With the acquisition of free agent Jason Bay, the Mets have filled the hole they had in left field. For the next four years, they do not have to employ platoons or put in players more suited for the fourth outfielder’s job (Endy Chavez a few years ago and Angel Pagan this past year). They won’t have to put players there out of position (I’m talking to you, Daniel Murphy) and they won’t have to hand the job over to guys like the great Tsuyoshi Shinjo.
Cliff Floyd was supposed to be the answer for the Mets in left field when he was signed by the team prior to the 2003 season. Unfortunately, he was only healthy for one out of his four years in Flushing. So who was the last leftfielder for the Mets who was supposed to be the answer in left field and actually was able to produce four good seasons like the Mets are expecting from Jason Bay? You have to jump into the wayback machine and travel back two decades to find him. His first name was Walter, but we all knew him as Kevin McReynolds.
After winning the World Series in 1986, the Mets were looking for a full-time leftfielder. George Foster had started the 1986 season in left field, but he was released in August. After Foster’s release, the Mets used Mookie Wilson and the reacquired Lee Mazzilli to play left field. During the offseason, the Mets made a trade with the San Diego Padres to acquire Kevin McReynolds, sending three players, including future National League MVP Kevin Mitchell to the west coast.
During his first four years with the Mets, McReynolds was as good as advertised. These were his numbers from 1987-1990, which corresponds to when K Mac was ages 27 to 30:
- 1987: .276 average, 29 HR, 95 RBI, 14 SB
- 1988: .288 average, 27 HR, 99 RBI, 21 SB
- 1989: .272 average, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 15 SB
- 1990: .269 average, 24 HR, 82 RBI, 9 SB
- Four year average: .276 average, 26 HR, 90 RBI, 15 SB
Over the past four seasons, Jason Bay was also in the age 27 to 30 range. His numbers were very similar to Kevin McReynolds’ numbers, slightly better in some and slighty worse in others:
- 2006: .286 average, 35 HR, 109 RBI, 11 SB
- 2007: .247 average, 21 HR, 84 RBI, 4 SB
- 2008: .286 average, 31 HR, 101 RBI, 10 SB
- 2009: .267 average, 36 HR, 119 RBI, 13 SB
- Four year average: .272 average, 31 HR, 103 RBI, 10 SB
Although Jason Bay is being paid an average of $16.5 million per season, so he will be expected to show up with more than softball bats, over the length of his four-year contract with the Mets, fans and the front office might expect the type of season Bay produced last year with Boston and would be disappointed if he didn’t repeat those numbers.
However, if the Mets can get the consistent seasons from Bay that Kevin McReynolds gave them 20 years ago, I think I’d be more than happy with that. The Mets haven’t had that kind of consistency from their left field position since McReynolds’ first stint with the team (let’s not talk about his return to the Mets in 1994).
The only thing consistent with the left field position over the years for the Mets has been the inconsistency of the team to find a player healthy enough to hold down the position and a player who could put up the numbers expected of a corner outfielder. Not since the first four years of the Kevin McReynolds Era has the team had such a player. With the acquistion of Jason Bay, it appears that the Mets are finally going to get some of that consistency back.