Tom Seaver
Syndication: NorthJersey

Who were the best Mets players between 1971-1980?

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 1970s when the Mets were… something else.

1. Tom Seaver – 47.8 (1971-77)

With all due respect to the remarkable career Jacob deGrom has put together thus far and how special Doc Gooden was, Tom Terrific is still the greatest pitcher in the history of the Mets franchise. Before he was traded to Cincinnati in 1977, Seaver won two Cy Young Awards in this decade and represented the Mets in five All-Star Games. For the Mets in this decade, Seaver led the National League in strikeouts four times and won a league-leading 22 games in 1975.

2. Jon Matlack – 26.6 (1971-77)

Matlack was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1972 and won double-digit games in his first five full seasons in the big leagues. He represented the Mets in three consecutive All-Star Games (1974-76).

Jerry Koosman Nolan Ryan Mets
Courtesy Topps

3. Jerry Koosman – 24.8 (1971-78)

Koosman’s tenure with the Mets in the 1970s was emblematic of the state of the franchise. In 1976 he was the runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award after posting a 21-10 record. The following season he finished with a league-leading 20 losses.

4. John Stearns – 14.0 (1975-80)

Between 1975 and 1980, Stearns slashed .253/.342/.375 while contributing at a number of positions on the diamond. He represented the Mets in the All-Star game three times and walked more time (265) than he struck out (240) during this decade with the club.

5. Lee Mazzilli – 12.6 (1976-80)

Mazzilli was an All-Star for the Mets in 1979. He posted an OPS+ of 118 during this decade with the Mets and stole 122 bases in 128 games.

6. Wayne Garrett – 11.5 (1971-77)

Garrett established career-highs with 16 home runs and 58 RBI in 1973.

7. Bud Harrelson – 11.3 (1971-77)

When many people mention Harrelson’s name, the fight with Pete Rose (above) is one of the first things that comes to mind. He enjoyed the best season of his career in 1971, when he appeared in the All-Star Game and won a Gold Glove Award while stealing a career-high 28 bases.

8. Craig Swan – 11.3 (1973-80)

Swan led the National League with a 2.43 ERA in 1978. The following season he established career-bests with 14 wins and 145 strikeouts.

9. John Milner – 10.0 (1971-77)

Milner finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1972. Over seven seasons with the Mets he posted an OPS+ of 113 with 338 RBI in 741 games.

10. Tug McGraw – 9.7 (1971-74)

Between 1971-74, McGraw finished 153 games for the Mets. He was an All-Star in 1972 and received votes for the National League MVP in 1972 and 1973.

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.