Best Mets Players Of All Time: Top 5 New York Athletes, According To Sports Experts

New York is known for its five boroughs, delicious foldable slices of pizza, and exciting professional sports teams. In fact, New York City is home to more than 10 professional sports teams including the Yankees, Knicks, Rangers, Jets, Giants (football), and, of course, the Mets. The Mets’ name is short for Metropolitans, and they’ve been playing baseball in New York City for over 50 years. With such a rich and full history, which players deserve to be listed as the best Mets players of all time?  

Before we dive into the best players, it’s no secret that building a great baseball team is hard work. From scouting to drafting to signing the ballplayers, putting together an MLB roster that can contend on a yearly basis takes dedication, attention to detail, and a very large payroll. Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane perfected ‘affordable’ team-building with his famed ‘Moneyball’ process, but a recent study suggests that Moneyball could be played out in MLB

A study by researchers at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management found that the analytics-heavy strategy lost some of its appeal once it became adopted by most other teams. Incorporating analytics into team-building is a strategy that’s used by pretty much every MLB team, and researchers say that’s leveling the playing field, pun intended, across all of Major League Baseball. 

Another study found that if Moneyball isn’t paying off for MLB teams, then baseball fans might not be too upset. Moneyball focuses on analytics and free agency to affordably build a competitive roster. However, a study by researchers at the University of Kansas found that baseball fans prefer teams built through the draft, using ‘homegrown’ talent to field a competitive baseball team. Researchers surveyed over 1,500 Americans and discovered that fans prefer teams built with homegrown talent over rosters filled with expensive free agents. Fans feel those championships won with expensive free agents feel ‘bought.’ Of course, the argument could be made that successful teams need a combination of ‘homegrown’ drafted players and high-profile free agents to be successful. 

So, just who are the best Mets players of all time? StudyFinds did the research, visiting 10 baseball and sports websites to bring you a consensus five best players in Mets history. Our list comprises the five most frequently recommended players from across these sites. As always, feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! 

Citi Field in New York
Citi Field in New York (Photo by Adrian Hernandez on Unsplash)

The List: Best Mets Players of All Time, According to Baseball Fans

1. Tom Seaver (1967-1977 & 1983)

Topping the lists of the best Mets players of all time is none other than Tom ‘Terrific’ Seaver. During his time with the Mets, Tom Seaver was one of the best pitchers in MLB and was simply dominant every time he took the mound. 

“Seaver is, by just about any metric, one of the 10 greatest starting pitchers in MLB history, if not higher. As a Met, Seaver won the 1967 National League Rookie of the Year Award and three NL Cy Young Awards. Additionally, Seaver led baseball in ERA on three occasions, WHIP three times, FIP four times and strikeouts five times. Seager was the best player on the first Mets team to win a World Series, and dons a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque,” explains Audacy

Three Cy Young Awards is nothing to scoff at, but Tom Seaver wasn’t just a great regular season pitcher. Seaver helped lead the ‘Amazing’ Mets to their first ever World Series championship, and that makes him beloved by Mets fans everywhere. 

“When thinking about Tom Seaver, one word pops into my mind: Terrific (Hence the nickname). However, words can’t describe his value to the Mets franchise. As a Hall of Famer, Tom is simply the greatest Met of all-time. He helped turn a drowning joke of a franchise into World Series Champions, and that can’t be understated. When looking at Seaver’s track record, it is hard to choose one year that stood out above the rest. He stayed consistent, never faltering much throughout his long career. When Tom Seaver stepped on the mound, it was nearly a fact that you were going to get a quality start,” adds Bleacher Report

Although Seaver led his team to a World Series victory, he experienced some ups and downs. Experts agree that doesn’t take away from what Seaver was able to accomplish on the mound. “During his ten full seasons in New York, Seaver led the NL in wins twice, ERA thrice, strikeouts five times, and complete games once. ‘Tom Terrific’ won three Cy Young awards during his New York tenure and finished as the MVP runner-up in 1969. Seaver struggled in his first World Series start that October, losing Game 1, but pitched a gem in Game 4 when he allowed only one run over ten innings to earn the complete game victory. In the 1974 series, Seaver compiled 18 ks in 15 IP with a 2.40 ERA but didn’t win two low-scoring affairs,” furthers Pitcher List

2. Darryl Strawberry (1983-1990)

The next player on the list of the best Mets players of all time needs no introduction – it’s Darryl Strawberry. Darryl Strawberry was the top draft pick for the Mets franchise in 1980 before making his debut in 1983 when he won Rookie of the Year honors and took the league by storm. 

“One of the most talented players that the game has ever seen, Strawberry spent the first eight years of his career on the Mets, putting himself on a Hall of Fame trajectory. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1983, and was an All-Star every year from 1984 to 1991. Strawberry was the runner-up to Kirk Gibson for National League MVP in 1988, and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting four times during his time with the Mets,” writes Audacy

Strawberry could do it all on a baseball field but he was known for being a great power hitter. Strawberry was also infamous for his off-field struggles with drugs. “Strawberry is in the same ‘what could have been’ category as Gooden. Both players had outstanding careers but had the potential to be so much better if drugs didn’t interfere. Strawberry barely gets the edge over the number four player because he was a part of the 1986 World Series team. In 1983 Strawberry was the NL Rookie of the Year. He was also a seven-time All-Star with the Mets, he received MVP votes in three years with the team… and he was a two-time silver slugger with the Mets. [Strawberry] is first in Mets’ history in homers, adjusted OPS+, intentional walks, and sacrifice hits,” explains Elite Sports NY

Strawberry smashed over 250 home runs, amassed over 1,000 hits, and tallied over 700 RBIs over the course of his illustrious career. And Strawberry did all of this with the pressure of being the top draft pick in 1980 on his shoulders. 

“Strawberry is another guy who had all the skills in the world and despite having an amazing career, he couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble. Nonetheless, his time as a Met will never be forgotten in the fans’ hearts, as he was part of that magical 1986 team. Known for being a great power hitter, Darryl’s best year was 1988 when he lead the league in home runs with 39. He also managed to top the league in both OPS and Slugging Percentage,” explains Bleacher Report

3. Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden (1984-1994)

Doc Gooden is one of the best pitchers the Mets franchise has ever seen, and as the experts explain, Doc had the best beginning to a career in MLB history“Gooden had one of the most dominant starts to a career that a pitcher has ever had, going 91-35 with a 2.62 ERA, 2.46 FIP and edging out Roger Clemens for the league-lead in fWAR among pitchers between 1984 and 1988. Mind you, Gooden was 19 in his first major league season, and when he won the 1985 National League Cy Young Award, he was just 20 years old. While Gooden struggled against the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 World Series, he was tremendous in the NLCS against the Astros, as he posted a minuscule 1.06 ERA in two starts. In total, Gooden is the all-time leader among Mets starting pitchers in win-loss percentage, home runs per nine and championship win probability added,” writes Audacy

Obviously, Gooden was dominant from the very start of his career and on. However, like Darryl Strawberry, Gooden struggled with off-the-field issues and trouble with the law. “Gooden often struggled to concentrate completely on baseball, as he repeatedly got into trouble with the law. After a promising start to his career, many thought he was destined to be arguably the best to ever play the game of baseball… Gooden’s best year was certainly in 1985, as he followed up his Rookie of the Year season with absolutely dominant stats, easily taking home the Cy Young Award. He lead the league in wins, ERA, complete games, strikeouts and innings pitched. However, things didn’t slow down much after that, as he was a key asset in the machine that took the Mets on the road to their second World Series Championship,” explains Bleacher Report

Dwight Gooden’s performance in that 1985 MLB season is one of the best in history as he brought home the pitching triple crown and won the Cy Young Award. “Gooden was the NL Rookie of the Year in ’84 and then became a machine the following season. Just look at his stat line from 1985. In 35 starts, he went 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA and 16 complete games. He struck out 268 hitters in 276.2 innings en route to winning the Cy Young award and the pitching triple crown. As a 21-year-old, he was front and center during the Mets championship season of 1986 and had it not been for off-the-field issues that derailed his career at times, he would’ve been a sure-fire Hall of Famer,” adds Yardbarker

4. David Wright (2004-2018)

The list is not complete without legendary Mets third baseman, David Wright. Arguably the best third baseman of his era, David Wright played his entire career with the New York Mets, and he was the face of the Mets franchise for over a decade. 

“For Mets fans, third baseman David Wright is the position player equivalent of what Seaver represented on the mound. Wright was a homegrown high draft pick, who went on to become the face of the team for over a decade. The Virginia native was a seven-time all-star, a two-time Silver Slugger winner, and captured two Gold Glove awards. He drove in over 100 runs in five different seasons and helped take this team three wins from a World Championship back in 2015. Wright retired as the franchise’s all-time leader in hits, runs, RBI, doubles, total bases, and walks and could have even more records had his career not unfortunately been dramatically shortened by spinal stenosis,” explains Yardbarker

Like Darryl Strawberry, David Wright was a high draft choice for the Mets organization and he possessed tons of promise. Wright more than lived up to expectations with the exception of one – winning a World Series. Regardless, David Wright was always a class act both on and off the field, and that’s a big reason why he’s one of the most beloved Mets players in history. 

“Injuries may have prevented Wright from solidifying himself as one of the greatest third basemen in MLB history, but there’s little doubt that he’s one of the best players to ever wear a Mets uniform. ‘Captain America’ was the type of player that everyone wanted on their team, because at his peak, he was an excellent defender that was going to hit north of .300 and hit around 30 home runs. From here, the Mets should probably retire the seven-time All-Star’s No. 5 at some point,” adds Audacy

David Wright was indeed plagued with injuries that prevented him from realizing his truest potential. Wright retired after the 2018 MLB season, finishing his career just short of passing Darryl Strawberry for the franchise’s home run title. 

“In 2014, fate began to turn against Wright. A shoulder injury sapped his power, and he hit only eight HRs that season. Injuries plagued him for the rest of his career, as he could only muster 77 more games over three more seasons. Wright did manage to play in the 2015 postseason when the Mets lost to the Royals in the World Series. He had an excellent NLCS but struggled in the series (as did much of the team). After missing all of 2017, the Mets activated Wright in September 2018 for a few final appearances to say goodbye to the Mets’ faithful. He retired as the franchise leader in plate appearances, hits, doubles, runs, and RBI after the season,” explains Pitcher List

5. Mike Piazza (1998-2005)

Widely regarded as one of the top power-hitting catchers in MLB history, Piazza landed with the Mets in 1998 via a trade with the Florida Marlins. This was Piazza’s second trade of the season after the Dodgers shipped him over to Florida earlier in the year. However, Piazza quickly found a home with the New York Metropolitans as he dominated the NL East for years to come. 

“In trading Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall for Piazza, [Mets] then-general manager Steve Phillips made one of the greatest trades in MLB history. Piazza solidified his place as the greatest hitting catcher of all time during his seven-and-a-half seasons with the Mets, slashing .296/.373/.542 with 220 home runs, 655 RBIs and a .915 OPS. While he did help the Mets to reach the 2000 World Series, Piazza’s most iconic moment with the team came when he hit a go-ahead home run in the team’s first game back after 9/11. Piazza was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, and his plaque features him wearing a Mets cap,” explains Audacy.  

The home run that Piazza hit in the first game after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City is by far one of the best sports moments this century. “From the moment Mike Piazza got traded to New York, he became one of the most beloved Mets of all time. He certainly lived up to all the hype though, continuing the Mets long history of great catchers. Not to mention, who can forget Mike’s home run in the first game played in New York after 9/11. It was easily one of the most memorable and heart felt moment[s] in baseball history… Piazza’s character, and all around play was flat out phenomenal, and he really lead the Mets from the late 90’s into the early 2000’s. One of the best offensive catcher’s to ever play the game, Piazza will always have a spot on the Met’s All-Time list,” adds Bleacher Report.  

Piazza sports a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, so there’s no doubt that he cherishes the time he spent with the Mets. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a player that was more productive than Piazza was in his seven seasons as a Met. From 1998 to 2005, Piazza smashed over 200 home runs, tallied over 650 RBIs, and compiled over 1,000 hits as a Met. 

“Famously drafted by the Dodgers as a favor to family friend Tommy Lasorda, Piazza converted to catcher in the minor leagues and never looked back. He won Rookie of the Year in 1993 after batting .318 with 35 HRs and 112 RBI. Despite being a perennial All-Star, Silver Slugger, and MVP candidate, the Dodgers traded Piazza to the Marlins in 1998. He played only five games with Florida before moving on to the Mets, where he spent most of the rest of his career.

Piazza was an All-Star and won the Silver Slugger in his first four full seasons in New York from 1999 to 2002. In the 2000 NLCS, Piazza slashed .412/.545/1.487 with two HRs and four RBI in the Mets’ five-game defeat of the Cardinals. He slugged two more homers and drove in four more runs in the ‘Subway’ World Series, which the Mets lost in five games to the Yankees,” furthers Pitcher List.  

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