja

    I think that you have both Cleon Jones and Bud Harrelson way underrated. Look at their WAR sometime, not their raw numbers. They played in a pitcher’s era in a pitcher’s park, but were very valuable players. You have closers like Benitez and Franco way overrated in my opinion.

  18. Stu B

    I could also argue that any player who wins World Series MVP should automatically make such a list, which means Donn Clendenon and Ray Knight. So I would drop Ryan, Saberhagen, and probably Magadan for Millan, Clendenon, and Knight.

  19. Mike Silva


    Great point. I also wanted to balance the decades, and give an overall feel of the Top 50. Some cognitive dissidence has me wanting to find Kingman in the list. Not sure Knight, who had one good season, belongs in over anyone.

    I have seen some people get angry over Glavine’s inclusion. That is baffling. No Glavine and the 06′ Mets go nowhere.

  20. Stu B

    But Mike, what do you think about Millan?

  21. Mike Silva

    Great points on Millan, but OPS’s below 700 are Ordonezesque without the flashy defense. He could get knocked for being steady, but Kent overall better

  22. Stu B

    True enough, but I still say he had more impact than Saberhagen and Ryan…

  23. tmo_nyc

    Good job putting this together. Two guys I was surprised weren’t listed were Billy Wagner & Cliff Floyd.

    Floyd’s numbers were better across the board then Ventura & similar to Agee (he also put them up in less games then TA).

    Wagner saved 101 in his 3 seasons here & unlike Franco or Armando he wasn’t a “cardiac closer.”

    They should both be there.

    Also, there is no way you can retire Piazza’s number before anyone on the ’86 team. My vote would be for Hernandez followed by Strawberry.

  24. glynn flash

    Just got to say my memory of 69 was that agee was just a hero, I mean, the whole team left it all on the field and maximized what you could get out of little talent (outside the great pitching staff) amazing the scratched out wins over and over, but Agee was the hero, like Piazza in his day, to an oldtimer, he has greatness.

    And a mention to Ed Glynn, the flushing flash, not on the top 50 or top 100, but a fun talent out of the pen

  25. james

    i hate to be a stickler for detail, but you said Hundley set the record with 40 home runs in ’96, the record was actually 41. now i did look it up and it appears one of his home runs came as a pinch hitter, is that why you listed it as 40?

  26. Mike Silva

    You are correct

    The HR as a PH didn’t count towards the catching record

  27. Mike Silva


    I thought of adding both, but here were my reasons why they fell short.

    1. Wager - was actually a bit of a cardiac closer, and didn’t do well in the postseason (historically this has been his issue). Felt he pitched only 2 seasons, as ’08 he went down with injury, and was traded in 2009. Might have been able to sneak him in over Ryan or Saberhagen, but felt they deserved to belong.

    2. Cliff Floyd - Cliff is a gamer, and a leader, very important to that 2006 team. With that said, he was hurt every year but 2005. The abbreviated seasons knocked him down.

    Both, along with Kingman, and Ordonez, are just outside. But that is what makes this fun, the debate and opinion.

  28. Dan

    I list it this way giving priority to those players with some longevity who won a championship or were in the playoffs:

    1. Seaver
    2. Koosman
    3. Harrelson
    4. Staub
    5. Strawberry
    6. Gooden
    7. Hernandez
    8. Piazza
    9. Alfonso
    10. Wright

    And btw, Lance Johnson was a heck of a leadoff hitter when he was healthy

  29. Dan

    And Honorable Mention to:


  30. Mike Silva


    Interesting part about Lance Johnson is that he never walked. His .333 season in ’96 was based on 220 hits, very few walks. Wonder how he would be viewed in this Moneyball type era.

  31. Dave

    G|@v!ne at #22? Above Mookie, above Tug, Rusty and Cleon? I’m still half convinced that the Braves planted him here to sabotage us.

    Tsk, tsk.

  32. Gerry M

    What, no Choo Choo Coleman? lol

    Something you forgot to mention about Tug McGraw - he was the first Mets pitcher to beat Sandy Koufax, who was the ultimate Mets killer in their early years.

    Overall, a good list, although Saberhagen definitely doesn’t belong on it, nor does Frank Viola. I’d rather see someone like Ron Hunt or Jim Hickman make the list, maybe Millan.

    I agree that Wagner and Floyd don’t belong on the list, and it doesn’t bother me that Kingman didn’t make it either. I’ve been attending Mets games since 1963 at the Polo Grounds (when I was 10), and I hardly even remember Kingman’s tenure on the team. Heck, I’d rate Ron Hodges above Kingman (though Ron Hodges is not a Top-50 player).

  33. Stu B

    Gerry M, you make excellent points, but one thing - the way the team lost in the 1962-66 or so era, at least half the starting pitchers in the NL were “ultimate Mets killers,” lol…

  34. Michael Zigman

    Great list. it loved reading it. the only correction i would make was i dont think benitez should be on the list. benitez could be replaced by pedro feliciano

    I might be biased because i’m only 17 years old but i think mike piazza was the 2nd best met behind only tom seaver. for a few years he was the most feared hitter in baseball which is even more impressive becuase he was a catcher.

    just out of curiosity did you think of Endy Chavez when writting this? he probably shouldnt be in the top 50 but he was a big contributor to the 2006 season and a fan favorite

  35. Mike Silva

    Michael Z.

    Guys like Endy, Joe McEwing, and even Bernard Gilkey had some great moments in Mets history, just not enough to bump any of the 50 on my list IMO. Felix Millan and Dave Kingman are two that I might have some cognitive dissidence for not adding after the fact.

  36. Stu B

    @Michael Z: Are you kidding with Feliciano? No way he can be ahead of Benitez with his 160 saves. He’s notable because his 459 games is 2nd only to Franco, but a top-50 list has no room for relievers who are not primary closers. And even if it did, how can you put Feliciano ahead of Roger McDowell, Bob Apodaca, Ron Taylor, and Skip Lockwood?

    And Endy Chavez “probably” shouldn’t be in the top 50? Space and time prevent me from listing all the outfielders who should be considered ahead of Chavez, whose regular-season service comprised 3 years, 337 games, and 773 at-bats. If not for one amazing, phenomenal catch in a game the team ultimately lost anyway, he wouldn’t be remembered any more than guys like Don Hahn, Mike Jorgensen, Dave Marshall, and Keith Miller. Chavez certainly can’t be considered ahead of Steve Henderson and Ron Swoboda, also a relative non-entity mainly remembered for a catch equally as phenomenal as Endy’s, but his came in a game and World Series the team won.

    Bear in mind that this is a list encompassing all of Mets history, which spans 49 years - 2011 will be the team’s 50TH SEASON, which I think is amazing - not just the last 15 or so.

  37. Michael Zigman

    stu b
    benitez might have had good stats but he blew every big game he had to save but i admit feliciano is not the best replacement for him. as for chavez i even said he wasnt a top 50 met. i was just wondering if mike gave him a thought when he was making this list.

  38. Stu B

    Michael, of course Benitez blew some big games, esp. against the Braves and Yankees, but he did post 3 postseason saves and he nailed down a lot more important regular-season games than he blew. It’s easy to focus on the blown saves, but as Mike wrote, those are the reasons he’s only listed at no. 32. It’s not enough to keep him out of the top 50.

    As for Chavez, at the risk of seeming overly harsh, a marginal 4th-outfielder type like him doesn’t even belong in a discussion like this IMO.

  39. Letsgomets!

    If the player was not on one of the Mets two championship teams, he should not even be on the list. Beltran, Wright, Reyes, etc are all overpaid bums. Hey, don’t believe me, it’s what the owner said :-)

    Where is Gil Hodges, Wally Backman and Ken Boswell?

  40. Mike Silva


    I think you are being harsh regarding your assessment of the Top 50 Players. Only players that are on the two championship teams? Then Rafael Santana should be on here I assume? Hopefully you are being sarcastic with the Beltran, Wright, and Reyes comments. When its all said and done, those 3 are probably the best offensive players in Mets history, maybe only behind Strawberry and Piazza.

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