Daniel Murphy

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 44 David Cone

While many remember him for wearing number 17 in honor of Keith Hernandez, and the last we saw of him was wearing Dwight Gooden‘s number 16, for most of his Mets career, David Cone wore the number 44.

That was the number Cone was wearing in 1988 when he emerged as the big time pitcher he would be known as throughout his Major League career. Despite starting the year in the bullpen, he would break through into the starting rotation by May, and he would immediately stake his claim to a rotation spot by pitching a complete game shutout against the Braves.

That was just the start of what was a great year for Cone. Cone would jump out of the gate winning his first seven starts. When he lost his first game, it would only be one of three games he lost on the entire year. That seven game winning streak wasn’t his best streak of the year. In fact, Cone would win his final eight games of that 1988 season. With that, Cone would become the first ever Mets pitcher to win 20 games his first full season in the rotation.

In almost any other year, this would have been good enough for Cone to win the Cy Young. In that 1988 season, he had the best winning percentage, and he had the second best ERA in the majors. He had the top ERA out of anyone who pitched over 200 innings. Ultimately, he was in the top 5 to 10 in nearly every pitching category, but he really had no chance with Orel Hershiser‘s record setting 1988 season.

It is really difficult to figure out a true highlight from that season. After all, he had two separate 10 inning complete games. He struck out 10+ seven different times. That was partially the result of that laredo slider. Ultimately, in that 1988 season, we really learned how special a pitcher Cone would be.

The 1988 Mets would win the division for the second time in three years. Cone would take it on the chin in Game 2 after some bold talk, but he would soon step up big time. In Game 3, after a huge five run eighth, Cone entered the game for Randy Myers to close out that victory giving the Mets a then 2-1 series lead.

When Cone took the mound again in Game 6, the Mets were on the verge of elimination. He would not let that happen with a gutty complete game victory evening up the series. This was really the first truly great postseason start which would one day become the hallmark of his career.

The shame for Cone was this was his only chance to pitch for the Mets in the postseason. That great Mets team would fall apart due to a mixture of age, off the field problems, and some really ill-advised transactions. Despite the Mets falling apart over the years, Cone would remain great.

Over that time frame, much like in 1988, Gooden would be the ace in name, but by production, Cone was the true ace of those Mets staffs.

During his time with the Mets, he was a real fan favorite with the Coneheads there to greet his every start. Cone was there with great outings racking up big strikeout totals, and on more than one occasion, he would with becoming the first Mets pitcher to pitch a no-hitter. The closest he got was April 28, 1992 when a Benny Distefano swinging bunt with one out in the eighth refused to roll foul.

One of the reasons Cone was able to flirt with no hitters like this was he was so difficult to hit. In five of his first six seasons with the Mets, he struck out over 200 batters. In 1990 and 1991, he led the league in strikeouts. In fact, from 1988 – 1992, Cone had struck out more batters than any other National League pitcher.

It was more than just the strikeouts for Cone. He also had the most shutouts over that time frame while pitching the third most innings. He was third overall in FIP trailing just Gooden and Jose Rijo. His WAR was the third best in all of baseball.

To put it in perspective, he trailed just Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux, and he was ahead of Nolan Ryan. If not for Clemens cheating, those three pitchers would be in the Hall of Fame. Really, when you look at it, during his time with the Mets, Cone was a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher. Somehow, despite that, he was just an All-Star twice and received Cy Young votes just once in his Mets career.

Really, he did things only Hall of Fame caliber pitchers could do like tying the National League single game strike out record on the final game of the 1991 season:

While that mark would later fall, at the time, that tied him with Tom Seaver for the most by any National League pitcher. To this day, it remains a Mets record. That should put Cone’s Mets career in perspective. He did the things only Seaver could do. As it stands, Cone was a truly great Mets pitcher.

He’s only one of nine Mets pitchers to win 20 in a season. By WAR, he is the ninth best pitcher in team history. By FIP, he is the sixth best. He is also eighth all-time in wins, third in K/9, 10th in innings pitched, sixth in strikeouts, seventh in complete games, and fifth in shutouts.

One special thing Cone did do was return to the Mets. Due to injuries which had taken their toll on his arm and health, he missed the 2002 season. The Mets gave him a shot in 2003, and in his first start of that season, he shut out the Montreal Expos for five innings for the last win of his Major League career.

Even with Cone having a 17 year career taking him to both New York teams, Toronto, Kansas City, and Boston, Cone’s first and last win of his career would come while wearing a Mets uniform. Over that time, he’d wear many numbers, but in the end, he would ultimately become the best Mets player to ever wear the number 44.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 43 R.A. Dickey

When signing players to minor league deals, it is really a no risk proposition. Whether it is a veteran player on his last legs or a journeyman just seeking an opportunity, when done right, the player gets a chance to prove themselves. This is the story of R.A. Dickey with the New York Mets.

Dickey was one time first round pick of the Texas Rangers who had his prospective bonus slashed considerably when it was discovered he was born without a UCL in his right elbow. He would eventually make it to the majors, but he struggled mightily because he just didn’t have the stuff to succeed. As a result, he had made the attempt to convert to being a knuckleball pitcher.

For any pitcher that is a difficult conversion with many pitchers taking years to accomplish the task. Many don’t make it. For Dickey, he didn’t succeed enough to stick with the Rangers, Mariners, or Twins organization. Heading into the 2010 season, the best he could do was grab a minor league deal with the Mets. It proved to be the best thing for both sides.

By that point, Dickey had perfected throwing his knuckleball. It was a different one than the ones we had see with knuckleball pitchers of old. Dickey had a hard knuckleball which danced a little less, and he could control it more. Still, Dickey also had that fluttery one which many became accustomed. The ability to mix up that pitch on speed and locations made him a unique and difficult to hit pitcher.

In 2010, he quickly made his Mets debut, and he would stick in the rotation. In his first start, he picked up a no decision despite allowing just two earned over six innings. After that, he would win his first six decisions as a pitcher for the Mets. Overall, it was a great debut which was highlighted by his one hitting the Phillies in a complete game shutout.

The 2010 season was where he proved he deserved a chance. The 2011 season was where he proved he belonged. In that season, he had a losing record which reflected how bad the Mets were. However, his 112 ERA+ was reflective of his being a good pitcher. In 2012, he would become a great pitcher.

In 2012, Dickey would shock everyone not only by being an All-Star for the first time in his career, but the 37 year old would win the Cy Young Award over Clayton Kershaw. While it may seem strange to believe Dickey could be better than Kershaw, he was. In that 2012 season, he led the league in starts, complete games, shutouts, nnings, and strikeouts. He would also have a number of highlights like becoming the first ever Major League pitcher to record back-to-back one hitters with 10+ strikeouts:

Moreover, Dickey would become the first Mets pitcher to win 20 games since Frank Viola did it in 1990. He was the first Mets right-handed pitcher to accomplish the feat since David Cone did it in 1988. He was the first pitcher to have 20 wins with a sub .500 team since Roger Clemens did it in 1997 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was the first knuckleball pitcher to accomplish the feat since Joe Niekro in 1980. It was that special a season.

That 20th win was his penultimate start with the Mets. After that, the rebuilding Mets would trade him to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package which included Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. To that end, even though he didn’t get to pitch for a winner with the Mets, he would help the team build their next winner.

Overall, Dickey joins Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, and Jacob deGrom as the only Mets pitchers to win a Cy Young. He is fourth all-time in Mets history with a 2.95 ERA, and he has the fifth best WHIP. By ERA+, he is the third best starter of all-time. Ultimately, he is the Mets best knuckleball pitcher and best player to ever wear the number 43.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 42 Ron Taylor

When Major League Baseball retired the number 42 across all of baseball in honor of Jackie Robinson, at the time it meant Butch Huskey was going to be the last Mets player to wear that number. That was until the Mets acquired Mo Vaughn who had been grandfathered in as he was wearing the number in honor of Robinson.

Neither Huskey or Vaughn are the best Mets players to ever wear that number. That honor goes to Ron Taylor.

While we look back at those Mets teams who went from laughingstocks to a World Series winner, oft times, Tug McGraw was seen as the closer for those teams. After all, he was the larger than life personality who had the swagger you have come to expect to see from closers. However, truth be told, back in those days, it was Taylor.

From 1967 – 1970, it was Taylor who would lead the Mets in saves. When it came down to it, more times than not, it was Taylor who was the reliever the Mets trusted most. That was the most evident in 1969.

In Game 1 of the NLCS, the Mets first ever postseason game, Taylor entered the game in the eighth inning after Tom Seaver departed with the Mets leading 9-5. After pitching two scoreless innings, Taylor was credited with the first ever postseason save in Mets history.

One humorous anecdote from that game was in the ninth, as detailed in Tales from the Mets Dugout, was after Felix Millan had hit a lead-off single, Gil Hodges had instructed Taylor to walk Hank Aaron to face Orlando Cepeda. Hodges knowing he had difficulty against Cepeda demanded to face Aaron. An angry and incredulous Hodges let Taylor have his druthers leaving him with a faint warning.

Taylor would retire Aaron, and when he came back to the dugout, Hodges remarked to him, “You know, you’re crazier than I thought!”

After Taylor picked up the save in the Mets first ever postseason game, he would become the first reliever in Mets history to pick up a win in the postseason. The day after pitching two scoreless, he relieved Jerry Koosman in the fifth. He got Koosman out of that jam, and with the Mets leading 9-6 after five, he was the pitcher of record.

Again, in the World Series, it was Taylor who got the call when the Mets were in trouble. After another scoreless appearance in a losing Game 1, Taylor was called upon to relieve Koosman in Game 2.

Taylor entered Game 2 with runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth of a 2-1 game, and Brooks Robinson due up. Taylor got Robinson to ground out to Ed Charles to end the game. With that, Taylor became the first Mets pitcher to earn a save in a World Series game:

In that 1969 postseason, Taylor made four appearances pitching 5.2 scoreless innings. In those appearances, he allowed just three hits and walked one while striking out seven. When you look through Mets history, you can actually argue Taylor is the Mets best ever postseason reliever.

When Taylor departed the Mets organization, he was the Mets all-time leader in saves. Now, he ranks 12th all-time. In essence, he was the first big time reliever in Mets history, and his performance in the 1969 postseason was an all-time great one. As such, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 42.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 41 Tom Seaver

There is no doubt here. Not only is Tom Seaver the best player in Mets and baseball history to ever wear the number 41. He is simply the best player in the history of the New York Mets. More than that, he could be the best right-handed pitcher in the history of baseball who, to date, has the highest ever voting percentage of any starting pitcher inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The fact Seaver even became a Met was pure luck. The Atlanta Braves had illegally signed Seaver leading to the Commissioner’s Office to declare the contract null and void. As Seaver was not allowed to return to pitch in college, ti was determined that any team willing to match his bonus could sign him. Three teams stepped up, but it was the Mets who won that lottery forever altering the course of franchise history.

Not only did Seaver become the first Mets rookie to win the Rookie of the Year award, but he would begin to completely rewrite the Mets history books in the process. Part of that was his making his first All-Star team, which was the first of his seven consecutive appearances and 10 total as a member of the New York Mets.

In 1968, Seaver began his rewrite of some of baseball’s history books. Coming off his Rookie of the Year season, Seaver would be the Mets Opening Day starter. This was the first of what is a still standing MLB record of 16 Opening Day starts. That was just one of the many incredible and record setting things Seaver did as a member of the Mets.

While Seaver was known to be destined for greatness, we saw him be truly great, clearly a step ahead of everyone, in 1969. In that season, he would have a great season setting more Mets records along the way, and he’d have one of his signature performances with the Imperfect Game:

That game was great for many reasons. Aside from the greatness it showed, it was a message sending game to the Cubs the surging Mets were for real, and the Mets had the pitching to take them down, which they eventually would.

Seaver was the man who got the ball in their first ever postseason. While not being classic Seaver, he still won the first ever postseason game the Mets ever played. He would not, however, win the first World Series game in Mets history. He would rebound, and he would be great in Game 4 picking up the win after limiting the Orioles to just one run over 10 innings.

The Mets won that improbable World Series, and they only got to that point because they had Seaver, who at the point was already the best pitcher in the game. There would be so much more in store, including his 19 strikeout game in 1970, which was a then Major League record:

As great as he was in those seasons and those moments, Seaver had an absolute season for the ages. In 1971, Seaver was definitively the best pitcher on the planet. He led the Majors in ERA, ERA+, FIP, and K/9, and he was third in strikeouts. By ERA+, only Dwight Gooden‘s 1985 season would be better in Mets history. Somehow, Seaver, despite being the best pitcher on the planet, finished second to Fergie Jenkins in Cy Young voting. To this day, it remains one of the worst decisions voters have ever made.

While cheated in 1971, Seaver would the Cy Young in 1973 and 1975. When Seaver won the Cy Young in 1975, he became the first right-handed pitcher in Major League history to ever win three Cy Young Awards.

Of note with that 1973 Cy Young, when he won that award, he became the first ever pitcher to win the award without winning 20 games. It should also be noted Seaver was one of the major reasons the Mets were even able to win the division that year.

In the NLCS, he took the loss in Game 1 despite allowing just two earned over 8.1 innings. In the deciding Game 5, he would not be denied. He shut down the Big Red Machine over 8.1 innings this time allowing just one earned. With that Seaver once again led the Mets to the World Series. In an alternate universe, Yogi Berra held onto Seaver to pitch and win Game 7.

In reality, Seaver should have been a Met for life. However, M. Donald Grant thought he was bigger than the team, and instead waged a war against Seaver using his newspaper connections to help force Seaver out of town. While fans lament many deals, the trade which sent Seaver to the Reds remains the worst in team history. Certainly, the Midnight Massacre was among the most depressing days to be a Mets fan.

Seaver’s Mets story didn’t end there. He would have a hero’s return in 1983. Not only would he pitch well that year, but he would serve as a mentor to the young players on that staff like Ron Darling. Ironically, he was part of the contingent who bonded with Keith Hernandez and helped convince him to stay.

After the season, the Met miscalculated. They left Seaver exposed to claims never believing he would be claimed. Sadly, he was claimed by the White Sox. This meant Seaver’s 300th win would be with the White Sox. Still, that moment would happen in New York as Seaver would ruin Phil Rizzuto Day for the Yankees.

When Seaver’s career was over, he was clearly one of the best pitchers to ever take the mound. At the time, his three Cy Youngs were the most of any right-handed pitcher of all-time. His 3,640 strikeouts were the third most of all-time and the sixth most in Major League history today.

Since World War II, only Warren Spahn has more shutouts meaning he has more shutouts than any other right-handed pitcher over that stretch. His WAR is the seventh best of all-time, and since World War II only the steroid driven career of Roger Clemens was better. When you take it all into account, Seaver could rightfully stake a claim as the best right-handed pitcher of all-time and the best pitcher since World War II. Seaver is definitively the best National League pitcher ever.

He’s also definitively the best Mets player ever. That is why he is The Franchise. His number was the first player’s number retired by the Mets. Citi Field is now located at 41 Seaver Way. He owns almost every record of significance in Mets history. He is the best 41 in team history.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 40 Bartolo Colon

Back in 2013, many were scratching their heads as to why Sandy Alderson and a cash strapped Mets organization would use a substantial amount of their limited funds on a soon to be 41 year old Bartolo Colon coming off of a PED suspension. As was usually the case during his tenure, Alderson knew better than everyone.

In 2014, Colon stuck in the rotation in the rotation, and he would pitch over 200 innings. That was exactly what the Mets envisioned Colon to be. He was supposed to be an innings eater for an emerging Mets rotation. As luck would have it, Colon proved to be more than that.

Colon was a leader of that pitching staff which won the pennant in 2015. He worked with the pitchers on mechanics and bullpens. He worked with them on how to attack batters. As was the case, he would text them to check in on them to make sure they were alright. Mostly, Colon provided that veteran leadership which makes a difference. It is something people oft talk about, but in practice it is rarely impactful. Colon was impactful.

During the process, Colon became a fan favorite. There were several reasons for that. Aside from his girth and laughable attempts at hitting, Colon was a pitcher who took the ball every fifth day and rarely made excuses. He was also an exceptional fielder.

In 2016, he should have won the Gold Glove. From 2014 – 2016, Colon had the second best DRS among all National League pitchers. This spoke to how athletic he truly was and how much effort he put into helping his team.

During his tenure with the Mets, it was always expected he would be pushed out of the rotation eventually. However, that never happened because Colon proved to be extremely durable, and sadly, Zack Wheeler wasn’t. That proved to be an extremely valuable trait in 2015 and 2016.

In 2015, Colon was the Opening Day starter, and he was really the only Mets pitcher who did not need to skip a start. During that season, he would set a unique Major League record by becoming the first ever pitcher to beat one team (Orioles) while pitching for seven different teams (Indians, White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Athletics, Mets).

While he was a mainstay in the rotation during the regular season, he was moved to the rotation for the 2015 postseason. That postseason was a mixed bag for Colon, but he had come out of the bullpen in Game 4 of the NLCS to pick up the win as the Mets swept the Cubs:

While Colon had highlights in 2014 and 2015, the 2016 season was definitively his best and most storied in his Mets career. During that season, partially due to an injury to Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom stepping aside, Colon would be an All-Star in San Diego. While he was an All-Star in San Diego that year, that was not the most noteworthy thing he did in San Diego that year.

On May 7, 2016, Colon homered off of James Shields in what was one of the most unlikely homers you will ever see. When you hear the call, you hear the disbelief and incredulousness in Gary Cohen’s voice. With that homer, Colon became the oldest ever Major Leaguer to hit his first homer.

While the story of that season might’ve been the homer, the real story was how well he pitched. That 2016 season was clearly his best in a Mets uniform, and with every Mets starter not named Syndergaard needing season ending surgery, the Mets needed him more than ever.

For the second straight year, Colon had led the league in BB/9. Overall, he was 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA and a 117 ERA+. Colon was at his best in August when the Mets were still staying afloat and were primed to make their run. In that pivotal month of August, he was 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA. Over the final two months of the season, he was 6-2. That helped the Mets make their improbable run to the Wild Card making consecutive postseasons for the second time in their history.

Colon never got a chance to pitch in that postseason, and he would leave the Mets in the offseason as he was pursuing an opportunity to start to give him a chance to surpass Dennis Martinez for the most wins by a Latin born pitcher. When he left, he left behind a team who missed his presence in the clubhouse and a fan base who lovingly nicknamed him Big Sexy.

So far, Colon is the best Mets pitcher who has ever worn the number 40, and if he had his druthers, he would return to the Mets and wear the number again. Whether that happens, remains to be seen.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 39 Gary Gentry

To put in perspective how well thought of Gary Gentry was, when the ill-fated trade for Jim Fregosi went down, the Angels initially asked for Gentry, and they were rebuffed. That led to them “settling” for Nolan Ryan. Back in 1971, this made a lot of sense.

In 1969, Gentry was a rookie for that Miracle Mets team which shocked the world and won the World Series. Gentry would have his moments during that rookie season, but it was a mostly pedestrian season where he served as an effective third starter behind Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. However, Gentry would do something that year neither Seaver nor Koosman would do.

The first postseason ever thrown at Shea Stadium was by Gentry. It wasn’t a great start with him leaving after two innings, but he was the pitcher who started the game where the Mets clinched their first ever pennant. Gentry would repeat that history in the World Series, and things would go much better for him.

Gentry would start Game 3 of the World Series, and as such, he became the first ever pitcher to throw a pitch in the World Series in Shea Stadium. After Koosman shut down the Orioles in Game 2, the Mets were in this series, and they had a chance no one never thought they would. They took full advantage.

What made this game interesting for the Mets was this was the first time in the series there was purportedly a clear pitching advantage for the Orioles with them starting future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. However, on this day, the Mets would be the better team and Gentry the better pitcher.

That Game 3 will forever be known for Tommie Agee. He had a lead-off homer and made two great defensive plays. What has been overlooked was how good Gentry was. Over 6.2 innings, he shut out the Orioles while allowing just three hits albeit while walking five. As a result, Gentry would become the first ever pitcher to win a World Series game at Shea Stadium.

This was one of the most important starts in Mets history. With this great start, the Mets took a 2-1 lead, and they were about to hand the ball to Seaver and Koosman. The rest, as we know, is history.

That game would be the apex of Gentry’s career, but to be fair, it would be the apex of just about anyone’s career. There were some issues for Gentry including his temper. At times, he would show his frustration and show up fielders. His biggest issue would be his arm problems, which the Mets never could quite diagnose and fix.

As a result, at the time, he was seen more as a disappoint and a what could’ve been. After all, this was a pitcher the Mets thought was better than Ryan. It wasn’t just the Mets who felt that way. That was a common perception. Regardless of all of that, Gentry was still a good pitcher for the Mets with a 103 ERA+ posting the 10th most shutouts in team history. Overall, Gentry was the best Mets player to ever don the number 39.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 38 Skip Lockwood

When talking about the great relievers and closers in Mets history, the one name which gets constantly overlooked is Skip Lockwood. The main reason for that is he is the only one who never got to actually pitch in the postseason with the Mets.

Lockwood had a long and winding path to the Mets. Early on his career, he was thought of as a third baseman, and he would flame out at the position. He would go to the Oakland Athletics who threw him on the mound mostly just to take a look and to try to slip him through the Rule 5 Draft. Little did they know, Lockwood was a pitcher.

However, it appeared he wasn’t a starting pitcher. Over six seasons as a starter, he was 30-60 with a 3.81 ERA. On the eve of the 1975 season, he was released by the New York Yankees, and he was brought back to the Athletics organization to pitch in the minors. Finally, at that point, he not only accepted, but he pushed for a role in the bullpen. During that 1975 season, he was sold to the New York Mets, and his career would take off.

Lockwood was called up in August, and he would pitch in both ends of a doubleheader against the Expos. Over five innings, he allowed just one earned run. After allowing an earned run in his first appearance, he would not allow another one in his next six appearance which spanned 12.2 innings. This was part of a sensational debut where Lockwood was 1-3 with a 1.49 ERA, 1.097 WHIP, and an 11.4 K/9.

Lockwood would be handed the closer’s reigns the following season, and by and large Lockwood repeated his success. In that 1976 season, he was 10-7 with a 2.67 ERA, 1.018 WHIP, and a 10.3 K/9.That was the best year of Lockwood’s career. He had the third most saves in the league, and he led all National League relievers in strikeouts. By FIP, he was the best reliever in the National League.

This started one of the better stretches in team history for a closer. From 1976 – 1978, Lockwood was a full time closer and one of the best in the game. His 54 saves were eighth best in the Majors, and his 265 strikeouts were seventh best among relievers. His 2.83 FIP was ninth best. Overall, at a time when the Mets were starved for talent, they had one of the best closers in the game.

Overall, in his Mets career, Lockwood was 24-36 with 65 saves, a 2.80 ERA, 1.114 WHIP, and an 8.7 K/9. His 65 saves are the 10th most in team history. He also ranks ninth in games finished. Overall, he is one of the best closers in team history, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 38.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel

 

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 37 Casey Stengel

When compiling a list of the best Mets by choosing the Met who wore a particular number, you finally reach a number where there is only one person who wore the number. That is the case with the number 37 with Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel being the first and only Met to ever wear the number.

Stengel had been unceremoniously fired by the Yankees after Bill Mazeroski hit the only Game 7 walk-off homer in baseball history. After that, the Yankees decided to go in a new direction. In response, Stengel famously quipped, “I’ll never make the mistake of being 70 again.”

That was the thing with Stengel. He was always good for a line, quip, or malpropos. At his age, it seemed like it was going to be his last in baseball. Even though he was 70, Stengel had turned down other managerial jobs. That initially included the Mets.

Early on in their history, the Mets were hell-bent on bringing in some famous faces, especially those with New York roots. That included former Dodgers like Gil Hodges and Don Zimmer. After persistence, it would finally included Stengel. If nothing else, in those early days, Stengel would be a character who would give the team an early identity.

While Darryl Strawberry might’ve been the first person to play for all the teams which started in New York, Stengel would be the first and only person to actually wear all four New York uniforms. In his playing career, he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants. As a manger, he would manage the Dodgers, Yankees, and finally, the Mets.

Stengel was never able to bring the Mets to anywhere near the level of the Yankees. He was oft criticized, but that is what typically happens to managers with bad teams. He would be the only Mets manager in the team’s Polo Grounds days, and he would be the first manager in Shea Stadium. He would manage all the way up until he broke his hip. At the end of that season, he would be the first Met to have his number retired by the team.

While he was no longer the manager, the team would keep him as part of the organization until his dying day. When the Mets won the World Series in 1969, both he and his wife were presented with championship rings. Stengel would wear his proudly until his dying day.

So, in the end, while Stengel was not the Hall of Famer he was with the Yankees, he was quintessentially the Mets in their early years, and ultimately, he too would be a champion. Overall, he is the only and best Met to ever wear the number 37.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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
36. Jerry Koosman

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 36 Jerry Koosman

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.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
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

 

Citi Bracket: (8) Michael Conforto vs. (9) Daniel Murphy

(8) Michael Conforto – Already ranked in the top seven in WAR among Mets outfielders. Has willingly played all three outfield positions to help the team and has been much better than advertised at all three positions. Barely played in Double-A before getting called up in 2015 to help save that season. Hit three postseason homers including two in Game 4 of the World Series. Had great All-Star season in 2017. Has rebounded from shoulder injury to have a very good 2019 where he has emerged as a team leader. Ranked in the top 10 in Mets history in SLG, OPS, and OPS+.

(9) Daniel Murphy – Burst onto the scene in 2008 to help push the Mets into contention. Career as a clutch hitter began there. Had streak of 27 consecutive steals which was second best stretch in team history. Overcame all comers to establish himself as the team’s second baseman. Led team in homers in first season in Citi Field. Was an All-Star in 2014, the same season he missed Opening Day to attend the birth of his child. Had perhaps the greatest postseason in Major League history setting a Major League record by homering in six straight postseason games. Joined Lou Gehrig as the only players to have a hit, run, and RBI in seven consecutive postseason games. Mets lose the NLDS without him having perhaps the greatest game any Mets position player ever has. Only one of three Mets players to be named NLCS MVP. Seventh best batting average in team history with the third most doubles.

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