As the successors to the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers, the Mets are New York City's National League ballclub. They've had a storied history and loyal fanbase since their start back in 1962.
This post examines the best New York Mets catchers in franchise history based on career and single-season Wins Above Replacement (WAR).
Keep scrolling to learn more!
Best Catchers in New York Mets History
A Quick History of the New York Mets
Between 1903 and 1957, New York City had three professional baseball teams - the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees. After the '57 season, the Giants and Dodgers moved to the west coast, leaving the Yankees as the city's only pro ballclub.
Yet there remained a huge desire to bring National League (NL) baseball back to New York, the largest city in America. And after a few short years, two clubs were added to the NL for the 1962 season. They were the Houston Colt .45s, and the New York Metropolitans, or Mets.
The new Mets ballclub used blue and orange for their team colors in honor of the Dodgers and Giants, their NL forerunners in New York City. Interestingly, the Mets also played at the Polo Grounds (the former home stadium of the Giants) for their first two seasons until moving into Shea Stadium in 1964.
The First 20 Years
On April 11, 1962, the New York Mets played their first professional ballgame under the leadership of legendary manager Casey Stengel.
They lost, and would go on to lose 120 games that season, the highest number of single-season losses in modern Baseball history.
The 'loveable losers' didn't fare much better the next couple of seasons. In fact, the Mets only had one season with less than 100 losses between 1962 and 1967.
As the end of the decade approached, however, things were starting to look up for the Mets. Gil Hodges was brought in to manage the team, and a core group of young stars pointed to a brighter future.
The 1969 season was magical. For the first time in team history, the 'Amazin' Mets' finished the season with a winning record (100 - 62).
Yet the team's success didn't stop with the regular season, it carried on into the playoffs, followed by the World Series.
In the '69 Series, New York played a stacked Baltimore Orioles team. In a surprise to many, the Mets made easy work of Baltimore and won the Series four games to one.
Only seven years after being the worst team in baseball, the Mets were world champions.
Over the next few seasons the Mets collected more .500+ records, and they made another trip to the World Series just four years after their incredible run in '69.
The 1973 World Series came down to the wire, but the Mets ultimately lost to the reigning champion Oakland A's four games to three.
The following year (1974) through 1981, the Mets averaged just a .435 winning percentage and didn't finish higher than third in the division. Still, the team had some memorable contributors during that time, such as Lee Mazzilli, Rusty Staub and John Stearns.
The '80s and '90s
Former Orioles and Braves great Davey Johnson took over the Mets in 1984 and almost immediately things turned around. In '84 the Mets went 90 - 72, in '85 they went 98 - 64, and in 1986 the Mets had a 108 - 54 record - the best in franchise history.
That same season the Mets went on to play the Boston Red Sox in a memorable World Series.
After Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner's famous miscue in game six, the Mets defeated Boston in game seven at Shea Stadium to claim their second World Series championship in franchise history.
The next year the Mets compiled a strong record (92 - 70), but failed to make the playoffs.
In 1988 the Mets had another great season, finishing 100 - 60. However, they lost a close NLCS to the eventual World Series champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Over the course of the next decade (the 90's), the Mets finished with a .493 winning percentage, making the NLCS only once in that span (1999).
The Mets from 2000 to Today
After reaching the NLCS in 1999, the Mets won the NL pennant the following year under the leadership of skipper Bobby Valentine. However, the Mets ran into the Yankees dynasty in the 2000 'Subway Series' and dropped the Series four games to one.
For the entire decade of the 2000's, the Mets finished with an overall .502 record.
Between 2010 - 2019, the Mets had a .494 record. They did make it back to the World Series in 2015 under Terry Collins' guidance, but they lost to a strong Kansas City Royals club in which Royals' catcher Salvador Perez was named MVP of the Series.
Today, the Mets are loaded with talent, featuring names such as two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, 2019 Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso, and the best shortstop in the game, Francisco Lindor.Wins Above Replacement (WAR)
Typically referred to as WAR, Wins Above Replacement is a metric that was created to measure an individual player’s overall contributions to his team.
Its definition per the MLB is as follows:
“WAR measures a player's value in all facets of the game by deciphering how many more wins he's worth than a replacement-level player at his same position (e.g., a Minor League replacement or a readily available fill-in free agent).”
There is a different WAR formula used for pitchers and for position players, and calculations can vary slightly by website/publisher (such as Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs).
Nonetheless, WAR is an incredibly useful and popular metric in Baseball since it captures the overall value that a player provides to his team.
In this post, I researched every catcher that has ever worn a Mets jersey and ranked them by career and single season WAR, using Baseball Reference as the source. This involved reviewing player data going back to 1962.
What follows is a summary of the top five Mets catchers ranked by career WAR, while the second list highlights the top five best seasons by a Mets catcher, ranked by WAR.
Top 5 Mets Catchers by Career WAR
Please note: The player must have at least 100 games played as a member of the Mets to be eligible for the career WAR list.
#1. Gary Carter, 70.1 career WAR
One of the great catchers of the modern era, Gary Carter was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003. He played for four different teams during his 19 year big league career, spending the most time with the Mets and Montreal Expos.
Among his many accomplishments are 11 all star game selections, two all star game MVPs, three Gold Glove awards, five Silver Slugger awards, and a World Series championship with the Mets in 1986.
Carter's career offensive totals include 2,092 hits, 324 home runs, 1,225 RBIs, and a .773 OPS.
Defensively, Carter maintained a .991 fielding percentage behind the dish and gunned down 810 runners attempting to steal, good for a 35% career caught stealing percentage. Carter's 26.1 career Defensive WAR (dWAR) is third among catchers all time.
#2. Mike Piazza, 59.6 career WAR
A 62nd round draft pick, Mike Piazza smashed expectations by making it to the big leagues and capturing the NL Rookie of the Year in 1993. Although he first made a name for himself as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Piazza was traded to the Mets in May of 1998 and remained with the team through the 2005 season.
Piazza was a perennial NL all-star, appearing in 12 all-star games and winning 10 Silver Slugger awards during his career. His career slash line is 308/.377/.545. He also set a record among catchers by hitting 427 career home runs.
Piazza’s lifetime fielding percentage behind the dish is .989 and he threw out a total of 423 runners attempting to steal.
In 2016, the Baseball writers voted Piazza into the Hall of Fame on his fourth year on the ballot. On his Hall of Fame plaque, Piazza is rocking a Mets hat.
#3. John Stearns, 19.7 career WAR
John Stearns appeared in 810 big league games during his 11 year career, ten years of which were spent with the New York Mets (1975 - 1984). He stood out on the field for his toughness and for his surprising speed on the basepaths - a traditionally rare quality for catchers.
A four time NL all star, Stearns' lifetime batting average was .260, and he collected 696 career hits, 46 home runs, 312 RBIs, and 91 stolen bases.
His fielding percentage as a catcher was .985 and he gunned down 295 runners attempting to steal, good for a 37% average.
#4. Paul Lo Duca, 17.9 career WAR
Paul Lo Duca had a solid 11 year career in the big leagues, earning four NL all star game selections. Though most of his career was spent with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he spent two seasons (2006 - 2007) with the Mets.
A career .286 hitter, Lo Duca collected 1,100+ hits, had 80 home runs, and maintained a .746 OPS. His fielding percentage while catching was .990 and he threw out 267 runners trying to steal (30% average).
While with the New York Mets, Lo Duca hit .455 in the 2006 NLDS against his former team - the LA Dodgers - on the way to a 3-0 sweep for New York.
#5. Wilson Ramos, 15.7 career WAR
Wilson Ramos is the only active catcher on this list (as of the date of publication). The 2021 season is his 12th in the majors, and he is currently playing for the Cleveland Indians.
Ramos spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons in a New York Mets uniform. Thus far in his career, Ramos has a .271 lifetime batting average with 136 home runs and a .750 OPS.
Defensively, he has a .994 fielding percentage as a catcher and he's gunned down 150 runners (27% average) caught stealing.
Top 5 Seasons by Mets Catchers, Ranked by WAR
Please note: The player must have at least 70 games played in one season as a member of the New York Mets to be eligible for the single-season WAR list.
#1. 1985 - Gary Carter (6.9 WAR)
Gary Carter’s first season with the Mets came in 1985, and that year he finished with a 6.9 WAR - the highest single-season WAR by a catcher in New York Mets history.
In ‘85, Carter smashed a career high 32 home runs with 100 RBIs. His slash line that season was .281/.365/.488. Interestingly, he also had a career-high 16 Intentional Bases on Balls, or IBB.
Carter led NL catchers in 1985 in putouts (956) and Range Factor/Game (7.36), and he was second among NL catchers in fielding percentage (.992) and double plays turned (11).
#2. 1998 - Mike Piazza (5.4 WAR)
Mike Piazza played on the Dodgers, Marlins and Mets during the 1998 season, though he spent the most time (109 games) in New York. Fortunate for the Mets, because he had a great year.
In 1998, Piazza had 184 hits, 32 home runs, 111 RBIs and a career high 38 doubles. His '98 slash line was .328/.390/.570. Behind the dish, Piazza had a .990 fielding percentage and a 26% caught stealing percentage.
Additionally, Piazza was the NL's starting catcher at the 1998 all-star game (rocking a Mets jersey) and he won his sixth consecutive Silver Slugger award that year.
#3. 1978 - John Stearns (5.3 WAR)
Although he didn't make the all star team that year, John Stearns had one of the best seasons of his career in 1978. He collected 126 hits and had career highs in home runs (15), RBIs (73), OPS (.777), and Total Bases (197). His 1979 slash line was .264/.364/.413.
Additionally, Stearns had 25 stolen bases in 1978, which tied Roger Bresnahan's 1906 mark for most stolen bases in a season by an NL catcher.
His defensive stats in '78 include a .985 fielding percentage behind the plate, a 38% caught stealing average, 711 putouts and 84 assists.
#4. 2000 - Mike Piazza (5.1 WAR)
Mike Piazza had a great season in 2000 as seen by his 38 home runs, 113 RBIs and .324/.398/.614 slash line. He was an NL all star, finished third in NL MVP voting, and earned his eighth consecutive Silver Slugger award.
Piazza also led NL catchers in fielding percentage (.997) in 2000, setting a career high in seasons where he appeared in 1,000 or more innings behind the plate.
In the playoffs that year - which saw the Mets play the Yankees in the World Series - Piazza hit a combined .258 and smashed 4 home runs with 8 RBIs.
#5. 1996 - Todd Hundley (5.0 WAR)
Todd Hundley set career high marks in several major offensive categories in 1996. These included games played (153), at bats (540), hits (140), doubles (32), home runs (41), RBIs (112) and total bases (297). His '96 slash line was .259/.356/.550.
Hundley led NL catchers in 1996 in defensive games played with 150, and he maintained a .992 fielding percentage and 25% caught stealing percentage. He was rewarded for his productive season with a selection to the NL all star team.
Hundley had some solid seasons after '96, but none ever matched the offensive numbers he generated that year.
List of All Mets Catchers With a 3.0+ WAR Season
Reaching a 3.0 + WAR in a single major league season is an accomplishment in and of itself. A few Mets catchers have hit or exceeded this mark since the club first began playing back in 1962.
The below list shows every New York Mets catcher that had a 3.0+ WAR season.
Thank You for Reading
Hopefully you found this post to be both informative and entertaining! I sure learned a lot from researching and writing it.
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