4. Darryl Strawberry, 1983
The top 4 is the real meat of this list. 2 through 4 could be in any order, really. Darryl Strawberry–who might be the first baseball player I became fascinated with solely due to his name–made himself known in his first season in 1983. A power-speed specimen, Straw slugged 26 dingers with 74 RBI in his first season and beat out Braves hurler Craig McMurty to win the Rookie of the Year award.
Strawberry proved in 1983 that he could be an efficient power hitter with on-base ability and valuable speed, although he struck out at a then tremendous rate of 27.1%. Strawberry finished his season with a 134 OPS+, which would have finished 7th in the N.L. had he qualified.
Straw’s rookie campaign earns extra props for the impeccable run it bled into. From 1984 through 1990, Strawberry’s 162 game average was 669 PA, 38 HR, 109 RBI, .263/.361/.521, and 298 TB. In the 80s, Strawberry was 1 of just 10 hitters to have a season with a slugging percentage over .540, 38+ homers, and 25+ doubles. He’s the only hitter who did it twice. And, Strawberry and Carlos Beltran are the only Mets to accumulate 30 WAR or more in under 6000 plate appearances.
3. Tom Seaver, 1967
Everyone starts somewhere, and Tom Seaver, 12-time all-star and 3-time Cy Young winner, started as a monster.
There’s a lot of bold on Tom Terrific’s baseball reference page, starting at his 3rd season and ending at his 16th, but his rookie year came close to reaching those heights. In 1967, Seaver finished 5th in bWAR for pitchers, 8th in innings pitched, 2nd in complete games, 8th in strikeouts, and 9th in ERA+. He was bountifully successful, and the rookie Seaver showcased what would eventually make him an all-time great; the ability to pitch deep into games (7th in career shutouts) and strike hitters out (6th all time).
Seaver flashed some bat skills, too, going 11 for 77 with 5 RBI and a .230 OBP. Over his career, Seaver actually picked up some nice hitting numbers: 12 homers and 86 RBI with a .429 OPS in 1552 career plate appearances.
It’s often easy to forget Tom Seaver’s role in Mets history. He isn’t just one of the best Mets ever, but one of the best baseball players period. His 110.1 bWAR is 21st all-time. He won 311 games despite pitching years of his career for a (very) light hitting Mets team. His WPA (56.43) is the sixth highest of any pitcher ever.
Without Seaver, the Mets never would have reached their peaks in ’69 and ’73. Without Seaver, the Mets could still be searching for their first championship in 2019.