New York Mets: Franchise Leaders by WAR and its Components

I took a little break from my franchise WAR leaders series, but I'm back today with the relatively uninspiring history of the New York Mets (I'm sorry, it just is). Previously, I covered the Red Sox, Twins, White Sox, and Rangers. As usual, all numbers are from Rally's WAR database. Let's just jump right in and kick things off with career WAR.

By total WAR:

New York Mets Career WAR Leaders, Position Players
Rank Name PlApp WAR
1 Darryl Strawberry 4509 37.7
2 Edgardo Alfonso 4384 29.1
3 David Wright 3627 27.2
4 Carlos Beltran 2929 26.6
5 Keith Hernandez 3651 26.5
6 Howard Johnson 4537 24.7
7 Mike Piazza 3919 24.6
8 Jose Reyes 3617 21.1
9 Mookie Wilson 4283 19.4
10 John Olerud 1996 18.6
11 John Stearns 3027 18.5
12 Cleon Jones 4617 17.6
13 Kevin McReynolds 3182 17.0
14 Lenny Dykstra 1877 16.4
15 Dave Magadan 2442 15.2
16 Bud Harrelson 4984 14.8
17 Wayne Garrett 3310 13.2
18 Jerry Grote 4265 13.0
19 Lee Mazzilli 3464 12.9
20 Tommie Agee 2663 12.4
21 Gary Carter 2415 11.2
22 Bernard Gilkey 1542 11.1
23 Todd Hundley 2870 10.9
24 Robin Ventura 1756 10.7
25 John Milner 2735 10.1
26 Wally Backman 2632 9.6
27 Steve Henderson 2013 9.6
28 Cliff Floyd 1870 8.9
29 Lance Johnson 1014 8.9
30 Joel Youngblood 2075 8.8

Wait, that's it? 37.7 WAR? Even the Texas Rangers had a pair of guys above that. I also can't believe that Edgardo Alfonso is second in club history. I almost forgot he existed. Seriously, I'm not sure what to say, besides "Wow, the Expos really got the prime of Gary Carter's career". Oh, and boy do I have a ton of Lenny Dykstra cards somewhere.

New York Mets Career WAR Leaders, Pitchers
Rank Name Innings WAR
1 Tom Seaver 3045.3 75.8
2 Jerry Koosman 2544.7 41.8
3 Dwight Gooden 2169.7 41.2
4 Jon Matlack 1448 27.0
5 Sid Fernandez 1584.6 26.9
6 Al Leiter 1360 26.3
7 David Cone 1209.4 19.0
8 Ron Darling 1620 16.5
9 Rick Reed 888.6 14.8
10 John Franco 702.7 12.8
11 Craig Swan 1230.5 12.6
12 Tug McGraw 792.7 12.4
13 Jesse Orosco 595.6 12.2
14 Bret Saberhagen 524.3 11.5
15 Tom Glavine 1005.2 11.3
16 Armando Benitez 346.9 10.6
17 Johan Santana 401 10.0
18 Bobby Jones 1215.7 9.7
19 Bobby Ojeda 763.9 9.6
20 Frank Viola 566.3 9.6
21 Steve Tracshel 956.5 9.1
22 Gary Gentry 789.3 7.7
23 Pat Zachry 741.8 7.6
24 Jim McAndrew 729.6 7.5
25 Skip Lockwood 379.6 7.4
26 Ray Sadecki 600.4 6.9
27 Jack Fisher 931.7 6.6
28 Roger Craig 469.3 6.0
29 Pedro Martinez 486.7 5.8
30 Pete Falcone 607.6 5.4
31 Ed Lynch 730.3 5.4

Okay, now we're seeing something. I'm guessing there won't be many franchises where three pitchers had more WAR with the team than the top hitter. Seaver stands out as the gem of the franchise's history—which makes the story of his trade to the Reds all the more facepalm-inducing. The 1988 season was the first where, as a kid, I could pretty much tell you the numbers of any player. That Mets rotation really stood out to me—and it does here, too. Gooden (#3), Fernandez (#5), Cone (#7), Darling (#8), and Ojeda (#19) are all in the Top 20. In case you were wondering (I know you weren't), Nolan Ryan was worth 3.7 WAR as a Met.


By WAR used as a rate stat

New York Mets Career WAR per 700 Plate Appearances Leaders, Minimum 2000 PA
Rank Name PlApp WAR/700 PA
1 Carlos Beltran 2929 6.36
2 Darryl Strawberry 4509 5.85
3 David Wright 3627 5.25
4 Keith Hernandez 3651 5.08
5 Edgardo Alfonso 4384 4.65
6 Mike Piazza 3919 4.39
7 Dave Magadan 2442 4.36
8 John Stearns 3027 4.28
9 Jose Reyes 3617 4.08
10 Howard Johnson 4537 3.81
11 Kevin McReynolds 3182 3.74
12 Steve Henderson 2013 3.34
13 Tommie Agee 2663 3.26
14 Gary Carter 2415 3.25
15 Mookie Wilson 4283 3.17
16 Bobby Bonilla 2025 3.01
17 Joel Youngblood 2075 2.97
18 Wayne Garrett 3310 2.79
19 Cleon Jones 4617 2.67
20 Todd Hundley 2870 2.66

The Red Sox had seven players above 6.0 WAR/700 (aka Wins Above MVP Level). The Senators/Twins and White Sox had three apeice while the Senators/Rangers had two. The Mets only have Carlos Beltran. Darryl Strawberry, David Wright, and Keith Hernandez also stand out above the rest. Then we get Alfonso again—still impressive once normalized over 700 PAs. Anyone else surprised to see Dave Magadan rank that highly? This list goes all the way down to Todd Hundley and his 2.66 WAR/700. Luckily, the pitchers are better.

New York Mets Career WAR per 200 Innings Pitched Leaders, Minimum 200 IP
Rank Name Innings WAR/200
1 Armando Benitez 346.9 6.11
2 Johan Santana 401 4.99
3 Tom Seaver 3045.3 4.98
4 Bret Saberhagen 524.3 4.39
5 Mike Hampton 217.7 4.23
6 Jesse Orosco 595.6 4.10
7 Randy Myers 240 4.00
8 Skip Lockwood 379.6 3.90
9 Al Leiter 1360 3.87
10 Dwight Gooden 2169.7 3.80
11 Jon Matlack 1448 3.73
12 John Franco 702.7 3.64
13 Carl Willey 241 3.40
14 Sid Fernandez 1584.6 3.40
15 Frank Viola 566.3 3.39
16 Rick Reed 888.6 3.33
17 Kevin Appier 206.7 3.29
18 Jerry Koosman 2544.7 3.29
19 David Cone 1209.4 3.14
20 Tug McGraw 792.7 3.13

Pitchers are supposed to have a tougher time compiling career WAR. Not if you're a Met! After the token closer at the top of the list (Benitez), we get a quartet of impressive starters in Santana, Seaver, Saberhagen, and Hampton. Hampton was only a Met for one year, but he pitched enough to make the list. Among starters with a significant number of innings, Al Leiter, Dwight Gooden, Jon Matlack, and Sid Fernandez stand out. Considering his career WAR is on the high end for relievers, I'm surprised to see John Franco's WAR/200 doesn't look that good.


By WAR components (for position players)

New York Mets Career Batting Runs Above Average
Rank Name PlApp Bat
1 Darryl Strawberry 4509 239
2 David Wright 3627 183
3 Mike Piazza 3919 171
4 Keith Hernandez 3651 150
5 Howard Johnson 4537 135
6 John Olerud 1996 130
7 Carlos Beltran 2929 107
8 Edgardo Alfonso 4384 93
9 Dave Magadan 2442 89
10 Kevin McReynolds 3182 87

Strawberry stands atop this list but figures to be challenged by Wright at some point. If Wright keeps at his current pace this season, he should hover around 210 Batting Runs through his age 27 season. This is not the only component that Keith Hernandez ranks well in.

New York Mets Career Baserunning Runs Above Average
Rank Name BSrun
1 Mookie Wilson 33
2 Jose Reyes 31
3 Lenny Dykstra 24
4 David Wright 17
5 Carlos Beltran 16
6 Howard Johnson 15
7 Lance Johnson 12
8 Keith Miller 11
9 Edgardo Alfonso 10
10 Roger Cedeno 10

These numbers are from the start of the 2010 season and Baseball-Reference's updated data has Reyes now tied with Mookie.

New York Mets Career Total Zone (Range) Runs Above Average
Rank Name TZ
1 Keith Hernandez 50
2 Rey Ordonez 47
3 Edgardo Alfonso 46
4 Bud Harrelson 42
5 Carlos Beltran 37
6 Robin Ventura 36
7 Jose Reyes 31
8 Endy Chavez 29
9 Bernard Gilkey 29
10 John Olerud 28

Not sure how many clubs are going to have a first baseman ranked first all-time in Total Zone. But Hernandez did it. In fact, he ranks among the all time greats in Total Zone regardless of position. We begin to see why Alfonso ranks so highly in career WAR—he brought an excellent glove along with an impressive bat (for a second baseman). Great to see glovemen like Ventura and Olerud, who were Mets somewhat later in their careers, still flash that leather that made them so underrated.

New York Mets Career Outfield Arm Runs Above Average
Rank Name OFarm
1 Joel Youngblood 13
2 Bernard Gilkey 9
3 Timo Perez 9
4 Johnny Lewis 7
5 Jay Payton 6
6 Don Hahn 6
7 Mike Cameron 5
8 Tsuyoshi Shinjo 4
9 Del Unser 4
10 Richard Hidalgo 4
11 Ellis Valentine 4

Joel Youngblood, of course, played for two teams in the same day. That is the most interesting thing about this list.

New York Mets Career Catching Runs Above Average, Minimum 4 runs
Rank Name catcher
1 John Stearns 36
2 Jerry Grote 29
3 Chris Cannizzaro 19
4 Charlie O'Brien 18
5 Vance Wilson 13
6 Alex Trevino 10
7 Alberto Castillo 8
8 Duffy Dyer 7
9 Jason Phillips 6
10 Rick Cerone 4
11 Todd Pratt 4
12 Ramon Castro 4

Again with the Gary Carter! Turns out, he was worth a run below average with the Mets while he was worth 106 runs with Montreal. Yikes. The #1 catcher on this list, John Stearns, actually started as the backup for (and eventually replaced) the #2 catcher, Jerry Grote. Grote, of course, backstopped the 1969 Amazin's while Stearns was a four-time All Star and actually held the NL stole basen record for catchers (with 25) until Jason Kendall passed him. Stearns also got in a fight with Gary Carter after a collision at the plate in 1979 (Carter was with the Mets). Turns out Carter was no match for him on this list.


By WAR in a single season

New York Mets Single Season WAR Leaders, Position Players
Rank Name Year WAR
1 Bernard Gilkey 1996 8.1
2 John Olerud 1998 8.1
3 Carlos Beltran 2006 8.0
4 David Wright 2007 7.8
5 Howard Johnson 1989 7.7
6 Cleon Jones 1969 7.6
7 Edgardo Alfonso 1997 7.0
8 Carlos Beltran 2008 6.8
9 Lance Johnson 1996 6.8
10 Edgardo Alfonso 2000 6.7
11 Gary Carter 1985 6.7
12 Darryl Strawberry 1987 6.7
13 Robin Ventura 1999 6.7
14 Keith Hernandez 1984 6.5
15 Darryl Strawberry 1990 6.5
16 David Wright 2008 6.1
17 Jose Reyes 2006 5.9
18 Darryl Strawberry 1988 5.9
19 Edgardo Alfonso 1999 5.7
20 Tommie Agee 1969 5.6
21 Keith Hernandez 1986 5.6

Well hey, Bernard Gilkey. I'll admit I didn't see that one coming. Surprisingly few seasons from the 2000s here. Many other teams had certain players appear on this list multiple times. This one... not so much. I count three appearances by Darryl Strawberry and Edgar Alfonso and two apiece by David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Keith Hernandez. Beyond that, a bunch of one-timers. It seems that in the somewhat rare event a player is a star for the Mets, it doesn't last all that long. Hence the lack of repeat single-season WAR leaders and low overall total of the career leaders.

New York Mets WORST Single Season WAR Leaders, Position Players
Rank Name Year WAR
1 Brian McRae 1999 -2.7
2 Doug Flynn 1979 -2.5
3 Willie Montanez 1979 -2.5
4 Doug Flynn 1977 -2.3
5 Frank Taveras 1981 -2.1

For the first time so far, we see a guy appear on this list twice. Generally speaking, if you get on this list your chances should have run out. Not Doug Flynn. Flynn was a horrible, horrible hitting second baseman (-236 batting runs) who won a Gold Glove award in 1980. The thing is, he was good in the field in 1980 (8 runs according to Total Zone), but he wasn't really ever good any other year. He rated as -22 for his career. In 1979, he was -31 runs at bat and -8 in the field. In 1977, he was worth -30 and -6. He rarely crossed over into positive WAR, finishing his career with a jaw-dropping -12.1 WAR. That right there is the second worst mark of all time, behind Bill Bergen.

New York Mets Single Season WAR Leaders, Pitchers
Rank Name Year WAR
1 Dwight Gooden 1985 11.7
2 Tom Seaver 1973 9.5
3 Tom Seaver 1971 9.2
4 Jon Matlack 1974 8.6
5 Tom Seaver 1975 7.7
6 Tom Seaver 1969 7.6
7 Tom Seaver 1968 7.5
8 Jerry Koosman 1968 6.8
9 Jerry Koosman 1969 6.7
10 Jon Matlack 1972 6.7
11 Al Leiter 1998 6.5
12 Johan Santana 2008 6.4
13 Tom Seaver 1967 6.4
14 Frank Viola 1990 6.3
15 Tom Seaver 1970 6.0
16 David Cone 1988 5.8
17 Tom Seaver 1972 5.8
18 Jerry Koosman 1973 5.7
19 Tom Seaver 1974 5.7
20 Tom Seaver 1976 5.7
21 Craig Swan 1978 5.7

Okay, now we're starting to see some repeats. Seaver is on here ten times, taking five of the first seven spots. Koosman places three times while Matlack appears twice. Dwight Gooden takes the #1 spot outright by a lot, but surprisingly doesn't appear on the list again.

New York Mets WORST Single Season WAR Leaders, Pitchers
Rank Name Year WAR
1 Paul Wilson 1996 -2.8
2 Craig Anderson 1962 -2.0
3 Randy Jones 1981 -1.8
4 Jim McAndrew 1973 -1.7
5 Doug Sisk 1985 -1.7

Ouch. Paul Wilson. Not only was he taken first overall in 1994, but he flopped miserably in his rookie year (to the tune of the worst pitching performance in club history). He wasn't much better in Tampa or Cincinnati, either. His 2.5 WAR year with the Reds in 2004 saved him from a career below replacement level. He finished with 1.1 WAR. With Anderson, you'd expect a lot of the '62 Mets (40-120) pitchers to be south of replacement level. But they really weren't. Roger Craig was worth 3.4 WAR that year (while losing 24 games) while Al Jackson was worth 3.1 (he lost 20). Anderson and Ray Daviault (-1.2 WAR) were the only pitchers with over 40 innings to be below replacement level. And yes—that's the same Randy Jones who was starring for the Padres only a couple years earlier.


All Time Team

  • Catcher: Mike Piazza (24.6 WAR, 4.4 WAR/700)
  • First Base: Keith Hernandez (26.5 WAR, 5.1 WAR/700)
  • Second Base: Edgardo Alfonso (29.1 WAR, 4.7 WAR/700)
  • Third Base: David Wright (27.2 WAR, 5.3 WAR/700)
  • Shortstop: Jose Reyes (21.1 WAR, 4.1 WAR/700)
  • Outfield: Darryl Strawberry (37.7 WAR, 5.9 WAR/700)
  • Outfield: Carlos Beltran (26.6 WAR, 6.4 WAR/700)
  • Outfield: Kevin McReynolds (17.0 WAR, 3.7 WAR/700)
  • Starting Pitcher: Tom Seaver (75.8 WAR, 5.0 WAR/700)
  • Starting Pitcher: Jerry Koosman (41.8 WAR, 3.3 WAR/700)
  • Starting Pitcher: Dwight Gooden (41.2 WAR, 3.8 WAR/700)
  • Starting Pitcher: Al Leiter (26.3 WAR, 3.9 WAR/700)
  • Relief Pitcher: John Franco (12.8 WAR, 3.6 WAR/700)
  • Relief Pitcher: Armando Benitez (10.6 WAR, 6.1 WAR/700)

I'll be honest. It's not a club you're going to fear. It was really hard picking a third outfielder after Strawberry and Beltran. But McReynolds had the right mix of total and rate WAR (sad as that is). It's funny that I would have rather stuck John Stearns in the outfield than McReynolds. The starting ptichers were pretty easy while it was a bit tough to leave Tug McGraw off the reliever list. But Franco had the longevity and Benitez had the dominance.

The total for this all-time Mets team is 65.3 WAR. As medoicre as the Rangers were, I'm kind of surprised they finished behind this pretty rough group. Seaver, Beltran, Strawberry, Wright, and Benitez carried this group. Here are the totals so far:

  1. Red Sox (88.9 WAR)
  2. Twins (71.6 WAR)
  3. White Sox (68.5 WAR)
  4. Mets (65.3 WAR)
  5. Rangers (63.7 WAR)

So, who's next? In the queue we have:

  1. Chicago Cubs
  2. Detroit Tigers
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. New York Yankees

I'm looking forward to seeing the results of each of these. I'm guessing each will be among the top teams in the series. They've all been around a long time and had some huge stars.

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