The Mets in Black and Gray Ink: Position PlayersBy: JD
As tedious as it can be at times, I do enjoy a good Hall of Fame discussion. One of the comparison tools that I’ve been using lately is Bill James’ Black and Gray Ink scores, available on Baseball Reference. A Black Ink point is earned when a player leads the league in certain batting or pitching statistics and a Gray Ink point is earned when they appear in the top 10 of the same categories. The average Hall Of Fame (HOF) hitter accrued 27 Black Ink points and 144 Gray Ink points during their career.
Now, the Mets have had a few Hall of Famers pass through at the beginning or end of their careers (think Duke Snyder, Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez). No disrespect to those guys, but I’d like to focus my analysis on players who were in Flushing for a good chunk of time. Using BR’s Play Index, I identified batters who accrued more than 3,000 plate appearances and pitchers who threw more than 1,000 innings and sorted them by OPS+/ERA+. We’ll look at hitters today, pitchers tomorrow.
I was surprised not to see Gary Carter on this list. I thought he had the necessary appearances, but he only had 2,498 during his four-plus seasons on the team. That being said, he had four Black Ink points and 75 Gray Ink points. Which speaks to one of the limitations of the system: players at premium defensive positions, such as catcher and shortstop, get penalized when compared to left fielders and first basemen (if you were to stick strictly to this system).
Which brings me to Mike Piazza, who never led the league in a single offensive category. He appeared in the top ten 101 times which, given his position, should be enough to get him into the Hall. I’ll admit that I thought it would be more of an open-or-shut case with him, but he should still be able to get in (provided he isn’t ensnared in a PED scandal).
The two other names worth mentioning are Keith Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry. Keith has a better case, especially when you include his awards: 11 Gold Gloves, five All-Star appearances, two Silver Sluggers, three top-10 MVP finishes (two of which were top five), and the 1979 MVP. That’s nothing to sneeze at and I have to think he’ll make the Hall eventually through the Veteran’s Committee.
Strawberry probably won’t fare as well. He was the 1983 Rookie of the Year, had eight All-Star appearances, two Silver Sluggers, and four top-10 MVP finishes (two of which were top-5). Given the fact that he was on four World Series winning teams, an eventual induction is not out of the realm of possibility. But his off-field indiscretions hurt him both by preventing him from reaching some milestones and by tainting his reputation. I don’t see it happening.
Of the rest, Reyes and Wright are still obviously in play, but none of the others were really Hall of Fame candidates. It just goes to show both how much the Mets traditionally have relied on their pitching to win and how much star-power they lacked in the years when they didn’t.
Coming tomorrow: The Pitchers