While the New York Mets have had a penchant for trades and free agent signings that went terribly wrong, there are moments throughout franchise history of just the opposite.
Some of the best performances have come from players who, in many cases, over-delivered on expectations or made an immediate splash. But while some of these turned into marriages that lasted another year or so – or a weird saga like the Yoenis Cespedes contract – there are a handful of cases where players left a lasting impression before leaving town in a New York minute.
Let’s take a closer look at this select group of standouts who spent no more than a full season in a Mets uniform.
NY Mets one year wonder: Mike Hampton
Not only did Mike Hampton make the most of his one season with the Mets, but he also indirectly helped the franchise long-term after leaving.
Hampton was a key cog for the National League pennant winning team in 2000. He won 15 regular season games and finished sixth among qualified major league starters with a 3.14 ERA – an especially remarkable feat given that the MLB average was 4.76 that year. He also hit .274 in 73 at-bats, earning him a Silver Slugger award.
In the postseason, Hampton earned MVP honors in the National League Championship Series by tossing 16 shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals, including a complete game three-hitter in the Game 5 clincher.
Any hopes the Mets had of keeping Hampton long term were dashed that winter when he signed a then-record eight-year, $121 million contract with the Colorado Rockies. The sting of losing Hampton, however, quickly dissipated as he endured two disastrous seasons in Colorado’s thin air, pitching to a 5.75 ERA before getting traded and battling injuries the rest of his career.
Hampton’s departure certainly left a void in the Mets’ rotation short term, but the Rockies’ sunken cost turned into gold for the Mets over time. By losing Hampton in free agency, the Mets received a supplemental first round pick in the following year’s draft – a selection they used on a high school third baseman named David Wright.