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Mets

The ‘oh yeah, he played for the Mets’ All-Time team

Rickey Henderson. Photo by Larry Neuberger via Flickr.

The Mets have had a lot of great players in their organization throughout the years. Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, David Wright, Richie Ashburn — wait what was that last one?

Yup, in 1962, the future Hall of Famer and Phillies legend joined the Mets for his 15th and final year in the big leagues. In his age-35 season, he wasn’t great by any means, but he marked the first of many stars to play for the Mets either before or after the prime of their careers.

So, what’s the best lineup we can make out of players that make you go, “oh yeah, I forgot he played for the Mets?” It’s pretty good, and Ashburn doesn’t even make the cut.

Catcher: Yogi Berra
It’s pretty common knowledge that Yogi Berra managed the Mets from 1972-75 and was a coach before that, but did you know he also suited up for the Mets in the decade prior? After an 18-year career with the New York Yankees from 1946-63 where he won 10 rings and made 18 All-Star games (there was a four-year stretch with two All-Star games), he became the manager of the Yankees. However, after he was fired following one season and hired by the Mets to be a coach in 1965. He made four appearances as a player that year as well, going 2-for-9 and scoring a run, so he did technically play for Orange and Blue.
Honorable mentions: Joe Torre, Sandy Alomar, Rick Cerone

First Base: Eddie Murray
Eddie Murray is an Orioles legend. He’s a Rookie of the Year, eight-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner and member of the 500 home run club. And, from 1991-92, he played for the Mets. After 13 years in Baltimore and three years in Los Angeles with the Dodgers, he went to Queens for his age-36 and age-37 seasons. He was solid, posting an OPS+ of 113 and hitting 43 home runs in 310 games for the Metropolitans. As another Hall-of-Famer, he’s an easy choice.
Honorable mentions: Mo Vaughn, Jeff Conine, Adrian Gonzalez

Second Base: Roberto Alomar
Just like his father Sandy, Roberto also spent some unremarkable time playing for the Mets, though Roberto lasted a bit longer than Sandy’s 15 games. In his season and a half in New York from 2002-03, Alomar posted an OPS of .703 and OPS+ of 88. Coming off a season where he made an All-Star game, won a Gold Glove and finished No. 4 in the AL MVP voting, he did not live up to any expectations. He brought none of that superstardom that helped him make 12-straight All-Star games, win 10 Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers. As soon as he joined the Mets, he never accomplished any of that again.
Honorable mentions: Carlos Baerga, Larry Bowa

Third Base: Jeff Kent
Kent is the first of the bunch to play with the Mets before he became a star, playing parts of five seasons in Flushing before he became known as the other MVP in San Francisco not named Barry Bonds. He was OK with the Mets, hitting .279/.327/.453 over his time with the club, but it was nothing compared to the player he was when he left — the one that won the MVP in 2000. And yes, I know he was primarily a second baseman, but he did have over 1,000 innings at third in his career and most of that came when he was with the Mets, so that’s good enough.
Honorable Mentions: Juan Uribe, Justin Turner

Shortstop: Julio Franco
Even though what he might be most known for happened while he was with the Mets — hitting a home run at age-47, the oldest to ever do it — he only actually played in 135 games across two seasons in Queens. His prime came way back in the late 80’s and early 90’s with the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers, making three All-Star teams, winning five Silver Sluggers and even winning a batting title. He was a great shortstop in his hay day, and the perfect fit for this team.
Honorable Mentions: Shawon Dunston, Alex Cora

Left Field: Rickey Henderson
This is where this team shines — the outfield. In left we’ve got the legendary Rickey Henderson, the most prolific leadoff hitter and base stealer of All-Time. His record of 1,406 stolen bases will likely never be caught, and I doubt his 2,295 runs will either. As for his Mets tenure he might be best known for playing cards in the clubhouse in extra innings of Game 6 of the 1999 NLCS, but that doesn’t disqualify him from this team. Actually, it probably raises his stock.

Center Field: Willie Mays
Yes, Rickey Henderson is not the best outfielder on this imaginary team. No, at one point, the Mets had the Say Hey Kid himself. After 21 years with the Giants, legend of the game Willie Mays found himself back in New York. He only played in 135 games over two seasons and wasn’t particularly productive, but he was part of the ‘73 team that made a run to the World Series. You can make an argument for Mays being the best all-around player to ever play the game, and he’s roaming center for this team.

Right Field: Gary Sheffield
Gary Sheffield isn’t quite a Hall of Famer, at least not yet. Getting just over 30% of the votes in the most recent ballot he still has a chance, but with just four years left I don’t think he gets there. Still, the fact that he’s remained on the ballot for six years is a testament to the career he had. Sheff played for eight teams in his career, but the Mets were the only franchise he spent just one season with. It were also his last season, as his 100 games on 2009 were the last he would play in the big leagues. With nine All-Star games, five Silver Sluggers, a batting title and 500-plus home runs under his belt, he’s the perfect choice to round out the Mets star-studded outfield.
Honorable Mentions: Richie Ashburn, Duke Snider, Jose Bautista, Bobby Abreu

LHP: Tom Glavine
I just couldn’t decide between Glavine and who ended up being the right-handed pitcher, so I decided to do both. Glavine played 22 seasons in the big-leagues, 17 of which came with the Atlanta Braves. Those 17 (well, 16, he went back to Atlanta for the final year of his career) established himself as a Hall-of-Famer, and the other five he spent with the Mets. In his years with the Braves he won two Cy Young Awards (finished in the top-three four other times) and made eight All-Star games. Oh, and he won four Silver Slugger Awards, the second-most ever for a pitcher. He still made the All-Star game twice as a Met and overall was solid, but let’s be honest, no one remembers him for what he did in the Blue and Orange. He’s a Brave through and through.

RHP: Pedro Martinez
Now you see why I couldn’t decide. How do you choose between two Hall-of-Famers and two of the greatest pitchers of their generation? The Mets had both Pedro and Glavine, and they even overlapped for three years. Pedro was still a good pitcher when he was with the Mets, as he also made two All-Star games in his four seasons in Queens. Still, when you think Pedro Martinez, you don’t think Mets. First and foremost are the Red Sox, where he was for seven years right in his prime, winning two Cy Young Awards in the process. Then it’s the Montreal Expos, where he really first burst onto the scene, even winning his first of three Cy Young Awards in 1997. Then it’s the Mets — maybe — because you can make an argument that the Dodgers, where he debuted, should be next on the list. But similar to Glavine, Pedro is a Red Sox through and through.
Honorable Mentions: Warren Spahn, Orel Hershiser, Orlando Hernandez

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