Greatest Mets Sluggers of All Time
This list is for you die-hard Mets fans, but keep in mind it is a list based on numbers. Players like Gary Carter may be remembered as bigger sluggers than, say, Ed Kranepool. But Kranepool's 118 homers during a long Mets career eclipsed Carter's 89 in five seasons. So our top 10 list of Mets sluggers begins with all-time leader Darryl Strawberry, who hit 252 homers as a Met.
1. Darryl Strawberry-Darryl had one of the sweetest natural swings of anyone to ever play the game. When he connected on a fastball, it usually went sailing with a perfect arc over the right field fence. He also had a knack for hitting big home runs. I remember one game in particular when Strawberry belted a game winning, come from behind shot off Red reliever John Franco, who later came over to pitch for the Mets. His highest output with New York was 39 home runs in 1987 and 1988, the latter leading the National League. Strawberry had 252 total home runs as a Met (1983-1990) before eventually signing with the Dodgers.
2. Mike Piazza-He's arguably the greatest offensive catcher to ever play the game, and the Mets were fortunate enough to have him on their team during some great years that included their 2000 run to the Subway Series against the Yankees. Philadelphia nateive Piazza played for the Dodgers and Marlins before being traded to the Mets in 1998, and he belted 220 home runs while playing in New York. He also won five straight silver slugger awards while with the Mets. Piazza left as a free agent and signed with San Diego in 2006, and then in 2007 signed with Oakland to be used primarily as a designated hitter.
3. Howard Johnson-The Mets current first base coach (in 2007) was best remembered for being a member of the glory years of the mid-eighties, including the 1986 World Series champions. During that season, Johnson mostly platooned at third base with Ray Knight. But as instrumental as Johnson was in that season, he had some incredible years with the Mets later on, belting 36 homers in 1987 and 1989, and 38 long balls in 1991. His total home run output with New York was 192. Johnson signed as a free agent with Colorado in 1993, and later re-signed with the Mets in 1997 though he didn't play with them anymore.
4. Dave Kingman-Kong, King Kong, Sky King. Those were some of the nicknames of Mets first baseman Dave Kingman, who launched 154 total home runs with the Mets from 1977-1979 and then again from 1981-1983. Kingman was a prototypical home run hitter in his day-the kind that would strike out four times as often as he would connect on a long ball, and his career batting average as a Met was .219. Kong's best season with the Mets was 1982, when he hit 37 long balls with 99 RBI. After two stints with the team, the Mets released Kingman in 1984.
5. Todd Hundley-It's hard to think that the baseballs were not juiced in the late 90's when players like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire hit record numbers of bombs. Likewise, you look at a guy like Mets catcher Todd Hundley, who had 15 homers in 1995, followed by 41 in 1996 and 30 in 1997. Hundley hit 124 homers in all as a Met, though his career in New York was plagued by injuries. Drafted as a Met in 1987, Hundley was later traded to the Dodgers in 1998 and played for both the Dodgers and Cubs before retiring in 2003.
6. Kevin McReynolds-"Big Mac" joined the Mets in 1987, a year after the team won it all. He was supposed to be the big off-season move to help the Mets repeat, but never quite helped them get there. He did hit 29 homers that first season, when the Mets had other troubles that prevented them from reaching the playoffs again. McReynolds then averaged 23 home runs through 1991, after which he was traded to Kansas City. The Royals wound up trading Big Mac back to the Mets in 1994, after which he was released.
7. Edgardo Alfonso-Though it took him a few years to acquire his power stroke, third baseman Edgardo Alfonso was one of the best contact hitters to ever play for the Mets. He hit 120 home runs as a Met and his best overall season was 1999 when he belted 27 homers with 108 RBI while batting .304. And he hit .324 as a member of the 2000 World Series team. Alfonso left the Mets as a free agent in 2002, and as of 2006 was still playing, with Toronto.
8. Ed Kranepool-Kranepool was an original Met, signing with them in 1962 as a free agent, and played in New York until 1979. That meant Kranepool was a member of both the 1969 World Championship team and also the 1973 National League Champions. Later in his career he was used mostly as a pinch-hitter, but he was always a steady player, tallying 118 homers, 614 RBI and a .261 batting average. Kranepool led a light hitting Mets team with 16 home runs in 1966.
9. George Foster-Foster was a member of the Cincinnati Reds in the seventies when they were known as the Big Red Machine, and clubbed 52 home runs in 1977. Though the Mets acquired him in 1982 as his career was beginning to fade, Foster managed to ignite a team on the rise in the early part of the decade, including a 28-homer, 90-RBI season in 1983 while part of a powerful lineup that featured rookie Darryl Strawberry. In 1986, Foster was unceremoniously released to make room for the homecoming of Lee Mazzilli, the same year the Mets won the World Series. He wound up with 99 career homers as a Met.
10. Bobby Bonilla-Though he only played for the Mets for five seasons (1992-1995, 1999), Bonilla made an impact while in New York. He had 95 career homers, including 1993 when he hit 34 bombs with 87 RBI. Bonilla, who made the most impact with his career as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates team that nurtured both he and Barry Bonds, signed with the Mets as a free agent in 1991. He was traded to Baltimore in 1995, and later traded back to New York before being released in 2000. Bonilla won a World Series as a member of the Florida Marlins in 1997.
Honorable Mention: John Milner (The Hammer), Cleon Jones, Gary Carter, Tommie Agee, Cliff Floyd, Keith Hernandez, Robin Ventura, Rusty Staub, Ron Swoboda, Lee Mazzilli.