New York Mets All-Time Tournament Team

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When you think of New York Mets history, plenty of names come to mind. Some brought joy, and some brought pain. Most brought both. Despite the many years of disappointing seasons, the Mets have a rich history full of Hall of Fame-caliber players at nearly every position. In this article each position is broken down, with the best player in Mets history filling each spot, creating an All-Time Team. Let’s dive into the history.

Manager

Since 1962, the Mets have had a total of 24 managers. Though some are more memorable than others, each manager has had an impact on Mets history. One manager stands out among the rest, and that is Hall of Famer Gil Hodges. When Hodges was brought in as manager in 1968, the Mets had only had one season where they didn’t finish in last place. In no season had they even come close to finishing .500. The Mets still struggled in ’68 with Hodges, but things were different this time. The Mets had young stars and were starting to look like professionals. Nobody would’ve predicted what happened a year later. Miraculously, Hodges turned a franchise around and made them winners. Sure he had talent on his team, but nearly every player on that ’69 team has admitted that without Hodges, there’s no championship.

Hodges demanded accountability from his players, In a late July game during the ’69 season, Hodges walked all the way out to left field to take Cleon Jones out of a game because Jones didn’t hustle after a ball in the outfield. This sent a message to the entire team, and Jones always hustled after that. He demanded respect and earned that respect through winning. Sadly, Hodges was not involved with the Mets organization very long due to a fatal heart attack he suffered in Spring Training 1972. Many players believe that the ’73 pennant-winning season and the 70s as a whole would’ve gone very differently if Hodges was around. Tom Seaver even went on record saying that he didn’t think he would’ve been traded in ’77 if Hodges was manager. Despite his managerial career being cut short, Gil Hodges had an immense impact on the Mets that is still felt today.

Catcher

When Gary Carter came to the Amazin’s he immediately made an impact, slashing .281/.365/.488 in the ’85 season. Carter was also a key component to the 1986 World Champion team. In Game Four of the World Series, he hit two home runs to give the Mets the win and tie up the series.

He also deserves credit for his ability to call a game, Dwight Gooden still compliments Carter to this day. “Having Gary Carter was a huge part of it,” Gooden said of the future Hall of Famer, who came over from Montreal via trade in December of 1984. “He was a veteran catcher. (Gary) knew the game and he was a great motivator. He wanted me to pitch like we were up 1–0 even if it was 10–0.” It’s easy to forget that Gary only spent five seasons in New York given the impact he had, but that’s only a testament to how important he was to the team. Even all these years later he shines brightly in New York Mets history and certainly belongs on the All-Time Team.

First Base

Keith Hernandez is easily the best first baseman in franchise history. Not only was he an elite hitter and fielder, he was a leader in the clubhouse as well. He was the first captain in franchise history, and without his presence the Mets franchise would look drastically different. Keith won a Gold Glove award nearly every year he was with the Mets, as well as a Silver Slugger award and had multiple All-Star game appearances. Keith’s acrobatic plays at first were a thing of beauty, and we likely won’t see anyone as good defensively in a long time.

Second Base

Filling out the right side of the infield is Edgardo Alfonzo. Edgardo was key in getting the Mets out of the funk that they were in during the mid 90’s. He came into the league as a 21-year-old rookie and immediately showed signs of being a star. He went on to win a Silver Slugger award in 1999, as well as hitting a clutch grand slam in Game One of the 1999 NLDS.

1999 was a big year for Alfonzo and the Mets’ infield as a whole. He appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the rest of the infield. The title read, “The Best Infield Ever?” Alfonzo reached the All-Star Game for the first time in 2000 and hit very well in the LCS. Although Alfonzo’s Mets career ended unceremoniously after an amazing 2002 season, he will always be remembered as a great Met.

Shortstop

Jose Reyes quickly became a star in New York, giving the Mets a strong left side of the infield along with David Wright. Jose was a four-time All-Star with the Mets. He also was a batting champion in 2011, the only player in Mets history to win the award. He was a key component to the 2006 playoff run, posting an impressive .300/.354/.487 slash line that season. Reyes also holds the Mets’ stolen base record with 408 in his 12 years with the team.

Third Base

David Wright is unquestionably the greatest Met to ever play at the hot corner. He leads the Mets in nearly every offensive record, and he brought a tremendous sense of leadership to Queens. He became the Mets’ captain in 2013 and certainly lived up to that title. Even though most of his prime years were taken away due to back issues, his legacy is still golden for every generation of Mets fans. For five straight seasons he hit north of .300. He won the Gold Glove award two seasons in a row.  Wright gave it everything he had to make it back to Citi Field and start one final game in 2018. Without a doubt, David Wright earns his spot on the Mets All-Time Team.

Left Field

Cleon Jones was a huge asset to the ’69 Miracle Mets. He had the best year of his career in ’69, with an outstanding .340/.422/.484 slash line. Jones also drove in four runs in the ’69 NLCS vs the Atlanta Braves, taking the Amazin’s to the World Series. He caught the last out of the series, shocking the world at the sight of the World Champion Mets.

Cleon spent a total of 12 seasons in New York and is one of the few Mets who is a two-time pennant winner. For a long period of time he held many Mets records. Teammate Bud Harrelson praised Cleon, saying “Even if he was in a 0-for-20 slump, he was the guy you’d still want at bat.” Although Cleon might not get all of the credit he deserves, he is a very important part of Mets history and very deserving of a spot on the All-Time Team.

Center Field

Carlos Beltran signed with the Mets prior to the 2005 season. His contract was the largest in franchise history at the time. Needless to say, expectations were high, and Beltran had a lot of weight on his shoulders. His first year in New York was impressive despite a disappointing year from the team. The following year was even more impressive, even though it had a disappointing ending. He made the All-Star team for a second consecutive year in ’06, adding Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Beltran’s ’08 season was arguably one of his best as a Met. He slashed .284/.500/.376 and played in all but one game. Beltran started to have some injury problems later in his Mets career before leaving the team after the 2011 season via trade, however he is still the best all-around center fielder in team history.

Right Field

When people think of Mets right fielders, most think of Darryl Strawberry. He came onto the scene in 1983 and gave the Mets hope. Strawberry quickly became a star, winning Rookie of the Year and appearing in the All-Star game in each year following ’83. Known for his powerful bat, Straw hit 252 home runs over his eight-year Mets career. He drove in six runs during the ’86 playoffs, including three home runs. Strawberry is arguably the best power hitter in Mets history and fits perfectly on the Mets All-Time Team.

Pitcher

The Mets have had plenty of great pitchers throughout their history, but one stands much higher than the rest. The Franchise, Tom Seaver, catapulted the Mets into relevance. Prior to Seaver, the Mets were looked upon as the little brother to the New York Yankees. Seaver gave the Mets an identity. He gave the fans someone they could be proud of, and he delivered a World Championship to the city.

A three-time Cy Young winner and ten-time All-Star, he has 198 wins and 171 complete games as a Met. After the Mets foolishly traded him in 1977, the team’s soul was taken away for years. He came back in ’83, put up a great year, and left again because he was left unprotected during the Free Agent Compensation Draft. Despite being wronged by the Mets multiple times, Seaver was always thankful for the Mets fans. Without a doubt, Tom Seaver is not only the best pitcher in franchise history, he’s the best player.

Designated Hitter

Although there hasn’t been a DH in the NL yet, Mike Piazza was always great when given the opportunity. A six-time All-Star with four Silver Sluggers, Piazza was always a reliable bat in the lineup. Fans were shocked when he was traded to the Mets in ’98. Some wondered whether he would fit in New York. He proved the doubters wrong quickly, becoming the best hitting catcher in Mets history and accomplishing the feat of most home runs by a catcher while with the Mets. He is the second player in Mets history to go into the Hall of Fame as a Met. Without question, Piazza has done more than enough to earn a spot on the All-Time Team.

Bullpen

Sid Fernandez: Sid was a reliable Met for many years. A two-time All-Star, Fernandez was lights out in the ’86 World Series, posting a 1.35 ERA in 6 2/3 innings. Sid deserves more credit for his reliability and consistency. Without his strong bullpen performance who knows how ’86 would’ve turned out.

Jesse Orosco: Another key piece to the ’86 Mets, Jesse Orosco was also lights out. He was perfect in the ’86 World Series, allowing no earned runs and closing out Game Seven to give the Mets their second World Championship. Orosco was a reliable closer for many years in New York, something the Mets have struggled to find ever since.

Tug McGrawMuch like Orosco, Tug McGraw was also very reliable in the playoffs and during pennant runs. McGraw spent nine seasons in New York, appearing in 361 games and putting up a 3.17 ERA.He also coined the iconic phrase, “Ya Gotta Believe!” After McGraw passed away in 2004, Tom Seaver released this statement. ”Tug McGraw was one of the great characters of the game of baseball, He just had a joy for life and living. But what people sometimes overlook because he was always happy go-lucky, was what kind of competitior he was on the mound. No one competed with more intensity that he did.”

Honorable Mentions

Although these four players didn’t quite have what it takes to make the All-Time Team, they all are valuable parts of Mets history and deserve a lot of credit for their excellence. These four players are Dwight Gooden, Jacob deGrom, John Franco, and Mookie Wilson.

See the All-Time Team Tournament Headquarters here.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images

Players Mentioned:

Gary Carter, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Edgardo Alfonzo, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Cleon Jones, Bud Harrelson, Carlos Beltran, Darryl Strawberry, Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, Sid Fernandez, Jesse Orosco, Tug McGraw, Jacob deGrom, John Franco, Mookie Wilson