Throughout the storied history of the New York Mets, the hot corner has seen its fair share of talent that has left a lasting impression on the franchise.
From homegrown heroes to key trade acquisitions, third basemen have played a pivotal role in the team’s successes and have etched their names into Mets lore.
Their contributions at 3B have been as varied as their backgrounds. Still, each has brought a unique flair to the game through gold gloves, power-hitting, or clutch performances.
In this article, Circa98 dives into the archives of Mets history to celebrate the ten greatest third basemen ever to don the orange and blue, reflecting on their on-field exploits, moments of glory, and the indelible marks they’ve left on the hearts of Mets fans.
1) David Wright
Perched atop the pantheon of New York Mets third basemen is none other than David Wright, a player whose name has become synonymous with the franchise.
Wright’s legacy is not just etched in the record books as the Mets’ all-time leader in hits, RBI, runs, doubles, and position-player WAR, but also in the hearts of the fans who watched his fourteen seasons of dedication and excellence.
Despite the twilight years marred by injuries, Wright’s tenure from 2004 to 2018 was nothing short of heroic. His peak from 2006 to 2008 saw him as one of baseball’s elite, amassing a staggering 19.3 WAR.
Even with his career-threatening injuries, his role in the Mets’ 2015 pennant run was pivotal, as he accompanied his co-stars Yoenis Céspedes and Daniel Murphy to the Mets’ first World Series appearance since 2000.
A seven-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award recipient, Wright’s leadership extended beyond the diamond; as the captain, he set a standard of professionalism and commitment.
Mets WAR: 49.2
Single Season Mets WAR: 8.3
2) Howard Johnson
Howard Johnson, affectionately known as “HoJo” to the Mets faithful, carved out his place in Mets history with a blend of power and speed that was a rarity for third basemen in his era.
Johnson, who joined the Mets in 1985, emerged from a part-time role to become a dynamic force and a fan favorite. His three 30-30 seasons are a testament to his multidimensional talent, placing him in an elite class in major league history.
With a swing that could change the game and base-running savvy that kept pitchers on edge, Johnson’s tenure with the Mets was marked by both consistent production and spectacular highs.
His influence on the team and its younger players, particularly his mentorship of David Wright, solidified his legacy not just as a great player but as a foundational piece of the Mets’ fabric.
Mets WAR: 22
Single Season Mets WAR: 6.9
3) Robin Ventura
Robin Ventura stands out for his relatively brief but impactful Mets tenure. His time with the Mets may have spanned just three seasons, but Ventura’s influence was significant, particularly in the 1999 campaign.
That year, Ventura not only showcased his prowess at the plate, hitting .301 with 32 homers, but he also delivered one of the most memorable moments in Mets lore—a grand-slam “single” that clinched Game 5 of the NL Championship Series.
In addition, Ventura formed 1/4th of what is arguably the greatest defensive infield in MLB history, along with Rey Ordóñez, Edgardo Alfonzo, and John Olerud.
His exceptional individual performance that season earned him a fourth-place ranking in the National League in WAR and a sixth-place finish in NL MVP voting.
Mets WAR: 11
Single Season Mets WAR: 6.7
4) Edgardo Alfonzo
Edgardo Alfonzo, a cornerstone of the Mets’ infield in the late 1990s and early 2000s, etched his name in Mets history with his versatile glove and potent bat.
Known as “The Fonz,” Edgardo’s defensive versatility provided flexibility to the front office’s team-building aspirations, whether pairing him with another elite 3rd baseman like Robin Ventura or sliding him to the hot corner to pair with Roberto Alomar or Carlos Baerga at 2nd base.
Though he shined at both second and third base, his time at the hot corner was marked by a keen batting eye and clutch hitting. Alfonzo was a vital component of the Mets’ formidable lineup, providing stability and power that helped drive the team to memorable playoff runs.
His understated demeanor belied the significant impact he made every time he stepped onto the field, solidifying his status as one of the Mets’ all-time greats at third base.
Mets WAR: 29.6
Single Season Mets WAR: 6.4
5) Wayne Garrett
Wayne Garrett, known for his role on the legendary 1969 World Series team, was a defining player for the Mets during the franchise’s early years.
His evolution from a platoon player in his rookie year to a primary third baseman showcases a tale of growth and persistence. Garrett’s steady presence and incremental improvements at the plate contributed to the Mets’ success throughout the early to mid-1970s.
Though his numbers may not flash across the stat sheets like some of his contemporaries, Garrett’s reliability and occasional power provided the Mets with invaluable consistency during his tenure with the team.
Mets WAR: 13.9
Single Season Mets WAR: 4.3
6) Dave Magadan
Dave Magadan, a master of plate discipline for the Mets throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, brought a meticulous approach to hitting that resonated with fans and teammates alike.
His tenure with the Mets is highlighted by an impressive on-base percentage, underscoring his keen eye and patience at the plate.
While not the most powerful hitter, Magadan’s ability to get on base and serviceable defensive work at both corners (first and third base) made him a valuable asset to the Mets’ lineup.
Mets WAR: 14.1
Single Season Mets WAR: 4.6
7) Hubie Brooks
Hubie Brooks brought to the New York Mets not just the promise of a high draft pick but the delivery of a solid bat and a dependable glove at third base.
His debut season set high expectations with a batting average over .300, though his numbers dropped in subsequent seasons. However, Brooks seemed to unlock something in 1984, setting his then-career high in home runs at 16.
Brooks was included in a notable trade the following year that brought back Gary Carter, who helped lead the 1986 Mets to the World Series Championship. Brooks would enjoy his best MLB seasons in Montreal before returning to the Mets in 1991 for one additional season.
Brooks’s time in Flushing was marked by a tangible connection with the fans and professionalism that carried him through his career, leaving a legacy of reliability and quiet leadership at third base.
Mets WAR: 4.8
Single Season Mets WAR: 2.7
8) Bobby Bonilla
Bobby Bonilla’s tenure with the New York Mets is often remembered for its controversies. Still, there’s no denying his bat’s impact on the lineup.
During his time at third base, Bonilla provided the Mets with significant offensive firepower, characterized by his ability to produce RBIs and hit for power.
Despite the turbulence surrounding his time in New York, Bonilla’s production at the hot corner (and right field) was among the best in the league, making him one of the more notable third basemen in the franchise’s history.
His legacy, complex as it may be, includes moments of brilliance, including an appearance on the TV series New York Undercover, that contributed to the fabric of the Mets’ story.
Bonilla briefly returned to the Mets in 2001, though the reunion was not joyous as he struggled to an OPS of .579.
Mets WAR: 8.3
Single Season Mets WAR: 3.2
9) Ray Knight
Ray Knight, often remembered for his pivotal role in the Mets’ triumphant 1986 World Series run, was a catalyst in one of the most memorable moments in Mets history.
His gritty play and leadership on and off the field helped galvanize a team that was destined for greatness. Knight’s heroics in the World Series, where he earned MVP honors, solidified his status as a Mets legend.
While his time in New York was not lengthy, his impact was profound, leaving a legacy highlighted by clutch hitting and a fiery competitive spirit that perfectly embodied the Mets of that era.
Mets WAR: 2.4
Single Season Mets WAR: 2.4
10) Greg Jefferies
Greg Jefferies’ tenure with the New York Mets was one of high expectations and compelling “what-if” moments. He was the youngest player in the Major Leagues when he was called up at the end of the 1987 season at age 19, after a stellar year in the minors.
Known for his batting talent and aggressive approach at the plate, Jefferies made a significant impact as a switch-hitter with the potential for both average and power. His defensive reputation was less renowned as he split time between second and third base.
Although his tenure with the Mets was relatively brief and sometimes tumultuous due to high expectations, his contribution to the lineup left an indelible mark on the franchise’s history, showcasing the raw talent and youthful exuberance he brought to the diamond.
Mets WAR: 6
Single Season Mets WAR: 2.8
As we round the bases on our exploration of the greatest New York Mets third basemen, it’s evident that these players have not only left indelible marks with their on-field performances but also with moments that have become etched in the fabric of Mets history.
From David Wright’s exemplary career to Ray Knight’s World Series heroics, each player has contributed a unique chapter to the Mets’ story. This list is a testament to the diverse talents that have anchored the hot corner at Shea Stadium and Citi Field, embodying the spirit of the franchise and the city they represent.
As the Mets continue their journey, the legacy of these third basemen will stand as a high benchmark for those who follow, ensuring that the legacy of greatness at third base continues to be a cornerstone of the team’s identity.