New York Mets History

Mets History: George Foster was better in New York than we remember

NEW YORK - CIRCA 1982: George Foster #15 of the New York Mets bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates during an Major League Baseball game circa 1982 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Foster played for the Mets from 1982-86. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1982: George Foster #15 of the New York Mets bats against the Pittsburgh Pirates during an Major League Baseball game circa 1982 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Foster played for the Mets from 1982-86. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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George Foster was a star with the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970s. In the 1980s, he wasn’t nearly as good with the New York Mets. But was he better than we remember?

George Foster spent the end of the 1970s as one of the best players in the National League. A star with the Cincinnati Reds and 1977 MVP, Foster found his way to the New York Mets beginning in 1982.

After some highly-productive years in Cincinnati with two seasons as the league’s home run champion and three as the league leader in RBI, Foster came to New York in his twilight years.

His first year with the Mets was in 1982 in what was his age 33 campaign. Despite his advanced age in the sports world, there was little reason to think Foster was about to take a steep decline.

In the shortened 1981 campaign, Foster played in 108 games for the Reds. He bashed 22 home runs and drove in 90 while slashing .295/.3753/.519.

The year was something you could typically expect from Foster during his best years. He was one of the best run producers of the era, often forgotten because his years in New York weren’t so fantastic.

Foster got off to a rough start with the Mets in 1982. With baseball back to a full 162-game schedule, Foster managed to produce only 13 home runs across 608 plate appearances. Just as disappointing, he hit .247/.309/.367.

This was by far his least productive season since his early years before becoming an everyday outfielder. Foster followed up the down year with another poor one in 1983. This time, he boosted his home runs up to 28. However, he batted just .241/.289/.419.

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It didn’t help that the Mets were a bad team still suffering through a dark era in franchise history. This was the period between Tom Seaver’s first run with the club and the debut of Dwight Gooden.

When looking at Mets history, the time between 1977 and 1984 is mostly lost. Foster didn’t do much to help it out.

Fortunately, now at 35, Foster managed to rebound with two much better years with the Mets. The former MVP, All-Star, and simply spectacular slugger hit 24 home runs in year three with a much better .269/.311/.443 slash line.

By 1985, the Mets were competitive again. Foster gave them a 21 home run season and .263/.331/.443 slash line in 504 opportunities.

Foster remained with the Mets in 1986 but didn’t last the full year. At the time of his release, he had hit 13 home runs while hitting .227.

When it came to an end, Foster had played in 655 games with the Mets. He slashed .262/.307/.422 and knocked 99 home runs.

The numbers, while far below what he did with the Reds, aren’t so terrible if we put it in perspective. Foster was already entering his mid-30s when his career in New York began. If not for a lot of hype and a huge salary, I’m not so sure he would have been viewed as such a tremendous bust.

Foster isn’t remembered fondly by Mets fans. The combination of disappointment from his own performance and the way the team struggled during his first two years make him one of those lost players only those who were around to watch him play even remember.

Next. Tom Seaver's 1983 return to New York

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In my opinion, Foster’s numbers suggest he wasn’t as bad as his reputation suggests. But I wasn’t there to suffer through watching him play every day.

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