NEW YORK -- For any team, the most popular players in franchise history tend to be of the homegrown variety. It takes an army of scouts, coaches and executives to draft and develop successful big leaguers, which is why the best of them receive so much respect.
Here are the Top 5 players who the Mets both drafted and developed. (This list excludes players like Tom Seaver, who was not drafted by the Mets, as well as international signees.)
1. David Wright, 2001
Round 1, Pick 38 (38th overall)
Wright’s journey to become the greatest position player in franchise history was not as seamless as it might appear on the surface. He was not a surefire first-round pick heading into the Draft, and he carried significant defensive questions with him throughout the Minors. But it wasn’t long into Wright’s big league career that he became a superstar, earning the team’s captainship while becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in hits, runs, RBIs and so much more.
Wright did nearly everything well, which is why he retired as one of the most beloved -- and decorated -- players in franchise history.
2. Jacob deGrom, 2010
Round 9, Pick 7 (272nd overall)
Given deGrom’s Draft position, there’s an easy argument that he’s the greatest pick the Mets have ever made, or at least the organization’s foremost player-development success story. Never a blue-chip prospect on his way up the Minor League ladder, deGrom was a skinny, hard-throwing converted college shortstop who turned into a generational pitcher. The rest is history still in the making. deGrom won National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2014, then consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018-19. Before the second of those campaigns, he signed a long-term deal that could make him a Met for life. Even if it doesn’t, deGrom already ranks among the franchise’s all-time greats.
3. Dwight Gooden, 1982
Round 1, Pick 5 (5th overall)
From 1978-84, the Mets had a Top 5 pick in the Draft every year. There were more misses than hits over that stretch, with two significant exceptions. One was Darryl Strawberry, and the other was Gooden, a fire-balling right-hander who debuted early in 1984, nearly won the Cy Young Award that season, then did so with an even more impressive encore in '85. In his first three seasons, Gooden went 58-19 with a 2.28 ERA, a 155 league-adjusted ERA+, and 744 strikeouts over 744 2/3 innings, leading the Major Leagues in punchouts in two of those years.
Gooden’s off-field issues prevented him from compiling a Hall of Fame-caliber resume, but he remained a formidable pitcher for most of his 11 seasons with New York. He also retains a place on the Mets’ pitching Mount Rushmore to this day.
4. Darryl Strawberry, 1980
Round 1, Pick 1 (1st overall)
When the Mets drafted Strawberry in 1980, they made him the first significant building block of their '86 World Series roster. It would be years before New York gelled into a contender, putting Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter and others in place around him. Strawberry was simply the cornerstone, the future superstar whose talent was obvious well before Draft day.
That Strawberry does not rate higher on this list is a product of lost potential, both due to off-field problems and the fact that he was not a lifelong Met. Even so, Strawberry managed to bash a franchise-record 252 home runs over eight seasons, winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1983 and thrice finishing Top 6 in NL MVP Award voting. He hit three playoff homers in '86 and led the league with 39 home runs two years later, establishing himself as one of the foremost sluggers of the '80s.
5. Mookie Wilson, 1977
Round 2, Pick 16 (42nd overall)
There were two other realistic candidates for the fifth and final spot on this list: Jon Matlack, who compiled more wins above replacement than Wilson over his seven seasons with the Mets, and Michael Conforto, who could overtake them both if he sticks around on a long-term deal.
For now, the spot belongs to Wilson, a fan favorite best known for his decisive role in the 1986 World Series. That’s what puts Wilson over the top, but it’s hardly the only reason for his inclusion on this list. Over a decade in Flushing, Wilson compiled 1,112 hits, batting .276 with a .712 OPS. He was also the most productive base stealer in the first 30-plus years of Mets history, swiping 158 bags from 1982-84, and 281 in total (not counting three more during the ’86 World Series). Wilson’s speed translated on defense, where he was a strong center fielder long before his postseason contributions cemented his place in franchise history.