When Mike Piazza was inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday, he became the 14th ex-Met to gain enshrinement into Cooperstown– and only the second player to go in orange and blue.
The Mets have seen an alumnus inducted in each of the last three seasons; first with Tom Glavine in 2014 and then with Pedro Martinez last season. This is by far the most significant for the team, since Piazza is best remembered for his years with the Mets. But these Hall of Fame fortunes will likely diminish over the next couple of years; there is no imminent Met on the ballot for another couple of seasons– and definitely nobody who will be inducted as a Met for a while.
Here’s a rundown of former Mets who could become Hall of Famers. And most of these players are remembered for their times away from New York.
Jeff Kent: A lot of younger fans might not even realize that Kent was a Met; he played with the team from 1992-1996 and lacked the star power he showed in his later career. Kent has 76 more home runs than any other second baseman in baseball history, and deserves a lot more Cooperstown consideration than he has received. He only got 16.6 percent of the vote in his second year on the ballot.
Kent could eventually receive a higher percentage on a less-crowded ballot. It’s definitely possible that he could become a Hall of Famer one day, but it won’t be with a Mets cap on his plaque.
Gary Sheffield: Sheffield played his last MLB season with the Mets in 2009. 500 homers used to mean a guaranteed ticket to Cooperstown– Sheffield can check off that box– but his PED ties have all but nullified that guarantee. He only received 11.6 percent of the vote in his second year of eligibility, which probably has something to do with PED’s. He probably won’t make the Hall of Fame, and if he does it definitely won’t be as a Met.
Billy Wagner: Wagner surprised some observers by getting double-digit support on his first year of eligibility– on a crowded ballot, no less. He posted an ERA+ below 140 just once in his 16 MLB seasons, and his career mark of 187 isn’t too far behind Mariano Rivera’s record-setting 205. Should he go in, which isn’t all that impossible, Wagner will probably be wearing an Astros (or maybe a Patriots) cap– but he would owe the Mets a nod during his induction speech.
Johan Santana: Santana hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown an MLB pitch since 2012, and will be eligible in 2018 in the likely event he never pitches again. He is arguably the best pitcher of the 2000s, and had a five-year stretch where he was without question the best pitcher in baseball. From 2004-2008, he was 86-39 with a 2.82 ERA and 1,189 strikeouts in 1,146.2 innings. He won two Cy Youngs during that stretch, and finished in the top five every year.
His dominance was cut short due to shoulder injuries. Had Santana had another two years in his prime, he would be a lock for the Hall– his career ERA+ of 136 is higher than Randy Johnson, Whitey Ford or Greg Maddux. He will definitely receive consideration, and would presumably go in with the Twins. But who knows? Maybe Santana throwing the Mets’ first and only no-hitter is impressive enough to override that.
Carlos Beltran: If any of these candidates are to be inducted as Mets, it’s Beltran. He played more games with the Mets than he did with any team, and put up some of his best numbers there as well.
Beltran hasn’t received the glitz and glamor a lot of other stars of his day have, but his stats are as good as anyone’s. His career bWAR of 70 is higher than Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Tony Gwynn, Eddie Murray and Carlton Fisk to name a few. He is one of just five players ever to record 500 doubles, 400 homers and 300 steals; the others are Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Eddie Murray and Andre Dawson. Oh, and he also won three Gold Gloves.
Beltran is having one of the best years of his career this season. Although he won’t be eligible for a number of years, it will be hard to deny his credentials once he appears on the ballot.
David Wright: If David Wright’s career is over (which it may very well be), than he is probably not a Hall of Famer. But another two or three seasons of classic David Wright could put him into the conversation. From 2005-2013, Wright’s average season was a .302/.384/.505 slash with 23 home runs, 93 RBI and 20 steals. He’s a longshot for Cooperstown at this point, but Wright is a lock for the Mets’ Hall of Fame.
Francisco Rodriguez: “K-Rod” is sixth on the all-time saves list with 413 saves, and he’s still only 34. “K-Rod” could become baseball’s all-time saves leader by the time he hangs ’em up. This, along with a 2.70 career ERA, 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings ratio and a 156 ERA+, will guarantee him some consideration. As every Mets fan who watched him pitch knows, he will not be going into Cooperstown as a Met. This distinction will likely come with the Angels, where he set the single-season saves record back in 2008.