Dwight Gooden is one of the best pitchers in New York Mets history. How many of us recall how talented he was at the plate?
Gooden was more than a terrific pitcher. When the ninth spot in the batting order came around, Gooden was a pretty darn good hitter.
In 849 plate appearances, Gooden was a career .196/.212/.262 hitter. This is almost good enough to land a spot in the everyday lineup of the 2018 Mets.
Specifically, with those Mets, Gooden batted .197/.213/.260 in 837 trips to the plate. He knocked a total of 7 home runs during his tenure and drove in 65.
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Gooden was anything but an automatic out. In fact, he made contact at a pretty good rate. His 131 career strikeouts as an offensive player is astonishing when considering how many plate appearances he had. I understand baseball was different back then and Gooden was a good hitter. Still, color me impressed.
During his Mets years, Gooden wasn’t always a consistent hitter. After hitting .226 in 1985 he hit only .086 in 1986. Like many pitchers, his average fluctuated. Some seasons, he’d have a home run and a good RBI total but have a low batting average. Other times, he’d have a good batting average, but lack run production.
Gooden never did knock in more than 9 runs in any single season. Five times he maxed out at this total. He had his last 9 RBI season in 1993 when he also set a high with 2 home runs. Far odder, Gooden had a pair of triples as well.
When Gooden left the Mets after 1994 he saw his opportunities to hit regularly go away. He spent most of his final years in the American League. This didn’t stop him from showing off pop.
In 1999, while with the Cleveland Indians, Gooden hit the final home run of his career. In his first plate appearance of the year on June 11th, he paid homage to the younger version of himself with a two-run blast.
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Whenever there’s a debate over whether or not the National League needs a DH, I remember guys like Gooden. We forget how talented these athletes were on both sides of the baseball.