The New York Mets have been fortunate to employ some great rookies in their history. These ten have had the best freshmen had the best debuts.
Rookies are a perpetual storyline in baseball. With today’s minor league system firmly in place, freshman ballplayers come up throughout the season–often to very little noise, but sometimes to fans agog at the news of their promotion. Many outperform expectation but few become instant stars; only 15 players since 2000 have experienced a 5+ WAR rookie season. In New York Mets history, there’s no exception.
However, with Pete Alonso‘s big league debut (hopefully) on the horizon, now seems a good opportunity to recall the most memorable rookie campaigns in Mets history. While New York’s (5 ROY awards) rookie history is not as decorated as other teams like the Yankees (9 ROY awards) or the Dodgers (14 ROY awards since moving west), this is still an interesting exercise.
It also–in the end–will beg the question; why aren’t Mets position player rookies ever any good?
Let’s move on and begin with a few honorable mentions.
Jeff McNeil, 2018
I was tempted to slot Jeff McNeil into the top 10 but his sample size is just too small. In 63 games and 248 PAs, McNeil put up an .852 OPS, 137 wRC+, and 9.7 K%. His .381 on-base mark is the highest of any rookie batter for the Mets, and his 2.7 WAR (per FanGraphs) was 11th best out of all second basemen last season–the top 10 all had at least 100 more PAs than McNeil.
David Wright, 2004
David Wright‘s rookie season was very similar to McNeil’s both in sample size and results. Wright stepped to the plate 283 times in 69 games, slugged 14 homers, and put up an .857 OPS and 120 wRC+. Despite a successful campaign for the future captain, Wright didn’t receive any Rookie of the Year votes; eventual teammate Jason Bay took home the honor.
Jason Isringhausen, 1995
Jason Isringhausen‘s first major league season is worth mentioning simply as an oddity. Isringhausen started 14 games and tossed 93 innings to a 3.82 FIP, 2.81 ERA, and 144 ERA+ despite striking out just 55 hitters out of the 385 he faced. Isringhausen, who after being traded from the Mets in 1999 converted to a full-time reliever, finished his rookie season with a preposterous 81.7 LOB%, second only to Greg Maddux among pitchers with at least 90 innings. Isringhausen struggled in his next two years as a Met, ballooning his career ERA up to 4.43 by the end of the ’97 season.