With all due respect to Bud Harrelson and Rey Ordoñez, Jose Reyes is easily the best shortstop in Mets history. He’s the franchise leader in triples and stolen bases, and his name is scattered across the top ten rankings in team history.
Looking at WAR, he’s well ahead of the other shortstops, and he’s the 10th best player in Mets history. While it may take time to catch him, Francisco Lindor is well poised to surpass Reyes’ 27.9 WAR with the Mets.
Aside from the shortened 2020 season, Lindor is a player who never had below a 4.0 WAR. In fact, Lindor has never been below a 5.0 WAR when he’s been on the Opening Day roster in a 162 game season.
Keep in mind, that’s before Lindor even entered his prime. As he entered his prime, Lindor has been a 40+ double and 30+ homer player. That is in addition to playing Gold Glove caliber defense.
Assuming he holds true to that 5.0+ WAR level player, it’ll take Lindor approximately five seasons to surpass Reyes’ 27.9 WAR. At Lindor’s 30+ homer pace, he’ll surpass Reyes’ record for homers by a shortstop within four seasons.
That’s incredible to think. As a player, Reyes was one of the most exciting and dynamic players to ever wear the Mets uniform. He was a four time All-Star and to date the only Mets player to win a batting title.
The fact it could take Lindor approximately five seasons to surpass what Reyes did in 12 speaks to how phenomenal of a baseball player he is. In getting Lindor, the Mets are getting a future Hall of Famer. They are quite possibly getting the best player not named Tom Seaver or Mike Piazza to ever don a Mets uniform.
That’s the level of player Lindor is. If the Mets agree to an extension with him, Lindor should become the greatest shortstop in team history. He may also very well become the next Mets Hall of Famer, and we could see his 12 hanging next to Seaver’s 41 and Piazza’s 31.
The path is clear for Lindor to accomplish this and much more in a Mets uniform. The only thing standing in the way is a contract extension.
(4) Bud Harrelson – First Mets player to ever inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. Two time All-Star and first infielder to ever win a Gold Glove. Started a brawl with Pete Rose during the 1973 NLCS. Only person on the field in Mets uniform for both the 1969 and 1986 World Series. Briefly a manager who led Mets to end of epic run of second or better finishes.
(5) Ed Kranepool – Kranepool was an original Met called up during the 1969 season as a 17 year old. He would spend his entire 17 year career with the Mets making the 1965 All-Star team and holding almost every Mets offensive record when he retired after the 1979 season. He was there for nearly the first of everything in team history. Once a persona non grata with the Mets for chastising ownership on how poorly they’ve run the organization.
If there was going to be a 2020 season, we would have seen Jerry Koosman become the first ever Mets player who did not need to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame to have his number retired. That makes him arguably a Mets Mt. Rushmore player. Certainly, it properly denotes how important he was to the franchise.
Koosman gave a glimpse into the type of big pitcher he would become in his rookie year. Despite having a better year. he narrowly finished behind Johnny Bench in Rookie of the Year voting, and he would be named an All-Star. In that All-Star Game, he’d strike out Carl Yastrzemski to earn a save in the 1968 All-Star Game. That was nothing compared to what Koosman had in store the following year.
After having a great rookie year, Koosman established himself not just as the Mets number two starter behind Tom Seaver, but he would also establish himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. Koosman always rose to the challenge and to the big moment.
In that 1969 season, people talk about different moments. For example, there was the black cat game. What was not talked about as often is Koosman’s complete game victory beginning that series which led to the sweep and the Mets pulling within a half game. All told, he was an All-Star again, and he had another great year leading the Mets to their first ever postseason.
Before that postseason, Koosman was already doing great things. His 1968 ERA of 2.08 was the best ever in team history, a record which stands to this day among left-handed pitchers. His 19 wins that year was then the most ever by a Mets starter. It’s still the 10th most in team history. His 17 complete games is still the most by anyone not named Seaver. His seven shut outs were only eclipsed by Dwight Gooden‘s famed 1985 season.
If you look towards the WPA stat, Koosman’s 1969 season was then the second best in team history just trailing Seaver and his 1969 season. His 1969 season also ranks up among the Mets best ever seasons for a starting pitcher. That was before you take into account his work in the World Series.
Heading into that 1969 World Series, no one expected the Mets to win. No one. When Seaver dropped Game 1, there was concern the Mets could get swept. After all, with the talk about the Mets vaunted rotation, the 109 win Baltimore Orioles had Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, and Mike Cuellar.Things forever changed in Game 2.
Koosman out-pitched McNally. He picked up the win after allowing just one run on two hits. With that start, Koosman showed the Mets pitching made that team just as good as the Orioles perhaps better. He started the momentum which led to the Mets going back to Shea Stadium tied. He would get the ball again in Game 5.
Koosman would help the Mets win that Game 5 in two ways. First and foremost, Koosman again pitched a big game. In his complete game victory, he allowed three earned on just five hits. There was also his role in the shoe polish incident. When the ball came off Cleon Jones foot and came rolling into the dugout, Gil Hodges had Koosman swipe the ball against his cleat. Jones was awarded first, and then Donn Clendenon homered to get the Mets back into the game. The Mets would take a 5-3 lead, and when Davey Johnson flew out, the Mets were World Series Champions:
Koosman was never as good again as he was in his first two years, but he was still a well above average pitcher. Part of the reason for his taking a step back was getting a liner to the mouth during batting practice knocking teeth out of his mouth and needing his mouth to be wired shut. He would also start to deal with a sore arm. Perhaps in another era, he would have had his arm treated, but back then, pitchers pitched through those issues.
Still, he would show his mettle as a big game pitcher. In 1973, after his struggles sent him to the bullpen for a stint, he would re-emerge to be a top of the rotation pitcher. Over the final two months of that season as the Mets charged to take over the NL East, Koosman was 6-4 with a 2.03 ERA. During that stretch, he set a then team record of 31.2 consecutive scoreless innings.
Koosman got the ball in a pivotal Game 3. In his complete game victory, he dominated the 99 win Cincinnati Reds allowing two earned on eight hits while striking out nine. He was also 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. In that game, the Reds tried to intimidate and bully the Mets with Pete Rose barrelling over Bud Harrelson at second. Instead, it was Koosman and the Mets sending the message with their 9-2 victory. Once again, Koosman and the Mets shocked the world in winning the pennant.
Even though the Mets won Game 2, he was not his characteristic big game self. We did see that pitcher return in Game 5. Koosman picked up the win after holding the Athletics to no runs on just three hits over 6.1 innings. That sent the series back to Oakland with the Mets up 3-2. Unfortunately, there would be no second ring.
Even with no second ring, Koosman had one last big year left in him in a Mets uniform. In 1976, the last year the Mets would have a winning record before the team got rid of M. Donald Grant, Koosman was 20-10 with a 2.69 ERA. Somehow, this was the first time he received votes for the Cy Young. He finished second in the voting behind the winner Randy Jones.
That was it for the joy in Metsville. While Koosman survived the Midnight Massacre, he would be the last Mets pitcher to lose 20 games. That was proof positive of the axiom you have to be a good pitcher to lose 20 games as Koosman had a 107 ERA+ and led the league in K/9.
While Koosman survived the Midnight Massacre, he was traded after the following season. That was partially the result of a trade demand. In that trade, Koosman would prove to be a bridge to the next Mets World Series as the Mets received Jesse Orosco from the Minnesota Twins as part of the trade.
As noted above, Koosman is going to have his number retired by the Mets. By WAR, he is the third best pitcher in Mets history and the fourth best overall. He has the third most wins, and he is ranked all over the Mets top 10 pitching categories. Overall, he is easily the best Met to wear the number 36.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy
29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza
32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey
34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
The first round of the Miracle Bracket is complete, and for the most part it went chalk. The first round winners were Tom Seaver, Rusty Staub, Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee, and Jerry Koosman.
If you want to call Agee over a Jon Matlack you could, but that could have also been the case of seeding issues with this part of the tournament.
The next round has some interesting match-ups. In particular, the Kranepool/Harrelson and the Grote/Jones ones should be close. With the other two, it is expected for Seaver and Koosman to continue through to their Elite Eight clash between Mets pitchers who have had their uniform retired.
For many Mets fans, the number 11 is associated with Tim Teufel and the Teufel Shuffle, or Ruben Tejada, who went from frustrating player to folk hero when he was attacked by Chase Utley at second base in Game 2 of the 2015 NLDS. That said, when you go through Mets history, Wayne Garrett is the Mets player who wore number 11 who stands above the rest.
Garrett was first obtained from the Mets because the team felt they needed an effective backup to Bud Harrelson, who was dealing with knee issues in the offseason. As a result, the team obtained him in the Rule 5 Draft. As a Rule 5 pick, the Mets had to use him or lose him in 1969, so they would up using him.
During that 1969 season, he would bounce all over the infield. Ultimately, he would find himself in some sort of a rotation at second with Ken Boswell and Al Weis at second, but mostly, he played third where he split time with Ed Charles.
Over the first two months of the season, he was a sensation, and he would prove himself defensively. After the year wore on, he regressed significantly at the plate. In the game before the famous black cat game, Garrett broke the tie with a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth. As great as that was, his best work was in the postseason.
In the Mets shocking three game sweep of the favored Atlanta Braves, Garrett hit .385/.467/.769 with two doubles, a homer, and three RBI. It was his two run homer in Game 3 which put the Mets ahead for good and sent them to their first World Series. Garrett didn’t have much of an impression in the World Series, but he was a key part of that team nevertheless.
Garrett’s career from that point was marked by the Mets looking to bring someone over him, like Jim Fregosi, and Garrett outplaying and outlasting that player. The Mets were lucky that was the case as Garrett was one of the best players on that team. In fact, by WAR, Garrett was the best position player on that team.
In that 1973 season, Garrett hit .256/.348/.403, and he had a career best 4.3 WAR. More than that, he rose to the occasion. He hit leadoff and was a sparkplug. He would also lead the team in game winning hits. That included four in September when the Mets needed every last win they could get to win the division.
Garrett didn’t have many hits that 1973 postseason, but when he got them, he made sure they counted. In Game 2, he homered in the Mets victory. He would hit a lead-off homer in the next game, one which the Mets unfortunately lost.
Overall, Garrett would set what was then a World Series record with 11 strikeouts, and he would pop out to short to end the series. Still, there is no way the Mets ever get to that point without Garrett.
One interesting note to consider with Garrett was when he came to the Mets, they went from perennial loser to World Series champions. In his eight years with the Mets, they had a winning record in seven of those years. That’s a remarkable feat considering the Mets didn’t have a winning record in the their first seven years.
After the Mets traded him in 1976, the Mets would not have a winning record again until 1984. In fact, they’d finish in last place in five of the ensuing seven seasons. You can’t put all of that on him, but certainly moving on from a versatile player and leader like Garrett took its toll on the franchise.
By the time Garrett left the Mets, he was the all-time leader in games played at third. He was also fifth all-time in WAR among position players. He was also the all-time leader in walk rate, and he was second in OBP and walks. Today, he is still fifth all-time in walks, and he still has the best walk rate out of any Mets player who has played at least 500 games.
Overall, Garrett was an important player in Mets history, and to a certain extent, he was the first ever player who represented an answer to a murky third base position. He was a leader, could get on base, and ultimately, was the best Mets player to ever wear the number 11.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Garrett was the 11th best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 11.
If we were to take the totality of Rusty Staub‘s Mets career, he would be here, but he doesn’t get the nod here because he did most of his damage when he wore the number 4. While having a very good year in 1975, he wore 10 primarily as a pinch hitter extraordinaire for the Mets in the early 1980s.
Looking past Staub, when you look at the number 10, you may think of Endy Chavez robbing Scott Rolen of a homer in what was the greatest catch made in NLCS history. While Chavez isn’t the best Mets player to ever wear the number 10, the number is defined by defense.
Rey Ordonez defected out of Cuba when he was in the United States as part of the 1993 Summer Universiade tournament held in Buffalo, NY. He’d sign on with the Saint Paul Saints before the Mets signed him to a deal. Three years later, he would be at Shea Stadium showing himself to be the best defensive shortstop in team history.
Ordonez was great defensively literally from day one. On Opening Day, Ordonez fielded a throw from Bernard Gilkey, and from his knees, he would throw out Royce Clayton at home plate. It was the first of many unbelievable defensive plays in his career:
Orodonez was never a hitter, but really, he never needed to be. First off, his defensive greatness more than offset his bat. Second, the Mets were smart in building teams which focused on allowing him to do what he does great. That started a stretch from 1997 to 1999 where he won three straight Gold Gloves.
In Major League history, there are only five National League shortstops to accomplish that feat. Ordonez was the fourth to do so following Hall of Famers Ozzie Smith and Barry Larkin. If nothing else, Ordonez’s defense was Hall of Fame caliber. Really, it was the stuff of legends. As noted by SABR, Bill Pulsipher once said Ordonez’s Mets teammates called him “SEGA” due to all the video game plays he would make in the field.
Really, good luck trying to find his greatest defensive play. Out in the field, Ordonez was a human highlight reel who could make even sure base hits into outs.
There are so, so many more plays than this. If he played during the age of YouTube, his defense would have been an absolute sensation.
The best season for Ordonez came in 1999 when he was the best defender on the best infield in Major League history. On that team, he and Robin Ventura both won Gold Gloves with John Olerud and Edgardo Alfonzo deserving them as well. That year, Ordonez would set the Major League record for errorless games/innings at shortstop.
That 1999 season, he would also have some personal offensive highlights with his hitting his first career grand slam. In Game 1 of the NLDS, he would get the bunt down against Randy Johnson to score Ventura from third. In the ninth, with the game tied, he hit a one out single moving Ventura to second in advance of Alfonzo’s grand slam off Bobby Chouinard. Due to a Rickey Henderson fielder’s choice, Ordonez would actually score the winning run of that game.
In Game 3, Ordonez actually delivered the Mets first run of the game in what would prove to be a Mets 9-2 win which put them on the precipice of the NLCS.
The 1999 season would be the last of Ordonez’s Gold Glove seasons. In the following year, Ordonez would suffer a season ending broken forearm. In typical Ordonez fashion, he broke his arm on a truly spectacular play. Al Leiter picked F.P. Santangelo off first, and Todd Zeile made an offline throw to Ordonez. Ordonez leaped and spun himself to put the tag down on Santangelo, but he broke his arm in the process. With his arm not healing, he was not a part of the run 2000 pennant run.
It was a play only he could make, and it was the reason his season ended. To a certain extent, that was the end of Ordonez’s Mets career. In Mets history, Ordonez has the third highest defensive WAR. To put that into perspective, Ordonez accumulated his 10.2 over seven years. The two players ahead of him, Bud Harrelson (13 years) and Jerry Grote (12 years) had much longer Mets careers.
As such, it is very fair to say Ordonez is the best defensive player in Mets history, and ultimately, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 10.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Ordonez was the tenth best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 10.
(4) Bud Harrelson – First Mets player to ever inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. Two time All-Star and first infielder to ever win a Gold Glove. Started a brawl with Pete Rose during the 1973 NLCS. Only person on the field for both the 1969 and 1986 World Series.
(13) Nolan Ryan – First and only Hall of Fame player drafted by the Mets organization to debut with the team. Earned a win in the 1969 NLCS clinching game and a save in Game 3 of the World Series. Best known not for his time pitching with the Mets but rather for the trade which netted the Mets Jim Fregosi.
With COVID19, we don’t get baseball. Instead, we have memories of baseball. Our favorite games, moments, and players. Each team has their own legends who are mostly remembered for their own contributions. In an effort to recognize that, we are going to run down the greatest players in Mets history by going through the uniform numbers.
We begin at number 1, which in Mets history has become synonymous with Mookie Wilson.
The best stretch in Mets history began with him because on September 2, 1980, he batted lead-off and played center field for the Mets. In that game, Wally Backman was also in the line-up, and with that the first two members of the 1986 World Series champion roster were in place.
Much like the Mets as a franchise, Mookie had to fight for everything he got as he was constantly being challenged for playing time. In 1986, that came in the form of Lenny Dykstra, who had a great rookie season. Mookie would eventually force his way into the lineup taking over left from the released George Foster.
That situation became all the more complicated in the subsequent offseason when the Mets obtained Kevin McReynolds from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Kevin Mitchell and prospects. Through this time, he would have to platoon, and he would be frustrated by the process seeking a trade at one point. Still, through it all, he remained a Met.
In fact, Mookie was one of the longest tenured Mets in history. When he was finally traded in 1989 to the Toronto Blue Jays, he was the longest tenured Met on the team. He was also the longest tenured Met when they won the World Series in 1986. In fact, when he departed, only Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, and Cleon Jones had played more games than him.
Over his 10 years with the Mets, he was the team’s all-time leader in triples and stolen bases. He was also third in runs and doubles. Really, at that point in Mets history, he was top 5-10 in most offensive categories. This shows how much of an impactful player he was for the franchise. That was perhaps best exhibited in his having the single greatest at-bat in team history:
In that at-bat, Mookie battled like few others we have seen in baseball history. Despite falling down 0-2 against Bob Stanley with the next strike ending the World Series, Wilson would take two pitches evening up the count at 2-2 before fouling off two pitches. The next pitch was the wild pitch.
Looking back at it, it was incredible he got out of the way of the pitch. His getting out of the way of the pitch allowed Mitchell to score from third and to permit Ray Knight to get into scoring position. He then fouled off another pitch before hitting the ball between Bill Buckner‘s legs. In that moment, the Mets made one of the greatest comebacks not just in baseball but sports history.
Mookie’s Mets contribution did not end there. He’d return to the franchise as a first base coach working on Bobby Valentine‘s staffs. On that note, he’d be standing in the first base coaches’ box during Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam single. That means Wilson was there up the first base line for two of the most improbable postseason comebacks with the Mets facing elimination.
Mookie is also the father of Preston Wilson, the former Mets prospect who was one of the headliners headed to the Miami Marlins for Mike Piazza. This only speaks to everything Mookie was. He was much more than the baseball player who got married at home plate in the minor leagues. He has been a good man and eventually became an ordained minister.
Through and through, Mookie is Mets baseball. He is an important figure in team history, and he is certainly the best ever player to wear the No. 1 in team history.
No one expected the Mets to sweep the Braves and perhaps get their fans excited again. Honestly, a series win seemed out of the question. The only thing up for debate was how well the Mets would have the 1969 World Series. As Del Preston would say, “That’s a whole other story all together.”
1. If you are going to hold a ceremony and an in memorium video, you actually need to make sure the players in the video are actually dead. Jim Gosger and Jesse Hudson are very much alive. Also, when you apologize for saying they were dead, you need to spell their names correctly. The fact the Mets screwed both of these things up speaks to their level of organizational incompetence.
2. Other than that inexcusably botched situation, the ceremony was great, and that partially because of Howie Rose. It was great seeing Bud Harrelson, and it was amazing to hear after all these years someone like Jerry Koosman can get recognized for what he did for this franchise. Ed Kranepool‘s speech was perfect.
3. There was a bit of melancholy with the event as this is likely the last time there will be such an event, and we are already at a point where Tom Seaver is unable to attend events. The same happening to his 1986 team is not that far off either.
4. An incredible fact is Koosman was on the mound when the last out of the 1969 World Series was recorded. He was traded for Jesse Orosco, who was on the mound when the last out of the 1986 World Series was recorded.
5. Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, and Jeff McNeil were all very deserving All-Stars. It is amazing to see the Mets have their most All-Stars in three years, and it is all the more amazing to see this is the first time the Mets have had multiple position players since 2010.
6. Alonso is the fourth Mets rookie to be an All Star, and he is the first Mets position player. There may not be many things to get excited about for the rest of the season but seeing Alonso in the Home Run Derby is going to be one of them.
7. Reports were McNeil was sitting in his locker well after the game distraught after the loss on Saturday. He responded by not just going 3-for-5, but he would also deliver the go-ahead hit in the eighth. That’s a special player and a winning one at that.
8. This is a reminder Brodie Van Wagenen was gift wrapped a core of McNeil, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman. The farm system had Alonso, Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay, David Peterson, Jarred Kelenic, and other high end prospects. To be nine games under .500 and closer to the last place Marlins than a postseason spot is gross incompetence.
9. Fans criticizing that core deserve this season. By and large, they have not been and really are not the problem. Sure, we can pinpoint things here and there like Rosario’s defense or Gsellman’s inconsistencies in the bullpen, but overall, you would have to be completely incompetent to screw this up, and that is before you consider Todd Frazier‘s season and Dominic Smith‘s resurgence.
10. This is an ill timed three game blip for Lugo, who has been otherwise excellent as a reliever of the Mets. This team really needs to get him a break and stop pushing him for multiple innings. Not every situation calls for it.
11. Matz also has to be better. He has completely fallen apart of late, and it is costing the team games. You can’t have a bad bullpen with both Matz and Jason Vargas not giving you length. It just doesn’t work.
12. Chris Mazza was a great story. He is a 29 year old rookie who was rewarded for his perseverance. It is a shame another bullpen meltdown cost him his first win. That said, win or no win, this will go down as one of the better moments in the majors this season.
13. With the way the bullpen continues to meltdown, it’s almost as if this was a talent issue and it had nothing at all to do with Dave Eiland or Chuck Hernandez.
14. Frazier continues to show he’s a good player with real value to this team. The Mets were right to stick by him, and he is at a minimum going to fetch something for the Mets at the trade deadline.
15. Speaking of the trade deadline, there is still too much talent here to tear things down. The top two starters are still in tact, and there is talent to build a good bullpen in 2020. The team also now has All-Star caliber players in Alonso, McNeil, Conforto, and depending on how he returns from injury, Nimmo. They’re all young and cheap. Add in Robinson Cano‘s contract, and you have little choice but to try again.
16. On that front, the Mets should be trying to get Marcus Stroman. Not only is he a top level pitcher with another year of control, but by obtaining him, the team could then get a little more in return for Wheeler as there will be more competitors for his services.
17. Seeing the Mets players last night, this isn’t a team who has completely given up. They’re still playing like they have a shot. As fans, we know they don’t, but there is just something about watching how hard this team plays that sucks you in every so often. Of course, then the team is forced to go to the bullpen.
18. Seeing how the Mets botched the 1969 ceremony a bit, you do wonder what the Mets should do about next year with the 2000 team. You could make the argument the Mets shouldn’t be celebrating not winning titles, especially when they lose to the Yankees. Still, those players are still beloved by this fan base.
19. With that in mind, perhaps it is really time for the Mets to do an Old Timer’s Day. Seeing the fans come out of the 1969 team and seeing how many beloved former players there are, you could hold this day, and it should be a near guarantee to sell out.
20. For all those killing Dolan and the Knicks over Durant going to the Nets, go ahead, but remember, it’s the Wilpons who remain the worst owners in sports.
As Mets fans, we debate as to what the greatest moment was in Mets history, and we typically get it wrong. It wasn’t Cleon Jones catching Davey Johnson‘s fly ball. It wasn’t Gary Carter leading the impossible rally in Game 6, or Jesse Orosco striking out Marty Barrett for the final out. There are plenty of other moments fans can pinpoint. They’re all wrong.
The greatest moment in Mets history happened on April 3, 1966. That was the date the Mets were awarded the rights to Tom Seaver by Commissioner William Eckert.
Up until that time and not too long thereafter, the Mets were a laughingstock. In their first four and five of their first seasons, they lost over 100 games. Considering those more than humbling beginnings and how he completely changed the team, you understand how the Mets truly became a “Franchise” when Seaver joined the team.
The 19 strike out game. The 1971 season. The 1973 season. Game Five of the 1973 NLCS. Seaver’s return to the Mets in 1983 and making his final Opening Day start with the Mets, which was the 14th of his Major League record 16 Opening Day starts.
His 41 was the first number retired in honor of a Mets player. In 1992, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame with 98.8 percent of the vote. It was then a record for highest ever percentage and one which still stands for starting pitchers.
He and Mike Piazza closed Shea Stadium and would open Citi Field.
Through it all, Seaver is the only player in Major League history with a Rookie of the Year and multiple Cy Youngs. His 12 All Stars are the most among right-handed starters in Mets history. His 110.1 WAR is the highest WAR among (non-PED) pitchers in the post WWII Era and the sixth highest all-time.
Since 1920, he’s the only pitcher who had a quality start in over 70 percent of his starts.
All told, Seaver was 311-205 with a 2.86 ERA and 3,640 strikeouts.
He owns nearly every Mets pitching record – wins (198), ERA (2.57), innings (3045.2), starts (395), complete games (171), shutouts (44), and strikeouts (2541). His 76.1 WAR with the Mets is easily the best in Mets history.
In fact, it took Seaver just seven seasons to post a higher WAR than what took David Wright, who is second on the Mets career WAR rankings, to post in 13 years. The 41.2 WAR Seaver posted over the first six years of his career is just .4 behind the 41.6 WAR Dwight Gooden posted in his 11 year Mets career.
No matter how you analyze it, Seaver is easily the best player in Mets history.
During his time with the Mets, he gave Mets fans so many memorable moments. That makes his dementia diagnosis all the more heartbreaking. We can remember all the reasons why he was great, and we can remember all the great games and moments at a time when Seaver is being robbed of those moments.
He’s being robbed of those moments at the same time as his former teammate Bud Harrelson, a man who fought through tears the first time he faced Seaver as an opponent, is battling Alzheimer’s. As anyone who has seen loved ones suffer from this disease, you know how heartbreaking this is.
That’s what this is – heartbreaking. Seaver loses the memories we all cherish. He can’t be there to celebrate the anniversary of a World Series he made possible. Worse than that, his memories of his family and loved ones will eventually fade.
No one deserves this. Not Seaver. Not a Hall of Famer. Not the man who made the Mets, the Mets. Not a husband, father, and grandfather. No one.
But he is because life isn’t fair. This means he misses out not just on what’s to come (1969 reunion or a statue whenever it comes), but worse yet, all that’s already happened. His family gets to watch on while they lose a man who was much more than a Hall of Fame pitcher to them.
Heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking.