If time had no meaning, if the “Field of Dreams” truly existed, this Mets lineup would play every week, forever showing why these boys of summer earned the title “all-time greatest.”
Starting pitcher: Dwight Gooden. Gooden’s best year, 1985, shows what he was all about. The year before, the NL named him the Cy Young Award winner. “Dr. K” finished 1985 with a 1.53 ERA, 16 CG, 276 IP, 268 Ks, 0.965 WHIP. It was a tough call over Tom Seaver, 1967’s NL Rookie of the Year and a three-time Cy Young winner, but “Dr. K” wins it.
Catcher: Mike Piazza. A more recent player, Piazza wowed crowds in the 1990s and early 2000s, winning ten Silver Slugger Awards. In his best Mets year, 2000, his stats show why he’s really the only choice at catcher: .324, 38 HR, 113 RBI, 1.012 OPS. This 12-time All-Star recorded a career 427 home runs and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016.
First baseman: Carlos Delgado. Looking at overall career, Delgado consistently brought a strong performance on base and at bat. For instance, look at his 38 home runs in 2006, his career high. Some may choose John Olerud, but overall, Delgado brought it home more often in more than one way.
Second baseman: Edgardo Alfonzo. A stronger performer at second or third base, Alfonzo lit up the Mets’ field in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. In his career high year, 2000, his stats show why he’s on second: .324, 25 HR, 94 RBI, .967 OPS.
Third baseman: David Wright. Insert a young David Wright here, covering his base like chocolate syrup on an ice cream sundae and hitting 30 home runs in 2007. His strong stats in his best Mets year reflect his overall play: .325, 107 RBI, 34 SB, .963 OPS.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes. Far and away not only the best shortstop for the Mets, but one of the best period. In his best year, 2006, he racked up impressive stats indicative of his impressive career: .300, 19 HR, 81 RBI, 64 SB, .841 OPS. This four-time MLB All-Star won the Silver Slugger Award in his career high year and later hit his way to NL batting champion in 2011. Three years in a row, 2005 – 2007, he led the NL in stolen bases.
Left fielder: Bernard Gilkey. In his brief stint with the Mets (just over two years), Gilkey played his best ever. In 1996, his .317 average ranked him eighth in the NL. He set the Mets single season record for doubles with 44. He also led the league that year in outfield assists with 18. His other stats 1996 were equally impressive: 30 HR, 117 RBI, .955 OPS.
Center fielder: Willie Mays. Going further back in time to the 1970s, Mays wins the spot at center field. Although his time with the Mets was brief and at the end of his career, he continued to turn in stellar performances, including a thrilling, game winning home run in Game 2 of the 1973 World Series against the Oakland Athletics. Despite the knee problems he’d developed by this time, his career performance at this position, 3,283 hits, and 660 home runs, earn the “Say Hey Kid” the All-Time Greatest slot.
Right fielder: Darryl Strawberry. Although his later years of play were beleaguered by his substance abuse issues, Strawberry, now an ordained minister, channeled angels in the outfield in 1987, his best Mets year. That year he joined the storied 30-30 club, hitting 39 home runs and stealing 36 bases. Add to that 32 doubles and a .284 average, 104 RBI, .981 OPS.
Closer: Billy Wagner. “Billy the Kid,” the ambidextrous Mets relief pitcher, recorded his 300th career save in 2006. His career total of 422 puts him in rare company as one of only five relief pitchers in MLB history with more than 400 saves. The remainder of his 2006 stats illustrate his strength as a player: 2.24 ERA, 72.1 IP, 94 Ks, 1.106 WHIPs.