New York Mets all-time team: Piazza, Wright, Beltran in the lineup; deGrom featured in stacked rotation

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In an effort to avoid going stir crazy with MLB and every other major sports league shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, I've decided to take a look at the best of the best for each baseball franchise. We're going to have a 30-day series creating an all-time team for each MLB club. We'll break down one team per day throughout April, and today it's time to meet the Mets

As a (hopefully?) fun twist, I'm making a Baseball Stars team for each. That's right, the old-school Nintendo video game "Baseball Stars," which I still consider to be the best baseball video game ever. It allowed you to create teams and I used to make all-time lineups for prominent MLB franchises. There are the eight position players with four starting pitchers, one reliever and five bench position players on each Baseball Stars squad.

Let's step right up and greet the Mets.

Catcher

Todd Hundley had some good seasons and was tied for the single-season home run record before Pete Alonso shattered it this past season, but it came down to two Hall of Famers here. Gary Carter was really only great for two seasons before his decline phase hit. Mike Piazza, however, hit .296/.373/.542 (136 OPS+) in parts of eight seasons for the Mets. He sits seventh among position players in WAR with the Mets. 

First base

Poor John Olerud. He got bumped from the Blue Jays all-time team because first base was so crowded. He hit .315/.425/.501 in three seasons with the Mets, including a ridiculous .354/.447/.551 slash in 1998. Though it was only three seasons, he actually ranks 13th among position players in career Mets WAR. He'd have been a fine selection, but it's Keith Hernandez

Second base

If we could just choose the 2015 NLDS and NLCS version of Daniel Murphy he'd be the pick, but in taking in the whole career this one isn't particularly close. Edgardo Alfonso spent parts of eight seasons with the Mets, a run that included MVP votes in three different seasons. He posted six-plus WAR in each of those seasons and had another five-WAR season later. In career WAR among Mets position players, Alfonso ranks fourth behind three titans. 

Shortstop

Jose Reyes? Not on my team

You know who spent some time at shortstop? Howard Johnson. HoJo! He finished fifth in MVP voting in 1991 when he led the NL in home runs and RBI. He played 28 games at short that season. I'll take it. He sits eighth in career WAR for the Mets among position players. 

Third base

The biggest competition here would've been Alfonso or HoJo. With them removed, the obvious David Wright pick becomes painfully obvious. He's the all-time Mets leader in WAR, hits, runs, total bases, doubles, RBI, walks and lots of other stuff like win probability added. He's even the leader in sac flies! 

Left field

Finally, some representation from The Amazins. Cleon Jones hit .340/.422/.482 with 16 stolen bases and walked more than he struck out in that amazing 1969 season. He was stellar in the NLCS, too. He spent eight seasons with the Mets and sits 12th in the WAR leaderboard. 

Center field

It's ridiculous and downright unfair that one pitch defines Carlos Beltran's career (well, playing career, at least) for the Mets, but that's how it is with some people. Fair-minded folks realize Beltran was one of the greatest players in franchise history. He sits third in WAR. He hit .280/.369/.500 (129 OPS+) with 208 doubles, 149 homers, 559 RBI, 551 runs and 100 steals. In the 2006 NLCS, he was 8 for 27 with a double, three homers and four RBI. They don't even get to Game 7 without him. 

Right field

Another easy one. It's Darryl Strawberry.

Starting pitchers

The Mets are a lot more storied here with arms. It all starts with Tom Seaver, obviously. In 12 seasons with the Mets, Tom Terrific won the Rookie of the Year, three Cy Youngs, three ERA titles, five strikeout crowns, won a ring and led the league in pitcher WAR three times. The second pick is pretty easy as well, with prime Dwight Gooden being as good as anyone we've even seen. At age 20 in 1985, he was 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA, 229 ERA+, 0.97 WHIP, 16 complete games, eight shutouts and 268 strikeouts in 276 2/3 innings. He was 20 years old. Ridiculous. 

The three spot is, again, pretty easy. He's in the middle of a run that probably lands him above Gooden eventually. It's Jacob deGrom

Now, this is how loaded the Mets pitching history is. They've only been around since 1962 and I have to leave off names like Al Leiter, Sid Fernandez, David Cone and Ron Darling. Matt Harvey and R.A. Dickey showed flashes here more recently as well. 

But we've gotta go with Jerry Koosman. He was the number two on the 1969 squad behind Seaver and spent 12 seasons with the Mets, pitching to a 3.09 ERA (113 ERA+) in that time, racking up the third-highest WAR among Mets pitchers behind Seaver and Gooden. 

Reliever

They've had some big-name relievers, too. Tug McGraw, Jesse Orosco, Billy Wagner, Roger McDowell and Armando Benitez, to name a few. John Franco was one of the greatest closers of all time, though, and he spent a large chunk of his career with the Mets. 

The Lineup

Baseball Stars uses six characters for each name. What follows is the Baseball Stars lineup.

  1. Wright, 3B
  2. Carlos, CF
  3. Straw, RF
  4. Mike P, C
  5. HoJo, SS
  6. Keith, 1B
  7. Fonzie, 2B
  8. Cleon, LF

SP: Tom, Doc, deGrom, Jerry
RP: Franco

On the bench, let's go with Mookie (Wilson), (John) Olerud, Gary (Carter), Bud (Harrelson) and -- because why not?!? -- Pete (Alonso). 

The last spot should arguably go with someone like John Stearns, Lenny Dykstra, Kevin McReynolds or even Yoenis Cespedes for his magical 2015 run, but let's have some fun with Alonso. It's some serious thunder off the bench. 

It's a pretty strong team, but they'd have benefited from a full pitching staff for sure. As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with your own team (@MattSnyderCBS). 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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