Best Mets player to wear every uni number

December 28th, 2020

NEW YORK -- Historically, the Mets are among the most conservative teams when it comes to retiring uniform numbers. They have nonetheless retired some, iced others (declining to issue them to current players) and kept the rest in circulation.

Over the years, team equipment managers have issued the vast majority of single- and double-digit uniforms -- some of them over and over again, others only on the rarest occasions. Here’s a look at the most accomplished Mets players to wear each number:

0: Rey Ordóñez -- Only three Mets have donned zero, most recently Omar Quintanilla in 2014. Best was the slick-fielding Ordóñez, who won a Gold Glove wearing No. 0 in 1997 before switching to No. 10 for the rest of his Mets career.

00: Tony Clark -- Clark is the lone Met to have worn double zero, doing so for two months before switching out of deference to the team’s mascot, Mr. Met.

1: Mookie Wilson -- Many of the speediest Mets have worn No. 1, from Lance Johnson to Eric Young Jr. to Amed Rosario. But it’s Wilson who enjoyed the most sustained success with it, donning No. 1 for the entire 1980s (with his famous dribbler through Bill Buckner’s legs smack in the middle of that tenure).

2: Dominic Smith -- Although Smith has only worn No. 2 for one season, he has already done enough to outperform Mackey Sasser. Soon, it probably won’t be close.

3: Bud Harrelson -- With a nod to Curtis Granderson and Rafael Santana, Harrelson was a Mets legend and a cog of the 1969 World Series champions.

4: Lenny Dykstra -- Robin Ventura had the best season wearing No. 4, and Wilmer Flores won fans’ hearts in it. But Dykstra earned a World Series ring with consistently strong play.

5: David Wright -- It’s the captain, and it’s not close. No Mets player is likely to wear No. 5 again.

6: Wally Backman -- This could eventually become Jeff McNeil, but for now, Backman’s eight seasons and World Series title put him over the top.

7: José Reyes -- As dynamic a player as the Mets have ever had, Reyes wore No. 7 during both of his stints with the organization.

8: Gary Carter -- The Mets gave out Carter’s No. 8 three times after he left Queens but have had it on ice since 2001. They aren’t likely to issue it again.

9: Todd Hundley -- Several intriguing Mets have worn No. 9, including Joe Torre, Gregg Jefferies, Todd Zeile and Brandon Nimmo, the latter of whom may soon top this list. For now, Hundley wins out based on his longevity, with nine seasons and two All-Star appearances as a Met.

10: Rusty Staub -- Ordóñez also rates highly here, but “Le Grand Orange” was a Mets institution. Staub switched from No. 4 to No. 10 for the final season of his first tour with the franchise, then wore it for his entire second act as a valuable bench bat.

11: Wayne Garrett -- Garrett wore No. 11 as a rookie on the Mets’ 1969 World Series championship team, then kept it for his entire decade-long career that wound through Montreal and St. Louis.

12: Ron Darling -- The fact that Darling also wore Nos. 44 and 15 in New York makes this a closer competition with Jeff Kent than it should be. But Darling wore No. 12 for five of his best seasons, including 1986, when he stood on the mound in it during World Series Game 7.

13: Edgardo Alfonzo -- Lee Mazzilli and Billy Wagner also wore No. 13, but Alfonzo was one of the best overall players in Mets history.

14: Gil Hodges -- The Mets retired No. 14 for their late, great manager in 1973. Ron Swoboda and Ken Boyer also briefly wore it before the team took it out of circulation.

15: Carlos Beltrán -- No real competition here, as Beltrán was far and away the best No. 15 in Mets history.

16: Dwight Gooden -- Some believe the Mets should ice No. 16 for Gooden, as they have with other prominent (but not retired) numbers. Alas, the team has issued No. 16 on a near-annual basis since Gooden left town in 1994.

17: Keith Hernandez -- Here’s another number the Mets gave out multiple times in the 1990s and 2000s, before finally icing it to honor Hernandez in 2010. The only remaining question is if the organization will one day officially retire it.

18: Darryl Strawberry -- As with Gooden, the Mets have not taken Strawberry’s No. 18 out of circulation. He is nonetheless the most prominent and most successful Met to wear it, by far.

19: Bob Ojeda -- In five seasons with the Mets, Ojeda won a World Series and posted a 3.12 ERA over 764 innings, mostly as a starter. It was enough to make him the best No. 19 in franchise history.

20: Howard Johnson -- Pete Alonso could wind up the best No. 20, but it’s not a foregone conclusion; Johnson was that good, making two All-Star teams, finishing in the Top 10 in MVP Award voting three times and amassing three 30-30 seasons.

21: Cleon Jones -- One of the most valuable players on the Mets’ 1969 championship team, Jones wore No. 21 for his final 10 years in New York after playing two partial seasons with other numbers.

22: Al Leiter -- Ray Knight and Donn Clendenon won World Series titles wearing No. 22. Kevin McReynolds wore it well for six seasons. But Leiter topped them all on a statistical basis, winning 95 games during his Mets tenure.

23: Bernard Gilkey -- Oddly, one of the most popular numbers in professional sports is one of the weakest in Mets history. Gilkey wins out here on the strength of his MVP-caliber 1996 season, which he never came close to repeating in New York or elsewhere.

24: Art Shamsky -- The Mets iced No. 24 for Willie Mays in 2000, but they put it back into circulation 18 years later upon acquiring Robinson Canó, who had worn it throughout his career. Post-Canó, the team is likely to ice the number again, even though Mays -- a Giants legend and one of the greatest players of all time -- did not contribute much on the field in Flushing. Shamsky did, serving as a key platoon bat for the 1969 champions.

25: Bobby Bonilla -- These days, Bonilla is better known for his contract annuity than his production on the field. Bonilla’s finest years may have come with the Pirates, but he’s still the best No. 25 the Mets have employed.

26: Dave Kingman -- The classic all-or-nothing slugger, Kingman swatted 154 home runs for the Mets while wearing No. 26. He also batted .219.

27: Craig Swan -- It’s at least somewhat close between Swan and Jeurys Familia, but the former wins out based on his solid 12-year career as a Mets starter.

28: Daniel Murphy -- Murphy’s transformation into a slugging star was one of the most significant keys to the Mets’ 2015 World Series run.

29: Frank Viola -- Steve Trachsel won more games as a Met than Viola, but his case is based mostly on longevity. Dave Magadan produced more WAR, but he did some of his best work while wearing No. 10. Ike Davis posted a 32-homer season with No. 29, but little else of note. As for Viola, he was an All-Star in 1990, winning 20 games with a 2.67 ERA while leading the National League in innings.

30: Michael Conforto – Nolan Ryan wore No. 30 for four of his five Mets seasons, including 1969, but if Conforto sticks around New York long term, he’ll have a chance to put the title of “Best No. 30” out of reach of anyone who might come along next.

31: Mike Piazza -- When the Mets landed Piazza in a 1998 trade, star closer John Franco volunteered to give up No. 31, which he had worn for nine seasons. Eighteen years later, the team retired it for Piazza at Citi Field.

32: Jon Matlack -- This number was best worn by Matlack and another left-hander, Steven Matz. But Matlack shone brightest as a three-time All-Star and the 1972 NL Rookie of the Year Award winner.

33: Matt Harvey -- Although things didn’t end well for Harvey in Flushing, his prime seasons were as spectacular as they come.

34: Noah Syndergaard -- This one isn’t all that close, as Syndergaard probably became the best No. 34 in Mets history by the end of his second season.

35: Rick Reed -- All-Star seasons in 1998 and 2001 cement this for Reed, who also posted a 3.81 ERA over five playoff starts with the Mets.

36: Jerry Koosman -- The Mets announced in 2019 that they would retire No. 36 for Koosman, the greatest left-handed pitcher in franchise history.

37: Casey Stengel -- No player has ever (or will ever) wear No. 37 for the Mets. The team retired it in 1965 to honor Stengel, its first manager.

38: Rick Aguilera -- Aguilera is the answer to a trivia question -- “Who was the winning pitcher in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series?” He gave up two runs that night but was a dependable relief option over five seasons in Queens.

39: Bobby Parnell -- Often forgotten because his best years came on bad Mets teams, Parnell served for eight seasons as a starter, closer and everything in between.

40: Bartolo Colon -- Pat Zachry spent more time in a Mets uniform, but Colon became a generational-type cult hero following his first career homer in 2016. He was pretty good on the mound, too, pitching effectively throughout his early 40s.

41: Tom Seaver -- No explanation needed here. The Mets retired No. 41 for “The Franchise” in 1988.

42: Roger McDowell -- Before Major League Baseball retired No. 42 leaguewide to honor Jackie Robinson, various players including Butch Huskey and Mo Vaughn wore it. McDowell enjoyed the most success of that group, racking up 84 saves over five seasons in the 1980s.

43: R.A. Dickey -- One of the best Minor League signings in modern baseball history, Dickey rode his knuckleball all the way to the 2012 NL Cy Young Award.

44: David Cone -- Cone wore No. 44 for most of his dynamic first stint in New York, including in 1988, when he went 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA (but lost the Cy Young to a transcendent Orel Hershiser).

45: Tug McGraw -- Several notable names wore No. 45 for various stretches, including Franco, Pedro Martinez and Zack Wheeler. But McGraw was a Mets legend, widely credited with coining the team’s “Ya Gotta Believe” rallying cry in 1973.

46: Oliver Pérez -- Love him or hate him, Pérez was a significant part of the 2006 Mets. His performance in NL Championship Series Game 7 (with a memorable assist from Endy Chávez) temporarily kept the Mets alive in that series.

47: Jesse Orosco -- Carter’s leap into Orosco’s arms following Game 7 of the 1986 World Series remains one of the enduring images in franchise history.

48: Jacob deGrom -- After deGrom retires, there’s a good chance no Met will wear No. 48 again.

49: Jon Niese -- A solid if unspectacular pitcher over nine seasons with the Mets, Niese was the Mets’ Opening Day starter in 2013.

50: Sid Fernandez -- With a nod to fan favorite Benny Agbayani, “El Sid” was a two-time All-Star and longtime rotation cog who came up big in relief in the 1986 Fall Classic.

51: Mike Maddux -- Maddux had one good season and one poor one with the Mets, but that was enough; only five others have worn No. 51.

52: Yoenis Céspedes -- The Mets’ relationship with Céspedes didn’t end well, but in his prime, he was a dangerous slugger who played a significant role in the Mets’ 2015 World Series run.

53: Chad Bradford -- Shoutout to Jeremy Hefner, who has worn No. 53 as both a Mets player and coach. This race still came down to Mark Guthrie and Bradford, who gave the Mets 62 superb innings during their 2006 playoff run.

54: T.J. Rivera -- No one has worn No. 54 since Rivera, one of only four Mets to record a hit off Madison Bumgarner in the 2016 NL Wild Card Game.

55: Kelly Johnson -- Pedro Feliciano donned this number as well, though the lefty specialist’s most memorable years came wearing No. 25. Next on the list is Johnson, a well-respected utilityman for the Mets’ 2015 and ‘16 playoff teams.

56: Brian McRae -- One of McRae’s best big league seasons came with the Mets in 1998, when he hit 21 home runs and stole 20 bases.

57: Johan Santana -- No contest here, as Santana threw the Mets’ first no-hitter wearing No. 57 and contributed three other excellent seasons.

58: Josh Smoker -- Statistically, Jenrry Mejia was the best No. 58, but he also received a lifetime ban (later lifted) after thrice testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The title here instead defaults to Smoker, an affable lefty reliever who spent two seasons with the Mets (wearing No. 58 for one of them).

59: Antonio Bastardo -- No Met has produced a positive WAR total while wearing No. 59. Bastardo came closest, producing -0.1 WAR out of the Mets’ bullpen in 2016.

60: Andrés Giménez -- The best No. 60 is already Giménez, who impressed the Mets with both his offense and defense as a rookie in 2020.

61: Dana Eveland -- No Met has spent much time wearing this number. Eveland submitted the finest performance with his comeback season out of the bullpen in 2014.

62: Erik Goeddel -- If Drew Smith continues to wear No. 62, he could be the leader soon. For now, it’s Goeddel, a useful reliever over four years in New York.

63: Tim Peterson -- There’s not much noteworthy in this corner of the clubhouse. Peterson wore No. 63 the longest, and so he gets the title.

64: Elmer Dessens -- Dessens was a surprising contributor at ages 38-39, posting a 2.71 ERA over two seasons in the bullpen.

65: Robert Gsellman -- Two Mets players have worn No. 65; Gsellman was the only one to do so with any notable length or effectiveness.

66: Josh Edgin -- Arm trouble derailed what was once a promising and surprising young career for Edgin, a former 30th-round Draft pick.

67: Seth Lugo -- Lugo is the only Met to wear No. 67, doing so while pitching well in every role imaginable.

68: Jeff McNeil -- These days, McNeil is better known as No. 6. Still, his rookie season was the finest performance by a Met wearing No. 68.

70: Wilfredo Tovar -- Tovar recorded three hits in seven games in 2013. That makes him the best No. 70 in Mets history.

71: González Germen -- The most notable part of Germen’s two-year tenure with the Mets was his alliterative full name: González German Germen.

72: Carlos Torres -- Over three seasons, Torres served in a variety of roles, starting 10 games, saving two and doing everything in between.

73: Kenny Rogers -- The Mets’ 1999 Trade Deadline rental of Rogers didn’t work out quite as they envisioned, considering “The Gambler” went 0-3 in the postseason that year. This is more about his solid 12-start run to help push the Mets into October.

74: Chris Mazza -- When Mazza debuted as a 29-year-old rookie in 2019, he became the first Mets player to wear No. 74 in a game.

75: Francisco Rodríguez -- The Mets’ signing of “K-Rod” at the 2008 Winter Meetings preceded a rocky tenure in the organization. He is the only Mets player to wear No. 75.

77: David Peterson -- Peterson’s rookie season in 2020 made him the best to wear No. 77; so long as he keeps that number, he can make it difficult for anyone to catch him.

87: Juan Lagares -- Better known as No. 12 over his first seven years in Queens, Lagares re-signed with the Mets in 2020 and wore No. 87 for a single game before switching to No. 15. In so doing, he became the only Mets player to wear No. 87.

91: Carlos Gómez -- As a rookie in 2007, Gómez wore No. 27. When he returned to the Mets to end his career in '19, Gómez donned No. 91.

99: Turk Wendell -- No. 99 suited the eccentric Wendell, who wore a necklace of sharp animal teeth around his neck and one of baseball’s rarest uniform numbers on his back.