The New York Mets have had many legends and great players since the inception of the franchise in 1962. There have been once-in-a-lifetime generational talents, perennial all-stars, gold glovers, and batting champions.
So here’s the question being posed today. If you could take the best qualities from players all throughout Mets franchise history, what players would you use to build the ultimate player?
First, let’s go over the five tools of baseball: hitting for average, hitting for power, fielding ability, arm strength, and speed.
Hitting for Average
Hitting for average isn’t an easy feat, especially in today’s game. When looking over the Mets you think of guys like Edgardo Alfonzo, Keith Hernandez, Jeff McNeil, and even David Wright. However, the greatest pure hitter the Mets may have ever had is John Olerud.
Olerud batted .315 with a .425 OBP in his three seasons with the Mets from 1997-99. He was a force at the plate and an on-base machine not just for the Mets, but throughout his career.
Hitting for Power
The Mets have had a lot of top-tier power hitters in franchise history. It’s easy to list off the big names such as Mike Piazza, Dave Kingman, Darryl Strawberry, Carlos Delgado, and Yoenis Cespedes. But none of these players had the raw power of Pete Alonso.
Pete Alonso is only entering his third year in the league and he is already one of the premier power hitters in the league. His rookie season gave us 53 magnificent home runs and even though his 2020 felt a bit flat, he was on pace for about 40.
Polar Bear Pete is no slouch with the lumber when it comes to tanking the ball.
The Mets have had some incredible fielders in franchise history as well. Carlos Beltran was as fine a center fielder as any during his time in Queens. Then you think of the 1999 Mets with arguably the greatest infield of all-time. Then of course there’s Ron Darling who took home a Gold Glove on the mound. But all of these players pale in comparison to Rey Ordóñez and Keith Hernandez.
This one is a bit of a cheat but if you add Rey-O’s range and ability to get reads on grounders plus Keith Hernandez’s hands and footwork, you may have the greatest fielder of all-time.
Ordóñez was an absolute wizard with the glove and went over 100 games without making an error at shortstop, which is absurd. In 1999 he was +33 above the average shortstop at the position! He was the human defensive highlight reel when he came up.
Hernandez on the other hand changed the way first base was played. Most teams would stick their lumbering or not fleet afoot sluggers at first, but Keith was a different breed. He attacked grounders like a shortstop, picked balls out of the dirt like a catcher blocking balls in the dirt, and virtually made bunts disappear by standing almost on top of home plate. He won 11 Gold Gloves and they all came in a row.
The Mets have had some players with strong arms over the years. Some names you may have forgotten about are Rick Ankiel, Jeff Francoeur, and Ryan Church, or how about the arm strength of Robin Ventura or Howard Johnson. This pick was probably the toughest but it’s going to Juan Lagares.
Lagares had an absolute cannon for an arm and he threw out 15 runners from the outfield in his rookie season. Also, he’s one of if not the best outfielder they’ve ever had in terms of defense. It’s crazy to think he was a converted shortstop in the minor leagues.
Injuries never allowed us to see the true potential of Lagares and a Tommy John surgery sapped a lot of strength from his arm, but when he came up – look out! His assist numbers went down a bit because runners stopped going on him.
Speed is something the Mets always seem to never have, especially as of late. Throughout the course of team history, they’ve had some of the league’s best baserunners ever. They never seemed to do it with the Mets though. Here are some names: Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman, Brett Butler, Roger Cedeno, Roberto Alomar, Billy Hamilton, Lance Johnson, and Mookie Wilson. However, none did it in a Mets uniform like Jose Reyes.
Reyes was a speed demon on his first tenure for the Mets. Just how Rey-O was a must-watch on defense, that’s how Reyes was on the base paths. Watching him beat out grounders, turn singles into doubles, and doubles into triples was amazing. And who could forget his little dances off second and third base that almost caused a brawl with the Marlins once.
In 2011 Reyes stole 78 bases and that was after two years of stealing 60 plus. He’s the all-time leader in steals for the team and very easily the team’s fastest player when he returned at the end of his career.
So that’ll do it. The ultimate Mets position player in team history would be made up of Olerud, Alonso, Ordóñez & Hernandez, Lagares, and Reyes. Interestingly enough when you think of five-tool athletes, you don’t think of first basemen, but there are three on this list!
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What do you think Mets fans? Which players would you swap out?