A former MVP and one of the best hitters in the early 1960s, Ken Boyer spent some forgotten time as a member of the New York Mets in the middle of the decade.
In the 1960s, Ken Boyer was one of the best third basemen in the National League. He was an All-Star each year from 1960-1964 and a five-time Gold Glove winner between 1959 and 1964. Add in his 1956 Al-Star appearance and we get an even more impressive resume. So when he came to the New York Mets in 1966—just two years removed from his MVP season in 1964—we had to expect he had something left, right?
As it happens way too often, Boyer already looked done. Following his tremendous 1964 campaign which included a league-leading 119 RBI, he was done winning Gold Gloves, making All-Star teams, and performing like a star.
The Mets received the tail end of Boyer’s career beginning in 1966 with a less than impressive performance.
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After hitting .260/.328/.374 in his final season with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1965, the Mets were able to land Boyer in a trade for Al Jackson and Charley Smith. On paper, it looked like a win. There was no question; Boyer was a star.
Unfortunately, the Mets operated in the 1960s more on name value than actual future projections. The 1966 season was Boyer’s age 35 season and it showed.
Year one with Boyer in orange and blue resulted in a .266/.304/.415 season. He wasn’t horrific but he also wasn’t nearly the same player he was in St. Louis. His power and run production were down.
Boyer was back again for the start of the 1967 season. Before he could turn things around, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox.
At the time of the trade, Boyer was slashing .235/.335/.355 in 194 trips to the plate. With only 3 home runs and 13 RBI, it became quite obvious; Boyer was now a part-time player.
The Mets were right and Boyer’s decline continued through 1969. All told, his time in New York resulted in a .258/.312/.400 batting line with 17 home runs and 74 RBI in 728 trips to the plate.
In a year and a half with the Mets, Boyer failed to even match some of the totals he produced in single seasons for the Cardinals.
The 1966 Mets are one of those forgotten early squads without many notable accomplishments. Aside from having the second-best attendance in the National League, it was a typical year for the Metropolitans who finished 66-95 under manager Wes Westrum.
Amazingly, despite his shortcomings, Boyer was second on the team in WAR at 2.6. Only starting pitcher Dennis Ribant had a better season in this category.
Pitching was dominating baseball at this time with a few sluggers managing to put up historic numbers. None of them played for the Metropolitans. In fact, Boyer’s 28 doubles and 61 RBI both led the team. He was one of only three players on the team to reach double-digit home runs.
Although we can look back at Boyer’s time with the Mets and raise an eyebrow with dissatisfaction at his numbers, he was still one of the better hitters on the team—at least in 1966.
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By 1967, things started to change. The Mets had a new look and it centered on what a young kid from California named Tom Seaver could do for them and their future.