>Top Mets Second Basemen by Decade.

>Since the 00’s are coming to a rapid close, let’s take a look back at this decade, and while we’re at it every Mets decade. Here are the top 5 Mets second basemen from this decade, as well as those from all five decades of the Mets’ existence, sorted by historical Wins Above Replacement (WAR), from baseballprojection.com. I left the WAR numbers out because I find staring at a list of WARs dry. I don’t feel it tells the story as effectively as putting a player’s other numbers. So, instead I list each player’s slash line and their HR and RBI totals, even though I have a bit of distaste for batting average and RBI. Here are the top 2B from each decade:

1960’s
1. Ron Hunt (1963-66, 1887 PA) – .282/.344/.379, 20 HR, 127 RBI
2. Ken Boswell (1967-69, 754 PA) – .268/.321/.364, 8 HR, 47 RBI
3. Charlie Neal (1962-62, 861 PA) – .248/.321/.364, 14 HR, 76 RBI
4. Chuck Hiller (1965-67, 635 PA) – .242/.286/.325, 7 HR, 38 RBI
5. Jerry Buchek (1967-68, 651 PA) – .219/.268/.325, 15 HR, 52 RBI

Most Watched Network Television Broadcast of the 1960’s – “The Fugative” Series Finale, August 29, 1967.

Ron Hunt placed second in rookie of the year voting in 1963, behind another second baseman – some guy named “Peter Rose”. Hunt hit .272/.334/.396 in 600 plate appearances as a 22 year old, which is decent for today’s game – but the National League hit .254/.316/.380 in 1963, the first year of the expanded strike zone. Daniel Murphy hit better than the 1963 Nation League this year – the league was batting closer to 2009 Jhonny Peralta territory. Hunt’s slash line translates today to .286/.357/.452 – fairly similar to what Baltimore’s Brian Roberts did in 2009.

1970’s
1. Felix Millan (1973-77, 2954 PA) – .278/.326/.337, 8 HR, 182 RBI
2. Ken Boswell (1970-74, 1605 PA) – .241/.307/.332, 23 HR, 146 RBI
3. Doug Flynn (1977-79, 1452 PA) – .230/.260/.286, 4 HR, 123 RBI

Most Watched Network Television Broadcast of the 1970’s – “Roots part VIII”, January 30, 1977

Only three guys for this list, because these three gobbled up almost all the innings. Felix Millan played in all 162 games in 1975 and manned second for every inning but 9 – John Olerud is the only other Met to play in 162 games, doing so in 1999, but Olerud only played the field in 160. Millan is the only Met to start all 162 games in a season, and the way players are rested today I think his record is safe.

In terms of total WAR, Millan was good, Boswell was replacement level, and Doug Flynn was awful, managing a -6.1 WAR in his three seasons in the 70’s. The .260 OBP says most of what needs to be said about Doug Flynn, but he did win a gold glove for the Mets in 1980, posting a total zone rating of +9. However, that year seems a bit fluky – his next highest TZ for a season is +2, and the three years prior to his gold glove season he was -7, -10, and -9 with his glove. 

1980’s
1. Wally Backman (1980-88, 2704 PA) – .283/.353/.344, 7 HR, 156 RBI
2. Tim Teufel (1986-89, 1231 PA) – .263/.346/.407, 24 HR, 138 RBI
3. Gregg Jefferies (1987-89, 683 PA) – .271/.325/.430, 18 HR, 75 RBI
4. Brian Giles (1981-83, 605 PA) – .233/.295/.297, 5 HR, 37 RBI
5. Doug Flynn (1980-81, 817 PA) – .241/.271/.303, 1 HR, 44 RBI

Most Watched Network Television Broadcast of the 1980’s – “M.A.S.H.” series finale, February 28, 1983

Wally Backman is a one man argument for the uselessness of switch-hitting. Backman hit .294/.364/.362 from the left side, and just .166/.259/.202 from the right. The idea behind switch-hitting is to overcome the platoon advantage, but most players end up having a platoon split anyway, and thus defeating the purpose of switch hitting. In Backman’s case, the split was huge.

Wally Backman also had a reputation for being “scrappy.” Part of this came from him hustling down the line on ground balls – and there were a lot of ground balls. Most baseball players hit fly balls and grounders at a similar rate, but some chop the ball into the ground – Backman was one of them. Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, and Luis Castillo employ a similar strategy today – this technique raises batting averages but lowers slugging percentages. Ground balls do turn into hits more often the fly balls, but don’t travel all that far, rarely becoming anything more than a single. This reflected in Backman’s .061 isolated slugging percentage* (ISO) with the Mets – Luis Castillo’s career ISO is .062. Not a lot of power between those two.

* Isolated slugging = slugging percentage minus batting average. The more you know . . .

1990’s
1. Jeff Kent (1992-96, 1992 PA) – .279/.327/.453, 67 HR, 267 RBI
2. Edgardo Alfonzo (1999, 726 PA) – .304/.385/.502, 27 HR, 108 RBI
3. Gregg Jeffries (1990-91, 1198 PA) – .278/.337/.407, 24 HR, 130 RBI
4. Jose Viscaino (1994-96, 1419 PA) – .282/.332/.356, 7 HR, 121 RBI
5. Willie Randolph (1992, 336 PA) – .252/.352/.318, 2 HR, 15 RBI

Most Watched Network Television Broadcast of the 1990’s – “XVII Winter Olympics” Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, February 23, 1994

I only counted Edgardo Alfonzo’s 1999 season because that was the year he moved to second to make room for Robin Ventura. I’ll have more about Fonzi when I get to third base – I’ll count his third base years there. His massive 1999 was almost enough to catch Jeff Kent’s five years – 5.7 WAR to 7.8 WAR.

Jeff Kent has a dead even OPS platoon split for his career – .855 from against lefties, .855 against righties, with more power against the right-handers (.506 SLG) and better on-base abilities verse the lefties (.375).

What do Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Trevor Hoffman, Mike DeJean, Darren Dreifort, Eric Gange, and Mr. Anna Benson himself, Kris Benson all have in common? They all held Jeff Kent to a sub-.500 OPS in at least 25 plate appearances.

2000’s
1. Edgardo Alfonzo (2000-01, 1169 PA) – .287/.379/.479, 42 HR, 143 RBI
2. Jose Valentin (2006-07, 615 PA) – .262/.322/.455, 21 HR, 80 RBI
3. Luis Castillo (2007-09, 1170 PA) – .284/.374/.339, 5 HR, 88 RBI
4. Danny Garcia (2003-04, 237 PA) – .227/.345/.361, 5 HR, 23 RBI
5. Roberto Alomar (2002-03, 957 PA) – .265/.333/.370, 13 HR, 75 RBI

Most Watched Network Television Broadcast of the 2000’s – “Super Bowl XIV” St. Louis Rams V. Tennessee Titans, January 30, 2000

Over his entire career, Edgardo Alfonzo started games in every batting order slot, 1-9. He started most of his games in the 2-hole, 574, and the least batting ninth, just 12.

Alfonzo’s first career home run was a two run, fifth inning inside-the-parker off Matt Grott in Cincinnati, on May 6th 2005. Alfonzo’s first career inside-the-park home run was his only one – His next 145 all left the ball park.

Luis Castillo, who has a whopping 28 career home runs, has hit them off only 25 pitchers. The only multiple offenders are both former Mets: Mike Remlinger (a 1994 Met) with 3 allowed and Tom Glavine (2003-2007), with 2.

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