If one was forced to pick a single, all-encompassing characteristic of the New York Mets as a franchise, it would have to be the team’s incredible knack of enlisting truly mediocre players. “A Look Back at Mediocre Mets” will be an on-going series exploring these types of players that fans loved, hated, but were regardless forced to watch. Today’s mediocre Met is infielder Bill Pecota.
Bill Pecota might be the definition of mediocre. In fact, his career was so mediocre that statistician Nate Silver named his sabermetric system for evaluating players performance after the journeyman (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm or PECOTA). Yet as infamously mediocre as Pecota was, he only donned orange and blue for one, albeit very, mediocre season.
The California-native was originally drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 10th round of the 1981 draft. The 21 year-old made his professional debut in Rookie-Ball, posting an impressive .317/.427/.452 line with 14 SB in 249 PA’s. Pecota was promoted to Single-A in 1982, but his line slumped to a more pedestrian .239/.345/.322. Despite the subpar season, the Royals liked his speed (39 SB in 569 PA’s), so they didn’t close the door on his potential. The right-handed hitter rewarded their loyalty with a “breakout” season, to the tune of a .255/.355/.360 line with 10 HR, 58 RBI, 86 R, and 37 SB in 582 PA’s (between Single-A and Double-A).
Pecota continued his consistently unspectacular Minor League tenure until 1987, when the Royals extended a more or less full-time promotion. After “dominating” Triple-A (.310/.392/.437 line in 144 PA’s), the 27 year-old was promoted to the show, and performed well in a bench role (.276/.343/.378 in 172 PA’s). It seemed as though the light-hitting infielder finally made his mark, as Pecota broke Spring with the team in 1988. However, unlike his solid 1987 performance, Pecota suffered a mighty “sophomore slump,” sporting a horrendous .208/.286/.275 line in 206 PA’s.
The infielder spent his 1989 and 1990 seasons shuttling between Triple-A and the bigs, only proving that he was “too good” for Triple-A (.302/.401/.457 line in 137 PA’s in 1990), but not nearly as so for the show (.205/.275/.410 line in 92 PA’s in 1989). However, Pecota–seemingly out of nowhere–surprised critics (if there were any) with a career-season in 1991 for the Royals, swatting a .286/.356/.399 with 6 HR, 45 RBI, 53 R, and 16 SB in 448 PA’s. Knowing that the 31 year-old had probably overachieved, the Royals packaged Pecota with Bret Saberhagen on December 11, 1991, and sent the pair to the Mets in exchange for Gregg Jefferies, Kevin McReynolds, and Keith Miller.
Saberhagen spent four good seasons with the Mets (though he only logged 524.3 IP), but Pecota only lasted for one. Though his 1992 campaign wasn’t his career worst, it certainly wasn’t his finest either. The 32 year-old infielder offered a lackluster .227/.293/.297 line in 302 PA’s with the Mets, playing all over the infield diamond–even including a scoreless inning as a reliever. But almost as soon as the “Bill Pecota Era” in Flushing started, it came to an end on January 4, 1993, when the bench player signed-on with the Atlanta Braves. Pecota played another two seasons in the Major Leagues with the Braves, but fizzled out of baseball after mustering an abysmal .214/.310/.313 line in 130 PA’s during the 1994 season.
On the whole, Pecota owned a career .249/.323/.354 line. His career was certainly forgettable, but will, comically, forever be immortalized due to the well-received stat donning his last name. But perhaps more impressive is his very, extremely mediocre place in Mets history; certainly ranking up there in terms of true blue (and orange) mediocrity.