Number 23 is a very popular number in sports. However, it's turned out to be one of the weakest numbers in terms of talent in New York Mets history. A lot of people have worn it, but the players who have worn it haven't been super successful as Mets.
Mike Baxter wore number 23 when he made the catch crashing into the wall in left field to preserve Johan Santana's no hitter. Players who were Mets past their prime like Julio Franco, Michael Cuddyer, and Adrian Gonzalez wore number 23 as Mets as well.
The most recent Met to wear number 23 was Javier Baez. Had Baez re-signed with the Mets, I have no doubt he would end up as the best player to wear the number but unfortunately that ship has sailed.
Bernard Gilkey is the best Mets player to wear number 23
Bernard Gilkey's tenure as a Met was short lived. He played just two and a half seasons in Queens, but was effective. At least for one season.
Gilkey's first season as a Met was his best by far and the best season he'd have in his 12-year career by far. He slashed .317/.393/.562 with 30 home runs and 117 RBI in 153 games played. He added 44 doubles and 17 stolen bases. His 152 WRC+ was good for seventh in the National League and was just 17 points behind the National League MVP winner Ken Caminiti. He finished 14th in the National League MVP balloting. It was one of the more complete offensive seasons in Mets history and came seemingly out of nowhere.
Gilkey did slashed .298/.358/.490 with 17 home runs and 69 RBI the season prior, but that production wasn't close to what he did in his first year with the Mets. The Mets traded Yudith Ozorio, Erik Hiljus, and Eric Ludwick to St. Louis in exchange for Gilkey in the 1995 offseason. Those three players didn't amount to much, so the Mets won that trade pretty clearly even if Gilkey was only good for that one season.
Gilkey was semi-productive the following season hitting 18 home runs and driving posting a 100 OPS+. Gilkey then started to really struggle in the 1998 season and was shipped off to the Diamondbacks mid-season.
Although Gilkey's Mets tenure was short-lived, his one outstanding season made him the best Mets player to ever wear number 23.