#8 – Keith Hernandez: All Mets Defensive Team

Opening Day 2011 will be the 50th Opening Day in Mets history. To honor that, around here we’ll be counting down the top 50 Mets in team history, one every weekday from now until we’ve done ‘em all. Today, #8, Keith Hernandez:

The Mets’ best fielding team, by defensive wins above replacement per 700 plate appearances:

  • C – John Stearns
  • 1B -Keith Hernandez
  • 2B -Edgardo Alfonzo
  • SS -Rey Ordonez
  • 3B -Robin Ventura
  • LF -Endy Chavez
  • CF -Carlos Beltran
  • RF – Joel Youngblood

That, however, is with a 300 game minimum. Ordonez and Chavez are the only no-hit guys in there. If we get rid of a minimum, the team looks like this:

  • C – Charlie O’Brien
  • 1B – Keith Hernandez
  • 2B – Jose Valentin
  • SS – Rey Ordonez
  • 3B – Robin Ventura
  • LF – Endy Chavez
  • CF – Angel Pagan
  • RF – Alex Ochoa

O’Brien, Hernandez, Ordonez, Ventura, and Chavez seem solid, as all have excellent defensive reputations. To a lesser extent, the same goes for Pagan. Jose Valentin’s inclusion could be a weird, freak thing, I’m not sure. Ditto for Alex Ochoa. Sometimes the numbers get weird, so if you want to discount those two, Fonzi and Tsuyoshi Shinjo can jump in at second and right, respectively.

Relative to his position, Keith Hernandez had the second most total value as a defender to the Mets: Baseball Reference credits him with 5.7 defensive wins above replacement, while Rey Ordonez has 5.8. Inning for inning, however, Endy Chavez is easily the Mets’ most valuable defender, averaging 2.6 wins per 700 plate appearances. Hernandez averaged 1.1 wins per 700 PA, and Ordonez 1.26 wins.

Hernandez played what is considered an offensive position. So his defensive brilliance somehow has lost its importance and luster. But a lot of outs happen at first base . . . Hernandez was the type of player who impressed observers the more they saw him play. His contributions weren’t always reflected in the box score. Once Tim McCarver saw Hernandez play regularly, he offered this assessment: “No player I’ve played with or against — or watched, for that matter — does more to help his team win.”

Marty Noble, Mets.com

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2 Comments

Filed under Mets, Words

2 responses to “#8 – Keith Hernandez: All Mets Defensive Team

  1. It seems like you really don’t go that far back in Mets’ history. My favorite Met, Jerry Grote, is not mentioned. I have to believe he has at least 300+ games with the Mets. He was an outstanding defensive catcher. How did he get left off your list? Where does he rank as a defensive catcher compared to other Met catchers?

    • Patrick Flood

      Grote’s biggest strength as a catcher was working with the pitchers — something Baseball Reference’s numbers don’t really have a way to account for that.

      He’s close defensively without that. Catcher defense is hard to qualify. If he really was a good as his reputation, he’s probably better than Stearns.

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