Remembering Dave Magadan…
I recently came across a comment from former Met Dave Magadan regarding the Mets’ recent acquisition of Jason Bay. In a nut shell he said the Mets got themselves the kind of player who will transform a locker room full of players focused on their individual performances, into a team with one focus; to win a championship.
David Joseph Magadan was destined for greatness after a standout high school career that made him the most popular amateur baseball player in the state. The Tampa, Florida native and Godson of Lou Piniella, chose the University of Alabama as his next stop, where he would embark on a stellar collegiate career and achieve national prominence for his record-setting baseball achievements.
In 1983, his .525 batting average led the entire NCAA, and set the All-Time SEC (Southeastern Conference) record. That record still stands today, and is still the fifth best in NCAA history. His .439 career batting average is also the SEC record and tenth best in NCAA history. Besides being selected as an AP All-American, he also was named the College Player of the Year by Baseball America and won the prestigious Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur baseball player in the nation.
The New York Mets selected Dave Magadan with the 32nd overall pick in the 1983 First-Year Player Draft, and assigned him to the Class-A Columbia Mets where he batted a sizzling .336 that season. Magadan may have very well been the best pure hitter that they have ever developed and there is no doubt he was the most patient and selective hitter as well.
He made his Major League debut during the Mets championship season in 1986 as a September callup, and doubled in first at-bat in a 6-5 win over the Padres. His first game started would be even more memorable, as “Mags” was 3-4 at the plate including the game winning RBI in a 4-2 win over the Cubs on September 17th. Mags also got on base a fourth time in that game via an error. He batted third in the game as Keith Hernandez got a well deserved day off, it didn’t really sit to well with Carter, Strawberry and Knight who all batted behind him that day. However, by the end of the game he was one of the guys and well on his way to becoming a fan favorite.
For the most part, the Mets never fully committed to him as an every day player and in his career he only played over 125 games once. Naturally, Magadan was stuck behind the legendary Hernandez at first base, but when Mex moved on, the Mets decided to sign the not so legendary Mike Marshall to play first base, a move that would prove to be a bust.
Magadan’s best season came in 1990 when in 144 games played, he batted .328 with a .417 OBP. He drove in 72 runners that year and scored 74 while hitting six homers. His batting average ranked third in the league behind Eddie Murray (.330) and league leader Willie McGee (.335). His .417 on-base percentage was second best in the league and Lenny Dykstra of the Phillies beat him out by just 1/100th of a percentage point. Always know for his productive outs, he had 10 sacrifice flies that season, good for fourth in the league. Defensively, Mags established a Mets record with a league-leading .998 fielding percentage at first base.
At the end of the 1992 season, Magadan filed for free agency and soon after, he signed with the expansion Florida Marlins who were set to debut in 1993.
Magadan would finish his Mets career with a .292 batting average in 701 games played. What was most remarkable was that in 2,483 plate appearances, Magadan struck out just 248 times and drew 343 bases on balls. He had an exceptional eye at the plate. He had a career on-base percentage of .390, and also batted .300 or better 5 times in his career.
After his career as a player, Magadan was hired by the Padres to be their minor league hitting instructor in 2002, and would later serve as their major league batting coach from 2003 to 2006.
In 2007 he was named the hitting coach of the Boston Red Sox, a position he still maintains today. The Red Sox have led the American League in several offensive categories during his tenure including batting average, on-base percentage and you guessed it… walks.
In his first season with Boston, the Sox immediately improved across the board in batting average (.269 to .279), slugging percentage (.435 to .444) and on base percentage (.351 to .362), and led the American League with 689 walks.
In Magadan’s third season with the Sox, Boston finished third in the A.L. in runs and second in the league with a .352 OBP, .454 slugging mark and .806 OPS. In fact, the Sox have ranked in the top three in the A.L. in each of those categories in each of Magadan’s three seasons with Boston.
Many consider Magadan to be one of the brightest minds in the game and it won’t be long until he earns his first managerial position.
About the Author: Joe DeCaro
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.
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