The Mets Carlos Beltran tosses his bat aside after hitting a three-run homer in the 7th inning, as Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal looks on in Queens on May 2, 2005.

MLB Top 5: New York Mets Outfielders

This is the fourth article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the New York Mets. In this installment are outfielders.

The list of best outfielders in Mets history includes several talented sluggers along with some solid clutch hitters and the authors of some of the most memorable moments in franchise history.

The Best Outfielders in New York Mets History

Left Fielders

Dishonorable Mention – Just go on any baseball-related group on social media and you will inevitably get a post designed to draw a reaction. When the question is “What is the worst free agent signing your team has ever made?”, most Mets fans will instantly come up with the name Jason Bay. In terms of his early career, he was excellent: Rookie of the Year in 2004, three All-Star selections, a silver slugger and four seasons with at least 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in.

Bay was coming off of one of those seasons with the Red Sox in 2009 when the Mets signed him to a four-year, $66 million deal with an option for a fifth season. What was his response to the added pressure? A .259 average and six home runs in 95 games while missing extended time with concussion-related symptoms. He didn’t get much better in his next two injury plagued seasons, totaling just 26 homers and 124 RBIs in 288 games before he was released after the 2012 season. After one more year with the Mariners, his playing career was over. Fair or not for the 2019 member of the Canadian Hall of Fame, Mets fans will not remember Bay’s time with the franchise fondly.

Honorable Mentions – Steve Henderson might be one of the more forgotten names on this list, but he was a solid contact hitter during his four-year tenure on the club during arguably its darkest time (1977-80). He faced a lot of pressure after coming over in the trade for future Hall of Famer Tom Seaver and met some of that potential early on, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1977 after batting .297 and setting career highs with 12 home runs and 65 runs batted in. He posted career bests with 83 runs and 156 hits while matching the RBI total the following year, then set a personal best with a .306 average in 1979.

“Stevie Wonder” had his most memorable game in June 1980. The Mets had been held without a hit for five innings and trailed 6-1 in the eighth, with Henderson striking out in his first three at-bats. However, the Mets chipped away over the final two frames, and he put the exclamation point on the comeback with a three-run, game-winning home run. However, the team continued to play poorly over the next two years and Henderson was traded to the Cubs to bring slugging first baseman Dave Kingman back to New York. Henderson also played with the Mariners, Athletics and Astros before retiring in 1988.

Bernard Gilkey spent just three seasons with the Mets (1996-98), but his first was one of the best in team history. In 1996, he earned MVP consideration after setting career highs with a .317 average, 108 runs, 181 hits, 30 home runs and 117 RBIs and posting a franchise record 44 doubles. The longtime Cardinal fell back to earth in 1997 and was traded to the Diamondbacks the following year. Gilkey also spent time with the Red Sox and Braves before retiring in 2001.

5. George Foster – A longtime star for Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” teams of the 1970s, he won two titles, earned five All-Star selections and was named National League MVP in 1977 when he led the league with 124 runs, 52 home runs and 149 runs batted in. Foster was traded to the Mets before the 1982 season and the hope was that he could continue the power barrage he had maintained for so long with the Reds.

Instead, Foster’s average and power dipped, although he managed to hit 20 home runs in three of his five seasons in New York (1982-86). He finished his Mets career with 602 hits, 99 homers, 361 RBIs and 1,007 total bases in 655 games. With Mookie Wilson and Kevin Mitchell splitting time in left field, Foster was released in August 1986 before he could be a part of the Mets’ championship celebration.

4. Cliff Floyd – He was one of the greatest players in Marlins history (winning a title with Florida in 1997) and signed with the Mets after splitting the 2002 season between the Expos and Red Sox. Floyd’s first two seasons in New York were hampered by a variety of injuries, but he was fully healthy in 2005, when he batted .273 with 98 runs batted in and a career-high 34 home runs. More ankle and Achilles injuries cost him time in 2006 and, while he hit a home run against the Dodgers in the Division Series, he managed just three at-bats in the NLCS loss to the Cardinals.

Floyd left the Mets and spent one year each with the Cubs, Rays and Padres, helping Tampa Bay reach the World Series in 2008. Following his retirement, he turned to broadcasting and has worked for the Mets and Blue Jays and also with Fox Sports, MLB Network and SiriusXM and Apple TV.

3. Yoenis Cespedes – With the 2015 trade deadline moments away, the Mets had not produced the big bat necessary to put them ahead of the other National League contenders. Then came the last-second trade the brought in Cespedes, the cocky slugger who had starred for Oakland and Boston and had 18 home runs in 102 games for Detroit.

The trade rejuvenated Mets fans and players and their new star did not disappoint. Cespedes blasted 17 homers (including three in a late August game against the Rockies) and drove in 44 runs in 57 games as the Mets won the National League East and made the playoffs for the first time in nine years. In the playoffs, he hit two more home runs against the Dodgers in the Division Series and drove in eight runs in 14 games to help the Mets reach the World Series.

“La Potencia” (“The Power”) was an All-Star and a silver slugger after batting .280, bashing 31 home runs and driving in 86 runs in 2016, but a leg injury was the precursor of things to come. He missed half of the following season with a hamstring injury. His 2018 season ended with surgery on both heels, and he missed all of the next year when he fractured his right ankle while working on his ranch. Cespedes played the first eight games of the COVID-shortened 2020 season, then went AWOL after leaving his hotel without telling team officials. His agent announced that he had opted out of the rest of the year, and he hasn’t played since.

In five seasons with the Mets (2015-18 and 2020), Cespedes batted .279 with 180 runs, 327 hits, 76 home runs and 205 RBIs in 316 games. He added seven runs, 12 hits, two homers and eight RBIs in 15 postseason contests.

2. Kevin McReynolds – A first round pick of the Padres in 1981, he started in center field during his four years in San Diego, which included a World Series run in 1984 (although he did not play in the series). McReynolds came to the Mets in an eight-player deal after the 1986 season and was moved to left field in New York. “Big Mac” took to his new home, topping the 20-homer and 80-RBI marks in each of the next four years.

McReynolds had his best season in 1988, finishing in third place in the MVP race after hitting 27 home runs, setting career highs with a .288 average and 99 runs batted in and stealing 21 bases without being caught. He hit two more homers and had four runs, seven hits and four RBIs in the loss to the Dodgers in the NLCS.

Following two solid seasons, McReynolds’ production dropped in 1991 and he was traded to the Royals after the season in the deal that brought two-time Cy Young winner Bret Saberhagen to the Mets. McReynolds spent two years in Kansas City, then was traded back to the Mets for speedy but troubled outfielder Vince Coleman. However, back problems limited “Big Mac” and he retired after the season.

McReynolds finished his six-year Mets career (1987-91 and ’94) with a .272 average, 405 runs, 791 hits, 153 doubles, 122 home runs, 456 RBIs and 1,338 total bases in 787 games. He also won two fielding titles and led the league in outfield assists twice. Since his playing career ended, McReynolds has run a duck hunting club and co-owned a restaurant.

1. Cleon Jones – His major league career began with a six-game call-up in 1963. After spending most of the next two years in the minors and moving around the Mets’ outfield for two years after that, Jones moved to left field for good in 1968. He became one of the team’s most consistent performers and one of its most respected leaders for the rest of his 12 seasons in New York (1963 and 65-75).

The 1969 season was special for the “Miracle Mets,” and Jones was a part of several key moments. On July 30, with the Mets in the thick of a pennant race, Jones failed to go after a line drive hit in his direction, so manager Gil Hodges walked out to left field and pulled him from the game. In Game 5 of the World Series against the Orioles, Jones faced Dave McNally and started to first base after a pitch that bounced into the dirt. When the umpire disputed the call, Hodges picked up the ball and showed him a smudge of shoe polish from Jones’ cleat. Donn Clendenon followed that with a home run and the Mets began a comeback. The game ended with a fly ball from future Mets manager Davey Johnson landing in Jones’ glove as fans ran on the field in celebration.

During that 1969 season, Jones earned his only All-Star selection after batting .340, which is a personal best and ranks second in team history. He also hit 12 home runs, stole 16 bases and set career highs with 92 runs, 164 hits and 75 runs batted in.

Jones continued as a vocal leader and a solid producer, but his numbers began to decline in the mid-1970s. In addition, he had a pair of incidents that wore down his trust with management. The first involved being caught in an affair, which resulted in the Mets suspending him and publicly humiliated him in a press conference. The other was the culmination of a feud between him and manager Yogi Berra. Jones refused to go on the field, resulted in a shouting match between the two. Management eventually sided with Berra and Jones was released (although Yogi was fired soon after).

Jones ranks fourth in franchise history in hits (1,188) and triples (33), sixth in games (1,201), seventh in runs (563), eighth in total bases (1,715) and tied for eight in RBIs (521). He appeared in 20 postseason games, totaling 14 runs, 23 hits, seven doubles, two homers and eight RBIs. Jones retired after playing 12 games with the White Sox in 1976. He spent many years doing community service work in Mobile, Alabama, and was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1991.

Center Fielders

Honorable Mentions – Lenny Dykstra showed grit, toughness and speed during his five-year stint with the Mets (1985-89), stealing 30 bases twice and proving to be a talented leadoff hitter. While New York ran through the regular season, things were not as easy in the playoffs. The Mets faced the dominant Mike Scott and the Astros in the NLCS, and the team needed production from their entire lineup. Dykstra won Game 3 with a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth and hit an RBI single in the 16th inning of the clincher in Game 6.

“Nails” hit two home runs in the World Series against the Red Sox, including a leadoff blast in Game 3. Although he was a popular and valuable player, he was unhappy with his lost playing time, so he was traded to the Phillies in 1989. Dykstra spent eight seasons in Philadelphia, was a three-time All-Star and the MVP runner-up on a Phillies team that went to the World Series in 1993 and retired three years later. His post-baseball career included multiple bankruptcies, failed businesses, charges of sexual assault theft, fraud, identity theft, drug possession, indecent exposure, money laundering and terroristic threats. He was hospitalized in February 2024 after suffering a stroke.

Lance Johnson was known for his time with the White Sox but joined Gilkey in having a career year for the Mets in 1996. He earned his only All-Selection after setting career highs with a .333 average, 117 runs, 31 doubles, 69 RBIs, 50 steals and 327 total bases, and his 227 hits and 21 triples both led the National League and set team records.

Although he batted .309 the following year, “One Dog” saw the rest of his production drop off and he was traded to the Cubs. The five-time league leader in triples had 27 with the Mets, which ranked eighth in franchise history. Johnson finished his career with the Yankees in 2000.

Juan Lagares was known mostly for his defense during his eight seasons in New York (2013-2020). He made several highlight reel catches with the Mets, winning a Wilson Defensive Player Award in 2013 and took a gold glove the following year. Lagares was a full-time starter during the 2015 pennant-winning season, amassing seven runs, eight hits, two doubles and two steals in 13 playoff contests. After playing in 718 games with the Mets, he spent 2020 in the minor leagues, played one year with the Angels and is currently a free agent after playing in Korea during the 2022 season.

5. Brandon Nimmo – The Wyoming-born leadoff hitter is entering his ninth year with the Mets (2016-present). Nimmo appeared in two MLB Futures Games and was known early in his career for his ability to get on base, including getting hit by a pitch, which he did a league-high 22 times in 2018. He has also been a star on defense, winning a fielding title on a team that won 101 games in 2022.

“Tater” has seen his offensive game grow recently. He batted .274 in each of the past two seasons, led the league with seven triples and set a personal best with 102 runs scored in 2022. Last season, his strikeouts increased, but he set career highs with 152 hits and 24 home runs. Nimmo ranks seventh in franchise history with 29 triples, and he has batted .270 with 424 runs, 692 hits, 136 doubles, 87 home runs, 281 RBIs and 1,147 total bases in 760 games. With the arrival of free agent acquisition Harrison Bader to New York, Nimmo will move to left field in 2024.

4. Tommie Agee – He was the 1966 Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-Star with the White Sox before coming to the Mets in 1968. Agee was hospitalized after being hit in the head by a Bob Gibson pitch during spring training and he hit just .217 with 17 RBIs in 132 games. He rebounded the following year to post a .271 average, 76 RBIs and a career-best 26 home runs for the “Miracle Mets” in 1969.

Agee had five runs, eight hits, three homers, five RBIs and three steals in eight playoff games, but he made his mark defensively in the World Series. He made two spectacular catches, one on a backhand and another on a dive, to save five runs as the Mets won Game 3 over the Orioles, 5-0. Agee continued his solid offensive play and won a gold glove in 1970 but was hampered by knee problems the next two years and was traded to the Astros after the 1972 season.

Agee retired after splitting the following year between Houston and St. Louis. He worked with youth programs in New York City after his playing career, and he also ran a bar and worked in insurance. Agee suffered a heart attack and passed away in January 2001.

3. Lee Mazzilli – The New York-born Italian American was selected by his hometown team in the first round of the 1973 draft. Mazzilli made his first appearance with the Mets four years later and spent 10 seasons with the club in two stints (1976-81 and 86-89). He was a national champion speed skater but chose baseball and excelled thanks to his speed and his ability to bat and throw with either hand.

Mazzilli was a mainstay during a dark time in Mets history, earning his only All-Star selection in 1979 after batting .303 with 78 runs, 15 home runs and 34 stolen bases and setting career highs with 181 hits, 35 doubles and 79 runs batted in. The following year, he split the year between center field and first base and set personal bests with 82 runs and 41 steals. Mazzilli moved to left field in 1981, with Dave Kingman brought back to play first base and the next player on this list being called up to the big-league club.

“Maz” had poor numbers throughout the strike-shortened campaign and the acquisition of Foster led to Mazzilli being traded to the Rangers. He also played with the Yankees and Pirates but came off the bench after signing back with the Mets late in the 1986 season (a move that came about after Foster was released). During the World Series against the Red Sox, Mazzilli singled and scored in Game 6 and sparked a Game 7 rally with a pinch-hit single in the sixth inning.

Mazzilli became a veteran leader off the bench for New York during his second stint with the club and was acquired off waivers by the Blue Jays in 1989. He had some clutch hits down the stretch but went 0-for-8 in a loss to the Athletics in the ALCS. Mazzilli retired and focused on broadcasting and both television and off-Broadway shows. He returned to baseball in the late 1990s, coaching with the Yankees and posting a 129-140 record as manager for the Orioles as 2004-05.

2. William “Mookie” Wilson – The 1977 second-round pick made his big-league debut in 1980 and had soon pushed Mazzilli from his usual spot in the field. Although he didn’t walk a lot, Wilson got plenty of hits early in his career and was a nightmare on the basepaths, stealing at least 45 bases in three consecutive years form 1982-84 (with all of them being Top 10 totals in team history). As the decade progressed the Mets got better, and Wilson found himself at the top of the order for a formidable squad that was contending for a division title on an annual basis.

New York finally broke through in 1986, winning 108 games and dominating the N.L. East. The Mets had a tougher time in the playoffs, getting by the Astros in a six-game NLCS, including a 16-inning classic in the clincher. Wilson was recovering from shoulder surgery the previous year and missed time early in the season after being hit by an eye by a throw during a drill in spring training. He returned and moved to left field to accommodate Dykstra.

Wilson authored arguably the greatest moment in franchise history in Game 6 of the World Series against the Red Sox. Trailing 5-3 in the 10th inning, the Mets strung together three straight two-out hits and tied the score on a wild pitch. Two pitches later, Wilson hit slow roller that Boston first baseman Bill Buckner misplayed, and the ball got by him. Although fans have blamed Buckner for the play for years, Wilson most likely would have beaten him to the bag even if he had fielded it cleanly. Ray Knight came around from second to score and the Mets had themselves an improbable victory, then came from behind to win Game 7 and their second title the following night.

Thanks to the acquisition of McReynolds in 1987, Wilson and Dykstra split center field duties over the next three years. Both were traded during the 1989 season, with Wilson going to Toronto in late July. He finished his career with the Blue Jays in 1991.

Wilson ranks second in franchise history in triples (62) and steals (281), sixth in runs (592) and hits (1,112), eighth in games (1,116) and ninth in total bases (1,586). He also batted .276 with 170 doubles, 60 home runs and 342 RBIs. Wilson appeared in 17 postseason games, driving in a pair of runs, stealing four bases and amassing seven runs and 12 hits, including seven in the 1986 World Series. He has been a major league coach, a minor league manager and instructor and a front office ambassador for the Mets for more than 25 years.

1. Carlos Beltran – He is one of the greatest players from the early 21st century and there is an argument to be made for him getting elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, his stellar career is remembered for two incidents, one during his time with the Mets and one much later.

Beltran was born in Puerto Rico and started his career with the Royals, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1999 and producing seasons of 20 home runs and 100 RBIs four times while with Kansas City. He was traded to the Astros in June 2004 as part of a three-team deal and played in his first All-Star Game but ended up being a very talented rent-a-player.

The Mets signed Beltran to a $119 million deal before the 2005 season and he responded with three more 25-100 seasons, five All-Star selections three gold gloves and two silver sluggers during his seven years with the team (2005-11). His best season was 2006, when he finished fourth in the MVP race after batting .275 and setting career highs with 127 runs scored (a Mets record), 41 homers (tied for third in team history) and 116 runs batted in. Although his speed was not a factor as much as it was during his time with the Royals, he reached the 20-steal mark twice in New York and was an aggressive baserunner.

Beltran was excellent in the playoffs as well, hitting eight home runs and driving in 14 in 12 games to help the Astros reach the NLCS, where they lost to St. Louis. The Cardinals were in prime position to win a title two years later, but Beltran and the Mets were looking to knock them off their pedestal. New York beat Los Angeles in the Division Series and took St. Louis to a seventh game. The Cardinals were up 3-1 after a Yadier Molina home run, but New York remained in it thanks to Endy Chavez leaping above the wall to make one of the greatest catches in baseball history.

The Mets loaded the bases with two outs, needing just a hit to the outfield to tie the score. Instead, Beltran, the team’s star for the past two years, stood there watching as an Adam Wainwright curveball found the strike zone to end the Mets’ season and sent the Cardinals to the World Series. As unfair as it might be, that is the image Mets fans think of most when they hear Beltran’s name.

Knee injuries slowed Beltran in 2009-10 and he was sent to the Giants at the 2011 trade deadline. He finished his Mets career ranked sixth in RBIs (559), seventh in doubles (208) and home runs (149), eighth in runs (551) and tenth in total bases (1,567). Beltran also batted .280 with 878 hits and 100 stolen bases in 839 games. During the 2006 postseason, he amassed 10 runs, 10 hits, three homers, five RBIs and two steals in 10 games.

Beltran spent time with the Cardinals, going to the World Series in 2013, and played with the Yankees and Rangers before finishing his career with the Astros. It was in Houston where his other “defining moment” came. Although he played frequently during the regular season for the 2017 club, he was a reserve and provided “veteran leadership” for the club during their run to the World Series. As it turns out, he was also one of the primary ringleaders for Houston’s sign-stealing scandal.

The Astros won the title, but other teams cried foul, and an investigation began. Just as the Mets hired Beltran to be their manager for the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the league found the Astros guilty. While Houston was not stripped of the title, nor any of the players punished directly, Astros manager A.J. Hinch was fired and Red Sox skipper Alex Cora (who was a coach on Houston’s staff) was let go (although he returned to the position a year later). Beltran, being the only player specifically named in the scandal, was let go from his new job before managing a game. Beltran worked for the Yankees as a game analyst in 2022 and re-joined the Mets’ front office the following year.

Right Fielders

Honorable Mentions – Many Mets fans think Bobby Bonilla should be a Dishonorable Mention, considering he is still getting paid by the team (and will be through 2035). However, the Wilpons’ poor money habits and Ponzi scheme involvement should not be held against Bonilla, who was one of the league’s most talented players during his prime.

Bonilla spent five years with the Mets in two stints (1992-95 and ’99) earning a pair of All-Star selections and hitting 34 home runs in 1993. However, he was inconsistent at the plate (even having to wear earplugs to try and cancel the boos of Mets fans) and never reached the same levels he had in Pittsburgh. Bonilla was sent to the Orioles at the 1995 trade deadline, won a title with the Marlins and was part of the trade with the Dodgers that brought Mike Piazza to South Florida.

Bonilla returned to the Big Apple in 1999 and, while he came off the bench for the playoff-bound Mets, he made headlines for agreeing to a contract with deferred payments that would give him nearly $1.2 million per year for a 25-year period beginning in 2011. While fans bemoan the deal, the cap space allowed the Mets to sign lefty starter Mike Hampton, who later signed with the Rockies. The compensatory pick from that signing was used to select David Wright. Bonilla was in the baseball movie Rookie of the Year and made several television show appearances since his playing career ended in 2001.

Curtis Granderson was a star in center field for the Tigers and Yankees at the start of his career, earning three All-Star selections and a silver slugger. He played more of a complementary role and was mostly a leadoff hitter in his four seasons with the Mets (2014-17), although he hit 20 or more home runs three times, including 30 in 2016.

“Grandy Man” was an integral part of the Mets’ run to the World Series in 2015, tying a team record with five RBIs in the win over the Dodgers in Game 3 of the Division Series. He also hit three homers in a losing effort against the Royals. Granderson had 317 runs, 484 hits, 106 doubles, 95 home runs and 247 RBIs in 573 games. He also won the Lou Gehrig Award in 2015 and won a fielding title and the Roberto Clemente Award the following year. Granderson played with four other teams before he retired in 2020. He works for the MLB on TBS and is the president of the Players Alliance, which works to increase opportunities for black athletes in baseball.

5. Joel Youngblood – He won a title with the “Big Red Machine” as a rookie in 1976 but did not play in the World Series. Youngblood came to the Mets a year later and became a solid run producer on some bad teams in the latter part of the decade. He earned his only All-Star selection in 1981 and made a bit of baseball history the following year.

Unlike today’s teams, who pull players from the lineup who might be traded, the Mets started Youngblood in a game against the Cubs on August 3, 1982. The outfielder delivered a two-run single off Ferguson Jenkins before he was traded to the Expos during the third inning. He left New York and got to Philadelphia in time to get a seventh inning single off another future Hall of Famer in Steve Carlton different cities in the same day.

Youngblood finished his six-year Mets career (1977-82) with a .274 average, 241 runs, 519 hits, 108 doubles and 216 RBIs in 610 games. He went to the Giants the following season and spent six years in San Francisco before finishing his career where it began in 1989 with Cincinnati.

4. Ron Svoboda – He was not known for a average, hit running or fielding, but he did get timely hits and made one of the greatest catches in Mets history. Svoboda began his career in 1965 by hitting 19 home runs, which was a career high and a franchise rookie record for nearly two decades until it was broken by the top player on this list.

During New York’s run to the World Series in 1969, Swoboda had several clutch hits, but none were greater than the two he had on September 15 against the Phillies. Future Hall of Fame lefty Steve Carlton struck out a record-setting 19 batters, but Swoboda hit a pair of two-run homers (in addition to his two strikeouts) and New York won, 4-3.

Swoboda’s specialty was batting against left-handers, so he didn’t bat against the Braves in the NLCS. The Orioles started two southpaws, so he played in four of five World Series games. The Mets were up 1-0 in the ninth inning of Game 4, but the Orioles were threatening with two runners on and one out. Future Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson smashed a low liner that Swoboda dove for and caught on the back hand. The tying run scored, but the play saved the game and the Mets won in extra innings. He also had an RBI double in the eighth inning of the series clinching game the following day.

“Rocky” finished his six-year Mets career (1965-70) with 536 hits, 69 homers and 304 RBIs in 737 games. He was traded to the Expos and then the Yankees in 1971 and finished his career in the Bronx two years later. After his playing days, Swoboda worked in radio and television, made an appearance on the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond and ran a restaurant with former teammate Ed Kranepool.

3. Michael Conforto – He was selected with the tenth overall pick in the 2014 draft, and by the end of the following season, he had played in the MLB Futures Game and made his major league debut. Conforto hit nine home runs in 56 games and became the third player to appear in a Little League, College and major league World Series. During the playoffs, he appeared in 12 games, posting three runs, six hits, six RBIs and three home runs, with two coming against the Royals.

“Scooter” had a sophomore slump the following year but hit at least 27 home runs in each of the next three seasons. He earned his only All-Star selection to date in 2017 and set career highs with 33 homers and 92 RBIs two years later. Conforto batted a personal-best .322 in the COVD-shortened 2020 season, but he turned down a $100 million offer before the following year and his average dropped by 90 points.

Conforto ranks fourth in franchise history with 710 strikeouts and eighth with 132 home runs. He also had 400 runs, 650 hits, 141 doubles, 396 RBIs and 1,195 total bases in 757 games. The 2020 fielding champion played through a shoulder injury, but the ailment cost him the entire 2022 season. The injury, plus turning down the Mets’ original offer cost Conforto quite a bit of money. He signed a two-year, $36 million deal with the Giants in 2023 and batted .239 with 15 homers.

2. Daniel “Rusty” Staub – He earned six All-Star selections in his 23-year career, but despite spending the most time with the Mets (nine years in two stints from 1972-75 and 81-85), none of those selections came with the team for which he is best known. Staub got his start with the National League’s other original expansion team, the Houston Colt .45s, in 1963. The red-haired outfielder and first baseman earned a pair of All-Star selections, then had the best stint of his career. Staub made the All-Star team in each of his three seasons with the expansion Expos and the Montreal fans took a liking to the redhead earning him the nickname “Le Grande Orange.”

Staub came to the Mets via trade in 1972 but lost half his first season due to a broken hand after it was hit by a pitch. He had a down year in 1973 but hit three home runs and drove in five runs to lead New York over Cincinnati in the NLCS. He also made a run-saving catch but bruised his shoulder when he ran into the wall, leaving him ineffective in the field during a World Series loss to Oakland.

“Le Grand Orange” led the Mets in RBIs in 1974 and became the first player in team history to drive in 100 runs when he totaled 105 the following year. New York traded the popular outfielder Detroit for the once-great Mickey Lolich, who went 8-13 in his only season with the Mets. At the time, Staub was on the cusp of having 10 years in the majors and five with the same team that would have given him the right to veto any trade. Follow some time with the Tigers, a 38-gane second stint with the Expos and a year with the Rangers, he returned to the Mets as a free agent in 1981.

Staub spent his final four seasons in New York mostly as a pinch hitter with occasional starts in the outfield and at first base. He joined two exclusive clubs, becoming the only player to record at least 500 hits with four teams and becoming the second player (along with Ty Cobb) to hit a major league home run both as a teenager and after turning 40. Staub batted .276 with 709 hits, 130 doubles, 75 home runs, 399 RBIs and 1,078 total bases in 942 games with the Mets. He added five runs, 14 hits, four homers and 11 RBIs in 11 postseason games and hit .423 in the 1973 World Series.

After Staub’s playing career ended in 1985, he opened two restaurants, started a pair of charitable foundations and was a radio and television broadcaster with the Mets for nearly a decade. He passed away in 2018 at the age of 73.

1. Darryl Strawberry – There is very little the 6-foot-6 lefty hitter couldn’t do on a baseball field. Boasting one of the sweetest swings in his era, Strawberry became a feared power hitter during his prime. He was drafted first overall in the 1980 draft and three years later, he won the Rookie of the Year Award after breaking Swoboda’s team record for first-year players with 26 home runs.

The homer total was the lowest of Strawberry’s eight-year stay with the Mets (1983-90), but despite his success on the field, he got caught up in the New York lifestyle,” which included plenty of alcohol and drugs, especially cocaine. He was a seven-time All-Star, earned two silver sluggers and finished in the Top 10 of the MVP voting four times, including 1988, when he was the runner-up after driving in 101 runs and hitting a league-leading 39 home runs. The year before, he put up even better numbers, with a .284-39-104 stat line, and he stole 36 bases to become a member of the 30/30 club.

“Straw” was known for his majestic home runs, but he also had an ego and bullied others, whether it was teammates in the clubhouse or his wife at home. He was a big part of New York’s 108-win season in 1986, being named co-winner of the All-Star Home Run Derby, hitting 27 homers in the regular season and three more in the playoffs, including clutch blasts in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Astros and Game 7 of the World Series against the Red Sox.

Strawberry followed with the back-to-back 39-homer seasons and hit .300 (9-for-30) with six RBIs in a loss to the Dodgers in the 1988 NLCS. He had his worst season the following year, as he struggled at the plate and feuded with teammates on and off the field. Strawberry hit 37 home runs and drove in a career-best 108 runs in 1990, but he left after the season, fulfilling his word after the Mets fired manager Davey Johnson.

The “Straw that Stirs the Drink” gave Mets fans plenty to cheer about during his time with the club. He is the all-time franchise leader in home runs (252), ranks second in RBIs (733), walks (580) and strikeouts (960), third in runs (663) and slugging percentage (.520), fourth in total bases (2,028), fifth in steals (191), sixth in triples (30) and ninth in games (1,109), hits (1,025) and doubles (187). In 20 playoff games, he totaled 13 runs, 19 hits, four doubles, four homers, 12 RBIs and four stolen bases.

The mercurial slugger had an All-Star year with the Dodgers in 1991 but struggled to stay on the field over his final eight seasons. Strawberry’s limitations included back surgery, more drug and rehab issues (which he finally was persuaded to go into rehab to fix), problems with the IRS, drug relapse (including a 140-day suspension) and colon cancer.

Strawberry was part of three championship Yankees squads, including his final season in 1999 (he was given a ring in 1998 despite not being included on the postseason roster). Following his playing career, he finally beat cancer and drug addiction, focused on charity work for those affected by autism, remarried, and became an ordained minister. However, Mets fans will always be left to wonder how good he could have been if he hadn’t let his immaturity, ego and vices control his life.

Main Image: © Thomas E. Franklin /, North Jersey Record via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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