The Mount Rushmore of the New York Mets

David Wright / Presswire

Let’s move back to 1962 and start off with the New York Mets. This is going to be pretty interesting, I think.

Before you click through, just a comment about this photo–I think it’s insanely cool to see 3 sets of eyes locked onto the ball.

Check out the Mets’ career leaders in WAR among batters:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Darryl Strawberry 34.4 1983 1990
2 David Wright 34.3 2004 2012
3 Carlos Beltran 30.2 2005 2011
4 Edgardo Alfonzo 28.0 1995 2002
5 Jose Reyes 26.7 2003 2011
6 Keith Hernandez 25.0 1983 1989
7 Mike Piazza 23.0 1998 2005
8 Howard Johnson 20.3 1985 1993
9 Mookie Wilson 19.0 1980 1989
10 John Stearns 18.4 1975 1984
11 Bud Harrelson 17.1 1965 1977
12 John Olerud 16.5 1997 1999
13 Cleon Jones 16.4 1963 1975
14 Lenny Dykstra 15.7 1985 1989
15 Kevin McReynolds 14.3 1987 1994
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/24/2012.

Wow, that’s a tight bunch of guys. We haven’t yet seen a team that has such a close proximity of players stacked at the top. Β Darryl Strawberry has been the franchise leader in WAR among batters for a long time, but David Wright is destined to pass him any time. Mind you, Carlos Beltran would have been #1 already if he had had a bit more time with the team.

The Mets also have a bunch of guys with individual seasons in the top who didn’t make the above list for career WAR. Bernard Gilkey has their 3rd best individual season in 1996, and that same year Lance Johnson posted their 5th-best season. Hard to believe that Gary Carter isn’t on the top-15 career list, but his 1985 was the Mets’ 9th-best season. Finally Robin Ventura clocks in at #11 with his 1999.

Some other guys who might get some credit for post-season performance include Ray Knight and Donn Clendenon.

Now let’s look at pitchers:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Tom Seaver 72.9 1967 1983
2 Dwight Gooden 39.3 1984 1994
3 Jerry Koosman 37.0 1967 1978
4 Al Leiter 26.4 1998 2004
5 Sid Fernandez 26.0 1984 1993
6 Jon Matlack 25.1 1971 1977
7 David Cone 18.2 1987 2003
8 Rick Reed 15.5 1997 2001
9 Johan Santana 15.2 2008 2012
10 Tom Glavine 14.3 2003 2007
11 Ron Darling 14.1 1983 1991
12 Tug McGraw 12.1 1965 1974
13 Jesse Orosco 11.7 1979 1987
14 Craig Swan 11.5 1973 1984
15 Bret Saberhagen 11.1 1992 1995
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/24/2012.

OK, so, Seaver has more than double the WAR of any batter for the Mets, and more than 30 WAR greater than any other pitcher.

Pedro Martinez from 2005 has the 8th-best season by a Mets pitcher, and Frank Viola in 1990 registers 12th.

Pretty much all the important pitchers on the Mets’ championship teams are already represented on the list above, but they have a few managers worth considering: Casey Stengel and Joe Torre were both of note, and Gil Hodges and Davey Johnson both managed the team to a title.

I am curious to see how the voting goes. We could take the top two batters and pitchers and that would be acceptable, but there are a lot of other reasonable choices too.

Here we go…pick 4 please.

69 thoughts on “The Mount Rushmore of the New York Mets

  1. 1
    dj says:

    Seaver, Piazza, Darryl, Wright. Ultimately, they extend Wright another six years and he becomes #2 on this list behind Seaver, who will always be number one. Keith truly became the captain of the Mets, but Darryl was the straw. Doc was Doc. Can’t argue someone choosing Doc over Piazza. I do think the top three are etched in stone.

  2. 2
    bstar says:

    Andy, if I write in Ed Kranepool 4 times, will my computer blow up?

    • 61
      Robert says:

      The most obvious what if is Nolan Ryan, along with Seaver and Koozman. Another one to consider is Jeff Reardon and his fine career, with his best years being from’81 to ’88. Imagine that pen with Orosco and Roger Mcdowell. Another underrated Met who got away is Ron Hunt. Hunt was not a great hitter and did not draw a ton of walks. What he did do was get hit by pitches, with anywhere from 20 to 25 every year. This would leave him with on OBP of nearly .400 most years. His best years were with Montreal and SF.

  3. 3
    Evan says:

    What about the newest member of the Long Island Ducks?

    In all seriousness though, John Franco belongs in the poll at least as much as some of those included.

  4. 4
    Steven says:

    Seaver, Stengel, Ed Kranepool, and Al Jackson (not the drummer for Booker T and the MGs), the best Met pitcher, pre-Seaver.

  5. 5
    Max says:

    Being the die-hard Mets fan that I am, this was the one I was waiting for. I went Seaver, Gooden, Straw, and Piazza. I wanted to pick Wright but I just couldn’t. I wanted to pick Carter (my favorite) but I knew I shouldn’t. Seaver is the only no brainer. You could easily replace the other three with Koosman, Wright, and Hernandez for the exact same reasons the other three were picked: Doc/Koos – great pitchers who just came up short for the Hall. Straw/Wright – great home grown talent. Piazza/Hernandez – Gave the team credibility and leadership at a time when the team desperately needed it, even if they made their bones somewhere else. I wish I could get Gil Hodges in there too, but hey, there is only four spots. One player I would never ever pick…Jose Reyes…because, screw Jose Reyes, that’s why. And somehow, I hope Marv Throneberry gets a write-in vote.

    • 27
      JAD says:

      I planned to write-in Marvelous Marv, but then why not Richie Ashburn, Choo Choo Coleman, or Hot Rod Kanehl? And Gil Hodges is the mountain from which the monument would be chiseled. I cannot choose which four Mets to enshrine on a hypothetical Mount Rushmore, so I will select those worthy of enshrinement in a hypothetical Terracotta Army. Since the cumulative Mets’ roster is short of 8,000 — Let’s Go Buffalo Bisons!

  6. 6
    StrikeOne says:

    Where’s Art Shamsky?

    • 34
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      Shamsky is on “Everybody Loves Raymond” (‘Big Shots’ – Series 3, Episode 19).

  7. 7
    nightfly says:

    This is a surprisingly tough choice. Not sure what to do.

    • 8
      Andy says:

      Seriously…like Gary Carter. Simultaneously I am thinking “how could he be the monument?” and “how could he NOT be on the monument??”. At least he’s made it for the Expos. I wonder how many players will ultimately appear on more than 1 monument.

  8. 9
    Timmy Pea says:

    I voted or Lenny Dykstra and Strawberry. When I think of the Mets these 2 fine citizens come to mind.

    • 11
      Fireworks says:

      Hey now. Don’t be dragging The Straw through the mud by putting him and Nails in the same class.

  9. 10
    Fireworks says:

    What’s so funny about Johan?

    He’s been worth more to them than they have to him.

    He should sue to get out of his contract. Seems like either he gets stiffed on run support or the pen coughs up his lead.

    Run support by year (higher ranking is worse):

    2008: 28 of 88
    2009: 1 of 78
    2010: 2 of 80
    2012: 21 of 119

    The Mets as a team R/G:

    2008: 4.93, 2nd in NL (4.54 AVG)
    2009: 4.14, 12th (4.43)
    2010: 4.05, 13th (4.33)
    2012: 4.14, 8th (4.07)

    The relationship between his rankings and the team’s ranking correlate well, in terms of consistently. Because to me it looks like he’s consistently a couple dozen qualifiers worse than he should be. Based upon team offense he should rated in the top 20 in 09 and 10, but not the very top. He should be middling this year, not in the lower fifth, and he shoulda had dynamite support in 08 but still fell in the lower third.

    Poor Johan. Every year of being stiffed by his teammates weakens the great HoF case he was putting together before he got injured and is putting back together this year in his return.

    • 35
      John Autin says:

      Well said, Fireworks. I missed your comment when I was venting my own spleen below; I could have just said “ditto.”

      In his 6 no-decisions (tied with 2 others for the MLB lead), he’s allowed 2.45 R/G — more than a run below the combined ERA of all other NL starters in no-decisions (3.53) — with a 1.04 WHIP and 9.8 SO/9.

  10. 12
    vivaeljason says:

    I went Seaver/Wright/Strawberry/Koosman, but I’m wondering where Kranepool is. The man is the only guy to be a “career Met.” Even though his numbers weren’t great, his constant presence has to count for something.

  11. 13
    Jason Z says:

    I voted for Seaver, Koosman, Straw and Doc. It seems proper that a team known for pitching have 3 pitchers on their monument.

    Serious consideration was given to David Wright. He will eventually make it as his numbers become to immense to be left out.

    Also, up until Howard Johnson, the Mets never really had a third baseman of note. David Wright has forever changed that as he moves toward becoming the
    pre-eminent offensive player in team history.

    I figure that Wright would supplant Koosman.

    Serious consideration was also given to Ed Kranepool.

    This isn’t all about WAR as Andy says.

    Kranepool debuted as a teenager in their initial season and played through 1979, his entire career with the Mets. Plus he is from Brooklyn.

    First Keith Hernandez and then Gary Carter changed the face of this franchise
    when the were acquired in 83 and 85 respectively.

    But, because they made their bones elsewhere, I didn’t give them serious

    Same logic for leaving off Mike Piazza.

  12. 14
    e pluribus munu says:

    This is the first Rushmore where I have a home fan bias (I’ll have another when we carve Brooklyn’s – I mean the Dodgers’), and it feels different. I feel more licensed to think about whom I want up there, instead of voting “objectively.”

    But, in fact, I didn’t do that because it would have put two managers on the mountain, and that’s just not right. So despite what he did in 1968-69, I did not vote for Hodges, one of my half-dozen favorite baseball people.

    I think I voted the way I said I would in the earlier, preliminary pan-Rushmore post. I can’t see the Mets without Stengel and my heart belongs to Eddie Kranepool (go, bstar): if a puzzle post asked what team was home to a player for all of his 18 seasons, during which he compiled a total WAR of 2.2, a World Series ring, and seventh-game loss after a season of 83 wins – even if you’d forgotten Eddie, what other team could that be?

    The mark of greatness on the Mets teams I know best was to be traded away during your prime, or, more often, to arrive after it. Seaver takes care of both – what’s really hard to understand is how long he was around, given Mets management. Another mark is superstardom tossed away – choosing between Strawberry and Gooden, I chose Gooden.

    I know there are other ways for a good Mets fan to vote, because Max has already posted. I’m excited by the prospect of feeling deep regret for leaving David Wright off my mountain, hopefully by October. If the Mets trade him away and he bats .400 next year, I’ll really know he belonged.

    PS: I’m glad there was only one write-in slot, so I could resist the temptation to write in Tim Harkness, on the basis of this sinlge game:

    • 22
      John Autin says:

      Thanks for the Harkness link; I never knew about that game. I wonder how many players own a game with WPA over 1 and no others as high as 0.5?

      But I don’t agree with the “superstardom tossed away” angle for Doc or Straw. Darryl had 9 very good years in his 20s, then got hurt. Doc, I’m sad to say, was never a dominant pitcher after his first 2 years; a combination of opponents learning to recognize and lay off the “rising” fastball, and the lowering of the de facto strike zone, made him merely good in years 3-5. He had a serious arm injury in year 6 and was pretty ordinary after that (103 ERA+ in his last 4 full years with the Mets).

      I wouldn’t deny that drug abuse and/or other personal problems played a role in their decline, but the snapshot “threw it all away” reading doesn’t really fit, IMHO.

      • 28
        e pluribus munu says:

        Fair enough, JA. And there have certainly been stars on other teams that combined baseball problems and personal ones to undermine their potential.

        After Harkness’ hit, the crowd mobbed the outfield and wouldn’t leave till Harkness stepped out on the Polo Grounds clubhouse balcony to take a bow.

      • 29
        e pluribus munu says:

        I should have added, Harkness’ hit was on a 3-2 count after several fouls.

      • 38
        Richard Chester says:

        Jerry Buchek of the Mets is one. He had a WPA of 1.063 on 9-22-67 and his second best was 0.491 on 7-9-67.

  13. 15
    Ed says:

    So it looks like someone didn’t vote for Seaver. I want a name Andy, and I want it on my desk by noon. This person needs a talking to. πŸ™‚

    Seriously, how do you not vote for Seaver???

    • 23
      Hartvig says:

      To get to 24.22% (where it is at this moment) it means there has been 223 votes cast, meaning at least 1 person only voted for 3 people (or some other combination of less than 4) but I also means that least 2 people didn’t vote for Seaver. I could believe that maybe one person messed up their vote somehow and inadvertently left him off but twice seems unlikely. That means at least 1 person either bought Dick Young’s baloney about his contract demands or we have someone who doesn’t know baseball reading this article.

  14. 16
    e pluribus munu says:

    bstar? Were you serious?

    • 17
      bstar says:

      Not at all, e, it was a (bad) take on Andy’s joke during the Blue Jays thread that if you voted for Joe Carter 4 times, your computer would blow up. No, I have immense respect for what Kranepool represents. I should have put a smiley face after my comment but I thought the humor was obvious.

      • 19
        e pluribus munu says:

        Thought so. I remembered Andy’s explosive admiration of Joe Carter, but I thought it was so great that a single vote would set it off.

        That leaves Ed’s problem: my arithmetic suggests he’s right.

  15. 18
    Hartvig says:

    I tried to represent as much of the teams history as I could so I went with Casey, Tom Terrific, the Straw Man and Wright. Kranepool or Marvelous Marv could probably take Casey’s place if you limit it to players only and Doc is every bit as deserving as Strawberry. If Wright is traded or signs elsewhere then Hernandez or Piazza would maybe be better choices. Koosman had the misfortune to play in Seaver’s shadow and Franco was as much the face and voice of the franchise as many players listed instead of him.

  16. 20
    John Autin says:

    No time to vote now. I just want express my puzzlement over the editorial comment next to Johan Santana’s name on the ballot.

    Obviously, losing a year-plus to injury has hurt his expected value. But otherwise, he’s been everything I expected when he came over. He led the majors in ERA his first year and single-handedly almost saved our ’08 season with a short-rest shutout on the final weekend.

    I couldn’t put him on our Rushmore after just 3+ seasons, but I have no regrets about the deal and much excitement looking forward to the rest of his Mets career. That 9.5 SO/9 rate he’s got this year is a sight for sore eyes.

    God forbid Roy Halladay should blow out his arm next week. It wouldn’t be funny.

    • 21
      Ed says:

      I tend to agree John, particularly given how little the Mets gave up to get him. What were the Twins thinking????

      • 53
        Nash Bruce says:

        I’ve already vented my frustrations over Santana, a couple of times on the old blog, so I’ll leave it alone.
        BTW, I saw this list, and said, “what, no Dave Kingman?” Watching them as a kid, he was always around, and so I thought for sure…..
        then I looked at his numbers. Love the -7.8 defensive WAR in about 4 full seasons worth of games.

    • 26
      Andy says:

      JA, sorry for not expressing myself better. I certainly wasn’t laughing at Santana’s injuries, nor his performance, nor the team’s performance behind him. I was mainly using him as a symbol of what I find to be a laughingstock franchise these days with a lot of large contracts and very little to show for it in terms of post-season wins or even much regular-season success. I don’t find anything funny about Santana being injured.

      It’s an incredible shame that for a team that has spent as much as the Mets, David Wright is the only guy who will get any serious consideration for the monument from this era. Other high-spending teams have numerous guys who will get serious consideration. (Yankees: Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte, Posada, A-Rod, etc, Red Sox: Manny, Ortiz, Pedro, Schilling, Varitek, etc, Phillies: Howard, Utley, Rollins, Victorino, etc..)

      The Mets have ridiculously little to show for the last 20 years despite what they’ve spent. That “bahahaha” was directed toward that notion, and I just stuck it next to Santana’s name on a momentary (perhaps poorly conceived) whim.

      • 31
        John Autin says:

        No problem, Andy. I was probably blowing off a little steam after a sloppy Mets loss.

      • 50
        Darien says:

        As a Cubs fan, I can understand where you’re coming from. All that money, and for what? I’m not confident Alfonso Soriano is going to make an appearance on the Cubs’ poll.

  17. 24
    Enkidu says:

    Seaver – Hernandez – Piazza – Wright

    Seems to span the history of the Mets and I think Keith Hernandez was more important to the 86 team then Strawberry.

  18. 25
    deal says:

    3 of the top 5 Mets Batters (Wright, Beltran, Reyes) were teammates for 7 seasons and they won only one playoff series together.

    No Pitcher from that era in top 5. Santana down at #9 though.

    Not sure about the rest of the Mountain, but Seaver is my George Washington.

    • 46
      Nick Pain says:

      My Lincoln would have to be Terry Leach. Four scores in seven years with the Mets.

      • 60
        bstar says:

        Nice line, Nick. How did you stumble upon Leach’s hitting totals?

        • 66
          Nick Pain says:

          Thanks bstar. Trial and error with PI looking up runs=4 for a career. I had forgotten about Mr. Leach, he actually had a pretty respectable career.

  19. 30
    brp says:

    Fred Wilpon, Bobby Bonilla, Jason Bay, and Lenny Dykstra.

    • 32
      John Autin says:

      One of those things is not like the others … What did Lenny ever do to the Mets to belong in that company?!?

      • 33
        brp says:

        Grand theft auto? Drugs? Identity theft? Anyway I don’t have anything against the Mets, just trying to have a laugh… before anyone takes this too seriously.

        • 36
          John Autin says:

          I’m not taking umbrage, brp. But Dykstra left the Mets in 1989. He played far more career games with the Phillies; he attained stardom there, and he retired there. In every way, shape and form, Dykstra is more Phillie than Met — so if his post-baseball fiascoes belong on any team’s ledger, it’s pretty clear where they go.

    • 62
      Chowning says:

      We need a Mets anti-Rushmore. How about: Bonilla, Mo Vaughn, Oliver Perez, and Vince Coleman.

  20. 37
    Tmckelv says:

    Seaver, Seaver, Seaver, & Kranepool. πŸ™‚

    Seaver, Strawberry, Wright, and Gooden.

    Special Nod to Bud Harrelson.

    Mount Rushmore for the 77-83 Mets:
    Steve Henderson, Willie Montanez, Doug Flynn, Nino Espinosa.

  21. 39
    Lawrence Azrin says:

    Jose Reyes must have _really_ ticked off a lot of fans everywhere when he went to the Marlins. I mean, I kinda knew that, with it being a big national story and all that, but to see it in the voting is stunning.

    Reyes was nearly as good as David Wright with the Mets, but you’d never know it with a 78-0 (so far) disparity in voting.

    • 42
      kzuke says:

      he might have garnered a few votes had he just played out game 162 last year. leaving the game (and the team) after a bunt single in the first inning was a real affront to the fans

      • 44
        Lawrence Azrin says:

        I doubt it, it’s like when Rogers Clemens left the Red Sox to go to the Blue Jays, when he said he was becoming a free agent to be closer to home.

        Red Sox fans weren’t mad at Clemens because he _did not_ move closer to home (or that he complained about carrying luggage), they were mad that he left the Red Sox.

    • 45

      Surprisingly not much love for Reyes or Beltran.

    • 52
      Darien says:

      I suspect that it’s also largely due to the voting process; if we were asked to rank all the guys on the list ordinally, I bet Reyes would come in ninth or so. Certainly not last. But we’re just picking our top four, and he *does* suffer from being blocked by Wright in the “current player” slot.

  22. 40
    Big Daddy V says:

    “I’m Keith Hernandez.” -Keith Hernandez

  23. 41
    Christopher says:

    I don’t think I can rationalize it, but I just had to vote for Casey Stengel.

    • 43
      Lawrence Azrin says:

      But that’s the point of having a “Mt. Rushmore”; you _don’t_ have to rationalize it, your opinion counts just as much as anyone else’s when you vote.

      Even though… I understand that Stengal is an icon and the face of the franchise the first few years of the Mets and all that, but it’s a little odd, to me, to celebrate a manager who lost 120, 111,and 109 games his three seasons with the Mets.

      • 49
        tag says:

        Lawrence, I’m not sure it’s odd at all. Baseball is basically about losing and failing (this isn’t football or basketball – there’s no winning 85% or 90% of your games – and even all-time-great hitters strike the ball cleanly for a base hit of some sort, what, about 1 out of 10 swings). The question is how you do it, and the early Mets lost/failed as colorfully, memorably and endearingly as any other team in MLB history. Baseball of course is also about overcoming the odds on occasion and winning/succeeding – which, again, the Mets did colorfully and memorably, if rarely. This gamut needs to be recognized, embraced, celebrated. So: Seaver naturally; I chose Marvelous Marv for the formative years but I can certainly see how Kranepool or Stengel might be favored; Strawberry/Doc (I lean toward the former but admired them both – I mean, these guys have lives, not just careers, and if they indulge in recreational drugs, well, so do I so who am I to judge); and, provisionally, Wright.

        • 55
          Nash Bruce says:

          hey, Stengel brought about an 11 game improvement(loss column) over the first three years!! At least a fair job of managing, I’d say….:-P

      • 57
        e pluribus munu says:

        Extending tag’s line, when the Mets were created, fans were hoping to replace great teams – the Giants and Dodgers – and given the other team in town, the trajectory should have been brief romance followed by bored indifference until the first contending era (for a typical first-wave expansion team that means, what, 20 years?). Stengel provided a perfect marquee for the team’s exceptional awfulness, and by the third year, the Mets 109-loss team was far outdrawing the Yankees, who won a very tight three-way race for their pennant. The NY market was probably a guarantee, but without Stengel, I think you’d have been looking at a decade or more of attendance that looked like the first post-Stengel period of mediocrity in the late ’70s (something like 790K in ’79 – translates to maybe 600K in the mid-’60s). Maybe the market wasn’t a guarantee.

        But if the question is whether Stengel was a good manager during those years, I think it was obvious then that he was hardly managing at all. He was marketing. Looking at my vote for Stengel in that light, I guess I agree with Lawrence: it is kind of odd.

        • 67
          Lawrence Azrin says:

          Thanks for your support of my comment, e pluribus munu. You offered a great explanation of Stengel’s importance to the early Mets attendance, when he was the bridge to when they actually contended, and in that way Stengel was very importance as the “face” of the pre-Seaver Mets.

          Limiting our votes to just four people, though, I’d prefer to focus on the people on the Mets who actually contributed the most to wining. But hey, as I stated in #43 above, if you wish to vote Stengel on our Mt. Rushmore, that’s your (Christopher) opinion and it’s just as good as my opinion.

  24. 51
    Darien says:

    I picked Seaver, Straw, Hernandez, and Piazza. Those are really the four guys I think of when I think “Mets.”

    Though again I feel guilty for snubbing Carlos Beltran. πŸ˜‰

  25. 56
    Phil says:

    Seaver (another 100-percenter, I imagine), Doc, Strawberry, Stengel.

  26. 58
    bstar says:

    One day after this article was posted, David Wright is now the all-time WAR leader for position players for the Mets, finally passing Strawberry last night. Wright now has 35.0 WAR to Straw’s 34.4. To me that’s enough to include him in my picks: Seaver, Straw, Wright, and…..eeesh. I just don’t know. I guess I will take Jerry Koosman as my fourth pick.

  27. 59
    Max says:

    Surprisingly little love for Fonzie. Edgardo Alfonso is a home grown player, who, for 4-5 years, was the best hitter on the team not named ‘Piazza’. Not that he should be on the Mount, but he doesn’t even have a vote. I mean, if you are gonna vote for Dykstra (1) or Mookie (3) why not Fonzie, who was a far superior player?

  28. 63
    Tom says:

    Gotta be Seaver (obviously), Keith Hernandez (the heart and soul of that team during the 84-90 Kings-of-New-York epoch), Mike Piazza (put the charge back in the Mets after the awful 90s, clear-cut Hall of Famer who may well go in with a Met cap on) and David Wright (captain, loyal and a leader, and the person who will become the greatest position player in Mets history). Though hard about Kid and Stengel, but Kid didn’t have enough Mets service time and Casey belongs to the Yankees too – don’t want to cross-contaminate Rushmores when we have plenty of deserving home grown candidates. Strawberry and Doc could have been here…but alas, one ditched us for LA and one failed 7 drug tests in one spring training…does not a Rushmore edifice make.

  29. 65
    Doug says:

    14 votes for Gil Hodges. Really?

    Why not Yogi? Or Spahn?


  30. 69
    Erik Christensen says:

    I picked the 3 greatest players in franchise history (Seaver, Piazza and Wright) and for the 4th guy I picked the most beloved Met in franchise history, Mookie Wilson.

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