Friday, June 27, 2014

Cutch and Go (Big Pelf)

Andrew McCutchen would've looked good in orange and blue, right?  It could've happened...

When the Mets lose in heartbreaking fashion, as they did Friday night in Pittsburgh, I tend to think of what might have been.  Did Daniel Murphy's caught stealing prevent the Mets from a potential big inning?  Could a Terry Collins ejection in the 10th provide the spark for an extra-inning rally?  Tonight I'm not thinking of those questions.  Instead, I'm going back a decade to see what might have been had the Mets not gotten swept by the Pirates in a doubleheader in late September.  Confused?  You won't be after reading this.

On September 19, 2004, the Mets and Pirates were both finishing out the season knowing that they were all going to playing golf in October rather than baseball.  New York and Pittsburgh were both near the bottom of their respective divisions entering the Sunday doubleheader at PNC Park.  Aaron Heilman and Ricky Bottalico combined to pitch a two-hitter against Pittsburgh in the first game.  The Mets lost, 1-0.  In the second game, New York's Kris Benson (the Bucs' first overall pick in 1996) got rocked for six runs against his former team.  The Mets lost both games to the Pirates, and ended the season with a 71-91 record.  Pittsburgh ended up with one more win than the Mets, finishing the year at 72-89 (they did not make up an earlier rainout).

The Mets earned the ninth overall draft pick by finishing 20 games under .500, while the Bucs got to select 11th in the 2005 June amateur draft.  New York drafted Mike Pelfrey.  Two picks later, Pittsburgh chose Andrew McCutchen.  Yeah.

So had the Mets split that late-season doubleheader with the Pirates in 2004, they would have finished the year with a 72-90 record, while the Bucs would have posted a 71-90 mark.  New York would have picked after Pittsburgh, rather than before them.

Would the Mets have drafted McCutchen had Pelfrey been taken off the board?  Would the Pirates have gone with Big Pelf had they been presented with that opportunity?  No one will ever know.  But it sure is interesting to consider how different these teams could have been had they flip-flopped their draft choices in 2005.  And that could have happened had the Mets played better in just one of two "meaningless" games against the Pirates at the tail end of the 2004 campaign.

We should all hope McCutchen doesn't continue to haunt the Mets the way he did Friday night at PNC Park.  And more importantly, we should all hope the Mets don't have any more heartbreaking losses that make me come up with crazy "what might have been" scenarios such as the one presented here.

Let's go Mets.  And go Big Pelf...

Wow, someone actually bought that shirt?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ron Hodges Leads a Bevy of Backup Backstops

Ron Hodges spent a dozen years with the Mets, but most of them were spent on the bench.

Most Mets fans know that Ed Kranepool played 18 seasons in New York, spending his entire major league career in a Mets uniform.  But only one other player spent as many as a dozen seasons with the Mets without ever wearing another big league uniform.  And that player spent more time on the bench than he did on the field.  It seems like there was always someone in front of him on the depth chart, but that doesn't mean he wasn't one of the more valuable players on the team.

Ron Hodges was a Met from 1973 to 1984, beginning his career on the "Ya Gotta Believe" Mets and playing his final game just as the Mets started to believe in contention once again.  During his first three seasons in New York, Hodges served as Jerry Grote's backup.  Once Grote was supplanted behind the plate, John Stearns became the team's No. 1 catcher.

The late '70s and early '80s saw Stearns and Alex Treviño splitting time as the team's catcher, with Hodges serving as the club's third option.  Finally, once injuries took Stearns out of the picture and a blockbuster trade for slugger George Foster removed Treviño from the equation, Hodges became the Mets' starting catcher in 1983.

Hodges' 11th year in the majors produced his first season with 300 or more plate appearances.  But by then, Hodges was 34 years old and wasn't nearly as mobile behind the plate or as productive with the bat (0 HR, 21 RBI) as he was as a part-timer from 1973 to 1982.  Rookie Mike Fitzgerald took over the gig behind the plate in 1984, relegating Hodges to the bench and eventually his release following the '84 season.

Ron Hodges didn't play much in his twelve seasons as a Met, but he did endear himself to fans with his patience at the plate and his grittiness behind it.  Despite a .240 career batting average, Hodges reached base at a .342 clip, making him one of just four players in Mets history to have an on-base percentage at least 100 points higher than his batting average.  The others are Wayne Garrett (.237 BA, .348 OBP), John Olerud (.315 BA, .425 OBP) and Robin Ventura (.260 BA, .360 OBP).

In addition to being half of the "my career OBP is 100 points higher than my lifetime batting average" club, Garrett and Hodges were also instrumental in one of the most pivotal defensive plays in club annals.  On September 20, 1973, with the Mets needing a win over the first place Pirates to move to within half a game of the division lead, the two teams squared off in an extra-inning affair at Shea Stadium.  Garrett started the game at third base, while Hodges began the game on the bench.  But in the tenth inning, manager Yogi Berra inserted Hodges into the game and moved Garrett from third to short.  Three innings later, with Richie Zisk on first, Bucs' rookie Dave Augustine lifted a long fly ball to left field that just missed being a crushing two-run homer by inches.  Instead, it bounced high off the wall into Cleon Jones' glove.  As the Mets' shortstop, Garrett cut off Jones' throw to the infield and fired a strike to Hodges, who tagged out Zisk to prevent the Pirates from taking the lead.  Hodges' tag saved the game (and perhaps the season) in the top of the 13th inning, just minutes before his run-scoring single gave the Mets a thrilling extra-inning victory.  True to his title as backup catcher, Hodges remained on the bench for the rest of the 1973 season, with Jerry Grote starting every game during the Mets' amazing run to the NL East title.

Hodges was the Mets' elder statesman of the backup catching crew, but there have been some others who have been produced some memorable moments.  Below are five of the backup catchers whose names became part of Mets lore.

Duffy Dyer

After a one-game tryout with the Mets in 1968, Duffy Dyer was the Mets' third-string catcher in 1969.  But back-to-back doubleheaders in mid-August created the need for just the second start by Dyer on the season.  Dyer capitalized on the rare opportunity, hitting a three-run homer to turn a 2-0 deficit against the San Diego Padres into a 3-2 lead, which was also the final score.  The Mets were nine games behind the first place Cubs entering the game.  They were eight games out after Dyer's well-timed blast led the Mets to victory, a win that began a stretch in which New York won 36 of 46 games to overtake Chicago.

Dyer played with the Mets until 1974, but like Hodges, he was only the team's No. 1 catcher in one season (1972).  Dyer was a member of two pennant-winning teams, but never caught a game in the Fall Classic.  His sole postseason appearance in a Mets uniform came as a pinch-hitter in Game 1 of the 1969 World Series, grounding out for starting pitcher Tom Seaver.  Dyer batted .219 in 375 games as a Met, but had his brightest moment as a Met very early in his career.  That bright moment helped steer his teammates toward their improbable first World Series championship.

Mackey Sasser

Just prior to the beginning of the 1988 season, Mackey Sasser was traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Mets.  Sasser played five seasons in New York, beginning his career with the Mets backing up future Hall of Famer Gary Carter and ending it as the No. 2 guy behind the team's soon-to-be single-season home run leader Todd Hundley.  In between Carter and Hundley, Sasser was the team's No. 1 catcher for one year.  And in that one-year opportunity, Sasser did something with the bat that no Mets catcher had done before him and only two Mets catchers have done since.

In 1990, Sasser played 100 games for the Mets, finishing the year with a .307 batting average.  In doing so, Sasser became the first catcher in team history to bat over .300 in a year in which he played more than half the team's games behind the plate.  (Since then, only Mike Piazza and Paul Lo Duca have been able to duplicate Sasser's feat.)  But Sasser's infamous inability to throw the ball back to the pitcher without double and triple pumping caused the Mets to look past his productive bat and look forward to Hundley as the team's top catcher.  Rick Cerone and Charlie O'Brien split catching duties in 1991, and Hundley took over the job in 1992.  Sasser finished his Mets career with a .283 batting average in 420 games.

Todd Pratt

If starting catcher duties were determined by overexuberance, then Todd Pratt would have had a steady job for his entire career.  Pratt was a Met from 1997 to 2001, never collecting more than 160 at-bats in any of his five seasons with the team.  But he was always the first player to celebrate a key hit produced by one of his teammates.  Pratt's premature celebration in Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS caused Robin Ventura's game-ending drive over the right field wall to forever be known as the Grand Slam Single.  And who can forget Pratt jumping for joy outside the Mets dugout on June 30, 2000 after Mike Piazza's three-run homer capped a miraculous ten-run inning against the Braves?  But Pratt's biggest moment as a Met allowed his teammates to celebrate one of his titanic blasts.

With Piazza sidelined with a thumb injury, Pratt temporarily took over starting duties for the Mets as the 1999 NLDS returned to Shea Stadium for Game 3.  With New York needing one win to wrap up its first postseason series victory in 11 years, Pratt stepped up to the plate with one out in the bottom of the tenth inning in a 3-3 tie.  Arizona had their closer, Matt Mantei, on the mound when Pratt lofted a high fly ball to straightaway center field, 410 feet from home plate.  But Gold Glove center fielder Steve Finley mistimed his jump, allowing Pratt's blast to clear the wall just over Finley's glove.  The homer gave the Mets a 4-3 win and a date with the Atlanta Braves in the League Championship Series.  To this day, it remains the only postseason series-ending home run hit by a Met in team history.  And it was by far, the most memorable of the 18 home runs hit by Pratt in his five-year career in Flushing.

Ramon Castro

Ramon Castro was never the team's top catcher in his four-and-a-half years with the Mets.  In his first year with the team in 2005, he was the backup catcher to all-time team legend Mike Piazza.  He then backed up Paul Lo Duca in 2006 and 2007, and was Brian Schneider's caddy in 2008 and 2009.  Castro had a powerful bat, and it was that bat that provided his two biggest moments as a Met.  Neither moment helped the Mets make the playoffs, but both blasts did give fans hope that the team would be playing in October.  Of course, one of those long fly balls didn't exactly leave the park.

On August 30, 2005, with the Mets competing for a wild card spot after three consecutive losing seasons, New York welcomed wild card leader Philadelphia to Shea Stadium for the first game of a critical three-game series.  The Mets trailed the Phillies by a game and a half entering the series opener, and trailed them, 4-3, going to the bottom of the eighth inning.  But Castro's three-run homer off Ugueth Urbina gave the Mets a 6-4 lead, and allowed the Mets to pull to within half a game of the wild card lead.  The Mets failed to make the playoffs in 2005, just as they failed in 2007.  But Castro did everything he could to try to push the Mets toward October in the latter year.  New York was down by a touchdown after Tom Glavine allowed seven first-inning runs to the Florida Marlins, but the Mets scored a run in the bottom of the first and loaded the bases with two outs for Ramon Castro.  A grand slam would have cut Florida's lead to 7-5, and Castro almost granted Mets fans with their wish, but his deep fly ball off Dontrelle Willis settled into the glove of left fielder Cody Ross just shy of the left field wall.  Castro hit 33 home runs in nearly five years as a backup catcher for the Mets.  The team's history might have been very different had he hit 34.

Omir Santos

Here's the only backup catcher of the five that technically wasn't a backup.  Omir Santos was a Met for just one season (2009), but because of an April injury to starting catcher Brian Schneider, Santos was afforded the opportunity to catch for the Mets.  With Schneider out, Santos was supposed to split his playing time with Ramon Castro.  Instead, he parlayed one memorable moment into becoming Schneider's backup, causing Castro to become expendable after nearly five years with the team.

In the month following Schneider's injury, neither Castro nor Santos started more than four consecutive games for the Mets.  On May 23, when the Mets visited Fenway Park to take on the Boston Red Sox, it was Santos' turn behind the plate.  The Mets were trailing by a run going into the ninth inning and were down to their last out when Santos hit a two-run homer off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, or so he thought.  Originally, the umpires ruled that the ball hit off the top of the Green Monster and came back into play, forcing Santos to settle for a long double.  But after further review, the ball was correctly ruled to be a home run, giving the Mets a 3-2 lead, which the bullpen held on to after the Mets infield made several stellar defensive plays in the bottom of the ninth.  A week after Santos' heroics, Castro was traded to the Chicago White Sox.  Once Schneider returned from the disabled list, the right-handed hitting Santos became part of a catching platoon with the lefty-swinging Schneider.  Santos ended up leading all Mets catchers in games played in 2009, but he was never the No. 1 guy behind the plate in his only year with the team, a year in which he produced 22 extra-base hits and 40 RBI in just 281 at-bats.  Of course, one of those extra-base hits and two of those RBI were slightly more memorable than the others.

A big tip of my Mets cap goes out to Mike Geraghty, who suggested the idea for this piece in honor of long-time Mets backup catcher Ron Hodges, as today is Hodges' 65th birthday.  If you haven't done so yet, you can follow Mike on Twitter at @IguanaFlats.  You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Baseball Memories On Father's Day

As we reach another Father's Day, let's take a break from discussing the Mets' recent ups and downs (mostly downs).  Today is not a day to discuss why Sandy Alderson continues to play musical chairs with the Mets' bullpen, nor is a day to talk about how the Mets' loss total is only surpassed by the Cubs, Padres, Diamondbacks and Rays.  Today is a day to reflect on a special man in our lives.

He is the man who more than likely showed us how to throw our first curveball, took us to our first ballgame and showed us the proper way to order a ballpark hot dog (which I seem to have forgotten once prices passed the $4.00 mark).  I'm talking about fathers.

As we have had many Father's Day memories, both pleasant and not so pleasant, the Mets and Major League Baseball have also had a number of noteworthy moments on Father's Day.  Here's a small sample:


On Father's Day 2004 (June 20), Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. hit the 500th home run of his career at St. Louis' Busch Stadium.  At the time, he was the youngest player to reach that milestone.  Making it more fitting, Ken Griffey Sr. was in attendance to help celebrate his son's momentous occasion.

Nothing like a little Griffey love to get this post started.

On Father's Day 1997 (June 15), Major League Baseball instituted its first Home Run Challenge to benefit prostate cancer research.  Now in its 18th season, the Home Run Challenge has raised over $40 million in the hopes that a cure can be found for this devastating disease that affects millions of men worldwide.

(Note to all men reading this.  Please go to your doctors and get checked. Early detection can save your life, enabling you to share many Father's Day moments with your loved ones.)

Early prostate cancer detection is serious business.  Even if it is a pain in the ass.

In one of the most ill-fated trades in Mets history, beloved members of the 1986 World Championship team Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell were traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Juan Samuel on Father's Day 1989 (June 18).  Samuel would have a tumultuous time playing center field for the Mets during his short stay at Shea and was later traded for another dud, Mike Marshall.  Dykstra would become an All-Star in Philadelphia and helped lead the Phillies to the 1993 World Series.  McDowell pitched seven more seasons after the trade and would become famous to Seinfeld fans for his role as the man who spit the magic loogie on Kramer and Newman when they confronted Keith Hernandez after a Mets loss. 

Just as Tom Seaver's trade is known as the Midnight Massacre, this day should be known as The Day The Hotfoot Died.  On a lighter note, sales of Jheri Curl products increased in the New York metropolitan area ... by one.

"Let your Soul Glo..."

Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a perfect game at Shea Stadium on Father's Day in 1964 (June 21) when he defeated the Mets by the final score of 6-0.  Bunning struck out ten batters en route to becoming the first National League pitcher to pitch a perfect game in the 20th century and the first pitcher in the modern era to throw a no-hitter in both leagues.  He pitched his first no-hitter in 1958 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Hall of Famer Jim Bunning made Shea Stadium's first Father's Day game a memorable one.

Please forgive the abundance of Phillies pictures in this post.  It is unintentional and is not meant to dampen your Father's Day festivities in any way.  If so, the photo beneath the next paragraph should bring a smile to your face, especially if you are a long-time Mets fan.

Ralph Kiner was always the king of malapropisms.  From classic lines such as "if Casey Stengel were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave" and "all of his saves have come in relief appearances", Ralph mangled words and phrases with grace and dignity.  One of his most famous quotes came on Father's Day as well, when during a Mets broadcast, he said "on Father's Day, we again wish you all a happy birthday!"

R.I.P. Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy.  You will always be missed.

One final note before you go have a catch with your son or daughter.  Mets fans are well aware of the fact that no pitcher in franchise history had pitched a no-hitter before Johan Santana turned the trick on June 1, 2012.  But prior to Santana's gem, the Mets had had numerous no-hitters pitched against them, including the perfect game tossed by the aforementioned Bunning in 1964.  Before Santana accomplished his historic feat, the Mets weren't the only team who had never pitched a no-hitter.

The only team currently without a no-hitter to its credit has also been around since the 1960s.  The San Diego Padres have gone 44 years since their inaugural season in 1969 and have never had a no-hitter pitched for them.  Hmm, Padres.  That's Spanish for Fathers.  (And it's also the team the Mets are playing today.)  On that note, I can't think of a more fitting way to end this than by wishing all you fathers out there a Happy Birthday!  (I mean, Father's Day!)


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Don't Blame The Bullpen, Blame The Bats

Don't worry, Jenrry.  It's not you or your armpit that stinks.  It's the team's hitters. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Saturday night, the Mets took a 4-3 lead against the Giants into the bottom of the ninth inning.  Closer Jenrry Mejia was called upon to protect the precarious lead, but he proceeded to allow two runs to San Francisco, turning what would have been a satisfying victory into an ugly defeat.

The loss was the 16th suffered by a Mets bullpen that has combined to record 15 saves.  The Mets are one of just four teams in baseball whose relievers have more losses than saves.  The other three are the Colorado Rockies (12 losses, 11 saves), Chicago Cubs (12 losses, 11 saves) and Tampa Bay Rays (12 losses, 9 saves).  Prior to last night's victory over the Dodgers, Colorado had lost eight straight games and 18 of their last 24.  As for the Cubs and Rays, no team in the National League has fewer wins than Chicago, and Tampa has the worst record in all of baseball.  But as unfortunate as the Rockies, Cubs and Rays have been with their bullpens, none of them can match the Mets' 16 relief losses, which are the most by any bullpen in the big leagues.

In addition, last night's game was the Mets' 17th one-run loss of the year.  That's 17 losses by the smallest margin out of their 34 overall defeats, or half of their losses.  The Mets lead all of baseball with their 17 one-run setbacks.  No other club has more than 14 losses by a single run.  And the team with exactly 14 one-run losses is Cincinnati, a team that made the postseason last year but is one of this year's biggest disappointments with a 28-32 record entering Sunday's game.  Another of baseball's most disappointing teams is the Boston Red Sox, who are also under .500 after winning the World Series in 2013.  Not by coincidence, the Red Sox have the most one-run losses (13) in the American League.  But neither Cincinnati, Boston nor any other major league team can say half of their losses have come by a single run.  Only the Mets can claim that.

Six different pitchers (Jenrry Mejia, Kyle Farnsworth, Jose Valverde, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia, Daisuke Matsuzaka) have recorded at least one save for the Mets this year.  All six have also been saddled with at least one blown save in 2014.  And that's not including Bobby Parnell, the team's closer going into the season, who blew his only save opportunity before being lost for the year.

With all that negative statistical analysis, you'd think I'm blaming the bullpen for the Mets' inability to put up a few extra wins this year.  But it's the exact opposite.  It's not the bullpen I'm blaming, it's the bats.

Unlike recent seasons, the relievers are actually posting a lower ERA (3.51) than the starting pitchers (3.74).  And many of the relievers' losses this year have come when they've pitched beautifully.  For example, when the Mets lost to the Phillies in 14 innings a week ago, seven relievers combined to allow two runs (one earned) in 9⅓ innings.  But the bullpen got tagged with a loss in the Phillies' eventual triumph.  And yes, it was one of the Mets' MLB-leading 17 one-run losses.

Similarly, on May 9, when the Mets entertained the Phillies at Citi Field, the bullpen was stellar, allowing just one run on three hits in 6⅓ innings of work.  But that lone run was the decisive tally in the Mets' 11-inning loss to Philadelphia.  A one-run loss.  Again.

Those games are just two examples of how the Mets bullpen has been more than adequate this season even if the boxscore continues to show losses for the relievers and one-run defeats for the team.  The two losses to the Phillies have another thing in common.  The bats went to sleep after the starter was taken out of the game.  In the May 9 contest, New York scored one run on just four hits in the seven innings following the departure of starter Jenrry Mejia.  The team was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position once Mejia was sent to the showers.  Similarly, in last week's 14-inning loss to Philadelphia, the Mets were shut out over the last nine innings, going 0-for-7 when they batted with runners in scoring position.

Last night's game was no different, as the Mets went 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position.  However, all three hits came when starter Bartolo Colon was still in the game.  Once the bullpen was called upon to protect the Mets' lead, the hitters decided to call it a night, going 0-for-9 over the last three innings.  As a result, the lack of an insurance run or two allowed the Giants to chip away at the Mets' lead.  And the end result was a loss by the bullpen and another one-run loss for the team.

Here is the Mets' recipe for playing baseball these days, a recipe that has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Mets fans.

  • Get an early lead.
  • Mix in a hit with a runner in scoring position.
  • Add a relatively strong effort by the bullpen.
  • Stop hitting when the lead appears safe.
  • Watch the bullpen allow no more than two runs in a one-run loss.
  • Repeat.

No team should have more losses from their bullpen than saves.  But the Mets can claim that dubious distinction.  Furthermore, no team should lose half of its games by just one run.  The Mets are alone in that regard.

New York's bullpen is not perfect.  No team's bullpen is.  But the relief corps shouldn't have to shoulder the blame for what the real problem is with the Mets this year.  The team is just not hitting.  They hit enough to put several men on base, then they hit the snooze button just as it appears they're putting a rally together.

Last night's loss and the two losses to the Phillies in May were microcosms of what's plagued the Mets all year.  The bullpen does its job, but the hitters don't do theirs.  It's the reason why players like Travis d'Arnaud (the only player in baseball with 125+ plate appearances who has yet to reach double digits in both runs scored and RBI) get sent down to the minors.  And it's the reason why the Mets are struggling to remain relevant in an otherwise mediocre NL East.

If the Mets were 14-11 in one-run games instead of 8-17, they'd be alone atop the division.  Instead, they're struggling to stay ahead of the Phillies for last place.  Batting .231 with runners in scoring position and having more strikeouts (143) than hits (129) in those situations have a lot to do with the Mets' shortcomings this year.  And don't get me started on the Mets' .159 batting average with the bases loaded or their .128 average with runners on second and third - a situation that is easier to score a run on because there is no force play at any base, unlike the bases loaded situation.

Don't blame the bullpen for the Mets' late-inning losses.  The relief pitchers have done their job better than you think.  Direct your vitriol straight at what passes for the Mets' offense these days.  The team's lack of timely hitting is leaving a bad taste in all of our mouths.  And that's most certainly a recipe for disaster.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Curtis Granderson and the Not-So-Sweet Sixteen

Curtis Granderson looks spooked at the plate.  Could the ghost of Jason Bay be haunting him?

On Wednesday, Curtis Granderson delivered two hits in the Mets' 5-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs, giving him 1,201 for his career.  It was not the first time this season Granderson hit the 1,200 mark in a lifetime offensive category.  However, the other category wasn't exactly something to be proud of, as on May 6, Granderson struck out for the 1,200th time in his career.

Entering tonight's series finale against the Cubs, Granderson is the owner of 1,231 strikeouts and 1,201 hits.  How rare is it for a player to have more strikeouts than hits when he has that many of both?  Well, the first player to end his career with more strikeouts than hits when he had at least 1,200 of both didn't play his last game in the majors until 1986.  And since this player (a former Met) retired, just 16 other players - including Granderson - have joined him.

Here are a list of those players, which include Curtis Granderson and the other not-so-sweet sixteen.  This list includes a Hall of Famer, a few All-Stars and probably more current and former Mets than you would like.

Final Year
Career Strikeouts
Career Hits
Career HR
Career RBI
Dave Kingman
Reggie Jackson
Jesse Barfield
Cecil Fielder
Jay Buhner
Jose Canseco
Dean Palmer
Greg Vaughn
Richie Sexson
Troy Glaus
Pat Burrell
Mike Cameron
Jim Thome
Jason Bay
Adam Dunn
Still Active
Ryan Howard
Still Active
Curtis Granderson
Still Active

Notice that just about everyone on the list was a middle-of-the-order power hitter.  But Granderson hit at the top of the order for much of his career and has surpassed 25 homers in a season just three times, hence his low RBI total.

Also notice that four of the 17 players (Kingman, Cameron, Bay, Granderson) called Shea Stadium and Citi Field home for parts of their careers.  It could have been seven out of 20, had Darryl Strawberry (1,352 strikeouts, 1,401 hits), Jeromy Burnitz (1,376 strikeouts, 1,447 hits) and Jose Valentin (1,294 strikeouts, 1,348 hits) struck out just a little more in their respective careers.  But just like the hitters who actually did make the list, Strawberry, Burnitz and Valentin were cleanup-type power hitters (Valentin had five straight years of 25+ homers from 2000 to 2004), something Granderson is not.

If Curtis Granderson were a prototypical power hitter, perhaps his high strikeout rate would be more acceptable.  Likewise, if Granderson had more seasons of elite home run totals, his low hit count could be forgiven.  But Granderson is not Dave Kingman, Reggie Jackson, Jose Canseco or Jim Thome.  He's not even Jesse Barfield or Pat Burrell, for that matter.  The closest player he resembles on the list above is - here's that name again - Jason Bay.

Although he tried his best to fulfill the lofty expectations that go with a lucrative four-year contract, Jason Bay fizzled quickly as a Met.  During his time in New York, Bay had more strikeouts (258) than hits (231), despite having fewer strikeouts (896) than hits (927) before coming to the Big Apple.  He also hit 26 or more homers in five of the six seasons before his first year in New York.  Then he hit a grand total of 26 homers in three years as a Met.  Because of his low home run totals and high strikeout rate, Bay found himself in the dreaded New York doghouse - the same place Granderson appears to be heading.

Curtis Granderson is a nice guy.  But being nice doesn't get you anything in New York if you're paid to hit home runs, then proceed to strike out ten times for every long ball you hit.  (Granderson has hit six home runs in 2014, while striking out 64 times.)  We saw it before with Jason Bay.  We don't need to see it again with Curtis Granderson.

There are 151 players in major league history who collected at least 1,200 hits and 1,200 strikeouts.  Of those players, only 17 had more strikeouts than hits.  Curtis Granderson is one of those players.  And if he doesn't want to go down the road taken by Jason Bay before him, he'll need to get himself off this list pronto.