When you look back on MLB History, there’s always that handful of players that you think back and say ‘Woah, I forgot they even played for that team.’ Every single team has a number of players that you just forget about. However, one team in particular that you find this very often with is the New York Mets.
Let’s face it, the Wilpon era New York Mets were notorious for picking up aging veterans towards the backend of their careers. From John Buck to Bobby Abreu, to Gary Sheffield, and Jeff Conine there are so many ‘random’ Mets that come to mind.
With that being said, here are five of the forgotten New York Mets in annals of MLB History.
MLB History: Five Forgotten New York Mets
1. Adrian Gonzalez (1B)
Over his 18-year big league career, Adrian Gonzalez was an absolute masher. He was a five-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger, and four-time Gold Glove award winner with the Rangers, Padres, Red Sox, and Dodgers.
Gonzalez signed with the Mets prior to the 2018 season mainly as a stop-gap at first, with Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso closing in on the big-league level. After Smith suffered an injury in camp, ‘AGon’ was pretty much handed the starting job.
The slugger enjoyed some success in May, slashing .289/.341/.434 and posting a 113 OPS+ over 25 games. However, ‘Gonzo’ began to fall into a slump towards the middle of the season.
Over his final 17 games with the Mets, Gonzalez hit just .172 with a .475 OPS. Gonzalez was granted an unconditional release, and the front-office finally gave in and called up Smith to the big league level.
Adrian Gonzalez was just another name on the long-list of aging, way past their prime veterans the Mets brought in during the Wilpon-era.
2. Jose Valverde (RHP)
Jose Valverde was one of the more dominant closers in the game for quite some time. During his four years with the Tigers, he converted a total of 119 saves and finished with a franchise-best 91.5% save conversion rate.
After being DFA’d by the Tigers towards the end of the 2013 season, the Mets picked him up during the 2014 off-season on a minor league deal. He pitched well during spring training, and made the big-league team out of camp.
‘Papa Grande’ was placed into the closer’s role for some time during the season, but he only converted a pair of saves. The right-hander was released by the Mets almost immediately after he blew a save, allowing four runs to the Pittsburgh Pirates, ultimately wasting a stellar Jacob deGrom outing.
He finished his career in orange and blue with a 5.66 ERA and 4.87 FIP over 20 innings of work.
3. Kelly Shoppach (C)
Perhaps the biggest reason Kelly Shoppach comes to mind for Mets fans is that Sandy Alderson almost traded some minor league pitcher by the name of Jacob deGrom to the Boston Red Sox for the veteran backstop in 2012.
According to Peter Gammons, Alderson was comfortable with the move at first, but had second thoughts after speaking to minor league officials in the organization. The Mets ended up shipping off reliever Pedro Beato instead, and the rest is history.
‘Shop’ spent the second half of the 2012 season in New York, and platooned behind the plate with Josh Thole. He appeared in just 28 games as a Met, and hit two doubles, three home runs, and posted a .618 OPS.
Over his nine-year big league career, mainly spent in Cleveland, Shoppach put together a .725 OPS and just 70 home runs. I guess it’s safe to say Sandy Alderson and the Mets dodged a major bullet holding onto deGrom.
4. Trot Nixon (OF)
Trot Nixon was the seventh overall pick in the 1993 MLB Draft. He played most of his career with the Boston Red Sox, before spending a year in Cleveland, and his final eleven games of his career in New York with the Mets.
Nixon was a fan favorite during his time in Boston due to his intense, aggressive, and scrappy play. He appeared in all four games during the 2004 World Series, and hit .357 with three doubles and three RBI’s.
The Mets acquired Nixon during the 2008 season to replace the injured Moises Alou. Nixon only played 11 games in orange and blue, and picked up just six hits in 35 at-bats.
The outfielder ended the season on the injured list, and that was the end of his big-league career.
5. J.J. Putz (RHP)
For the first six years of his career, J.J. Putz was a very successful big-league reliever. During the 2007 season, he pitched well enough to finish 13th in AL MVP voting.
Putz converted 40 saves, posted a 1.38 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, and struck out 82 batters over 71 innings. However, it wasn’t all positive, as Putz also dealt with his fair share of injuries that season.
Despite the injury troubles, Putz was as dominant as can be. Then, two seasons later he was traded to the Mets in a three-team trade with the Mariners and Cleveland. Some could argue that this was one of the worst three-team trades in MLB History.
Putz told reporters that the Mets decided not to send him for a physical despite the elbow troubles. Putz ended up appearing in just 26 games in New York, and posted a 5.22 ERA and 1.63 WHIP.
The Mets declined his option at the end of the season and he ended up signing with the White Sox, where he of course put together a solid season, posting a 2.83 ERA.
Let’s face it, the Mets have not been very successful trading for Seattle Mariners relievers.
This is just five of the forgotten New York Mets in franchise history, but there’s plenty more out there. Who are some of your forgotten players? Not just in Mets history, but in MLB History. You can comment below.
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