In rare fashion, Gregg Jefferies challenged for the Rookie of the Year Award twice as a member of the New York Mets. How close did he get?
As we know, Jefferies came up short both times. However, he’s still one of the few players in MLB history who made two runs at the honor.
Jefferies made his MLB debut in 1987 with six plate appearances for the Mets in as many games. He played more time in 1988 when the Mets gave him 29 games and 118 trips to the plate to show off what he had.
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It was in this 1988 campaign that Jefferies caught fire and the attention of some voters. In the short time he was on the big league roster, Jefferies slashed .321/.364/.596 while adding 6 home runs and 17 RBI. The fast and furious debut was good enough to land him a sixth place spot in the Rookie of the Year voting.
Sure, sixth place in any vote hardly makes you a serious contender for any award. Nevertheless, Jefferies made his presence known and at least moved from the starting line.
A year later, the young infielder became a full-time player for the Mets. Jefferies played in 141 of the team’s games in 1989. In those 559 plate appearances he received, Jefferies managed to finish the year hitting .258/.314/.392 with 12 home runs and 56 RBI.
Clearly not a .300 hitter with tremendous power like he displayed one season prior, Jefferies did again fight for the league’s best newcomer. In a somewhat weak class, Jefferies finished behind Chicago Cubs teammates Jerome Walton and Dwight Smith. The third place finish wasn’t what he had in mind.
However, among those who received consideration in the National League, Jefferies led in home runs, RBI, and runs scored. His “nothing special” batting average likely brought down his stock when compared to the numbers posted by Walton and Smith.
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Jefferies is often regarded as one of those guys who failed to live up to expectations. He was one of the great prospects of the 1980s and far from a legendary name in the game of baseball.