Best Mets Lineup of All time?
The Mets are a franchise notorious for their pitching prowess: Seaver, Koosman, Gooden, Cone, Santana, deGrom etc. However, the 2021 team has a chance to do something relatively few Mets teams have done: sport a lineup that produces runs well above the league average. With this thought in mind, I decided to go on a quest to discover the greatest Mets’ Lineup of all time!
Side Note: I began writing this article about a week ago (see timestamp on Tweet) and the New York Post decided to put out a very similar-themed article in between now and then. Joel Sherman is inside my head. Anyway, enjoy!
To begin my quest, I decided to ask my loyal and trustworthy Twitter followers to weigh in. In a Twitter-Verse filled with younger fans and recency bias I was very impressed with the 1986 team coming out ahead, perhaps the 2006 and 2021 Mets pulled a Teddy Roosevelt and split up votes like the Bull Moose Party. I am rather surprised at the lack of love for the 1999 Mets - I will give my defense a bit later
Let's begin with this year's team, a lineup that Joel Sherman suggested could be a "Holy Crap" lineup
How they line up:
1. Brandon Nimmo
2. Francisco Lindor
3. Michael Conforto
4. Pete Alonso
5. Dom Smith
6. Jeff McNeil
7. JD Davis
8. James McCann
Of course this specific group hasn’t played together yet, but the expectations sure are high. The Mets had all of the makings of a top offense in 2020 (#1 BA, #2 OBP, #5 HR in the NL), only for fluky struggles with RISP (circa 2016) to knock the team into 7th place in runs among the league. Replacing Robinson Cano and Wilson Ramos will not be as easy as fans chime about on twitter – Cano hit .316 and would be on pace for about 27HR 80RBI if he played ~ 130 games, while Ramos batted .288 with 72 RBIs in 2019 and was an All Star 2 of the 3 years prior. With this being said, Sandy Alderson and Co. brought in superstar Francisco Lindor and more-than-serviceable backstop James McCann. I’m actually quite surprised nobody is at least a tiny bit concerned about Lindor’s “down season” in 2020 (.750 OPS compared to .833 Career), but a 60-game season is a small sample. The Mets need young hitters like Dom Smith and JD Davis to continue to progress, phenoms Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil to continue to bud, and Michael Conforto to blossom into an absolute star.
Not only is there a ton of contact and power in this lineup, but healthy plate discipline top to bottom as well. Look out for J.D. Davis having a big year at the dish - the Mets' third baseman walked 38 times in 453 plate appearances in 2019 and 31 in just 229 in 2020. 5-hitter Dom Smith finished 13th in NL MVP voting in 2020 and 6-hitter Jeff McNeil boasts a career .319 batting average. If things finally click for the Mets, I think this lineup could challenge for best in team history.
Mets' young sluggers Pete Alonso and Dom Smith knowing they will be sandwiched between Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil
How They Lined Up:
1. Jose Reyes (19-81-.300)
2. Paul Lo Duca (5-49-.318)
3. Carlos Beltran (41-116-.275)
4. Carlos Delgado (38-114-.265)
5. David Wright (26-116-.311)
6. Cliff Floyd (11-44-.244)
7. Shawn Green (15-66-.277)
8. Jose Valentin (18-62-.271)
My god what a complete lineup. I have such an affinity for the “old school” type lineups featuring a speedy leadoff man, a 2-hitter who can seemingly place the ball where he pleases around the field, and a monstrous 3-4-5 anchored by a cleanup hitter who strikes fear in the heart of opponents. Rounding out the bottom of the lineup with trusty veterans is never a bad idea. This team was so well rounded, finishing 3rd in the NL in runs, 4th in homers and 1st in stolen bases (Reyes went for a neat 64 himself)
The 2006 Mets finished 3rd in runs, 4th in homers, and 1st in stolen bases. The 2007 and 08 Mets have a case as well, particularly the 07 team whenever Moises Alou was in the Lineup. The only thing the entire Alou family knows how to do is mash, and Moises slashed a ridiculous 13-49-.341 in 2007 with a .916 OPS in 87 games. The ‘08 team would have a better case for this list if Brian Schneider wasn’t the starting catcher.
What a shame this team never won it all...
How They Lined Up:
1. Rickey Henderson (12-42-.315)
2. Edgardo Alfonzo (27-108-.304)
3. John Olerud (19-96-.298)
4. Mike Piazza (40-124-.303)
5. Robin Ventura (32-120-.301)
6. Brian McRae/Darryl Hamilton (5-21-.339)
7. Roger Cedeno (4-36-.313)
8. Rey Ordonez (1-60-.258)
The 1999 version of the Mets might seem like a head-scratcher as the 2000 team went to the World Series, but the '99 team was superior in almost every way offensively. Featuring the famously dubbed "Best Infield Ever" by Sports Illustrated (for their defensive prowess but still fun) the '99 Mets lineup was composed almost entirely of .300 hitters. Even extremely light hitting Rey Ordonez drove in 60 runs. This team had every type of offensive star: Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura as run producers with 120+ RBIs each, Roger Cedeno and Rickey Henderson combining to hit .314 and steal 103 bases, and John Olerud setting the team record for walks with 125. That doesn't even include perhaps the most underrated player in team history - Edgardo Alfonzo who scored 123 runs to go along with his 27 homers and 108 RBIs.
Two of my favorite followers Sammy K and Chris Anello summed up the sentiments of Mets' Twitter that the '99 Team was the least imposing offensive group of the 4 listed...
I would probably rank the '99 Mets 4th out of these 4 lineups due to the lack of consistent power 1-8 (especially relative to the Steroid Era), but I will have no more Benny Agbayani slander on my Twitter Timeline!
How They Lined Up:
1. Lenny Dykstra (8-45-.295)
2. Wally Backman (1-27-.320)
3. Keith Hernandez (13-83-.310)
4. Gary Carter (24-105-.255)
5. Darryl Strawberry (27-93-.259)
6. Mookie Wilson (9-45-.289)
7. Ray Knight (11-76-.298)
8. Rafael Santana (1-28-.218)
The best Mets' Team of All Time (108 wins) had an unbelievable rotation (3.11 ERA #1 in baseball) while also leading the league in runs. In fact, the Mets led the league in runs in 1986, 87, 88 and 1990. You could really make an argument for any of those teams, especially once Kevin McReynolds was brought in and Howard Johnson developed into a 30-30 player. We will roll with the 1986 team for now that not only featured the deepest lineup in baseball at the time, but a very productive bench to boot. Guys like Hojo and Kevin Mitchell who would one day challenge for MVPs (and win them - Kevin Mitchell) would often spell Rafael Santana and Mookie Wilson. Former MVP George Foster was part of this lineup until the Mets moved on in August. Danny Heep, Tim Teufel, and Mets' legend Lee Mazzilli provided additional sparks off the pine. More importantly, the middle of this Mets order was crafted almost perfectly. Keith Hernandez had his best season with the Mets, sporting a .310 average and .413 OBP - good for a 140 OPS+ to lead the team (anything above 100 is better than league average). A very productive Gary Carter drove in runs at an elite pace and young Darryl Strawberry provided the Hall of Famer with protection while also swiping 28 bags. The 1986 Mets finished first in the following offensive categories: Runs, Hits, AVG, OBP, Slugging and Total Bases, while blasting the third most homeruns. A dominant offensive season for one of the best overall teams in MLB History.
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