Reese Kaplan -- Harvesting Homegrown Talent

With all of the stellar pitching complemented by rental players, the Mets find themselves atop the Eastern Division of the National League as they head into the September home stretch. The team is comprised of a blend of homegrown talent, trades and free agent/waiver-wire acquisitions. Reading Tom Brennan's minor league coverage got me to thinking about who were the best players to come up through the Mets farm system. Towards that end I present you the all homegrown Mets team:


Your contenders here include John Milner, Ed Kranepool, Dave Magadan and incumbent Lucas Duda. While Kranepool has longevity, Duda's career .248 AVG is not much of a standout, though I'd still rather have him there than the .280 singles hitter Dave Magadan was.


Here you have three very strong contenders (well, two and one sentimental favorite). Edgardo Alfonzo would be my choice for both offense and defense, as well as the power that developed later in his career. Daniel Murphy is a touch better with the batting average. Wally Backman was fun to watch but never provided more than singles and doubles.


While Bud Harrelson may have the longevity, but there's no question that Jose Reyes is the best shortstop the system ever produced.


The Captain stands alone here. David Wright will own nearly every Mets offensive record by the time he's done (not to mention Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers).


Again, you have a defense-only player with great longevity in Jerry Grote, the PED-fueld power of Todd Hundley and the “run-tbrough-a-wall” competitiveness of John Stearns. The Bad Dude is my choice. How many catchers can hit for power and steal a base, too?


Gil Hodges may disagree with me, but Cleon Jones posted some nice batting averages during his Mets tenure (including his .340 campaign during the 1969 World Championship year.


Here's a dogfight with some good contenders. For awhile both Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson platooned with one another out there. Lee Mazzilli had some solid seasons playing CF as did Jay Payton. Still, I'd have to go with Mookie whose baserunning was the most electric the Mets had seen prior to the arrival of Jose Reyes. Then of course, there's that whole, “It gets by Buckner” moment, too.

Another nearly unanimous vote here, the big man Darryl Strawberry brought respectability to the Mets for what he did on the playing field. He was the kind of player like Dave Kingman before him that would cause everyone to stop what they were doing when he came to the plate because the possibility of a long ball was always bubbling just under the surface.


The Mets have done a spectacular job with starting pitchers throughout their club's history, starting with Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, then Jon Matlack, Doc Gooden, even Craig Swan. Lately you have three years of Matt Harvey that is the same sentence as Seaver and Gooden plus with more time you would probably have to include Jacob de Grom as well.


Now the Mets have had the habit of trading away some of their bullpen arms before they flourished. These names would include Jeff Reardon, Rick Aguilera, Neil Allen and Randy Myers. An injury-shortened career by future pitching coach Bob Apodaca merits consideration, as does another future pitching coach in Roger McDowell. While he was both a starter and reliever, Terry Leach did yeoman's work for the Mets during his career. One name that will get me pilloried for including it here is perhaps the most hated pitcher this side of Mel Rojas and Oliver Perez – Doug Sisk. Yes, he would be known to walk the ballpark, but you can't take away from him his rather gaudy numbers – 17-16 record, 33 saves and a 3.10 ERA over 6 years. Still, my nod goes to the ageless Jesse Orosco who finished his Mets career with 107 saves even though he was not always the closer.


Gil Hodges would be my choice, though cases could be made for Davey Johnson and Bobby Valentine as well.

What do you all think?


Thomas Brennan said...

My brother and I often lament that this is the best that the Mets have been able to produce offensively in 54 years.

So sign Cespedes. At all costs. It is nice to have Conforto, and he may become a great one, but I don't think I have 54 years to wait for better homegrown stars than those of the first 54 years.

Reese Kaplan said...

The 1986 Mets scored 783 runs. The current squad is at 555. Even if they averaged 6 runs per game for the remaining 25 or so to play, that would only add 150 to the total. They're way off the mark offensively from that World Championship squad.

Gary Seagren said...

Reese nice article but for my money LF would be Ken Singleton who had a very nice 15 yr career. What really stands out is this is a very sad list of position players with a couple of exceptions for 54 years of drafting and signing.

Herb G said...

Good analysis, but did you have a momentary lapse by omitting Mike Piazza from your list of catchers? He gets my vote. I also think I'd pick Tommie Agee in CF, even though his longevity with the Mets was shorter than Mookie's.

Anonymous said...

Nice article and a topic I frequently enjoy thinking about - although I don't restrict it to home grown players. For example - and a lot of people disagree - my pick for best all around Mets LF is McReynolds. I watched the whole Cleon Jones era and loved his bat but loved the way McR played the field.
One comment on your list is C - loved Stearns but I thought he was a Phillie before a Met? i know we didn't draft him and also loved watching him play Safety at U of Colorado.

Steve from Norfolk said...


The article was about players that came up through the Mets farm system. Mookie's main problem was a weak throwing arm. For CF, Don't forget both Carlos Gomez and Angel Pagan came up through our farm system and played for the Mets. My pick, even as short-lived as he was here, would be Angel Pagan. He played for two full years at the position and delivered a total line of .284/.337/.419/ with an OPS of .756 and a total WAR of 10.6.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Steve -- correct. I didn't forget Piazza. He simply didn't qualify. Guys like Ken Singleton didn't do much while he was here though he was a solid pro for many seasons. The same could be said for Amos Otis. I was trying to pick people who did well while they were in a Mets uniform. There were some left off due to positional fluidity such as Greg Jeffries who moved around quite a bit and not readily identified with one spot on the diamond.

@Lyson -- wow, excellent catch. John Stearns had ONE GAME as a Phillie prior to joining the Mets. Hundley it is, then.

Herb G said...


I realized my error after I had gone out for the afternoon. Just returned and wanted to post a retraction, but I see it wasn't necessary. Mea culpa!

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