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New York Mets All-Time Strikeout Leaders
While writing for a great Mets’ blog site called Metsmerized, I conjured up some of my own memories last week of watching Dwight Gooden and Tom Seaver blow hitters away with blazing heat and nasty curves. Here we take a look at the Mets’ all-time leaders in strikeouts, and not surprisingly, those guys I just mentioned are still atop the list:
Tom Seaver (2541)—Chances are when you think of great Mets’ pitchers, this is the face you see in your mind. “Tom Terrific” got his nickname for good reason, because he was just one of those franchise players who only comes along once every 25 years or more. And the Mets were lucky to have Seaver early on to help them win their first title in 1969. Seaver played in New York from 1967 to 1977 and again in 1983 and ranks first in team history with 2541 strikeouts. In 1971, Seaver had arguably his best season as a pro, striking out a career high 289 batters in 286 innings, going 20-10 and posting a career low 1.76 ERA.
Dwight Gooden (1875)—Gooden was another phenomenon, the kind of pitcher you go see every time he pitches at home just because you don’t want to miss something spectacular. His career was slightly derailed due to drug abuse and injury, but he did have a fairly long run as the Mets’ ace. Gooden pitched for the Mets from 1984 to 1994 and ranks second in franchise history with 1875 strikeouts. Gooden had a career high 276 strikeouts in just 218 innings his rookie year, but his best overall season was 1985, when he went 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA and 268 K’s. Not surprisingly, Gooden’s nickname was “Doctor K.”
Jerry Koosman (1799)—Lefty Jerry Koosman was an excellent counterpoint to Seaver, a lefty with a sweeping curveball among three or four effective pitches. Koosman played for the Mets from 1967 to 1978 and ranks third in team history with 1799 strikeouts. In 1976, Koosman had his best season as a pro, with career highs in strikeouts (200) and wins (21) with a 2.69 ERA.
Sid Fernandez (1449)—Sid Fernandez played most of his career in New York, from 1984 to 1993 and ranks fourth in Mets’ history with 1449 strikeouts. Though he battled a constant weight problem, “El Sid” could fire the ball in with a deceptive delivery and blazing heat that just baffled hitters, averaging almost a strikeout per inning during his career. Fernandez had his best season in the championship campaign of 1986, when he struck out a career high 200 batters in 204 innings, and went 16-6 with a 3.52 ERA.
David Cone (1172)—David Cone came to the Mets a few years after Gooden and while he wasn’t as flashy, could absolutely blow the ball past hitters with regularity. Cone played in New York from 1987 to 1992 and then again in 2003, and ranks fifth in franchise history with 1172 strikeouts. Cone’s best season was 1988, and he may have won the Cy Young that year if it weren’t for Orel Hershiser’s brilliant season. That year, Cone went 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA and 213 K’s. But his career high in strikeouts in a Mets’ uniform was 241, set in 1991.
Ron Darling (1148)—Ron Darling was the Mets’ #2 starter for several years behind Gooden, and he played in New York from 1983 to 1991. Darling ranks sixth in team history with 1148 strikeouts and his best overall season was 1986, when he helped the Mets win a championship by going 15-6 with a career high 184 strikeouts and career best 2.81 earned run average.
Al Leiter (1106)—Al Leiter was one of those pitchers who blossomed late in his career after battling through injuries. Lucky for the Mets, he blossomed in their uniform, which he wore from 1998 to 2004, helping them reach the World Series in 2000. Leiter ranks seventh in franchise history with 1106 strikeouts, and that 2000 season was perhaps his best as a pro. That year, Leiter went 16-8 with a 3.20 ERA and tied a career high with 200 strikeouts.
Jon Matlack (1023)—Jon Matlack was the #2 or #3 for the Mets for several years along with Seaver and Koosman, and he played in New York from 1971 to 1977. Matlack ranks eighth in Mets’ history with 1023 strikeouts and despite a 14-16 record in 1973, Matlack struck out a career high 205 batters and posted a 3.20 earned run average.
Bobby Jones (714)—Bobby Jones was the ace of the Mets’ staff for several years during some lean years, pitching for them from 1993 to 2000. Jones ranks ninth in team history with 714 strikeouts, but he wasn’t really a strikeout pitcher per se. Jones struck out a career high 127 batters in 1995, but his best season may have been 1997, with a career high in wins (went 15-9), 125 strikeouts and 3.63 ERA.
Craig Swan (671)—Craig Swan played most of his career in New York, from 1973 to 1984, and like Jones, was the team’s ace on some pretty bad Mets’ teams in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. Swan ranks tenth in franchise history with 671 strikeouts, and his best season was 1979. That year, Swan posted a career high 145 strikeouts, as well as career best 14 wins to go along with a respectable 3.29 ERA.