Many times Mets fans have read articles or held beer-fueled debates over the All Time Mets team. Who was the best at each position to wear a Mets uniform? Would you take Gooden over Seaver? Hernandez over Delgado? (My personal choice is the sometimes forgotten John Olerud.) McGraw over Franco? You know the drill.
However, I got to thinking about just the opposite. Who were the worst players ever to put on the orange and blue? Now you have to establish some ground rules here (and they have to be a bit more rigid than you would have on the positive side of the ledger). If a player appears in 2/3s of the team’s games as a starter, he would have accumulated 432 plate appearances. Then the following season he would have to achieve at least half that total – at least 648 plate appearances over two consecutive years in Mets laundry would qualify a hitter. My logic here is if someone is a semi regular starter and produces poorly but is brought back in that role again and flops a second time, he will eventually get the hook and no longer be a starter. That leaves out folks like Charlie O’Brien who were never really asked to carry the load of a regular in the lineup.
For starting pitchers I’m using 20 starts as the waterline for season 1 and 10 starts for season 2. For relievers (closers, not setup guys) at least 30 GF and then 15 GF in year two. Sorry, all you Mel Rojas fans out there, I don’t think the man would qualify.
Let’s throw some nominations out there at each position and then open it up to debate.
1B – Believe it or not, Steady Eddie Kranepool may get the dubious honor in this regard. He didn’t become somewhat skilled with the bat until his starting days were long over.
2B – Doug Flynn stands on his own here. His one passable season gave him 4/61/.243 but that was an outlier. He was great with the glove but I’m willing to bet there were more lethal pitchers with a bat in their hands that were his teammates. Narrowly missing the cut was Brian Giles who, based on his stellar 1980 campaign hitting .210 was awarded the starting job and responded with a .245 season with 2 HRs and 27 RBIs – kind of an Eric Young type of existence without the lofty stolen base totals.
SS – The first name that popped into my head was Jose Oquendo but alas he didn’t make the fans suffer in enough games to qualify. Rey Ordoñez did. So did Kevin Elster and Bud Harrelson. Mike Phillips also makes this list as a contender supplanting Bud Harrelson as the primary starter. You may have a mental block when it comes to others like Dick Schofield who was the starter for an entire season, delivering a .205 average.
3B – The red headed Wayne Garrett gets the nod here. His steady 3rd base presence over the course of eight seasons in Queens were consistent with his lifetime average of just .239.
LF – Eric Young, Jr. qualifies but I’m wondering if his SB totals outweighs the rest of his offensive ineptitude. As a Met he has a 2 HRs and 43 RBIs with a .241 AVG. The hitting wouldn’t be quite as bad but that’s a total over two years! Of course, when you factor in cost, no one can hold a candle to Jason Bay. Timoniel “Timo” Perez inexplicably started for most of 3 years, too.
CF – Don Hahn hung around over 4 years but didn’t have the plate appearances to qualify. I’d nominate Elliott Maddox, the steady outfielder (and 3rd baseman) who while playing for the NY Yankees once had arguably the emptiest .300 season in the history of the game, accompanied by 3 HRs, 45 RBIs and 6 SBs. So he had no power, no speed and didn’t drive in runs yet somehow managed to succeed in his task 3 out of 10 times. Unfortunately by the time he got to the Mets that hitting took a severe downward trend and his best totals for the Metropolitans in 1980 with 3/34/.246 with 1 stolen base.
RF – The El Paso Chihuahua’s own Jeff Francoeur gets my selection here. For two years fans waited to see him throw the ball from right field because at the plate he was never able to capture that hot streak that started his career down at Turner Field. Curtis Granderson was causing some Jason Bay flashbacks earlier this season but he’s not been here long enough to qualify for consideration yet. Jeromy Burnitz makes the nominees list though it was a successful career between two unsuccessful Mets stints.
C – Jerry Grote was a glove-first catcher back when that’s what nearly all of them were…but he endured for a very long time behind the dish, finishing his pre-cattle rustling career with a .252 average – just about replacement level. In between the long and impressive tenures of Gary Carter, Mike Piazza, Todd Hundley and even Paul Lo Duca there were any number of shared catchers who, if they had the ABs to qualify, would surely make this list. My other nominee to consider is Josh Thole.
SP – These choices are more visceral than numbers-based but you would have to consider Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey near the top of these lists. However, if it’s purely a numbers thing then the early teams had a lot of hurlers who racked up a great many L’s, but those totals have to take into account the motley crew playing behind them. A dishonorable mention goes to record setter Anthony Young who once lost 27 games in a row.
RP – Perhaps the most vitriolic reaction any Mets pitcher ever received was that of sidearmer Doug Sisk. He actually produced some very good overall numbers despite the inevitable meltdowns. He had seasons with ERAs of 1.04, 2.24 and 2.09 before his horrific 1985 campaign in which he did manage to finish 22 games with a 5.30 ERA, a 1.76 WHIP and somehow he managed to walk significantly more people than he struck out. He rebounded with seasons of 3.06 and 3.46 the next two years but the damage had been done and he was sent packing to the Braves. Armando Benitez posted some very lofty save totals while in a Mets uniform – 41, 43 and 33 during three years as the full time closer – but was known to choke at the worst possible moments. His ERA during his 43 save season was a bit high for a closer at 3.77 but his other two years they were quite good at 2.61 and 2.27. Still, if you polled people on the players they hated most on the Mets, he’s surely be in the top 5.
Manager – Well, there are a great many choices here of men who foundered and men who lost games they should have won. Terry Collins is an obvious nominee, as are Dallas Green, Jeff Torborg and Art Howe.
So who were the all-time worst Mets in your opinions?