40: Moises Alou, 2007
We’re onto the final stretch. Five more ages, and here we’re really getting to some of the advanced ages. Kicking it off is age-40, which was actually surprisingly competitive. Rickey Henderson’s 1999 season gave it a serious push, but in the end, Alou’s 2007 takes the cake — despite playing in 34 fewer games than Henderson. Over 87 games and 360 plate appearances, Alou hit .341/.392/.524. That’s a .916 OPS at age 40, which is just insane.
Since integration, Alou has the highest single-season batting average in MLB in an age-40 season or older (Henderson in ‘99 is No. 7). Under the same criteria, Alou ranks No. 8 in OPS and No. 11 in OPS+. Another crazy stat? In his 360 plate appearances, he only struck out 30 times. That alone is just a crazy ratio, but it’s even more impressive for someone who’s in his 40s. He hit 13 home runs, 19 doubles and even one triple. Oh, and he also had a casual 30-game hitting streak at age FOURTY (ok I think you get the point, he was old), a streak that remains a Mets record to this day. This is truly one of the most impressive, under-the-radar seasons in Mets history, even if it was only over 87 games.
Honorable Mentions: Rickey Henderson 1999, Roberto Hernandez 2005, Tom Glavine 2006
41: Orlando Hernandez, 2007
Alou wasn’t the only 40-plus year old the Mets got a strong season from in 2007. On the bump, the Mets got one more season out of El Duque, in what ended up being the last time he would pitch in the big leagues. Over 147.2 innings pitched, Hernandez put up a 3.72 ERA and 116 ERA+, both really respectable numbers.
That ERA also doesn’t really represent the level he pitched at for most of the year, as he finished August with an ERA of 3.32. However, he got rocked in his first start in September, giving up 8 earned runs in three innings to seriously inflate his ERA. He didn't start another game after that, appearing three more times as a reliever down the stretch as the Mets would go on to blow the division lead they brought into final month of the season. This is also the final time the 2007 season will appear on this list, with Hernandez and Alou joining Wright’s 30-30 season at age-24 to form a nice trio. Its three appearances are actually tied for the most on this list, joining the 2006 season.
Honorable Mentions: Willie Mays 1972, Tom Glavine 2007
42: Bartolo Colon, 2015
Most people reading this (if you got this far), probably expected Colon to pop up eventually. Only a small number of baseball players remain productive in their late 30s, much less early 40s. In fact, Colon is the only player in Mets history to pitch at least 50 innings in his age-42 season, and there’s only one position player to play at least 50 games. Therefore, Colon basically wins this age by default. He didn’t have a great year by any means. After putting up a 4.09 ERA and 84 ERA+ in 2014, his first season with the team, he followed that up with a relatively similar 4.16 ERA and 91 ERA+. Nothing spectacular, but he did eat up innings, throwing 202.1 in ‘04 and 194.2 in ‘05. That has value.
What sets his ‘05 season apart is his postseason performance. The Mets made a run to the World Series, and Colon was an integral piece. The Mets ran with a four-man rotation of Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, so Colon was actually pushed into the bullpen — and he excelled. His first appearance was his worst, as he allowed a fielder's choice to Howie Kendrick, came out of the game after just that one batter and ultimately gave up an earned run. Or, let me phrase it like this: He induced a potential inning-ending double play, but Chase Utley ended up breaking Ruben Tejada’s leg with a “slide” so dirty it prompted a rule change in the offseason.
Yup. That was Colon’s first appearance in the postseason. So yes, he was charged with an earned run, but realistically, it wasn’t on him. The rest of the way, he would give up just one earned run in 8.2 innings pitched, spread out over six more appearances. He did give up one other run, a walk-off sacrifice fly for the Royals in Game 1 of the World Series. While he didn’t pitch particularly well in that appearance, the runner was only on base because of an error by Wright to begin the inning. There’s certainly a chance the Royals would have won anyway even if the error didn’t occur, but it’s impossible to know for sure. At the end of the day, it’s an unearned run on Colon. Sure, he could have been better, but overall, he pitched some really big innings for the Mets in 2015 … even if his overall line for the season isn’t as sexy as he is.
Honorable Mentions: John Franco 2003
43: Bartolo Colon, 2016
The 2015 season was solid, but 2016 was really Colon’s signature year in Queens. Over 191.2 innings, Big Sexy put up a 3.43 ERA and 117 ERA+, which were both without a doubt his best in a Mets uniform. Colon also made the All-Star game that year, his fourth and final in his 21 year MLB career. He was a true workhorse, especially in today’s day and age. Since 2000, Colon is one of only four Mets pitchers to have at least three seasons of 190-plus innings pitched, joining deGrom, Tom Glavine and Mike Pelfrey. Oh, and there was one other thing that happened in 2016.
He hit a home run. Colon, who over three years with the Mets hit .083/.093/.122 with a minus-40 OPS+, somehow managed to smack a James Shields 90 mph meatball well over the Petco Park wall on May 7, 2016. That’s the same James Shields who the Padres traded to the White Sox on June 4 of the same year in exchange for FERNANDO TATIS JR. The Chicago White Sox saw Sheilds give up a home run to Colon, and less than a month later thought it would be a good idea to give away Tatis (who was in the minors at the time) in order to get him. Just an absurd footnote on Colon’s legendary home run. So yes, while Big Sexy’s pitching in 2016 was very good in its own right, his home run is what really puts this season in the history books — for many reasons.
Honorable Mentions: None
47-48: Julio Franco, 2006-07
It’s a little bit of a jump from age-43 to age-47 and age-48, but that’s just how ridiculous Julio Franco was. It’s also the only combined age range on this list because he didn’t play a ton in either season, so two separate blurbs really aren’t needed. Franco wasn’t great in either season, but his ‘06 season was definitely the better of the two. In 95 games and 197 plate appearances, Franco hit .273/.330/.370, which was nothing spectacular, but very impressive for a 47-year old. He followed that up in 2007 with a .200/.328/.260 line over 40 games and 61 plate appearances before the Mets released him in mid-July.
Most notably though, Franco hit three home runs in his tenure with the Mets. The first home run at the time set the record for the oldest MLB player to hit a home run. Each time he hit a home run after that, once more in 2007 and then one final time in 2008, he broke his own record and set a new mark. His record would stand until 2021 when Major League Baseball officially acknowledged the Negro Leagues as major leagues, and per Baseball-Reference, the record was retroactively given to Jud Wilson of the Homestead Grays, who hit a home run at age-49 in 1945. After the acknowledgment, it placed Franco as the second-oldest player in MLB history to ever hit a home run, which is nonetheless still very impressive. It’s a feat that in all likelihood, we may never see again.
Honorable Mentions: None
And that’s it! The best season by a Mets player at every single age.
Here’s a quick recap in case you forgot: Dwight Gooden 1984 (age-19), Dwight Gooden 1985 (20), Dwight Gooden 1986 (21), Jon Matlack 1972 (22), Tom Seaver 1968 (23), David Wright 2007 (24), Jerry Koosman 1968 (25), Tom Seaver 1971 (26), Todd Hundley 1996 (27), Tom Seaver 1973 (28), Carlos Beltran 2006 (29), Jacob deGrom 2018 (30), Jacob deGrom 2019 (31), Keith Hernandez 1986 (32), Pedro Martinez 2005 (33), Carlos Delgado 2006 (34), R.A. Dickey 2010 (35), Carlos Delgado 2008 (36), R.A. Dickey 2012 (37), Al Leiter 2004 (38), Tom Glavine 2005 (39), Moises Alou 2007 (40), Orlando Hernandez 2007 (41), Bartolo Colon 2015 (42), Bartolo Colon 2016 (43) and last but not least, Julio Franco 2006-07 (47-48).
Agree? Disagree? For a lot of the ages, it’s all relative. Some are no-brainers — like Doc’s 1985 season. Others are much more subjective. Either way, hopefully this provided a good representation of some of the best and most memorable seasons in Mets history.