In his one season with the New York Mets, Derek Bell gave the club a memorable performance.
Derek Bell is best known for his work with the Houston Astros in the late 1990s as the third member of the Kill Bees alongside Hall of Famers Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. Bell was the least prominent of the trio, but he had some really good years in Major League Baseball including his one season stopover with the New York Mets in 2000.
Bell, who was acquired alongside Mike Hampton in a trade with the Astros, was coming off of a down year in Houston when the Mets got him. Although a superstar-caliber season wouldn’t emerge, he did have one of the better one-and-done seasons in franchise history.
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The 31-year-old veteran outfielder did lead the club in one unexpected category. You see, the 2000 Mets weren’t fleet-of-foot. So with just 8 stolen bases, he tied Lenny Harris for the team lead in stolen bases.
Speed wasn’t Bell’s greatest weapon. It wasn’t even power—at least not when compared to others on the team like Mike Piazza. Bell showed his value by finding ways to get on base. His .348 OBP was the product of drawing 65 walks. The total was a personal best for the veteran playing in his tenth MLB season.
Make no mistake—Bell was far from a star. He was, however, an important part of what I think was an underrated outfield that needed some work midseason to figure out what the best combination was.
Throughout the season, Bell often found himself hitting second for the 2000 Mets. He started 131 games in the two-hole which mathematically makes him the leader on the squad. Although he didn’t have much success actually batting leadoff, he was terrific when starting off an inning. Whenever he got first-ups, Bell slashed .312/.340/.505.
When the playoffs game, Bell’s season came to an end. It wasn’t because he performed poorly. A sprained ankle after just one at-bat cost him the remainder of the year. Bell’s time with the Mets was up. A look at his .176 batting average in 2001 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, apparently so was his career.
Bell isn’t on any plaque for this franchise or someone we even consider as an all-time great Mets outfielder. The one season he did give the squad, he was a nice finishing piece.
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Mercenaries like this who come onto a team for even just a short period of time can make a major difference. Sadly, he wasn’t able to do a thing to help them once the games mattered most.