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Mets Batter VORP By Decade

I'm having a difficult time remembering a more excruciatingly slow offseason than this one. Not only are the rumors of bottom-shelf sexiness, but they're all so embarrassingly off-base that a vast sea of internet sites are losing credibility by the hour. Not this one, though, because we set the bar so impossibly close to the ground as to stifle any potential credibility demerits.

So until something worthwhile comes along, let's kill some time on a pre-holiday Wednesday by poring over some historical Baseball Prospectus data. I ran through Mets batter VORP by decade just to see who the team leaders were during different eras of the franchise's history. A lot of these guys you could have probably guessed, but it's neat to see how everyone stacks up overall.

Ron Hunt 92.3 4
Cleon Jones 69.9 6
Ken Boswell 28.0 3
Tommy Davis 27.8 1
Ron Swoboda 25.5 5
Art Shamsky 25.4 2
Bob Johnson 25.0 1
Frank Thomas 22.5 3
Bud Harrelson 22.4 5
Richie Ashburn 21.8 1

Keep in mind that these figures are aggregates for the entire decade. That 135 games played by Richie Ashburn in 1962 were enough to place him on the top ten list for the eight years the Mets existed in the sixties should tell you all you need to know about the state of their offense back then. Until recently, the Mets have always been heavy on pitching and light on hitting, but this is pretty ridiculous. Ron Hunt and Cleon Jones do alright for themselves here, but the rest is just a disaster. Bud Harrelson played three full seasons and parts of two others and he just barely cracks the list.

Rusty Staub 97.2 4
Bud Harrelson 94.5 8
Lee Mazzilli 75.0 4
Wayne Garrett 71.6 7
John Milner 70.8 7
Felix Millan 68.8 5
Tommie Agee 62.0 3
Ed Kranepool 58.7 10
Steve Henderson 58.6 3
Cleon Jones 54.5 6

The seventies really weren't much better than the sixties, even with two additional years to work with. Bud Harrelson has eight years represented here; Ed Kranepool has the full ten. Le Grand Orange was only in town from 1972 thru 1975, but two of those were good years and the other two were terrific ones. Lee Mazzilli had the highest single-season VORP of the decade with his 46.8 in 1979, with a comfortable lead over the 36.4 Cleon Jones notched in 1971. Only Staub and Tommy Ageee averaged better than two wins above replacement per season. It was a less offensive era to be sure, but even within that context the Mets were pretty pathetic.

Darryl Strawberry 253.9 7
Keith Hernandez 181.6 7
Howard Johnson 164.3 5
Mookie Wilson 122.3 10
Lenny Dykstra 93.4 5
Kevin McReynolds 92.2 3
Wally Backman 90.3 9
Gary Carter 82.4 5
Tim Teufel 51.2 4
Dave Magadan 43.3 4

Cocaine + glam rock = more offense! Lots of big names here, including three of the half-dozen-or-so best hitters the Mets have ever had. I've always had a soft spot for Kevin McReynolds, and I don't think he gets enough credit for his production as a Met. He didn't have much of a personality and he was on the wrong end of the trade that sent future-MVP Kevin Mitchell to the Padres, but he was a very nice hitter for a few years and one of the two batting stances I can remember emulating as a little leaguer (the other was Lenny Dykstra).

Darryl Strawberry and Howard Johnson had five of the top ten VORP seasons of the eighties, with HoJo taking the single-season crown with 74.9 during his monster 1989 campaign: 36 homeruns, 41 stolen bases, 41 doubles, 77 walks. Tim Teufel actually had the tenth-best single-season of the decade with 37.9 VORP in 1987 when he hit .308/.398/.545 in 350 plate appearances.

John Olerud 153.2 3
Edgardo Alfonzo 121.0 5
Mike Piazza 120.6 2
Bobby Bonilla 111.9 5
Todd Hundley 91.4 9
Howard Johnson 90.5 4
Jeff Kent 79.8 5
Lance Johnson 71.5 2
Dave Magadan 67.9 3
Bernard Gilkey 59.2 3

Is it any wonder why John Olerud is my favorite Met of all time? His 70.4 VORP in 1998 was the best of the nineties when he hit .354/.447/.551 and somehow only finished 12th in MVP balloting. Of course, that same year Mark McGwire hit 70 homeruns and OPS-ed 1.222 and still lost the MVP to Sammy Sosa because Sosa's Cubs made the playoffs and Mac's Cardinals did not.

A lot of times I forget that Jeff Kent was with the Mets for so long. I always seem to mis-remember him playing here for a year or two before being shipped off for Carlos Baerga, but he actually stuck around for something like four full seasons. Johnson and Dave Magadan -- another one of my favorites -- make the return visit, as both also appeared on the eighties list.

David Wright 275.8 5
Mike Piazza 251.5 6
Jose Reyes 210.6 6
Carlos Beltran 194.6 4
Edgardo Alfonzo 136.7 3
Carlos Delgado 88.9 3
Cliff Floyd 77.5 4
Ty Wigginton 42.2 3
Mike Cameron 37.3 2
Paul Lo Duca 36.4 2

Ahh, the aughts. If you closed your eyes and tried to guess this list, you'd probably come up with half of it very easily and a few more without a whole lot more trouble. If you guessed Ty Wigginton and Paul Lo Duca on the first shot, you're either Kreskin, Alex Nelson, or both. These numbers include 2008 results, from which we get seasons by David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran. Wright's decade-high and franchise-high mark of 81.1 VORP was set in 2007, though Edgardo Alfonzo's 76.9 in 2000 is just a shade behind.

You'll notice a stark contrast between the 2000's and basically all of the decades preceding it. The Mets have some of the franchise's best offensive players right now, so it should come as no surprise that four of the ten best single-season VORP marks have occurred in the past three seasons (Wright's 2007 and 2008; Jose Reyes's 2008; Carlos Beltran's 2006).

And just for kicks, here is the Mets all-time leaderboard.

Mike Piazza 372.1 8
Darryl Strawberry 296.9 8
David Wright 275.8 5
Edgardo Alfonzo 257.7 8
Howard Johnson 254.8 9
Jose Reyes 210.6 6
Carlos Beltran 194.6 4
Keith Hernandez 181.6 7
John Olerud 153.2 3
Kevin McReynolds 134.4 6
Cleon Jones 124.4 12
Mookie Wilson 122.3 10
Rusty Staub 120.3 9
Lee Mazzilli 117.5 10
Bud Harrelson 116.9 13
Bobby Bonilla 111.9 5
Dave Magadan 111.2 7
Lenny Dykstra 93.4 5
Ron Hunt 92.3 4
Todd Hundley 91.4 9

To date, Mike Piazza leads all Mets hitters in career VORP by quite a bit, his 372.1 out-pacing Strawberry's 296.9 to the tune of more than seven wins. Wright is just a couple of decent seasons behind Piazza, though, so there could be a changing of the guard pretty soon. McReynolds at #10 is surprising, while Reyes and Beltran are both climbing this list quickly and furiously.