It’s been 50 years since the New York Mets won their first World Series. It seems appropriate to honor the franchise with an all-time roster.
The New York Mets are currently in the thick of a playoff chase that emulates the 1969 season in a lot of ways. That’s why it seems important to look back at Mets history and see the faces that made this franchise what it is.
Just to remind fans: no matter what happens, the Mets are never out of a race.
Catcher: Mike Piazza, Gary Carter
This was the easiest decision to make on the roster. The Mets have been blessed with two of the greatest catchers in MLB history.
Mike Piazza is the greatest offensive catcher in baseball history. His 427 home runs are the most by a catcher in MLB history. During his Mets career, Piazza hit .296/.373/.542, with 220 HRs, 193 doubles and 655 RBI. He is one of only two Mets players to have their numbers retired, alongside Tom Seaver.
He was the heart and soul of the Mets during his tenure here. That was never more clear than when Piazza hit a home run on Sept. 21, 2001, the first baseball game in New York post 9/11. Piazza embodied everything that a Met was supposed to be. He will always be remembered as one of the faces of this franchise.
Gary Carter was simply the best catcher of his generation. Carter could do everything. At times, he was the engine that fueled the Mets offense. He was the stable presence behind that plate that reeled in the Mets pitching staff. He was the brains behind shutting down opponents.
It’s very likely that the Mets don’t win the World Series in 1986 without Carter. He was a leader in every possible way and he kept that young and wild team on track. Sadly, Carter passed away from brain cancer in 2012. He may be gone, but Carter lives on in the hearts and memories of all Mets fans.
First Base: Keith Hernandez
The Mets have had some good first basemen over the years. From Don Clendenon to John Olerud to Carlos Delgado, and now, the team is being led by Pete Alonso. Still, none of those guys lives up to Keith Hernandez.
Keith is not only a part of the best broadcast trio in baseball, but he was also a really good baseball player. He is the greatest defensive first basemen to ever play the game-winning 11 gold gloves, winning six of them with the Mets. He was no slouch with the bat either. During his Mets tenure, Hernandez hit .297/.387/.429, with 80 home runs, 159 doubles and 468 RBI. During his tenure with the Mets, Keith finished top 10 in MVP voting three times and top-five twice (he was the runner up in 1984).
It’s a travesty that he isn’t in the hall of fame while players like Harold Baines are. Still. Mets fans know how special he was. Hopefully, he takes the time to teach some of his old tricks to Pete and help the next generation of Mets first basemen.
Second Base: Edgardo Alfonzo
Alfonzo was one of the best hitting second basemen in baseball. Alfonzo started his career off as a third baseman, with Jeff Kent occupying second base. Kent was dealt to the Cleveland Indians at the deadline in 1996, but it wasn’t until 1999 that the Mets moved Alfonzo over to second base, a move that was best for his career.
Alfonzo was not the best defensive third baseman; he wasn’t necessarily bad, but he was not the player he was at second base. in his first year at second base, the Mets had “the greatest defensive infield of all time.” With John Olerud at first, Alfonzo at second, Rey Ordonez at shortstop and Robin Ventura at third, the Mets played better defense than anyone. To this day, many baseball heads claim it was the greatest defensive infield of all-time, though advanced metrics place them second all-time behind only the 1975 Baltimore Orioles.
As a member of the Mets, Alfonzo hit .292/.367/.445, with 120 HR, 212 doubles, and 538 RBI. Alfonzo and Piazza formed a core in the middle of the order that was the bane of pitchers existences.
Like Keith Hernandez, Alfonzo still works for the Mets. He is now the manager of the Brooklyn Cyclones, helping to form the Mets future. His staff in Brooklyn also includes Mets legend Endy Chavez. Who knows, maybe one day Mets fans will get to see Alfonzo in the dugout at Citi Field.
Third Base: David Wright, Howard Johnson
The captain and HoJo were dynamic forces at the plate for their teams. Howard Johnson played a large role in the Mets winning the world series in 1986. Meanwhile, David Wright has been the face of the franchise for the last decade-plus. They both easily slot in at third base on this team.
David Wright was everything to the Mets since he came up. One of the league’s superstars both offensively and defensively, David was a stud. He was also the leader in the clubhouse, and as such was given the captaincy in 2013. He was the first captain the team had since Gary Carter. In his 14 years with the Mets, Wright hit .296/.376/.491, with 242 HR, 390 doubles, and 970 RBI. By the time he retired Wright owned nearly every offensive record in team history. If not for his spinal stenosis, it’s possible that Wright was on his way to Cooperstown.
Johnson may not have had the flashiest stats, but he was the glue for many Mets teams. HoJo finished top 10 in MVP voting three times including twice in the top five during his Mets career. He brought versatility to the team both offensively and defensiveness. HoJo was a switch hitter usually at the top or middle of the lineup, which forced opposing teams to game plan around him. He hit for power and had the speed to keep pitchers on their toes. HoJo hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases in a season three times in his career. Defensively HoJo played all over the field, during his Mets career he played 3B, SS, LF, RF and CF. HoJo was a guy before his time; his game was made for modern baseball.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes, Bud Harrelson
When Mets fans think of shortstops in team history, these are the two that come to mind. Jose Reyes was the spark plug for the mid-2000s Mets offense. Meanwhile, Bud Harrelson was the longtime Met who went from gritty youngster to clubhouse leader.
Reyes was one of the most electric players in baseball for years. He led the league in stolen bases for three straight years. Reyes led the league in triples five times in his career. He led the league in hits once. He also led the league in batting average once. Reyes image has been tainted by the way his career with the Mets ended, and a domestic violence charge. Still, he is the greatest shortstop in Mets history.
Harrelson is not on this list for his ability on the field. Yes, he did get MVP votes in three years during his Mets career, but overall he wasn’t the best player. During his time with the Mets Harrelson only hit .234/.324/.287. That said, Harrelson was the heart and soul of two Mets teams that went to a world series. Nobody could forget Harrelson and Pete Rose getting into a fistfight out at second base in 1973. Harrelson brought the grit and heart to the Mets for over a decade. His leadership was a major reason the Mets were able to make survive playoff runs in 1969 and 1973.
Left Field: Cleon Jones
Cleon Jones was the 1969 teams motor. He hit at the top of the lineup and hit .340/.422/.488 that year. He led the Mets offense into battle year after year. There is no doubt that Cleon Jones is the best left fielder in Mets history.
Overall in his Mets career, Jones hit .281/.340/.406. He coupled that with excellent defense in left field and good speed on the bases. He was the best all-around player on those Mets teams. The Mets likely don’t win the world series in 1969 without Cleon Jones, and for that alone, he belongs on this list.
Center Field: Carlos Beltran, Tommie Agee, Mookie Wilson
The Mets have been blessed in center field. Each generation has had a star that they could latch onto and call their own.
Tommy Agee kicked that off when the Mets traded or him in 1968. His career with the Mets got off to a rocky start that year when he hit just .217/.255/.307. That was the worst year in Agee’s career. He bounced back in 1969 though and helped lead the Mets to a world series. He finished top-six in MVP voting in 1969. Agee would follow that up with a top 20 MVP season in 1970, along with a gold glove. Overall Agee hit .262/.329/.419 for the Mets over five seasons.
Mookie Wilson stormed into New York in 1980. During his time with the Mets Mookie never made an all-star team, nor did he earn an MVP vote. However, Mookie did bring something that Mets desperately needed at the time, speed. Mookie was a slap hitter and got on base quite a bit, as can be seen from his Mets slash line of .276/.318/.394. It was his speed that separated him though. He stole 281 bases while with the Mets, and stole over 50 bases in a single season twice, he topped 45 stolen bases in three straight seasons. Mookie’s speed is one of the reasons Bill Buckner made his infamous error in game six. Mookie is on this team for his speed, defense, high average, and his part in one of the most memorable plays not only in Mets history but baseball history.
For whatever reason, Mets fans could never get on the Carlos Beltran train from the start. Beltran is one of the best players in the history of the franchise, and one of the teams few true offensive superstars.
Over his Mets career, Beltran received MVP votes in three seasons and finished top five in one. On top of that Beltran won three gold gloves, and was named to five all-star teams. Overall Beltran hit .280/.369/.500, with 149 HR, 208 doubles, and 559 RBI. Beltran is going to be in the hall of fame one day, and the numbers say he should go in as a Met. Sadly, a rift was created between him and the Wilpons that has soured him on the franchise. It’s now likely that Beltran will head to the hall of fame without a cap. It’s a shame how this franchise treated one of the best players in its history.
Right Field: Darryl Strawberry
Was there ever any doubt who would be in this spot? Darryl Strawberry set nearly every single offensive record in Mets history at the time. In his eight years with the Mets, Straw won Rookie of the Year, made seven straight all-star teams, had three top-six MVP finishes, including two top-three finishes (he was runner up in one of those years). He was a superstar in the MLB by any definition.
Straw hit .263/.359/.520, with a franchise-record 252 home runs, 187 doubles, and 733 RBI. His debut in 1983 marked the great turnaround for the mid-1980s Mets. Strawberry deserves his own wing in the Mets hall of fame for what he provided the team from 1983-1990. There aren’t many Mets who did it better than Straw.
Starting Pitchers: Tom Seaver, Jacob deGrom, Jon Matlack, Doc Gooden, Jerry Koosman
Pitching has almost always been the Mets strong suit. The 1969 starting rotation was one of the best baseball has ever seen. Doc Gooden had one of the greatest starts to a career that anyone had ever seen. Jacob DeGrom was a no-name prospect who came out of nowhere to become one of the best pitchers in baseball. That’s been the Mets luck with pitchers.
Tom Seaver is the face of the franchise. Even today when people talk about the Mets Tom Seaver’s name is almost guaranteed to come up. With good reason too because he is one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. He is the greatest pitcher in Mets history and it isn’t close. Seaver was an All-Star in every single one of his 12 years with the Mets. On top of that, he was Rookie of the Year, a four-time Cy Young award winner, and six times got MVP Votes, including four top 10 finishes. In 1969 Seaver fell just shy of winning the MVP award, he finished with the same amount of first-place votes as Willie McCovey who won the award. In all Seaver had a 2.57 ERA, 198 wins, 2,541 Ks, and 44 complete game shutouts. Seaver’s dominance is undeniable, and number 41 will live on forever.
Jerry Koosman started a trend that has continued to this day. Mets pitchers who are dominant, but lack run support. In his 12 years with the Mets, Koosman was 140-137 despite his ERA of just 3.09. Koosman finished second in Rookie of the Year voting in 1968. He would only earn two all-star nods and only got Cy Young votes in a single season. He finished runner up that year. Koosman did, however, get MVP votes in three years during his Mets career. Koosman is one of the most underappreciated pitchers in Mets history. A product of his time period and a focus on stats like wins and losses rather than any indication as to the kind of pitcher he was. In today’s game, Koosman would get the recognition he deserved as one of the better pitchers in all of baseball.
Jon Matlack continued the trend that started with Koosman. He had it even worse than Koosman did. Matlack had an ERA of 3.03 with the Mets but went just 81-82. He too was underappreciated in his time. He made only three all-star teams, and only got Cy Young votes once in his career. However, unlike Koosman Matlack was able to win Rookie of the Year. Matlack led the league in shut outs on multiple occasions with the Mets. The 1973 staff that featured Seaver, Koosman and Matlack was as good a pitching staff as the Mets have ever had.
Doc Gooden was one of the greatest roller coasters in baseball history. When he came up in 1984, he was the hottest prospect in baseball. He came up at just 19 years old and lit baseball on fire. He won the Rookie of the Year, finished second in Cy Young voting and received MVP votes. Gooden followed that up by being even better in 1985. It was the greatest season by a Mets pitcher ever and one of the greatest pitching seasons in baseball history. Gooden won the Cy Young in 1985 and finished fourth in MVP voting. Things went downhill from there, but Gooden was still one of the better pitchers in baseball.
Overall, Gooden finished top 10 in CY Young voting five times, got MVP votes three times, and was a four-time all-star. In his Mets career, Gooden had a 3.10 ERA, 157 wins, 1,875 Ks and 23 shutouts. Gooden was Amazin’, but one has to wonder how good he could have been if not for his Cocaine addiction.
Jacob deGrom is phenomenal. What else is there to say about the Mets current ace. In his career, he has a 2.65 ERA, 1,207 Ks, 63 wins, 10.3 K/9, and only 2.2 BB/9. DeGrom is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and is coming off a Cy Young-winning season. In his career, deGrom has now won a Cy Young and a Rookie of the Year. He has also appeared on three all-star teams. He has garnered Cy Young votes in three seasons, two top-10 finishes and his win. Lastly, he finished fifth in MVP voting last year.
He might not be having a season like last right now, but he’s still been deGrominant. He leads baseball in Pitching WAR and Ks. He’s having another Cy Young worthy season and is likely on course for a top-three finish at the very least. DeGrom has earned his place on this roster and his place in the Mets pantheon with his play. Here’s to five more years of deGrom.
Relief Pitchers: John Franco, Jesse Orosco, Billy Wagner, Jeurys Familia, Armando Benitez, Bob Apodaca
Filling out the Mets bullpen was the hardest part of this exercise. As one might expect, the Mets haven’t been flush with bullpen talent over the years. However, the six guys here are the best of the best the Mets have to offer.
Bob Apodaca played his whole career with the Mets. He was a pitcher for the Mets from 1974-1977. In that time Apodaca was excellent posting a 2.86 ERA. He was never the Mets closer, but he was an excellent relief pitcher for the team. In 1978 Apodaca tore a ligament in his elbow, and he that was the end of his career. Apodaca was a master at getting soft contact and limiting damage. That’s something he passed on to his players when he switched to coaching. Apodaca was the Mets pitching coach from 1996-1999, where he worked with two other Mets on this list.
Jesse Orosco spent the first eight years of his long career with the Mets. Jesse O will always be remembered for recording the last out in the 1986 World Series. He was more than that though, over his Mets career he had a 2.73 ERA. He was as close to a shut down closer as there was in the National League during his tenure with the Mets. Only Lee Smith and Tug McGraw could boast better numbers than Jesse O. during that time. He even had a season where he finished top three in Cy Young voting.
Jesse O is a big reason those mid-1980s Mets team pitching staffs were as good as they were. They knew that they could go all out because if they did have to leave a game they had Jesse there to pick up where they left off. Jesse also has the record for most appearances by a pitcher in MLB history at 1,252.
John Franco was a heart attack waiting to happen every time he got on the mound. Franco had a WHIP of 1.365 while with the Mets. He always had to make things hard on himself. He would fill the bases and then clear them out just as quick. Despite everything, Franco still only had a 3.10 ERA in his Mets career, which lasted from 1990-2004. He also had 276 saves over that time. That was on the road to what was the second-most saves in a career when he retired. He would be passed by Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Fransisco Rodriguez better known as K-Rod. Franco is one of the best closers the Mets have ever had.
Armando Benitez came to the Mets in 1999. It didn’t take long for Benitez to supplant Franco as the Mets closer. Benitez often gets flack from Mets fans, but he’s another case where that doesn’t make much sense. In his time with the team, Benitez was extremely effective. In his five years, Benitez had a 2.70 ERA, 160 saves, and 11.8 K/9. Yes, he often walked too many batters with a 4.4 BB/9, but most times those walks didn’t matter. Benitez set and then broke his own record for saves in a season by a Mets pitcher. Without Benitez, it’s likely the Mets don’t get to the World Series in 2000.
Prior to the 2006 season, the Mets signed all-star closer Billy Wagner to a big-money contract. Wagner did not disappoint in his time in New York. Wagner will always be connected to the great collapses of 2007 and 2008, but he had little to do with it. In fact, Wagner was an All-Star in both years. In his three years in New York Wagner was simply dominant. He posted a 2.37 ERA, 101 saves, 10.9 K/9, and only 2.9 BB/9. Wagner was the most shut down closer of his era. He deserves to be in the hall of fame for the amazing career he had, but prejudice against closers has kept him out so far. In the meantime, he can be appreciated as one of the greatest relief pitchers in Mets history.
Easily, the most controversial name on this entire roster is Jeurys Familia. Mets fans have never forgiven him for his performance in the 2015 World Series and his performance this year hasn’t helped matters. In a lot of ways, Familia is similar to Benitez.
He has been extremely effective in his Mets career with a 3.09 ERA in his eight seasons with the team. He has struck out 9.3 per nine innings with the Mets. His big issue is his walks, he has allowed 4 BB/9 in his career with the Mets. It’s been an issue, but that doesn’t define him. Familia holds the Mets record for saves in a season with 51. He even received MVP votes in 2016. Simply put, outside of his performance in 2019, Familia has easily been one of the best relief pitchers the Mets have ever had. His performance this year has been poor, but it’s nowhere near enough to knock him off the team’s all-time roster.
Closer: Tug McGraw
Like many of the players on this list, McGraw was a part of both the Mets 1969 and 1973 teams. He is also easily the best reliever in Mets history. McGraw was so good that twice he picked up MVP votes.
During his time with the Mets McGraw put up a 3.17 ERA in 792.2 innings, 7 K/9 and 86 saves. McGraw was the guy the Mets could turn to at the end of a game no matter what inning he had to come in. Four times in his nine years with the Mets McGraw pitched over 100 innings. He did so without ever appearing in more than 60 games.
Despite his success, McGraw is not to be remembered his play on the field. Rather, he is remembered for uttering the three words that have become the franchise’s motto, “Ya gotta believe.”
Mets All-Time Roster At A Glance
- C: Mike Piazza, Gary Carter
- 1B: Keith Hernandez
- 2B: Edgardo Alfonzo
- SS: Jose Reyes, Bud Harrelson
- 3B: David Wright, Howard Johnson
- LF: Cleon Jones
- CF: Carlos Beltran, Tommie Agee, Mookie Wilson
- RF: Darryl Strawberry
- SP: Tom Seaver, Jacob deGrom, Jon Matlack, Doc Gooden, Jerry Koosman
- RP: John Franco, Jesse Orosco, Billy Wagner, Jeurys Familia, Armando Benitez, Bob Apodaca
- CP: Tug McGraw