Howard Johnson

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 47 Jesse Orosco

Imagine trading a pitcher like Jerry Koosman, a man who was so important to your franchise winning its first ever World Series, and in return, you get Jesse Orosco, a man who would similarly be of vital importance to your team winning its second ever World Series. Somehow, the Mets accomplished this feat.

From 1979 – 1982, Orosco was figuring out his role and then establishing himself as a reliever. In 1983, he would really burst onto the scene with one of the truly great seasons a reliever has ever had. Arguably, it is the greatest season a Mets reliever has ever had.

In a feat relievers do not regularly achieve now, Orosco threw 110.0 innings. In Mets history, among pitchers who have thrown 100 innings in a season, Orosco’s 1.47 ERA is the best ever. He was so good that season, he was an All-Star, and he would finish third in the Cy Young voting. That’s the highest in Cy Young voting any Mets reliever has ever finished.

He’d also set team reliever records with 13 wins. Overall, he was 13-7 with 17 saves, a 1.47 ERA, and a 1.036 WHIP. With that, a Mets team who was about to turn the corner knew they had a terrific closer who could pitch at any point in the game.

For 1984, he would be that for a Mets team who went from under .500 to 90 wins and in contention. It would mark the second straight time Orosco would be named an All-Star. In 1985, he would be joined by Roger McDowell in the bullpen, and they would share closing duties. As it turns out, they could do more than that.

There were many great stories from that 1986 season. One of the craziest came on July 22, 1986. In the 10th inning of an extra inning game, catcher Ed Hearns was the last player on the bench. That became an issue when Eric Davis slid hard into third leading to Ray Knight coming up punching. The benches cleared leading to the ejection of Knight and Kevin Mitchell. This meant a pitcher was going to have to play the field.

Through the ingenuity of Davey Johnson, Orosco and McDowell split pitching duties. McDowell pitched to right-handed batters with Orosco in right field, and Orosco pitched to left-handed batters with McDowell in left field. In the 13th, Tony Perez would lined one the other way with Orosco fielding it cleanly.

In the 14th, Orosco reached via walk, and he would be one of the three runs which scored on Howard Johnson‘s go-ahead three run homer in an epic Mets victory. The length and drama of that game would be nothing compared to the postseason.

In the NLCS, Orosco would set Major League history. In that tight, epic series, Bob Ojeda was the only Mets starter to earn a victory. The other three wins were by Orosco. With that, Orosco would be the first and to date only reliever to ever earn three wins in a postseason series.

The biggest and most well known win was his last one. Initially, Orosco had blown the save in that game after allowing a homer to Billy Hatcher in the 14th. Orosco shook that off to pitch a scoreless 15th. When the Mets took the lead in the 16th on a three run rally which included an Orosco sacrifice bunt, it was on Orosco to send the Mets to the World Series.

The Astros would not go quietly scoring two runs. They had runners on first and second with two outs. As the story goes, Keith Hernandez came to the mound to threaten Orosco and Gary Carter if there was a fastball thrown to Kevin Bass. Carter always said he wanted Orosco to shake him off and only throw his slider. There wasn’t as Bass struck out to end the series.

The NLCS that seemingly no one could forget would become an afterthought after what was a storied World Series. The tired Orosco who was pushed to the limits in the NLCS would pitch four times in the World Series where he would again take part in crazy games.

In Game 6, he entered the eighth inning to bail McDowell out of a bases loaded two out jam. He’d be lifted for Lee Mazzilli in a rally where the Mets tied the game to set the stage for the two out heroics in the 10th. Orosco would play a much larger role in Game 7.

After the Red Sox pulled within 6-5 in the eighth, Orosco relieved McDowell. With his best reliever on the mound, and the Mets having a lead, there was no way Johnson was going to lift Orosco if his turn to bat came. As luck would have it, the Mets rallied in that eighth to add insurance runs, and Orosco came to the plate in a sacrifice situation.

That’s when Orosco pulled the old butcher boy and hit an RBI single up the middle to extend the Mets lead to 8-5. Believe it or not, that was the last hit and the last RBI of that series. Orosco made sure of that as he struck out Marty Barrett to end the series throwing his glove up into the heavens:

We are all still waiting for that glove to land. According to legend, it may land when Darryl Strawberry finally rounds the bases after that long home run.

In that postseason, Orosco was 3-0 with two saves, and a 1.98 ERA. He was the man on the mound when the Mets won the pennant, and he was the man on the mound when the Mets won the World Series. It is somewhat fitting as he was the man who was obtained for Koosman.

Orosco’s Mets career would end after the 1987 season as he was sent to the Dodgers in a three team trade which netted the Mets Kevin Tapani and Wally Whitehurst. For a brief moment, he was with the Mets again after the end of the 1999 season, but he was traded for Joe McEwing (who also wore 47) before the 2000 season began.

That gives an indication how long Orosco pitched. As it stood, he made more appearances than any other pitcher in Major League history. In terms of Mets history, he ranks sixth, one behind the man who was sent to Minnesota to obtain him. Orosco is also fourth in saves being the first Mets pitcher to ever eclipse 100 saves. He also has the third best ERA+ and ERA in team history. Overall, he is the best Mets pitcher to ever wear the number 47.

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
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 46 Oliver Perez

You could make an argument Neil Allen was the best Met to ever wear the number 46, but he only wore the number 46 for two of his five years with the Mets. Moreover, Allen’s best years with the Mets came when he wore 13. That leaves us looking in another direction.

In all honesty, this isn’t going to sit well with Mets fans, but Oliver Perez is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 46. The Mets understandable disdain for Perez wasn’t there in the beginning of his Mets career.

Perez first came to the Mets at the 2006 trade deadline in a trade which was partially necessitated by Duaner Sanchez‘s infamous cab ride. At the time, many viewed Perez as a bit of a throw-in in the trade with the Padres, and no one expected him to contribute to a team vying for the World Series. In fact, Perez would be left off the initial NLDS roster.

However, with Orlando Hernandez getting injured on the eve of Game 1 of the NLDS, Perez would be added to the roster. With Steve Trachsel getting hurt in Game 3 (in addition to his already existing injuries), Perez would be unexpectedly pressed into action in a must-win Game 4.

That Game 4 appearance wasn’t the greatest game a Mets pitcher has ever pitched, but he got the job done picking up a key win. With the Mets and Cardinals splitting the next two games, it was Perez on three days rest taking the ball in Game 7. With a little help from Endy Chavez, Perez delivered one of the guttiest and most unlikely great pitching performances in Mets history.

Unfortunately, Perez had a no decision as the Mets offense and bullpen just could not deliver a win in that game. If you were looking for a bright side, Perez had emerged as someone who could enter a Mets rotation in need of starting pitching.

Over the subsequent two seasons, Perez would emerge as a solid starter for a Mets team with World Series aspirations. In 2007, he would set a career high with 15 wins. An important note with Perez was he was 3-1 over the final month of the season.

In 2008, Perez was again a solid starter in that Mets rotation. Perez was a little more wild for the Mets than he had been the previous year. Considering the tumultuous season that was with the Mets firing Willie Randolph one day into a west coast trip, and Jerry Manuel threatening to cut Jose Reyes. In that year, Perez would lead the majors in no decisions despite some terrific pitching efforts:

The last indecision was hardest. For the second straight year, the Mets needed to win the final game of the season to force a tie-breaker game. For the second time in three years, the Mets handed Perez the ball with elimination at stake. Much like Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, Perez stepped up pitching to a no decision. Perez would have the distinction of being the final Mets pitcher to start a game in Shea Stadium, but like the rest of the Mets, he would never play another game there.

At that point in his Mets career, Perez was 26-20 with a 4.13 ERA. He had a 3.6 WAR over the two full seasons in the Mets rotation. He also came up huge in the 2006 NLCS, and he came up big again in the final game at Shea. If that was the end of the Perez story, he would have been far more warmly.

Perez received a large free agent contract from the Mets after the 2008 season. Perez would have an injury plagued season, and he would need season ending knee surgery. Everything fell apart for him in 2010. In that season, he performed poorly, and he would refused an assignment to the minors. He would eventually be moved to the bullpen and left unused as punishment. That was until the final game of the season where he’d be thrown into the 14th inning of a completely meaningless final game of the season after not having pitched for nearly a month.

That would be the end of Perez’s Mets career as the team would release him despite his still being owed $12 million for 2011.

Even with how horribly his Mets career ended, Perez still had some terrific moments as a member of the team, and he has the seventh best K/9 in team history. While it does not seem like it with the way his career ended, Perez is the best Mets pitcher to ever wear 46.

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
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 45 Tug McGraw

Even though John Franco had one of the better Mets careers, and he would wear the number 45, when it came down to all he had accomplished with the Mets, he mostly did it while wearing the number 31. Instead, the best player to wear the number 45 with the Mets was the man Franco honored when he switched to the number – Tug McGraw.

McGraw was a larger than life personality, and he was a beloved Mets closer who was a part of the 1969 World Series and 1973 pennant winning Mets teams. What is really interesting with McGraw is that his first big moment with the Mets came with him as a starter.

Before August 36, 1965, the Mets had never beaten Sandy Koufax. Really, Koufax embarrassed the Mets earlier in their history with a no-hitter and a 13-0 record. However, on this one day, the rookie McGraw would out-pitch the Hall of Famer to help the Mets beat Koufax for the first time. While McGraw would win this game, he just was not a starter.

After three years of being in and out of the rotation, McGraw served in the Marines Reserves, dealt with some arm injuries, and he would learn the screwball. That screwball is the first major thing which would change his career. The other was Gil Hodges moving McGraw into the bullpen in 1969.

McGraw was an important part of that Mets bullpen which went from laughingstock to World Series champions. In that 1969 season, McGraw was 9-3 with 12 saves, a 2.24 ERA, and 1.335 WHIP. Despite his great regular season, the Mets mostly rode with Ron Taylor in the postseason.

In fact, McGraw would only make one appearance that postseason. After Jerry Koosman couldn’t get out of the fifth in Game 2 of the NLCS, Ron Taylor pitched 1.1 innings to help get the Mets back in front. For the final three innings, it was McGraw. In those three innings, he shut down the Braves offense, and he would become the first Mets left-handed reliever to earn a postseason save.

Over the next few years McGraw would pitch well while splitting closing duties. While 1969 had served as his breakout season, 1971 would be where he showed he was ready to take his game to another level. During that 1971 season, McGraw was 11-4 with eight saves, a 1.70 ERA, and a 1.027.

In 1972, everything changed for the Mets. On the eve of the season, Hodges died from a heart attack putting Yogi Berra in charge as the Mets manager. Whereas McGraw was the first manager who believed in McGraw as a reliever, it was Berra who truly envisioned him as a closer. By and large, McGraw was the closer for that team, and he responded.

In 1972, McGraw set the Mets all-time record with 27 saves. That record would stand until 1984 when Jesse Orosco broke it. As it stands, it is still in the top 20 in Mets history. With McGraw repeating his 1.70 ERA, amassing the 27 saves, and having an 8-6 record, he would be an All-Star for the first only time as a member of the Mets. In that game, McGraw would pick up the win.

What is interesting for McGraw is he is mostly known for the 1973 season despite it being one of the worst of his Mets career, at least in his career as a Mets reliever. Through July 9th, McGraw had a 6.20 ERA with Berra trying to find ways to get McGraw back on track. One thing McGraw did on his own was to meet with a motivational speaker who kept telling him to believe in himself.

That set the stage for M.Donald Grant’s team pep talk. Grant’s message the front office still believed in a Mets team who was 11 games under .500 led McGraw to seemingly sarcastically start chanting, “Ya Gotta Believe!” much to the amusement of his teammates. For his part, Grant wasn’t so amused, and told McGraw he better start pitching better.

McGraw did, and he was a key component in the Mets turnaround. From July 11 until the end of the season, McGraw was 5-2 with 14 saves, a 2.21 ERA, and a 1.067 WHIP. In what is unheard of in today’s game, McGraw made 1o separate appearances of over three innings. That included one six inning and one 5.2 inning outing. He would also be on the mound when the Mets clinched the division:

With that, McGraw would get the chance to be an impactful reliever in the postseason. In that postseason, McGraw was as dominant as we have ever seen a Mets reliever in a postseason. Perhaps, it was the best postseason we have ever seen a Mets reliever have.

Between the NLCS and World Series, McGraw was 1-0 with two saves and a 1.93 ERA. That included his no allowing a run five NLCS innings and his earning a save in the Mets first ever winner-take-all game. That set him up to finally be able to pitch in the World Series.

McGraw would pitch in five of the seven games. While he would blow his first ever World Series save chance in Game 2, he would stay in the game and pitch six innings total as he and the Mets picked up the win in 12 innings. He would convert his next and last save chance with 2.2 scoreless innings in Game 5. Unfortunately, the Mets were not able to win that fourth and final game, and they would lose their first ever postseason series.

While McGraw was an emotional leader who gave birth to the franchise rallying cry of “Ya Gotta Believe!” he was not a Met for long. In 1974, he would struggle, and the Mets would put him in a variety of roles. After the season, the Mets traded him to the Phillies, and it was discovered he had shoulder issues. As those shoulder issues resolved, the Phillies had a great reliever who would be on the mound as they won their first World Series.

Among Mets relievers, McGraw has the third most wins and sixth most saves. While he is fifth in appearances, he is second in innings. Really, he was the first big time reliever in team history, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 45.

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
44. David Cone

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

Bobby Bonilla Was A Better Met Than You Remember

If you ask people about Bobby Bonilla‘s time with the Mets, there is nothing but negativity associated with his tenure. There is the annual consternation over his deferred payments. His last ever act as a member of the team was playing cards in the clubhouse with Rickey Henderson as Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones. He wore earplugs to drown out the booing, and generally speaking, he was cantankerous.

Truth be told, Bonilla was not well suited to playing in New York either when he was a 29 year old or when he was a 36 year old. However, sometimes we over-focus on negatives like this to overlook the positives.

Bonilla signing with the Mets was supposed to usher in a new era of Mets baseball. A team who never truly forayed into free agency made the highly coveted Bonilla the highest paid player in the game. Bonilla, who grew up a Mets fan, was coming home to play for his favorite team. At least on the first day he wore a Mets uniform, it seemed like this marriage was going to go great.

On Opening Day, Bonilla hit two homers against the hated Cardinals helping the Mets win 4-2. It was exactly what fans expected from him and that team. However, things quickly unraveled for that Mets team who would be dubbed The Worst Team Money Could Buy. From there things went bad, and they went bad quickly.

Bonilla slumped mightly in May while the Mets. Even when he picked it back up in June, a Mets team who was well in contention fell completely apart. With Bonilla having an awful May and his being the highest paid player in the game, he faced the brunt of the criticism. Unlike Carlos Beltran who went from maligned in 2005 to superstar in 2006, Bonilla never quite recovered.

Part of the reason is the Mets were plain bad. To that end, it’s not his fault the Mets plan was ill conceived. Howard Johnson was not an outfielder. Other players like Eddie Murray and Willie Randolph were over 35. Bret Saberhagen and John Franco were injured. Anthony Young was in the middle of his MLB record losing streak. The bigger issue is Bonilla handled it poorly, and then he was terrible at the end of the year hitting just .196 over the final two months of the season.

While stats like this weren’t used regularly in 1992, the 1.2 WAR was the worst he had since his rookie year. The 121 wRC+ was his worst since his second year in the league. Bonilla and that 1992 Mets team was a huge disappointment, and Bonilla’s image never quite recovered.

What gets lost in the criticism is Bonilla did rebound. From 1993 – 1995, he averaged a 3.1 WAR, and he was a 138 OPS+ hitter. He hit .296/.371/.537 while averaging 27 homers and 84 RBI over that stretch. He would make two All-Star teams, and Bonilla proved to be a bit of a team player willingly moving to third base for stretches when Johnson was injured.

Bonilla’s true breakout season with the Mets came in 1995. He was mashing the ball hitting .325/.385/.599 (151 OPS+) when he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles. Really, this is what the Mets envisioned they were going to get with him. It just took a longer period of adjustment for him to get there.

Overall, in the first stint of his Mets career, Bonilla hit .277/.361/.505 with a 130 wRC+ amassing a 9.7 WAR. That was not that bad, and to a certain extent, on the field, you could say he lived up to the contract. No, he did not live up to expectations, but to be fair, he was never surrounded with the talent to help him do that.

When you look at his entire Mets career, he ranks as the fifth best Mets RF by WAR. The four players ahead of him played more games with the Mets. Among players with at least 500 games played, he is the Mets second best hitting right fielder, and he is tied for sixth as the best Mets hitter of all-time.

At least on the field, that is not a player worth as much derision as he receives. No, on the field he was good but not great Mets player. On the field, he did nothing to deserve scorn.

Off the field is a whole other matter. His adversarial nature with the press did nothing to help him. Mets fans are never going to forgive him playing poker while they were crushed by the ending of Game 6. No one is saying you should.

Rather, the suggestion here is Bonilla be remembered for being the good player he actually was. If you want, you can also opt to remember him a little more warmly as his accepting the buyout led to the Mets having the money to obtain Mike Hampton in a trade. That helped the Mets get a pennant, and when Hampton left for Colorado, the Mets used that compensatory pick to draft David Wright.

All told, the Mets were far better off having Bonilla as a part of the Mets organization as you may have realized.

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