It’s easy to forget that baseball is a very complicated game. With all its rules and quirks, learning baseball is a bit like learning a new language: It doesn’t make any sense at first. Gradually, though, you build a framework of understanding out of the simpler bits you do understand, until suddenly, one happy day, you can just enjoy it as it happens.
You can always learn more, though, and in baseball, one of the best ways to improve your understanding of the game is to acquaint yourself with its commonly used statistics. For in baseball, perhaps the nerdiest of all sports, statistics are sacrosanct and ubiquitous—and they pretty much have to be, lest we be doomed to flail hopelessly at the veritable mountain of raw data that baseball produces like so much manna from dork heaven. We use stats to interpret those data and, in so doing, build the knowledge we hold and the stories we tell about the game.
For us baseball fans, it can be exhilarating to learn about a new stat that’s been developed or some research article that opens a new realm of understanding. But it can also be fun—much as it was fun when you were a kid to re-discover some old toy or video game you’d set aside for a while—to get back to basics, sift through the old counting stats you’d find on the backs of baseball cards back in the day, and celebrate the players who light up those leader boards.
If you’re a hitter, the basic idea is simple: the more, the better. But not all hits are created equal—both in terms of entertainment value and the degree to which they contribute to a team’s pursuit of runs. That is worth noting because—lest we forget—baseball, distilled to its competitive essence, is about scoring more runs than one’s opponent.
It is true that there are plenty of situations in which a single, the humblest of all hits, will suffice, even so far as to secure a win. It may also be true, in terms of entertainment value, that the triple—a relatively rare occurrence—is among the most exciting plays in baseball. But the king of all hits is the home run.
Home runs are awesome. Some fans (and players) are skeptical of the value of home runs, and especially, it seems, of teams built to hit lots of them—but we aren’t going to get into that discussion here. Home runs are fun, and any discussion of players who hit lots of them should be fun, too.
The Mets aren’t known as an historically power-laden franchise, but there are some notable exceptions, and those guys should get their due. So, in the series to follow, we will take a look back at the Mets’ all-time home run leaders, starting with number 25 and counting down to the leader of the pack.
As we’ll see, it's an interesting group of players, and a dynamic list to boot: Depending on how the upcoming season plays out, we should see some re-shuffling of the deck. To that point, your author reserves the right to venture off beyond the fringes of the list from time to time—and to indulge moderate doses of wild speculation—as the season unfolds. Either way, it should be some good old-fashioned fun.