The New York Mets did not get off to a strong start when they came into the league in 1962. Since then, they have grown into one of the more popular teams in baseball and had two historic World Series titles. Throughout their history, they had many different players contribute from all around the world. Let’s take a look back at the best players to represent the Mets from each country.
Australia: Graeme Lloyd
Graeme Lloyd pitched one season out of the bullpen with New York. He made 32 appearances with a 3.31 ERA. Lloyd earned his lone win in a 3-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on May 11, 2003 and pitched a pair of hitless innings and struck out three before Joe McEwing scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the eighth inning.
Canada: Jason Bay
The Mets had high expectations when they signed Jason Bay, but the Canadian never lived up to the hype. Bay was a 30 plus home run hitter in his time with the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates. However, with the Mets, he only hit 26 home runs in four years. His first home run with his new club came on April 27, 2010, in a doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bay also had a walk-off hit against the New York Yankees in 2011. Then after suffering a concussion after running into the wall in 2012, he was never able to get his carer back on track.
Cuba: Yoenis Cespedes
Yoenis Cespedes took Met fans on an incredible ride in 2015. He was acquired at the trade deadline and led his team to the World Series. After the Mets did not acquire Carlos Gomez, the Mets received Cespedes from the Tigers for Michael Fulmer. The Cuban born slugger hit 17 home runs in the final two months of the season and drove in 44 RBI. He added a pair of majestic home runs in the NLCS against the Dodgers. The Mets eventually fell in five games to the Kansas City Royals in the World Series.
Cespedes then signed a three-year contract worth $75 million dollars during 2016 and had an all-star season. However, he opted out of the deal after the first year but remained with the team signing a four year contract worth $110 million dollars. That contract has not worked out as Cespedes missed most of the 2018 season after having surgery on both heals. He then had an accident at his home with a wild boar which caused him to fracture his ankle. The Mets hope if the season is to start soon Cespedes can make an impact in his final year.
Dominican Republic: Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes was one of the most exciting baseball players across the entire league during the early part of his career. He handled shortstop on the left side of the infield with David Wright at third base. Reyes’ best season came in 2006 where he hit .300 and hit 19 home time and drove in 81 RBI’s. More impressive, Reyes hit 17 triples, which was two off his career-high, and stole 64 stolen bases.
His 408 stolen bases rank first all-time with the New York Mets. On the last day of the 2011 season, Reyes was in the middle of a controversy. Manager Terry Collins started Reyes and pulled him after the first inning after a bunt single. Ryan Braun, who was second in the league in hitting, played out the game and went 0-4 to help Reyes win the batting title. That was his last game with the Mets for the time being as he signed a contract worth over 100 million dollars with the then Florida Marlins. However, after some legal trouble, Reyes came back to New York from 2016-18 to finish his career with the Mets.
Ireland: P.J. Conlon
P.J. Conlon was only the second Irish-born baseball player since 1945 and made a couple of appearances with the Mets. He was not a significant pitching prospect but had promise. Conlon rose through the minor leagues and was the Mets organizational Pitcher of the Year in 2015. Conlon got called up to the big leagues in 2018. While Conlon combined to pitch only five-plus innings in his two starts combined the Mets won both those games. He made one other relief appearance later that season in his Citi Field debut. Conlon was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers after that appearance. He would return to the Mets later that season.
Germany Aaron Altherr
Aaron Altherr’s New York Mets career was short but he hit a home run in his first at-bat. He hit .129 in about a quarter of a season in New York. Altherr hit 19 home runs in a season with the Philadelphia Phillies but has found himself on the waiver wire for much of the past few seasons. Alther played for three teams in 2019 and is just looking to find a job somewhere to continue his career in the big leagues.
Japan: Kaz Matsui
The Mets have always had had a handful of some of the better Japanese baseball players. While Ichiro Suzuki is the best to ever come from Japan, the best to ever play for the Mets was Kaz Matsui. After nearly ten seasons playing in Japan, Matsui came over to the Mets in 2004. He played in 239 games over three seasons. Despite not being known for his power, Matsui is the only player in MLB history to hit home runs in his first at-bat in his first three seasons.
His first home run came on the first pitch he ever saw versus Russ Ortiz of the Atlanta Braves. In 2005, he hit a home run against the Cincinnati Reds and Paul Wilson. In 2006 he hit an inside-the-park home run off Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres. The rest of his time with New York was a bit of a struggle in the field. He shifted from shortstop to second base and later shared time with both Marlon Anderson and Miguel Cairo before being dealt to the Colorado Rockies for Eli Marrero in June of 2006.
Mexico: Oliver Perez
Oliver Perez is one of the most hated Mets of all time but had a couple of good memories with the team. Perez was the starter for Game 7 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. Perez pitched well as he allowed one run in six innings. He also earned his first playoff win in Game 4 before becoming a problem after signing a three-year extension in 2009. In 2010, Perez refused a minor league demotion and pitched in the bullpen. The ironic part of that is the veteran left-hander resurrected his career by becoming one of the better relievers in baseball. Perez is currently with the Cleveland Indians.
Panama: Ruben Tejada
Ruben Tejada was a highly talented prospect coming out of Panama and signed as an international free agent in 2006. Tejada had the job of replacing Reyes at shortstop and had his best season in 2012 when he hit .289. In his career, he had three memorable walk-offs including one against the Milwaukee Brewers with the Mets trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth. Tejada eventually became a fan-favorite after he broke his fibula in the 2015 playoffs against the Dodgers when Chase Utley came in with a dirty slide. Tejada missed the rest of the playoffs but received a standing ovation in Game 3 when they introduced the rest of the team. After going on to play for a couple of different teams in the next few seasons, Tejada made a return to the Mets and played in half a dozen games in 2019.
Puerto Rico: Carlos Beltran
Despite one memory that many Met fans will never forget in the 2006 NLCS, Carlos Beltran of Puerto Rico was one of the best players in franchise history. After one of the greatest postseason runs in MLB history in 2004, the Mets signed Beltran to a seven-year, $119 million dollar contract. The switch-hitting center fielder hit 149 home runs with the Mets and hit as many as 41 in a season in 2006. From his walk-off home runs to his fantastic catch in extra innings in Houston up Tal Hill, Beltran always seemed to have a knack for the heroics.
Despite being the final out of the 2006 NLCS, Beltran hit three home runs in the series with the Cardinals and batted .296. He was dealt in a trade to the San Fransisco Giants for Zack Wheeler and eventually went on to win another World Series in 2017 with the Houston Astros. Though he may fall short of the Hall-of-Fame when it is all said and done, he will always be one of the greatest center fielders in Mets history.
Spain: Luis Guillorme
Luis Guillorme has yet to make a big impact with the Mets but had his memorable moment in a spring training game. Future Met Adeiny Hechavarria’s bat flew out of his hands, and Guillorme caught the bat barehanded as it went into the dugout. It was just an example of the great hands he has. Guillorme also hit his first career home run against the Washington Nationals in 2019 to help the Mets come back and beat the eventual World Series Champions at Citi field.
South Korea: Dae-Sung Koo
South Korea has produced some solid MLB players, and the Mets have had their fair share of their own. While Chan Ho-Park is the greatest pitcher to come from there, Dae-Sung Koo had a couple of memorable moments with the Mets. After a strong spring training in 2007, Koo made the 25-man roster. However, his greatest moment came as a hitter against Randy Johnson where he hit a double over the head of Bernie Williams in what was Koo’s first at-bat in 19 years. He eventually came around to score from second base after Jose Reyes laid down a sacrifice bunt. Unfortunately, Koo suffered a shoulder injury sliding into home plate and never pitched the same again. In 33 games with the Mets, the left-hander pitched to a 4.11 ERA.
United States: Tom Seaver
While there have been so many great Mets throughout their history, Tom Seaver was the best pitcher in New York Mets history. In his Hall-of-Fame career, Seaver ranks first in franchise history with 198 wins. The hard-throwing right-hander was a 12-time All-Star with the Mets and won the Cy-Young Award three times, including 1969, when New York won their first-ever World Series. Seaver finished his 20-year career with 312 wins.
Seaver struck out 2,541 batters while with the Mets. He also pitched a complete game in 171 of his 395 starts. While he has one World Series victory, Seaver’s greatest game occurred in the regular season where he took a perfect game into the ninth inning. Jim Qualls though of the Chicago Cubs, broke it up and Seaver settled for a 4-0 victory before the “Miracle Mets” went on to defeat the Baltimore Orioles in five games to win the World Series.
Venezuela: Johan Santana
It took until their 51st season, but Johan Santana made history by throwing the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. Despite major shoulder surgery, Collins allowed Santana to throw 134 pitches as he stuck out David Freese of the Cardinals with the final out. His start before that was strong in a complete-game shutout. Santana’s all-around best performance came in the 2008 season on short rest when he shut out the Marlins a week before needing knee surgery.
Unfortunately, the Mets were unable to make the playoffs that season. However, Santana was a great pitcher in his time with his patented circle-changeup up. Santana finished his career in New York with 46 wins.
Vietnam: Danny Graves
Danny Graves is the only Vietnamese born baseball player in MLB history and was a two-time All-Star before pitching in 20 games out of the bullpen in New York during 2005. In those appearances, he did not fare well, giving up five home runs and pitched to 5.75 ERA. He went on to pitch for the Indians before getting into broadcasting.
With the 2020 season on pause for now, the New York Mets hope they can bring build off their teams in the past and have many different players help the team to win another World Series. They are going to need to continue to draft well and sign players from all around the world to be successful.
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