Ray Knight

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. 28 Daniel Murphy

The story with Daniel Murphy goes when he was in Jacksonville University, he introduced himself as “I’m Daniel Murphy from Jacksonville, and I hit third.” That would perfectly describe Murphy’s Mets career to an extent. While he played some questionable defense, he will forever known for his offensive exploits.

Murphy’s story with the Mets began in 2008. The team was fighting with the Phillies for the National League East crown in August, and due to a number of injuries, they rushed Murphy up from the minors and stuck him in left field despite his being primarily a third baseman in his career.

Murphy was a revelation for the Mets that year hitting .313/.397/.473 with nine doubles, three triples, two homers, and 17 RBI in 49 games. He’d also notably hold his own him left field. Thus began the odyssey of Murphy with the Mets where he played mostly out of position, hit, and was clutch.

In 2009, he was severely miscast as the Opening Day left fielder in Citi Field. The ballpark was far too spacious, and he was not really an outfielder. Due to a number of injuries, he would find himself at first base in place of Carlos Delgado. In that season, he would not only lead the team in homers, but he would also have the first homer at Citi Field which came as a result of replay review.

After an injury plagued 2010 season which he began in the minors because new GM had more faith in Brad Emaus and others, Murphy returned to the Majors in 2011, and he eventually won the everyday second base job. It was a breakout season for him where he had his second highest OPS+ in his Mets career.

From there, while trade rumors would constantly follow him, he emerged as one of the teams best and most reliable players. One of the most interesting things which happened was Murphy became an extremely effective stolen base threat despite not having overwhelming or even good speed. From 2013 – 2014, he would steal 27 consecutive bases. That’s the second longest streak in Mets history trailing only Kevin McReynolds.

In that 2013, he would actually lead the league in stolen base percentage. He would also finish second in the league in hits. The 2014 season would be a special one for Murphy. First and foremost, he became a dad, and he would attend the birth to much consternation. Later that year, he would make his first All-Star team and his only one with the Mets. As great as that year was, 2015 would be Murphy’s best in a Mets uniform.

Working with new hitting coach Kevin Long, Murphy worked on improving his plate discipline, launch angle, and pulling the ball. We would see all of that come to fruition with Murphy having one of the greatest postseasons we have ever seen becoming the first ever player to hit a homer in six consecutive postseason games.

There’s no understating how great a postseason that was. In that postseason, he homered off of Clayton Kershaw (twice), Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, and others. Kershaw is an all-time great pitcher, Greinke is a likely future Hall of Famer, and Lester is a great postseason pitcher. Murphy beat them all, and he did something only Lou Gehrig had ever done by having a hit, run, and RBI in seven consecutive postseason games.

To put it succinctly, it was Murphtober.

He didn’t just beat teams with his bat. He had a great diving play to end Game 1 of the NLDS, and he would also steal a key base. On that note, in Game 5 of the NLDS, Murphy had such a great game, it should be known as the Murphy Game.

In that game, he was 3-for-4 with two runs, a double, homer, two RBI, and a stolen base. He gave the Mets a first inning lead with a double scoring Curtis Granderson. In the fourth, with the Mets trailing 2-1, he caught the Dodgers asleep with the defensive shift going from first to third on a Lucas Duda walk. This enabled him to score on a Travis d’Arnaud sacrifice fly. Later, in the sixth, he hit the go-ahead homer.

In the Mets 3-2 victory, Murphy played a key role in all three runs. It makes it fair to say in a tightly contested series and game, the Mets lose without him. Without Murphy, there is no NLCS or pennant. On that note, he would break Mike Piazza‘s team record for postseason homers and become just the second Mets player to ever win the NLCS MVP. Like Ray Knight, he would find himself playing for another team in 2016. That would prove to be a giant mistake.

Overall, Murphy had a very good and somewhat underrated Mets career. His .288 batting average is the seventh best in team history. His 228 doubles are the third most. His 13.6 WAR is second only to Edgardo Alfonzo among Mets second baseman. Only Ron Hunt, Alfonzo, and Murphy have been All Stars at second base.

Overall, he is arguably the Mets best ever postseason hitter, and he is their second base second baseman of all-time. He is one of the most clutch players to ever wear a Mets uniform, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 28.

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

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 22 Al Leiter

The Mets have won two World Series with Donn Clendenon and Ray Knight being the MVPs of those series. Aside from being Mets, one thing that links them is they both wore the number 22. However, while each have their own special place in Mets history, the best Mets player to ever wear the number was Al Leiter.

After being the starting pitcher in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, Leiter was shipped out as Wayne Huizenga ordered a firesale of the team. Leiter, who grew up a Mets fan in New Jersey, would get to live out his childhood dream of pitching for the Mets. On that note, before there was Todd Frazier, Leiter was the Mets player from Toms River, NJ.

The Leiter trade was a significant step for the franchise. Not only did it come at a steep cost which included AJ Burnett, but it was an indication the Mets were looking to take the next step forward after a surprising 88 win season in 1997. Leiter went from a star studded rotation in Florida to the Mets ace.

In that 1998 season, he was 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA, 1.150 WHIP, and an 8.1 K/9. Using the stat ERA+, Leiter’s 1998 season was the best by any Mets pitcher not named Dwight Gooden, Jacob deGrom, or Tom Seaver. Put another way, it was the best season by any Mets left-handed pitcher, a group which includes Tom Glavine, Jerry Koosman, and Johan Santana.

While Mike Piazza got much of the publicity for that season, and deservedly so, by WAR, Leiter was the second best player on that Mets team. It should be noted he was the pitcher who was on the mound when Piazza first came to the Mets. The two of them became friends, and Leiter was one of the reasons Piazza stayed.

Leiter would not be able to replicate his 1998 success in a Mets uniform, but he would go on to put together a great Mets career. While it may not have been his best season, Leiter would come up big time and again.

After the May firings of Bobby Valentine‘s coaching staff, Leiter won six of his next seven starts to help get the Mets from one game under .500 at the beginning of June to 11 games over just one month later. That helped turn the 1999 season from a forgettable one to one of the most special ones in team history.

When the Mets were staring down a late season collapse for the second straight year, Leiter helped right the ship by beating the Braves to allow the team to tie the Reds atop the Wild Card standings to force a play-in game. Leiter would get the ball, and he would turn in what was arguably the greatest regular season pitching performance in team history:

In a game the Mets absolutely had to have, Leiter put his best performance in a Mets uniform pitching a two hit shut-out on the road against the Reds to send the Mets to the NLDS. One interesting note is that while this is classified as a one-game playoff, it is considered a regular season game.

One of the reasons this is interesting is because despite some truly great performances in the postseason, Leiter never won a postseason game with the Mets. Mostly, it was due to some bad luck like when he lost Game 3 of the NLCS when the greatest infield of all-time allowed an unearned run in the Mets 1-0 loss. To be fair, his teammates picked him up in Game 6.

In 2000, for the first time in his Mets career, he was not the designated ace. That didn’t matter all that much as Leiter had a great season making the All Star team while going 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA. Things would not be as difficult for the Mets this year as they easily made the postseason.

In typical Leiter hard luck fashion, his gem in Game 2 of the NLDS went by the wayside when Armando Benitez blew the save. Still, Leiter’s performance was important as it helped right the ship after an opening game loss, and it helped propel the Mets to the NLCS. In the NLCS, Turk Wendell vultured a win.

In that World Series, Benitez yet again blew the save in Game 1 costing Leiter a win. That series did not go the Mets way, and they were forced to win a Game 5 to send the series back to Yankee Stadium. In that Game 5, Leiter gave everything he had to try to will the Mets to victory. Being a terrible hitter, he would even try to bunt his way on to drive home a run. Sadly, he was out of gas after 142 pitches, and his defense just couldn’t get to that one ground ball.

The Mets never reached those heights again during Leiter’s tenure. However, he had one more big moment left in the tank.

Many forget this now, but after the 9/11 attacks, it was Leiter, the local kid from Toms River, NJ, who was handed the baseball when the Mets returned to action in Pittsburgh. He received a no decision after limiting the Pirates to one run over seven innings.

One really important note here is Leiter is the last Mets player to ever wear a First Responder’s cap. On the one year anniversary, Leiter cycled through the caps for each of the first responder agencies pitching a complete game shutout against the Braves.

In Leiter’s final few years with the Mets, they never got back to the postseason, but Leiter still remained a very good pitcher for the team. Notably, he never had a losing record for the Mets, and he won 10+ in his seven years with the Mets with a 3.42 ERA. He would also accomplish some truly astonishing feats.

In 2000, he won the Roberto Clemente Award. In 2002, he became the first Major League pitcher to defeat all 30 teams. In one he probably wants to have back, he was the last ever pitcher to lose a game to the Montreal Expos. Overall, he became of the best pitchers in Mets history.

In fact, he could make the claim as the best ever left-handed pitcher. On that note, among Mets pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings, only Jacob deGrom and Seaver have a better ERA+. Overall, Leiter is in the Mets top 1o in wins, GS, IP, strikeouts, WAR, and ERA+. He should be in the Mets Hall of Fame, but for now, he is going to have to settle for being the best Mets player to ever wear the number 22.

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

Amazin Bracket: (3) Darryl Strawberry vs. (14) Ray Knight

(3) Darryl Strawberry – Mets all-time leader in home runs and wRC+ among those players who have played at least 500 games played. First Mets position player to win Rookie of the Year. Hit key homers in NLCS, and he still has not completed his home run trot from Game 7 of the World Series. Second Mets player to have a 30/30 season. Did things we never saw a baseball player ever do like hitting the roof in Olympic Stadium. In the top 10 in nearly every career and rookie category in Mets history.

(14) Ray Knight – MVP of the 1986 World Series. Was part of the Game 6 rally and drove in the winning run in Game 7. Fiery leader and player who was quick to both incite and join brawls for Mets teams who came to beat you in any way, shape, or form. Many pinpoint his leaving the Mets as one of the reasons the team never won another World Series.

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Best Mets Of All Time: No. 20 Howard Johnson

While many expect this honor will one day go to Pete Alonso, and while you can make the case for Tommie Agee, especially with all that he meant to the 1969 Mets, the best Mets player to wear the number 20 was Howard Johnson.

HoJ0, as he was so lovingly called by Mets fans, came to the Mets via trade with the Detroit Tigers after the Tigers won the World Series. While he began his Mets career in 1985, it took him a few years to firmly establish himself. One of the reasons was his inconsistency, and another reason was Ray Knight standing in his way.

While his early Mets years may not have left much of an impression, Johnson would have some big moments. His first real big moment in a Mets uniform came in the infamous 1985 Fourth of July game against the Atlanta Braves. Johnson pinch hit for Rafael Santana in the top of the ninth, and he would come around to score the tying run setting off an epic game. Despite not starting that game, he was 3-for-5 with four runs, a walk, a homer, and an RBI.

In terms of HoJo, part of his story as a Met was his dominance over Todd Worrell. The dead red hitter just destroyed the closer hitting four homers off of him. The first of those homers came early in the 1986 season. In the opener of a four game set in St. Louis, Johnson homered off of Worrell in the ninth to tie the game. The Mets ultimately won the game and swept the series, which in some ways, all but wrapped up the NL East in 1986.

While HoJo was a utility player on that 1986 team, the Mets felt comfortable enough in his performance to allow the reigning World Series MVP Knight leave the team in free agency. It turned out to be the right decision as Johnson would make Major League history that year.

In 1987, Johnson would become the first ever switch hitter in Major League history to join the 30/30 club. To this date, he is the only switch hitter to reach this plateau twice. With Darryl Strawberry also joining the 30/30 club, Strawberry and Johnson became the only teammates in Major League history to go 30/30 in the same season.

During the 1988 season, Johnson played through some arm/shoulder issues which held him back a bit. Still, he would hit 24 homers marking a five year stretch where he would hit at least 20 homers. To date, he is the only Mets third baseman to accomplish that feat. Overall, Johnson was one of the reasons why the Mets did win the division for the second time in three years. In fact, his 25 intentional walks that year remains a Mets single season record.

That shoulder issue lingered into the 1989 season, but Johnson would soon get over it to have one of the great seasons in Mets history. In fact, according to that stats offensive WAR and OPS+, Johnson’s 1989 season was the best offensive season a Mets player ever had. In fact, it was a top 10 season any Mets player has ever had.

It was in this year Johnson became the first ever and only switch hitter and third baseman to have multiple 30/30 seasons. In that year, he would make his first All-Star team, win his first Silver Slugger, and he would finish fifth in the MVP voting. That marked the second time in three years he finished in the top 10.

By the time 1990 rolled around, we saw a pattern emerge where Johnson had a great season every other year, and in 1991, Johnson had another great season leading the National Leauge in homers and RBI. In fact, he’d become the first ever switch hitter to lead the National League in RBI.

He’d set the Mets single season record for sacrifice flies, and his 38 homers was the best mark in Mets history by anyone not named Strawberry. To this day, it remains the Mets third base record. At that time, the 38 homers were also a National League record for a switch hitter.

This would be the third time in his career where he had a 30/30 season. When he accomplished this feat, that was something only Bobby Bonds had accomplished. That made Johnson not only the first and only switch hitter to do this, but also the only infielder. It is a feat which has been since matched by Barry Bonds and Alfonso Soriano making Johnson one of only four people to ever do it.

For the second time in three years, Johnson was an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and top five in MVP voting. It was the third time in six years he was in the top 10 in MVP voting. That 1991 season was the last big year for Johnson.

After that, he would deal with injuries, and the Mets were moving him all over the diamond to try to shoehorn as much offense into the lineup as possible.

Johnson is now the eighth best position player in Mets history and the second best third baseman. He was passed by David Wright, a player he mentored in the minors. Johnson was also one of Wright’s first hitting coaches in the majors, and he would help Wright join him on the 30/30 club.

Johnson is on most of the Mets top 10 offensive lists. Notably, he is fourth in homers, RBI, and extra base hits. He is third in stolen bases. One of the last of his team records, single season extra base hits, was surpassed by Alonso this past year. However, as previously, noted Johnson still has the best single offensive season a Mets player ever had. That is why he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 20.

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

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 17 Keith Hernandez

The Mets franchise was forever changed on June 15, 1983. On that date, the Mets took a chance by obtaining Keith Hernandez from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey. We may not see it like that now, but it was a risk.

He was only available due to his clashes with Whitey Herzog, and many expected after the season he was just going to demand his way out of New York. After all, he was very clearly and publicly not happy with being traded to the Mets. And yet, Frank Cashen and the Mets did all they could do to convince Hernandez to stay.

With Hernandez staying, the Mets got a Gold Glover at first. That’s understating it a bit. People, including opposing teams, said you couldn’t even bunt on him. The Mets took advantage of his strong and accurate arm by having him handle relays. In sum, Hernandez was the best defensive first baseman of all-time, and he would win five Gold Gloves with the Mets; six if you include his 1983 season split between the Mets and the Cardinals.

More than the glove and the bat in the middle of the lineup, Hernandez was undoubtedly the leader of the Mets. His experience, especially his World Series experience, not only gave him the credibility in the clubhouse, but it also allowed him to help the Mets realize their potential and to believe they could be great.

That started almost immediately with the Mets shocking baseball by improving 22 games and by being in first place entering August. This would be the first of five straight 90+ win seasons and seven straight seasons of finishing in second place or better. Over that time, Hernandez finished in the top 10 in MVP voting three times including a second place finish in 1984.

While he was the consummate leader of those teams, eventually leading to his being named the first team captain in 1987, we really saw his leadership at the forefront in 1986, the year the Mets won the World Series. It should be noted it was during this year he was voted as an All-Star starter for the only time in his career, and he would lead the league in walks.

Hernandez may not have had a lot of hits in that series, but he made sure to have an impact. After the Mets dropped Game 1 of the NLCS to Mike Scott and the Astros, he responded with a two RBI game. His next RBI in the series wouldn’t come until Game 6, but it was one of the most important hits in Mets history.

Down 3-0 in the ninth and facing a Game 7 against Scott, something each Mets player feared, the Mets had a furious ninth inning rally to tie the score. In that furious rally, Hernandez hit an RBI double scoring Mookie Wilson to pull the Mets within one. Later that inning, he’d score the tying run on a Ray Knight sacrifice fly.

That wasn’t his most noted impact on this game. In this back-and-forth game with the Mets blowing a 14th inning lead and their about to blow a three run 16th inning lead, Hernandez went to the mound to demand Gary Carter not call a fastball or that Jesse Orosco not throw another to Kevin Bass. Orosco would strike out Bass on a curve to win the pennant.

In the 1986 World Series, there are two events for which Hernandez was most known. The first was in Game 6. After flying out in the 10th, he went to the dugout as he could not bear to see the Red Sox celebrate at Shea Stadium. As the rally took off, he refused to move from his seat as there were hits in it, and he was not going to move until the Mets won the game.

His next moment was in Game 7. Many forget it, but the Mets were actually down 3-0 in that game heading into the bottom of the sixth. The Mets didn’t break through until Hernandez delivered the Mets first RBI of that game:

In that World Series clinching game, Hernandez had three RBI. With that, Hernandez fulfilled the promise of what everyone believed would happen under his leadership – the Mets were World Series champions. While he was not the best or most talented, he was the one who helped lead the Mets to that championship.

That 1986 season was his second best in a Mets uniform. Unfortunately, from there, he would start to decline. Notably, in that decline, he made another All-Star team, and he won two more Gold Gloves. He would also help lead the Mets to the 1988 NL East title. Unfortunately, the Mets would lose that series, and Hernandez would have his own Willie Mays moment, but in the end, the Mets never get there without their fearless leader.

He was so beloved a figure, even after his departure, that David Cone switched his number from 44 to 17 when Hernandez left. To this day, fans clamor for his number to be retired.

Through it all, Hernandez is the best defensive first baseman in baseball history, and he is the Mets best ever first baseman. He was the first captain, and he is probably the greatest leader in team history. He is currently serving as the bridge from the greatness of the Mets past to the present. He will go down as one of the most important figures in team history, and he is definitively the best Mets player to ever wear the number 17.

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

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 1 Mookie Wilson

With COVID19, we don’t get baseball. Instead, we have memories of baseball. Our favorite games, moments, and players. Each team has their own legends who are mostly remembered for their own contributions. In an effort to recognize that, we are going to run down the greatest players in Mets history by going through the uniform numbers.

We begin at number 1, which in Mets history has become synonymous with Mookie Wilson.

The best stretch in Mets history began with him because on September 2, 1980, he batted lead-off and played center field for the Mets. In that game, Wally Backman was also in the line-up, and with that the first two members of the 1986 World Series champion roster were in place.

Much like the Mets as a franchise, Mookie had to fight for everything he got as he was constantly being challenged for playing time. In 1986, that came in the form of Lenny Dykstra, who had a great rookie season. Mookie would eventually force his way into the lineup taking over left from the released George Foster.

That situation became all the more complicated in the subsequent offseason when the Mets obtained Kevin McReynolds from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Kevin Mitchell and prospects. Through this time, he would have to platoon, and he would be frustrated by the process seeking a trade at one point. Still, through it all, he remained a Met.

In fact, Mookie was one of the longest tenured Mets in history. When he was finally traded in 1989 to the Toronto Blue Jays, he was the longest tenured Met on the team. He was also the longest tenured Met when they won the World Series in 1986. In fact, when he departed, only Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, and Cleon Jones had played more games than him.

Over his 10 years with the Mets, he was the team’s all-time leader in triples and stolen bases. He was also third in runs and doubles. Really, at that point in Mets history, he was top 5-10 in most offensive categories. This shows how much of an impactful player he was for the franchise. That was perhaps best exhibited in his having the single greatest at-bat in team history:

In that at-bat, Mookie battled like few others we have seen in baseball history. Despite falling down 0-2 against Bob Stanley with the next strike ending the World Series, Wilson would take two pitches evening up the count at 2-2 before fouling off two pitches. The next pitch was the wild pitch.

Looking back at it, it was incredible he got out of the way of the pitch. His getting out of the way of the pitch allowed Mitchell to score from third and to permit Ray Knight to get into scoring position. He then fouled off another pitch before hitting the ball between Bill Buckner‘s legs. In that moment, the Mets made one of the greatest comebacks not just in baseball but sports history.

Mookie’s Mets contribution did not end there. He’d return to the franchise as a first base coach working on Bobby Valentine‘s staffs. On that note, he’d be standing in the first base coaches’ box during Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam single. That means Wilson was there up the first base line for two of the most improbable postseason comebacks with the Mets facing elimination.

Mookie is also the father of Preston Wilson, the former Mets prospect who was one of the headliners headed to the Miami Marlins for Mike Piazza. This only speaks to everything Mookie was. He was much more than the baseball player who got married at home plate in the minor leagues. He has been a good man and eventually became an ordained minister.

Through and through, Mookie is Mets baseball. He is an important figure in team history, and he is certainly the best ever player to wear the No. 1 in team history.

Mets Need Todd Frazier Back

Right now, the Mets have the worst defense in the National League, and they have the worst left side of the infield defense. Amed Rosario has been the worst shortstop in the National League, and J.D. Davis has been the worst infielder in all of baseball.

Now, it is fair to point out these are small sample sizes. However, historically, both of these players have been poor defenders. Considering this is their respective histories, the Mets are in desperate need for a defensive upgrade at third. Fortunately, they already have a very good defensive infielder on their 40 man roster. It’s just a matter of when he will be available to play.

During Spring Training, Todd Frazier suffered an injury. As a result, he opened the season on the Injured List. For a player who had never been on the Injured List over the first seven years of his career, Frazier has now landed there three times over the past year plus.

So far, it has been slow going for Frazier. Over 10 rehab games for St. Lucie, Frazier has struggled hitting .200/.282/.200. However, yesterday, he finally broke out. He was 1-for-2 with a run, home run, three RBI, and two walks.

That could be a sign he’s finally ready and not a moment too soon.

The Mets have lost four of their last five games with their defense being a culprit. Davis plays way too deep, he has difficulty getting in front of balls, and his throws have been very poor. Really, his defense has been hurting the team.

Defense is one thing Frazier does really well. Since 2017, his 12 DRS is the fourth best among third baseman. His UZR is fifth best. Put another way, the Mets are getting the chance to replace the worst third baseman with one of the best.

It’s a reason why McNeil should continue playing left. Another reason is the Mets organization outfield depth is poor. Moreover, Keon Broxton and Juan Lagares not hitting, and Brandon Nimmo dealing with neck issues.

With McNeil in left, Frazier can play third until Jed Lowrie returns (whenever that will be) or Frazier establishes he shouldn’t be playing everyday. At a minimum, the Mets defense will be vastly improved. Best case, he goes on and has a Ray Knight type of season.

Cubs And Red Sox Have Recently Won World Series Titles, Mets Haven’t

When I was talking with my Dad about the postseason, we were prattling off how most of the teams in the postseason haven’t won in quite some time:

  • Astros – Never
  • Nationals – Never
  • Rockies – Never
  • Indians – 1948
  • Dodgers – 1988
  • Twins – 1991
  • Diamondbacks – 2001
  • Yankees – 2009
  • Red Sox – 2013
  • Cubs – 2016

Just go back over that list again.

For nearly a century, the dream World Series matchup was Red Sox-Cubs. 1912 versus 1908. The Curse of the Bambino versus the Billy Goat Curse.

Then there was all of the Hall of Famers on both sides who never won a World Series. For the Cubs, you had absolute legends like Ernie Banks and Ferguson Jenkins.  The Red Sox had Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.

Throw in Fenway and Wrigley with the Green Monster and the ivy, this was the World Series to end all World Series because these were two teams pathologically incapable of winning World Series.

Until recently.

We know it all changed for the Red Sox with a Dave Roberts stolen base propelling the Red Sox to overcome an 0-3 ALCS deficit.  It would be a Kris Bryant homer to start the game winning rally in Game five of the World Series.  Before each of those moments, these were two franchises who seemed incapable of winning a World Series.  There was also a time the Mets would take full advantage.

In 1969, the Cubs went from Ron Santo clicking his heels to a black cat crossing their path.  We would then see Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman pitch the Mets to their first World Series title.

In 1986, Mookie Wilson hit a little roller up along first that got past Bill BucknerRay Knight scored the winning run en route to a Game 6 win and eventual World Series title.

Even in 2015, the Mets beat up on the Cubs.  Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom dominated them from the mound, and Daniel Murphy homered the Mets to the team’s fifth pennant.

Now, the Mets are behind both the Red Sox and the Cubs.  Now, it looks like the Mets who are the team that can’t win a World Series.

In 1988, Mike Scioscia hit a grand slam against Dwight Gooden.  In 1999, Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded.  In 2000, Timo Perez didn’t run out a Todd Zeile fly ball that landed on top of the wall.  In 2006, So Taguchi homered off of Guillermo Mota, and yes, Carlos Beltran struck out looking against Adam Wainwright.  In 2015,  Jeurys Familia blew three saves with the help of Daniel Murphy overrunning a grounder and a way offline Lucas Duda throw.  Last year, it was Conor Gillaspie who hit a three run homer in the Wild Card Game.

In reality, the Mets aren’t cursed even with all that ensued after the Madoff scandal.  However, with each passing year, you can forgive fans for starting to feel this way.  It’s been 31 years since the Mets last won a World Series.  In those 31 years, the Mets have reached the postseason six times, and they were eliminated in excruciating fashion each time.

Again, the Mets are not cursed.  Still, it is depressing to now live in a world where the Red Sox and the Cubs have won a World Series more recently than the Mets.

Mets All Eclipse Team

With the solar eclipse happening, now is as good as any to create a Mets All-Time Solar Eclipse Team.  These are players who are included due to their names and not because of their exploits.  For example, the will be no Mike Piazza for his moon shots, or Luis Castillo for his losing a ball in the moon.

SP – Tim Redding

He is the great nephew of Joyce Randoph of Honeymooners fame where Ralph threatened to send Alice right to the moon,.

C – Chris Cannizzaro 

Cannizzaro is the name of a lunar crater

1B – Lucas Duda

Lucas means light giving

2B –Neil Walker

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon

3B – Ray Knight

Pretty self explanatory, first sun rays, and then night.

SS – Asdrubal Cabrera

Asdrubal means helped by Baal.  Baal is a moon god

OF – Kevin Mitchell

Mitchell was one of the 12 men to walk on the moon

OF – Don Hahn

Hahn means rooster, which is an animal that crows at sunrise.

OF – Victor Diaz

His first and last name combined translate to day conqueror, which is effectively what the eclipse does.