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New York Mets History

Past Mets starters known for playing two positions in their career

New York Mets second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo (R) chases down Atlanta Braves baserunner Quilvio Veras (L) after Veras was picked off of first base by Mets pitcher Glendon Rusch in the top of the first inning 02 July, 2000 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, NY. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo by MATT CAMPBELL / AFP) (Photo by MATT CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images)
New York Mets second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo (R) chases down Atlanta Braves baserunner Quilvio Veras (L) after Veras was picked off of first base by Mets pitcher Glendon Rusch in the top of the first inning 02 July, 2000 at Shea Stadium in Flushing, NY. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo by MATT CAMPBELL / AFP) (Photo by MATT CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images)
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NEW YORK – CIRCA 1969: Ed Kranepool #7 of the New York Mets catches the throw at first base getting Manny Mota #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during an Major League Baseball game circa 1969 at Shea Stadium in the Queens borough of New York City. Kranepool played for the Mets from 1962-79. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

These three New York Mets managed to get in the lineup just about every day and did it with two main positions during their time with the club.

For the last year and a half, Jeff McNeil has been a hallmark example of a New York Mets player who has excelled at multiple positions. Originally called up in 2018 to fill in at second base, his natural position, McNeil has bounced around in both the infield and outfield since then. His defense has been above-average to excellent everywhere he has played.

Though McNeil is the best current example of a true Mets “utility player,” he follows in the footsteps of several other Amazins who made their mark by playing multiple positions.

Here are a few examples of Mets players whose defensive skills were strong no matter where they stood on the field.

Ed Kranepool

Known as “Steady Eddie” by Mets fans everywhere, Ed Kranepool made his debut in Queens in September 1962 and spent his entire 18-year career in the orange and blue. From the time he came up, he was regularly used as both a first baseman and an outfielder. 1963 was his first full year with the Mets, in which he played 55 games in the outfield and 20 games at first. By 1964, he had been transitioned into more of an everyday first baseman, and played 104 games there with only six games in the outfield.

For the next several years, through the Mets’ championship season in 1969, Kranepool was entrenched at first base. He was consistently among the NL leaders in fielding percentage at first base throughout the 1960s.

In the 1970s, he began to split his time more between first base and the outfield, as top prospect John Milner became a fixture for the Mets at first base after making his debut in 1971.  Even as his everyday playing time diminished, Kranepool was always a strong pinch hitter for the Amazins, leading to batting averages hovering around .300 from 1974-1976.

“I was able to motivate myself to pinch-hit and perform,” said Kranepool of his utility role. “I was trying to prove the managers wrong by not playing me, and I wound up very successful.”

Kranepool is a prime example of a player who made the most of wherever he was told to play. Despite wavering playing time during his career, Kranepool holds the Mets record for most games played, appearing in 1853 games while in Queens.

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