35: R.A. Dickey 2010
We’re getting into the older end of the ages here, but there are still some really quality seasons to come. Leading it off is Dickey, and while he’s most famous for his Cy Young season (which is coming up later), his first season with the Mets was nearly just as good. In fact, all three seasons he spent in Queens were really great, just the bookends make this list. To start his Mets career, Dickey threw 174.1 innings over 26 starts (and 1 relief appearance), pitching to a 2.84 ERA and 138 ERA+.
Dickey formed a really solid duo at the top of the rotation for the Mets, joined by Johan Santana in what would be his last true full(ish) season in the big leagues. Mike Pelfrey and Jon Niese turned in two good enough years behind them to form a really solid rotation, despite lacking a consistent fifth starter. For someone who signed with the Mets on a minor league deal and whose arrival was rather uncelebrated, he turned into one of the biggest steals the Mets have ever had.
Honorable Mentions: Ed Charles 1968, Al Leiter 2001, Marlon Byrd 2013
36: Carlos Delgado, 2008
The only hitter to win two separate ages on this list, Delgado might just be the player who aged the best in franchise history, remaining productive well into his mid-30s. This season wasn’t nearly as iconic as his 2006 campaign due to the Mets missing the playoffs, but Delgado still had a really nice year. Hitting .271/.353/.518, it was a nice bounce-back season after dropping to just about league-average at the plate in 2007.
Delgado slugged 38 homers, drove in 115 runs, and finished the season with a 128 OPS+. He joined Strawberry and Piazza as the only Mets players to ever have two seasons with at least 38 home runs — and the most impressive part is he only spent three seasons and change in Queens. Perhaps overshadowed by playing most of his career in the steroid era, Delgado didn't get the recognition he deserved when his time came to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot, falling off in his first year. With a .929 OPS and .138 OPS+ for his career, he certainly deserved more consideration. His 2008 season, hitting 38 home runs at age-36 should have been case enough.
Honorable Mentions: John Franco 1997, Jose Valentin 2006, R.A. Dickey 2011,
37: R.A. Dickey, 2012
The knuckleballer returns! Of course, you knew it was coming, but it’s not any less exciting. The 2010 season was Dickey’s first as a Met, and the 2012 season was his last — but it was without a doubt his best. In a National League-best 233.2 innings pitched (a total no Mets pitcher has reached since), Dickey put up a 2.73 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, 3.27 FIP, 139 ERA+ and 230 strikeouts, all of which were career highs.
While the 2012 Mets, aside from a few bright spots like Wright and Niese, were largely a trainwreck, Dickey was a shining star. He made his first and only All-Star game, throwing a scoreless bottom of the sixth and only giving up one hit to a little-known rookie by the name of Mike Trout. He also picked up the NL Cy Young Award, joining an elite club of Mets pitchers to win it, which at the time was just Seaver and Gooden.
And then, all of a sudden, Dickey was gone. The Mets traded him in the offseason to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package that included Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. While d’Arnaud and Syndergaard never quite lived fully up to their potential, both had their own levels of success in a Mets uniform. Ultimately, the trade would go down as one of the best in recent memory for the Mets. The ramifications are also still being felt, as the Mets received a compensatory pick when Syndergaard left for the Angels this offseason — so who knows, this trade has the potential to get even better.
Honorable Mentions: Eddie Murray 1993, Al Leiter 2003
38: Al Leiter, 2004
It was actually pretty surprising to have this much competition in the age-38 season, but both Leiter and Glavine put up really solid years. However, in the end, Leiter ended up having the edge in most of the categories. Throwing 173.2 innings with a 3.21 ERA and 133 ERA+, Leiter put up an impressive year for any pitcher, but even more so for one close to 40-years old.
It was Leiter’s last year in a Mets uniform, ending his seven-year run that started in 1998. In those seven years, he threw over 1,300 innings and put up 3.42 ERA and 124 ERA+. His inning totals currently stand at No. 7 in Mets history, though he’ll soon be passed by deGrom. Still, Leiter’s career is one of the more underappreciated in Mets history. He has the third-highest ERA+ of any Mets pitcher with a minimum of 750 innings pitched. He also managed to do something not many pitchers could — stay productive well into his late-30s.
Honorable Mentions: Tom Seaver 1983, Brett Butler 1995, Tom Glavine 2004
39: Tom Glavine, 2005
Glavine didn’t win the last age, but he wins this one very easily. There are only a handful of age-39 seasons in Mets history with an even semi-significant amount of playing time, and Glavine’s is the only one that really had any notable impact. Over 211.1 innings, he pitched to a 3.53 ERA and 116 ERA+. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was certainly quality innings.
Glavine spent five years with the Mets and his 2005 season was smack in the middle. While both his first and last season in Queens was underwhelming, he had a three-year stretch where he was legitimately good from 2004-06. He made two All-Star games in the span, only missing it in ‘05, the highlighted season. Interestingly, 2005 also featured his lowest single-season ERA as a Met, and his 3.67 FIP was the only time it was below four. While he’ll always be remembered as a Brave, and rightfully so, he did have a handful of good years with a team that was usually his division rival.
Honorable Mentions: John Franco, 2000