As part of the All-Star Game festivities, fans had the opportunity to vote on their franchise's top four players.
For the New York Mets, fans decided among eight players: C Gary Carter, RP John Franco, SP Dwight Gooden, 1B Keith Hernandez, C Mike Piazza, SP Tom Seaver, OF Darryl Strawberry, and 3B David Wright.
When you look at these elite eight, any omission from the "Franchise Four," comes with a debate. So when it was revealed that Hernandez, Piazza, Seaver, and Wright were the Franchise Four, a little part of me asked, is this the true core four of the Mets franchise? Let's break it down by decade.
If you look towards left field in Citi Field, there are four numbers that grace the wall behind the prime reserved seating. One number, 41, stands alone as the only retired number of a former Mets player. Tom Seaver is arguably the best Met.
His numbers are argument enough. 311 wins, a 2.86 ERA, and 3,640 strikeouts. His awards are just showing off. Three-time Cy Young winner, 12-time All-Star, 1967 NL Rookie of the Year, five-time strikeout champion and the most Met wins in franchise history.
In 1969, Seaver served as the golden ticket for the Mets' trip to the World Series. He won 25 games en route to his first Cy Young award, finishing second to Willie McCovey for MVP honors. This was also the year Seaver almost notched the Mets' first perfect game until Jimmy Qualls recorded a hit in the ninth inning. In the 1969 World Series, up 2-1 in the series, Seaver pitched for ten innings en route to a victory that put the Mets one win away from their 1969 title.
You can't speak about the New York Mets without speaking about Tom Seaver so his spot in the Franchise Four is untouchable.
Here is where the debate of the Franchise Four begins.
There's no question Hernandez played a huge role for the Mets in the 1980s. When he was traded in 1983, he was traded from a champion team in the St. Louis Cardinals to the lovable loser Mets. His acquisition produced a spark in the offense, helping the Mets go 90-74 in 1984 as he finished second in the MVP voting behind Ryne Sandberg. Before Jeter, Hernandez was "The Captain" in New York, leading a young and gritty Mets team to their 1986 World Series title and finishing fourth in the MVP voting.
But when you look at the players that flanked Hernandez like Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, and Dwight Gooden, it's hard to conclude which one was the standout of those successful teams. Carter and Strawberry were the power hitters while Hernandez was the efficient hitter. Gooden was that era's Tom Seaver, winning the Cy Young Award and Triple Crown in 1985 as the ace of the Mets pitching rotation.
All four players were integral to the Mets' success in the 1980s, which is why it is hard to choose just one to represent the Franchise Four, but my vote would go to Hernandez because without his addition to the Mets lineup, there are a lot of questions as to how far the 1986 team could've gone.
If there was a list of Mets to have their numbers retired in the future, Piazza should be first on the list.
When he arrived in New York in 1998, it was a lot like Hernandez's trade back in 1983. Behind his power hitting, the Mets would go to the postseason in 1999 and to the World Series in 2000. Not only that, he provided memorable moments in Mets history like the go-ahead home run in a 10-run inning against the Atlanta Braves and another go-ahead home run in the first game in New York since the 9/11 attacks.
Piazza has the most home runs by any catcher in MLB history and was the heart and soul of the Mets from the 1990s into the new millennium. You could make the same case for John Franco, but without Piazza, it's a lot like Hernandez. Who knows where the Mets would've been?
Let's look at the present for a moment.
David Wright is battling spinal stenosis and the Mets are like the Bizarro roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure. A lot of ups and downs, loops and turns have defined the Mets this season as they enter the second half still in second place and five games above .500. If Wright were healthy, this could be a whole different story and that right there determines who is and who isn't a franchise player.
Drafted by the Mets in 2001 and debuting in 2004, Wright overtook Piazza's seat as the franchise player, and much like Piazza, he has used his bat to carry the Mets through the middle of the last decade. He is a seven-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger and holds a myriad of records in Mets history.
There is no question Wright belongs in the Franchise Four as it is evident with his absence this season.
Do you agree or disagree with the Mets Franchise Four? Let us know in the comments section below.