Back in 1972, the New York Mets brought All-Star Rusty Staub to the Big Apple. We look back at the impact of the trade for the Metropolitans and the Montreal Expos.
A few days before the start of the 1972 season, the New York Mets made a big trade with one of their division rivals, the Montreal Expos. In exchange for Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen, and Ken Singleton, the Mets acquired outfielder Rusty Staub. Le Grand Orange was about to join the Big Apple.
Already a five-time All-Star, Staub joined a squad hoping to make plenty of noise in the National League. Coming off a year where he hit .311 in all 162 games the Expos played, the deal looked like a promising one for New York.
Unfortunately, a fractured wrist limited Staub to just 66 games in his first year with the Mets. While still productive with a .293/.372/.452 batting line, the Mets failed to get the most out of this star in year one.
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Staub managed to stay healthy for his next three seasons in New York. He was one of their top hitters in 1973 and continued to produce at the plate each year regardless of where the team finished in the standings. In his final year with the Mets in 1975, Staub drove in 100+ runs for the first time.
Staub played the game hard and won over many of the Amazins’ fans. Meanwhile, the three players the Mets traded away to acquire for him had careers of their own.
Foli did eventually return to the Mets for a brief time for the 1978 and 1979 season. A journeyman who hit .251 for his career, he was an expendable piece in this trade.
A similar statement could be said about Jorgensen. He, too, joined the Mets later in his career. With a .243 lifetime batting average, it’s safe to say they didn’t miss him all that much during his 20s.
The one player in this deal New York may have wish they kept is Singleton. After three really good years with the Expos, they flipped him to the Baltimore Orioles prior to the 1975 campaign. Singleton went on to become a three-time All-Star and one of the most dangerous bats in the Baltimore lineup in the latter half of the 1970s. In 1977, he finished third in the MVP voting. Two years later, he was the runner-up.
A comparison between Singleton and Staub is a fair one to make. Staub’s career WAR is only slightly higher. Other totals, such as home runs, hits, and RBI beat Singleton by quite a bit more. However, Singleton did hit for a higher average and reach base more frequently.
This trade, unlike many in baseball history, is fair to call a draw. The Expos’ decision to trade away Singleton is the real loss. The Amazins needed to go for the jugular when they landed Staub. Even though one could argue he underperformed to a degree, he was a solid bat to have.
For Staub, the most unfortunate footnote on his career is that he never won a World Series ring. His lone playoff appearance happened in 1973 when the Mets fell to the Oakland Athletics in seven games.
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Singleton’s career came close to having the same result. He lost with the Orioles to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1979 World Series. Fortunately, Baltimore was able to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in 1983.