Thought it might be interesting to compile a list of the dozen (or so) players ever to play at least one game in a Mets uniform but who didn’t have their best years as a Met. A lot of great talent fits that bill.

1) Willie Mays spent 1972 and 1973 with the Mets. His career lasted from 1951 through 1973 (missing 1953 due to military service). His career bWAR was an amazing 156.1, which is third all time. Sure he only hit .211 with six home runs but the Mets still had Willie Mays patrolling centerfield for their World Series bound 1973 team. There isn’t much question that in his prime from 1954 to 1968 that Mays was one of the elite talents in the game with 11 top 10 finishes in MVP voting and 11 gold gloves. One of the greatest all around players in history and he wore a Mets uniform during his last two seasons.

Rickey Henderson2) Rickey Henderson spent 1999 and part of 2000 with the Mets. His career spanned from 1979 through 2003. His career bWAR was a very impressive 110.7. For the 1999 Mets, he had 37 steals and an OBP of .432, which we would take today. Throughout his career, Henderson was one of the most dynamic players in the game. He has scored more runs and stolen more bases than anybody in the history of MLB. Watched him play in an exhibition game this year and he still looks like he could be a fifth outfielder for some teams.

3) Warren Spahn spent 1965 with the Mets. His career stretched from 1942 to 1965 (though 1943 through 1945 he was in the military.) His career bWAR was 92.6. Spahn went 4-12 for the Mets but he was 44 years old and well past his prime. For his career, he won more games (363) than any other pitcher ever to wear a Mets uniform. He won 20 or more games 10 times in his career. He averaged 252 innings pitched over 21 years.

4) Pedro Martinez played with the Mets from 2005 to 2008. His career ran from 1992 until 2009. His career bWAR was 86.0. He may not be in the Hall of Fame yet but he is most likely going to be selected during his first year of eligibility. Martinez’s best year as a Met was 2005 going 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA which was a nice year. Early in his career though, Martinez won three Cy Young Awards and finished second or third three other times. From 1997 until 2000 he was one of the most dominate pitchers in history compiling bWARs of: 9.0, 7.2, 9.7 and 11.7.

5) Nolan Ryan debuted with the Mets and spent 1966 and was in a Mets uniform through the 1971 season. His career lasted until 1993. His career bWAR was 83.8. His best year as a Met was probably 69 when he went 6-3. He didn’t flourish and become NOLAN RYAN until the year after he left the Mets winning 19, 21 and 22 games in consecutive years. He retired at the age of 46 with 324 wins and the all time record of 5714 Ks.

6) Tom Glavine spent 2003-2007 in a Met’s uniform. His career lasted from 1987-2008. His career bWAR was 74.0. Despite leaving on a bit of a sour note, Glavine had some nice years with the Mets, his best being 2006 when he was 15-7. Before coming to the Mets though he won 20 games five times and two Cy Young Awards. With 305 wins he is a sure first ballot Hall of Famer.

7) Gary Carter played for the Mets from 1985 until 1989. His career lasted from 1974 to 1992. His career bWAR was 69.8. Carter certainly had some great years as a Met with two top three MVP finishes. Still, Carter, who was one of the two greatest catchers of the 80s had bWARs of 8.6, 7.1 and 7.4 with the Expos. His best Met bWAR was 6.9. Sadly, this is why he wears an Expos cap in the Hall.

8) Eddie Murray played for the Mets from 1992 to 1993. He had a career that lasted from 1977 to 1997. His career bWAR was 68.2. Actually, both of Murray’s years with the Mets were respectable, especially 93 when he hit 27 homers and drove in 100. Murray never won an MVP or a batting title and only led the league in homers once, in 1981 with 22 (strike year). He still was one of the most consistent run producers of the 80s. He certainly deserves to be in the Hall.

9) Roberto Alomar played for the Mets in 2002 and 2003. His career ran from 1988 until 2004. His career bWAR was 66.8. Yes for the parts of the two seasons he wore a Met’s uniform Alomar did not look like the future Hall of Fame second baseman the Mets traded for. He is more remembered for a non-playing related incident than anything he did at the plate or in the field. The thing is from 1991 until 2002 Alomar was a perianal All-Star, Gold Glove, MVP candidate second baseman.

10) Duke Snider played for the Mets in 1963. His career lasted from 1945-1964. His career bWAR was 66.5. Snider was an All-Star during his one year with the Mets but that was most likely a token pick as Snider was probably one of the top 10 center fielders in history. His playing time just happened to overlap with Mays and Joe DiMaggio so he didn’t get quite as noticed. He was an eight time All-Star (including his time with the Mets.)

11) Richie Ashburn played with the Mets in 1962, the last year of a career that started in 1948. His career bWAR was 63.4. He was the Met’s first All-Star hitting .306 in their inaugural year. During his Hall of Fame career Ashburn hit .308, leading the league in hits three times and OBP four times. In fact his OBP was over .400 six times including his year with the Mets. The Mets could use a guy like Ashburn now.

12) Yogi Berra played in four games for the Mets in 1965. His career lasted from 1946 until 1965. He had a career bWAR of 59.3. Yeah, Berra only went two for nine as a Met but he did wear the uniform as a player (and a manager.) As a player Berra was one of the greatest catchers of all time with 358 homeruns and three MVP awards from 1951 to 1955.

Honorable Mention: Mike Piazza who was with the Mets from 1998 thru 2005. His career went from 1992 to 2007 and he had a very nice 59.2 bWAR. Piazza much like Carter had some really strong years with two Mets with two, top 10 MVP finishes. For his career though, as painful as it might be to admit, Piazza had five, top 10 MVP finishes as a Dodger. His best bWAR as a Met was 5.4, which would have been his fourth best bWAR as a Dodger.

Notes: Keith Hernandez is not on this list but he would be honorable mention runner up. Hernandez bWAR of 60.1 is actually higher than Berra or Piazza; but the later two were all time top 10 in their positions. While Hernandez is certainly the greatest fielding first baseman in the modern era, he’s still not an all time top 10 choice at the position. Tom Seaver who had a career bWAR was 106.3 is not on this list as he clearly had his greatest years as a Met. He remains the only player wearing a Mets cap in the Hall of Fame. Though it is possible Carlos Beltran may someday join him in the Hall of Fame as a Met.

32 comments on “The greatest players to ever wear a Mets uniform

  • Sean Flattery

    Although, he was rounding out his career, if Rickey didn’t miss a month and a half in 1999, I swear he would’ve got MVP votes;that’s how awesome he was. His OBP was .423 and he had 37 SBs, and almost 100 runs. What a pick-up!!

    I would have to say Alomar had the most unfortunate tenure on your list!!

  • John Zakour

    Agreed on Alomar between him and Carlos Baerga the Mets had a lot of bad luck with Indian second basemen. They would go from All Stars to “what the??”

    • David Groveman

      Maybe this is why I am afraid of trading for Asdrubal Cabrera?

  • pete

    If Piazzi gets in would he go in as a Met or Dodger?

    • John Zakour

      I believe it has been determined Piazza would wear a Dodgers cap. It’s up to Hall not the player.

  • Ron Davis

    George Thomas Seaver nobody comes close

    • David Groveman

      Seaver’s absence is confusing. Also the lack of Darryl Strawberry, David Wright and Jose Reyes.

      • Dennis

        Obviously you didn’t get that these are players that had their best years for someone else, so Strawberry, Wright & Reyes would not make that criteria.
        Seaver could have been on the list but the player I noticed who is not on the list but should be is Carlos Delgado. Carlos had a great career for the
        Toronto Blue Jays before becoming a Met & played three good years after coming to the Mets with home run totals of 38,24 &38. His last year sadly was ruined by injury but he had a great career.

        • John Zakour

          Good point about Delgado. I firmly believe Seaver had his best years as a Met from 69 to 75 when he won his 3 Cy Young awards.

  • NormE

    John,
    Good article! On #10, Duke’s overlap was with Willie and Mickey more than DiMaggio. By the time Duke was having his best years Joe D. was at the end of his career. If you look closely at Duke’s stats in his prime it’s hard to believe that he was the third best CFer in NY. And I’m saying that as an old(!) Brooklyn Dodger fan.

    • Jerry Grote

      I’ll respectfully disagree, if the conversation is about the peak years of NYC CFers from 1951 to 1957.

      Mantle, Snider, Mays in that time period. Snider gets the boost for playing for the better team, and being a centerpiece player on a pennant winning team. Problem is that Snider starts his career three years earlier and is basically done after ’57, and Mantle and Mays still have 10 years of brilliance ahead of them.

      • John Zakour

        BTW I thought about putting Jerry Grote on the honorable mention list. He was a fantastic fielding catcher who just had the misfortune of playing at the same time Johnny Bench was….

  • Jerseymet

    That ’62 team was awesome in ’57.

  • Chris F

    I think that should be “ever” not “every”

    The list is a sad commentary in all honesty. We seem to have a legacy of picking people at the wrong time.

    Id add Johan Santana.

    • John Zakour

      Yeah, the Santana trade cost the Mets Carlos Gomez but you have to give up something to get something. Min gave up on him too. But he would look in the Mets outfielder today.

      • John Zakour

        …that should read “look good”

      • David Groveman

        Actually if you look at Gomez’s track he would also have probably left town during his years finding himself. He had a run of mediocre years before the breakout.

    • Brian Joura

      My fault, Chris. And it’s been fixed.

  • Scott Ferguson

    Great post! I wouldn’t have included Yogi because he had no impact as a player. Honorable mention should go to Ken Boyer, arguably the best thirdbasemen of his era, who should be a hall of famer. Boyer was a Met in 66 and part of 67.

    • John Zakour

      Boyer is a good catch. I forgot all about him, might be because I started following the Mets in 68…

  • John Zakour

    Please note this is about players who had their best years NOT as a Met, hence the reason no Seaver, Wright, Beltran, Reyes….

  • Hobie

    My If-they-were-in-their-prime All-time Met team would be: LF-Henderson; CF-Mays; 1B-Murray; RF-Snider; 3b-Boyer; C-Berra; 2B-Alomar; SS-Tony Fernandez (and, yes, I actually thought about Fregosi). SP-Spahn, Seaver, Gooden, Ryan, Hershiser: CL-Wagner; SU-Martinez, Sid, Kooz; MR-McGraw, Bob Friend: LR-Glavine. BENCH (C) Piazza; (IF) Reyes, Wright; (OF) Ashburn, Foster

  • Jim OMalley

    What about Gil Hodges?

    • Chris F

      Yes indeed. Thanks for noting that Jim.

  • Jim OMalley

    Probably need to mention Lolich, Fregosi, Torre, Otis, and Singleton. Maybe even Coleman? Maybe not Coleman…

    • John Zakour

      I considered Lolich and Torre. I actually had Torre on the “honorable mention” at first. I just can’t put Fregosi on due to personal reasons, that trade still scars me. Otis was a great player and that was another trade that upset me in its day when the Mets let him go. Still I didn’t think his bWAR of 42.something quite put him on this list. Plus his Hall of Fame standard score is 27 which is a little more than 1/2 what you need to be in the running for the Hall of Fame. Same with Singleton he had a really solid career but I don’t think he’s one of the top 12 (isn) players to don the Mets uniform. I couldn’t list everybody. Where’s the fun in that?

  • Scott Ferguson

    Don’t forget Jeff Kent. How terrible a trade was that?

  • John Zakour

    You’re right, terrible trade and Kent should be on this list.

  • Scott Ferguson

    I totally forgot about Jeff Reardon. Could’ve been our closer throughout the 80s. Imagine that bullpen, Orosco., McDowell and Reardon.
    Another fun thing to do is look at guys the Mets drafted in the 60s and didn’t sign. Included Ron Cey and Mickey Rivers

    • Pox

      Also Rafael Palmeiro, John Olerud, Matt Williams and Roger Clemens. They had the number one amateur pick when Mark McGwire was available. They wanted to draft McGwire at number one but insisted that he agree to a contract prior to the draft. McGwire turned it down and the Mets drafted Shawn Abner. They had the number one when they drafted Paul Wilson. There were reports in Baseball America that Wilson had elbow problems at the time. They drafted Wilson and passed on Nomar Giarciaparra who would have made a nice edition to the 1999 infield of Olerud, Alfonzo and Ventura. One thought. If the Mets had signed Clemens and not traded Mike Scott, they would have had both of them in the rotation in 1986. I suspect those two on the 1986 team probably would have led to about 130 wins.

  • Jim OMalley

    Right. Reardon for sure..You could make an case for Rick Aguilera and maybe Hubie Brooks too in the honorable mentions. That’s the thing about “top ten” lists. There’s always 11-20! Nice article and great comments.

  • john warren

    What a stupid analysis. – Best to ever wear a Mets uniform.
    Almost everyone on your list were stars for other teams – not the Mets.
    Poor Willie Mays was falling down in the outfield during his last (Mets) days – a memory I would like to forget. Why not include Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel? They wore Mets uniforms too………………..

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