Around the Diamond: The Straw That Stirred Right Field

darryl strawberry

No other position has seen more turnover at the starting spot for the Mets than Right Field. In 52 seasons, they have seen 33 different players who would be classified as the “primary” player at the position. Darryl Strawberry was the man for eight of those seasons. The other 44 seasons saw 32 different players. The last 16 seasons have seen 15 different regular right fielders for the Mets.

The following are the top eleven players to have regularly manned right field for the Mets.

10 – Alex Ochoa (1996-97) – 170 games (132 starts). In 1996, Ochoa hit .294 with 4 HR and 33 RBI.

10 – Carl Everett (1995) – 170 games (136 starts). In 1995, Carl Everett hit .260 with 12 HR and 54 RBI.

9 – Jeff Francoeur (2009-10) – 192 games (183 starts). In 2011 (with the Mets), Frenchy hit .311 with 10 HR and 41 RBI.

8 – Bobby Bonilla (1992-93) – 229 games (226 starts). In 1993, Bobby-Bo hit .265 with 34 HR and 87 RBI.

7 – Roger Cedeno (1999, 2003) – 238 games (189 starts). In 1999, he hit .313 with 4 HR, 36 RBI and 66 stolen bases.

6 – Joe Christopher (1964) – 263 games (244 starts). In 1964, he hit .300 with 16 HR and 76 RBI.

5 – Jeromy Burnitz (2002) – 290 games (262 starts). In 2002, Burnitz batted .215 with 19 HR and 54 RBI.

4 – Joel Youngblood (1979-80) – 309 games (244 starts). In 1979, Youngblood hit .275 with 16 HR and 60 RBI.

3 – Ron Swoboda (1967-70) – 434 games (372 starts). In 1967, Swoboda batted .281 with 13 HR and 53 RBI.

2 – Rusty Staub (1972-75) – 535 games (531 starts). Rusty had some solid years for the Mets and in 1975 he batted .282 with 19 HR and 105 RBI.

1 – Darryl Strawberry (1983-90) – 1,062 games (1,022 starts). A former number one pick, in 1987, Darryl hit .284 with 39 HR, 104 RBI, and 36 stolen bases.

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Roger is a lifelong Mets fan since 1981, now married with kids and still knows that there is no such thing as a bad day at the ballpark with your child. Growing up, he wanted to be either the Second Baseman for the Mets - or their statistician. Follow him at @BigMetsFan1. email him at metsfanontwitter@aol.com
  • Denelor

    The 80s Mets were my introduction to baseball. I remember going to games, sitting in the front rows of Shea’s upper deck, and feeling nothing but amazement at Strawberry patrolling right field. He made every fielding play look effortless. Even the ones you thought were somehow out of his reach he just coasted under and caught.

    Most people probably remember him at the plate, but whenever someone mentions him his grace in the field pops to mind first.

  • Metsaholic

    The thing I notice about Straw and HoJo too, where those forearms. Those guns generated serious bat speed and awesome power. Man I miss those days.

  • ColoradoMetsFan

    I still remember that blast Straw hit off of Ken Dayley in St. Louis during the final weekend of the 1985 season. The way he quieted that crowd, you could hear a pin drop…

  • BadBadLeroyBrown

    Yeah I remember when I was young & coming up back in the day it was all about strengthening your forearms.

    They always preached that to get that quick whip and easy control of the bat through the zone

  • BadBadLeroyBrown

    Where’s Lucas Duda???

    =]

  • Bobby Bonilla ruined my childhood. All hopes and dreams crushed by that guy.

  • Benny

    Youngblood is just an awesome name.

  • WillisReid

    I wonder if in 25 years we’ll be having the same discussion about SS?

    Edit: You could have it now, since Reyes was probably the best SS in a Met uniform.

  • Benny

    Shawn Green!

  • Bromancer

    Feared hitter, Darryl, but he could be just painful to watch in the outfield at times.

  • Taskmaster4450

    After reading through the CFs the other day and now the RFs, it is easy to conclude that the Mets have not done well in their 5 decades of developing OFs.

    What a terrible list.

  • metsfaninparadise

    The final weekend of the ’85 season was at home. Saturday was fan Appreciation Day and they gave out blue and orange knit scarves. When the scoreboard showed St Louis had won and the Mets were eliminated we all waved them as well as giving the team an appreciative ovation. The train station in Manhattan was a sea of blue and orange scarves after the game.

  • ColoradoMetsFan

    Sorry, you are correct, the Cardinal series was just prior to the final weekend of the season. I believe the rest of the post is accurate…

  • Taskmaster4450

    Maybe he will make the LF list.

  • El_Verdadero_Presidente

    I remember that soft, nonchalant swing, and the next time you saw the ball it was on the other side of a wall. I tried to imitate that cut as a kid and hit a year’s worth of little poopers to SS.

  • azulnaranja

    Ron Swoboda was my all-time favorite. He wasn’t that good, but he showed just enough promise that he kept us hoping. When he made the cover of SI in early 1968 (or 1967?) I was thrilled. He had an unbelievably hot September in 1969 – over 25 RBI’s, if I remember correctly – while being the right-handed part of a platoon! Hit two HR’s the night Carlton became the first pitcher with 19 K’s in a game to win it for the Mets. Had six hits in four games in the Series, including the game winning RBI in the 5th and deciding game. And who can forget that catch in game 4?

  • StrawberryPiazzaWright

    What a sweet, sweet swing he had. And a very intimidating presence whenever he came to the plate. However, he could be painful to watch in the outfield at times, like Bromancer said. He was in general, a decent fielder, but I remember him booting more than a few in the outfield. Nevertheless, I loved Straw, I remember I had his jersey, the home whites with those awesome racing stripes, I swear, I wore it almost every day! Lol…good memories…

  • Andrew Herbst

    It’s amazing that Burnitz is ranked 5th all time for Mets RF.

  • BadBadLeroyBrown

    Oh I cant wait for that….Jason Bay anyone…smh

  • john q

    I never really realized that Right Field was so empty outside of Daryl? It seems like a revolving door. The Mets were actually stronger in CF which is a bit odd. It’s pretty embarrassing that Marlon Byrd ranks 6th in career WAR and he didn’t even play a complete season.

    Here’s how they rank according to Career WAR as a Met:
    D. Strawberry-36.5

    J. Youngblood-9.2
    R. Swoboda-7.0
    R. Staub-6.9
    A. Shamsky-5.9
    M. Byrd-4.0
    E. Chavez-3.1
    D. Kingman-2.8
    C. Everett-2.8
    J. Francoeur-2.7
    K. Singleton-2.6

    Best single Season WAR:
    D. Strawberry-1987, 6.4

    D. Strawberry-1990, 6.3
    D. Strawberry-1988, 5.4
    D. Strawberry-1985, 4.8
    D. Strawberry-1989, 4.7
    J. Youngblood-1979, 4.3
    M. Bryd-2013-4.0
    C. Beltran-2011-3.4
    D. Strawberry-1986, 3.4
    B. Bonilla-1993-3.2

    Best Rookie Season WAR:
    D. Strawberry-1983, 2.6

    A. Ochoa-1996, 2.4
    J. Lewis-1965, 2.4
    C. Everett-1995, 1.9
    J. Burnitz-1993, 1.5

    HOF:
    Duke Snider, 1963

    PED:
    Matt Lawton

    Future Manager:
    None

    Worst Career WAR:
    Gus Bell-1962, (-1.5)
    A. Luplow-’66-67, (-0.9)
    L. Duda-’10-13, (-0.9)
    K. Garcia-’04, (-0.8)
    J. Christianen-’84-85, (-0.8)

    Worst Season:
    E. Kranepool-1963, (-1.5)
    G. Bell-1962, (-1.5)
    B. Bonilla-1999, (-1.4)
    J. Orsulak-1994, (-1.4)
    L. Duda-2012, (-1.2)

    Longest Tenure:
    Staub-9 seasons, Strawberry-8 Seasons.

    Longest last name:
    Christopher, Christensen, Allensworth

    Shortest Last Name:
    D. Bell, G. Bell, Diaz, Nady.

    Best RF Trade:
    Jose Bautista for Justin Huber
    Joel Youngblood for Mike Phillips
    Claudel Washington for Jesse Anderson

    Strange how the Mets almost immediately traded away two (Bautista & Washington) of their best RF trades.

    Worst RF Trade:
    Singleton, Foli and Jorgensen for Rusty Staub
    Jose Bautista, Ty Wiggington and Matt Peterson for Jeff Keppinger and Kris Benson.
    Nelson Cruz for Jorge Valendia

    Best Met Career Fielder:
    E. Chavez
    J. Francoeur
    J. Youngblood
    A. Ochoa
    R. Hidalgo

    Worst Met Career Fielder:
    R. Staub
    L. Duda
    J. Christopher
    R. Cedeno
    D. Kingman

    Alliteration:
    Billy Beane,

  • jason bay

    RF is just one position of long term neglect by the Mets, no different than C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, the bench, bullpen ect.

  • jason bay

    I am surprised that Victor Diaz isn’t high on the Mets career RF WAR totals.

  • Andrew Herbst

    That’s true. We’ve had a lot of weak positions throughout our history.

  • john q

    I wouldn’t put those other positions with RF. By your comments, “only” CF hasn’t been neglected.

    I wouldn’t put “catcher” on that list. They had Grote, Stearns, Carter, Hundley and Piazza.

    3B has been a kind of revolving door but they’ve had some good ones: Wright, HOJO and Ventura. Wayne Garrett was pretty decent and kind of underrated.

    Other than Hernandez and Olerud, first base was pretty neglected. It seems like the Mets have historically used that position as a kind of dumping ground when they didn’t know what to do with a player. D. Magadan was underrated. I never understood going out and signing a 36 year old E. Murray in 1992.

    Yeah, 2B has been a very neglected position. It’s pretty slim pickings after Alfonzo and he spent a number of years at 3b.

    SS has basically been Reyes and Harrelson and then slim pickings.

    LF has been kind of revolving door after C. Jones but they had some very good years out of McReynolds and one great year out of Gilkey.

    There’s just a massive gap though in Right Field as shown by the WAR numbers. It’s Daryl and then everybody else by a wide margin. It’s telling that Joel Youngblood is second all time in Career WAR by a RF.

  • jason bay

    John,

    By neglected I meant through the farm system.

    Grote, Stearns, Carter and Piazza were imported. At 1B the same is true is true of Hernandez, Olerud, Murphy, Delgado, ect.

    SS and 3B until Reyes and Wright arrived were barren wastelands as was 2B and LF still is and has been for 40 years.

    CF we have done a pretty good job with Mookie, Lenny, Payton, Pagan, Gomez and now Lagares over the last 30 years.

  • john q

    Oh, o.k., yeah valid point.

    I always forget that Grote came via a trade with Houston. Yeah It’s pretty much Hundley and Ron Hodges that were developed by the Mets.

    At 1B you have Magadan and Milner. Magadan got stuck behind Hernandez for a few years but was still productive in a limited role. He had that big year in 1990 and then a down year in 1991 and then they gave up on him and brought in Eddie Murray. I think Magadan was poorly handled because I think he was a pretty good player. They flip flopped Milner between 1b-Lf never really knowing what to do with him.

    Ike was a rare player drafted and developed to play 1b.

    Overall it looks like the Mets use 1b as a dumping ground when they don’t know what to do with a player.

    I think 3b gets a bit of a bad rap because the amount of players that spent time at that position. I went back and checked and 18 of the top 100 WAR seasons by Met came from 3b. O.K. 7 of those 18 are David Wright’s but HOJO’s ’89, ’87, ’88, Ventura’s ’99, Fonzie’s ’97, ’02, Charles’ ’68, Garrett’s ’73, and Lenny Randle’s ’77 were among the top 50 Met seasons up until 2004.

    Yeah, I never realized that SS was such a dark hole for the Mets. Of the top 100 WAR Met seasons only 5 were from SS position and 4 of those seasons were from Reyes. B. Harrelson’s 1971 is the only non-Reyes SS season in the top 100.

    You can add Mazzilli to the mix at CF.

    Yeah, surprisingly CF is probably the strongest position in Mets’ history. And not only who they developed but who they acquired via trade or free agency: Beltran, Agee, L. Johnson, Pagan and Cameron.

    Out of the top 100 WAR seasons by a Met position player in their history, 19 are from CF.

  • john q

    Jason Bay,

    I went back and checked and here’s how the Mets top 100 WAR seasons by a position player rank according to position played:

    #1-10
    1b-1
    2b-0
    SS-0
    3B-3
    LF-2
    CF-3
    RF-0
    C-1

    #11-20
    1b-1
    2b-2
    SS-1
    3b-4
    Lf-0
    Cf-0
    Rf-2
    C-0

    #21-30
    1b-2
    2b-0
    SS-0
    3b-0
    Lf-0
    Cf-4
    Rf-1
    C-3

    #31-40
    1b-1
    2b-0
    SS-2
    3b-1
    Lf-1
    Cf-2
    Rf-2
    C-1

    #41-50
    1b-2
    2b-0
    SS-2
    3b-2
    Lf-2
    Cf-0
    Rf-1
    C-0

    #51-60
    1b-1
    2b-0
    SS-0
    3b-4
    Lf-1
    Cf-2
    Rf-1
    C-1

    #61-70
    1b-0
    2b-1
    SS-0
    3b-1
    Lf-2
    Cf-3
    Rf-0
    C-3

    #71-80
    1b-1
    2b-1
    SS-0
    3b-1
    Lf-1
    Cf-3
    Rf-2
    C-1

    #81-90
    1b-2
    2b-4
    SS-0
    3b-1
    Lf-0
    Cf-1
    Rf-1
    C-1

    #91-100
    1b-2
    2b-1
    SS-0
    3b-1
    Lf-1
    Cf-1
    Rf-3
    C-1

  • jason bay

    Wow John, Great work. Very illuminating.

    Hard to believe that 3B ranks so high (18/100) after being the “sore spot” for so long. I assume most of those seasons are DW and that just goes to show how one hit in the draft, even a supplemental one can make such an incredible difference to an Organization.

    Had we done the same at C, LF and RF, 1B and 2B we might have had something here all along.

  • jason bay

    Forgot about Maz and Milner John.

    Milner would probably have played 1B full time if we ever had any OFer’s.

    Hojo had a great run, Garrett was a terrific rule 5

    CF is probably the best job we’ve done both internally and externally. Catcher has almost completely come from the outside, SS just one player (Reyes) and corner OF really only Straw and Cleon, 2B Fonzie, 1B almost all imports.

    Seven post seasons in fifty two years. With that sort of player development it’s no wonder why.

  • jason bay

    Trading Otis, Singleton, Everett, Bay, Cruz, Payton and Gomez didn’t help our OF production much either as all of them went on to put up some pretty good years.

    I’ve always wondered how Mora would have made out had we kept him and slotted him into 2B after Fonzie left. Closer is a spot we’ve done a bad job at as well and traded Isringhausen and Bell out of the Organization.

    Very poor job of player development.

  • john q

    Yeah, D. Wright is the majority of those seasons. Wright’s 2007 (8.3) is the best all time among position players. He probably would have had a great shot at the MVP that year had the Mets not folded at the end.

    It’s easy to overlook Ed Charles 1968 until you put it in context of that mini dead ball era.

    The big one that gets overlooked is HOJo’s 1989 when he led the league in runs scored, finished 2nd in HR, 2nd in Slg%, 4th in OPS and 4th in SB. He almost did a 40-40.

    A lot of HOJO’s numbers get lost in those pre steroid low run scoring environments of the late 80’s early 90’s.

    Lenny Randle’s ’77 gets overlooked because of the Seaver trade.

    Garrett’s defense and his on base% & slg% get overlooked in ’73. Garrett also had a .390 on base% in limited play in 1970.

    People tend to forget about Fonzie’s ’97 and ’02 at third base.

    Ventura had an MVP caliber 1999 season.

  • john q

    Yeah, 2b is the really neglected either from trade or draft or free agency. I think Alfonzo’s ’99-00 are the only two seasons by a 2b in the top 50.

    Right Field was really neglected apart from Strawberry. I guess Daryl covers things up but Joel Youngblood as the #2 is kind of shocking and Marlon Byrd #6 in career WAR with only about 5/6 of season is really embarrassing.

  • john q

    They were developing some good to great players in the late 60’s early 70’s, the problem is they were making foolish trades.

    Seriously, they could have had Otis in Center and Singleton in right and put Milner in left which would have been one of the best OF of the 1970’s.

    Foli and Jorgensen were included in the Staub trade and they became solid major leaguers.

    Leroy Stanton was included in the Ryan trade and he was a solid player for the Angels and Mariners.

    They could have just left Garrett at 3b instead of making all those dumb trades for a 3b.

    They gave Matlack away for nothing.

    Ron Hunt was actually a good ballplayer that they gave away for an old Tommy Davis. They realize back then the value of getting hit by pitch and on base%.

    Jim Bibby was traded away for nothing.

    They could have had a pitching staff of:
    Seaver, Ryan, Koosman, Matlack, and Bibby. That would have easily been the best pitching staff of the 1970’s.

  • john q

    There’s certain periods where the player development was very good. The big problem is the Mets kept that expansion team mentality of trading their young players for the big name former all star player. It could also have some to do with being in the same town as the Yankees and having a need to acquire the big name player.

    Almost all of the time, this philosophy fails quite badly.

    It’s been very rare when that strategy paid off. K. Hernandez, Olerud, Gilkey and Piazza. And Piazza should really be looked upon like a salary dump and a free agent signing.

    Even the Gary Carter trade overall was kind of break even. Yeah, they won the ’86 series and Carter had a huge 1985 and good 1986. But Carter was shot by 1987 and played on/off until 1989. They also gave up a lot: Youmans, Brooks, Fitzgerald and Winningham. Youmans and Brooks had very good seasons for the Expos in 1986 and some decent seasons sprinkled around that season.