2) Tug McGraw
Tug McGraw’s lasting legacy as a Met is coining the famous rallying cry, “Ya Gotta Believe!” en route to the team’s improbable 1973 playoff run. Without his incredible on-field performance, however, this trip to the World Series would not have been possible.
McGraw was arguably the first elite reliever that came through the Mets’ system, making his debut in 1965 at the age of 20. He had a solid year for the Mets in his rookie season, tossing 97.2 innings with a 3.32 ERA.
After a murky next couple of years, followed by pitching the entire 1968 season in Triple-A, McGraw came back better than ever in 1969. He was an integral part of their championship run, posting a 2.24 ERA in over 100 innings pitched. He only saved 12 games, but this statistic does not fully reflect McGraw’s importance to the team’s success. He was the definition of a workhorse in the bullpen that year, and also started four games over the course of the season.
McGraw continued his dominance as a full-time reliever over the next few seasons, pitching particularly well in 1971 and 1972. He threw over 100 innings while finishing with a minuscule 1.70 ERA each year, leading to an All-Star selection and MVP votes in 1972.
The next year, in 1973, McGraw appeared in a whopping 60 games and tossed over 118 innings. Though the Mets did not emerge triumphant against the Oakland Athletics in the World Series, McGraw did his part to help, throwing 13.2 innings in five World Series games and posting a 2.63 ERA in those games.
He ended up leaving the Mets via a trade to the Phillies after the 1974 season, but McGraw did plenty over his nine years in the orange and blue to establish himself as one of the most beloved figures in the Mets’ colorful history.