Hall of Fame Mets

Quick: can you name the ten former Mets in Baseball’s Hall of Fame?

Don’t be upset if you can’t … the only HOF member who played the bulk of his career in orange and blue is Tom Seaver. The rest include Richie Ashburn, Yogi Berra, Gary Carter, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Nolan Ryan, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, and Casey Stengel. (It still baffles me, BTW, that Murray’s in while Jim Rice and Andre Dawson continue to wait — but that’s for another day.)

With the recent induction of Goose Gossage — who I feel is incredibly deserving (but why did it take so long???) — my wife asked, “who on the current Mets roster might someday be in the Hall of Fame?”

A good question, don’t you think? So following are my profiles of those who are closest to consideration — and I intentionally did not include Jose Reyes, David Wright, nor any other player with less than five years of service. Rather, I focused on the players who have compiled fairly lengthy and impressive careers and who are closest to retirement and HOF eligibility.

Pedro Martinez

There is no question that Pedro was either the best, or one of the best three, pitchers in all MLB from 1997 to 2003. He was the elite, the most dominant, and most feared starter in all of baseball — Randy Johnson included. Unfortunately, his fragility has kept him from being a “compliler” — someone who compiles positive stats over a long period of time (Bert Blyleven and Hoyt Wilhelm are examples of compilers). Still, I think if he retired today, he’d be almost guaranteed to be inducted. His career 209-93 record (a .692 winning percentage) is fantastic, and third-best all time — right behind Spud Chandler and ahead of Whitey Ford and Lefty Grove. In additon, by the time Pedro is eligible, the 200-win mark for pitchers in his era will be akin to the current 300-win standard. If his new shoulder can give him 3-5 more effective seasons, my bet is that he’s a first-ballot inductee.

Billy Wagner

Before you think I’m crazy, remember that Wags has been one of the most dominant closers in the NL since 1999. Because we have been watching him on a daily basis, his flaws and blown games are more magnified — in reality there are very few one-inning closers in history with his ability to shut the door on opposing teams. In fact, I believe he has the fewest blown saves of any active reliever with at least 300 saves (55 total blown, for an 87% success rate). He has a career 2.40 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 720 career games — that’s pretty damn good. He’ll likely have to add at least 50-75 more saves to his 358 career total to be brought into the conversation, and that’s not out of the question. Consider this: Trevor Hoffmann is more or less considered a shoo-in, and he has 524 saves with 63 blown, for an 89% success rate, with a 2.73 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.

Mariano Rivera, by the way, has 453 saves, 59 blown saves (88%), 2.35 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 787 games in his career — and pitching for the Yankees had many more save opportunities than any closer. Wagner is not that far away from Rivera’s effectiveness — and Rivera is considered almost hands-down to be the greatest modern closer of all-time.

Carlos Delgado

Delgado could turn out to be a Jim Rice — a guy who is a borderline Hall of Famer. Part of the problem was that he spent most of his career in the obscurity also known as Toronto, and, like Rice, did not have the opportunity to shine in a World Series (yet). The fact that he put up very impressive numbers in what will be known as the “steroid era” could be to his benefit — providing that he continues to be found to be squeaky clean. As of now, his career totals are comparable to some HOFers, but not quite big enough for the era. His 431 career homers, 1374 RBI, and .280 average are nothing to sneeze at, and put him on track toward Reggie Jackson and Willie McCovey territory. For sure, if he played in the 1970s and 1980s, Delgado would be a no-brainer. But in the time of gross expansion, watered-down pitching, and generous PED use, his numbers are only “good” and not “great”. Still, there was the period from 1998 to 2003 when he was considered one of the most feared hitters in all of MLB — which is why I like to compare him to Rice, who was similarly dominant. Two things depend on Delgado’s consideration for the Hall: first, his ability to put up decent numbers through his late 30s (and compile career stats), and second, the view of the voters, who may weigh his supposedly “clean” achievements against scoundrels such as Rafael Palmeiro and Barry Bonds.

Moises Alou

No, Alou will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame — unless he pulls a Julio Franco and plays till he’s 50. However, it should be mentioned that if not for the myriad injuries that robbed him of so many games over his 16 big league seasons, he likely would be in the conversation. My guess is that he’d be approaching 3000 hits and 400 homers if not for the time lost — numbers that virtually guarantee a place in Cooperstown. Too bad, because when he’s healthy he’s proven to be one of the most dangerous hitters in the game — as well as one of the best all-around players.

Carlos Beltran

This one is too early to tell. He certainly has the tools to be a Hall of Famer, but he’ll need to put up a few more seasons like 2006 to garner attention. Going against him is the fact he’s already 30 years old, and likely past his physical prime. However, he has already accumulated over 1400 hits, 875 RBI, and 250 SBs — not to mention outstanding defense in centerfield. Going against him is his age, his lack of consistency year to year, zero World Series appearances, and no MVP awards. Unless he comes up with some mammoth years, he may fall into that “just short” category of Bobby Bonds, Gil Hodges, and Dale Murphy.

Sidenote: Mets Hall of Fame

The Mets’ Hall of Fame consists of only 21 members, with the last inductee being Tommie Agee way back in 2002. I’m not sure why no one has been honored since, as there are at least a few candidates that are worthy. Lee Mazzilli, for example, could be considered, as could Jon Matlack and John Franco. In fact, I’d be in favor of inducting Darryl Strawberry, in the hopes it might help wake up Dwight Gooden and perhaps motivate him to turn his life around. Of course, it’s probably silly to think that a gesture toward Straw would invoke anything from Doc, but who knows — Darryl’s been something of an inspiration since cleaning himself up.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude January 10, 2008 at 9:36 am
    I agree that Pedro should be a first ballot HOF’er, and that Beltran and Delgado both have tough uphill battles to get themselves into consideration. Alou is also out. Billy Wagner, though. That’s a tough one…

    Wagner’s certainly got a lot going in his favor, as you pointed out. His career numbers are outstanding, particularly his WHIP (1.016), ERA (2.40), his 1,014 strikeout to 771 innings pitched ratio, and his save conversion percentage. He’s also a 5-time all-star, and ranks 7th on the all-time save list with 3 or 4 really good years still left in him. Realistically, if he averages 35 saves over the next 4 years, he would rank 2nd or 3rd by the time his career his over, depending on what Mariano Rivera does over the rest of his career.

    However, I would not vote for Wagner. Yet, I would have voted for Lee Smith prior to Hoffman breaking his all-time saves record. And I would also vote for Hoffman and Rivera. Smith’s career numbers may not be earth-shattering, but in my mind, I don’t see how it’s possible to not enshrine a player who holds the all-time lead in a major statistical category. An although his ERA, WHIP, and win/loss numbers may not have been great, they also weren’t detrimental against his case, while he was a 7 time all-star and won 4 save titles, evidence he was an elite closer of his time. But now that Hoffman has broken his record, unfortunately Smith will never be remembered for holding the all-time saves lead for so many years. Hoffman gets my vote for the same reason I would have given one to Smith: he holds the record in a major category. He’s also a better pitcher than Smith statistically, with a better ERA, WHIP, strikeout per inning pitched ratio, and has reached his plateau quicker than Smith did. Rivera gets my vote because he’ll likely finish his career 2nd on the all-time saves list, and because he is known as the best relief pitcher of all-time. And the numbers back that up. He’s also an 8 time all-star and he’s won 3 save titles. It’s somewhat fair to say Wagner’s overall numbers are similar to Rivera’s, but there are two key aspects that separate the two. One, Rivera has been more durable over his career. The proof? Both have spent 13 years in the majors; yet Rivera holds the edge in games appeared in (787-720) and innings pitched (953-771). Much of that may have to do with Rivera’s early career appearances as a stater and set-up man for Wetteland, but if given that same workload, one wonders if Billy’s arm would have been dead by now. And two, Rivera is bar-none the best postseason pitcher of all-time. Meantime, Wagner has been one of the worst postseason pitchers of this era when compared to his success to the regular season. Rivera is 8-1 with an 0.77 ERA and 34 saves in the playoffs, while Billy is 1-5 with an 8.71 ERA with just 3 saves. Yes, Mariano has certainly had plentiful opportunities to pitch in the postseason while a member of the Yankees, but still, can anyone hold up to his career postseason stats? They are simply incredible, and if nothing else, they alone should be good enough to get him into the HOF. And I think Billy’s postseason ineptness is a big strike against him. People tend to remember the performances on the biggest stage in the playoffs more vividly. And what they’ll remember is Mariano notching save after save, and Wagner blowing chance after chance.

    Also, for as dominating as Wagner may seem, he’s never lead the league in saves in any season. That may have to do with the teams he’s been on, but few will have any sympathy for Wagner as he’s pretty much been on all winning teams for Houston, Philadelphia, and the Mets. So no lack of opportunities there. I would consider this: John Franco pretty much has no chance of getting into the Hall. Yet Franco’s 424 saves and 2.89 ERA will be close to what Wagner finishes his career at. And Franco will have 3 save titles, a 1.88 career postseason ERA, and 1,119 appearances to his credit, all projected to be better than Wagner. So do we elect Wagner into the Hall over Franco simply because he has more strikeouts?

    I know my opinion may be somewhat biased, as I’ve been on record on this blog as not being the biggest Billy Wagner fan, but I hope my arguments are at least compelling. Another HOF question we can throw out there is who will be the next player enshrined who goes in representing the Mets? Mike Piazza? Rickey Henderson? Tom Glavine? Or will we have to wait for Pedro, or even Wright and Reyes?

    Good topic, Joe.

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  3. murph January 10, 2008 at 5:40 pm
    Fun topic.

    Other Hall of Famers that have worked for the Mets in one capacity or another…

    Hall of Famers who coached the Mets:
    Rogers Hornsby (1962)
    Warren Spahn (1965)
    Yogi Berra (1965-71)
    Willie Mays (1974-79)
    Bob Gibson (1981)

    George Weiss (The Mets 1st team president)

    In the booth:
    Ford C. Frick Award Recipients:
    Lindsey Nelson (1988)
    Bob Murphy (1994)

    plus Hall of famer Ralph Kiner

    Future Hall of Famers that played for Mets:
    Ricky Henderson
    Mike Piazza
    Tom Glavine
    Joe Torre (future HOF as manager)
    Roberto Alomar (this one is up for debate)
    any others?

  4. joe January 10, 2008 at 10:53 pm
    Don’t thank me for the topic — it was my wife’s idea. Good responses, guys.

    I didn’t realize Rogers Hornsby coached for the Mets … didn’t even know he was ALIVE in ’62!

    isuzu, what do you think about Hoffman’s postseason performances? While his numbers are OK, he has a few VERY memorable disasters. I doubt it will affect his chances, but he failed miserably in the two chances he had in front of a nationwide audience (’98 WS, ’07 All-Star Game).

    BTW, Lee Smith doesn’t get my vote. That’s because my memories of him are from the 1980s, watching the Cubs day games on WGN when I came home from school. While the guy did rack up a lot of saves in his lengthy career, he was the Armando Benitez of back then — he seemed to always keep you on the edge of your seat at the end of the game. And I know my memory is pretty good in that respect, because Smith’s career success rate was only around 82% (he has 103 career blown saves). Yes, that’s better than the Goose and Rollie Fingers — both of whom are in the HOF — but the majority of Smith’s saves came as a one-inning specialist rather than the 2-3 inning “firemen” of yesteryear. Also, I don’t remember at any point in Lee Smith’s career, ever thinking “hey, this guy’s a future HOFer”. To me that counts for something.

    Which brings me to my point — does Hoffman (and others) get into the HOF simply for compiling? If so then not only Lee Smith but also John Franco (424 saves) must enter the conversation. And if Franco goes in, what about Jeff Reardon (367)? And then do Roberto Hernandez (326) and Jose Mesa (321) suddenly have a chance?

    Tough call … and like Gossage said, comparing the Goose to Mariano is like apples and oranges. How voters handle the one-inning specialist should be interesting. No doubt Rivera is in, and it would seem that Hoffman will get the call. And though you are right that Wags never led the NL in saves, and that could be held against him, I think he could sneak in if he has three more years similar to his last three. His performance over the past decade is pretty damn close to Mo & Hoff.

  5. murph January 11, 2008 at 1:21 am
    Regarding relief pitchers entering the Hall of Fame:

    The role of closer is becoming recognized by the voters, as the position has taken on a more important role over the past 20 years or so.

    I had the stats below collected from a few years ago when my softball buddies were debating whether Lee Smith, Bruce Sutter & Goose Gossage were deserving of the Hall of Fame.
    I updated the stats for the current players Rivera, Hoffman & Wagner to see where they stand.
    We also threw in the other Top Ten all time save leaders:
    Franco, Reardon, Myers & Wettland, who as you can see, don’t fare as well in comparison.

    (+ = hall of famer, * = active player)

    All Time Saves
    *Hoffman 524
    Smith 478
    *Rivera 443
    Franco 424
    + Eckersley 390
    Reardon 367
    *Wagner 358
    Myers 347
    + Fingers 341
    Wettland 330
    + Gossage 310 (17th all-time)
    + Sutter 300 (21st all-time)
    + Wilhelm 227 (31st all-time)

    Season in top 5 (and lead league)
    Smith 11 4
    h Fingers 11 3
    Franco 9 3
    *Hoffman 9 2
    Wettland 9 1
    + Sutter 8 5
    + Gossage 8 3
    + Eckersley 8 2
    + Wilhelm 8 0
    *Rivera 7 3
    Reardon 7 1
    Myers 6 3
    *Wagner 3 0

    Career ERA
    *Rivera 2.35
    *Wagner 2.40
    + Wilhelm 2.52
    *Hoffman 2.73
    + Sutter 2.83
    Franco 2.89
    + Fingers 2.90
    Wettland 2.93
    + Gossage 3.01
    Smith 3.03
    Reardon 3.16
    Myers 3.19
    + Eckersley 3.50

    Awards & Recognition:

    + Gossage 9
    *Rivera 8
    Smith 7
    + Fingers 7
    *Hoffman 6
    + Sutter 6
    + Eckersley 6
    + Wilhelm 5
    *Wagner 5
    Franco 4
    Reardon 4
    Myers 4
    Wettland 3

    Rolaids Relief Man
    *Rivera 4
    + Sutter 4
    + Fingers 4
    Smith 3
    *Hoffman 2
    Franco 2
    Myers 2
    + Eckersley 2
    *Wagner 1
    Wettland 1
    + Gossage 1
    Reardon 1
    + Wilhelm n/a

    Top 5 in Cy Young voting
    + Eckersley Winner (1992), 2nd, 4th, 5th
    + Sutter Winner (1979), 3rd (2), 5th
    + Fingers Winner (1981), 3rd
    + Gossage 3rd, 5th (3), 6th
    *Rivera 2nd, 3rd (3)
    Smith 2nd, 4th, 5th
    *Hoffman 2nd (2), 5th
    Myers 4th, 5th
    *Wagner 4th
    Wettland none
    Reardon none
    Franco none
    + Wilhelm none

    Other Awards
    Fingers – MVP, WS MVP
    Eckersley – MVP, ALCS MVP
    Rivera – WS MVP, ALCS MVP
    Wettland – WS MVP
    Myers – NLCS MVP

    Post Season:

    World Series Rings
    *Rivera 4
    + Fingers 3
    + Wilhelm 1
    + Sutter 1
    Myers 1
    + Eckersley 1
    Wettland 1
    + Gossage 1
    Reardon 1
    Smith 0
    *Hoffman 0
    Franco 0
    *Wagner 0

    Post Season Saves
    *Rivera 34
    + Eckersley 15
    + Fingers 10
    Myers 8
    + Gossage 8
    Wettland 7
    Reardon 6
    *Hoffman 4
    + Sutter 3
    *Wagner 3
    + Wilhelm 1
    Smith 1
    Franco 1

    Post Season E.R.A.
    + Wilhelm 0.00 (only 2.1 innings)
    *Rivera 0.77
    Franco 1.88
    + Fingers 2.35
    Myers 2.35
    + Gossage 2.87
    + Eckersley 3.00
    + Sutter 3.00
    *Hoffman 3.46
    Reardon 4.57
    Wettland 4.82
    Smith 8.44
    *Wagner 8.71

    It looks like a good case could be made for Lee Smith. What hurts him is his (relatively) high ERA and lack of post season distinction.
    Wagner needs more years at the top of the game to warrant serious consideration. Mo Rivera could make it on his regular season credentials alone, but when you add in his post-season resume, he blows the doors open. Hoffman deserves it for being the all-time leader in a category that has been important his entire career.

    Going forward, what will be the “magic” number of saves that would assure induction (like 3,000 hits, 300 wins)?
    We have already seen that the number is relative to the times, since 500 homers is no longer a guarantee (McGwire).

  6. isuzudude January 11, 2008 at 8:38 am
    Joe: in my eyes, Hoffman gets a pass for whatever poor ‘big-stage’ performances he had because of his all-time saves lead. My vote for Hoffman is strictly based on the fact that he’s ‘famous’ for holding that record. Sometimes you don’t have to be the best at your position to be inducted into the Hall, you just have to do something that leaves your mark on the game. And for at least the next 20 or so years, I envision Hoffman remaining at the top of the saves chart, and that’s enough for me to see him in the Hall of FAME.

    Your memory of Lee Smith is most likely clearer than mine, as I was finishing up elementary school when Smith was in the twilight of his career. So you’re probably right that he shouldn’t deserve enshrinement because, although he compiled, he was also quite unreliable. Still, my vote would have gone to him just because of his place in the record books. And though there is an argument against voting in ‘compilers,’ I think there could also be an argument for compiling stats as it suggests a player who may not have been dominant but was at least consistent for a lengthy amount of time. And I don’t think it should be a strike against somebody’s record that he was able to pitch in upwards of 20 years in the big leagues. That’s no small accomplishment.

    Murph: cool list. I was surprised to see how impressive Randy Myers was in his brief tenure as closer. I also agree with your synopsis on Smith, Rivera, and Hoffman. I’m not so sure, though, that there will be a “magic number” for saves, only because the stat has become so watered-down, like home runs. Whereas 3,000 hits is just as hard to get now as it was in the 60s, while 300 wins will likely never be reached again after Tom Glavine, saves can be had pretty easily these days. And so, unless you are the all-time leader, or you are considered one of the most dominating pitchers of your time (a la Rivera), saves will not build a case for anyone’s enshrinement.

    Also, I think McGwire has missed the cut the last 2 years because of his ambiguity with his steroid participation, not because 500 home runs has been lost as a HOF benchmark. Every other player who is retired with 500+ HR is a HOF’er (not counting Palmeiro because his name hasn’t come up for a vote yet). Even look at the active list of players with over 500+ HR and it’s tough not to find a future HOF’er: Bonds, Sosa, Griffey, Arod, Frank Thomas, and Thome. Thome is probably up for debate at this point with 507 career dingers, but if he can squeeze out 30 more per year for the next 3 years (he’s 37), he’ll be close to 600 career homers, and that’s going to be pretty tough to overlook.

  7. joe January 11, 2008 at 12:23 pm
    Murph, great stats. The Lee Smith issue is a really tender one … if he does make it in, you absolutely have to look at Franco, who had a similar career in many respects. And again, I bring up, did anyone ever consider Franco a HOFer at any point in his career? And if relievers get in for compiling, then the voters have to reconsider guys like Jim Kaat, Tommy John, and Bert Blyleven.

    Now that we know PEDs, small ballparks, and watered-down competition contributed significantly to player stats over the last 20 years, I think that career numbers and milestones are going to mean much less when it comes to HOF voting … if not, it should. For example, Reggie Jackson’s 563 homers are a LOT more impressive than Rafael Palmeiro’s 569 and a similar feat to Barry Bonds’ 762.

  8. Micalpalyn January 14, 2008 at 12:50 pm
    I cant really say much here.

    1. john franco. I think he should be in the HOF. Yes he toiled on bad teams but was among the leaders. That and his small post season sample was very good. but for injury, he might have been better and WE may not have HAD to endure Armando.

    2. Piazza: WILL be in the HOF. I expect as a Met.

    3. Gary Carter: SHOULD be in the hall as a Met. Which brings me to this, In the post Curt Flood era, who REALLY belongs to one team? The individual is enshrined NOT the team, so why arent there multile hats?

    4.Rickey will go in and by the way HE should be in the Mets HOF. His 1999 contributions and leadoff HR in the 1 game playoff should be honored. Rickey has continually contributed since 1999, but the media murders him.

    5. Carlos Beltran: I think he has a better than 70% chance. Consider that if he continues to be among or the best at his position (.280/35-40HR)/120 rbi) and a consistent all-star-GG. He will be considered. He has displaced Andruw, and hits 30 points higher consistently.

  9. joe January 14, 2008 at 1:24 pm
    #2 – Let’s hope no one ever finds out about Mike’s PEDs

    #3 – I think the HOF will eventually create busts with no-logo hats

    #4 – up for debate

    #5 – he has to remain consistent. His one good year / one bad year pattern isn’t helpful

  10. Micalpalyn January 15, 2008 at 10:17 am
    I dont see the ‘bad’ yr. Every (modern) HOFer has ‘bad’ years. To me all he has to be is above avg in most statistical categories with some very good years.

    Conversely you have the (mark McGwire) type who have 1-3 great yrs but are below average in most categories the other 10 yrs.

  11. joe January 15, 2008 at 10:43 am
    OK, “bad” was a “bad” descriptor. What’s glaring is that Beltran had underwhelming years in terms of batting average during the 25-29 year-old range — a time when he should be at the top of his game. Compare him to, say, Andre Dawson, who was rock solid across the board (until age 29 when he had a major dropoff). Dawson looks more impressive — compared to others in his era — yet is having a hard time getting into the HOF.