2) Howard Johnson
Probably the most beloved and offensively gifted third baseman not named David Wright for the New York Mets was #20, Howard Johnson. “HoJo” as he was affectionately nicknamed by the fans, was traded to the Mets by the Detroit Tigers early in his career and was the back up to Ray Knight on that 1986 Mets championship team. He was brought over for his versatility and ability to play either third base, shortstop or the outfield.
After Ray Knight left to join the Orioles in 1987, Ho Jo was named the starting third baseman and began to take off. Known for having a strong throwing arm as well as the ability to run well on the bases and hit for power, Johnson began to put together some impressive offensive years for the Mets from 1987 to 1991.
Alongside teammate Daryl Strawberry in 1987, Howard Johnson became the first Met player to join the “30-30” club – hitting 36 home runs and stealing 32 bases along with knocking in 99 RBI during that year. Johnson followed that feat by hitting .287 with 36 home runs, driving in 101 RBI and stealing 41 bases in 1989.
Ho Jo joined the “30-30” club for a third year in 1991, when he batted .260 with 108 runs scored, 38 home runs, 117 RBI and 30 stolen bases. He finished top 5 in MVP voting twice as a Met and won two Silver Slugger awards in the process. Johnson is also the only Met in team history to reach the “30-30” milestone three times.
Ho Jo was known for his friendly and laid-back demeanor off the field and rarely turned down an autograph request from a fan. Despite having a tough postseason in 1988 and taking heat for it, Johnson showed his grittiness and bounced back with a stellar 1989 season offensively.
While fellow slugger and teammate Darryl Strawberry went through his offensive woes that year at the plate, Johnson stepped up and carried the team’s offense to a second place finish in the NL East in 1989.
Johnson is currently third on the Mets’ all-time lists for home runs, RBIs, doubles and stolen bases.