Mets Keith Hernandez
Syndication: Westchester County Journal News

Who were the best Mets players between 1981-1990?

As we continue waiting for MLB to get a new CBA signed, we’re taking time to look back at the best players in each decade for the New York Mets.

In this series we’re looking back at the top ten players ranked by their WAR (per Baseball Reference). Thus far, we have looked back at the top ten Mets from the following decades:

Now, let’s head back to the 1980s when the Mets last won a ring.

1. Darryl Strawberry – 36.6 (1983-90)

Some might argue Strawberry’s swing was as sweet as Ken Griffey Jr.’s stroke from the left side. He burst onto the scene and was named Rookie of the Year in 1983 and then appeared in the All-Star Game every year from 1984 to 1991. In this decade, Strawberry averaged 32 home runs and 92 RBI and was lethal in the Mets’ lineup.

2. Dwight Gooden – 33.2 (1984-90)

Gooden led the majors with 276 strikeouts as a 19-year-old in 1984, winning the Rookie of the Year to give the Mets’ back-to-back ROYs. He represented the Mets in four All-Star Games and won the Cy Young Award in his sophomore season — a season in which he was 24-4 and led the majors in almost every pitching category.

3. Keith Hernandez – 26.6 (1983-89)

The Mets will finally take Keith’s number out of circulation this summer. He won a Gold Glove Award in his first five full seasons with the Mets and represented the club in three All-Star Games. In his first full year with the Mets, Hernandez was the runner-up for the NL MVP and won the Silver Slugger.

4. Mookie Wilson – 20.9 (1980-89)

His “ground ball to Buckner” will live in infamy. But he was a solid player for the Mets for most of the decade. Between making his debut in 1980 and the trade that sent him to Toronto in 1989, Wilson stole 281 bases for the Mets and averaged almost one hit per game (1,112 hits in 1,116 games).

5. Howard Johnson – 19.1 (1985-90)

HoJo joined the Mets in 1985 and was a really good contributor for the team, averaging 23 homers and 24 stolen bases per season between 1985-90. He appeared in the first of his two All-Star Games with the Mets in 1989 and won a Silver Slugger Award when he led the NL with 104 runs scored and also drove in 101 runs.

6. Sid Fernandez – 17.3 (1984-90)

The native of Hawaii came over from the Dodgers in 1984 and was exactly what the Mets needed. He won 16 games in 1986, helping the Mets win the World Series. Fernandez represented the Mets in two All-Star Games (1986, 87) and struck out 1,144 batters in this decade.

7. Lenny Dykstra – 16.6 (1985-90)

In parts of five seasons with the Mets, Dykstra slashed .278/.350/.413 with an OPS+ of 115.

8. Ron Darling – 15.0 (1983-90)

We now know Darling for his work in the booth, but he was a big part of the Mets’ rotation for most of this decade. He went 16-6 for the Mets in 1985, his only All-Star season. He also won a Gold Glove Award in 1989.

9. Kevin McReynolds – 14.4 (1987-90)

McReynolds was involved in two of the bigger trades the Mets made in the 1980s and early 1990s, and both happened on Dec. 11. He was acquired in an eight-player deal that sent Kevin Mitchell (among others) to the Padres. In 1991 he was dealt to Kansas City in the deal that brought Bret Saberhagen to New York.

10. Jesse Orosco – 12.3 (1981-87)

Before the modern weaponizing of the bullpen, Orosco was a threat every day. Between 1981-87, Orosco appeared in 354 games — starting only twice. He appeared in two All-Star Games for the Mets (1983, 84) and saved 107 games in this decade for the club. He finished third in Cy Young voting in 1983.

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.