With Hall of Fame talk dominating the conservation in baseball for the last week, we thought it would be fun to look at the Mets Hall of Fame and see if there are any glaring omissions. You could easily argue that there are.
Here are the current members of the team Hall of Fame, including only those whose primary contributions came on the field. The players are listed in the era in which they made their primary contributions, along with their bWAR totals with the Mets.
Current Mets Hall of Famers
|Late sixties/early seventies||Eighties||Late nineties/early aughts|
|Late sixties/early seventies||Eighties||Late nineties/early aughts|
|Tommie Agee (14.0)||Gary Carter (11.3)||John Franco (11.2)|
|Jerry Grote (15.7)||Dwight Gooden (41.6)||Mike Piazza (24.5)|
|Bud Harrelson (18.6)||Keith Hernandez (26.5)|
|Cleon Jones (18.1)||Darryl Strawberry (36.5)|
|Jerry Koosman (39.5)||Mookie Wilson (20.7)|
|Ed Kranepool (4.4)|
|Tug McGraw (12.8)|
|Tom Seaver (76.1)|
|Rusty Staub (6.8)|
As you can see, players from the first winning era of Mets baseball are fairly overrepresented. That makes perfect sense for a team Hall of Fame. While some weren’t incredibly productive for the Mets over a long period of time, each became an iconic player in franchise history for his role on winning teams that made two World Series in five years.
The lack of eighties-era players is a bit surprising. Perhaps the early Mets get more love because they won the franchise’s first World Series and played in two. But make no mistake about it: The eighties was the best era of Mets baseball when accounting for regular season success. The team won at least 90 games in six of the seven seasons from 1984 to 1990 and averaged 95 wins per year during that time. That is, by far, the best run in the franchise’s 50-plus-year history.
Few Met fans would argue that Jerry Grote and Ed Kranepool don’t belong in the team’s Hall of Fame. However, if that type of player is in, perhaps the team should open the door to other players who might not have been as iconic, but who were far more productive on the field.
Using WAR as the most basic measure of a player’s value, below is every player who accumulated around 20 or more bWAR with the Mets, but who is not in the team’s Hall of Fame. Twenty WAR is roughly the equivalent of four to five All-Star-caliber seasons, which seems like enough to get a player in. Note that this list does not include Carlos Beltran (31.3), Jose Reyes (27.8), or David Wright (49.9), who should be locks for the Mets Hall of Fame one day, but who we’ll put aside for now since they’re either active or recently were. Let us know which players, if any, you think deserve a plaque and ceremony at Citi Field!
Jon Matlack (26.6)
One of the more surprising omissions, Matlack was a key piece of the Mets’ rotations in the first half of the seventies. From 1972 to 1976, the lefty averaged a 15-13 record with a 2.84 ERA (82 ERA-), a 2.79 FIP (81 FIP-), 175 strikeouts, and 5.1 bWAR in 248.1 innings per year. During that time, Matlack won the Rookie of the Year Award, made three All-Star teams, and helped pitch the Mets to the 1973 National League pennant. Given that players of his era are so well represented in the Mets Hall of Fame, it’s hard to explain why Matlack never got the call.
David Cone (19.5)
Cone is one of at least three great Mets of his era who have yet to be inducted. In a tremendous career that saw him strike out nearly 2,700 batters and win almost 200 games, Cone actually played more games for the Mets than he did for any other team. From 1988 to 1992 (the last year of which he spent mostly with the Mets), Cone went 16-9, on average, with a 3.00 ERA (85 ERA-), a 2.83 FIP (78 FIP-), a tremendous 228 strikeouts, and 4.0 bWAR in 229.0 innings per year, while making two All-Star teams. The righty was also Major League Baseball’s strikeout leader back-to-back times in 1990 and 1991. Cone probably deserves more credit for the excellent work he did in Flushing before winning a Cy Young in Kansas City and four championship rings in the Bronx.
Sid Fernandez (27.7)
Another somewhat underrated Met, Fernandez was a mainstay in the team’s dominant late-eighties rotations. From 1985 to 1990, the two-time All-Star averaged a 12-9 record, a 3.22 ERA (91 ERA-), a 3.25 FIP (89 FIP-), 180 strikeouts, 2.7 bWAR, and 186.0 innings a year. After an injury-plagued 1991 campaign, Fernandez came back with the best year of his career in 1992. The southpaw ranks among the franchise’s top five in various pitching categories, including wins, strikeouts, starts, innings, and WAR. While he was rarely considered the team’s “ace,” Fernandez saw—and significantly contributed to—a lot of winning Mets baseball during his time in New York. The highlight, of course, was the 1986 World Series, in which Fernandez came up huge for the Mets with two scoreless outings in long relief in Games 5 and 7.
Howard Johnson (21.9)
Like Fernandez, Johnson was incredibly productive for the Mets in the near decade he spent with the team. From 1987 to 1991, the peak of his career, Johnson hit .258/.347.492 (132 wRC+) and averaged 31 home runs, 95 RBIs, 96 runs scored, 32 stolen bases, and 4.1 bWAR per year. During that time, the third baseman made two All-Star teams, won two Silver Slugger Awards, and became one of just four players in baseball history to join the 30/30 club in three different seasons. He also led the National League in both home runs and RBIs in 1991, and in runs scored two years earlier. Johnson was one of the best offensive players in Mets history, and ranks top five in home runs, RBIs, runs scored, stolen bases, and WAR on the franchise leaderboard.
Edgardo Alfonzo (29.5)
One could argue that the third winning era of Mets baseball, the late nineties to early aughts, is underrepresented in the team’s Hall of Fame. A fairly easy case, for example, can be made for Alfonzo. From 1997 to 2002, the infielder hit .296/.380/.464 (124 wRC+) and averaged 19 home runs, 76 RBIs, 92 runs scored, and 4.7 bWAR per year. Alfonzo also made an All-Star team and won a Silver Slugger, while helping lead the Mets to back-to-back playoff appearances in 1999 and 2000. He currently ranks seventh among all Mets—both position players and pitchers—in WAR. Alfonzo was rarely the flashiest player on the field, but he quietly put together one of the best careers any player had in a Mets uniform.
Al Leiter (28.0)
The other big omission from those nineties-era Mets teams is Leiter. After the Marlins traded him to the Mets, Leiter became the team’s ace or co-ace every year from 1998 to 2004. In those seven seasons, the lefty went 14-10, on average, with a 3.42 ERA (81 ERA-), a 3.92 FIP (91 FIP-), 158 strikeouts, and 4.0 bWAR in 194.1 innings per year. Leiter, who made the All-Star team in 2000, anchored the Mets’ rotation during one of the more successful periods in franchise history and helped pitch the team to a World Series. Those contributions shouldn’t be overlooked, and a spot in the team’s Hall of Fame could be a nice way to ensure that they aren’t.
Which player most deserves to be in the Mets Hall of Fame?
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