As a franchise, the Mets have had 13 players (though one as a manager), and 3 mangers (though one is in due to his playing career) to reach the Hall of Fame. So how do the latest two, Tom Glavine and Joe Torre rank among them? It should be noted, this is just taking their Met careers only into account (otherwise we’d be splitting hairs between Willie Mays, Warren Spahn and Tom Seaver).
Naturally the top two is already decided. Seaver being the only prominent Met enshrined into Cooperstown to date, credentials need not to be discussed, but suffice it to say, there is a reason he is called The Franchise. Second would go to Gary Carter, again no real surprise as he is in the team’s Hall of Fame and there was enough fan support to suggest Carter to be sporting a Met cap on his plaque that the Mets themselves went and produced a Cooperstown-esque plaque with a Met cap instead of the actual Montreal Expos logo, and hung it in Shea Stadium’s Diamond Club Lobby.
Of course the second slot is reserved for a certain catcher who played for the Mets from 1998-2005, but that is a whole different discussion entirely. Also next year Pedro Martinez is on the ballot for the first time. While he should be enshrined as a Red Sox, what his arrival at Shea in 2005 was a part of, probably would place him in the top five of this type of discussion.
Now, to be fair, clearly the bottom can be defined easily with the 40 year old Yogi Berra getting into 4 games in 1965 as he was brought in mainly as one of Casey Stengel’s coaching staff, getting two hits, but striking out three times in nine at-bats, also 1965 saw Spahn join the Mets as a pitcher/coach. Going 4-12 with a 4.36 ERA and striking out 56, Spahn, 44 at the time, was pretty much done.
Also ranking near the bottom should be Roberto Alomar. Brought in after An All-Star run with the Indians, in fact his first year as a Met would end a run of 12 straight All-Star Game selections, Alomar would be the face of the Steve Phillips era of bad deals. After his second season started off as badly as his first did, Alomar was jettisoned on July 1st of 2003. Ironically the Mets were at the start of a new cyle of homestands in which to display their program, and yes, Alomar was gracing the cover of the program! Whoops! It would soon go back to the presses, and Alomar was replaced with Ty Wiggington.
Richie Ashburn’s 1962 can be considered a Team MVP year of sorts. The lone Met All-Star would hit .306, slug .393; as well Ashburn had a .424 OBP and .817 OPS+. It would also be the final season of Ashburn’s career.
In the same vein as Ashburn is Duke Snider’s return to New York in 1963. Snider would be named to the All-Star squad that year as the lone Met representative, but it was in the same vein as Ashburn’s year, where it was pretty much an “end of the line” type of season. Snider would be sold in April of 1964 to the San Francisco Giants in what would be his final season.
While he is going to be in Cooperstown due to his managerial work, and a look at his Met tenure is to come, Joe Torre’s last two years and change as a major leaguer deserves mention. The NL MVP in 1970 was brought in prior to the 1975 season in a trade with the Cardinals for Ray Sadecki and Tommy Moore. His career was pretty much in decline, and was winding down, so he was pretty much used as a utility type of player switching from third and first. Torre’s playing days would end a few weeks after becoming the Met manager in June of 1977.
Moving on to some of the more quality Met years for future Hall of Famers, is Willie Mays’s two seasons of 1972-1973. While thanks to a misplayed ball in the Oakland sun during the 1973 World Series, the Mays as a Met narrative gets twisted as part of the “players that don’t know when to retire” tired cliché, Mays was quite productive for his role as a Met. Sure all his numbers were down, but he was a serviceable part-timer at that point.
Nolan Ryan is a unique case, the one that got away. As of this point, both he and Seaver remain the only members of the Hall of Fame to make their debuts as Mets. Seaver of course earned many of his credentials as a Met, Ryan on the other hand? Well from 1966, 1968-1971, it probably would be hard to see Ryan blossoming into the dominant and perennial all-star pitcher that he’d become with the Anaheim Angels from 1972-1979, and from there continue to forge his legend with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. Sure persistent blister problems and, by his own admission, problems handling New York, were probably good culprits for why Ryan was a rather pedestrian pitcher in his Met days. But how would his Met tenure stack up with the other Met HOFers? Probably in the middle of the pack, he wasn’t great, but he was a serviceable pitcher, and at least netted the Mets a former all-star shortstop. Though that is all that needs to be said here about Jim Fregosi!
The next two, Eddie Murray and Rickey Henderson, fall into a category different than Alomar, two future Hall of Famers brought in, not in the twilight or start of it, but just before it began. And therefore, probably would rank highly on a list of HOFers for their Met careers. Murray, while a symbol of the “Worst Team Money Can Buy” attitude, due mostly with his rather grouchy nature towards the media (which started after being burned one too many times in Baltimore), was quite productive in his two years as a Met from 1992-1993. His Met totals of 43 home runs and 193 RBIs (1993 would see him reach 100 RBIs for the final time in his career) are nothing to sneeze at, but with the Mets being absolutely putrid, it would be time to move on, and Murray would continue his First Ballot Hall of Fame career for another four seasons.
Next up is Henderson. Granted his exit from Flushing was based on several “Rickey being Rickey” incidents, he still delivered the production that he generally brought to teams throughout his legendary career. Coming in as a free agent in 1999 and released in the middle of May 2000, Henderson in that short time was able to be a major piece in the Met offense. And while his production was starting its decline, he still stuck around the game through most of the early and mid-2000s. Henderson even would up playing with Independent League teams, three years after his final major league game.
So, where would Tom Glavine slide in? Despite hard feelings about how his final game turned out, and his tendency to pitch to the score of the game, it is unfair to lump him in Alomar in terms of mistakes, and it is hard to categorize him in the vein of “yeah, he was a Met player!?” the way you can with Spahn, and Berra, and for whatever its worth, Glavine’s 106 Met career Quality Starts puts him 10th on the Met all-time list, the only all-time top-ten listed in the 2013 Media Guide that he appears on. You can’t even take away his performance in the 2006 postseason, even though he did take the loss in Game 5 of the NLCS. It is hard decision to make as he was brought in to be something he really never was in Atlanta, that no doubt ace of the staff, the role Martinez was brought in to do in 2005, and what Johan Santana would do as Glavine’s replacement at the top of the rotation in 2008, and what Greg Maddux was for all those years they were teammates in Atlanta. Maddux was the Seaver, and Glavine was the Koosman. But in the final analysis, Glavine probably would rank high on this sort of list. The ranking here would probably go;
Seaver, Carter, Murray (brought here for offensive production, and did just that), Mays (sentimental of course, but was a key contributor in his role), Henderson, Glavine, Torre (in Hall as Mgr, but for some reason always came up as a “if X is in or is being discussed, why not Torre” discussions), Ryan, Ashburn, Snider, Alomar, Spahn, Berra (only a handful of games puts him last).
Finally, since Torre is going in as a skipper, it seems only fair to look at Met managers in the Hall. Of course it is just the three; Torre, Berra and Stengel. Of course Gil Hodges is a perennial “outside looking in” candidate, and Davey Johnson will probably draw much consideration when he starts to appear on the ballot.
Stengel is obviously in the Hall on the strength of his Yankee years, same with Torre interestingly enough, and Berra of course is in as a player, even being enshrined during the 1972 season, which was his first season as Met manager. All that said, Berra edges both out for the top slot on the strength of his .497 winning percentage, sixth highest in team history and highest total for a sub-.500 percentage. His National League championship in 1973, guiding the 1972 Mets to a third place finish, and having an over .500 record (56-53), with the team in third, at the time of his firing leads him to be at the top of this pack. Probably even in the middle of the pack, but closer to the top than the bottom, in terms of team history as well.
It is hard to be hard on the Old Professor. He was hired to be more of a mascot and ambassador than for managing the brand new franchise. While his record is historically bad, he was brought in to be something much more than simply a manager. That is why his number 37 was put into mothballs following his retirement due to a bad hip mid-way in the 1965 season. So, that would put him second on this particular listing.
Which means Torre brings up the rear in this case. Only Bobby Valentine has lost more games in team history, but Torre’s 2000 World Series managing opposite number has a .534 winning percentage to Torre’s .405 as a Met. The best you could say is that he never lost 100 games or more (though it doesn’t say much when 1979’s 99 losses are taken into account), and in 1981 the Mets did finish fourth in the second half of the season with a 24-28 record (following an abysmal 17-34 pre-strike record). Granted the Torre years Mets were not a talent laden ballclub that just couldn’t gel, it is still quite a stark contrast when comparing his .529 record in three seasons in Atlanta, .498 winning percentage in six seasons in St. Louis, and .533 in his final three seasons of his career with the Dodgers (leaving his Yankee years out of the equation). You could make a case that it was something needed to give him lessons and tools he used in his other stops, but looking at strictly his Met years, it’s hard not to rank him among the worst skippers in team history.